Global Bread: from Yeast to West

Join me on my journey around the globe in search of freshly-baked artisan breads in countries far and wide. Every week, I will introduce you to a different country, share one of its traditional bread recipes – and as a bonus you will get to know the baker and their story. 1 country, 1 bread, 1 person.

About me

Hello and welcome to my blog, Global Bread: from Yeast to West!

My name is Kristina. I have three passions: baking bread, travelling the world and collecting stories about different people. It all started with my grandmother’s bread. She baked it weekly. I remember waking up in the morning to the delicious smell of fresh buns. Buns with butter – what can be better?! Perhaps, only buns with butter in Paris. As I grew up, I discovered the beauty of travels. I explored a number of countries in Europe before moving to North America. I met many wonderful people along the way and was inspired by their stories.

Destination baking

Corn bread in Canada, baguette in France, ciabatta in Italy, naan in Pakistan, pumpernickel in Germany, black bread in Belarus, etc. Is there such a thing as destination baking? If not, then let’s invent it.

Based on research, “culinary activities such as “trying local food and drink” is one of the top leisure travel activities that travellers choose to do when visiting”. France and Italy are the first to come to mind when we think about this type of tours. Bread is baked around the world. Combine bakery tours with wine and cheese tours – what else does one need?! Ancient Romans might’ve added “circenses” (from Latin, “panem et circenses”, means bread and circuses, or bread and spectacle) to the list.

1 country, 1 bread, 1 person

Country: Belarus

I would like to start my journey around the breads of the world with my home country, Belarus. It is a country in Eastern Europe with a population of just under 10 million people. Belarus has a variety of traditional breads made with wheat or rye flour. Some of the recipes are recognized as a “non-material heritage” of the country. Fun fact: some bread is baked on top of oak or birch leaves, this adds a beautiful flavour and a pretty pattern.

Хлеб – pronounced “khleb”, means “bread” in Belarusian language

Bread: Belarusian rye bread recipe

Source: Kristina Stankevich Photo


  • 50 g rye sourdough
  • 300 g rye flour
  • 300 g water

Mix sourdough, flour and water and leave to rise for 12 hours.


  • Starter
  • 150 g rye flour
  • 150 g wheat flour
  • 150 g water
  • 12 g salt

Mix all the dough ingredients with a wooden spoon first, continue with wet hands. The batter should be moist and slippery. Grease your bread pan with butter. Put batter into the pan, cover with a plastic bag and let it rise for 1.5 hours. Pre-heat the oven to 490 degrees and bake bread at this temperature for 10 minutes. Reduce the heat to 460 degrees and bake for another 10 minutes. Lower the heat to 395 degrees and bake the remaining 40 minutes. Spray the top of the bread with water about 10 minutes before you pull it out of the oven.

Baker: Veronika

Source: Kristina Stankevich Photo

Veronika’s baking was inspired by her grandmother. She is a nurse and works hard during these difficult times of coronavirus. About five years ago she decided to pursue her passion of making cakes. It didn’t stop her that she lives with her husband and two children in a one-bedroom apartment with a shared kitchen. She worked hard and now creates magnificent and delicious masterpieces. A few years ago she ventured into bread baking. After months of trials and errors she became a master baker. She treats her family to a few fresh loafs every week.

Bonus: Bread around the world


Let’s talk

What is your favourite type of bread? Who inspired you to bake? What is your favourite country to visit? Would love to hear your thoughts – share via the comments below and find me on social @Yeast2West.

What surprised these 8 bloggers about social media?

What surprised these 8 Bloggers about social media?

Photo from Canva

When you start a blog there is a sense of adventure that comes with it. You get excited about all the topics you can cover and things you can teach people. You think this is going to be fun.

It’s only when you run the blog that you realize there is so much more to blogging and social media than just writing about your favorite trips, double rainbows or how cute your dog Mr. Snuggles sleeps. Oh, there is so much more.

I know when I started blogging I was surprised by so many things. I was surprised that you don’t publish your first Instagram post and magically receive 300 followers. I was surprised that people aren’t as excited about the picture of my egg sandwich as I was. Did they see the cool flag toothpick? It was pretty fancy. I was really about surprised about how much hard work social media was.

I belong to many Facebook blogger groups and Instagram engagement groups. Groups that encourage other bloggers, and help promote each others work. They are networking clubs. So I knew I wasn’t the only one who was surprised by how much work social media could be.

I decided to post the same simple question on a Facebook and an Instagram group to see what people would say. I thought these two groups would be good because they were similar. They were all family blogs mainly blogging about travel. What was the question you ask? I’m getting there everyone, there has to be some kind of buildup.

“As someone who runs a blog, what do you think is the hardest thing about the social media aspect of running it, or what was the most surprising?”

Ok technically that was two questions but they go together. Here’s what I learned.

Each social media is unique

Photo from

Each social media is unique

Each social media has their own personality. Like people, we may all be human beings but we are far from being the same person. Social media is just like that.

For example, with Twitter, you only have 280 characters to express yourself but with Facebook, you can show your love for cats with as many words as you would like. You can even meow a few times if you want too. Meow.

Disney Twitter Tweet

Photo from Disney Twitter

People tend to also use abbreviations on Twitter that they might not use on Facebook. Someone may say “4get about it” while tweeting on Twitter but will say “Forget about it” on Facebook. A very slight difference but when trying to have a consistent writing style across a platform, it makes a big difference. Especially since most companies develop their own style guide for each social media.

“I think it is surprising how much there is to learn – every platform is a little different –  … and most platforms reward consistency making sure that I am posting regularly to all of the above.”
Jennifer from Mouse and the Magic

When I first started to operate a social media on behalf of a brand, I was surprised at how different social media can be. I thought you made one post in a program like Canva and the posted it across the board. Bam, you were done for the day. Easy and quick, but that’s not what happens. Like Jennifer, Mouse and the Magic, said you have to take time to learn about each one and there sure is a lot to learn.

Disney Eats Instagram

Screenshot from Disney Eats Instagram

The simplest example would be hashtags. Using the number sign in front of a custom word can include your tweet in a larger conversation. All major social media include hashtags in their programming but they are not received the same in my experience. On Twitter, readers are used to them and they are fully expected. Instagram uses them but people tend to hide them in their posts. Usually, they will write their caption and will place spacers in the text before putting the hashtags. Bloggers and companies know they are important to help new readers find them, but since Instagram is such a visual program, they try to hide the hashtags. On Facebook, I have heard from many blogger and companies that hashtags are not alway well received. They say readers sometimes find it takes away from the credibility of the posts. It is perceived as just a ploy for more followers. These three are just a simple example of why it’s important to know the differences between social media.

“Time management is the hardest for me. There are so many different types of social media, and they all have different “rules” and it’s hard to keep track of all of them.”
Beth from Paper Angels
Facebook, Twitter, Instagram

Where does your audience live?

Photo from

Where does your audience live?

Something that surprised me about social media is how different the audiences can be from platform to platform. Initially, I assumed most readers would have all the larger social media. I figured someone who used Facebook would also use Twitter but that’s just not true. In my experience, very different readers live on each platform. Of course, there will also be readers who have all, but they use them differently.

“I think the most challenging aspect for me is finding the right balance of time to manage all my social media networks… and more importantly, which ones to focus on for my niche and audience.”
Keri from Flip Flop Weekend
Facebook, Twitter, Instagram

When I first started blogging I didn’t realize you had to write for the specific social media you are posting on. If you are a high-tech company posting cat pictures on Instagram it will not be the best to promote your brand but retweeting articles from reputable news organizations on Twitter is perfect for your audience.

Like Kerri said from Flip Flop Weekend, it can be challenging to find out where your audience is. It’s really a trial and error thing because you have to try a few different kinds of posts to see what your readers like and share. If you post the same photo on Twitter and Facebook, and one gets no shares and the other gets 100, you get a solid idea what kind of posts does well on each specific platform.

“It’s about pushing the traffic constantly”
Amanda from Disney Fam Vacation

You have to know your audience and write something they want, but first, you have to figure out where they are. If your audience is in zone A, but you only post in zone B, then your audience won’t see your hard work. You spend a lot of time creating these posts, make sure your niche is seeing them. More importantly loving them.

“I think it’s easy to get caught up in trying to do all of them and all of them well… but I find that it then takes too much time away from the actual work of the blog… So I try to focus on Instagram, Twitter and Facebook since those seem to be where my audience is… but even three is a lot to manage… I think finding the right networks, learning how to balance your time on them… and find your audience…”
Keri from Flip Flop Weekend
Facebook, Twitter, Instagram

Fulfilling the expectations

Photo from

Fulfilling the expectations

Like numerous bloggers I spoke with, I was surprised how much work social media would end up being. I didn’t realize how much time it would take to respond to comments, questions and thank readers for follows.

“I would say the hardest part about social media aspect of it is feeling obligated to always be available to answer any questions readers may have “in a timely manner”.
Alyssa from WDWBound

Readers want you to answer their questions and want to feel a connection with you or your company. If they ask you a question and you don’t answer, they remember that. They reward loyalty. They want to feel like they know you, and you know them. They want a connection.

“Just the lack of traffic there unless I’m actively pursuing it.”
Stress-Free Mickey

What the writer from Stress Free Mickey is implying is delivering on your promises with your audience. If you promise to post daily, then you have to keep up with it or the audience will leave. This was a lesson I learned when I start blogging. When I made a post saying I’ll post every day on Instagram and then I didn’t, I lost followers every single time. Yet, if I promised something and delivered, I usually gained followers and almost always gained engagement levels. You want engagement because social media engagement is what drives traffic to your blog or website. That is the true goal after all.

“Sometimes that’s hard when you have a family and a plethora of other responsibilities.”
Alyssa from WDWBound

Your marriage with the reader

Photo from

Your marriage with the readers

Relationships take work. This is a point that not too many people would argue. You need to carefully nurture them and care for them every day.

Many new bloggers do not understand this. They are under the impression, if you put the content out there on social media then people will flock to you. That is not true though.

“It’s hard for me to manage my time. I know you have to put the time to grow it, but I’m a busy mom! It’s hard to put my all into something when I’m putting “my all” into so many things.”
Taryn from Lau Family Travels

Just like any relationship, it can be more work than you expected. Blogger after blogger told me how hard the balance between blog life and real life can be to find. Many mentioned about having a hard time finding the balance between them at all.

“… my biggest challenge is time – working, kids and blog can be a lot – … time to make the blog content, but then there is all the rest of it – make a Canva for the post – post it to the FB – add it to stories … , pin it to Pinterest, etc. ”
Jennifer from Mouse and the Magic
Facebook – Instagram

Jennifer’s observation is something I hadn’t expected either. It may sound silly, but I didn’t expect how many detailed steps were involved to make your reader happy and have them continue following you. To make an attractive and professional looking picture, you have to set the scene for the photo, arrange the setting on the camera, take the picture, edit the photo, write a captivating caption for the photo, make sure it includes hashtags and a “call to action” so the reader has a question to answer. All that work to just have the reader see the post, and click the “like” button. Lots of time for you, and two seconds for the reader. Many bloggers when they start don’t consider this, but you have to schedule the time if you want to be successful at social media.

Disney Family of the Week

Photo and Screenshot from Disney Family Facebook Page

The reader has thousands of sites to choose from and you need to convince them to stick with you. It’s like a marriage. There are millions of people in the world and you are asking someone to stay with you. Social media can be a high maintenance relationship, but like all relationships, it’s worth it in the long run. The bond between reader and blogger is a precious one that needs to be treated with love. Just like any marriage or relationships, I don’t think a lot of bloggers expect that when they get into blogging. At least the ones I spoke with sure didn’t. Just like a relationship, everything is easy and fun at the beginning, but if you want it to work, you have to put in the effort. More new bloggers need to be told this from the start. That way they will be able to consider if they have that kind dedication to what they are writing about. It’s also why it’s important to pick a topic you love for your blog. You and that topic are going to be spending a lot of quality time together.

Think about a time a blogger or website made you feel special. Did that make you feel more connected to the site? We’d love to hear about it in the comments if you would like to share.

So what does this mean for the new bloggers out there?

Photo from Canva

What does this all mean for you, the new blogger, reading this all full of adventure and hope? Learn from these 8 bloggers and remember a few things before you start.

  1. Each social media has a different personality and should be treated as so. Learn their language and you will make your audience happy. Learn this early on and it will save you a lot of work.
  2. Just like each social media is different, so is each reader. Take the time to learn which type of reader uses which type of social media. It will save you a lot of time by not promoting your post in the wrong space.
  3. The readers are going to want your attention and you need to provide it to them in a timely manner. If you promise something and don’t follow up on that promise, the reader will go somewhere else. You want to keep them happy and reading your stuff.
  4. You and the reader are entering into a relationship that you will have to cultivate carefully. You will have to find a balance between the blog and your real life. Your day to day is busy but so is the readers. If they are taking the time to read and comment on your social media then you need to take the time to thank them for it.

“Social Media is a juggling game. Either I am engaging well with others, and then falling behind on posting, or posting, but not engaging. It take much more time than you think…”
Nicole from I am a Honey Bee
Facebook – Twitter – Instagram

Social media is a lot of work, yes, but it really is as much fun as new bloggers think it is. There is just a lot of time and work to put into it too. The great thing about social media is there is an audience for everyone. Just because one group didn’t like my egg salad sandwich photo, doesn’t mean there isn’t a group of egg salad enthusiasts out there. Once you find them, treat them with all the love you can give them. Maybe even have a contest to give out some little cute sandwich flags.

Are you a blogger and can relate to some of the above? Are you about to start your first blog and find some of these tips useful? Let us know in the comments! We would love to hear what you have to say. We are one big blogging family after all.


  1. Algonquin College Centre for Continuing & Online Learning. Introduction to Social Media – COM0011 Course Content. Lesson One and Lesson Two.

img_0036-2 Starting a new blog? Blogging for years but want a “I’ve been there” head nod? Check out What surprised these 8 bloggers about social media?  #socialmediasurprises #acsocialmedia

img_0035-2 Are you starting a new blog and want to be as prepared as possible? Check out What surprised these 8 bloggers about social media? to help yourself be as ready as possible for your new blogging adventure. #socialmediasurprises #acsocialmedia


Online Theft: Protect your blog against copyright infringement


Photo by Picography on

You work hard on your blog and the content that goes into it. How would you feel if someone stole your content and passed it off as their own? That’s what we call copyright infringement.

By definition, according to Wikipedia, copyright infringement is the use of works protected by copyright law without permission, infringing certain exclusive rights granted to the copyright holder, such as the right to reproduce, distribute, display or perform the protected work, or to make derivative works. The copyright holder is typically the work’s creator, or a publisher or other business to whom copyright has been assigned. Copyright holders routinely invoke legal and technological measures to prevent and penalize copyright infringement. (Copyright Infringement, Wikipedia: The Free Encyclopedia, January 24, 2019, Retrieved January 28, 2019,

In simple terms, it’s theft.

Myths vs Facts

Copyright is a pretty complicated issue. I think many people misunderstand what’s allowed and don’t necessarily realize how to go about using photos and content from different sources for their own use, or maybe they just don’t care and take their chances because it’s easier than going through a lengthy process to get approval.

Here are some myths around copyright:

Copyright Infringement: 5 Myths vs Facts

Internet Copyright Infringement by Visually

How to Copyright your blog

Did you know that as soon as your blog is published online, it is protected under Canadian copyright law if your content is original? This means that others must ask for your permission to use your work. Unfortunately, this isn’t always the case.

Here are a few things you can do protect your blog content:

  1. Complete a copyright registration through Industry Canada. When you register your copyright, you get a certificate of registration that can be used in court and gives you leverage for collecting damages.
  2. Place a copyright notice at the bottom of each page of your blog. Include the word “Copyright” and/or the copyright symbol (©), the year of publication, your name and the phrase “All Rights Reserved.” You can place a copyright notice on your blog pages even if you have not yet filed for copyright registration.
  3. Develop a strategy to detect infringement. You may also want to invest in software that can detect theft if you have spent the time and money to register your copyright But, I guess this all depends on how serious you are about pursuing legal action if you detect a theft has occurred with your content.
  4. Have a system in place to allow others to ask for permission to use your content. You don’t want anyone to steal your blog content so why not make it easier for people to ask for permission to use it. Include a section on your website about how to go about this and include the details they need to provide in order to consider approval.
  5. You could also go as far as registering a Trade Mark for your blog. You can find more information about this here. (

What’s your take?

I think these are all great strategies to protect your content. I’m not sure I’d go as far as ordering infringement detection software for a small personal blog but I can see this being very relevant for large blog owners or businesses.  What do you think about these strategies? Do you have any other suggestions? What are strategies you would use to protect your content? I’d really like to know!


   Bloggers! Don’t get caught by copyright infringement. Learn how to protect yourself. #copyrightinfringement

  Are you a hard working blogger? Know how to protect your content. #copyrightinfringement


Government of Canada, (2018, April 27), Retrieved from:

CARNES, D. , Retrieved from: from:


COM0015 – Blog #3 – Professional Networking… Is It Worth It??

I can still remember, all too clearly, sitting in a lecture during the first week of my Commerce degree, being told by one of my professors that the key to professional success is networking, and lots of it. Honestly, eighteen year old Courtney had never been more petrified.

At first, my desperate attempts to dodge these coveted networking opportunities and the feelings of awkwardness and embarrassment that I predicted would ensue, worked. I spent hours convincing myself I did not need the benefits I would derive from attending these events.

However, in the end, did I end up attending networking events during the course my degree? Of course I did. Was the experience awkward? At first, yes. Was it worth it? Completely.

Current Networking


Source: DIYMarketers

Currently, the in-person professional networking I actively engage in occurs very organically through my employment environment. Working in a marketing capacity within the health food industry presents limitless opportunities to connect and engage  with brand representatives. These frequent and repeated interactions allow for relationships to develop, and topics to be explored — organic conversations around career related successes and challenges, and exciting industry trends.

Social media platforms have an incredibly powerful potential when used for professional networking. Social media allows for individuals to showcase all of one’s strengths, interests and passions in one place. For example, for me, social media serves as a place where I am able to showcase my interest in health, while simultaneously sharing my passion for personal finance.

At the moment in a professional context, I maintain a LinkedIn profile, that is neither completely up-to-date nor active. In addition, I maintain a professional Instagram account, and an Instagram account for my podcast. Finally, I maintain a blog on my podcast’s website. These platforms are not being truly optimized for professional networking purposes.

Future Focused: Commitment to In-person and Online Professional Networking

Looking forward, with the full understanding of the importance of developing both in-person and online professional relationships and networks, I am fully committed to expanding my professional networks in two capacities — through maintaining an increased social media presence, both as an individual and as the host of my personal finance podcast, along with attending professional development seminars, conferences, and events.

Professional Networking as an Individual and Podcast Host



In the next six to twelve months, I have aspirations to revise my LinkedIn profile, ensuring my Experience, Accomplishments, and Skills are accurate and current. I am going to actively add connections to my network who are both influencers in their industries and interested or employed within areas that pertain to my interests. In addition, I am going to actively share content related to my professional role within marketing, along with content pertaining to my passion for personal finance. These actions will result in creating a heavier presence within my LinkedIn network, leading to greater opportunities to begin discussions with those are interested and passionate about the same topics.


Twitter, a powerful tool and one that I underutilize, is a platform I want to grow to have an active presence on within the next six to twelve months. Twitter, for myself, serves as an untapped source of valuable local-based connections that can work to further my personal finance podcast’s objectives and my own personal finance knowledge.


The potential for both my professional and podcast Instagram accounts have not been fully maximized. In the next six to twelve months, my goal is to increase the frequency and quality of interactions with other users, while simultaneously developing a detailed set of objectives and overarching goals for both accounts in regards to how I intend to utilize these accounts moving forward, what type of content I hope to continue sharing, and how often I intend to post.

Website and Blog

With a corresponding personal finance website and blog for my podcast, I hope to publish content to this platform on a regular and ongoing basis and frequency while continuing to interact with readers and listeners through comments and contact form submissions. Encouraging dialogue on the podcast’s website is a valuable way to expand the podcast’s existing network.


In the next six to twelve months I intend to utilize Eventbrite to source out events to attend, which present opportunities to connect with individuals within the personal finance community and marketing environment. These valuable connections have the potential to translate into lasting relationships that can extend past the networking event itself.

In Conclusion…

Through reflection and time, I have come a long way since eighteen-year-old Courtney and her fear of networking and the awkwardness associated with it, and now realize the value and benefit of professional networking. In my opinion, the key to successfully networking both online and offline? Ensuring interactions feel genuine, authentic, and natural.


Source: Reddit

COM0015 – Blog #1: Weapons of Choice

Can we take a minute to talk about the phenomenon of information overload which really began with the development and mainstream use of the Internet and social media platforms? Every day alone an immense amount of social media content is created by the massive number of social media users. However, thanks to social media trend listening and monitoring tools, sorting through and locating relevant information for our unique individual or organizational needs has also never been easier — therefore with an increased surge of information, a means to filter, sort and organize that information must follow.


Source: GIPHY

To digress slightly, there’s a saying my father frequently uses — “we can’t afford to make all the mistakes ourselves”, and when he says this he’s referring to our time resource.

This same type of message can be applied to the multitude of growing resources available on the Internet, where individuals and organizations curate lists of social media listening and monitoring tools, for others’ use. These influencers and early adopters, through trial and error help to sort and simplify the options available for others, and therefore influence the use of tools utilized by later adopters, thereby becoming trend setters. This was in fact how I stumbled upon my favourite RSS reader, Digg, a social media trend listening tool, along with Hootsuite, my monitoring tool of choice.


Upon recommendation from others, I began using Digg, an RSS reader that I really liked and frequently used until very recently. Long story short Digg shut down (who else is still mourning its loss?) and I swiftly went to work looking for another RSS reader which is how I found this article which walked me through how to move my RSS feeds over to a new, very similar platform — Feeder, which I am quickly becoming fond of. For me it serves as a platform to monitor industry and brand keywords in one central location, using my RSS feeds from Google Alerts. With Feeder you can easily create folders to organize and classify your feeds. I was drawn to Feeder because of how easily and seamlessly I was able to integrate and continue using my existing RSS feeds from Digg.


In terms of monitoring tools, Hootsuite is my go-to tool. I have an affinity for Hootsuite simply due to its customizable dashboard, enabling me to be able to closely monitor the elements I wish to monitor. Another draw to Hootsuite is its intuitive layout and compatibility with other platforms. The only beef I do have with Hootsuite however is its less than ideal integration with Instagram. Luckily tools like Later make up for this pitfall which easily allow you to plan and schedule posts.


Source: GIPHY

News & Updates

Does anyone else have a personal passion for health and nutrition like I do? I just so happen to work within the health and wellness field in a social media capacity, so keeping an eye on health related trends is anything but a chore. For this, I find value in following Canadian based nutritionists, Meghan Telpner and Joy McCarthy’s blogs to gain inspiration and understand what these highly regarded individuals are discussing in regards to health trends, recipes, and popular product and product categories. The content these nutritionists create directly relate to the mindset of my organization’s target audience which is why I find their blogs such valuable resources. To stay organized, I use Feedly as my one-stop-shop to organize all of the health related blogs I find beneficial to follow. Along the same lines, I try to stay on my social media A-game  through the utilization of Social Media Today which features articles and infographics pertaining to everything digital marketing. The best part about this website is that the website’s homepage is organized into a dashboard with tabs at the top of the page relating to specific areas: ‘Social Media Updates’, ‘Trending’, ‘Social Marketing’, ‘Digital Strategy’, ‘Content Marketing’, and ‘Influencers’.

What I’ve learned?

I’m not sure if it’s just me, but I’ve always have this desire to keep all of my tools organized in one location — or in this case, website or application. For a long period of time I was continuously searching for that one resource that would help me achieve this. With this in mind, I think the greatest challenge has been to understand and realize that with the multiple different processes one must engage in when working within the social media realm — from monitoring, to listening, to observing industry trends — that while some tools will come close to being able to fully encompass all of the needed functions, multiple tools are not only necessary, but advantageous.

COM0014 Blog #5: Life is About the Journey, Not the Destination!

I came across my personal brand through thinking about what I didn’t want it to be. Which was another blog that takes my diagnosis Asperger’s Syndrome and make it all about being a cause or how it’s challenged me. I wanted to focus more on what has helped me cope better; and use my experiences as a way to share what I’ve learned from them to help others.

Transitioning to this place from my original blog which was general and used a pseudo-name has been a big step and leap of faith but one I’m glad to take.  Doing so helped bring a greater focus to my writing and specify my niche, that has allowed me to bring forth my own personal awareness and how I’ve gained insights from those experiences that have added to what my blog may have been lacking before. It also has given me the courage to share and be more open with what I share.



I strive for it to be as authentic and honest as possible, writing from a place of compassion towards myself and others, understanding and learning with perhaps a little educating. If it doesn’t feel right then I don’t write on it and work to change it because this is the only way I know how to write and be- authentically and honestly- me. Sharing what “Life on the Spectrum” is like for me has been a wonderful learning experience  and journey into embracing what makes me unique, how that’s growing into my personal brand and allowed me to share that with others, that’s just begun but I’m eager to see where everything goes from here.

Learning, sharing and growing as Kylie, blogger of  Life on the Spectrum- embracing Aspergers!

COM0015, Blog 2: Photography on Social Media: The Good and the Not-So-Good

Perhaps the strongest social media strategy I’ve been from a follower’s perspective is at the National Gallery of Canada. They share a lot of information about what exhibits they have, retweet what other people are posting and only occasionally make a sales pitch. The National Gallery has Facebook, Twitter, YouTube, Pinterest, and Instagram accounts, making full use of the major social media platforms. What makes their social media strategy so impressive is how they use each platform differently, with little overlap of images or other content. A Facebook post about the new Canadian Photography Institute provides interesting information and images. They retweet quite a bit from their followers and following, and not just my share of their tweet on the Josef Sudek exhibit. Of course, it is the season for gift giving and the National Gallery does do some sales promotion, but it keeps the sales to a minimum.

Not quite as good is ViewBug because it shares articles freely and highlights many different photographers, not just the winners of its contests. It has Facebook, Twitter, Google+ and LinkedIn (although just launched three months ago with three posts and nothing more) accounts. But what surprises me from a photo-sharing website, is that ViewBug has an Instagram account. I mostly monitor ViewBug’s Twitter account, which is often repeated on Google+ (an area that needs improvement), not only shares serious articles like Photography: From Hobby To Full Time Job and Top Tips to Become a Great Fashion Photographer, but has fun sharing photographers’ images.

One would never know by visiting the Vistek website that they even have social media accounts because there are no logos or links to their Facebook, Twitter, Instagram, Google+, YouTube, LinkedIn and whatever other platforms they may use. As well as having too many advertising posts that directly sell to followers, Vistek spends more time with drones than cameras. Even its Facebook posts to its own blog is direct sales marketing. Its YouTube channel provides some how-to videos, which can be handy, but they end with a statement to “Pick up a [insert product here] from today!” Rarely does Vistek retweet messages. Having a constant stream of ads only leads to people unfollowing them. Vistek needs to spend more time interacting with the photography community and joining or starting conversations. They need to start listening to the various conversations. Once they have a feel for that, they should start commenting and sharing their expertise on those conversations. All of this will help inform them about what photographers want and need to be able to provide that. Asking for feedback would also help them engage their audience.

COM0015, Blog 1: Tools and Resources

I have a full-time job, which limits the amount of time I can spend on social media work for (FDS). I created a Feedly dashboard as part of the Social Media Monitoring and Measurement course; however, I found it limiting. I prefer Hootsuite. I spend a half hour on the bus going back and forth to work each day. Hootsuite allows me to be productive during my commute. Through the Hootsuite app on my tablet, I can monitor my various streams and like, share or retweet effortlessly. Feedly does not have that capability. On weekends, I use Hootsuite’s online interface to schedule a week’s worth of Facebook, Twitter and Instagram posts. Hootsuite also connects to Drop Box, making organizing and posting images that much faster and easier. I sometimes use shortened URLs to track traffic.

On weekends, I use the Google Analytics plug in on the WordPress website to monitor traffic on the FDS website, which is one of the key success indicators. On a monthly basis, I can dig deeper into the website traffic and audience reports through the Google Analytics website. This is particularly useful to see who (demographic information) is coming from where (our social media networks or elsewhere). Having updated websites as far back as 1999, I am so thankful I no longer need to sort through raw website user data.

Of course, I also use Facebook Insights, Twitter Analytics and Bitley to monitor and track social media activity, but I spend more time on Hootsuite and Google Analytics.



I have many sources of news. I think my best source of information is a set of Google Alerts (which I view through Hootsuite) that shows photography contests, exhibits and other events happening in the Ottawa, Montreal and Toronto triangle. As well as providing content for the website, blog, Facebook and Twitter, Norm and I use the information to plan our photo excursions and submit images to contests. When I finish well in a contest, I post it on the FDS social media networks. It is a testament to the quality and creativeness of my images.

While most photographers are aware of all the magazines, stores and manufacturers on social media, few know about Science Daily’s photography research RRS feed (which I also view through Hootsuite). Having worked with medical and academic journals for more than a decade and with newspapers and magazines for longer than that, I can understand complex ideas and explain them in plain, everyday language. I rewrite the photography research media releases with information from the published research paper and post as Technology News in News Flash, the FDS blog. These have included advances in lens technology and how researchers are data-mining social media photos to guide land use policy, conservation planning and development decisions. This is well suited for our more advanced photographer audience and positions FDS as being knowledgeable of the cutting edge.

Personal Reflection on COM0014 Digital Communications

Being a publishing professional for 25 years, I understand that storytelling is important in all communications, whether it’s print, broadcast or online. Storytelling brings the content to life by painting a picture for the audience. By putting things into context, storytelling makes complex concepts easier to understand.

News Flash by shares stories of photography events happening in the Ottawa, Toronto and Montreal triangle. It also shares research news stories that advanced photographers might find interesting. Photography 101 uses a story format of having a beginning, middle and end when explaining basic concepts and how-tos for novice photographers. In the future, I hope to tell stories about some of Norm’s and my theme photography shoots. As good storytelling is important to any medium, I could have easily submitted most of these blogs to a hobby magazine for possible publication as articles.

While the course covered basic communications concepts of storytelling and target audiences well, I’m disappointed that the course did not provide any digital– or social-media-specific information. As I mentioned in my discussion board introduction, I was hoping this course would cover how to write for the different social media platforms. While writing a blog is similar to writing an article, getting something substantial in 140 characters or less on Twitter is a challenge for me. The course did not address this. It would be useful to know how to use Facebook, Twitter and other platforms to their fullest potential. I understand there are too many social media platforms to be able to cover them all, but Facebook and Twitter are by far the largest and would be part of every social media strategy. Perhaps writing one or more Facebook posts and tweets with every blog, whether related or not, should be part of future courses.

B2C Case Study: Vistek

As one of Canada’s larger photography chains, Vistek communicates to its audience online much like as other photography stores, manufacturers and magazines. It’s all about making sales, not engaging with photographers.

Vistek’s social media presence is barely visible on its website. An RSS feed logo beside the word “Blog” and an 180× 80 pixel ad for its YouTube channel are all that exist. Missing are the Facebook and Twitter logos, which many other photography websites leave for the bottom of the page with the sitemap, terms of use and copyright information—must-have pieces of little importance.


The blog URL does not include “Vistek”, which is a missed branding opportunity. The majority of posts read like advertisements promoting products, complete with bulleted specifications, prices and quotes from the manufactures. Upcoming Events are Vistek seminars and tradeshows it will attend; there is nothing outside of Vistek. The “Tips and Tricks” section includes links to products being sold. None of these engages the community.

Vistek continues its sales pitching on its Twitter and Facebook pages. It has 5,352 Twitter followers (following 1,118) with 1,328 likes and 7,350 Facebook page likes. The only engagement is encouraging followers to visit the Vistek booth at various tradeshows.

Vistek’s YouTube page has a series of how-to, product promotion and speaker videos from a recent tradeshow. Community engagement has resulted in two comments from four years ago and visitors liking 11 of the 74 videos.

There is so much more Vistek could do to communicate with photographers. An “Ask an Expert” call for questions would not only position Vistek as an expert but also encourage followers to answer each other’s questions. Offering a $50 gift card as a prize in a monthly photography contest would not only have followers submitting images but also voting for their favourites. Vistek staff could periodically post photos with common novice errors and ask followers to provide constructive criticism, which could generate discussion and help photographers analyse their own images more critically.

Vistek could probably increase sales if it softened its sales pitch.