Tuesday, September 23, 2014

Post Eat Drink Blog Musings

So, another Eat Drink Blog (dubbed EDB from here on in) has come and gone. Having missed last year's one in Perth, it was great to pack the bags and get back into it in Brisbane this year, with plenty of fresh faces and some new topics. 

Although I will do my recap with pretty pictures and what not a bit later, I just wanted to pop down my thoughts and musings (apologies in advance when this starts to get a bit nonsensical) and what I got out from EDB14, which I feel is quite different from the previous EBD's I had attended (Sydney in 2011, Adelaide in 2012). 

I think one of the more interesting things for me was Nat from Rubbish Eat Rubbish Grow, speaking about the food blogging 'industry' (if you can call it that), in Asia and more specifically, how to make it big as a food blogger in Singapore and be popular. 

What interested me during his talk was that all the bloggers in his top 10 Singapore food blogger list were all restaurant reviewers, rather than cooking or recipe blogs, and that on top of that, a number of them were making some pretty good money out of it. Up to $3,500 a post apparently!

This had me reflecting on the Melbourne/Australian food blogging scene (since that's what I'm obviously most familiar with) and my previous experiences with EBD as well. 

Previously I've always felt like one of the few restaurant bloggers in a sea of recipe bloggers, and that previous itineraries at EDB have been revolved around recipe bloggers…although I always left with guns blazing, inspired to update my blog somehow, whether it was doing something different with my photos, or updating my layout somehow.

At this year's EDB, I didn't quite have that same level of inspiration, but think that I left with a lot of reflection on my mind, and lots of things to general ponder on. 

I felt in this year's EDB, restaurant bloggers far outweighed the recipe bloggers, and that even this year's program skewed more towards restaurant bloggers, or at least with more direct relevancy ie. the media landscape, chef vs blogger panel and what ACCC guidelines say and how to protect ourselves, with almost all case studies in it about restaurant reviews when previous lawyers had discussed about how to protect recipes and how to not steal other people's recipes. 

Not that this wasn't relevant to recipe bloggers, but I felt that there was a lot more there for the restaurant bloggers to draw from directly. 

Is Australia's food blogging scene migrating more towards restaurant blogging then? I understand Singapore being mostly restaurant blogs, as that's very much the culture there, and frankly, cooking in a kitchen at 30 degrees isn't very enjoyable, whilst in Australia there always felt to be much more of an interest in home cooking, especially with the beautiful produce we're blessed with. 

Perhaps though I guess, restaurant blogging has a much lower barrier to entry (no cooking skills required, and less time required to set up and shoot etc.), I certainly do think perhaps we are leaning more one way than the other, especially in Melbourne. 

It also surprised me, when we lined up all 60 bloggers in blog age order, that I was way up at the end of the line with the people who had been blogging the longest, and that the biggest bulk of bloggers was in the 2 to 3 year old gap. 

This of course, could be due to a huge range of factors (majority of bloggers in my blog age or older just may not have applied or be interested in EDB), but I suppose for every blog 4 years and over now, there must be many, many more entering the foray. 

And what defines a blog now anyway? I met a few bloggers this time round and was intrigued to be asked 'traditional blog or Instagrammer?' With some bloggers purely having an Instagram presence, and absolutely nothing else. It's fascinating (although I guess not entirely unexpected) to see blogs evolve like this. 

Although with so many bloggers coming into the scene, what counts as quality now? I'm fully aware that not every one of my posts are gold, but there are a number of blogs I've seen pop up and I wish they would spend a little more time with their photos, or just craft what they're trying to express in a post a little bit more. We don't want everyone to be alike, but it's just nice to see bloggers put care into their work (even if it is just for fun).

Whilst the food blogging scene is travelling so quickly, it also feels like there's a lot to be developed. I can't help but feel like I'm starting to become redundant, that my long and wordy posts probably go overlooked in exchange for shorter and punchier writers. However, I've always said that I don't think I could ever change this…as it would no longer be me, or my blog. 

Speaking of me again, what's success for a blog? 'Monetization' becomes a sexier word for bloggers, with each year that passes by, and it's easy to get caught up in the buzz and feel like you haven't done anything with yourself, especially if you're like me and have been blogging for almost 5 years without really making a cent out of it. As Christina said in her presentation, success should be as you define it, but 5 years on down the track, do I still want to be doing this? Does this give me enough joy to? Something to ponder on.

I do know at least, that one of the main things I have gotten out from this blog, is this amazing network of likeminded people, many of which I'm proud to call my friends. Despite agendas at EBD and the dynamic making a slow but gradual shift, the networking, and meeting of other bloggers, is still something I greatly, greatly enjoy each time.

But anyway, I being to digress. Whilst restaurant reviewing is apparently able to make good dollars in Singapore, is it something that can be supported here? If not, will all these bloggers who are 2 or 3 years old, be around for another 2 or 3 years? How about 5? And how many more people will join the foray? With the Australian dollar slowly beginning to drop again, will there be another resurgence of recipe bloggers as well?

I still honestly can't full fathom why I'm interested in food blogging; when you think about it in the bigger gist of things, blogging is pretty unnecessary in the world, but I can't help but be fascinated and love it. I guess this is what passion is right?