Welcome Keynote: Bringing Your Best, Authentic Self to Business


S1: Diane Cu
S2: Todd Porter

Diane: It's a huge honor for us to come here and share our story, and we want to thank BlogHer which has been an integral part of our blogging career since 2008. Without them our business would not be here. We write whiteonricecouple.com -- foodstyle, video, editorial magazines, different publishers. It was scary because the blog almost didn't happen because I was going to give up. We're gonna share it because it's a large part of who we are. If it wasn't for his insight we wouldn't be here today


Todd: We discovered this amazing road of blogging. Been able to experience it it began as a hobby as blogging but it didn't exist. It came just so close to ending four months into it. Early we saw what others were doing.

Diane: It was really exciting

Todd: People were doing the same things you love, geeeking out on the same stuff you geek out on. We thought the way others were doing it that's how it was done. We saw people were doing 3-4 week. 4 months into it was devouring our life.

Diane: We were photographing full time jobs. Our kitchen became, it felt like a big race. Mortgage was not getting paid.

Todd: Four months in Diane said, I'm done, this isn't fun for me anymore. My reaction was that we weren't having fun, but there's something special there but I don't know what it is. I don't know where it's going to lead to but it's special and we have to continue

Diane: I saw it as a stupid hobby, the dogs weren't getting fed.

Todd: They were getting fed but they weren't being walked.

Diane: Seeing that others posted three times this week and we only did it one time, and Todd fought me. I walked down the hallway and said I was done.

Todd: Thankfully we're both stubborn in our own ways. But we're not gonna do it how everyone else is do it. We're going to do what works for us. It didn't matter if we didn't get three posts a week, we do one. Our lives were just as important, but actually more important.

Diane: We sat down and had a heart to heart talk. We realized we wanted to be a part of it. Going to be life-changing, I was crying at night, we're having fights about the blog.

Todd: We got a few more porn hits with whiteonrice.

Diane: Realized we could all eat from the same pie, but do it differently, and stick to who we are. When we went traveling to japan, we posted travel and photo posts.

Todd: We got better at what we wanted to do. Making up recipes. We like to travel, we love our dogs. We want to share what we love. We loved the community and the people we connected to. Same joys and passions that we did. We wanted to share what we were doing with others. 10 days into our trip, we're seeing this Japanese fish market that's four football fields of produce and fish. The street scenes in Japan, the cutest school bus, sharing these things, we thought it was so cool.

Diane: We got 10 people who wanted to unsubscribe to our blog and we didn't know what to do. We write about dogs, traveling, we like it, and you don't?!

It was crazy but empowering because we knew that more power about what we wanted to write about. Other blogs are not who we are. We helped them unsubscribe.

Todd: We didn't want to let them drag us down. We're not going to do what you want, we'll do what we do.

Diane: Then we restructured our blog. It became a business. We contacted our web designer to change it -- reflect who we are, what we love, what resonates with us and find people so we can nurture each other. Started a blog business plan. We had a heart to heart, why are we blogging? We want to nurture what we love online to show people. But life has to happen first.

Todd: Once a week we'd go somewhere we hadn't been before -- we'd drive out and explore something in southern California, and we weren't doing it any more things that made life special were falling off to the side

Diane: We didn't realize it was a business plan until we were getting feedback from people. You want to have a happy home life, even without the blog, we had to be able to keep the blog and our relationship up. then community, we have to be more involved. Although we're photographers, we're not competing with anyone. We are here because we want to work together. The photog community can be very very very competitive.

Todd: Diane was doing a portrait studio 18 years ago. She was trying to figure out the lighting, and google wasn't the same as it is now. She would go to photo shops and they would snub her. Try and sell her the most expensive stuff they could. And I went in, and they treated me just as much as an asshole asthey treated her. We want to help others -- there's room at the table for everyone.

Diane: We're here to mentor, we're not here to compete. We had tutorials, how to photograph how to style. This became a resource for people. In order to build a future in blogging. Membership was important to us. It felt so good to help people get their first job. All of our experiences with them made us want to help more. Different groups came to us with different budgets, we wanted to give back and referred to a n archive of photographers who want to get into business. So we always refer. And people ask us why/ and we looked at each other and said, why not? Isn't it the nice thing to do? All of these people we referred to, whenever we had a client who came to us with a big budget, we always ask how'd you find out about it -- it's because of someone that you referred. It wasn't a business card, it was word of mouth

Todd: There's amazing talent out there. Your progression as a photographer can really evolve, you can get inspired, and competition is higher and higher.

Diane: We looked back and saw that this was a recipe for success. We wanted to make sure we didn't give up who we were. People wanted us to be a recipe driven website, or this big photography forum. We made it, a little bit about who we are. We sat and thought of our recipe for success, and our ingredients didn't have numbers on it, no stats or money. They were all emotional ingredients. Made us feel alive and connected to everybody.

Todd: Success in life became success in business. We try to remind ourselves, when life isn't working the way we want, we come back to what's important to us on a daily basis.

Diane: We're visual people, we encourage you to think about your recipe for success. Here's ours:

((Video to be embedded later))

surround yourself with colossal dreams and massive bubbles and loving community to share it with

sprint and soar with your creativity
play. laugh out loud.

be a lover, feel deeply, passionately.

give hugs and kisses. witness the world with an open heart. be a fighter, find strength to overcome. be a dreamer, never let go of hope and promise. loss reminds us to embrace those we love today. be a good listener. give back. eyes forward with curiosity. search for meaning. share your story. live. your life out loud. believe in your beauty. Be fearless. your eyes are your lens, your heart is your shutter, see feel savor life moments.

Diane: We always look at the emotional elements, I always go back to our recipe because we think about who we are and how we can work together better. when different brands and sponsors come to us, we realize we're not good at giveaways, it's about working and partnering brands. It's the core of what they do.

We want to create a different campaign, do differently for brands. We always show them the video, they don't look at us as giveaways, but we create personal connections, personal relationships and stories. Members do matter and we have never been financially successful.

Todd: We have never been happier either -- we know as a couple we've never been happier. Financially we've never been in a better spot.

Diane: It has to stay representative of both of us. We can celebrate together, and be an integral part of the community. We make sure that we are more who we are especially on the blog. People who come to us know who we are. Friends come to us, and we ask them who we are, do you know why we blog/ then you need to watch that video.

Todd: We had to ask, who am I? what drives me inside and how can I incorporate that into my relationships that I have, relationships I have. Who am I and how can I do more of it.

Todd: I'm a quiet observer and a fierce protector of people I love

Diane: Writer, dreamer, fighter, helps me be strong, feisty, loud, I love because it reminds me to not give up hope. When we talk and struggle we always ask "who are we, who am i" when you write you next blog post, write who are you? Because the blogsophere is so huge, how can we allow ourselves to be told apart.

((Video to be embedded later))

I am me and will always be.

More of ourselves and more of everything that we love, and in the words of our hero "find something you're passionate about and keep tremendously interested in it" -- Julia Child.

We wouldn't be here if we didn't remember who we are.


Talk about your MEMBERSHIP structure?

Have subscription, we don't have a newsletter. Everyone always asks if we do. We're not good at that. We'll hire someone to do it eventually. People follow us on twitter. We don't need mass quantities, we just need quality. We just need quality engagement. We forget about those numbers. But we focus on quality first, less is more. We are so appreciative without leadership we wouldn't have what we do.

Comment: 2 days ago, I put a post saying I can't do this schedule -- I say I'm going to do on my blog. Why are you reviewing product you weren't paid to put up. What I want to do is write what I want to write. If you don't want to read it then you don't have to read it. Makes me think am I crazy.

First it's about quality before quantity. Can you build something on a small number with a small group. You don't need a huge subscription model to do an effective business. We don't like to give out numbers, our numbers for 2012 have been truly amazing. 2000 people who subscribe to us.


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