My attendance at the Blog Brûlée was partially funded by Sponsors of the Blog Brûlée, and I received a discounted registration to the event in exchange for writing this post. Opinions expressed are my own. I was not compensated for my time.
Ten days ago, I hopped a plane to Boston, rented a car, and drove much farther than I anticipated, to Smuggler’s Notch Resort in northern Vermont, where I joined 18 other, creative, smart and talented healthy food bloggers at Blog Brûlée. The intimate and experiential blogging conference was started last year, by 4 registered dietitians who work as food bloggers, food communications experts and owners of amazing companies that do amazing things, like work with some of the top healthy food brands around to create recipes and help market their products, publish nutrition and food-related articles all over the place, and run a pretty darn successful healthy food photo sharing website. Just. Incredible. Energy.
The goal of the invitation-only (I know – pinch me!) weekend, was to set fire to better blogs, and that we did. The weekend was full of education and professional development opportunities, and presentations and discussion about blogging and social media best practices, fundamentals of food photography, communication and marketing strategies, community niche development, brand identity and monetization. Whoa! Stop. My head is spinning. In a good way 🙂
Without a doubt, the best part of the weekend was the friendships that were started with wonderful women, some of whom I’ve known for a while, but only “virtually”. But there was also SO MUCH I learned. So many things I wish I knew three years ago when this blog was just an idea in my head. Here are my top take-aways for anyone who is contemplating taking the food-blogger-plunge:
5 Tips from #BlogBrulee that all #FoodBloggers MUST know!! Click To Tweet
Not everyone likes you, and you shouldn’t freak out about it. When you write a blog, you put yourself out there for anyone and everyone to read, and although you know deep down inside that you can’t be all things to everyone, most bloggers would love it if everyone in the world clicked on their blog and left warm and fuzzy comments every day. I learned that successful bloggers have a defined niche, and it’s OK that their audience doesn’t include both new moms and baby-boomers, or vegans and beef lovers. Write about what you know, who you are, or where you are in your life’s journey. Be authentic, and your niche will emerge and followers will come.
Your family should just get used to eating warmed over food, and never expect to eat the same meal twice.
Really. No matter how much they love that warmed over meal, and beg you to make it again, it’s pretty unlikely that it will happen, so prepare them now. Sorry, but a food blogger’s job is to come up with a creative new recipe and mouth-wateringly gorgeous photo for every post. I have to admit, I learned this well before Blog Brûlée, but somehow I thought I was the only one who cooked early in the day just so I could get a good, natural light shot in the middle of the afternoon. Nope. We pretty much all do it. And oh, how nice it would be to have a “favorite recipe” that I could make over and over again.
There will be one room in your house that will never be useable because it will always be set up for food photography.
Do you know how much work it is to drag out your perfectly distressed old board, and set up your light bounces, tripod, and window coverings? And just where do you think you’re going to store all of those perfectly-sized small plates, bowls, perfectly tarnished silver platters and silverware, cutting boards, and hundreds of Pier-1 napkins? The amazing photography and styling workshops we attended at Blog Brûlée, pretty much confirmed it – the room with the best light will be forever off limits to everyone except for the food blogger, and all of her/his toys.
There will come a day when you won’t be paid in food samples.
I remember the very first time a company contacted me to ask if they could send me samples of a new product in exchange for a review on my blog. OMG I was beside myself with happiness. A food company had actually found my blog! I jumped at the chance, and then more than I can count now, and after a while the getting-paid-in- food stuff started to get really old. I’m proud and thrilled to say that I’m getting more and more opportunities to work with food companies, and magazines, and I’m getting paid, but it took a while. Much of our weekend at Blog Brûlée was spent sharing information, ideas and techniques for monetizing our blogs, and I can’t even begin to tell you how helpful and eye-opening that was. So. Many. Ideas. Churning around in my head. I need to get a move on!
Food Bloggers are the Most Interesting People
I’ve never, ever, thought of myself as interesting, but I realized that none of us who attended Blog Brulee could be described as boring. We all juggle twenty-nine other things – some have full time jobs and families, others are in school, and many, like myself, juggle multiple part-time of freelance jobs as writers, photographers, recipe developers, college instructors, life, fitness and health coaches, or nutrition counselors. In our “free” time, we unanimously love to travel to really cool places, and of course, eat at amazing restaurants. Even though most of us had never met, we all bonded instantly because of all of the common interests and shared experiences. Maybe you have to be at least a little bit interesting to be a food blogger?
If you’re having Blog Brûlée envy as you read this, I do believe the application process for 2016 is open!
Oh yeah – I almost forgot – Healthy Food Bloggers really love S’mores!