Eat Drink Blog (& sketchnote)

on Design, Food, Make  

Australia’s annual conference run by food bloggers, for food bloggers rolled around again – this time in sunny Brisbane. I ate, I drank, I [micro] blogged… I even sketchnoted! After last year’s exceptional Eat Drink Blog in Perth, there was no way I was going to pass up a chance to go again, even it required flying across the country. Putting their own spin on the proceedings, Brisbane’s committee didn’t leave me disappointed.

Eating

I managed to miss most of the registration drinks at The Kitty, arriving just in time to down a glass of sparkling and rush off to dinner at the neighbouring Fat Noodle. Coming off of an all night flight doesn’t make me the best of company, but I managed to meet some lovely new people and not fall asleep head-first in my broken rice pork chop.

The next day the conference began at Wandering Cooks, a sort of incubator for food entrepreneurs, and a beautiful plant-filled venue for us 60 odd attendees. I managed to be late again, so grabbed a Flour & Chocolate danish and some Emma & Toms juice and took a seat at the back of the crowd. Being a food blogging conference, the food and drinks on offer were wonderful and very enthusiastically photographed. Highlights for me included coffee from Merlot Coffee, Passiontree Velvet cake, and Lick! ice-cream sandwiches.

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Drinking

We ended the day with drinks, canapés and the most ridiculous flaming (yes literally) dessert buffet at Bar 127.

Sketchnoting

Of course we weren’t there just to eat and drink (although as you can see there was a lot of that going on) – the day’s agenda included five talks and two panels, presented by bloggers, industry professionals, and chefs. This year I decided to try something different, so instead of attempting to photograph the speakers I decided to have a go at sketchnoting.

Sketchnoting has become common practice at tech industry conferences, and is a more refined form of something that I’ve done since childhood – doodling on paper whilst listening. Done properly, it’s not so much random doodles as a very visual form of note taking, and for many people is a better way of getting ideas down and remembering them than standard written notes. Plus, they look cool.

This was my first time sketchnoting anything so the results are extremely rough, but I did find it extremely useful and a good challenge for my handdrawn type skills! It’s certainly something I’d do again. For a more in-depth writeup of the speakers, I’d recommend heading over to Mimi Must Try who did a fantastic job of it.

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Keyonote with Nathanael Ho of Rubbish Eat Rubbish Grow
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ACCC Guidelines (may have missed a ‘C’ in my notes!) with Clare Davie of Melbourne Gastronome
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Inspire/Expire panel discussion with Tracy Gray of Eat See Meet, Angela Hirst of Wandering Cooks, Nathanael Ho of Rubbish Eat Rubbish Grow
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Chef vs. Blogger panel discussion with Brent Farrell of 85 Miskin St, Phillip Johnson of e’cco Bistro, Josh Okorn of Prive 249, Tony Percuoco of Tartufo
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The Evolving Media Landscape with Damien Condon of Lucid Media
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Ethical Food with Brenda Fawdon of Mondo Organic
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Blogging for Fun and Profit with Christina Soong of The Hungry Australian

Some thoughts

A few interesting conversations came up whilst speaking with the other attendees (in between all the eating), and I really enjoyed being able to disagree agreeably with people without it devolving into something messy!

Should Eat Drink Blog become a paid conference? This year’s committee had its share of problems, chief among them being unable to secure government funding. From speaking to last year’s committee members, a general lack of funds and over-reliance on corporate sponsorship can cause a lot of pressure, reduce options and make it difficult to keep the conference going on the spirit that it began with. Whilst the exposure is worth it for some sponsors, others (my guess is venues) are more difficult snag. In my opinion, charging a small ticket price is something that should maybe be explored and I’d be happy to pay it for the standard of event that it is. Of course, that brings with it other issues and won’t necessarily guarantee quality – something for next year’s committee to explore!

Where are all the male bloggers? I didn’t even notice until GourmetMale brought it up, but the vast majority of attendees were female! This seems to be the case across the ‘blogosphere’. I think that the general consensus was that perhaps this is because men are too lazy to blog, which seems more than a little unfair. I wonder if it’s because blogging involves so many ‘soft skills’ that are so encouraged in women, and less so in men?

DSLR Instagrams? Another blogger I spoke to (whose name I managed to forget after drinking too much wine…) told me she felt people posting non-phone images to Instagram was insincere. I used to be a phone-only purist, but now I have to admit that about a third of my Instagram posts are taken with a DSLR and edited in Lightroom. With the new Instagram advertising and greater opportunities for brands (including bloggers!) to promote themselves, I think we’ll be seeing more and more professional looking images and videos. Personally I no longer think it’s an issue, unless you’re misrepresenting your images as phone ones when they’re not.

Next up was my chosen Sunday activity – hanging out with bees! Coming in a separate post soon…

11 notes

  1. I have a confession to make. I got up to go to the loo and stood in the back so I wouldn’t be distracting retaking my seat. For about 2 minutes I gazed at your notes and then moved away because I thought I was incredibly rude for looking. I couldn’t read the words but I could see the drawings and thought how talented you are. I wish we’d had more time to talk.

    I would pay for a good conference for food bloggers — in a heartbeat I would. I want to learn more so I can improve my blog. I also want to meet others doing the same thing I do.

    I agree with you on Instagramming. I got a big job today because the client liked my IG account. I shoot with my tablet or my phone or my DSLR. I think the days of crap photos are over. Just my opinion. :)

    I’m going to study your notes now.

    1. Thanks so much Maureen! I don’t think it’s rude at all, although if I’d noticed (unlikely) I would probably have felt a bit self-conscious haha. Yeah, I wish we’d had more of a chance to talk – that’s the problem with these events, although being bloggers at least we’re easy to find online!

      Erin from She Cooks She Gardens wrote a great post exploring the ramifications of charging for an event like this – I suppose it was a bit idealistic of me to suggest that deciding whether people would be willing to pay or not would be the only speedbump. I worry that the free model won’t be sustainable for a whole lot longer though, and it would be such a shame to see EDB fade away.

      Congrats on the big job! Yeah, I think now it’s about using all the tools at your disposable, as long as you’re not misrepresenting it.

      1. Hey, thanks for the shout out! I don’t think what you wrote was idealistic at all, I had the same reaction and it was only when I discussed it with my partner (who has a tremendous legal brain!) that I really started to think through the complexities of it all. I really hope the community can pull together to sort something out, I’m hoping to send around an email later in the week to try and get the ball rolling so I’ll keep you posted!

        And props for the sketchnoting, seriously impressive. I have bookmarked the links you’ve provided and will have to have a go next time I’m headed to a conference or info session.

        1. Yeah, it’s certainly much more complicated than whether or not people would be willing to pay or not. I do hope that whatever happens it’s able to continue, and not lose anything if it becomes a paid conference.

          Thank you! I really recommend it, I found it great for retaining information (in contrast to live tweeting, which I never found worked well for me!).

  2. I really wish I could have attended this one given how great Perth’s was last year.

    I’d happily pay a reasonable amount to ensure quality and to relieve some of the pressure on the organisers who pour so much time and effort into it.

    1. Last year was heaps of fun! I decided right then that I’d do my best to go to the next one.

      I think if it was something like the ProBlogger conference ticket price ($400 I think), I wouldn’t be able to attend as I simply don’t take blogging seriously enough to spend that much. Of course there’s a whole host of issues to consider once money becomes involved, so I’m not sure how viable an option charging for tickets would be.

  3. Aw thank you Teresa for mentioning my blog post! I AM IN LOVE WITH YOUR SKETCHNOTING!! Particularly the Inspire/Expire one – you’re so talented! Did you do them on the fly? How did you jot everything down so beautifully?

    Also very interesting further thoughts – I 100% think charging a small fee (nothing near the PB price range though) is fair if there is no government funding, purely to cover the costs of venue, catering and sundries, etc. that come with putting on a conference!

    1. Your post was so thorough and excellent I just thought it would be easier to link to you than writing m own haha.

      Thank you! I did most of it on the fly, and added a little shading afterwards on the way home. I think getting good at it will take a lot more practice, but having a background in drawing, design and hand lettering seems to help :)

      I’m really curious to see where things end up with regards to funding – I’m worried that the free model might not be sustainable, but of course charging has its own complications.

  4. hey there, as part of the organising committee and a male blogger :) I’ve got some inside insights on this. I’d personally prefer the conference to remain free, in the spirit of the previous committee members and for the purity of the event. We are all volunteers and can’t dedicate too much time, and there would be a lot of pressure if we were responsible for money as well.

    I loved your sketches, we’d love to put them up on the EDB site if you are open to that (sorry other committee members, for not checking first)

    Lastly, it’s weird that more males are not food blogging, I’ve always seen the imbalance- at Perth I spoke to mast of the guys and we all found it a bit perplexing!

    Great post

    1. I definitely agree that getting money involved would put a huge amount of pressure on those responsible – I know I wouldn’t want that job. I would prefer that it remain free and in the same spirit as previous ones, but felt so bad for you guys with your struggles!

      Thank you! And yes please feel free to use my sketchnotes, just link back to here :)

      It’s weird that I didn’t even notice until it was brought up, even though it was hugely unbalanced. I think that the stats show that there are more female bloggers in general, but I would have thought food would be a little more balanced. Strange!

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