Over the weekend, I attended my second blogging conference, this one in Washington, D.C. called Eat Write Retreat. It was the first year for the conference, and I was drawn to it because of its small size which meant for more hands on work, and its focus on writing and technical blogging skills.
I learned from Foodbuzz Fest in November that taking away a few things makes the conference worth it. From Foodbuzz, my main takeaway was camera skills from Ashley and meeting many bloggers who I already read and new ones too. It was really nice to meet people in real life and get to know them as people. Seeing beautiful San Francisco was a perk too. Fast forward six months and I went to the other coast for another conference. This one was much smaller and I was hoping to gain some writing and photography skills now that I’m more comfortable with blogging and have a better idea of my goals and voice.
Between some very long and heavy meals and a few boring and not so great panels/speaker sessions (I liked parts!), I did pick up some useful take-aways. For one, it was great to meet people from Oxo and Calphalon. They gave away some great loot (knife set! frying pan!), but it’s really nice to meet people from the brands. Face-to-face time is valuable in connecting and making relationships, and I hope to pass along promotions or reviews to my readers. Both brands are ones I already use and love in my kitchen, and I hope to learn more about their brands.
There was a session on food styling, which was interesting, but not incredibly useful. I will not be buying large white boards and lights to set up in my house. Nor will I build a salad on mashed potatoes to make it look taller and fuller. I wanted to learn some everyday skills, not how to make food look good for a cookbook.
Tip–the tomatoes and cucumber in these photos were sprayed with water to make them look juicy. I cleaned the white space on the plate to take smudge marks off. The prosciutto was tweaked with tweezers to fluff it up. Everything was placed deliberately, including the angle of the camera.
The lights were so powerful that when I moved the plate out of the lights and took a picture with the same camera settings, it was black.
The biggest takeaway for me was to think about my own blog and remember why I blog and what I want to get from it. My very favorite part is sharing stories through food. I like trying things in the kitchen and telling a story. I want to share what works for me and what I suggest. I blog for healthy living because I think anyone can plop ice cream in a bowl and call it dessert. But finding healthy alternatives takes creativity and research. It’s nice when I know people are reading, and nicer when lots of people are reading, but stats tend to make me want more and worry about the marketing more than the writing. Why was Wednesday so good and Friday so weak? Is anyone out there? What will my next great recipe be with a good photo opportunity? Will people want to read about my garden? What will I write about next Monday?
These are common things I wonder, and thinking about that takes my thoughts away from food and writing. I want to go back to the quality of writing and creativity and spend more time on my posts. My posts are not hurried, and many are written long before they are published, but I want to focus more on the words and descriptions and share in more detail.
I realized that the word blogger doesn’t make me a writer or a foodie. It’s a type of communicator that encompasses writing, editing, publicizing, marketing, web design, layout, photography, photo editing, and story-telling. Those are the parts that go into every post. The most important of those qualities to me is writing, and I want to spend more time on that.
The photography part is my latest hobby and I absolutely plan to continue and grow that hobby. The publicity part was important but it was clouding my writing. I want to write regardless of who is reading and publicize knowing I’ve written my best.
Back to lighter topics tomorrow. There’s a birthday in our house!