Just a few days ago, I celebrated the 5th Blogiversary of San Diego Food Girl! Five years, already?! It’s been an eventful five years and I’m honestly surprised that I’ve still managed to keep my anonymity! That said, now feels like a good opportunity to dig in a little and share some insight into the evolution of the San Diego Food Girl brand and some things I’ve learned along the way.
What I’ve Learned From 5 Years of Blogging
Me…a blogger? Building a brand and being a food and travel blogger was never on my radar. But as you may have heard me mention in the past, taking photos and sharing them has always been a passion of mine. You can read more on my background here. So, what have I learned in five years? Here are my top five do’s and don’ts of being a blogger.
Don’t be scared, DO be brave
My brand developed very quickly. I can tell you exactly where I was on the conception day of my brand, and the following day when I locked down a brand name and moved forward to secure the email address, all of the social handles, and the domain name that I needed. I hoped I would be successful, but who knew how it would unfold.
I’ve said several times before that I started posting and the rest was history. I have no formal training or degree in Marketing, Business, Coding/ Computer Science, or English (in terms of my writing). I operate under the trial by fire method and over time, my skills developed more concisely. My photos, captions, style, writing, etc have all gotten better over time and I’ve learned so much along the way. My advice, for what it’s worth: if you want to blog (or do anything) just go for it now and let all of the fine-tuning work itself out organically.
^ my first Instagram post ^
Don’t be a copycat, DO be original
In my opinion, originality goes a long way. If you hopped over to Instagram and looked at how many usernames contain “SD,” “San Diego,” “food,” and “foodie” in their handles, you’d be shocked! There are no fewer than at least seven other accounts that have a variation of San+Diego+Food+Girl as their account/brand name.
Being original sets you and your brand apart from the crowd. When there is no differentiation, it muddies the water for anyone to stand out and be seen.
^ my first published magazine article and podcast feature ^
Don’t be “THAT” blogger, DO be authentic
Bloggers, in general, but especially food bloggers have a bad rap for “just wanting free food.” And sadly, this is true. There’s been a HUGE influx of new foodie accounts popping up in San Diego over the last 3-4 years. Some go as far as calling themselves a “blogger” when they don’t even have a website, just an Instagram account.
While free things/food is a perk of influencer marketing, it should never jeopardize your integrity. If your brand/identity has no integrity, what do you have? More simply, don’t promote something you don’t love or believe in just because it was gifted to you. Have I had bad meals and experiences, of course, it happens.
These situations are inevitable, and there are two ways to handle them. First, handle it offline. In most situations, there is no need to blast a restaurant/company publicly. But DO handle it, because the reality is if something isn’t working the brand needs to know and they may not be aware until someone speaks up. Second, if you didn’t like the food/product/service don’t promote it. Be authentic to who you are, and show your audience that you only post about things you love and are truly into, otherwise you are creating distrust with your audience and for your brand.
Don’t give up, DO be persistent
Unfortunately, it’s FAR too easy to get discouraged in the world of social media and blogging. You’ll hear people say not to take it personally, but it’s really tough not to.
What most people don’t realize is the amount of time and effort one puts into content creation. Getting that perfect shot…with the right lighting, making sure your edits are on point, being strategic in who you tag and what hashtags you use, staying on top of algorithm updates and trends…just for things to change the next day and completely turn any strategy and knowledge you had upside down.
Been there, done that, writing the blog! But despite all of the blood, sweat, and tears (literally!) building a brand has caused, I wouldn’t trade it for anything! Five years later what I can tell you is that I have met and befriended many amazing people, I’ve been able to help small businesses in many different areas, I’ve found my voice and a passion for writing, I’ve taught myself things like building a website, and I’ve hustled. Because at the end of the day, I can say that I built something and that people know who San Diego Food Girl is (minus the face behind the brand), and what she stands for.
Don’t overlook opportunities, DO create a community
This might look a little different from brand to brand, but for me, it’s always been important to use my platform to help others. One particular aspect I’ve loved most has been connecting brands and small businesses to each other as well. If you read my last blog, then you know that in 2021, I want to start featuring more of the stories behind some of the small businesses that I’ve collaborated with, beyond just an Instagram post.
For you and your brand, maybe that means allowing for guest posts on your site, replying to an email that sounds too good to be true, or posting sponsored content. My advice here is to reach out, and ask people to partner with you while keeping in mind that collaborations and partnerships should be mutually beneficial and not one-sided. Sometimes all you have to do is ask.
Speaking of collaborations, I’m headed back to the fridge to enjoy this amazing blogiversary cake that my dear friend Savanah aka SavvySweets made for me! She’s a San Diego baker and entrepreneur, my former cohost for a San Diego Food Blogging group, and someone I’m happy to call a friend.
Thank you all for the love and support you’ve shown me over the last five years and cheers to another 5+ years of bringing you all the best food and drinks in San Diego and beyond!
Until next time, happy eating and drinking!