3 Questions You Have Always Wanted To Ask A Food Blogger
By Denise Chua | February 24, 2017
1. Do Bloggers eat for FREE whole day, every day?
I don’t but I can’t speak for everyone.
When I first started blogging in 2016, I paid for ALL the food that I blogged about. Apart from eating and blogging, I also shared about food on Instagram and Burpple so that I can get more exposure in the foodie community. In the beginning, I had less than 10 followers (all my personal friends) on my Instagram account; no one except my family members knew the name of my blog and Google did not care enough about my blog to give it a good ranking. So naturally no restaurant owners invited me to eat for free just so that I can tell a handful of Instagram friends and my family members about their food. On second thoughts, the restaurant owners probably didn’t even know Denise from My Food Story existed because Google wouldn’t tell them about me.
Fast forward 14 months to now, I have about 2k followers on Instagram and have made friends with Google so he sometimes tells others about me. But I still pay for most of the food I am blogging about. Why? Because having 2k-Followers is no big deal. Many food bloggers, influencers and even random Instagram users already have more than 2k followers. Some even own award winning blogs or are best friends with the Google search engine because they know Google’s CEO well, sorry I mean SEO. So, tell me, if you are a restaurant owner or the PR associate acting for a restaurant owner, will you invite me? I hope you will but I won’t blame you if you don’t.
Don’t get me wrong, I still get invitations to eat for free. I just don’t get them as often as I need content to fill my blog and Instagram posts. So, I sometimes eat for free but not all the time; certainly not all day, every day. While better known bloggers and influencers do get more invitations, I don’t think any of them eat for free all the time either.
2. How does a Blogger get FREE Food?
I get FREE food when I get invited to a media tasting by a restaurant owner, a PR associate or a fellow blogger/influencer.
When a new restaurant opens or when an existing restaurant launches a new menu, they will want publicity. While some may seek traditional media to do advertising, others will engage bloggers and influencers to advertise on social media. If social media marketing is preferred, the restaurants owners will invite food bloggers and influencers for a media tasting. Bloggers and influencers may be invited directly, via a PR company or by a fellow blogger/influencer who knows the restaurant owner.
The deal? If I get invited, I will eat for free at the restaurant and then post about the food at the restaurant on my blog and/or Instagram. Other bloggers and influencers will do the same. When many different bloggers and influencers post about the same food or restaurant at the same time, we create hype for that restaurant. Sometimes, this is how a new food is popularised as a trend food.
Some of you might ask, “Do you approach the restaurants and say you want to eat for free?” While I can do this, I usually don’t. Most food bloggers I know also don’t practice this because we are not blogging just to get free food. There could be many reasons why we choose to blog; it could be a passion for food or writing, the desire to meet fellow foodies, a shot at fame and so on but trust me, getting free food is not one of them. Getting free food is a great perk since it provides us more content to write about at no cost but it is not what we work for.
3. What Happens at a Media Tasting (Food Tasting)?
I make friends with other bloggers and influencers and I take dozens of photos for each dish, hoping to get at least one outstanding photo per dish. When each dish is served, I race against time to finish shooting fast so that I can start eating as soon as possible.
Generally restaurants conduct media tastings in two ways. One, they invite many bloggers and influencers all at once to their restaurant at their preferred date and time. Each restaurant may conduct this for many rounds for different groups of bloggers and influencers. Two, they invite each blogger/influencer to bring their own guests to the restaurant separately at a time set by the blogger/influencer.
Most of the time, I get invited by method one so I end up at a media tasting with bloggers/ influencers that I do not know. Since I have to share the table and food with them, I will usually introduce myself to the group before the food is served. Kind of reminds me of Lunch Actually!
With regards to the food served, some restaurants will serve a fixed menu. It could be the new menu or best sellers or items they are keen to promote. Other restaurants may allow us to pick and choose our preferred dishes.
At each media tasting, my plan is simple: When each dish is served, I will whip out my camera (currently, I use my iphone) at lightning speed to take dozens of photos for the dish. I will take photos of each dish from all possible angles I can think of and then conclude with some action shots (for example liquid pouring shots, eating shots and noodle lifting shots). I will settle this within the shortest time possible so that I can enjoy my food while it is still fresh and hot.
Since I can only settle down to eat after I have caught a good shot for each dish served, I always feel like I am in combat mode. Scanning the scene, I will quickly locate my fort, a strategic position where I can get a good view of the food. Once I have the target, I will secure the space fast, before it is taken by someone else. Finally, safe in my fort, I will position my camera at a nice angle to catch a good shot without blocking someone else or being blocked. When I am done with my shots, I will rest easy and eat.
But sometimes, things don’t go as planned. When the group is too big, I may not win the fort I want and can only occupy it after the first batch retreats. When there are many bloggers/influencers to one dish, I will also need to wait for everyone to finish shooting before I can do the action shots that will “destroy” the presentation of the food. And even if I win the fort early, finish my shoots fast and decide to abandon the action shots, I can still only eat after everyone is done with the photo shooting.
Still have other questions? Comment below now!