blogging

Behind the Scenes: Vida Vegan Summertime Stuff

Posted on Updated on

Why, hello there, VeganMoFo VII!  Vida Vegan Headquarters is kicking off our big month of memories with the most recent, by sharing some photographic evidence that all three of your friendly organizers have managed to experience some good old-fashioned summer time-ing.  

Without further adieu, an Instagram collection:

Janessa: Double scoop of white chocolate & oreo vegan ice cream in Vienna. @Janessapk
Michele: A duo of Sweet Hereafters, Sweet Hereafter. Now, that’s a summer afternoon well spent. @VidaVeganHQ
Jess: Continued to spend her summer as a farmers market groupie. Nothing new there. @jdfunks
Janessa: literally found herself on Abbey Road. @Janessapk
Michele: Conquered giardiniera and is hopefully going to share… @VidaVeganHQ
Jess: had an ongoing rotation of fancy homemade vegan cheeses and pickles. @jdfunks
Janessa: continued documenting amazing photos on her #Janessagoesthere tour with these schoolkids caught in a thunderstorm in Vietnman. @Janessapk
Michele: Loves summertime salsa. Enough said. @VidaVeganHQ
Jess: finally lived out her small dream of judging a cooking competition, with the Vegan Iron Chef Pop Up! Taco Shop! community cook-off. @jdfunks
Bonus Vida Vegan Headquarters international Google Hangout time. Way more fun that it looks! @Janessapk

And there’s your quick taste of what Janessa, Michele and myself have been up to this summer since the whirlwind weekend that was VVC2013. All three of us are also doing VeganMoFo over at our own blogs, so catch more at Epicurious Vegan, Vegtastic Voyage and Get Sconed!

See you back here soon! There’s so, so much in store at Vida Vegan Headquarters.

THANK YOU #VVC2013!

Posted on Updated on

Thank you so much to the attendees, speakers, and sponsors of the second (sold-out! internationally attended!) Vida Vegan Bloggers Conference!

This event, the now three-day extravaganza (plus, another Galarama), has grown so much, and we thank you all so much, for making it even more than what we ever thought it could be. Your friendly organizers have spent the past two years pouring our hearts and minds into this event, and constantly get chills from the community that’s grown from our vegan bloggers conference—for writers and readers alike.

There’s so much more to say, and so much to reflect on, but we need some sleep (and kale), and we’re sure you do too.

We’re emailing our attendees for feedback (and a ticket giveaway to the next Con, what the hey?), so be on the lookout for that, and as always, stay tuned right here for updates on what and when and where our next shindig(s) will be.

In the meantime, go blog (better than ever!) and peruse all the #VVC2013 hashtags on Instagram and Twitter and all over. We’ve seen lots of folks live-blogging and recapping already, and remain in awe.

vvc2013 wideshot
VEGANS!
We can’t say it enough: THANK YOU!

Q & A: Amey Mathews of Vegan Eats & Treats

Posted on Updated on

11It’s the return of our blogging Q & A! This time, we’re joined by the super talented and lovely Amey Mathews. We are so excited to have Amey return as a speaker for Vida Vegan Con 2013—whether you can make it or not, check out her blog, Vegan Eats & Treats. We love Amey for her positive, genuine attitude. She is smart as hell and is an endless font of adorable little drawings.

Where do you see blogging going?

It’s amazing how many blogs there are now—which is really great. When I first started blogging, there were just a small handful of vegan blogs. Today there are so many, that everyone can find a sense of community for exactly the way they enjoy eating and being vegan. There are all the PPK community blogs, all the raw date-ball blogs, the no-salt-oil-sugar blogs, vegan athlete blogs, and so on. Sometimes I’ll stumble onto a new blog that’s outside of my usual favorites, and find a whole sea of comments from other bloggers I’ve never discovered before… It’s pretty amazing.

Also, I was just looking at some old posts the other day and looking at how crappy my pictures were. Ha ha! There are a handful of bloggers like Hannah at BitterSweet, or Susan at Fat Free Vegan, or Allyson at Manifest Vegan, who take SUCH great pictures—I think they’ve really helped raise the bar for the rest of us. Even if you’re not gonna spend 30 minutes staging your picture (I gotta eat dinner, man!), you’re also not going to be satisfied with a yellowish picture with dirty dishes in the background.

One last thing, is how many bloggers are turning their blogs into cookbook deals. It’s amazing and exciting! I wish I could write recipes, but it’s really not my strong point. But if anyone needs little doodles for their cookbook, I’m here to help.

What’s your favorite photo editor?

I use ArcSoft Photo Studio if I want to actually cut and paste and combine my doodles and photos and all that, but usually I just use PhotoShop for simple things like brightness or color balance. The best is making dinner before dark so I can just use natural light, and not need a photo editor at all.

What blogging trends are you liking? Disliking?

Liking: Great photography—especially the folks who really take photography seriously. I love that blog writing is evolving into something much more focused and not just “I had some seitan and broccoli for dinner,” like it was in the old days of blogging. I’m LOVING all the mofo themes, and people who are doing a different theme every day for the whole week. It’s a cool idea even for non-mofo-season! In general, I love that the blog designs seem to be getting more attractive, more classy, and more appealing to look at. I love that Blogger—my old faithful blog host—has really improved its design options…and I LOVE that we can finally respond to individual comments on Blogger!

Disliking: my number-one blogging pet PEEVE is the whole weird giveaway thing that is going on. Kittee calls it “Like Gate,” which I think is hilarious. This is the situation where someone says “I”m giving away a free pizza coupon”…”but first you have to ‘like’ me on Facebook, and ‘like’ the company on Facebook, and tweet about this contest to everyone you went to kindergarten with, and leave 10 voicemail messages on your parents’ answering machine, and leave a comment for every single thing you do, so that I have 1,000,000 comments by the end of it!” It makes me grumpy, as you can tell. For me, it makes the blogosphere feel crass and corporate and pander-y, instead of having it feel like a community of friends who want to do something fun like have a giveaway for the fun of it. I feel that as vegan bloggers, we should be serving one another (our fellow vegans or aspiring vegans), and not serving the companies. I don’t mind product reviews or cookbook reviews, because I think that’s news everyone can use…but I think some discretion is needed. Changing the whole tone of your blog post into something with an advertising tone just so someone can win something worth $5 isn’t worth it to me.

What blogs/websites do you read?

I read so many blogs! I usually read anything in my blog crawl on the side of my blog. I love reading randomofo.com SO MUCH—I’ve marked so many new favorites this mofo season.  A few of my standby favorites are: ColdandSleepyCooks, Meet the Wikos, Cake Maker to the Stars, Tahini Too, Manifest Vegan, Julie Hasson… But gosh, the list goes on!

What’s your go-to vegan meal in Seattle?

I actually lived in Seattle, for 2½ years after I graduated college. Back then, I was just a vegetarian—not yet a vegan, and Seattle had only a couple of all-veg spots. But halfway through my Seattle stint, a beautiful veg spot called Carmelita opened up, quite near my house. I was a pretty poor youngster back then, working part time for minimum wage…so I only went to Carmelita once, when my aunt took me out for dinner. I haven’t been back to Seattle in years, but next time I go, I’d really like to go back to my old neighborhood and try out Carmelita again. For old time’s sake!

In Portland?

Oh Portland! I love Dovetail Bakery and Back to Eden most of all, because where I live (in Santa Cruz), no one is making delicious vegan baked goods. I usually load up, and come home with a huge supply that go straight to the freezer for the times when I want a baked treat and I don’t want to bake it myself. For proper nutrition, my two favorites are Native Bowl and Blossoming Lotus. I love the bowls at Native Bowl—so full of flavor and veggies and proteins…filling and fun! I also really love the food at Blossoming Lotus—so far I haven’t ever had a dud there. Once I got to go there for brunch, and that was totally amazeballs!

Live-blogging from the Vida Vegan Tech Seminar

Posted on Updated on

Hey guys!

We’re coming to you live from our Tech Seminar at the snazzy Seattle Public Library. We’ll be taking turns updating this throughout the day, so stay tuned!

Our first class is up RIGHT NOW, and the Nuts ‘N’ Bolts of a Webpage are being explained by Colin Barringer.

 

Mighty-O Doughnuts: breakfast of technical champions.

-

We’re may not be live-streaming, but we’ve got plenty of appropriate social media action to follow along with.

Check out:

@Vidavegancon on twitter
Hashtag #vidavegantech (for everything)

and

@VidaveganHQ on Instagram for up to the date peaks from our attendees, speakers and the organizers. 

Live learning & official seminar notebook

-

First class: The Nuts ‘n’ Bolts of a Webpage with Colin Barringer

Next up: Blog Design in an Ever-changing Landscape.

Have a big question about one of our class topics? Tweet at us and we’ll try and throw it into a Q&A round.

See you guys on the flip-side!

SESSION TWO: BLOG DESIGN IN AN EVER-CHANGING DIGITAL LANDSCAPE, with Tim Maudlin…and Liz Miller via satellite!

Michele here, taking over for Jess. How do I feel after the first class? Well, when I see HTML and CSS code I’ll know much better what I’m looking at. Colin gave us a link to a page he put together with lots of great references for HTML, CSS, and JavaScript. Thanks for being smarter than us, Colin!

Our blog design team together in Seattle — thanks, technology!

So…as technology gets better, so must we. Back in the day, when the Internet was a baby, a boring-as-hell Website was still pretty awesome. Now we have to think about pissing people off if our site doesn’t look good on their iPad, phone, laptop, and giant televisions. This is where responsive design comes in. Check out Responsinator to see how yours (re)sizes up!

And now you’re back to thinking about how long it takes for your page to load. Sure, everyone’s browsers and machines at home are pretty fast now, but phones are still struggling to keep up with our demands. They’re moving fast, but don’t take the chance of using elements that aren’t supported or just take forever to load. If your page takes more than a couple of seconds—seriously, like TWO seconds—you’re gonna lose some people.

A word on choosing a hosting provider: Use free trials and cheap no-contract services to try stuff out. If you spend $5 for a month and can back out, then you really haven’t lost too much. And beware reviews. Read ‘em, sure, but a lot of them aren’t genuinely from customers. It’s often bought ink.

If you’re doing a lot of coding, check out YSlow for tips on how to speed up your loading.

Favorite sources for fonts? Font Squirrel and Google Web Fonts.

Annnd, Veggie Grill has started bringing in food, so that’s lunch!

SESSION THREE: PODCASTING ON A BUDGET, with Barb Troyer

Back from lunch, which Janessa selflessly volunteered to cover.

——————————–

Jess here, a formerly semi-regular podcaster, and it has been far too long since I’ve known what I’m doing.  Here’s what we’re learning from Barb Troyer with Podcasting on a Budget.  Barb hosts All Things Vegan, a community radio show based out of Bend, Oregon, and calls it her “labor of love”:

Ask me good questions, and I will throw you vegan candy – Barb Troyer

“If you have a community radio station, take advantage of it….that’s why I started the show…some unique content you won’t find at other stations” – Barb (who all the following quotes will be from).

Here’s the directory for public broadcasting organizations to find what’s available in your area. You can receive support from experts and local DJs who want to be involved, get involved with your community, hear yourself on the radio and be involved in a learning experience.

Pros:

  • Get information directly your local community and beyond (through syndication).
  • Support from an eclectic bunch of local DJs

When you’re on your own, with zero to no budget, pick up or find a cheap headset/mic combo, such as one you might use for gaming, or put together two separate pieces. Make a DIY pop screen with a nylon stocking to help your audio. Skype is free, and most people use it for radio interviews. Get to know audio editing software, like Audacity and Garage Band.

Sources & tools for little to modest budgets of DIY audio recording:

If you’re looking to save money, check out older versions of software.

Barb recently upgraded to a Blue Yeti microphone and is raving about it, but there are cheaper alternatives she’s spent time with – it’s all about reliability, and trial and error.

Similar to graphics, make sure you always save an uncompressed version of your audio file. You’ll lose quality, if not. With a PC, save it as a wave file and then save it as an MP3.

You want to hear if there’s feedback in the room. Are there other sounds? You do not want any other sound being picked up in the room.

“It’s like garbage in, garbage out”.

Check out student discounts on software, if applicable.

“Getting organized if half the battle….you have no idea how much time I spend on this show”.

You will spend time…..gathering content, being up to date with the news, and any scripts you can prepare in advance on top of ad-libbing.

Fun fact: As for her own notes, Barb now finds Evernote easier to utilize than Google docs.

More folks and the labor of love: “We have a common goal of educating the public….you want to get the information out there….talk to those people [other vegan podcasters]“.

Favorite vegan podcasts:

Get Prepared: What type of format do you want to have? What do you want to listen to?

An hour is a fairly standard length of time for a podcast. You will find out what your station requirements are if you’re on a station, if not, you can really do whatever you like. Consider breaking up the podcast into segments, if it’s super long.

Edit out the lip smacks!

“Remind yourself, this is supposed to be fun.”

“You’ll be amazed that you are not as articulate as you thought you were.”

You don’t need to write your RSS Feed from scratch. Itunes will tell you exactly what you need to submit your feed there. If you use WordPress, it creates one automatically.

Find out who’s downloading with Feedburner. Get to know your audience and community.

So inspiring! Get talking.

___________________________________

SESSION FOUR: SHOOTING, EDITING & INTEGRATING VIDEO, with Angel Barclay

Tag-teamin’, liveblogstreamin’. (That’s a thing, right?) Michele here again, for what is the most intimidating subject for me: video. But Angel’s gonna show us how easy it is.

Angel Barclay making video easy

So, yeah, it’s not has hard or expensive as you’d think it would be.

A point-n-shoot camera can do the job. Your phone can do the job. Don’t have a tripod? A nice, sturdy pile of books can do the job. There are free editing programs and hosting sites that can help you get the job done.

A drawback of some cameras: crap microphones. You can supplement with a separate microphone.

Angel’s first tip: “Resist the urge to pan.” Unless you’re super sure of your sturdy hand it can just make people sick. If you are panning, shoot a little longer than you’d like to use; the first and last bits are gonna be extra wobbly.

Camera quality: “Quality versus quantity issue.” Since memory cards are getting so cheap, just go for it and get the biggest ones you can so you can use the best/highest settings. Delete the bad clips—it can be tough if you get attached to pieces, but you’ve just got to do it or you end up with a giant collection of memory cards.

Transitions? Like so many things, less is more. Not only will transitions cost you editing time, but they are also taxing to the viewer. You might be really excited, if you’re starting out, about all the cool stuff you can do. “Pace yourself.”

Templates are a neat cheat for an easily polished look. Angel uses iMovie; file types are not an issue, and everything is easily customized. She showed us a video she made with a photo album theme—it could be cool for a little montage in the middle of a longer video.

Time for a quick break, then Next-Level Social Media time!

___________________________________

SESSION FIVE: NEXT-LEVEL SOCIAL MEDIA, with Helen Pitlick & Dawn Quinn

Step One: Figure out your goal—why do you blog? Why do you want to expand your readership? As with any project, starting with a goal is going to give you focus.

And be genuine. If you’re just trying to get more followers on <insert network here>, it’s going to be suuuuper obvious.

Connecting with others: As Helen says, if you tell someone you like their shirt and they say nothing, walking away, that’s pretty rude, right? Reply always. Also, share others’ stuff. If you think it’s relevant information, your followers are going to want to know it. Dawn says a good ratio is 1:7; for every post about your own stuff, share seven others’.

Steer clear of autofeeds. Sure, you can share Instagram on Twitter, or tweet the same subjects on Facebook, but use the social networks the best way for each one. There’s a reason they’re separate networks; why would someone want to follow you on all of them if you’re posting the exact same post everywhere?

Brand v. Person: If you want to stay sort of private, using your blog title as your handle on the social networks is the way to go. If you’re trying to really sell yourself, like to get a cookbook deal, you might want to use your name. (Also, personal can give you a little more wiggle room as far as politics/other interests.) There’s no “right” way, but it’s something you should put some thought into. Try to keep consistent with your handles across networks, for simplicity and repetition/familiarity.

Tagging #veganfoodshare on Instagram is a great way to get noticed; they pick out users who’ve tagged them to highlight on their feed. Looking for new folks to follow? Check out their feed.

Pinterest is just so dern popular. Not necessarily a social network like Twitter or Facebook, but you can still build relationships/community through repinning. Having a Pinterest button on your blog posts is helpful because you can get a huge spike in views if the right person pins it. If you have a Pinterest account, share a board on one of your other social networks every now and then. (Again, not all the time!) Note: This is highly visual. The better your photos the more you’ll get pinned!

Just because a new network pops up, you do not have to join it. Think about your audience and your content. Focus on the ones that fit what you do. Remember, you’re coming up with original content for all of them, so best to be really good at a few of them than half-ass all of them. Stay current, though, so you know when the next big thing is coming and can figure out early on what would work for you.

What’s growing? Not just Pinterest and Instagram, but <surprise!> LinkedIn. Especially if you’re looking to work on projects or guest-blog for others, it’s becoming a more relevant network.

What to take away: There’s no one perfect strategy for all. You just need to do some research, try out some stuff, and find your groove.

It’s Not You, It’s Facebook.

Posted on

So you have 500 Facebook fans but only 100 saw your post? Grrrrr. It may not be your fault, but it is your problem.

Facebook recently made some changes to clean up people’s news feeds…to keep them from being inundated by news they asked to see! Rather than unliking or clicking that little X to hide, Facebook has just decided to prevent posts from showing up in the first place.

What can be done?

Pay to play. You can promote a post on Facebook, to reach your fans—or even your fans’ friends. I am personally saddened by this. We aren’t huge companies trying to advertise; we’re bloggers trying to share information with like-minded folk. But the feature’s there, and if you’ve got a big announcement, it might be worth it for you. You’ve probably seen the little drop-down to promote. If you click on it, there’ll be a number of options, and $5 or $10 will make sure your post finds its way to a bunch more people.

Master the organic system. Facebook will continue to show posts in news feeds of fans who interact regularly with you. Your posts will also show up for more people if they are engaged with early. Most of the marketing information out there suggests a few general guidelines to make the most of your posts:

  • Short posts with pictures and a call to action (What’s your favorite seitan recipe? Caption this photo!) receive the most attention and engagement.
  • Learn what time your fans are most active. For some it’s Saturday night, for others Sunday around noon—experiment a little and see what happens.
  • Don’t post too often. More than two a day and you could make your fans feel spammed, then you can be met with resistance to engage, unliked, or hidden.

Vida Vegan Tech Seminar

Posted on Updated on

Hot on the heels of 2013 Con registration, we have more news for you!

It’s the Vida Vegan Seminar Series. These are going to be one-day seminars focusing on a single topic, with a small classroom and instructors prepared to make sure you leave for the day with a nice little skill set. We’ll space them out (between the conferences) and try to travel around a bit with them.

Our first seminar is set to take place this fall—Saturday, November 3, at the gorgeous Seattle Public Library, to be exact—and we’ll be diving into the technical aspects of Internet veganism: blogging and social media. At the end of the day, you will be armed with skills and resources to build a more effective online presence.

Classes will run one at a time, with lunch and snack breaks, and are set to include (we’re locking down our instructors and their specialties now):

  • Shooting & Sharing Video
  • Podcasting on a Budget
  • Strategic Social Media & Outreach
  • Design Basics & Tools
  • Blog Building, Coding & Hosting

We are limiting class size to 50 attendees so everyone gets ample Q&A time. Registration will open Friday, July 20, and is nonrefundable, no exceptions.

Interested? All the info is on the Tech Seminar page, which we’ll be updating as details are confirmed.