Food Blogging Tips (FBC#5)

Today I would like to share some of the key points that resonated with me from some of the talks at Food Blogger Connect #5.

The way your blog looks is really important. People do judge a book by it's cover and will judge your blog on how it looks. Have a look at your blog. Does your name and logo work? Are the colours easy on the eye and do they work together? Is your font easy to read? Could you improve your photography?

Take a pad of paper and think about what your niche is and what your brand is about. Have a look at other similar blogs.

Find out what your readers want. Is a certain type of post more popular?

Write down what your brand/blog is about.

Stick to your brand.

Share what your blog is about on different social media, when you go to events and when you meet people. Do remember to take business cards with you.

Work on projects with other bloggers with a similar audience. Work on a challenge together, guest post on each others blogs or just share each others posts.

Please declare sponsored posts and reviews. Your readers will value you more if you are upfront about it and lets face it they are smart enough to know when you are writing for a brand anyway. They will respect you more if you declare it.

Don't use a follow link when writing for a brand on your blog. If money or goods have exchanged hands then you must declare and use a 'nofollow' link. It really isn't worth losing your google rank over or a hefty fine. No matter what the PR tries to tell you, it's not ok to use a follow link when working with brands.

Be pro-active with your blog. If a PR gets in touch with something that isn't relevant to you, then try not to get annoyed. I know it is easy to feel fed up, but you can turn it around. This PR may have other brands that are more relevant to you or may have work for you in the future. It's all about connections. Let them know what your niche is and what you can do for them.

I am the worst person to tell you about maximising your time. I can fritter time away online like nobody else. I know I need a plan and this is a good one. Make a list of what you need to do each day to engage with your readers on social media and your blog and make new contacts. Try not to stray too much if you don't have the time.

We all tend to visit the same blogs over and over. This isn't expanding our reach or letting other people know about us. Spend time finding a couple of new blogs and say hi and leave a comment. It's another connection.

Do this during your hour of social media time. If you do it every day, it will make a difference.

Take time to reply to comments and leave comments on other blogs. schedule tweets, but write them yourself and share interesting comments.

Sharing your posts during the night will result in new readers. Follow new people on twitter and they may have a look at who you are too, don't just wait for people to find you. Be pro-active.

Have a look at current trrends and keywords that are the most searched for this could inspire some really popular posts.

Keep your content fresh and current.


I hope these tips have been useful. They may be new to you or just a timely reminder. It pays to stop now and again and have a think about your blog and social presence.

Here are my 5 posts:
  1. Tips for Food Bloggers - FBC#5 (Day 1)  - including how to get published in magazines
  2. Tips for Food Bloggers - FBC#5 (Day 2) - including food styling tips
  3. Tips for Food Bloggers - FBC#5 (Day 3) - including brand identity and general FBC tips
  4. Food Blogging Tips - FBC#5 - including lots of key tips for food bloggers
  5. Meet the Bloggers - FBC#5 - including profiles of 10 bloggers you may not know and and a list of others that attended.

Tips for Food Bloggers - FBC#5 (Day 3)

Day 3 of Food Blogger Connect didn't start well for me as I had an ulcer on my eye. So anyone at FBC who wondered why I was wondering about in my sunglasses inside, looking like a right numpty, well now you know!

I sat through most of the morning and then did a search on my tablet for the nearest hospital. Ah, an eye hospital nearby. Perfect! Just a 30 minute walk. So I copy and paste their postcode in my phone sat nav and set off.

Apart from the agony in my eye, I was feeling pretty happy. It was sunny and hot and I was having a meander through a lovely part of London while I listened to Paint It Black. Got to my destination and guess what, no destination! There was no hospital there. I re-checked my sat nav, walked around a bit more, then gave up an phoned the hospital. "No, we are at the other end of London, you are looking at about 30-40 mins by car. Bring on a wee sob (glad I had my sunglasses on) and a phone call to Graham as I walk back to the conference and give up on the whole hospital idea.

Day 3

How To Launch a Product Line

Dana Elemara of Arganic talked to us about how she set up her brand from the concept, through to the product, logo, marketing etc. It was really interesting to hear about that side of things.

Although she was talking about her brand and product, some of her tips would be good for bloggers too.

  • You need to create an identifiable name and logo
  • It should be memorable, easy to pronounce and spell
  • It should work in colour and black and white
  • Is the trademark available?

The rest of the day was a bit of a dead loss for me. I had an ulcer on my eye and was in agony, so I didn't take many notes. We had a great talk called:

Breathing Life Into Your Brand Identity 

by Regula (Miss Foodwise)
  • Our brand is vey important
  • We must decide if we are blogging for ourselves, for an income or to set up a business. 
  • Our logo is important 
  • As is our blog message (strapline). 
  • Our about page is very important, we should have a photo of ourselves and our name
  • The style of our photos should reflect the style of our blog.
  • Our business card should hold our full name and contact details, but don't make it too corporate looking.

My Food Highlights

1. Gran Luchito - Gran Luchito is a Smoked Chilli Paste or Salsita de chiles ahumados - made in Mexico from rare Oaxacan (pronounced wa-ha-can) chillies. I tried their smoked chilli honey and their smoked chilli mayo. They were sensational. So much flavour!

2. Vegan Tart - It was nice to see some vegan food in the FBC street. We enjoyed some really excellent pastry from them. photo: Nayna Kanabar

3. Bev's Cookie Desserts - These cookies were soft and sensational and all in dessert flavours like strawberry cheesecake cookie and apple crumble cookie. photo: Nayna Kanabar

4.  Moose Maple Butter - Wow! There isn't much more to say. Fresh organic butter combined with maple syrup. If you can lay your hands on some, stock up! 

Food Blogger Connect

I had a great weekend. It was fabulous to meet everyone at last.

Tickets: Buy them early and get them on the 2 for 1 early bird special. If not try to get a brand to sponsor you or enter one of the competitions running up to the event.

Venue: Great venue in a good location. If you are going to Battersea, fly to Gatwick, take the shuttle to the train station. Take a train to Clapham Junction, come out of the station, turn left and walk up Lavender Hill. 

Staying over: I shared a room with Karen and it was very cheap because we booked early. We were just over £35 altogether each for 2 nights. We stayed at the Battersea Travelodge, which was clean and close to the venue. It is walkable or you can hop on a bus and you are at Clapham Junction a couple of stops later.

The Conference: There were some outstanding speakers, but some really poor ones too and some that were quite basic. I would still recommend going to the conference, you will come away with some great contacts and have learned a lot.

Here are my 5 posts:
  1. Tips for Food Bloggers - FBC#5 (Day 1)  - including how to get published in magazines
  2. Tips for Food Bloggers - FBC#5 (Day 2) - including food styling tips
  3. Tips for Food Bloggers - FBC#5 (Day 3) - including brand identity and general FBC tips
  4. Food Blogging Tips - FBC#5 - including lots of key tips for food bloggers
  5. Meet the Bloggers - FBC#5 - including profiles of 10 bloggers you may not know and and a list of others that attended.

Tips for Food Bloggers - FBC#5 (Day 2)

Here is my second post on Food Blogger Connect #5

Day 2:

Capturing Culture Via Cuisine.

Day two started of with a bang, with an amazing talk from award-winning photogrpher Penny de los Santos.

Penny travels the world taking photos for National Geographic and Saveur Magazine, sometimes in the most unhospitable places, where she really isn't welcome.

Penny told us to get the story behind the photo, there are two sides to every photo.

I could have listened to Penny all day.

Next up was another great talk by Emily Jonzen of Leiths School of Food and Wine. I didn't take any photos, I was too busy taking notes!

Food Styling 101
photo: Flickr/ geishaboy500
  • Think about where the light is coming from
  • Think abut the camera angle, try taking shots from different angles
  • Use paint brushes to paint oil on food for shine
  • Use marmite mixed with water to give a golden colour to food
  • Store salad and herbs in ice water to keep them fresh until you need them for the shot
  • When building up a dish, add things a little at a time
  • Use a dripper to drip on dressing
  • Show food cut into or spooned into
  • Use a teaspoon to take out a little at a time, until it looks good, this is more precise
  • Mess up a fork and add it to the dish, don't use it to cut into the dish
  • Add cutlery to your photo
  • Only slightly cook vegetables for a better colour
  • A small plate looks better in a photo
  • Turquoise and pale green plates work well with food
  • Use a dulling spray on plates and cutlery to take of the shine
  • Props - go for neutral colours and dull metals, not shiny
  • Props - search in antique shops and car boot sales
  • Slice herbs and vegetables very thinly, pop into some iced water and they will curl nicely for your shot. Chillies, carrots and spring onions work well

Whole Foods Market

At lunchtime a few of us went off campus, so to speak, as there wasn't any food for veggies. We were very disappointed.

We headed down to Whole Foods Market for lunch. I loved the shop and the array of food on display looked amazing.

We were a little disappointed by the flavour though. A bit bland and it promised so much!

Diversified Monetisation, Launch Your Bona Fide Food Career

Kerstin Rodgers (Ms Marmite Lover) talked to us about how she set up her supper club.

What a laugh!

Kerstin had us chortling all the way through with her witty view of life and people. I'm not thinking of starting one up, but I wouldn't have missed her talk.

She also reminded us to get paid for our work for brands and not sell ourselves short.

We ended the day late after more street food outside the centre and then retired to a local pub for the rest of the evening. Unfortunately, I got caught in the smoke from the BBQ and developed an ulcer on my eye again. An eye bath in the pub toilets did little to improve the situation, although everyone was very kind. So Sunday wasn't as much fun as it should have been.

Here are my 5 posts:
  1. Tips for Food Bloggers - FBC#5 (Day 1)  - including how to get published in magazines
  2. Tips for Food Bloggers - FBC#5 (Day 2) - including food styling tips
  3. Tips for Food Bloggers - FBC#5 (Day 3) - including brand identity and general FBC tips
  4. Food Blogging Tips - FBC#5 - including lots of key tips for food bloggers
  5. Meet the Bloggers - FBC#5 - including profiles of 10 bloggers you may not know and and a list of others that attended.


Tips for Food Bloggers - FBC#5 (Day 1)

photo: Flickr/Ewan-M
During a sunny weekend at the start of July I flew down to London to attend Food Blogger Connect.

What's FBC, I hear you ask? Food Blogger Connect is an annual international food blogging conference, where food bloggers can network, attend workshops and talks, hone their skills and eat. Yes, there is a lot of eating!

The conference was held in the rather gorgeous Battersea Arts Centre on Lavender Hill.

Battersea is more famously known for it's dogs home, but it is a really nice area filled with cafés, restaurants, some interesting shops and pubs.

Here are some of the highlights from the conference on day one.

As you can see there was lots of food sampling and taking photos of food!

Day 1 

Blogging: Then, Now and There

Food Blogger Connect opened by founder Bethany Kehdy 
and keynote speaker David Lebovitz
The conference was kicked off by an introduction speech by founder Bethany Kehdy and keynote speaker David Lebovitz. 

Then we were straight into the first talk by David. I was looking forward to hearing David speak as I have long followed his blog and have a copy of his slurpilicious cookbook The Perfect Scoop.

David started blogging way back in 1999, so he really does knows what he is talking about. 

David told us:
  • Not to expect fame to come knocking when we start our blogs, it takes a while to build them up.
  • Our blogs shouldn't be perfect. Blog your mistakes, people like to see you are human and make mistakes. 
  • Try your recipes over and over. David tries his recipes again and again and a few more times to get them right and heavily edits himself. 
  • Don't add lots of photos of the same dish from different angles, that one good photo would do 
  • Make sure there are no errors in your recipe before you post it

How To Get Published In Magazines

I was really impressed by this talk given by blog friends Karen Burns-Booths from Lavender and Lovage and Ren Behan from the blog of the same name, formerly known as Fabulicious Food. 

Karen and Ren spoke about their own experiences in writing for magazines and gave us some really useful tips.

  • Before submitting some work to a magazine, do some groundwork. Find out the correct person to get in touch, it may not be the editor, it may be the food editor, the features editor or a lifestyle director.
  • Really get to know the theme of the magazine and the style of cooking the publish.
  • Submit recipes that fit this theme.
  • Strike up a conversations  with editors on twitter, but don't harass them.
  • Keep adding good content to your blog and the work will come to you.
  • Consider holding some recipes back, so if as magazine gets in touch, you have work to offer that hasn't been previously published.
Another highlight from day one was a talk by Niamh Shields about her: 

Cross Canadian Journey

Niamh writes the popular and long running blog Eat Like a Girl. She is a wonderfully funny and sociable Irish lass who has been blogging since 2007 and spends a lot of her time travelling and trying the foods of the world. 

She has a new cookbook out called Comfort and Spice, which I have had a good flick through and plan on buying soon. 

Niamh shared photos of her journey across Canada and talked about the people she met and the food she tried. What particularly piqued my interest was ice cider made from frozen apples. I was lucky enough to taste some afterwards and it was amazing. Such a pure hit of apple flavour and so intense. Niamh told me M&S are going to be stocking it, so I will be looking out for that.

At the end of the first day myself, Karen (Lavender and Lovage), Regula (Miss Foodwise), Niamh (Eat Like A Girl), Hazel Hardijzer, Louisa (Chez Foti) and Giulia (Juls' Kitchen) headed out onto the streets of London where Niamh found us a rather nice wine bar.

I decided to try a London beer  from Camden Town Brewery called Hells Lager, which was very drinkable. Some of the others tried a sparkling red wine, which was strangely good.

Stay tuned for day two.

Here are my 5 posts:
  1. Tips for Food Bloggers - FBC#5 (Day 1)  - including how to get published in magazines
  2. Tips for Food Bloggers - FBC#5 (Day 2) - including food styling tips
  3. Tips for Food Bloggers - FBC#5 (Day 3) - including brand identity and general FBC tips
  4. Food Blogging Tips - FBC#5 - including lots of key tips for food bloggers
  5. Meet the Bloggers - FBC#5 - including profiles of 10 bloggers you may not know and and a list of others that attended.


New in my Turkish Kitchen

Cooper making truffles in Babaanne's Kitchen

You may have come across my series of posts called New in My Kitchen. I have a slightly different one for you today. I wanted to share some moments from my holiday to North Cyprus. In case you are wondering, the north of Cyprus is Turkish and the south is Greek.

Pitta Bread

The fresh pitta bread baked in the north of Cyprus is wonderful.

Freshly baked, springy and full of flavour. They are huge too.

Nothing like the ready-packed pitta we buy here in the UK, which is rather cardboardy in comparison

Bread is baked fresh in homes and bakeries in Cyprus. They don't have the same pre-packed bread culture we have here. We could learn a thing or two.


Yedigün is a refreshing mandarin flavoured drink. 

It hits the spot when the temperatures soar, especially if it's ice cold. I'm not usually a fan of fizzy juice, but this one is pretty good.


Mozzies love me. I must taste great to them. I have tried all sorts of sprays, but still get some bites. Admittedly, it isn't as bad in June, but they still get me.

I took Ultrathon this year and sprayed it liberally before going out to dine in the evening and didn't get any bites. Oh except by the wee spider that bite me on the leg when I was lying down, minding my own business and reading my book. Wee bugger!

Turkish Tableware

Down a dusty side-street in Girne, you will find two narrow shops, side-by-side selling traditional Turkish goods.

The owner and his wife visit Turkey regularly and bring new stock back.

Lamps, plates, bowls, pipes and a few bits and pieces. All of the most gorgeous quality.

We visit the shop every year. and come home with a stash.

This year I bought this plate and the bowl above for myself and a few others as gifts.

I could have spent hours in those shops deciding what I wanted. I think I was rather restrained, there is so much choice and all so beautiful and decorative too.

I'm sure you'll be seeing these in recipe photos very soon.

Brandy Sours

Karen over at Lavender and Lovage used to live in this part of the world and while I was away she kept asking me if I'd been drinking brandy sour.

Well, I couldn't let her down could I?

Brandy Sour was invented in Cyprus by the Haggipavlu family, in the early 1930s for the young King Farouk of Egypt, who liked cocktails, which he shouldn't have been drinking as a muslim. 

Brandy and lemons are two of the main exports from Cyprus and the drink is still popular there.

Here is a basic recipe:

Brandy Sour

2 shots of Brandy
1 shot of Cypriot lemon juice or squash
a few drops of Angostura Bitters
topped up with lemonade or soda water & ice

Savoury Rice

I didn't do a lot of cooking this year while we were away, instead my mother-in-law Jean did most of it.

I think she fears me knocking things over and breaking things in her kitchen. She could have a point!

This is one of the dishes she pulled together for us. A savoury rice dish, that was packed with vegetables and topped with succulent mushrooms.

It was seriously good!

Pure Coconut Oil

Coconut oil is a really trendy ingredient at the moment. Everyone seems to be using it. 

I used it in a batch of Vegan Peanut Butter and Coconut Cookies I made for Graham.

*Coconut oil is one of the best sources of heart-healthy medium-chain fatty acids, notably lauric acid, which enhances the immune system through its antiviral and antibacterial effects. These acids also stimulate metabolism, and some research suggests they can aid weight loss.

Wellness Mama gives us a 101 uses for Coconut Oil

It sells for about £15 in Holland anf Barrett, so I was amazed to pick it up in a supermarket in Girne for just over £2.

Halil İbrahim Sofrası, Girne

This is a local cafe, that you wouldn't stumble upon unless you wander down alleyways.

The locals all eat in this cafe, that sits at the back of a building next to a car park.

It isn't fancy, but the food is fresh, tasty and very cheap.

They make there own flatbreads, which they turn into Dürüms (a kind of kebab) and serve with really good chips and a delicious shredded salad is brought with your meal, it's a bit like a coleslaw, dressed in pomegranate and lemon juice.

The vegetarian durum (Vejetaryen Dürüm) is the flatbread filled with onions, tomatoes, parsley, peppers or chillies and chips, yes I did say chips.

 In this photo, you can see the salad on the table and a little of the cafe. 

And a durum wrapped in paper. the paper is essential to keep the filling in.

Floral Plate

I picked up this pretty side plate in an brilliant shop called China Bazzar in Girne. 

It is one of those shops that has everything. 

Garden furniture, swimming pool toys, crocs, watches, kitchenware, toys, shoes, clothes, bags, clothes, yes everything.

I got this plate for about 50p. I thought it would be perfect to display a colourful frosted cupcake. I wish I had taken the time to have a better look to see what else they had.

Disclosure: Ultrathon sent me some bug spray to try. I was not required to write a positive review and any opinions expressed are my own. The other products I bought or tried myself and wanted to share with you.
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