So, one of my first food blogger experiences in Dubai was the Middle East Food and Travel Blogger Conference 2015, which was the first such event organised as part of the Dubai Food Festival. Now, the Dubai Food Festival is one of the biggest food festivals across the UAE with several events happening concurrently across the Emirate. Along with the markets, food truck experience, street nights (which I had mentioned in my previous post) or even conferences, one of the biggest events held during the Dubai Food Festival is Gulfood, which is possibly the biggest food event across the region.
Well, I missed Gulfood but was so happy to have caught the Middle East Food and Travel Blogger Conference. The event was held in Al-Quoz area at Alserkal Avenue, an upcoming art and culture hub in the city. I think one of the best things about the conference was the lack of any sensationalisation. It was a serious event purely for the bloggers about various avenues – how to market themselves, going beyond blogging, photography, social media, reviewing, food styling, and what not. What caught my attention – and this is specifically for all the bloggers I know back in India – is how advanced the industry here is. People have moved beyond blogging, with their blog continuing to be the focus – a trend that is slowly catching up with the Indian industry.
Before any further ado, here are a few points I took away from the event:
1. Advertisements are not the only way to monetise your ads. Bloggers should consider going beyond liaising with PR agencies to interacting with brand’s Media Agencies directly.
2. While liaising with the media agencies, ensure that you set your terms and conditions, briefs, deadlines and payment terms in advance.
3. A lot of times media/PR agencies ask for numbers – followers, likes, etc. However, more often than not, when you are an influencer, numbers don’t matter so much. It’s all about how you interact with the audience. Be confident about that.
4. A lot of people wonder whether they should or shouldn’t give disclaimers in the blog about whether their posts are paid projects or not. According to our discussion, they should. It would be better.
5. Despite everything, unless its a super brand or opportunity, don’t undersell or work for free.
6. For any blogger, it is important for the blog to have some sort of a USP to stand out amongst the rest – sure enough, I met people who post about unique cuisines, concepts, etc. For instance, the author of Total Salads – she was sitting next to me during the conference and we spoke just for a few minutes! – posts and reviews only salads. Ryhana has a blog all about Kerala food at DineTable. And, Insi is a photographer and works to give her audience recipes through photographs on Look and Cook. The list is endless!
7. Which brings me to my next point – interact with as many bloggers as possible across the local scene and internationally as well. This not only increases your reach but also gives you exposure to the scene across the world. The same goes to commenting on other blogs.
8. When using Twitter, use fewer hashtags and more focussed tag names.
9. Finally, understand the local street culture – it is after all the base of any food culture in the city in which you are living or visiting.
Hope these tips help you guys in the blogging sphere. In the meanwhile, I leave you with some photographs of the event.