Disclosure: My attendance at the Blog Brûlée is partially funded by Sponsors of the Blog Brûlée and I received a discounted registration to the event in exchange for writing this post. Opinions expressed are my own. I was not compensated for my time.
Ok, it’s been weeks, busy weeks since my incredible venture to Vermont to meet other healthy blogging gurus & learn how to blog more like the guru I am at the once in a lifetime blogging conference, Blog Brûlée at the beautiful Smugglers Notch Resort. I learned a lot and had a lot of important things to do when I got home (like starting this *new* blog)…. hence the delay. But, now that this new blog is up and running well enough, it’s time to share all the nuggets I learned over the weekend.
And, I’ll warn you… my phone decided to be “full” of storage, during Siggi’s presentation (which I was so excited about!) that was the beginning of the conference. Even after deleting a few of my pics and ALL of my videos from the Nick Jonas concert….. still no room. It’s a farse, screw you, Apple! So, most of my photos are borrowed from other attendees.
What we did at Blog Brûlée
I arrived at Smugglers Notch Resort a day early, since it’s such a long flight from the west coast, luckily there were a handful of other ladies to spend the day with. We were so excited to get up and hiking around the resort, but it rained the whole morning. wah wha. Plan B was to take a taxi up to the Ben & Jerry’s factory, and make a few stops along the way. Little known to us, a 1 way trip just to Ben & Jerry’s without any stops would have been $100. eh, no thanks! Thankfully we were all tired from our journeys and just chatted and lounged all morning, and when the weather cleared up enough to go out, we found a few cross country trails through the woods to explore. There’s something really magical about the woods post rainstorm. It’s cool, drippy, vibrant and gorgeous.
The rest of the trip was filled with getting to know these ladies that I’d been cyber friends with, some I’ve “known” since starting the last blog, 2+ years ago, so it was so fun to FINALLY meet in person! Also learning about the important back end stuff that goes into creating a must read blog. Man, and it’s a lot. Honestly I’m so glad I went to this before restarting my, ahem, 3rd nutrition blog. And thanks to this weekend, I realized just how much I needed to change my blog platform. It’s annoying, but will beneficial in the end. I also need to realize that I was first a blogger, second a nutrition business owner. My previous blog gave me so many skills and a community to feel more confident venturing out on my own, I can’t forget that. And finally the food, OMG. Going to a food blogging conference, sponsored by major food brands, I knew the food would be good, but I even underestimated that!
One aspect that was really fun and delicious obviously, was that the sponsors provided recipes using their foods. It was such a fun way to try different ways to eat these foods! A few of my fave dishes were:
- siggis sponsored yogurt bar for breakfast
- Asian peanut noodles from the National Peanut Board
- Pesto chicken salad with rice using Uncle Ben’s Rice
- S’mores from Mars Foods (this made me the happiest person, in my book s’mores with dark chocolate = joy)
- A cereal bar from General Mills (I had Cinnamon Toast Crunch for the first time in a long time, 🙂 🙂 🙂 it was a fun treat, as was the Fiber One cereal. It tastes way better than it looks!)
- Lyonnaise salad with poached Davidsons Safest Choice Eggs, which are pasteurized. and awesome!
- Aldi, sponsored all the wine in our rooms & at the events. Everything at their stores is high quality and uber cheap. Dear Aldi, PLEASE come to Utah, I will ditch WINCO for you. Promise, well as long as you’re closer to me.
- A sampling of Haagen Dazs ice creams from Nestle.
- I tried the best tea ever, it was part hibiscus tea, part POM Wonderful pomegranate juice, with a lime garnish. OMG. That drink.
What I learned at Blog Brûlée
Deanna Segrave-Daly (one of the Blog Brulee founders) and blogger @ Teaspoon of Spice started the whole shebang with an iPhone photography class. I try to just use my dSLR camera for food photos, but mostly use my phone for instagram. She walked us through setting up Camera+ to use instead of the built-in camera app. You’ve got more control over your pics which is great!
Regan Jones, (one of the Blog Brulee founders) co-founder of an awesome company I now temporarily work for! Healthy Aperture, and many other nutrition platforms spoke about videos. Honestly, I felt very overwhelmed with this, mostly because I know how cool and powerful videos are, but I know it will take T I M E to master and learn, and I have so much learning to do here. If I had a money tree, I’d spend all that money on a rockin videographer and marketing for my business, and maybe travel (dietitian nerd, I love what I do).
Strained Yogurt Demo
Although all sponsors gave presentations, the siggis one was my fave. I was beyond excited to meet the face behind this fave yogurt brand and learn about his business. Again, no photos because my phone sucks, but Siggi, who is this warm, funny giant Icelandic man, shared his story from experimenting with plain yogurt in his college apartment to the farmers market in NYC to selling his brand nearly nation-wide. I asked him what his first flavor was, he said it was vanilla (I think) raisin and explained how bad of an idea this was (hint: the raisins rehydrate, ew). He also taught us how to strain yogurt, I learned the hard way that it’s important to use a couple layers to strain it. again, ew. Abi, who is the company’s dietitian, and is a chef, brought in banana muffins for us to do a taste test of muffins made with whole milk plain siggis, applesauce, and butter. Honestly, the butter was the best, but not by much, I’m a full siggis convert.
Katie Webster, food blogger at Healthy Seasonal Recipes, who is also a trained chef and photographer, with experience food styling (jealous of these creds!) walked us through her set-up. She uses a white sheet to diffuse window light, shot in a too dark room, used a tripod and came up with beautiful and lit photos. I learned about the importance of a tripod, which is the only way to get well lit photos in a darker room (which allows for a broader window of time to shoot!!!), tethering my camera to Lightroom (except my camera isn’t supported, crap!) and a few food styling tips.
Gretchen Brown, (another of the founders) blogger at Kumquat Blog, taught us about post-processing photos. She taught simple tips to keep photos consistent and simplify that confusing beast that is Adobe Lightroom. I’m obsessed with her blog name and her simple photographs.
Katy Widrick taught us how to optimize our blogs to make Google happy and get views! She even hosted a fun SEO party where people drank wine and set up Google Webmaster Accounts, I haven’t met someone so excited and passionate about SEO! All I learned from her helped me realize how much I needed to go back to a WordPress blog. I’ll be thanking her later, for sure.
How to Write like an English Major
Sally Kuzemchak of Real Mom Nutrition (a must-read for parents) taught us how to write like we know what we’re doing. I’ve learned that late night writing sessions do well for me, I’m wittier and brash, which at least I find entertaining. She taught us about starting with a story and how to chunk your content. This was so helpful and I look forward to referring to my notes as I move forward and actually get back into blogging!
Amanda Finks of The Wholesome Dish and Aggie Goldman of Aggie’s Kitchen taught us about mastering Instagram & Pinterest. Scheduling, being intentional, and sharing more of our content is huge. And using hashtags on insta & NOT on Pinterest is the way.
How to Make it Rain (or earn $$$ however you want to look at it)
Anne Mauney of fANNEtastic Food blog taught us how to make money blogging. For those of us who pour countless hours researching best practices, researching methods, and sharing helpful materials, this is so important to make blogging worth our time. Now I know how to reach out to brands and companies to work with & get paid, which I never did on my last blog. Onward & upward, and harnessing readership.
How to do all that business stuff
Regan Jones & Robin Plotkin (both founders) not only blog, but own their own nutrition communications businesses. They are s#%*. One complaint I have about my dietetics education is that it was nearly devoid of business classes & completely free of marketing classes. As I’ve been working & transitioning into the nutrition communications field, I’ve realized the importance of these 2 areas to be successful. Being successful is not only important for me and my future, but to get my message across. In order to reach broadly enough to help women love themselves & find a healthy lifestyle balance, I need to grab their attention & give them what they want. In my mind, that’s where RDs really fail compared to our counterpart nutrition & health coaches who often have no research base in what they promote. It’s a huge disservice to the public and to us. [off of soapbox].
Overall the weekend was amazing. I learned so much, gained so much and renewed my passion for this business owning business. The tools were invaluable, but what I appreciated most was camaraderie and friendships I gained through these few days. Thank you all for the amazing weekend.
Whew, that was a long post, so long it took me an extra day! Make sure to check out my first post on Blog Brûlée
Also here are more recaps if you’re interested in attending Blog Brûlée in the future! (warning, you’ll want to pack up and go immediately, so proceed with caution)