Who’d have thought it? The South Australian Minister for Tourism Hon Gail Gago speaking to 90 or so food bloggers at Eat Drink Blog 3 conference. Mind you I was also surprised by Meat and Livestock’s sponsorship and more particularly their invitation to anyone who wanted to to visit a beef feedlot – I certainly plan to take up that offer.
And let’s not mention the food writer who referred to Gago as “hon” most of the night.
There was a lot to learn from the conference although for me it was also a great opportunity to see many bloggers I hadn’t seen in a while and to also catch up with many new ones who I wanted to meet. I’ve been a bad blogger the past few years as I haven’t engaged with people through comments and Twitter like I used to. But the conference reignited my passion.
I suspect we can all remember the community aspect as we get back to commenting and linking between each other.
Simon Leong’s, from Simon’s Food Favourites, video of Eat Drink Blog 2012.
In no particular order:
1. Food blogging as with all social media is about participating in and building a community. Half the work in terms of hours is writing the post. The other half is promoting that post (not forgetting keyword analysis if you are into that kind of thing). It’s about passion and nowadays (unlike when I started) about finding a compelling niche.
2. In recipe writing, list the order of ingredients in the order that you use them. Ensure none are left out or left unused.
3. Natural light is the best way to take great food photos. You don’t even need a tripod, let alone a light box thingy.
4. Use simple sheets of paper as a backdrop and shoot from the side rather than on top. You don’t need a warehouse full of props.
5. Use depth of field which gives a blur effect in the back of a picture.
6. The rules of blog design are quite simple. People look top left of a site first so whatever you want them to do put it there. If you want email sign-ups make it big and at the top left.
7. A website must be easy to read. That means a large font size, 16pt as a minimum (and don’t forget to set your leading correctly – the space between lines). Narrower columns are easier to read as is type on a white background. Simple fonts are best, particularly san serif.
8. Bold lists to draw people in.
9. Images are essential.
10. Put a search box at the top of your page.
11. Make it easy to share content across the key social media platforms even if you aren’t present on them.
12. Popups are annoying but powerful. Try the pop-up domination plugin.
13. Don’t use social media buttons to feed out to the web. Use social media to feed into your website.
14. Don’t forget smartphone and tablet compatibility.
15. Check out the long tail of keywords through Google Adwords keyword tool to find traffic building opportunities. Apparently wine blogs Australia is low competition as are Asian snack recipes, best Australian recipes and Australian seafood.
16. Competing with the most popular keywords isn’t worth the effort most probably.
17. I missed Diane Jacob’s workshop on writing. But I heard her mention something on adjectives. I’m guessing she was probably saying you shouldn’t use them. My own advice is to describe the food, what it looks like, it’s flavours, texture, temperature and ingredients. It’s not good enough to say it was delicious – you need to build an argument for what you are saying.
18. On the whole food bloggers are more ethical than many food and wine writers, declaring far more free meals and trips.
19. It is possible to work with PRs but don’t become a slave to free stuff and events as you’ll cheat your readers.
20. Create a page for PRs where you set out what you do and don’t want. For instance, if you don’t want to be sent a lot of free stuff in lots of packaging say so.
21. Chef Simon Bryant mande many sensible comments about reviewing restaurants that care about produce. If a chef really sources local, ethically sourced produce he will sometimes have produce that isn’t quite up to scratch – for instance beef suffers when lack of rain affects grass growth. If he or she is committed to produce a lot of items may be off menu. Cut them some slack.