The Blogging World: Is There Such a Thing as a Free Meal?

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I started blogging a couple of years ago because I loved the creative outlet it offered me. The purpose of my blog was for it to be a personal diary; a map of my personal experiences if you will. In fact, I started blogging when I was backpacking in Europe. My friends and family wanted to know about my adventures, and rather than tell each individual person what I was up to, I decided to keep a diary of it all. Yes, I admit that I was being lazy. Then again, being in Europe was a once in a lifetime opportunity, and I wanted to use every second of my time there taking it all in.

From the start I told myself that I would blog about things that mattered to me, and that I would not allow anyone dictate my approach and the voice I used in my writing, because after all, I was not writing to impress anyone. The way I saw it, others perspective on my thoughts was moot. I was able to adhere to my purpose until I got invited to my first food function—free food and drinks? Hell yeah!  As expected, once I got the taste of what successful bloggers have access to when they make it in the industry, I became adamant about making it as a food blogger. “Making it” in the sense that I would be regularly invited to food-related functions with those that have been in the “field” for many years.  Sure, I knew that I was a newbie and knew very little about this world, but I was nevertheless determined to learn everything that there was to know about the food blogging world so that I could be one of those bloggers whose perspective mattered. At the beginning I felt like I was on cloud 9. I was meeting a lot of great chefs, writers, and visiting a lot of beautiful restaurants whose food I would not be able to afford if not for the free meal they bestowed upon me. How can a food lover complain about getting a free education on the food scene in Toronto while mingling with those that have made it, or rather, “matter,” in this world?

Of course no one outright tells you that you are expected to write a good piece about the restaurant/event as a result of them feeding you for free, or them extending you an invitation. Nevertheless, this is the point where I began to lose myself. You see, although no one explicitly asked me to write about them, I felt obligated to write something, and that the piece be nice. The meal or event could have been a complete flop, and yet I found myself spending hours in front of my computer trying to come up with something nice to say. Hmm, “the plates were pretty and shiny…”

Argh! “What have I done?” “When and how did I lose myself.”

Blogging started to feel like a job! It had become tedious and painful. To make matters worse, even after spinning a mediocre experience into something that highlighted the few positive aspects of the restaurant/event/meal, people still became angry with me! And I hate admitting this, but their anger got to me. It hurt that I tried my best to not be mean and to give the restaurant/event the benefit of the doubt, only for them to be upset with me because I did not say that everything was perfect! Besides, since when did I care what anyone thought about my posts?

I guess there is no such thing as a “free” meal. Not to me anyway. There are many bloggers and writers that can do this well (they are the pros after all), but I have come to the realization that all the glamour that comes from being invited to events and restaurants is too costly for me. And well, yes, I am too sensitive to cut it with the big boys.

So I decided to step back from the glamorous world of food bloggers, and return to being that person that wants to share a story and/or experience without any expectations.  I am going to tell my story, my way, and I am going to do this without input from anyone. I will pay for my meals, and if I want to tell you about this experience, I will, and if the restaurant becomes angry with me for sharing my perspective, well then, I am sorry, but I don’t owe them anything.

On a side note, I hate Twitter! There I said it. Yes, I jumped into the bandwagon because it was simply inconceivable (or so I was told on many occasions) that a “serious” food blogger would not have a Twitter account! So after being on it for one month, I now remember why I never had any interest in Twitter in the first place. Twitter makes me feel like the uncool kid in the playground that no one wants to play with. Sure, I could certainly put in the time and effort to mingle with the cool kids and their many friends, but to be perfectly honest, I like playing alone. So I am just gonna take my toys and find a nice spot under a tree and entertain myself; happily enjoying my own company–cause that’s how I roll.

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