You know when something so fabulous happens that you just want to kind of savor it for a little while. Well on Sunday I attended the South African Food and Wine Blogger Indaba… I have had my eye on this event since the moment I heard of it… followed every breath of it on twitter and even blogged about it… But I didn’t actually imagine that I would actually be able to attend it!!! But when I was gifted with a ticket to the Indaba there was just no looking back… Dancing round the house like you have never seen!!! You all know how I love blogging and love learning about blogging here was the opportunity of “forever…”
So on Sunday morning while it was still dark I headed out – leaving se7en + 1 heads tousled in sleep on their pillows, cranked up my latest audible book and drove across Cape Town. And was greeted with fine coffee and friendliness!!! A Day of bloggers gathered together and all just totally, totally lovely!!! Packed with folk I tweet with all the time… there is nothing like meeting blogging friends in real life!!! And I met so many new folk too – it was totally amazing!!! I was blown away by the friendliness, the eagerness to share knowledge and know how – offering tips and suggestions throughout the day – it was the most incredible learning experience and I totally loved it!!!
This wasn’t just a day for meeting heaps of wonderful folk and awesome food, but the day was packed with incredible talks all about blogging and heaps of tips… And in the afternoon their were workshops to choose from and attend. The whole day ended with an auction and lucky draw prizes… and then we were given goodie bags to take home… let’s just say – these goody bags should have come with a shopping cart – I could hardly carry them. But more about that later.
I really went there hoping to learn heaps about blogging and to glean inspiration: I quickly realized that a couple of points popped on my phone notebook weren’t going to hack it… and out came the moleskin. Sorry folks I can’t blog in July (only joking) – the entire month is jammed pack with pages and pages of notes from the fabulous speakers at the Indaba…
So here are se7en + 1 Lessons Learnt at the the South African Food and Wine Blogger Indaba…:
- A Word from Paul Galatis of Yuppie Chef.
- Ethics, Etiquette and Why We Blog by Jeanne Horak-Druiff of Cooksister.
A Welcome from Mr. Nomu himself, a man who makes hot chocolate for a living has to be a good MC:
Even I understand that my love for all things Yuppie-chef can be a little overwhelming at times!!! So I was thrilled to meet this speaker and connect up with our Spatula friend, Lisa!!! Anyway… Paul Gelatis spoke about customer service… How the local market place used to be the way go to hear the latest and greatest news about a good product. People used to speak. Then there were the dark ages where products hid behind a huge facade and a marketing campaign was a one sided portrayal of the product and didn’t involve the customer at all. But “the future is already here” and conversational nature of blogging has brought us back to the market, only the market is no longer local, it is huge and international – reaching all around the globe. Great encouragement to bloggers to keep writing and expressing themselves and their opinions and so expanding the conversation and the market.
My Take Away:
Small businesses with fabulous products enjoy great shout-outs from bloggers, now is the time to build relationships between small businesses and bloggers… and bring the market place back to real people.
I knew this was going to be good!!! I just new… When she opened her talk with I don’t need a badge to say “I blog with integrity!!!” Really it is all about doing what is right – because it is the right thing to do.
She had four points::
- Don’t be an ass: Just be nice, polite and courteous. Don’t make stuff up and disclose, always tell folks that you were given a product to review. Don’t get greedy and don’t knock the PR person – they are the messenger after all. Classic case of if you have nothing nice to say then say nothing.
- Don’t make stuff up: If it isn’t true or you don’t want someone else to know what you have written then don’t write it… once something is published you can never delete it.
- Ask permission to use someone’s stuff: It’s the right thing to do and always ALWAYS link back.
- Karma!!!: What goes around comes around… So just be nice. Be slow to criticize and don’t jump into frays…
My Take Away:
Make yourself a PR page… a policy page if you like… explain what types of product you are interested working with… don’t make promises you are not about to keep. Explain what a company will get from you – not every product warrants a special post… I think this is a great idea!!! And if a persistent marketer keeps offering you products you don’t want to review just keep referring them to your policy page.
Now I have been dying to meet Alida Ryder since I heard she was bringing out her own recipe book – yay for that, I can’t wait to read it!!! She does say that she didn’t start blogging for money… and I am sure that is true for most of us… most bloggers have something to say and simply can’t help themselves!!! She spoke about banner adds and affiliates and direct advertising, which cuts out the middle man. She did say that making any money from blogging was much more of a marathon than a sprint. The very real cost of blogging is time.
My Take Away: Excellent work will be noticed. Treat your blog like a business and get all business transactions in writing. Be discerning about who and what advertises on your blog – make sure that it remans something that you love to look at and reflects your style, because that is what readers come back for.
Give folks the opportunity to experience your brand wherever you. Twitter, Facebook, Pinterest and so on… This the real estate of the blogger and it is important that it looks fabulous but that it is consistent. Remember that different types of media have different accessibility for your readers… they may not have Facebook during office hours, many companies block it… – but almost everyone has twitter at their fingertips all the time. If you have a Facebook page then keep it busy… A busy page generates more traffic… be innovative and take the time to read what folk are reading and stay trendy.
My TakeAway: Find out how to change the background on my twitter page… gotta get my own background up there!!!
I loved her talk… packed with practical bullet points… on how to write so that it is easy for the reader to read. Know that everyone scans when they read on the web and write for your blog with that in mind. Chunk your writing, use space between paragraphs, use lists and bullet points… Everything is about making posts easy on the eye and information accessible to the reader. Use keyword phrases in your blog posts and at least two internal and external links per post… so that readers dig deeper.
My TakeAway: Use the active voice and keep it SHORT, SHORT, SHORT… that is my #fail… I over explain everything!!! Even this!!!
I know I want to listen to what anyone has to say about Pinterest. I have to say I am fairly passionate about Pinterest… since it is one of the biggest sources of traffic to our blog… He showed us a very fun use of Pinterest by a large corporation…
My TakeAway: Have a strategy for your boards, keep them active… My boards have gotten big and I need to think about a plan for them!!!
When I got my camera a couple of years ago it took me months to turn it on – trepidation!!! But I went on a course and progressed to the “Auto button” and stuck there… The father person has tried, books have tried, friends have tried – all to no avail… BUT I finally, finally get it!!! I get it… Could we have a standing ovation… I get the photography triangle! I understood all the components: aperture; shutter speed and ISO… but I could never figure it out all together… But Jeanne talked about in terms I understood!!! If you are in a dark restaurant and your food isn’t running anywhere then these are the settings you will need… and suddenly with examples of photographs that I take all the time it made sense!!! Great and wonderful sense. Now I just need to find these bits and pieces on my camera and practice!!!
My TakeAway: I loved her step by step guide to a great photograph:
- Select the correct ISO for the ambient light. – I can do that!!!
- Select the right white balance for the ambient light.
- For food set a large aperture.
- Adjust the shutter speed till you get the correct exposure balance.
- Click… Take your picture… I can actually do this… I can!!!
Oh my word the end of the day strikes and since I know almost nothing about SEO I thought I would battle through this one. But it was a great workshop, lots of questions asked and answered!!! I learnt about things like meta descriptions; useful plugins that do your SEO for you. And how to track keywords that are bringing traffic to your site. Continue to create useful content while going back to correct broken links and add internal links into your site to draw the reader into it… Who would have thought there was a strategy for this!!!
My TakeAway: Everyone was talking about “nofollow links” honestly I have no idea what they are… though they were explained multiple times by different speakers… but my “nofollow” brain was switched off on the day. So that is my assignment for this week!!!
After all the talks and workshops there was an auction packed with products from the brilliant sponsors… folks were generous and money was raised to support Lavender in Lavender Hill. I love this project which hopes to plant a million Lavender plants in Lavender Hill a struggling community on the Cape Flats that is in desperate need of upliftment. Click on the logo to find more about this fabulous project!!!
The final event of the Day was Prize Giving!!! A table packed with prizes and an endless lucky drawer!!! It was at this stage that I started to think I really should be heading home but I stayed “just in case!!!” And “just in case” won off!!! As “Se7en” was called out and I was the owner of a Phillips Juicing Machine – not a little one either, which is fabulous with all of us… So there is going to be a lot of exploring around our house over the next couple of weeks while we discover the ins and outs of our new machine!!!
But that wasn’t all… there were the Goodie Bags… I wasn’t kidding when I said I thought I need a shopping cart for them!!!
And I drove home in the dark… to unpack – oh the heady excitement!!! And if you think those goody packs were incredible from the outside… here’s a sneak peak at the inside. Wow what incredible sponsors!!!
And a closer look:
All wonderful stuff… good stuff, fabulous snacks and treats, beverages!!! Cheeses and wines, magazines and vouchers… Everything to love!!!
Thank you so much to the SA Food and Wine Blogger Indaba for a fabulous day, all the treats and wonderful gifts, the fantastic lessons learnt!!! Huge thank you to the anonymous gifter, who surprised me with a ticket, you have no idea how you surprised me and how I so appreciate everything!!! Thank you to the main sponsors, PicknPay for their fabulous venue and delicious food!!! And Yuppie Chef for everything… And thank you to all the other sponsors who were brilliant – so amazing to meet all these wonderful folk. And wow thank you to all the wonderful new bloggers I met and new friends I connected with…
And that was the South African Food and Wine Blogger Indaba of 2012… awesome I know!!! Honestly I just can’t wait until next year!!! And anyone want to share some fabulous juice machine tips!!!