Dear Food Blogger,

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Full disclosure – bloggers like to say this, it makes them feel righteous – I am a food blogger too. It’s best to take the cat out of the bag up front.

So, you can consider this as one of those “what would I tell my younger self” type letters that people write – although in my case, my younger food blogger self came into existence only last year.

Better yet, how about calling this an “Open Letter to All Food Blogger”? That got your attention didn’t it? I knew it. Everybody loves an Open Letter.

Here’s the thing though, it doesn’t take much to become a food blogger in this day and age. I should know. Unfortunately, for many it’s become a way to get a free meal. “Will write for food” if you may.

Now, we can’t just blame food bloggers here because let’s face it, the food and restaurant industry brought this, us, upon themselves with their email invites for free meals, tastings, and super duper discounts in exchange for a review – a “honest” review obviously, because what other kind is there? Wink! Wink!! Nudge! Nudge!!

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What happened because of all this, including the online food review sites, is that everyone – even non-food bloggers, and yes, there are such people – entering any restaurant anywhere has a sense of importance. “I have the power of Grayskull” (from He-Man in case you are not as old as I am) became “I have the power to shut this establishment down with my one review”. It’s a fake sense of importance but it’s there.

On top of that, we now have people walking around feeling special because of their “follower count” on various social media. My reply to anyone boasting about their followers is a standard – “Followers ka Aachar Dalo Kya” (Will you Pickle Your Followers?). Surprisingly, it sounds equally fun in English.

Write a few carefully chosen words, get a few followers, and BANG! You are a certified, award winning – although what award I can never find out – famous food blogger. As a “celebrity” it’s just not about free invites for the family, but you can also demand invites for Pappu, Chotu, Chuunu, Munnu, Babli, Bunty and the likes (FYI, auto-correct makes it so hard to type in these Indian pet names).

As a result of everything that is going on in the food blogging world, you have two options; either become one of those bloggers that plagiarizes their reviews – because really who will find out – takes a few photos of a random McDonald’s and then uses those to “check-in” and review a 100 of their branches across the country, or if you are the honest kind then live in fear of having your photos copied and spend hours watermarking them.

OR, you can just be yourself and with a little introspection, make yourself stand out.

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At this point, if you’re still reading, in case you were thinking this is a rant or worse a comic article – I call it an article to make it sound all fancy-smancy – then you couldn’t have been more WRONG! – Yeah! you don’t know me at all.

This is one of those self-help (yulk!) type lists that if you follow, you are more than likely to become a better food-blogger. At least that’s the aim. No refunds okay!

Here’s a list of some simple suggestions – 11 to be exact – that can help you achieve food blogger stardom, and if you already are famous, well then, Good for you, Showoff!

Read: Not just cook books but about food in general – here are some to start you off. Not just non-fiction but also fictional stories that revolve around food – The Diner by Herman Koch for example. Read about the people that have made a name in the business. Don’t just read about what they make, but what made them. It will help you understand the importance of food better.

Take Your Time: If you want to enjoy food, eat it slowly. If you want to savor the flavors, eat your food slowly. If you don’t want to die, Eat Your Food Slowly… and chew it too. Your food isn’t running away… unless it’s alive, and has legs; in which case, do eat your food quickly.

Understanding flavors and how they interact with your taste buds can only be done when you spend time – I was going to say “make love” instead, but that was just too creepy – with each bite that enters your mouth.

The same goes for writing. Take your time with your reviews. Don’t be in a hurry to post first. Gather your thoughts and think about what you ate, how it made you feel, and most importantly if after a few hours you didn’t up in the Loo or worse the hospital.

Don’t Be Afraid To Eat Alone: Conversations with friends are amazing to have, but don’t be scared to enjoy food alone. Make food your friend. Sometimes, let it talk to you – but don’t talk back, because that’s just plain weird and on second thought is probably why you are eating alone.

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Cook: No, I don’t mean go and hire a cook. Learn to cook or cook to learn, it works both ways. You’ll understand the basics of food and it will only help you write about it.

Write: Write a lot. Don’t limit yourself to reviews. Think about food, about what you see around you, and write your thoughts. Don’t just write to get likes and shares on social media – that reminds me, remember to like and share this post – but to inform and spread your knowledge. Write because you enjoy writing. Food blogging is as much about food as it is about writing.

Explore the Unknown: Don’t just follow trends, or if you do, be brave enough to go out of your comfort zone. Talk about the underdog, the lesser known, the unwritten ones. The big restaurants can invite you for tastings and promotional parties, but the small establishments, that work equally hard to make ends meet are the ones that need you the most.

Don’t Romanticize: Write about food but don’t try to make it into Shakespeare’s Romeo and Juliet. I’ve read so many reviews that start with love at first sight, the excitement, and then end in tragedy. It is fine to dramatize, but don’t overdo it. Keep it simple, easy to comprehend. Know your audience. You don’t need to use big words that most people will need a dictionary to understand.

Experiment with Food: Cooking on your own can hone your skills by following recipes but also sharpen your imagination by experimenting with the food and ingredients.

However, tell me when you experiment, so I can make an excuse for not eating dinner at your house. Basically, try the food on yourself first. If you survive, then call me.

Don’t Get Caught Up in Labels and Awards: Get people to respect you, make you advice matter, and don’t get fooled by the ranks and lists. Awards are great, but don’t let that get into your head. Be humble, not obnoxious.

And please don’t fool yourself with the “I scratch your back and you scratch mine” scene in the blogging world. You might think your blog numbers are going up, but you are only fooling yourself. Write for someone who will enjoy and use your words, not someone who just wants you to visit their blog in return.

Be Yourself: If you want to go and review 10 McDonald’s, just do it, but for the right reasons. Don’t get influenced by anyone and most importantly don’t influence anyone else. And remember, everyone loves a laugh, so bring some joy and humour in your writing.

Don’t Let Go of Your Morals and Ethics: Nothing in life is free, remember that, especially not lunch or dinner or breakfast too for that matter. Your credibility is your greatest weapon and the biggest medal you’ll ever receive is genuine appreciation, so don’t ever lose it. Be honest, be fair, and don’t write to simply please someone, and especially don’t write to get a free meal.

There you have it, gyan for the modern day food-blogger.

There are always a few “bad apples” in any profession, especially in this one as there’s a possibility of having bad oranges, bananas, pears too – because you know “food” bloggers. Then again, the good apples, oranges, bananas – you get the point – mostly outdo the bad ones.

What it boils down to in the end is a simple question; Are you a good Banana or a bad Orange? The choice to be either is in your hands.

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93 thoughts on “Dear Food Blogger,

  1. Your post really made me laugh 😂! I don’t think blogging should be about other people but yourself. In a digital world it’s sometimes easier to type than write, and blogging is a good way to keep all your recipes, tips and tricks, and discoveries at a click away.. and man I’ve just started and it’s fun! I spend hours choosing my pictures, finding new recipes , drafting! So yeah your advice to keep it real is definitely sound & should be followed by more people! At the end of the day, it’s about sharing something you love and there is no better way to do that and to stay true to yourself! Thanks for the read! 😊

    Liked by 1 person

  2. Wow. This is definitely a different perspective on food blogging. . .one that I have not been exposed to but perhaps it is the difference between countries or the type of bloggers. I’ve not been exposed to many restaurant reviewers but rather recipe type of blogs.

    Liked by 1 person

    1. I’n actually now discovering the recipe food bloggers and like you said that’s a different field for me all together. Here unfortunately it’s more about reviews and because of that everyone and anyone becomes a “food blogger”.

      Like

  3. Interesting perspective. We tend to keep our posts in a positive light for a multitude of reasons. We aren’t critics. If we don’t like something we don’t feel that we have the right to bash it. Chefs don’t inherently try to put out bad food. What we like you may not and vice versa. It’s all about bringing positivity to the culinary scene.

    Liked by 1 person

  4. Interesting perspective on food blogging. I do not write reviews nor do the vast majority of food bloggers that I follow – so definitely an interesting insight. Thanks for sharing.

    Liked by 1 person

  5. At the end of the day: We cannot really discust taste… nor colors (french expression) Meaning no one is ever right or wrong when it comes about taste. It’s all just a point of view. Nice open letter!

    Liked by 1 person

  6. A request I would add to your list, for all bloggers, not just food bloggers: Blog in a language you know. Please. I know English is popular, but as an English teacher in addition to being a food blogger, I find it painful to read some of the stuff out there.

    Liked by 1 person

  7. Oh my goodness! an amazing article dude. Thank you Nevertheless I’m experiencing situation with ur rss . Don’t know why Unable to subscribe to it. Is there anybody getting identical rss problem? Anyone who knows kindly respond. Thnkx

    Like

  8. Interesting and relevant post. As a food blogger myself, I appreciate your suggestions. Food bloggers are such a mix of people, doing it for so many different reasons. I would also offer that people should consider an author’s motivations for writing a review, before you consider what it is they have to say. Are they writing for pure joy or is there something in it for them?

    Liked by 1 person

  9. I’m not a food blogger as mine is mostly travel though I have done the odd food post here and there but you make some really valid and interesting points. I agree about not just doing reviews as frankly, for me anyway, I don’t find those blogs interesting to read and they do just sound like one big advert. Funnily enough, on my own blog, I have written some hotel reviews as well as lots of non review travel posts and even my own husbands says he’s not really too interested in seeing the review ones!! 😀 I think it’s important for bloggers to be themselves, be authentic and share the love of writing and photography rather than focusing the blog around getting PR attention but I guess some bloggers are doing it as a job or for income so their emphpasis may be different than some of us who are doing it just for interest and fun.

    Liked by 1 person

    1. Thanks for commenting. I agree but I also think a healthy mixture of should work for any blog. A review can help the reader decide on a particular place but an opinion piece or an article or just a normal blog post without an agenda works better.

      You are right in thinking that many do it for money. Most new people who ask me about blogging are curious how soon will they start earning money and I have to tell them I’m the wrong person to ask that because I don’t work that way.

      There has to be a thin line between doing it as a hobby or something you enjoy and a business. No harm in earning money from it but do it respectfully and honestly.

      Liked by 1 person

  10. Good post.. I think somewhere the brands get caught up in the game of “i want to get myself a bigger slice of the cake, err market” that they lose track of offering quality marketing … Here in chennai, the blogging community is still growing, and suddenly we see a new crop of “bloggers”[making hand quotes in air like Joey] who are blogging about every topic under the sun, calling themselves the dreaded “influencers” and sending out emailers to every single Marcom head and PR head asking to be invited, with a tag line that says “I can bring along 10 bloggers, la la la…”.. quite sad if you ask me!!

    and then there are the brands who want people who are popular on tomato [name changed..hehe] ONLY.. I couldn’t be bothered, but it does irk me when I see these zillion posts do the rounds and brands falling for these churned out posts rather than the few good ones.

    Similar stuff applies to the Travel space as well.

    Liked by 1 person

  11. Good post.. I think somewhere the brands get caught up in the game of “i want to get myself a bigger slice of the cake, err market” that they lose track of offering quality marketing … Here in chennai, the blogging community is still growing, and suddenly we see a new crop of “bloggers”[making hand quotes in air like Joey] who are blogging about every topic under the sun, calling themselves the dreaded “influencers” and sending out emailers to every single Marcom head and PR head asking to be invited, with a tag line that says “I can bring along 10 bloggers, la la la…”.. quite sad if you ask me!!

    and then there are the brands who want people who are popular on tomato [name changed..hehe] ONLY.. I couldn’t be bothered, but it does irk me when I see these zillion posts do the rounds and brands falling for these churned out posts rather than the few good ones.

    Liked by 1 person

    1. I think it’s got a lot to do with lack of knowledge when it comes to social media. PR is often taken in by number, who has more followers or can tweet the most or get most reviews and fail to see the quality over this quantity.

      I’ve dealt with a lot of PR in UK and it’s so refreshingly organised and good it’s unbelievable. They treat new bloggers exactly the same way they treat professionals.

      In time I hope things will get better

      Like

  12. I really enjoyed reading this one. I often discuss with other bloggers on fall in values amongst bloggers. anything and everything goes in name of the blogging! Or should we say ‘influencers ‘ ?
    Every one wants to party… but don’t want to foot the bill scenario…
    Frankly how many bloggers can write such posts?
    Great one…. Thanks for posting it!

    Liked by 1 person

      1. I’ll agree with you..the way travel and food bloggers are proliferating and the scenario we have, it’s important to at least have some classification of bloggers.
        For example, at least we bloggers can make out what category someone belong to by merely looking at someone’s blog or reading the content. It’s surprising that we have many bloggers who have thousands or followers and still just 2-3 likes and no engagement in comments…speaks a lot about how they have amassed such large number of followers! what use does a blog serve is there is no engagement…or exchange or ideas?

        Liked by 1 person

        1. I agree with you. However I’ve always found that engagement gets complicated and because of that I find it difficult to cope with. There are the “nice post” type comments which we know will stop unless we go back to the blog of the said Blogger and comment. Then there are the ones who are sneaky about attaching their link. I personally invite people to view my blog but don’t like adding a link. And then the very few genuine comments. It’s a tricky business and I’ve been told that most PR and Brands only look at numbers and that’s where the problem is. And then the snobbish attitude of the so called “senior” bloggers at times. I prefer to keep out of the drama and enjoy it from the sidelines with a bag of popcorn really, and just worry about my writing and how I can make it better. It seems to work although it takes time.

          Liked by 1 person

          1. I get what you mean..in fact,I do share your views on this one.”Nice post” is certainly quite like “How are you?” “Fine”… customary…nothing more!
            Engagement means where you exchange your views and not customary comments…that’s what I enjoy here on blogging platform. Linking it once or twice to gain visibility is okay, but doing it every now and then, loses it’s novelty.
            As for being ignored by more popular bloggers, I have experienced same thing few times, so I generally maintain distance from them as well. They prefer to interact with their own “clan”…why bother then? In reality barring the category of “professional ” and these veteran bloggers, I have met so many bloggers who are warm and helpful. Probably, these veteran and professional blogger assume every other blogger is their competitor, which might justify their behavior…Let them live in their own world!
            I think your practical approach is what everyone should focus on..that’s the way forward.
            I have had this very discussion with many other bloggers too! so we’re not the only ones to experience it
            I’m happy that we had this conversation.. 🙂

            Liked by 1 person

  13. Hi Raghav, excellent write-up. I had similar thoughts about the rising tide of anyone who claims to know food and worse, meet fellow ‘foodies’ to just chit chat and spend money on burgers !! Social media is diluting everything.

    Liked by 1 person

    1. I think it’s a circle where both the parties are responsible; us as bloggers and the restaurants for giving free stuff in the first place. Although it’s them who normally create all the fuss if anything goes wrong.

      I do hope that eventually the trend will end and we will be left with people who genuinely and professionally enjoy blogging.

      Like

  14. This is such a mad fun read. Went all ‘oo, oo, i love this.. haha, i know where this happens, almost every second line’ Thanks for calling out a lot of the ‘entitled’ nonsense that goes on in the name of reviews & ‘a few good words’. And every single word of that closing para, where you speak about ethics & credibility rang true & clear.

    Cheers 🙂

    Liked by 1 person

    1. Cheers! That’s the thing, everyone knows and still it’s being done. As a result the “honest” bloggers (wink wink) are losing credibility by association. I think it’s a question of time. Might take a few years but it should weed out the greedy ones eventually.

      Like

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