Food blog becomes big business

The naysayers label blogs the graffiti of the Internet – a way to indulge in discussions about our pet passions or hobbies.

But blogging has become a big business.

Jennifer Lam has been blogging about food since she was 22. The day before her 25th birthday in 2009, she left her corporate job to work on her blog full time.

“It was like I had a really big quarter life crisis. It was a matter of throwing myself in the deep end and seeing if I could figure things out, and if I wasn’t doing well by 30, I would go back into a job,” Lam said.

Recently named Food Blog of the Year by Pedestrian, Lam’s I Ate My Way Through blog originally began as a simple way for Lam to recommend restaurants to her friends and family. Three years later, she decided there was enough potential to create a viable business.

“I noticed that I was getting a really decent readership and getting quite a few inquiries coming in about online marketing and establishing tours. It was really customer feedback that made me realise I had something really strong there.”

However with no business background, the former digital advertiser had a lot to learn about running a business.

“I’m a massive geek in that I read a lot of business books and go to seminars, and the challenge was working out what was relevant to me. As a person I’m really naïve and optimistic, so I put myself into a lot of things without calculating the risk, so that’s also been a learning curve. I’ve had to learn to calculate the risk for certain decisions I make without just going ahead with them,” Lam said.

Lam has found success by maintaining a close relationship with her readers and focusing on innovation. She has also expanded the blog to include travel pieces as well as organise tours and events.

“I think because I was one of Australia’s first food bloggers, that loyalty is there. A lot of them have been following my journey for 7 years, so when they come along on a tour they feel like they know me already. It’s through word of mouth as well; someone will come along on a tour and then buy a gift certificate for family or friends, who will come and tell someone else,” she said.

“In terms of new products, I do a lot of my research on platforms like Instagram and Twitter, seeing what people respond to the most and creating a product around that.”

While her family has been supportive, Lam laughed and said her parents still don’t understand how she’s running a business through her blog.

“They’re still clueless about how I make money and what I do on a day-to-day basis. I took them to my new office recently and they thought it was really nice, but they don’t understand how I make money,” she said.

Related Stories