Tuesday 6 December 2011

Bite N Write 2011

On Saturday 19th November I attended Bite N Write, a food blogging conference in Birmingham. As well as a great opportunity to meet up with fellow bloggers and put twitter and blog names to faces, it was also a day of great speakers and delicious food. 

Being up so early on a Saturday morning meant that a Hot Chocolate en route to the train station was obligatory, before taking the train up to Birmingham. I never realised that Birmingham is actually a relatively easy train journey for me. After seeing the amount of markets, shops and restaurants there, I may have to consider another trip there soon.

Anyway, after arriving and finding the venue, I met up with Jackie from Tinned Tomatoes and Beth from Jam and Clotted Cream. It was great to meet them finally after tweeting for so long.

It was also lovely to meet Carol from Dormouse and The Teapot and Kerry from Kerry Cooks and Kate at Foxy Foods.

The first speaker was Craig Fraser from Fraser Shot who specialises in Food photography.

His tips included:
  • Use a nice piece of wallpaper to act as a backdrop to photographs.
  • When photographing bottles, cut out a white bottle shape and put it behind the bottle to stop light going through.
  • Create movement in the photo by sprinkling icing sugar, flour, oil, water etc.
  • Brushing oil on something gives it a good shine.
  • Use photoshop to improve photo's.
  • Natural light works best for improving light when photographing food.

This is only half of what Craig actually talked about as he talked about lots more in depth stuff like shutter speeds and exposure too which was really interesting but as I do not have a super flashy camera it went a little over my head. I really enjoyed listening to Craig speak and found his stories and experience really interesting.

Next up was Judith Lewis, an SEO Expert and Blogger who blogs over at Mostly about Chocolate.

Her comments included:
  • 200 Factors contribute to rankings and Categories within search engines.
  • Optimise your blog by using key words, put them in the title and description coding of the blog.
  • Link internally to your own blog posts for more traffic.
  • Have separate Twitter identities for you and your blog.
  • Differentiate between how you received something, i.e. buying something, being given it to review or being paid for review.
After this we had some lunch and then straight after this there was a Chocolate Tasting by Artisan Du Chocolate. Artisan Du Chocolat opened in the UK in 2000 and aims to create luxury, memorable and exceptional chocolates crafted for pleasure. 

We found out that Chocolate is grown 20 degrees north and south of the equator and is harvested twice a year.

We were then left to try lots of delicious Chocolate. My personal favourite was the passion fruit 'O' http://www.artisanduchocolat.com/disc-chocolate-collection.html

Also the mint chocolate, which tastes like eating http://www.artisanduchocolat.com/disc-chocolate-collection.html pure mint.

Next up was Jeanne from Cook Sister who is a freelance writer and food blogger. 

Jeanne gave us a really interesting talk and I have tried to condense her talk into ten points.  
  1. Define your blog and know what your blogging goals are.
  2. Find a Niche and add value. Work out whether you are a writer who likes to cook, or a cook, who likes to write.
  3. Consider the reader's experience of your blog. Make a list of three things you find annoying about other blogs and 3 things that make you return to blogs that you read, and then think about how your readers view your blog.
  4. Have a short blog name and a catchy strapline.
  5. Use good, reader friendly colours and fonts. Avoid clutter and too many badges.
  6. Content is king. Use text and photo's. Write clearly and succinctly. Write a lot and have a schedule. Find a posting schedule which works for you. A picture is worth a thousand words. 
  7. Stay on the right side of the law. A list of ingredients is not creative and so can be copied, but the description of how to cook a dish is creative and so is copyrighted. Have a copyright notice on your website. Watermark photos on your site. Disclose any freebies or paid content. 
  8. Your blog is your online living room so don't put up with comments on your blog that you wouldn't put up with in real life. Don't allow comments which are inflammatory to you or someone else.
  9. Be Nice and play nice. If we are a blogging community then we should act like a community. Applaud the success of other bloggers. Comment and re tweet others posts, link to other people.
  10. Blogging is like sex, people think about it at least every 7 minutes, some think of it all the time. You can do it for hours, or not at all. Blogging is like marriage, people get into it for the wrong reasons, but there is one reason for both blogging and marriage Because you love it.
After this, the lovely Charlotte from Go Free Foods steppedp to the plate.  
She told us that:
  • 45 percent of the UK's poplulation of children have food intolerance's.
  • It is useful to use different ingredients in recipes so that people can eat them
  • people with food intolerance's are more creative cooks who enjoy home cooking

Our last speaker was Ben Fraser, Great British Bake Off Contestant and Cupcake Artisan who told us about Video Blogs.

His tips included:
  • Decide what you love or hate about other video blogs.
  • Work out where you will video and what you need for the space you have.
  • Increase the lighting in your video space.
  • Use Lighting Gels or Daylight to get the lighting right.
  • Have a front view of everything and use one wide long shot.
  • Prep all of your ingredients.
  • Have ambient noise levels.
  • Have a script of key points, don't waffle.
  • If you mess up don't stop, have a 5 second break and carry on so you have continuity.
  • Use I movie.
  • Keep your video between 5 and 10 minutes long.

All in all, it was an interesting day and most of the speakers were fantastic, however, in the spirit of constructive feedback, there were a few housekeeping things that I would like to be different if I were to book to attend this conference again as I did not feel like the conference represented value for money in terms of time and travel.
  1. Consider the temperature of the place. Sitting in a huge, cold draughty hall does not promote a comfortable environment.
  2. Write bloggers Blog names and Twitter ID's on delegate badges. It was hard to know who anyone was.
  3. Listen to your audience, if they ask to do something, i.e. Request to go around and find out who everyone if and where they are from quickly as you have not put it on their name tags, at least consider doing so. I did request to do this but due to timings this was not done and so nobody knew who anyone was and it was hard to chat to people.
  4. We were sat down for literally the whole day. I know that it was an packed schedule but the whole schedule was very auditory. You only retain 10 percent of what you hear vs 90 percent of what you do and so a bit more interaction and moving around would have been appreciated.
  5. A 45 minute presentation on Wordpress, when you use blogger and not wordpress is a waste of our time and money.
  6. Consider a venue with some breakout areas or more than one room so that you could have different speakers speaking at the same time, as not all sessions will be relevant to all bloggers.
  7. Have more breaks as breaks were missed to catch up and so there was not much of an opportunity to mingle.
  8. Always ask for feedback.
  9. Don't put promises on your website which don't materialise. Where were the stalls? and where was the cooking demo? This conference was advertised to a very different level to what it turned out to be.
I don't mean to end on a negative note because I did enjoy the conference, i would just like to see it improved if run again. 

The conference was followed by nibbles at an Indian restaurant close by and a lovely meal at Jamie's Italian in Birmingham where there was then a chance to mingle and chat with my fellow food bloggers.


  1. Lovely post! It was so nice to meet you and enjoy an evening together. I hope to see you at an event again soon. Keep in touch!

    Go Free Foods

  2. great post! such a great event!



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