I’ve been invited by Dr Gary Lum from yummylummy.com to join in a writer’s blog hop, along with another Canberra food blogger Michele Walton from Fineeating. The blog hop is a chance to gain a little insight into the motivations of bloggers and an opportunity for the blogger to reflect when answering the questions.
What I am working on?
Probably too much. Between work and family commitments I don’t get a lot of blogging time and I do wish I had more time for blogging! As well as the food blog CBRfoodie which I started earlier this year, I am in the early stages of putting together a blog about political campaigning, which is closer to what I actually do for a living. Down the track I hope to be able to do a bit of both without upsetting my partner or children!
How does my writing differ from others in its genre?
Probably not by much, although every blogger I have met recently has a different approach. I think good writing is essential in any form of communication, but food blogging also relies on a sense of aesthetics as well. The good bloggers (or those that take it a bit more seriously or have been doing it for longer) seem to have a more elaborate approach. Their equipment is usually a bit more serious (DSLR, WordPress, Instagram and tricky apps for quickly manipulating and posting images). I like to take a positive approach to the writing as well. I usually don’t post negative comments and devised a rating system whereby even the lowest rating was still basically a recommendation to try the restaurant, but I use “Canberra Beanies” instead of Chef’s hats or Michelin stars.
Why do I write?
I write primarily for the creative outlet it provides. I also enjoy searching for and eating affordable food. Last year I decided to resuscitate an abandoned research/writing project on political campaigning via a blog, however it quickly became apparent that blogging is not as straight-forward as it might initially seem. I realised I would need to teach myself some basic WordPress skills and that it would take some time before I felt my technical inability would not hamper the writing and blogging process. Having worked in the city for a few years I was aware that there was a lack of information about affordable food and thought a “cheap eats” style list for Canberra would be an achievable blogging project to develop the skills for a more elaborate blog. That said, the food blog has been more fun than I expected and has developed into a hobby all of its own. If you’d like to read a more intelligent and considered explanation about the motivations and challenges of food blogging, here is an awesome article from Zoe at Progressive Dinner Party. It has some very interesting and helpful links for new bloggers.
How does my writing process work?
Realising I needed a critical mass of content before I started the WordPress blog, I made an effort to start Tweeting and posting on Facebook to build a supply of content a couple of months earlier in November 2013. My initial approach to the micro-blogging was very simple: I’d get hungry. I’d look inside my wallet, to find a few notes and coins. I’d buy food and usually take a couple of iPhone shots with the camera. I eat and pay for my meal. If I have a few minutes to spare I often tweet something that day and if I remember post it on Facebook that night or next day. Once or twice a week I blog about the lunch and try and promote the blog again through twitter. As I progressed however I remained more comfortable with Twitter, which is where I still share most of my tips and conversations. I’ve developed a comprehensive twitter-based list of Canberra foodies. I’ve also developed a couple of aspects to the blog which I hadn’t anticipated: a comprehensive list of Canberra food blogs and a series of interviews with other foodies. The list of blogs has been a great source of ideas and conversations, particularly with visitors to Canberra who want to know about food experiences from local foodies. I think the interviews have been popular because they represent a very human aspect of the blogging and foodie experience and have been a great way to meet more experienced food bloggers and learn from them.
Now I get to pass on the blog hop baton to two other bloggers who I will briefly introduce:
Tara Cheyne is one of the proudest advocates for Canberra I have met in recent years. Her well-regarded blog ”In the Taratory” started as a creative record of her adventures discovering Canberra’s hidden tourist gems but has evolved over a few short years into a reliable source of information for locals and tourists alike. Tara is also a community activist and is Secretary of the Belconnen Community Council and also on the Board of the Belconnen Arts Centre. If you want to know ANYTHING about Belconnen she’s one of the best sources you can find! Make sure you follow her on Twitter! I love this photo of Tara stomping on grapes at one of Canberra’s many regional wineries.
James Tew moved to Canberra late last year through his work in the Navy. In his spare time (or what little he has) he blogs at “ three daughters” and also runs @TweetCanberra which he has turned into a fantastic news source and blog about events and people across our city. James also ran the highly successful SMR2014 (Social Media Revolution) Seminar a few months ago and has single-handedly raised the bar for social media networking in Canberra, bringing together professionals, amateurs and aspiring newcomers into the exciting and evolving world of social media in the most well-connected city in Australia. The photo below was taken by me when James and I decided to treat our daughters to a day of toffee apples and cider (non-alcoholic of course!) at an apple-festival near Canberra!
Thanks to Gary for inviting me to be part of the blog hop and thanks to Tara and James for agreeing to participate and accept the batons!
Our latest blogger interview is with Tara from “In The Taratory”. Tara recently featured in a profile piece on the “Her Canberra” website, showcasing her talent as an advocate for Canberra and all the amazing experiences and activities in our home town. Tara is also a community activist, regularly using social media to provide direct feedback to everyone from our local politicians to supermarket chains. I’m glad Tara suggested we have lunch at the Flute Bakery in Fyshwick. The $5 beef curry pies are very tasty and I will definitely be back for more.
Who are you Tara? I grew up all over Queensland, went to uni in Brisbane, and then moved to Canberra as a grad in 2008. I started the blog because I knew there was a helluva lot going on in Canberra and I wanted to make sure people knew about it and could be inspired to try things for themselves – whether it’s discovering just how amazing the walk up Booroomba Rocks is or getting ideas for a dinner out on Friday night.
Here’s a recent photo of Tara enjoying some grape-stomping at Yarrh Wineries, just north of Canberra.
Where do you live? Belconnen. I never really feel like Canberra was ‘home’ until I moved to Belco.
How long have you been blogging? About two and a half years.
Other hobbies? Bushwalking, Belconnen Community Council (Deputy Chair), Radio 1RPH (a radio station where volunteers read books and newspapers on air for people with a print handicap), Tournament of Minds judging, trivia…
Apple or Android? Android… I’m not an Apple fan! What Apple did for the market was phenomenal but I think it’s been overtaken now. I love how customisable Android is and always has been.
Car/bus/bike? When I’m on a bike something happens and I lose all road sense… so I don’t ride much to save others from me! I do love getting around in a car but I’ve started taking the bus more. Boyfriend also has a scooter – it’s my favourite transport for short trips. Outside Canberra I’m a big fan of the train – it works so well in so many cities and countries.
Favourite TV show? Borgen and House of Cards – the former for the humanity, and the latter for the inhumanity!
Favourite devices? Canon DSLR and Samsung Galaxy S3.
Can we take a peek at your home screen?
Most-used app? Twitter, WordPress, Facebook, Reddit is Fun.
Favourite social media? Twitter and Reddit (if you can call Reddit social media).
What’s the first thing online you check each morning? Twitter! If there’s breaking news then it will be on Twitter. If there’s a really big story I’ll then head to Reddit – especially if it’s international.
What do you worry about at night? That I’m not going to bed early enough!
Most exciting recent news? The Belconnen Town Centre Master Plan is being updated. It’s a great opportunity for community participation in a detailed plan of the town’s future.
Ideal career? Good question! My two passions are my job and Canberra, and I’m lucky to be able to squeeze in both. I love promoting and advocating for Canberra and Canberrans so, short of being an MLA, I’m probably in my ideal career(s) 🙂
Recent book you recommend? For an easy but intelligent read I love Australian author Liane Moriarty, and her latest The Husband’s Secret is excellent. I’m currently reading Autoportrait by Edouard Leve. It’s short but each line needs to be savoured so it’s taking me a while! There’s an extract in the Paris Review here.
Recent online video you laughed at? The Long Story Short series on YouTube is clever and funny. I love this episode in particular.
Favourite food? This is going to sound daggy but it’s–hands down–soft boiled eggs with toast (cut into triangles, not soldiers. Soldiers means the structural integrity of the toast is lost!). It’s so simple but quick and tasty, and it’s especially good with free-range eggs, good multigrain bread and Pepe Saya butter.