Looking back on the first Consider The Sauce post and those that soon followed evokes a feeling of simplicity and perhaps even innocence.
It all seemed so simple – got out, have a feed somewhere or do some shopping, take photographs, go home, write about it.
Instant food blog!
We still do a lot of that, of course. Indeed, it remains the very core activity of this site.
But as we approach the end of our third year in operation, much has changed.
It’s been a gloriously enjoyable learning curve, with mis-steps and challenges, and many friends made in the process.
Central to that learning curve is that realising while the website itself remains the key element of what Consider The Sauce is about, there is a lot more to being a (hopefully) successful food blogger and running a successful food blog.
Along the way, I have sometimes attempted to tap into the wealth of experience and wisdom of blogging pioneers.
But as previously noted, more often than not I find doing so a particularly tiresome exercise, no matter how much I would like some or a lot of that good stuff to rub off on me.
The problem seems to be that no matter where a famed blogger starts his or her journey – be it as a specialist in stamp collecting or vintage horse shoes or whatever – once they become successful, what drives them on is the process itself. And that can be mighty boring, no matter how righteous the advice is.
So I am very grateful to Cheryl Lin of the blog BusinessChic for an excellent tip – the book microDOMINATION by PR warrior Trevor Young.
I’m only halfway through it. And, yes, it does have its fair share of self-help-style feelgood stories.
But it’s reverberating with me in many ways.
It’s been a pleasant surprise to discover that several of the initiatives taken – or at least attempted – by Consider The Sauce are very much part of Young’s broader aim of how to become what he calls a “micro maven” and using a blog to create a personal “brand”.
- Not passively accepting that friends and fellow bloggers who leave comments on CTS must remain mere electronic cyber buddies, and seeking instead to meet face to face and see what happens from there.
- Running, in conjunction with Ms Baklover and her Footscray Food Blog, a picnic late last year. The repeat event, coming this spring, will likewise be part and parcel of the broader picture of running a food blog. As will a special event, yet to be announced, that will be part of the picnic.
- I have also learned that doing an occasional post about topics such as moving house or a bingle with a neighbour’s car is not only perfectly fine but helps give context to the ongoing CTS narrative.
- A soon-to-be-announced CTS benefit/fundraiser being organised with wonderful and generous support from a local business and the funds raised from which will go to a very fine local organisation.
Another such event in the life of CTS occurred this week with a gathering of bloggers and a non-blogging likely lad at a Port Melbourne restaurant.
With CTS having already written about Third Wave Cafe twice, Greg from that establishment had contacted me.
His problem and challenge was that his business was in the process of transforming and extending itself from a place highly regarded for its lunchtime fare, including Russian specialties and fine coffee, to one offering American-style BBQ at night.
He and his team had invested considerable time and money into the project, and were eager to get the word out and help broaden and correct pre-conceptions in the wider community about what Third Wave Cafe has to offer.
Could I help?
And so, on the basis that Bennie and I enjoyed the food being offered – and boy oh boy, did we ever – Greg and I shook hands on a project that would see me organise a list of food bloggers and then invite them to try out the Third Wave BBQ goodies for themselves on the simple understanding they would write a story about their experiences.
Greg fully understood that neither he nor I would have any say whatsoever in what the invitees subsequently wrote.
And, yes, I would be paid what both Greg and I agreed, easily and quickly, was a fair amount for my efforts.
The list I configured was a mixture of firm and very good friends, bloggers with whom I had had at least some personal contact and others for whom I had high regard.
In all cases, the people involved were of what I considered to be of the highest integrity – no “floggers” or egomaniacs allowed or wanted!
In the end, about half of the invitees responded in a positive fashion, and the table of five – including myself – turned out to be just the right size for a superbly enjoyable evening.
Those who attended were: Nat Stockley, a non-blogger (so far …) widely known for his entertaining and excellent reviews on Urbanspoon; Eve from Conversation With Jenny; Catty from Fresh Bread; and Bryan from Let’s Get Fat Together.
This gang had a quite varied amount of previous experience with this style of food, but everyone seemed to enjoy their meals, which like that of Bennie and myself were a broad sampling of the Third Wave Cafe BBQ line-up.
As the meal wound down, Greg emerged from the kitchen to see how we’d gone and tell us about how his Russian-menu cafe had taken such a bold and surprising leap into new territory.
Rather delightfully, for two of the participants this was a debut occasion to be sharing a table with full-on likeminded souls and in a situation in which EVERYONE involved was using a camera.
There was much telling of tales and swapping of notes; much laughter, too.
On that basis alone, I am happy to judge the night a success.
Of course, I suspect that will mean very little to Greg and his team, for whom this was a straight-out business proposition.
But then again, who knows where such connections may lead? That, too, is part of blogging.
I gave some serious thought to the ethical ramifications of accepting paid work of this type from a restaurant.
And I’m sure there are those for whom taking this step will forever have tainted me in some way.
But I’m entirely comfortable with the whole process.
Greg had a need that I met with honest endeavour. The dinner invitees didn’t seem to think it off or otherwise noteworthy that I was getting paid for pulling it all together.
Or not so they told me, anyway. Indeed and instead, they seemed more than happy to be involved.
However, this event was the result of a confluence of several particular circumstances – so I’d be surprised if similar projects eventuated in the future.
Another topic covered in Trevor Young’s book microDOMINATION is the importance for bloggers of complete transparency at all times – which, of course, is one of the reasons for writing this post!
You can read Catty’s review here and Eve’s review here.
Your patience has been rewarded mate. Goon on you.
Thanks for the invite Kenny, was nice to finally catch up.
Enjoyed the meal & it was great to meet some more like minded people.
Have no doubt that Third Wave Cafe’s American style BBQ dinners will prove very popular once the word gets out. There are so few opportunities to enjoy this sort of cuisine in Melbourne & Greg seems to have basically got it all together.
A winning evening on every level, I reckon!
And so you should be paid for your work. Good on you, Kenny.
Kenny, for my 2 cents I think floggers is a term devised by bloggers and for the majority of the audience for which most are seeking (ie mainstream non bloggers) it is irrelevant. I believe in disclosure but what really matters is interesting original writing and good photos.
Hi Andy! To tell you the truth, I only became aware of the term “flogger” quite recently. But in that it sums a certain blogger approach, in this case I found it useful.
I probably should have been clearer, what I meant was that whether you get paid or not doesn’t matter. As long as you are writing stuff that people want to read, that’s what’s important.
I hear you and agree. My understanding of the term – or at least how I choose to understand it – is that a “flogger” is someone who doesn’t pay for their meal, does not disclose that fact and can be relied upon by PRs or restaurants to never venture into territory that is even vaguely negative.
Maybe your definition is right but my feeling is that the hardcore bloggers who use the term would apply it to anyone who potentially exposes themselves to a conflict of interest by accepting anything for free, regardless of disclosure. Just to clarify, I personally couldn’t care less whether someone pays or doesn’t pay for the meal as long as they are telling me about something that interests me.
Again, I agree totally. The person who told me about the term used it very specifically in the same sense I am. And obviously, as this post makes clear, if anyone wants to be really hardcore about it, I am compromised myself. Disclosure may not be everything but it counts for a lot.
Well wikipedia has no definition so perhaps someone should throw one out there and we’ll see what happens. Keep up the good work Kenny, I always enjoy your posts.
And yours! FWIW, I reckon among some food bloggers – in Melbourne and elsewhere – there is extreme resistance to any suggestions that a food blogger could ever:
1. Be an actual journalist.
2. Accept “free food”.
3. Even with disclosure.
4. Become involved in the industry.
5. Accept payment for anything to do with their blog.
I think it depends entirely what direction you want to take with your blog. Some people write for fun, others write with career objectives in mind. The above suggests that anyone wanting to pursue opportunities via their blog is a sell out, which I think is kind of an elitist way of looking at blogging.
I’d never heard the term “flogger” until now but I agree that disclosure is important. People want to know they’re reading an honest review, not being duped by an advertorial. That being said, I’ve always given honesty, even with freebies. It’s rare that I give anyone a 100% glowing review!
If not for point 4 then why bother starting a food blog. That was at least some part of my motivation. How else are you going to learn new things? Anyway, gotta go. My Che Dau from Tan Truc Giang is all heated up and ready to enjoy!
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What a thought-provoking post! I am new to blogland (oh these are strange and sometimes confusing waters) . However, I’d like to say that there are many things I love about your blog – you’re always honest and upfront with your readers and you’ve got a great ‘voice’, the posts have heaps of character.
Maybe what I’m trying to say is that I love how you keep it real and aren’t afraid to break the blogging ‘fourth wall’ and talk to us about the process of blogging itself.
Love your work!
Hello there, Rachel! Many thanks for your kind words. However, I note your first post was in November, 2011, which means you aren’t that much more of a newbie than i am!