I was privileged to attend Eat Drink Blog 2013 in Perth earlier this month.
Eat Drink Blog is Australia’s Food Bloggers conference run by bloggers for bloggers. It’s an astronomical effort by the volunteer host committee to put together a jam-packed weekend of engaging speakers and food-themed events that show off their fine city.
I tip my virtual hat to the committee who worked countless hours behind-the-scenes simply so their peers could come together and chat about our obsession for food.
Many fabulous food bloggers have written wrap-up posts and I have purposely left mine a little late to allow for ample reflection time. Totally not because I’m busy and breaking my own personal ’1 post a week’ rule. *ahem*
1. Working with PR agencies – the divisive issue
It was one of those panel sessions that immediately made people sit up in their chairs, fidget loudly during awkward ‘differences of option’ and others vocally disagree with the binary positions presented by the two speakers. It was a debate on the merits and best practices of working with PR agencies and the heated discussions moved from offline to online. Many have posted their opinions in follow-up blog posts and tweets and I for one am happy there are such a vocal, passionate opinions in the community.
I studied Public Relations at university so I likely have a unique perspective on how the textbook says PR practitioners should engage bloggers and what actually happens in the real world. From a PR-educated perspective, I think there really isn’t a lot of training on how to best please the client and the blogger when you request content be created on a food blogger’s platform. The waters are muddy like Willy Wonka’s chocolate river.
As a food blogger, I welcome working with brands and PR agencies but realistically enter any arrangement outlining my editiorial policy. I’m not afraid to set my limits on what will be provided and how these will be delivered.
There is a tendency for food bloggers to accept or reject a PR proposal, without understanding you can actually negotiate so that the offer benefits both parties.
It’s time to revisit your ‘About Us’ page and put in a little something-something about how you like to work – whether that be advertising galore or a ‘just say no’ approach to PR agencies.
2. Write about what scares you
Adam Roberts from The Amateur Gourmet was such an engaging speaker; and he complimented my exact colour match of earrings to dress so naturally I had to love him.
The biggest take away I had from his sessions was to write about what scares you. And I don’t mean, my failed attempts to make macarons which would scare anyone! Adam encouraged us to weave our personal stories into our posts.
We are the content creators and curators of our own platform. Unlike the journalism world we are free to share as much of ourselves without the over-enthusiastic Editor’s red pen.
Upon reflection, there are only a handful of posts I can only recall that delve deeply into my personal side, like this post on orange spiced cookies and breast cancer.
(Lunch was provided by European Foods)
3. We are content creators, but what’s the future?
I like to think of food blogs as a mini-publishing house run by a party of one.
Most food bloggers have to be a jack of all trades – they are the website managers, editors, photographers, stylists, designers, etc.
The rise in blogging community over the past few years has been HUGE. My feeling is that as technology develops to make it easier to share, the current style of blogging will likely shift to different mediums.
Thang Ngo (food writer, commentator, blogger - Noodlies) presentation on the future of blogging and, in particular, the changes resulting from mobile technology was fascinating to this geek. I definitely agree that Instagram video and Vine is a great example of an exciting platform that we should be experimenting in as food content creators.
4. The decisive moment in food photography
Simon Park’s (photographer, blogger - The Heart of Food) session reminded me that sometimes the ultimate shot isn’t about the food, but what’s happening in the surrounds. That one second, blink and you’ll miss it, perfect shot is so fleeting, yet so important. I’ll be taking more notice of the charachters in the food story when I’m snapping pics at restaurants. Do you think the roti makers at Mamak will slow down so I can grab the perfect shot?
(Mastering the art of pastries with French pâtissier, Emmanuel Mollois.)
5. You can always rely on the kindness of strangers (especially when in Perth)
I’m a naturally cautious person. Despite my bubbly persona, I think I have anxieties leftover from my school days. When I see a groups of girls having a fabulous time I automatically assume they are the popular group who don’t want to talk to me. Sads.
I am pleased to report the Australian food blogging community is nothing like high school. No one will call you a nerd at Eat Drink Blog for putting up your hand to ask a question. I’ve written before about the challenges of making adult friends and I firmly believe blogging has given me some of my favourite people.
At Eat Drink Blog Perth I met so many bloggers from across Australia that I had stalked online. It was completey natural that conversations with people I had never seen outside of my computer opened with ‘So, how are those baby chickens?’.
One of the most gorgeous examples of the welcoming attitude and immediate extension of friendship of food bloggers was Bri from Eatmeetswest. Bri organised a coffee crawl through Perth all on the back of a random tweet by Lauren from Corridor Kitchen who wanted to know where she should go for great coffee.
Fellow attendees, what were your biggest lessons learned at Eat Drink Blog 2013?