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Key Learnings from the Food Bloggers of Canada Conference

After a very fun weekend, I walked in the front door of my house last night and couldn’t get all of the wonderful key messages I’ve learned this out of my head. My head is literally swimming with ideas, and overflowing with inspiration.

The sessions at FBC2013 were nothing short of amazing. The speakers and panelists were very knowledgeable experts, sharing information that awed the crowd. If you were following along with me on Twitter, you would have witnessed a flurry of tweets bearing the #FBC2013 hashtag; all too beneficial not to share with the my followers.

If at any point during the conference you came to talk to me, you would have quickly discovered that I love to share my knowledge and perspectives. In the spirit of sharing, I have summarized everything that I tweeted during this enlightening 3 day conference. I know a lot of you will find value in what was shared at #FBC2013.

Bloggers & Brands

with Mardi, Brittany, Heather & Mary Luz
  • Before choosing a blogger to work with I will take a look at their blog to see if they have ever worked with the product before.
  • Although number of followers is considered, I also look at how engaged your community is. Do they interact with your content?
  • Justify the ask. Explain to the brand why you should be paid (more). Show what you bring to the table (reach, # of posts, etc)
  • What does an ideal relationship look like? Depends. Some brands want long-term relationships. Others just want linking or recipes 
  • If you want to work w/ a brand send them a pitch – don’t wait for them to come to you. Be specific & justify your ask!
  • Be transparent and disclose if you have received payment. This should be done at the top of your post.
  • Be honest. If you did not like the product you received or the event you attended you can say so.
  • If you’re going to an event with 50 other bloggers, how do you differentiate yourself to speak to your readers?
Keynote Speaker
David Leite
  • You need to love language. With or without echo. Knowing where to place your adjectives. It’s all about the words.
  • It’s all about the voice, it determines the choice of words.
  • Read your work out-loud. Find any structural errors. Make sure you hear your voice.
  • Punctuation creates rhythm. It tells you when to stop or slow down. Use it properly, it adds to your voice.
  • If you are not utterly passionate about something, you will fail. You need to be in your bliss and in your passion.
  • Start treating your blog like business right out of the gate. If you don’t do it now, you won’t in the future.
  • I think we should bring back the serial comma. You are allowed one exclamation point per post!
Tech for Your Blog – Getting Visitors and Keeping Them
with Dave and Melissa
  • Mobile web usage is doubling every year! By 2014 more people will use smartphones to get online than desktops!
  • What makes a site great? Fast to load, visible and accessible, simple to navigate.
  • Responsive design uses CSS and Javascript to change the website layout based on the browser. It can recognize if you are visiting from a phone or desktop.
  • Responsive Theme. Pro: One theme for all devices. Some beautiful options. Impressive if well done. Con: Can be difficult to maintain. More expensive to build. Can’t keep existing desktop theme.
  • Is Responsive for Me? Yes if you are considering a redesign, and you have the budget and skill-set to maintain.
  • A Separate Mobile Theme: Works via plugin that detects the accessing device and directs them accordingly. WordPress only. WPTouch for WordPress is a plugin that easily converts a WordPress blog to a mobile friendly site.
  • Separate Mobile Theme. Pro: Easy to implement. Highly customizable. Free. Works with desktop theme. Con: Customization may be desired.
  • Is a Separate Mobile Theme For You? Yes, if your theme is not responsive. If you prefer an app-like experience.
  • Be conscious of your image titles and names. You want to make sure they are descriptive to be included in search results.
  • Use the <h tag> to describe the hierarchy of your posts. Crawlers understand that h tags highlight importance. 
  • Titles are given <h1> tag defining it as the most important piece of information about the post. All <h> tags thereafter are nested.
  • Alt & title tags are used to describe images & links. Easy to add when using a WYSIWYG editor. Allows images & links to be indexed. 
  • When someone pins your images it pulls the information from your Alt & Image text. Very important to fill out!
  • Getting Indexed by Google. Use Google Webmaster Tools to submit an XML sitemap for google to index your pages. Blogger automatically generates a sitemap for you. WordPress has several plugins you can use, one called GoogleXMLSitemap. 
  • Google Authorship: A way of linking your content on any site to your Google+ profile. Your pic gets shown alongside your content.
Hey, Is Anybody Out There?
with Dianne Jacob
  • If someone takes the trouble to make a comment on your blog take the trouble to answer it.
  • Your reader should be able to feel your emotions. That’s how they connect with you.
  • Know who you are writing to. Think about who is reading it, and what kind of relationship you want to have with them.
  • Get comments: Ask a question. Have a really strong opinion. Make a classic recipe. Make a recipe with in season produce.
  • Get Comments: Write about something trendy. Write about a foodie movie you saw. Recipes using inexpensive ingredients.
  • Get Comments: Make something difficult and triumph. Use familiar recipe ingredients in a new way. Become an expert.
  • Do you sound like you in every post? Are you identifiable in every post? Be you all the time.
Food Photography & Styling
with Adele and Robin
  • Photography Composition: Rule of thirds. Vertical image. Depth of field. 
  • Photography Lighting: Side, front & back lighting. Most often side lighting is the best.
  • Food Photography Enhancements: Oil & water. Glycerin. Alter composition. Spray bottle, pipette, brush. Lighting.
  • Don’t forget to pay attention to controlling your colour balance.
  • Invest in a grey card. It will help in with post-editing.
Booking for Canadian Bloggers
with Brian Kent-Baas
  • The food you purchase to develop a recipe can be claimed as an expense. Keep your receipts. Be able to justify your expense.
  • Keep your receipts. Take a picture or scan them. A copy/picture of a receipt is just as useful as a physical one.
  • Keep track of products companies sent you. They track it as an expense, so you must keep track of it as well.
  • Don’t be afraid of taxes. If you are organized you’ll be fine. As a business your filing date is June 15 for you and your spouse.
  • You don’t have to start charging HST until you reach $30,000, but once you start remitting you must remit every year thereafter.
  • Open an account and aim to save 20% of your income to pay your taxes at the end of the year.
  • Income is any form of payment you receive – you must claim the “true market value” of the product as income on your taxes.
  • If you are unsure about the amount you can claim as expense the safe bet is to claim 10-20%.
  • When developing recipes keep track of everything. Dates you bought ingredients & dates you created & tested the recipes.
  • An expense you don’t get back, it just decreases your taxable income.
  • Create an income statement for yourself. It documents your income and expenses. Keep everything organized in one file.
  • If you want to do your own taxes use SimpleTax.ca. It will give you all the forms to file your own taxes for free!

There was so much to learn from not only the talented panelists and speakers but from each other. The amount of face time I had with each blogger allowed me to learn many things… everything from their “secret” techniques for getting noticed, right down to how darn cute their kids are. I am always amazed by the support Canadian food bloggers have for each other.

Again, thank you to all the generous sponsors, and the hard working FBC crew (Melissa, Mardi and Ethan).

What did you learn while at FBC2013? If you wrote a recap post please feel free to leave the link in the comments section below!

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