I met up with a few food bloggers for dinner on Friday night and have been reflecting a bit about food blogging. It’s been interesting lately. After I transferred my blog posts from eatability (bought out, turned into a crappy site) to urban spoon and zomato, things sort of heated up. Both Zomato and Yelp hired community liaison folks and started hosting events. I started getting invites to them… and meeting some of the other food bloggers. I then had a number of months where I got not only invites to some great meals and restaurants but even got sent some alcoholic vodka in the post (it was delicious). I’ve found this all rather amusing.
On the other hand, the bloggers in the know tell me that they’re souring on Zomato since the community liaison position was stopped. I haven’t paid any attention to Yelp since they invited me to be part of their Elite Squad and then kicked me out before I’d attended an event because I have a listing for my reiki business on yelp (a conflict of interest, they said, though I don’t think anyone has ever come to reiki because of that listing). TrueLocal has apparently started reviewing restaurants, and doing some giveaways too.
The thing is: while I find the freebies amusing, that’s not why I blog, though I admit to having put up a lot of shorter, insubtantial blog postings in the last year to get me blogging points on Zomato (the fact that they’ve gamified it really drew me in). I like eating; I like dining out. I like sharing my discoveries with friends, and have enjoyed hearing from friends who have found my reviews, unexpectedly, when looking up a restaurant they were considering going to.
This month’s newsletter from David Lebovitz coincidentally talks about blogging in the same way (I think you can find it online here). He is an amazing chef and food writer who I started following when we were spending time in Paris. Love his recipes, love his blog, and love the feel for what he does. Anyways, he wrote:
I always considered blogging to be a win-win-win proposition. For the writer/blogger, you (or I) get to write whatever you (or I) want to write about without having to clear it through a publisher. For the reader, you get information, recipes, travel tips, or whatever it is that you’re looking for in a blog. And for businesses featured on the blog, they get exposure…
I often tell people that blogging, or writing about food (and travel), is about giving. Sure, you may be doing it for a living, but you always should be thinking of the reader first: How you can help the reader? It might be helping them find a good restaurant, bakery or chocolate shop, or it may be letting them know where there is a cookware shop in that specializes in baking supplies. Or an outdoor market, where they can spend Sunday morning shopping for amazing French cheeses, charcuterie, breads, and roast chickens…
The other day I saw a promo piece on tv about fashion bloggers that were jetting around the world, showing off their gorgeous clothes and modeling them on Instagram. I’m all for people doing what they love, but it seemed like the stakes for them were to get stuff. (And to take selfies to post online.) I’m guilty of a few selfies as well (and once in a while, I do get something), but I think most of my readers would rather see croissants and baguettes, than my mug all over the place. Even if I get a loaf of bread to take away after a bakery visit, or get invited to a beer-tasting, which I did, even though I’m not a beer drinker, but I wanted to learn more about it, it’s because I think or hope it’ll be interesting for people to read about.
That rather struck a chord with me. And serves as good advice for me as I continue to share my eating and travel adventures, book reviews, and very occasionally thoughts on life, to ask myself why I blog and generally stay true to that spirit of sharing and making connections.