28 October 2015

Food Blogger Connect - Blogger Tips and Hotel Review


Food Blogger Connect, the international food bloggers conference, was held in Chiskwick House in London this year. Well when I say Chiskwick House, I actually mean in the gardens. We were super lucky it was dry. Strangely enough the dog show was inside that beautiful building and we were outside. There's something not quite right there.


I usually post a few write-ups about the event, but as I'm so late in posting this I thought I'd do it all in a oner. First I'd like to share the rather fab hotel we stayed in and then I'll move down to blogger tips and some of the new products I tried and we'll finish with a few of the lovely bloggers who were there.

HOTEL


Stuart (Cakeyboi), Sarah (Maison Cupcake), Lisa (United Cakedom), Luca (Chestnut and Truffles) and myself all stayed in Ibis Shepherds Bush.

We were mightily impressed. Sarah stays in Ibis a lot, but this was a first for me.

We were greeted by a cheery receptionist and all delighted with our rooms. They were modern, sleek, very clean and had everything we needed. Plenty of storage, plug points, a tv, power shower and a comfy bed.

Luca thought it was really reasonably priced for London too.


 

We were really impressed by breakfast too. There was so much to choose from. Cooked breakfasts, fruit, yoghurt, cereals, muesli, a range of fresh breads and rolls, preserves, cheeses, salad, fruit salad, dried fruit, muffins, croissants, yoghurt drinks, smoothies................

I'll definitely stay in Ibis hotels in future.


BLOGGER TIPS


Sophie Grigson
Food and Recipe Writing Lab



Sophie was lovely. Stuart and I were lucky enough to arrive at the same time as her and had a wander round the grounds with her and a chat. Her session was up first and whizzed by. She set us all to work writing recipes for cheese on toast. Yes, there's more to it than you would think.

Here are some of her recipe writing tips:
  • Lure people in with a good recipe title.
  • Add clear instructions, but add a bit of your own voice.
  • What makes the recipe special? Think about this for the title, don't just list the ingredients.
  • When stating servings be as helpful as possible. It may feed 6 hungry people or two as a light lunch (obviously not the same recipe).
  • The list of ingredients should be the same order they are added to create the dish.
  • Make sure all ingredients listed are used in the method and the other way around too, make sure all the ingredients mentioned in the method are in the ingredient list.
  • Spoons should be level,  rounded or heaped (this especially makes a difference when baking).
  • Think about the weight of fruit, is it the weight before or after the stones are removed?
  • A long method can scare readers off. If you want to add notes, why not add them in the paragraph above the recipe.
  • Use correct terminology ie, boiling, simmering, sauteed or fried.
  • All cookers are different, use about in times, so people can check their dish as it cooks. Manufacturers say 10 degrees either way is ok. (WHAT!!!!!!)
Sarah (Maison Cupcake), Lisa (United Cakedom) and Ceri (Natural Kitchen Adventures)
Katie (Feeding Boys), Helene (Croque Maman), Luca (Chestnut and Truffles) & Stuart (Cakeyboi)
 
Lizzie Sibley
Marketing Manager Pinterest UK

Pinterest 101
  • 85% of Pinterest Traffic is from mobiles
  • Use portrait shots, landscape shots disappear on Pinterest
  • You can't have too many boards or too many pins
  • People don't tend to look at your profile page, they find you through search
  • Focus on good board descriptions and pin descriptions so people can find you through search
  • Go back through your boards and make the description more detailed
  • Don't use hashtags, they don't work on Pinterest. Use good descriptions instead
  • You can use long descriptions on pins, give as much information as possible
  • If you have a blog sign up for a business account for the analytics
  • Install the official ‘Pin It’ button on your website to make it Pinterest friendly, you’re helping your readers share and distribute your content on your behalf.
  • See what people are pinning from your site. Go to pinterest.com/source/yourblogurl  


follow me




Me and Kate from The Veg Space


Monica (Smarter Fitter) giving a talk on analytics


David Frenkiel
Green Kitchen Stories

Developing Workflow Habits

Well there wasn't much in the way of worflow tips, but I did enough the talk. Here are some of the tips I picked up.
  • Styling - Check with companies that sell wood, tiles and stone, find out what they are using and get it cheap
  • While you are cooking a dish, plan in your head what plates you will use to display it and what else you will use in the photo. Plan ahead and take less photos
  • Find a good window and take your shots there
  • Have a stock of plates and props near your photo area
  • Use a reflector
  • Take one shot from above and one from the side
  • Limit your shots and cut down the time it takes you to decide and edit
  • Keep all photos organised in folders. In each folder there should be sub-folders
    • Subfolders
      • 1 - Raw photos
      • 2 - High Res photos edited and saved as TIFFs
      • 3 - Edited Photos saved as 800px jpgs
      • 4 - Square shots or shots for social media
  •  Keep secret Pinterest boards to store ideas

Kevin (The Crafty Larder), Nazima (Franglais Kitchen) & Jen (Jen's Food)


FILO

Filo is a new way to recommend products. It works with Amazon, requires zero integration, and is completely free. It's iPhone based.

Information Snacking
  • Mobiles are where it's at. People are waiting for the buzz and checking their phones all day.
  • People average 150 sessions a day.
  • Instagram is easy to snack on, it's like French fries.
  • Before mobiles everything was platformed based. You had to switch on your pc, load a browser, a website and work on a platform, mobile has changed all that.
  • Each platform has different readers.
  • Remember email is a platform too, send out newsletters.
  • Here's the share on mobiles
    • Facebook 64%
    • Twitter 10%
    • Pinterest 10% 
    • Other 16%
Becca (Amuse your Bouche), Sarah (Taming Twins), Jo (Jo's Kitchen), Helen (Fuss Free Flavours)  Kate (Veggie Desserts)


FOOD


Duke of Delhi - The most fabulous flavoursome chocolate. We all know chocolate can be good with a little salt, imagine chocolate with little bites of spice. I was wowed! They also gave me a shot of bombay mix with chocolate in it. You have to try it. Flavour bomb sensation!

Crazy for Pasta - These cheery chappies kindly made us fresh pasta to fuel our brains over the weekend. I loved their pasta machine. It was mesmerising! Great pasta too!






Oh My Dogs - Oh my I enjoyed my tofu dog. So, so good. I'll have to figure out how to make these. I'm drooling just thinking about it.

Mamasitas - Traditional Mexican corn tacos filled with veg and topped with pickles and dressing. Tasty!!!


Churros Garcia - Who could say no to some freshly made churros tossed in cinnamon sugar and served with warm melted chocolate? I couldn't!

Massis Tea - I hate tea. Have I told you that before? Well I was lured in by the pretty flowers and a charming young man persuaded me to try this Iced Tea with Ginger and Honey.  It was so refreshing. I can't believe I liked it. Shocker!

Outsider Tart - See that slice there? Stuart, Lisa and Luca went off campus in search of Outsider Tart and I'm so glad they did because Stuart brought back that slice. A moist biscuit base, topped with a brownie layer and topped with M&Ms and cookie. It was heavenly, but also huge, so I shared it round.


SUMMING UP

I really enjoyed my trip to FBC this year. As usual there was good and bad. Everyone was freezing, although to this Scots lass it was gorgeous sunny weather.

Some of the sessions were great and others not so good. There was a rather loud-mouthed fashion blogger (why?) who dominated several talks. Did she share anything useful? Nope! It was just me, me, me, aren't I wonderful. That annoyed a lot of people.

There were some great sessions too. The ones I've spoken about, a tax session, one on Lightroom, a talk by Claudia Roden which was interesting, but went on too long and Monica's analytics.

The best part of the weekend as ever was meeting up with all the bloggers I spend so much time chatting to online. It's nice to meet up again with old friends and to make new friends too.



Disclosure: Ibis were kind enough to provide me with a hotel room and breakfast over the weekend. I was not expected to write a positive review, but I had a great stay there and will definitely stay in Ibis again.

49 comments:

  1. Oh you made me guffaw with your honesty! It was a fantastic weekend nonetheless and I'm delighted I have the chance to meet you and all the other fantastic food bloggers I've grown to know over the last few years. You all rock! :)

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    1. I had a blast Elizabeth, it's always good fun and so nice meeting up with everyone. It was lovely to finally meet you.

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  2. Some great tips here! I used to not to hashtags on Pinterest and then I heard they do work, so I started doing them, but now I guess they don't. Well, good, one less thing to worry about! Ha! Filo sounds interesting...definitely going to check that out!

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    1. They are really against them here in the UK, apparently your whole desciption is keywords so there's no need for the hashtags. Filo does sound goo, but I am Android, so no good to me.

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  3. Excellent write up and it was great to see you there again. Great photos and thanks for posting!

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    1. It was lovely to see you again too Luca and to actually get a chance to speak to you this year.

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  4. great post with lots of good tips.

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  5. I would've loved to hear Claudia Roden, and the longer the better for me...

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    1. She was really interesting, but it was very long and she started to ramble towards the end. I think she needed a bit of direction. It was good to hear her talk though.

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  6. Some great tips here Jacs and lovely to see so many blogging friends in the flesh so to speak:-)

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    1. Thanks Camilla and yes it was. Shame you couldn't have come, it would have been nice to see you.

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  7. Oh wow, lovely to see all you glamorous girls. Glad to see you got fed properly this year Jac. Good to be reminded about what's pinned directly from your blog. I've just had a look and it cheered me up no end. My aim is to plan photos better so I don't take so many, but it's so difficult when there is so little space and stuff is dotted around all over the house. Would love to have met Sophie G.

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    1. Oh good, glad you took something from it and you are so right, I take way too many photos and the first tends to be the best anyway. I have the same space issues. Need a much bigger house. Sophie was lovely and her talk was fun, it went by in a flash.

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  8. Thank you SO much for sharing all these tips. I was disappointed that I couldn't make it, but at least I have picked up some tips from here.
    I love that pasta machine - I am going to ask Santa for one haha.

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    1. Glad you got something from it Danii. Yes, it's a fab machine. Love those wee shapes.

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  9. Thanks for all the wonderful tips and photos - so helpful - Nancy M

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  10. Really enjoyed reading this post, thanks for sharing! I've never been to a blogger convention before but would really love to (this one was out of my price range - I did look at it a few months back!).

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    1. Hi Jo, that's a shame, it was a fun weekend. Glad you enjoyed the post :)

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  11. Great to see you there again this year Jac. Thanks so much for taking the time to share all your tips - I never quite manage to have the opportunity to write anything down! Till next year….

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    1. You are so busy though Ceri and you do a great job. It was great to see you too.

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  12. A great roundup of the event! It was a shame I could only attend on one day so didn't get to chat that much, but was great to meet you and all the other people I have been talking to online for so long. Agree about the fashion blogger... ;-)

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    1. That was just shocking, wasn't it. I really wanted to hear the other people speak too, but there was little chance of that.

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  13. This was really interesting to read, thank you! The Pinterest hastag thing is confusing. I had read that hastags do work, Pinterest just ignores the # and uses the word in search, but I guess you have it from the horse's mouth that they don't work at all!

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    1. Let's just say they don't like them and there is no need as they pick up the words in your description as keywords. So we can drop that hashtag and it still works.

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  14. Always a pleasure to spend time with you Jac and I really enjoyed our stay at Ibis! There was some good food at FBC this year but I hadn't bargained for the outdoors festival aspect. I hear you on big chunks of the agenda being railroaded by a speaker who was not even the right niche and given too much airtime - yet failing to share anything remotely worthwhile. No matter how amazing a speaker turns out to be, there is a such a thing as overkill.

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    1. Same here, love spending time with you and the hotel was great. Was planning on staying in an Ibis again in Cardiff in April, unfortunately no family rooms available, which is a shame and yes complete overkill. I suppose you don't know how awful someone will be until after they have spoken, that's they thing. Brilliant weekend though.

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  15. Great post jac - I love how succinctly you summarise some of the interesting tips from the sessions - and I am jealous of all that good food and of course good company

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    1. Hopefully some of the points were useful Johanna. It would have been great if you could have been there too.

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  16. Wow, that food!! I'd go just for that. And I need a pasta machine too...I'd be eating pasta every darn day!

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    1. It's a pretty cool pasta machine, but you'd need a huge kitchen for it.

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  17. I've missed the last two FBC because of the timing and regret not meeting up with everyone. It really opened up the blogging world to me and I've made so many good friends and great contacts through it. If you were freezing I would have been arctic! I wore thermals to the one in the Apprentice house and that was mostly inside.

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    1. I only got cold towards the evening, but everyone else was freezing. It really is great for meeting up with other bloggers.

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  18. ha, a dog show inside... :) thanks for the tips, the recipe writing tips are great! I love that wall of white books...

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    1. I know, Go figure! Glad you enjoyed the post Kristina :)

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  19. Amazing Pinterest tips -- and what a nice getaway! The photos make me feel like getting away from where I am as well :) Thanks for sharing!

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    1. Glad they were helpful, we had a great weekemd.

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  20. What wonderful tips!All bloggers can learn something from this post! Thanks so much for sharing! Loved the pinterest tips!

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    1. Oh good, I'm glad they were of help. I always take notes, so I can share afterwards.

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  21. So many great tips! I actually read that hashtags work, however, I stopped doing them awhile back because I was just too lazy to keep doing them, lol!

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    1. They say they don't work, but as they pick up keywords I suspect they do. Alhtough as they scan your desciption for keywords, there is really no need to add the hashtag itself.

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  22. A wonderful post, Jac! I really enjoyed the talks and you've produced a really good set of notes to refer too. For me the best bit was meeting so many other bloggers and talking about food non-stop for two days. I'm counting the days to when I can see you all again; my little foodie family!

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    1. Yeah it was fun, wasn't it. I think we could all have easily kept talking for at least a week.

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  23. Some really great tips! Thanks so much for sharing this, Jacqueline! I just recently started using hashtags on Pinterest. Haha! I'll need to focus more on the description.

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  24. Looks like a great place to stay, and that you learned a ton! Thanks for sharing the info. One thing that surprised me: That 85 percent of Pinterest use is from mobile! Wow! Thanks!

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  25. Looks like a great time! Thanks for sharing so much of the info you picked up, very much appreciated!

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I love reading comments, so thank you for taking the time to leave one. Unfortunately, I'm bombarded with spam, so I've turned on comment moderation. I'll publish your comments as soon as I can and respond to them. Don't panic, they will disappear when you hit publish. Jac x