Before I begin ranting, I’d like to make a disclaimer that the idea of this post is in no way to condemn the work of any other bloggers, these are just some thoughts that have been lingering on my mind for a long long time that I finally decided to pen down (after consulting a few other bloggers).
I started blogging in August 2013 because I worked in the Video Surveillance industry which as exciting as it was, did not allow me to channel my creative juices. It was in almost a week’s time that Chai Cake & Kitsch was born. It was a whole lot of Googling, YouTube-ing, Video Tutorials, back and forth with my designer and feedback that helped shaped up CCK. I also wanted something that I could call my own.
In 2013, blogging, more specifically food blogging was still a niche in India. Fashion bloggers had been around for a long time and were doing exceptionally well. It was certainly an era of social media but it wasn’t rampant. Nobody still possessed the ability to destroy another’s reputation through one Tweet or a Facebook post. You still read the best food related stories in the local Sunday newspaper or weekly magazine. However, come 2014-15 and boy was there a big bang! A big kaboom through smartphones, social media and an obsession for documenting EVERY.SINGLE.THING.WE.DO. that gave rise to ‘food bloggers’.
Whilst it’s great that there are so many who are taking up food blogging, i know not how many possess enough knowledge, conduct a thorough research before posting an article, make the effort to do some beautiful photography, have genuine followers etc. There are certain things that infuriate us bloggers who do walk the extra mile to do so!
Here are a few that are exasperating to say the least:
Food that is presented well deserves to be photographed and publicised well.
Owning a fancy camera doesn’t make one a photographer. You can take beautiful pictures even with a smart phone so long as you understand aesthetics, composition, the works. My camera is not an extension of my body so at times I’m forced to take pictures with my phone under bad lighting. Sometimes restaurants require you to do Live posts, I apologise in advance for bad photography. Simply reposting pictures and videos, even if you’re giving credits is not okay too. Unless you specify that you’re a curator, don’t do it. It isn’t very nice to try and gain popularity by reposting somebody else’s hard work.
Disrespectful PR personnel – Where are your ethics?
i. This without an inkling of a doubt is a two way street. I have heard of stories of bloggers who will get to restaurants with a plus one demanding free food threatening ugly consequences on social media. I can understand how this is such a big problem for the industry but that’s why PR personnel need to do their homework. Fish out the good ones from the bad. Just because a blogger has 25k followers, it is not a representation of their work. It is very easy to buy followers these days!
ii. If you belong to one of the few companies / restaurants that pays bloggers, pay us within a week – 15 days’ time. I was once given my payment (of a meagre amount) 4 months after I handed in my review! It is extremely disrespectful.
iii. Ask your clients to follow us back on social media and repost our articles. This again is a two way street. If we’re writing and generating traffic for you, it is only fair for you to do the same for us.
iv. Ask your restaurant to prepare for our arrival. If you call us at 7:30, don’t start your event at 8.45. If it’s a one on one review, inform your restaurant to be ready. I can’t even begin to speak of the innumerable times that a particular brand invited me to try out their new menu every season and the staff had no idea what had to be done! It leaves a really bad taste in the mouth.. even before we’ve tried your food!
Research your food:
Bloggers, do your homework. Read up a little on the restaurant, on the hospitality team, on their history, on the cuisine they serve, exploit Google! Everything can be found online! Speak to the chef, speak to his team, find out what inspired the menu!
Learn to respect vegetarians:
This applies to a lot of non vegetarian bloggers, PRs and restaurateurs. If your menu is predominantly non-vegetarian (and I understand that), don’t invite a vegetarian blogger to try out the remaining 3 dishes on it. It’s not ok. We’ve made a choice to be vegetarians and as long as we aren’t disrespecting you, don’t do the same to us. We’re all free to be the way we want to be.
No I will not obsess over Zomato (my autocorrect keeps changing this to Tomato):
So apparently, not only am I required to be on Twitter, Facebook, Instagram, Instagram stories, Snapchat, now you want me to have a million followers on Zomato too? If I had chosen to speak to an audience via that medium, why would I curate such long posts? It’s unfair to miss out on deals just because my presence on Zomato is close to nothing.
One of my favourite bloggers calls it as it is “blogging is more about learning and growing than anything else. Let your work reflect how far you’ve progressed in your writing & photography skills. Be authentic and provide value to your readers. One of the coolest things about blogging is that you can connect with people who share your undying love for, say, olive oil ice cream. Constructive “genuine” criticism to a restaurant works wonders & don’t just tell them what they want to read. EDUCATE YOURSELF! Keep reading cookbooks, journals on food science, food magazines & let that reflect in your writing because you are an “influencer” whose words are being read by tens of thousands of foodies who put their trust in your words. Going on restaurant reviews with an established food critic on the same table as you despite having 20k+ followers for yourself & not knowing the basic difference between “dimsum” and “dumpling” reflects badly on you. Stand out from the rest”.
I understand that there may be a few who like this post, some that may get offended and I apologise for the same. Restauranteurs and PR, I understand that every story has two sides so I would be more than happy to hear yours! More often than not, I haven’t had the best experiences especially on the vegetarian front, so this is just my friendly version 🙂