Four of my fave blogger buddies left to right:  Notes from Maggie's Farm, South Austin Foodie, Austin Gastronomist, and Girl Gone Grits.

Why You Should Not Become a Food Blogger

Four of my fave blogger buddies left to right: Notes from Maggie’s Farm, South Austin Foodie, Austin Gastronomist, and Girl Gone Grits.

1.  Free meals. This will be funny to those of us already blogging but somebody actually came up to me at an event a few nights ago and asked me to tell them about this blogging thing so they could get in on the free food. HAHAHA! For the occasional free meal, free course, free event fee I have gotten for being a blogger, I have spent hundreds if not thousands of dollars of my own money and time on restaurant checks and volunteer time supporting chefs and causes that I believe in. I actually struggled with this for awhile when I first started blogging because it seemed to me in Austin there was a certain set of bloggers that got invited to all the hot openings and fancy parties while my little blog was overlooked. My great friend and mentor Kathryn from Austin Gastronomist pointed out to me that the reason I was not on the “list” was because I was not friendly with all of the P.R. and Marketing firms in town but I did know many of the chefs. I’ll tell you now, it is good to know the chefs! If your goal is to be first on an opening list, pursue a relationship with a firm that caters to that but beware that some invitations come with certain expectations. As much as I want to get a hot scoop on a new restaurant,  I also value my reputation for fair and accurate report of a restaurant and opening night, let alone opening month. It is not a fair reflection of what a restaurant is capable of. Better to base a review on repeat visits on your own dime to a place.

2. To get a  book deal. God bless Pioneer Woman, Orangette, Julie and Julia, Chocolate and Zucchini, Chez Pim, Gluten Free Girl, Steamy Kitchen, and David Lebovitz plus my buddy Babbette at Bakespace that is helping others self publish. These ladies (and gent 🙂 are wonderfully self-effacing, highly encouraging, evangelists of the blogger life but they are by far the exception and not the rule. Every one is talented and deserving of the recognition for their hard work, especially since most started blogging when it was in its infancy. I have had the pleasure of meeting a number of them and while I appreciate their success, I recognize that it is as similar as me taking up basketball to become a member of the NBA.  Anything is possible but maybe we shouldn’t bet the farm on it.

3.  To make money. This is a constant consternation to bloggers. There are costs just to publishing a domain name every year. Now add on the costs of meals, photography equipment, your time (please don’t ever underestimate that), plates, textiles, event costs, and on and on. Marketing firms find that providing  bloggers with free products and tastings are easy ways to secure positive feedback for their clients. Traditional media makes money from advertising but criticizes small bloggers for accepting free meals. Click through adds pay pennies while junking up your page. It is all a fine balancing act. My best advice is to pay attention to that internal voice. If it seems hinky to you, it probably is. Better to pass on an opportunity with strings than risk your reputation. You do what you do because you love it, not because it makes you money. Don’t risk your self respect to become profitable.

4. Because it is easy. Blogging is one of the most difficult hobbies out there. You are expected to keep up on the latest restaurants, be an expert food photographer, including food styling, be a social media guru, be able to relate national trends to local activity, all while balancing family, friends, and a day job. Blogging is not easy. You have to grant yourself permission time to learn a task, or better yet, time to focus on yourself or your family despite the demands of a blog. You can always return to a restaurant for a meal but you may not always be able to cheer your neice’s soccer meet. Every decision involves a sacrifice. Just make sure yours are worth it.

5.  You want to become famous. As talented and dedicated as you may be, there are hundreds of thousands of others looking to be heard as well. Don’t forget that as well written and designed as your blog may be, getting out in your community and connecting in person goes a long way. Use your voice to support your fellow bloggers, food artisans, and restauranteurs who care as much as you do about local, fresh, organic, and delicious. Volunteer for a local charity that supports the causes you are passionate about. And always have a card with your blog name on it to hand out. It may not get you your own cooking show but people with like passions recognize honest enthusiasm and will remember you. As much as I want to hang out with Eric Ripert and Tony Bourdain, it is still pretty flattering to be remembered by a favorite local chef.

Food blogging is a rewarding, frustrating, expensive, and fun. It requires dedication and passion. The  biggest rewards for me have come from the community I have found offline here in Austin. I admit to an occasional jealousy over another bloggers recognition or reward but focusing on my own strengths and learning from the successful approaches of others have helped me expand my blog as well as my definition of success.

 

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christyluv

My name is Christy and I was born, raised, and still live in Austin, TX. I love to travel. I have been all over the US, Amsterdam, Paris, Barcelona, etc. My second favorite place in the world is Negril, Jamaica where I have been 10 times and counting. I am a trained pastry chef but I am not currently working in "the industry" right now. I became a pastry chef in part to complement the fabulous dinners conjured up by my best friends Ethan and Michelle, who hopefully will be contributing to this blog as well. We went through a 2 year period of "Tuesday Night" dinner parties which were a smorgasbord of bloody meat and red, red wine. Friendships and laughter. The men did all the cooking while the women got tipsy, as all dinner parties should be. If I wanted to participate with food, I had to bring something and I became Dessert Girl. Eventually I attended the Le Cordon Bleu program at the Texas Culinary Academy and received a certificate in Pastry and Baking. I have had several baking jobs but found it hard to make ends meet, so I earn my living elsewhere for now. I have had the pleasure of working with several celebrity chefs including Rebecca Rather, Bronwen Weber, and David Lebovitz. I have also cultivated some amazing friends and resources in the Central Texas area and would like to share my knowledge with all who care to join me. My most recent honor was winning Best Sweet at the Bacon Takedown during SXSW 2011. As the culinary icon Ms. Childs' says, "Bon Appetit!" ***CONTACT ME at christy111luv@yahoo.com or twitter @christy111luv***

16 thoughts on “Why You Should Not Become a Food Blogger”

  1. Well said Christy! These are some of the reasons that I don’t blog as much as I’d like to anymore – I want to put out a quality product (because a blog IS a product) and I know I don’t have the time to do that right now. Aside from keeping up my skills as a photographer and writer, I need to be true to myself, which I think is the most important thing to remember when blogging.

  2. Christy. Well said. While I do not do a food blog .. or really a blog I guess. Doing a podcast is very similar. A labor of love. The hell with SEO and all of that crap is what I have come to and just write/record what makes me happy and smile. If people come and read/listen even better.

    Keep up the good work.

    Terry
    @wheninaustin

  3. It is a balance we have to find for ourselves. My blog is not “successful” in terms of traffic, or sponsors, or any traditional way you measure success. But I look around at the fabulous friends, community, and events I have met and been a part of since I started my blog and think, “Wow, how lucky am I?” Not to mention the whole dream job thing 🙂 But not one bit of it was easy. And sometimes you have to step back and refocus on why you do it.

  4. Bravo! Well Written-Well Said- A while back you taught me a lesson in “It’s good to know the chefs” Something I will never take for granted because of you. You are correct when it comes to the pay off being great relationships with other bloggers. I feel truly blessed to call you friend. 🙂

  5. I want to be famous dammit! 😉 No, I really just want free food. LOL. But seriously, I will HAPPILY settle for the friends I have made, the bottles of wine consumed, and the laughter that has been shared. Especially when talking about squoosh balls! Great post, my dear!

  6. Well said, Christy. While blogging can be a tad glamorous once in a while, it is ALWAYS hard work. But worth the reward of sharing your point of view and having others read it. I am glad so many food bloggers do what they do! I’m always in awe of the brilliant writing, innovative recipes, smart reviews and fantastic photography I encounter. While most will never achieve fame or financial gain, they certainly develop a fan base. And I am a part of yours.

  7. this is great – i blog now because it’s a form of therapy, but i’ve found that a lot of things that were the reasons i started (free food, loads of comments, etc.) have gone down throughout the years. it’s purely a labor of love!

  8. Excellent article–and I hope you get a lot of people talking about your piece because it tells the truth. Blogging is born of passion, financed by your own wallet and sustained because you truly love it and believe in it, not because you hope to “get stuff.” I have to ask myself every time I sit down to write if I am offering something of quality or just useless chatter. That kind of reflection keeps me in check, and reading your post affirmed my internal compass. Thanks.

  9. Great post, Christy! Clearly, you’ve hit the nail on the head. I just can’t blog when I don’t feel like it. Well, I have to force myself to blog for work sometimes, but those are always my worst posts. The best blog posts are the ones you just can’t seem to stop yourself from writing!

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