The hunt for something to eat has never looked so good: with the rise and rise of Instagram, addictive programs like ‘Masterchef’ and ‘My Kitchen Rules‘, and a new generation of gastro-bloggers, there’s culinary inspiration at every turn.
But with an estimated two million plus food blogs on the Internet today, is there still money to be made?
The sweet spot is in the intersection of blogging, social media and food. This is something Alex Adams discovered back in 2009 when she quit her office job to become a full time food blogger and entrepreneur.
Today Alex, who also goes by the name Ms Darlinghurst, is a foodie success story – running two websites and coordinating a string of food events around Sydney and Melbourne. She attributes her success to timing, savvy business decisions and staying across global foodie trends.
“People today have more access to more food than ever before,” Alex says. “Thanks to social media, everyone now has a platform for their own opinion; sometimes this is a good thing and sometimes it’s a bad thing. There are so many food trends, and they’re constantly changing – you have to find your niche,” she says.
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Given the recent fall of bloggers like Belle Gibson, Alex sagely reflects, “people in positions of influence [in the food space] need to be mindful of the impact they have on the people who follow them.”
This has certainly been the case with paleo advocate and celebrity chef, Pete Evans, whose recent children’s cookbook came under fire for endorsing dietary choices for babies without input from a nutritionist or health expert.
On the flipside, former women’s magazine editor and founder of the ‘I Quit Sugar’ movement, Sarah Wilson, is proving that a bit of digital strategy and the right kind of messaging can go a very long way. This financial year alone, Sarah’s IQS empire is touted to turnover in excess of $4 million profit, according to a recent report in the Sydney Morning Herald.
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“We realised there was an enormous appetite for thoroughly researched information on the sugar-free diet and its health benefits,” the company’s Sydney-based general manager, Zoe Eaton, said.
And whilst only a small portion of revenue comes from advertising, Zoe understands the value of integrating this type of content across IQS’s digital platforms. “The advertising revenue, while we don’t rely on it, is also a very important channel to have and produces really beautiful integrated sponsored content, which is quite often our most read content every month,” she said.
You eat with your eyes
In this Insta-age, beautifully styled images are a baseline for success as a food blogger – many of the most popular sites invest in professional snappers, photography courses, or the experience of food stylists like Nicola Sinclair to add that crafted dollop or dewy mist.
With almost three decades of experience, Nicola has witnessed first hand the incredible opportunities digital and social media are creating for foodies, no matter what stage of the game.
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Having worked with some of the biggest names in the industry, including McDonalds, Masterchef, Vitamix and Neil Perry, Nicola says the food industry presents a real opportunity to bloggers because, at the end of the day, we all need to eat.
“It’s all about the process of creating, producing and consuming,” she says. “With social media and blogs, it’s all about sharing ideas and images that others can connect to – people value those connections.”
For this reason, among others, Nicola notes that Instagram presents a more intimate environment for foodies looking to invest time and energy into social media and, ultimately, connect with their audience on a personal level.
This is something that Alex agrees with, particularly because of the way blogging and social media have combined to allow everyone to have a say. “From a business perspective, it used to be all about one reviewer that would make or break your restaurant,” she says.
“But today, everyone can have a go and that really has the power to enhance your business. You’d be foolish not to tap into social media.”
Alex Adams (aka. Ms Darlinghurst) runs food blog eatdrinkplay.com and secretfoodies.com.au, a company that runs events exclusively for people who love food. You can follow her on Instagram or Twitter.