Q&A with Minnesota Food Blogger, #MNBlogCon Speaker Kate Selner

Interview by Christina Milanowski

Kate

I’m pleased to introduce you to Kate Selner (@KateNTheKitchen), long-time local blogger at Kate in the Kitchen. Kate will be speaking alongside Ed Kohler, Kate Arends and Aaron Wahlstrom in a panel session that kicks off this year’s Minnesota Blog Conference. Read on to learn more about this Midwest faith-driven nature girl whostrives to tell stories that matter – with a fork in hand!

1. Kate, what do you plan on divulging in your #MNBlogCon “How I got started blogging” talk?

I hope it’s a good exchange of questions and answers that’s casual and wholly organic in nature. I hope that we all can share what inspired us to begin this journey and, really, what’s held us together and kept us going.

2. Can you tell us a little more about the beginnings of your blog, why did you start it and what have been your biggest ah-ha moments as a food and lifestyle blogger in Minnesota?

I had just left the 18-month culinary arts program at St. Paul College in the Spring of 2006, where I’d immersed myself in food daily, with 20 other people who were just as driven and excited about food as I was. We cooked, talked, explored, ate and argued over food, a discourse that I embraced and enjoyed and when it ended, I had no outlet for that passion. I needed that outlet to talk about food, as well as for the enormous desire to use my writing skills. A blog was a perfect option.

3. Who are your peers in the blogosphere, and how do you stay connected?

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The best part about the rise of the food community in the Twin Cities is the ability to find the deep friendships that come from the sharing of good food together, and I love the relationships I’ve built through this means. Staying connected is easy with social media, but the friendships that have moved beyond 140 characters and in to my life, that have sat at my table and clinked a glass with me over a good meal, or sat down in a restaurant and shared life, a plate of food and a glass of wine, those are the ones I value for the sharing of information, the exchange of ideas and plans and the sheer love that comes with enjoying a good meal with each other. Food is the common denominator in all of it. What’s better than that? When a friendship forms around that, with mutual support and admiration, it’s even better.

4. What’s your favorite Kate in the Kitchen blog post of all time and why?

I’ve been blogging for seven years, and have written over a thousand blog posts in that time. Every time I change my site design, I eliminate more posts that have become irrelevant. Is there a favorite? Was there ever a favorite? It’s hard to say. The posts where I open my heart and share what’s in there, the ones that evoke the sense of unity over a shared feeling or expectation, that show me I’m not alone in trying to blog authentically and true to who I am, those are the posts that I’m most proud of, the ones that I feel good about writing. My goal with my blog is to connect to others. When a post does that, it resonates deep with me, and reminds me of why I blog in the first place.

5. Conversely, what’s been your most popular post of all time – and why do you think Internet readers loved it so much?

eggs banana

I wrote a post back in 2007 about the health benefits of bananas that was featured on the Reuters international news site of Health and Wellness. “Banana Facts, Jack,” was posted, re-posted and linked in dozens of different ways. The post contained so much factual information about how good bananas are for you, and that made it travel far, and fast.

A second post, that was picked up by The Kitchn website was a post I wrote about baking an egg inside a baked potato shell. At the time, “Inspirational Eggs,” contained some of the best photos I’d taken as a food blogger, which, with the simple point and shoot camera I used then, was saying a lot. It generated multiple days of astronomical hits on my blog, and was linked to for more than a month afterwards. It was just a simple experiment that I did, a delicious idea that was culled by a very well-know site. It was pretty unique and I think that’s why people enjoyed it so much.

5. How do you interact with brands and companies, and what’s your opinion on sponsored posts?

I will not do any sponsored post on products that I wouldn’t use in my own kitchen and I decline way more offers that I ever accept. I research products before even accepting samples offered, and if I can’t, I won’t accept them. I want to know that a product isn’t made with a bunch of chemicals and additives, that it contains pure ingredients and will be a good food to eat. When you see a product review on my blog, it’s because I believe it’s a good thing, has value for the consumer and merit as a product.

6. What do you like to do in your spare time and, most importantly, what’s your favorite food :)

I read incessantly in my spare time. I love knowing what people are talking about with regards to food; I love seeing how people are changing what they eat and how it’s made. I love to read history, too, especially anything on natural history. I read literary magazines and magazines that provoke thought and share remedies for healthy living in the mind and body. I exercise regularly too, love to garden, spend time at my lake home and with good friends. I’m crazy about my two cats as well.

And my favorite foods change with the seasons, so right now I love tomatoes from my garden. In a month, the root vegetable love will take over. I eat mostly plant-based foods, with a little meat, raised humanely.

7. What have you learned along the way about yourself?

Writing a blog is an act of self-promotion, without a doubt. You need to have a pretty high opinion of yourself to sit down and share it with the world like we do, as there’s a lot of ego involved. It’s a snapshot into someone else’s life, and it makes me examine what I’m doing within my life so that I feel it’s as authentic as possible. It’s pretty easy to share only certain aspects of yourself online, as no one can really know what’s real and what isn’t; the community I’ve found because of it has given me a deeper appreciation of knowing and understanding the person behind the scenes, both in myself and in others. I don’t over-share, but what you see on my blog is the real me. That’s very important to me.

8. What’s your advice to the new, mid-level or established blogger?

At any level of blogging, be true and authentic to who you are and write from the heart. Be willing to share the triumphs and the trials, the good and bad, the messes and weaknesses, and don’t hide behind some perceived notion of perfection, or what you think should be posted on your blog. Don’t follow the herd. Ever. Don’t ever mimic the style of others. Find your own voice, create your own style, make your own niche and write what you want. Be consistent, but allow for natural changes through the years, a progression to what you are truly passionate about.

christinaChristina Milanowski is a blogger at MaccaPR and serves as social media director and account supervisor at Minneapolis-based Maccabee, a strategic public relations and online marketing agency. She serves on the planning committee for #MNBlogCon. Stay tuned for more speaker interview posts!

Posted in Conference 2013 | 1 Comment

#mnblogcon Schedule Announcement

Announcing the 2013 #mnblogcon Schedule!

For the last three years, some of the best and most prolific Minnesota bloggers have spoken at the MN Blogger Conference.

Lee Odden, Kate Hopper, Julio Ojeda-Zapata, Patrick Rhone, Lauren Melcher, Erik Hare, Mykl Roventine, David Erickson, James Lilkes, and Nancy Lyons, just to name a few.

We’re proud to announce today the topic and speaking line-up for the 2013 MN Blogger Conference, which will be held on Sat., Oct. 12 at Concordia University:

“How I got started blogging”  – Ed Kohler (@edkohler), Kate Selner (@katenthekitchen), Kate Arends, and Aaron; moderator: Paul DeBettignies (@mnheadhunter) (OPENING KEYNOTE)

“Bringing out your passion in your blog” – Sara Lien, Zhenya Hutson (@beingzhenya), Jennifer Prod (@jenniferprod); moderator: Amanda Ingle (@amandaingle)

“I’ll Tumblr for you”  – Nora Pulmort (@noraborealis)

“How to grow your blog via community, e-newsletter and search” – John Bonnes (@twinsgeek), James Svoboda (@realicity), Emma Wilhelm (@emmasota); moderator: Alex Haider (@alexhaider)

“Legal issues and blogging”  – Anna Berend (@motherlylaw)

“Using Google Analytics to become a better blogger”  – Jeff Sauer (@jeffsauer)

“A Non-Designers Guide to WordPress” – Mykl Roventine (@myklroventine)

“How to mobilize your Blogging”  – Curt Prins (@curtprins)

“How to Blog for a Living”  – Sven Schneider (@gentsgazette)

“The Future of Blogging”  – Greg Swan (@gregswan), Blois Olson (@bloisolson), David Brauer @dbrauer); moderator: Julio Ojeda-Zapata (@ojezap) (CLOSING KEYNOTE)

Registration for the 2013 MN Blogger Conference will begin this Thursday, Sept. 12, at 9 a.m. Follow @mnblogcon for all the latest information.

Tickets typically go fast, so be sure to be following along at 9 a.m. on Thursday. If you miss your chance then, no worries. We’ll be offering up two more rounds of tickets on Monday, Sept. 16 and Wed., Sept. 18, too.

Hope to see you on Oct. 12 at the 2013 MN Blogger Conference!

Posted in Conference 2011 | 5 Comments

Want to present at #mnblogcon on Oct. 12?

Want to present to more than 150 fellow bloggers from across the great state of Minnesota on Oct. 12 at Concordia University in St. Paul? Here’s your chance!

Were looking for three speakers who can speak to topics that are relevant to the beginner and advanced blogger.

We’re giving you two weeks to put together your best proposal. Here’s what we need from you:

  • Send an email with your idea for a session, including suggested title and short description to arik@arikhanson.com.

  • Include 3 bullets that highlight what you hope bloggers will learn as a result of your session.

  • Include relevant speaker experience you may have (not a requirement, but ideally, would like to see bloggers with some speaking experience).

  • Finally, include a short bio and head shot/photo with your note.

We’ll take submissions through Friday, Aug. 30. After we’ve received all the submissions, the #mnblogcon planning team will cull through them to select the three lucky winners (who will then be notified by email).

Good luck! Looking forward to seeing some great ideas from our wonderful Minnesota bloggers!

Posted in Conference 2011 | 2 Comments

2013 Minnesota Blogger Conference to be held Oct. 12 at Concordia University

2013 Minnesota Blogger Conference to be held Oct. 12 at Concordia University

Exciting news—the 2013 Minnesota Blogger Conference will be held Saturday, Oct. 12 at Concordia University!

The conference, now in its fourth year, is a one-day meeting for Minnesota bloggers from all walks of life—and all types of sectors. Lifestyle bloggers. Food bloggers. Political bloggers. Sports bloggers. Tech bloggers. They’ll all show up on Oct. 12 to talk all things blogging.

This will be our first year hosting the event at Concordia University (@concordiastpaul on the Twitters). We had previously held the event at Allina Health Headquarters, and CoCo (a co-working venue) in St. Paul.

Designed as an event where bloggers can network and learn more about the art of blogging, the Minnesota Blogger Conference (#mnblogcon and @mnblogcon on Twitter) typically draws between 150-200 bloggers each year. Once again, as in prior years, we are hoping to keep the event FREE of charge!

Previous speakers at the event include a who’s who of Minnesota bloggers, including:

More information, including a schedule and details about the event, will be shared soon. We’ll also be soliciting three speakers for this year’s event—so be looking for that opportunity early next week.

For now we’re hoping you’ll circle Oct. 12 on your calendars!

Posted in Conference 2011 | 4 Comments

2012 Conference Link Round Up

Many thanks to all who attended the 3rd annual MN Blogger Conference in Minneapolis Saturday, Sept. 22, 2012. We’ll use this post to share links to all the slides from speakers and round up posts from attendees. We’ll update as often as possible.

Speaker posts/slides:

Attendee posts:

If you have a relevant post you want us to list here, please send us a note to mnblogconf at g mail dot com.

Posted in Conference 2011 | 4 Comments