Sometimes you have to drop off the radar, invest in yourself, and find inspiration to go deeper in your work and life. Maybe that means taking a class, reading a book, studying with a mentor, or attending a conference where you can be surrounded by all sorts of great teachings and insights. Food Blog Camp, a small gathering of some of the food blogging community’s most inspiring leaders, is all of those things in one gorgeous, entertaining, and tropical locale.
For the third year in a row, attendees of the Food Blog Camp are given immediate access to some of the food blogging world’s most talented stars–Matt Armendariz (Matt Bites), Elise Bauer (Simply Recipes), Jaden Hair (Steamy Kitchen), David Lebovitz (David Lebovitz), Adam Pearson (Adam C. Pearson) and Diane Cu and Todd Porter (White on Rice).
This year’s Food Blog Camp event was held in the luxurious Grand Velas Riviera Maya resort in Cancun, Mexico. Infinity pools, gorgeous vistas, heaping bowls full of guacamole, an endless supply of fresh juices, jungle wildlife, and luxury suites (so large I could have moved my entire apartment inside), created an otherworldly feeling that transported imaginations to uncharted places and happy tastebuds. As in past years, the location of the event was key in giving attendees a break in routine so that they could make room for innovative thinking.
If you are longing for inspiration to bring your blog or website to the next level, I suggest you follow a few of the following lessons and insights from the Food Blog Camp panelists.
1) Make your blog addictive.
What is it about your blog (or the blog that you’re working towards building) that will make people really want to come back? Do your readers come back for great and reliable recipes? Compelling stories? Valuable advice on products?
2) Don’t just talk to yourself. Engage your readers.
It’s true that the most important thing you have to offer is your unique perspective on the mundane, but there’s more to it than that when you’re creating content for your site. You have to engage your readers and get them involved in your content.
3) Define who you are. Find your niche.
“What is your genius?” Elise Bauer asked. “What will distinguish us?” Once you figure out what your niche is, stick to it. “Creativity flourishes with constraints,” says Elise. She suggests you get really clear on who your audience is.
4) Pursue what makes you happy and brings you joy.
“It’s not about being a celebrity. It’s about living a beautiful life,” says Elise. It’s okay to have a simple blog and tell a story. Or you could have a business plan that includes selling products and a lifestyle brand. It’s all about what makes you happy.
5) Know your Intention.
You could be doing everything right on your site (great design, good SEO, solid recipes), but if you don’t have heart, it will not be successful. Know who you are writing for and what kind of content you want to share.
6) Never apologize for your lack of posting.
Post on a regular basis, but if you can’t, it’s not necessary to go on and on about it. Keep your content strong. Don’t waste people’s time with excuses.
7) When it comes to the business of your blog, pay people for what they’re worth.
When you want to update the look of your site or you need to learn an important skill, don’t cut corners. Skimping might end up costing you more money. Pay what you can afford and choose your teachers and support team wisely.
8) Use Twitter for more than just a self-promotion tool.
Twitter is a powerful tool to entertain, give back, and promote you and people that inspire you. Think about sharing someone else’s content rather than just your own.
9) Try to avoid using “lazy” food words in your posts:
- Drool, Yummy, Delicious, Amazing, Tasty are just too easy. Try to find your way into other words or using different descriptions.
10) Think editorially (like a food magazine) when creating content for your site.
Think ahead of big holidays and seasonal trends before they happen. Shoot food that’s in season (even if you don’t have a recipe in mind), especially for food items that have a brief window of availability at the market. Think about holidays in advance (Mother’s Day, Valentine’s Day) before they come, so that you can get ahead of the event and be prepared for the day.
Now that there are so many (food) blogging and technology conferences to choose from, it’s important to choose the right conference for you. Perhaps a local conference and/or a photography class makes sense for learning how to be a better blogger. Maybe saving your pennies for an intimate getaway to learn from the best of the best is the greatest investment of time and money. Regardless, if you want to bring the quality of your website up, you must be committed to learning, stretching yourself, and getting clear on your goals.
A Very big THANK YOU is in order:
Thank you to the very generous people at Kerrygold, Elise Bauer and the nice people at Grand Velas for their support of the food blogger camp and offering scholarships to people like me who needed a little financial help in getting to this gorgeous, luxury destination. Without your help I would not have been able to be an attendee. Thank you a million times over.
What’s Gaby Cooking: Food Blog Camp-Cancun
David Lebovitz: Food Blogger Camp 2011
Family Fresh Cooking: Food Blog Camp 2011
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Mommy Cooks: Food Blog Camp 2011
Confections of a Foodie Bride: Food Blog Camp: Seeing the Light
Savuryandsweet: Hola from Riviera Maya
The Recipe Renovator: Food Blogger Camp: Molecular Gastronomy Demonstration
The Urban Baker: Community Across the Globe