Vida Vegan Con: Story-Making & Food Blogging (There’s a Dragon in My Tempeh Taco…)

Storytelling is an art. Threading seemingly disparate ideas together, weaving in your thoughts and emotions, may seem to come naturally while eluding others. But everyone has a voice yearning to be heard. When you blog, you’re expressing yourself. How do you tell a story compelling people to come back for more?

At the Story-Making and Food Blogging Panel at Vida Vegan Con, vivacious vegan goddess Terry Hope Romero discussed how to be a better storyteller through food. Yesterday, I had the pleasure of meeting her. She was SO incredibly nice and down to earth, immediately putting my star struck nerves at ease. AND she took a sassy picture with me! Adorbs!

Romero’s blogging background might seem “backwards,” as she calls it, since she began writing cookbooks and then ventured into blogging. A self-proclaimed nerd (woo hoo!), gamer and D&D fan who can make a mean vegan enchilada, she infuses her blogging and cookbooks with humor and personal anecdotes.

For me, Romero’s most inspiring advice was:

“I want you to be generous, I want you to be brave; those make the best stories…It’s okay not to be a cheerleader and not all sugar and spice. Well, spice is good…Your audience is your hero, write for them. But you’re their world.”

Romero’s fab tips for story-making as food blogging:

  • Why do we need to tell a story?
  • Keep your blog afloat. There’s a lot of blogs out there. Don’t let yours get lost in the sea of blogs.
  • Use a photo in every post.
  • If you don’t know what to do w/ your blog post, work a cat in (hah! Cats do make everything better)
  • There are no experts. Technology is always changing. Don’t let that hold you back.
  • Internet has allowed people to put their work out there. But it can be a little daunting b/c you have to be your own editor.
  • Telling a story is key. Make a coherent thing that will stay in people’s minds and bring them back and keep coming back to hear you, to hear your voice.
  • Stories consist of a beginning, middle, end. You can do that even in a sentence or two. You can make it longer when it counts. If you can bring some kind of impact into what you say in 6 sentences, that’s compelling.
  • Beginning: I want you to make a promise in the beginning of your post (Ex: “I made the best biscuits and gravy last Sunday morning. I wanted biscuits that I used to eat with my dad as a child on Sunday mornings.”)
  • Middle: Information & emotion – I want you to do a dance of information and emotion (“This bag of flour is as heavy as my cat but moves a lot easier than my cat trying to get off the sofa.”).
  • Ending: Promise delivered (“These biscuits reminded me of my dad and made me cry.”). Easy peasy writing trick: go back to your first sentence. Don’t let your readers fall off a cliff, bring them back.
  • I want you to put more you into your stories.
  • What’s your story? Why blog at all?
  • Write a mission statement: make it story friendly (Are you the intrepid cyclist going to the farmer’s market? Are you attorney by day, vegan detective by night? Are you growing rooftop vegetables and your landlord doesn’t know it?)
  • Imagine yourself as a TV series in one sentence. A little sexy and a little cool. Who is this person that I need to read and come back to again.
  • Know your audience. Who are they?
  • Your average blog reader is really distracted. So they’re probably only going to read first 5 sentences of your blog post. You need to lasso people in.
  • What keeps your audience up at night? What concerns them?
  • How can I solve their problem? If someone’s looking for vegan coats, you can say I found this amazing vegan coat at TJ Maxx. What do you want them to do about it?
  • How will they resist your idea/solution? It’s like herding cats (yay another cat reference!). What would they say to you in real life if you gave it to them. You can give it as an alternative. You know I didn’t want to bake my own bread but I got this amazing bread maker which made it easier.
  • How can I reach them better? As you get to know your audience, through comments, questions, feedback, to emotionally appeal to them more.
  • What exactly do your readers like best about your stories?
  • Immersion – dragging people into your story and environment. Make the audience feel like they’re there.
  • Make your blog post like a TV episode. Think about continuing characters…your cat, your mom, your kitchen, your crooked stove.
  • Make your post less like a movie. Movies end. You don’t want to totally end it. I want to come back and know what your awful stove is doing next week.
  • Stay on topic –remember why you write your blog
  • Remember your audience and you’ll always have something to write about.
  • We always feel like no one cares, that we’re just writing into the void…You’re that vegan snowflake writing something unique.”
  • Don’t over think things. Less is more when thinking about your blog post.
  • Your blog is never going to be perfect. You might think there are people who are so much better than me. Why am I doing this? NO, you need to do this. You’re never going to be done. You’re never going to be perfect. Just do it.
  • Stay focused and then change it up.
  • Your audience is your best friend, even if you don’t have one yet.

Read all my posts on Vida Vegan Con 2011 and follow my tweets at #VidaVeganCon.

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