Sunday, April 22, 2012

Nourished 2012 - Top 15 Takeaways

You're supposed to live life without regrets, right?  Well at Nourished, the first ever gluten free blogger convention in Lombard, IL started off with a big one.  Why in the world did I not bring my laptop?  I was envious of the other bloggers maximizing on the perfect social media opportunity.  My tweets came from my phone (and it was easier to text-tweet rather than spend a minute having my phone try to load the Twitter page - sorry I was so non-conversational on Twitter!)  My other big regret?  I could not be in two places at once.  There were always two very exciting workshops to attend.  I felt horrible for ducking out of the food writing one, but as soon as the introduction announced the speaker's book, I realized that I read her book a few months earlier and rudely ran to the other room to learn about social media, something the I can't learn from my Chicago Public Library education.  During the presentations, I went old-school journalist and took a LOT of notes and even photographed the slides to give my hand a break.  Not since my stage management days have I written so many notes so quickly!

I have a lot I want to mention about how fantastic and wonderful and life-changing Nourished was.  In order to prevent a novella entry, I'm going to limit it to the top fifteen things I learned from each presenter  (in order of appearance.)  My blog is going to be changing and growing better than ever in the coming months.  One of the things I rushed home to do was build a lightbox.  Now my food photography (taken after working a +10 hour day at a law firm in the late evening) will look so much better!

Creating a Strong Blog Brand with Mary Fran Wiley
  • You are your brand.  Your brand is your blog.  Your blog is you.
  • Translate you and your personality into a brand.  Your brand is your voice.
  • Who are you?  Figure it out, embrace it.
  • Be awesome at one thing instead of just okay at everything.
  • Your personality is important - be consistent, share your opinions and views, put yourself out there.  People will support your opinion.
  • Tell the whole story.
  • Get out there! Join the conversation, connect with people.
  • Be humble.  Say thank you.
  • Have a logo.
  • Think about your blog design.  Do not have it look like it was done in Paint or use Comic Sans.
  • Don't be afraid to evolve.
  • Be a peacock in a sea of pigeons.  (If you are writing a blog, you are a peacock.)
  • Have fun!  Be authentic!  Love what you do!
  • Be proud of who you are.
  • Go with your gut.  Trust yourself to know what is best for your brand.
Savvy Recipe Development with Karen Morgan
  • Keep a journal of your endeavors.
  • Make recipes better than before.
  • Know your strengths and weaknesses.
  • What is your goal?
  • If you have confidence in yourself, you can do anything. Embrace it!
  • Take risks.
  • Document everything you do.
  • Know what you don't know.  Do research.  Read.
  • Understand your ingredients and how they work and interact.
  • Gluten is the magic rubber band in baking.
  • Recipe development is very expensive.  Look five steps ahead to avoid waste.
  • What are your standards?  Same?  Better?  Better than good?
  • Test the recipe many times before it is perfect.  Once perfect, make it three times to make sure it wasn't a fluke.
  • Try multiple techniques, methods, and perspectives.
  • Let time be the revealer.  Be patient with the process.
Unconventional Food, Mainstream Appeal: Beyond Gluten-Free with Ricki Heller and Carolyn Ketchum
  • People are turned off by "contains no ___"
  • Not everyone loves your specialty diet.  Make your food more appealing.
  • Be true to your natural niche.
  • The four key aspects are: you, the food, the words, the pictures.
  • Draw people in with the words before the recipe.
  • Thing about the name of the recipe - that is the first thing people see.  Use adjectives to "punch up" the titles.
  • 650 words is optimal for most posts.
  • Specialty food is not photogenic.
  • Mix it up with regards to recipe length and complexity.
  • Make the food easily accessible to your readers.
  • Gluten is magic, add protein instead, such as Greek yogurt or eggs.
  • The Internet is the best way to source ingredients.  Buying in bulk is cheapest.
  • Make photos a time investment rather than a money investment.  Play around with exposure, different settings.
  • Upload your photo with a name, rather than a string of numbers.
  • Brand yourself, but don't pigeon-hole yourself.
Food Photography Made Simple with Cara Lyons
  • There's so much more that I can eat than I can't.
  • People eat with their eyes.  Draw them in through pictures.
  • Build your own photo studio - even it it is on your dining room floor.
  • Natural light it best.  Never use your flash.
  • Bounce your light with white foam board.
  • Plating and styling - food bloggers do it all.  Put as much effort into the food as you do making it look good.
  • Shoot on a stained board with a neutral background.
  • Show raw ingredients to help people know what is in a dish.
  • A little green goes a long way - herbs, scallions.
  • Keep it about the food - how can you enhance it.
  • Use white balance settings.
  • Post processing should only take a few minutes.  Take good pictures upfront.
  • Square pictures a more visually appealing.
  • Always light from the side of the back.
  • Use the macro setting for food photos.
How to Grow Your Blog Through Social Media with Melissa Jennings and Suzanna Florek
  • Social networking now accounts for 22% of all time spent online.
  • Interact with your followers.
  • Create an atmosphere where your readers are involved and engaged.
  • Consider a schedule so your readers will anticipate it.
  • Add social media buttons.
  • Have a Facebook fan page.
  • Readers need to relate to you and your brand.
  • Watermark all your photos with your URL,
  • Pictures make people want to eat your food.
  • Create keyword rich names on Pinterest,
  • Posts can go viral.
  • Give something to your readers that is yours.
  • There are lots of different ways to love food.
  • Social media works.
  • Use hashtags that make sense.
Nourishing Others Through Food with Cybele Pascal
  • Cookies free of all top eight allergens are super delicious.
  • Come from something that is personal.
  • Niche is not tiny - look around - niche is huge!  It is a growing movement.
  • It is becoming more and more common to be on a non-traditional diet.
  • Food blogging is the ultimate block party.  All can come together and see everyone and what they do.
  • Embrace your niche.
  • Expand and evolve.
  • Meet a need.
  • In the past, publishers dictated what authors we see.  Now there are e-books and blogs so more writers are accessible.
  • Cookbook writers have to have a blog.
  • Open the door in front of you rather than the door you are trying to force open.
  • People struggle to find foods that are safe and delicious for them.
  • Find the hole in the market.
  • Reach out, add support, build exposure.
  • Whatever dream you have, you can make it happen.
What made your top takeaways from Nourished?  To see what other bloggers were saying, be sure to check out Twitter under the hash tag #nfbc.  Find me on Twitter - @windycitycookin


  1. Great tips, thanks so much for jotting down the notes of things that you observed last weekend. As a blogger that was unable to attend, I appreciate it!

    1. Thanks, Jeanine! Have you checked out the Twitter hashtag #nfbc? Loads of other bloggers wrote about their experiences, too! You can get a more complete picture!

  2. What a great summary! Thanks for posting this for everyone. Glad you could make it! :)

    1. Thanks so much, Ricki! I had a blast! Thanks so much for such an insightful session!