I’m ashamed to admit that prior to this weekend, I was in a bit of a food blogging rut. While I was happy with the food (not to brag, but there have been some real winners in my kitchen recently), the photos were unimpressive, the writing was too often hastily constructed and there was just a whole lot of ennui regarding this blog. Awful, I know. I’m embarrassed to admit it, especially when you all have always been so supportive.
Part of the problem was an extremely busy month at work, while another was the fact that I joined a gym — waking up at 6 a.m. to work out morning makes it really difficult to
write cook think do anything other than veg out in front of the TV at night. Whatever the cause, I was in a rut.
Thankfully, the third annual FoodBuzz Festival in San Francisco was this weekend. While I love the city, getting away for a much-needed vacation, seeing Milan for the first time since May, and most of all, meeting/learning from some of the best food bloggers on the Interwebs provided the recharge I needed to (hopefully) kickstart this blog again.
The festival, my first, featured a jam-packed schedule: a welcome dinner on Friday night, instructional sessions Saturday morning, a tasting pavilion in the afternoon, plus a gala dinner with Tyler Florence in the evening, and then Sunday brunch with a crazy-spicy Bloody Mary.
Meeting fellow food bloggers, many of whom have been doing this for much longer than I have, was so exciting — there was so much to learn from everyone! One of the hardest challenges for me was answering the question, “so what do you write about?” I’ve never thought of this blog as a brand, so being asked to boil it down to its essence was tough. That was one of the many questions swirling in my head as I flew back home.
Rather than going through everything I did and ate at the event, I’ll briefly mention the five most important things I took away from the festival. While some of these things pertain to food blogging specifically, there were some larger points about writing in general as well.
1) Find your own unique personal “brand” and stick to it — make your voice/writing style clear.
2) Carefully consider every single element of a post. Don’t slap together a few photos and a few words and call it a night ( … oops.)
3) Create a narrative when composing food shots. Tell a story and build a shot in which every element adds to that story.
4) Use social media to engage readers and find friends, not just followers. Truth be told, I seldom used Twitter for blog purposes before the conference, but inspired by what I’ve learned, I created a bites out of life Twitter account. If you tweet, let me know!
5) No personal story is off-limits. While in a panel featuring some of the most well-known/experienced bloggers out there (Kath Eats, Peas and Thank You, Joy the Baker, Shutterbean and How Sweet It Is), all of the ladies reinforced how important it is to talk about yourself and your life — those stories connect you to readers more than anything else.
In a dream world, you’ll see the results of these lessons at some point in the very near future. To be honest, I’m a little overwhelmed with how much I should be doing, and how little I’ve been doing thus far. Writing a blog started out as a personal pet project almost two (!!!) years ago, but now that I’m attending conferences and meeting bloggers and getting *gasp* swag bags, maybe it’s time to kick myself into gear. One of the most ridiculous things I learned this weekend was how so many bloggers juggle children and jobs and blogging. I’ll never say I was “too busy” again …
It will take me a few days to fully absorb everything that I experienced this weekend. But my hope that as the calendar inches closer to my favorite time of year, perhaps my new inspiration coupled with my love of the holidays will kick this rut to the curb and I’ll produce some of my best work yet!
Note: Don’t worry, I have plenty to say about actually being in San Francisco — I’ll share that soon.
Also, sorry for the lack of photos. I was too distracted by the amazing food to take photos. Bad blogger, bad!