Wednesday, November 24, 2010

Bloggers Unite!

A huge thank you to Ms Ellie from Almost Bourdain for her extensive and invaluable lesson today on the trials and tribulations of food blogging.  Hats off to those of you who have the time and patience to dedicate to this "new" form of media.

Many of us old school publishing types are reluctant to give credit to bloggers and perhaps it is justified if the intention of a particular blogger is in fact to compete with traditional publishing/media - when there is an obvious lack of expertise or credibility to back them.  It can be infuriating to those of use who have spent decades studying, working, travelling, researching and honing our craft (not to mention the $$ that support our efforts) to read an ill-educated appraisal of someone else's work but this is the age we live in... and karma's a bitch so at the end of the day those without solid foundations will inevitably slip into a ditch somewhere on a dark night. Natural selection and all that.

Of course there are respected professionals who blog - adding another dimension  to both the blogging world and their own set of skills and I am curious to watch how that further develops.

However,  generally my findings suggest that blogger folk start off in hobby mode then a handful, either through natural and perhaps previously untapped talent, sheer passion or a connection to a truckload of like-minded souls, have ended up at the top of the heap. They are driven individuals, often with some time up their sleeves in order to maintain the momentum (or workaholics who post at 3am), who are enjoying themselves entertaining family and friends, the occasional Siberian beet farmer and clearly a whole bunch of "others" who can't seem to get enough information on a particular subject.  So good on YOU! Congratulations on finding your voice.

Sadly, there are those with less wholesome motivations - but hey, ya get that everywhere! And if its working for them - who am I to judge?
Plagiarism is a whole other ball game - don't get me started...

As for me? Well, why not...? Honestly, it is a bit of an experiment and as I will be travelling again soon - a great way to share some of my experiences with family and friends, and anyone else who might be interested.  And if it helps existing readers of my books to connect with me and provide feedback - great. I may not post again for a month then again I might return tonight after a couple of shandies, already addicted the thrill of casting out unedited text!


  1. I just stumbled upon your blog after seeing Ellie's link on twitter!

    Am intrigued about the views of the traditional media on bloggers. As a blogger, I do feel a little discriminated against! I would love to be a food writer as well as a blogger, and thought it best to start somewhere, as the whole food writing thing (as you would well know!!) is a really competitive game. I guess some bloggers are just trying to get experience where they can.

    Also- I feel sad there a lack of formal qualifications available. There used to be a course run through Cordon Bleu but now, the only thing I can find that would really suit me is run through the University of Gastronomic Sciences in Italy and the $$$ are a little too high for me!

    That being said, I would also question whether most well known/mainstream food writers have any formal qualifications or if they just have experience? Obviously experience and credibility are things I hope I am gaining, the longer I blog. As I am only in my 20's, there is no way I could have obtained the same amount of knowledge or expertise that a 50 year old food writer with an expense account has. But that same factor (age/inexperience) would apply if I was writing for mainstream media, or on my blog.

    I definitely agree that there are rogue bloggers, and because they don't have the editorial boundaries that a 'food writer' would have, there is the potential to post some pretty wacked stuff. However, there are also some pretty great bloggers out there too- I promise!! We aren't all on some crazy quest.

    Most of the bloggers I know have some pretty strict rules about what they will and won't post too, so that is a good thing. There are lots of responsible peeps out there just doing their blogging thing, because they love food or writing or both.

    I don't think mainstream media having competition is generally a bad thing, it means they have to sharpen their game. And blog readers are fairly fickle too- if you write crap, people won't read, so you are right about the natural selection.

    Ok- I'll step down from my blogger box but just wanted you to know that there are some great bloggers too!!

  2. Welcome to the world of blogging Jane. I was excited to hear you started your own blog from Ellie and look forward to reading about your adventures and experiences in traditional media. I'd be interested to hear your thoughts on plagiarism as well!

    When you joining twitter? :)

  3. @Gastronomy Gal - Hello there and thanks for your comment. Firstly, please allow me concur. I totally agree that there are some wonderful blogs out there and I didn't for one-minute mean to suggest there weren't. I just wrote you a very long (and far more eloquent response) then lost it through my lack of technical savvy so will just quickly say these few things...

    If the threat of a talented blogger causes traditional food media to "sharpen their game" then I applaud it.

    Professional food writing is a difficult area to get into without years of culinary practice and/or writing experience. If you are persistent, an obsession with food paired with an uncanny flair for words can also help you get your foot through the door.

    Many food (and or travel) writers will spend hundreds of thousands of their OWN dollars (even before they begin to earn from their craft) on their quest to improve their knowledge and skill so please don't be fooled by the illusion of a "50 year old with an expense account". No food writer worth their salt starts off motivated by the big bucks - we do it because we love it. It is in our blood. It is a passion that is rarely satiated. If you feel it you'll know what I mean. But of course, we desire to earn from it - how else would we support our "habit"?!

    There are only a handful of people who are extremely financially successful in food publishing and they are generally driven and talented beyond belief (or very bloody lucky and backed by a strong PR team!). Sometimes it is just about timing too.

    I can only recommend that you keep eating, cooking and writing and eventually the right people will notice. A decent body of work up your sleeve, blogged or otherwise will go a long way towards finding you employment as a writer.

    I haven't read your blog yet but promise to hop over shortly for a squiz. I wish you every success in your endeavors and hope that food writing brings you happiness if not a healthy bank balance just yet! Keep at it!

    I look forward to chatting with you again soon. Cheers, Jane

  4. @Trissa - thank you for your kind welcome!
    Ah plagiarism.. that will have to wait for another day.
    Twitter??? Oh God, I spend way too much time tapping away as it is - my books/other work, constant emails, texts and now a blog - do I have to join twitter?? please noooooo!!!
    Never say never I guess but I have no plans to tweet at this point in time
    look forward to chatting again, Jane

  5. Thanks so much for the response and encouragement. For me, financial success is second to personal success, so it looks like I'm on the right path. P.S If you are going to check out my blog, don't forget to check out my articles, rather than just my ramblings!!

  6. @Gastronomy Gal. My pleasure. Encouragement to those who blog with passion, thought and respect was the intent of the initial post.
    I will be sure to check out your articles.
    Cheers, Jane

  7. For me, starting a food blog was really a chance for me to discipline myself into a) cooking more, and b) writing (I'm a lover of literature and write elsewhere anyway but having a blog really allows me to develop a way of re-organising my thoughts). Beyond that, there is also my deep passion for cuisine.

    But yes, like Gastronomy Girl, I'm at a stage where I'm willing to take risks, to see where I can perhaps take my writing as a career. I have to confess, it can be really weathering to the soul. It's hard, competitive business. Out of uni and constantly met with either rejection letters or absolutely no response (usually the latter), it has the tendency to make one dull to the senses. Still, I'm not one to give up so easily. I've been hoping to get into book publishing but that, too, is another spectrum that seemingly has a shell I've barely been able to scratch. Trudge on it is...