8 YEARS of food blogging!
The Top 8 Things Learned From Food Blogging For 8 Years:
#8: Do NOT expect to make friends with other food bloggers.
These people are dog-EAT-dog. I naively thought I’d get a whole new set of friends from this. How could like-minded, borderline obsessive foodie people NOT be friends? Here’s why: food bloggers are blood-thirsty people who view your success as their loss. One of my competitors asked me passive aggressively, “Is ‘What’s your DeathbedFood?‘ the only question you ask?” (implying I can’t think of anything else to ask or write about). They’ve ignored me at food festivals while they sit around together in one big high schoolish clique. They’ve elbowed me out of the way to get a photo of a wine bottle. It’s not blogger bullying but this behavior made me feel even more unpopular than ever.
#7: Do NOT expect to have good food all the time.
I thought that I’d enjoy fois gras, champagne and truffles on a regular basis. That was not the case. Big food events are held in the summer when it’s oppressively hot (especially as the food is usually located under tents which trap the heat needed to prep the food). Adding to the sweat factor, it’s hard to appreciate food when you’re forced to fight for a spot to stand at a small circular high top table and can only taste a tiny portion in minuscule dixie cup while keeping your phone, tablet, camera or other equipment from getting beer or BBQ sauce spilled on them by passersby.
#6: Do NOT delete any of your social media properties when you get exasperated.
I’ve been impetuous over my 8 year blogging career, deciding to quit and sometimes cancelling my social media accounts. DO NOT DO THIS unless you are 150% sure you are NEVER going to blog again. I used to be @DeathbedFood on Instagram. When I tried to get it back they said that was taken (yeah, by me). Try getting through to anyone there to “chat” about it. So now I’m @DeathbedFoodByDiane. Same with Facebook. “DeathbedFood” and “DeathbedFoodByDiane” were taken (yeah, by me). So now I’ve just started it again for the 4th time (?) as “DeathbedFoodByDi“. Very bad SEO strategy. Luckily I always kept @DeathbedFood on Twitter (please follow me!).
#5: Do NOT freak out if you’ve been hacked.
I’ve had numerous instances when my website was nowhere to be found. “Error 404” or other more disturbing images would appear when the URL was typed in. The first time it happened I was in the fetal position while on the phone with the hosting company. If this happens, do not panic. Your stuff online never goes away, hence the texting and email scandals taking down many a politician or business leader. The hosting company talked me down and always “found” my website.
#4: Do NOT be offended when PR people are rude.
Big food events and some restaurants have public relations folks to help them manage media including bloggers. At times they’ve given me the evil eye for showing up at an event, asking who I am, looking on their list, making me feel like I’m a poser trying to get into a hip Hollywood club. I’ve learned to not take it personally. Instead of giving them the evil eye back (which doesn’t work), I remember they have a job (a real job) to do. By taking it down a notch, I’ve managed to get into the event 98% of the time.
#3: Do NOT expect it to be easy.
I expected food blogging to be fun. Going to restaurants and eating amazing food for free! While it was fun at times, it was really hard at many points (see this list). Blogging is work if you’re serious about it. Most bloggers quit after 5 years, if they last that long. My friend Lonnie Miller has a podcast called “Beyond My Day Job” which shares personal stories about high-effort hobbies. Unless you monetize your blog (good luck!), blogging is a high-effort hobby. He interviewed me about DeathbedFood – listen and you’ll learn more about why it’s hard work.
#2: Do NOT expect your friends or family to read your stuff.
No, I haven’t checked it out in awhile.
That’s the response 99% of the time when I ask a friend or family member whether they’ve seen my latest post. While they seem happy to read it when I shove my phone in front of them, it doesn’t do a lot for my self confidence. If they don’t look for the posts, who does? Now that may be just me. I’ll let you assess whether this may be a problem for you or not.
#1: Do NOT expect free food!!!
I can count the number of times I’ve been “comped” on one hand. Once, I had another prominent food blogger in LA ask me, “So what’s your deal with how you can do this?” Translation: how did I really make a living? I was in market research which enabled me to go out frequently to find DeathbedFood. She was in finance that also paid pretty darn well.
Extra Bonus Tip: if a restaurant’s PR person invites you to come for a tasting, make sure to ask if this is gratis. I once went to a high-end restaurant for a decadent dinner, a DeathbedFood experience, which was blown to bits when the waiter handed us a $300 check. I didn’t blog about the meal.
Why did I stick with it despite all of the negative things? There are many reasons. I’ve enjoyed learning how to take decent pictures (check out my early ones to see what I’m talking about). Same for social media, SEO, writing skills – and of course a deeper appreciation for the food and wine world. But the main reason is that I’m a nutty foodie.
Here’s the skinny: Do NOT become a food blogger unless you are a nutty foodie too. If you aren’t, I’m saving lots of pain and suffering. On the other hand, if you are, go for it! It may be one of the best life changes you’ve ever made.