London Restaurant Provides Instagram Packs – Blogger’s Dream or Too Far?

Soho based restaurant, Dirty Bones, have created “foodie Instagram packs” where diners can borrow portable LED camera light, a multi-device charger, a clip-on wide angle camera lens, and a tripod selfie stick. Is this the dream for bloggers and foodie photographers, or is this a step too far in “doing it for the ‘gram”?

Instagram Packs

Whether you’re a blogger, or just a social media user, chances are, if you have Instagram, you’ve probably used it to share pictures of what you’re eating. Social reach is a huge tool for restuarants now and diners sharing their meals can be a great, free way to encourage more customers. More and more young people check out a restaurant’s Instagram presence before deciding to visit. Keen users will even deliberately select or reject dishes, or whole venues, based on pretty they’ll look in their grid.

While some restaurants have rejected this trend and have banned people from taking photographs, far more are going all out to encourage the insta-shares. Most places make sure their dishes and the restaurant itself are looking their best, while others will share their Instagram handle or hashtags on menus, or on signage around the venue.

This move from Dirty Bones is very different to what other venues have done before. In a statement from a spokesperson, they said, “More and more people are also using Instagram to help them decide where to eat, so as a restaurant group it’s key for us to make sure that people are getting the best possible shots of all our dishes and drinks”.

As a blogger, a part of me is quite excited by this. While I tend to use my camera more than my phone for food snaps, I, and every food blogger I know, has bewailed the trend of orange tinged lighting in cool venues, which makes taking nice photos of food a real challenge. Having a little portable light on hand (instead of another blogger with their phone torch diffused through a napkin…yes, we do this for each other) in order to battle the orange curse does sound very attractive, and would make my photography easier. Available chargers is also a nice touch; bloggers are permanently online. Go to dinner with bloggers and everyone is busily updating three or four different social channels, trying to get a good boomerang and snapping pictures, and all that activity chews battery. Perhaps clip on lenses and tripods is a bit far (but for shorties like me, the tripod for that all important flatlay is quite exciting…) and I can see bloggers and social addicts alike using these kits.

On the other side, I also wonder if it’s too far. Of course I want to great photos for my social channels and my blog, and obviously I’m not adverse to sharing pictures of my dinner. But with all that kit, are we going to end up forgetting what we’re actually there for, which is to eat. By the time you’ve got your kit, set up lights, clipped your lens on, set up the tripod, rearranged the table to look as good as possible and snapped all those photos, is the food you’re eating still going to be at it’s best? Are you actually getting the best experience spending twenty minutes photographing a sexy burger that’s cold before you can eat it? Are people going to use these kits on dates? Out for lunch with their mum?

I’d love a kit like this provided for actual blogger events, or pre-arranged reviews, but I’m not sure I’d want one for somewhere I was just visiting. But, if those Instagram shares are so integral to businesses looking to attract the young and cool set, is this kit just a very sensible idea in order to get the best representation possible? Honestly, I don’t know what the answer is. What do you think? Would you use this kit?

Blogger Problems

From the outside, it can look like bloggers lead a charmed life. A life that is a whirlwind of events, free products and Instagram. Alright, sometimes it is like that, but usually it’s actually pretty unglamorous. At an event last week, I caught myself with a couple of bloggers talking about the really silly parts of blogger issues. So, with tongue firmly in cheek, here’s the worst blogger problems out there.

Blogger Problems

  • It is surprisingly challenging to eat a canape at the same time as photograph it. Those more networking style events are a minefield if you’re trying to get content from them. You need one hand to hold your drink, another to hold a canape, another to hold your camera to photograph that canape, a hand for your phone so you can tweet and instagram about your swank life and yet another hand for shaking the hand of the PR someone is trying to introduce you too. Add in trying to hold your bag or your coat (sometimes your laptop if you came straight from work) and you need to be some kind of octopus blogger.
  • You can’t remember the last time you ate food in a restaurant (or often your own cooking at home) that was the intended temperature. By the time you’ve rearranged the table, shifted the plate around to find some non-orange light (WHY IS EVERYWHERE LIT SO ORANGE!!), upset your dining companion by asking them to please get their bloody arm out of your shot, and finally got  a photo of your meal that you’re happy with, it’s gone cold.
  • People have started refusing to come for dinner with you. Either their dinner is cold after all the rearranging, you’ve scolded them or stabbed them with a fork for trying to eat before you’ve finished taking pictures, or you’ve shamed them by standing up, standing on your chair, or generally whipping out a giant camera and flash gun, to take the very best picture. You find yourself saying things like, “Photos before forks!”. So now you have to eat alone…
  • You’ve bought a new product, maybe a coveted eye shadow palette or something like that, and you’re desperate to try it out. Trouble is, you need to photograph it first before you ruin how pretty it looks, and the idea of setting up the shot seems like a lot of hassle just to put on some eyeshadow.
  • You’re so used to making flatlays for Instagram, you keep arranging everything you own into attractive flatlays. The food shopping, your makeup, your outfit choice. The cat. Your housemate.
  • A huge part of your day is involved in looking for suitably cool looking walls to take your outfit photos in front of.
  • Events are a minefield. You’ve come straight from work and arrive an underdressed, sweaty mess. You’ve smeared canape down your coat. Someone important from a magazine fell over your work bag after you tried to subtly put it down so you had enough hands for cameras and drinks and hand shaking. You’ve forgotten that blogger’s actual name and can only remember their Twitter handle. Somebody asked where you were from and you cheerfully answered, “Worcester!” before realising they meant, what blog are you from. So much cringe ahead.
  • Photography can be the best fun, but also a bloody nightmare. You get set up and the sun goes in. You bought a beautiful camera, but it won’t fit in your bag, and it’s so heavy it nearly pulls your shoulder off. You feel like the world’s biggest knob making your friend take ‘candid’ photos of you for outfit posts. It’s just all very awkward.

What’s the silliest blogger problem you’ve experiences?

5 Free and Easy SEO tips for bloggers

 

SEO is one of the best tools at a blogger’s fingertips. SEO stands for Search Engine Optimisation, and if you get it right, you can really boost your traffic, without spending any cash. Combining good SEO practice with a good understanding of what your Google Analytics is telling you is a great way to grow your blog. So let’s get into five easy SEO tips for bloggers.

Easy SEO tips for bloggers

keywords

Keyword research is a little old hat now, and doesn’t hold the weight it used to, but it still has a place in boosting your search traffic. Pick a keyword for your post. Depending on the content, this could be ‘SEO’, or ‘Autumn trends’ or ‘healthy brunch recipe’. Whatever the main point of your post is. Take this keyword and use it everywhere, as naturally as you can. Try and work the word into your main blog post, use it in your image names and use it in your title. Title’s are important. Make them relevant, and using your keyword. Don’t use something obscure.

Link building

Good quality links is a big influence on how Google decides where to rank your site. Link naturally, but link well. Where it’s relevant, link back to your own content and link out to other, good quality sources. Keep an eye on broken links though, and either amend or remove them.

Alt Tags

Don’t leave your image called the random string of numbers your camera spits out. As you’re adding images in, give them relevant titles and alt tags. Alt tags tell google what the image is of. This is good practice, as it makes your site more accessible for those using screen readers, but it also helps Google’s bots figure out the your post is a good source for that keyword you chose earlier.

Tools

There lots of great tools out there to help you boost your SEO. If you’re a WordPress user, try the Yoast SEO Plugin. Yoast will help you optimise every post you write, by measuring it’s readability to suggesting whether you need more images. Moz can help you measure whether it’s working, by showing you how your Domain Authority is shaping up.

Social media

SEO can also be helped along by some good social traffic. Make sure your posts are easy for your reader to share, whether it’s with some sort of ‘share it’ buttons on the post itself, or by actively encouraging people to share. Share your posts yourself, using relevant hashtags, and tagging brands you’ve spoken about. This can help traffic and shares.

Five easy SEO tips anyone can do! What do you find works for your SEO?