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What we learned at the Words to Go social media forum in Adelaide

What we learned at the Words to Go social media forum in Adelaide

What did the world’s leading travel writers, photographers and social media content creators share at #WordsToGo14? Read on to find out

Tasting Australia Sarah Blinco chocolatesI’ve just returned from a wonderful mini break in South Australia, where I attended the fabulous Tasting Australia culinary festival and the Words To Go social media forum 2014 in Adelaide (#WordsToGo14). Around 40 travel and dining bloggers, writers and content creators from around the Australasia region were invited to attend the Words To Go get-together, where we networked, talked digital strategy, travel and food media creation, and all associated joys and challenges.

We were privileged to enjoy informative, inspiring and engaging presentations from several esteemed and experienced guests. Here I’d like to share their wisdom that stuck with me, that might be useful for anyone else keen for hints on:

  • Writing (travel and dining)
  • Blogging
  • Photography
  • Instagram
  • Social media and turning followers into fans
  • Digital media content creation
  • Following your passion


Words to Go social media forum 2014 in Adelaide

Lauren Bath – @laurenepbath – Australia’s leading (and first professional) Instagrammer 

Insty sunset Sarah BlincoWant to score more followers and/or go pro? She says:

  • It’s not commercial photography, so don’t treat it like that; Instagram is social media first and foremost.
  • Always edit (in Instagram or via phone app).
  • Make it YOUR best work – your style and flair, no one else’s.
  • Pay attention to who your audience is and what they like (but mix up crowd pleasers with the pics you love that don’t necessarily always have mass support).
  • Think outside the square on angles and ideas.
  • Sunrise and sunset are great times to shoot.
  • You can share an image taken on another camera by saving it to a cloud service like Dropbox and accessing via Instagram on phone or tablet.
  • Cute and fluffy always wins fans.


Katie Quinn Davies, renowned food stylist, cook and publisher of What Katie Ate website and books

Katie’s food styling and photography is mind blowing; her website, magazine shoots and books are divine. An Irish expat now based in Sydney, she shared quick tips on capturing great food and lifestyle images:

  • Use a handheld mirror to help bounce light. Lighting is really important so seek out rooms and spaces where you can utilise it to make your photos pop. Natural light is always preferable.
  • Take photos of food with lots of colour; be mindful of meat and steak though – burgers and lasagne are the hardest to shoot, according to Katie (and she has practised, a lot!). She loves snapping pizza, pies, pastry and meringues – maybe you could have a go next time you whip something up in the kitchen?
  • Use only beautiful images on your sites and social media – make your spaces the best they can be, especially given that we are now a highly visual society.

Robyn Eckhardt, internationally acclaimed American food and travel journalist, author of Eating Asia

I was really inspired by Robyn’s intelligence, passion for travel and unearthing real life in far-away lands. She reminded us that there is always something new to discover and share in the world, keeping in mind one of the definitions of discovery is: “To learn or realise something; it’s personal and it’s never exhausted.”

How does she travel and discover?

  • The first place Robyn goes to is a local market in the morning – if you take time to observe and interact, you’ll learn about the local ingredients, culture, customs and so much more.
  • It’s absolutely possible to communicate without language – don’t be shy, mime, act, gesture – eventually an understanding is realised.
  • Open your mind to what’s happening around you.
  • If you’re producing content on an area but you’re overwhelmed because it’s all new (and as a traveller you’re probably tired), narrow it to one specific element you notice repeated. E.g. the sale of rice or spinach or a new ingredient you discover at a market. Follow its story through, and other intriguing tales will manifest.
  • Be open to unexpected encounters – just say YES.
  • Don’t just take a guide’s perspective – find out answers for yourself.

Bird in Hand Sarah Blinco

David Hagerman, esteemed international photographer and also photographer for Eating Asia

David presented many awe inspiring travel and food images, and shared easy take-home tips for us to put into practice:

  • Square it up – make sure your angles are straight and lined up.
  • Compose the image from back to front – pay attention to your background.
  • Be mindful of cutting objects off or out of your final capture.
  • Follow your obsessions and photograph whatever it is you’re into, no matter how far out it may seem.
  • If all else fails, snap a pic of a cat (although I think he was half kidding here, but going back to Lauren’s tip, cute and fluffy will win in the end too).

Caz Makepeace, co-publisher of one of the world’s biggest travel sites, YTravel

Caz and her husband, Craig, are currently on a road trip around Australia with their two little girls. Once a “dream”, the pair finally decided that life is too short, so they have made it happen and haven’t looked back. I love that Caz describes herself as a gypsy who doubts she’ll ever get over travel – I can relate and it’s great to know there are others out there who feel the same. She says, “Dare to live an extraordinary life; Go against the grain, ignore the naysayers, set outlandish goals.”

Caz’s live-your-best-life and travel tips:

  • Get back to basics, what’s in your heart?
  • Push your comfort zone when travelling – it will equal great experiences.
  • Trust in your own power, be the best version of yourself and you’ll become magnetic.
  • Help others and allow them to help you.
  • If you’re a blogger or content creator, remember to treat your readers as friends; what’s best for them? What do they need from you in the way of inspiration and advice?
  • Don’t be afraid to break convention – “If the heart is missing, there’s no fulfilment or joy, so what’s the point?”

Greg Snell, Canadian, avid traveller and current Tourism Australia title-holder of The Best Job in the World (South Australian gig)

Greg has truly followed his passion in life, and not being afraid to do so has meant he has lived an amazing travel life all over the globe, including much time in South America and Africa. After meeting him, I recognise he is definitely a worthy recipient of one of Tourism Australia’s coveted Best Job in the World positions. Greg talked about the importance of social media to his success, and how he loves social platforms for getting people together to promote a cause and showcase events and destinations. He says,

  • Live life – for fun, with passion and purpose.
  • Use Facebook photo albums – they increase engagement.
  • Use photos for visual storytelling.
  • Videos are excellent tools for showing others experience and discoveries from your perspective. (For anyone serious about capturing great images and footage, Greg uses a variety of cameras to tape video, including his Canon 5D Mark III and a GoPro).

Bird in Hand South Australia

Chloe Reschke-Maguire, Yelp Adelaide Community Manager

Chloe is a marketing and social media professional who loves to make a splash for her home town of Adelaide on social media.

She says of content management on social media, “Stop trying to reach the most people and focus on reaching the best people – those who spread the positive word, who are loyal, who comment and make your brand great!”

Want to take a look behind-the-scenes at Tasting Australia 2014 and cheese making with Udder Delights?

Planning a trip to Adelaide? I enjoyed my stay at the Rendezvous Grand Adelaide Hotel –read more.

Did you find this helpful or inspiring; do you have a comment? I’d love to hear from you – there’s space below :-)

-Sarah Blinco

Airport musings en route to TBEX

Airport musings en route to TBEX

How time flies; Aside from the six hours I’ve just spent on a plane, that is … and the following five hours at Hong Kong airport.

I’m on my way to the UK and Europe (Ireland) which is all pretty exciting, although I’ve not had time to think about it, pulling double shifts trying to get ‘ahead’ with business bits.

I discovered the TBEX Future of Travel Media conference plans earlier this year, and with the support of a super understanding guy, here I am on the way to ‘my other home’… again!

It’s almost surreal to spend so much time planning and working towards something that seems so far away, only to be ‘in’ the moment already. It’s a bit of a hike for me this time, with quite a lot of solo travel scheduled, although meeting up with friends and family at each point of my adventure to Ireland, Scotland and England.

TBEX is all about travel: blogging, social media, writing and sharing stories with the world (and on the world). If interested, you can follow the conversation as it happens on Twitter: #TBEX.

The best thing about this kind of gathering, is that it’s an opportunity to mingle with like-minded individuals; people who believe in the concept of working independently and making money doing what you enjoy. Writers, photographers, journalists, content creators and entrepreneurs who are ready to be inspired, and take action on what’s taught. This was something that I loved about the recent Australasian ProBlogger conference on the Gold Coast (more on Twitter: #PBevent) – the network of people who gathered – serious about this ‘blogging business’, with many already enjoying the success of maintaining a blog as their full-time job. Digital media creation at its best. I love it!

I aimed for travel this year, and I’ve got it; let me tell you, that ‘writing down your goals’ thing really does pay off.

It’s interesting that putting something in writing does seem to get it ‘out there’ to the Universe. Do you agree? For me right now, it’s pretty late – waaay past my bedtime – hence the philosophising. My back’s sore and I’m tapping out ever more words for work and leisure. But I’m so lucky to be able to experience this life.

My world tonight in the vast space that is the Hong Kong airport has consisted of a routine visit to Starbucks (yes, unnecessary but habitual), and a frustrated, tired – almost teary period – as I struggled to get the WiFi to boot up. Yes, I’m one of those people who needs internet like smokers hang out for a smoke-break!

As internet kicked in fifteen minutes ago (and my contentedness returned), a random stranger asked if he could use my USB charger facility to juice up his phone, only to wander off and trust me with it (yep, it’s still here next to me now), and a Chinese girl halted mid-walk to snap a selfie in the airport, nearly causing a collision for the people behind her who didn’t expect it – pretty funny, and right in front of me as I hang out on the floor with my laptop (the only place I can sit to access power for my computer, of course).

Now, only two hours to go… although time doesn’t seem to be flying so quickly right now.

3 things people don’t know about travel writers and bloggers

1. It’s not ‘luck’ that gets us places. It’s a lot of hard work both before a trip and on the road. And when our friends are eating/drinking/hanging at the beach, we’re obsessively writing, editing images, stressing that Internet is too slow… all in the name of digital media creation.

2. We’re a quirky bunch; we don’t take holidays – holidays are work, but work is fun ;-)

3. We’re addicted to travel, and we believe it’s the best thing you can do in your life.

What have I missed? Bloggers, want to share? Say hi to on FACEBOOK,  TWITTER or comment below.