Hard to believe it was only two short weeks ago, I was attending the second annual Food Bloggers of Canada conference. I was lucky enough to attend the conference last year and basically had my mind blown with the amount of amazing content, great speakers, and the tremendous community spirit the event fosters. So needless to say, I walked into this year’s event with high hopes. #noPressure
FBC2014 did not disappoint. In fact, FBC raised the bar even higher. Now, what business does a gal who isn’t a food blogger have at a food blogging conference? Well I am a foodie and work with food bloggers on a regular basis, and I also have a DIY blog.
I can say on all fronts I learned something. I took home great insights into the talented food bloggers we work with on client campaigns and had the opportunity to connect with them IRL (in real life), I was inspired and learned some tricks to focus my own personal blog and help me achieve my goals, and I got to enjoy some FABULOUS food.
While it’s hard to narrow down a full weekend of amazing content & insights, here are my top 14 key take-aways from #FBC2014:
- Community instead of competition, inspiration instead of imitation.
- Spend time away from your computer, create memories, don’t forget the love of joy, the reason you started your blog in the first place. Create experiences with your content & your life – bring people together, don’t just broadcast – this builds YOUR brand loyalty.
- Bloggers have an offering. Make sure what you offer is special and surround yourself with amazing talent, we learn from them and get the chance to elevate our game.
- If it feels worthwhile to you, do it – even if that means working for free. You never know where things will lead you.
- Identify with brands you see yourself with. Ask yourself, who do you want to collaborate with? You are in charge of your blog, not the brands you work with – you can negotiate on your terms.
- You are in the driver’s seat for your brand. You choose the destination, the route, the road trip music, it’s YOUR brand to control. You choose who you want to be, understand why you are doing what you are doing…if you don’t want to write a cookbook, don’t – just because it’s what others are doing doesn’t mean it is what you should be doing.
- Check in with yourself constantly – make sure you are being authentic, that is what draws people to you. Do it because it feels authentic and right, not because you are or aren’t getting paid.
- Why are you doing/creating/developing the sponsored content? Because it happened organically or because someone asked? What is your motivation? Ask yourself this before diving in and look at boundaries for how your posts are structured. Remember, it’s your blog and your voice, don’t forget this. Infomercials make your readers suspicious – when it’s a total break from what you normally do it’s not authentic. Be transparent about the fact that you received something for free, or got paid.
- Numbers are great, but it’s more than that – its value you create for yourself and others if you have the values in mind, you’ll know what to measure. How can we add value to the existing passionate communities? If you understand your unique value you can share that with partners. You want to bring them into the experience, not interrupt the experience. Value for your community means value for your partners – context is important. If you don’t want your blog to be a business, then don’t turn it into one!
- When you pitch, keep it short – focus on what differentiates you from the field, what can you offer? How you can help connect your audience to your client’s audience? Be upfront about what you are and aren’t willing to do. Keep calm and remain professional – this is a business relationship.
- If you want to stand out, stand for something specific – be known as an expert in an area. A niche makes search engines happy. When you have a clear niche, your audience is a good match. If you are trying to be too many things (yoga, bbq, fashion) your audience is fragmented and opportunities for extension (books, mags, etc.) are more limited. Standing out and standing for something help you focus on your goals
- Pay attention to what resonates with your audience, that will help guide you. Ask yourself, can I excel at this topic? How do my readers feel about this subject? Does the niche have legs? Is the niche saturated? (P.S. crowded niches get that way because they work!). When building content for a niche blog remember: it’s mostly all been done before, but no one has your take on the topic. You’re going to have a different history or attachment to a topic and your friends are going to have a unique reaction. You may learn something new about yourself or the ingredient in the process.
- Create insanely useful, yet personal content. Think about making content evergreen – relevant now and a year from now be a relatable expert speak with authority and experience, but make mistakes and don’t be on a high horse.
- If you can’t tell someone (or yourself) what your blog is about, how can you tell a brand (or PR person working for that brand)? Stop trying to be the ‘next’ (insert blogger name here) – be yourself.
P.S. See you next year in Montreal!
(posted by Heather)