Australian food blogging list updated; no longer tracking freebies

I’ve updated my Australian Food Blog list: it will forever be incomplete but the best that I can do. I’ve decided to stop tracking bloggers who receive free meals, cash or other incentives in exchange for writing posts because I can’t keep up with them and for the most part don’t ever read them.

It’s safer to assume that all do or will unless they categorically state otherwise.

Bloggers that aren’t open to free things are incredibly rare; probably numbering less than a dozen amongst the entirety of Australia’s hundreds of food blogs. Australia doesn’t have an independent food writing community, we have one that is increasingly bonded to the restaurant industry, corporate PR and advertisers. Some of this is positive: more insider views from the food industry; fascinating feedback loops between diners and chefs; blogger-led events; deeper criticism of marketing tactics.

[pullquote position="right"]Just as an aside on the probiotic juice: I can’t imagine the scale of the legal risk when a company is not correcting false health claims made by bloggers that it has sponsored to post about it. Probiotics probably don’t do anything. [/pullquote]

Most just adds to the Internet’s neverending pile of detritus like another few hundred gushing reviews of probiotic juice and dim paragraphs for Urbanspoon.

Recompiling the list made me realise is that how little diversity there is amongst the Australian food blogs. Almost all either contain unfocused restaurant reviews or random recipes but it makes the ones that don’t stand out gloriously: local blogs like Fitzroyalty or Footscray Food Blog, the callous wit of cooksuck, or the short-lived noodle illustration blog.

When most people are inspired to write a food blog, they’re more inspired to clone a food blog that already exists. Part of this is natural. It is much easier to sate the urge to start a personal online food diary rather than it is to plan for the future of a blog or pick a particular, sustainable niche that won’t bore you to death. Part of it is slavishly following convention. I own the same f1.4 lens that everyone else does and that influences the terrible short depth of field cliché shots that I take.

A good deal of the blogs on the list are no longer updated, but I don’t want to remove them. I’m trying to work on a solution to auto-update the list by frequency of posts.

12 Comments Australian food blogging list updated; no longer tracking freebies

  1. Awanthi

    I must say I understand your point of view; I find that I quickly lose interest in reading the opinions of anyone who is paid to advertise a product or a restaurant. It is overdone and in your face, and it gets tiring listening to the same people gush about the same thing over and over and OVER again.

    Having said that, though, I protest on behalf of newbie food bloggers like me. I pretty much started with zero knowledge of the food blogging scenario; anything I’ve learned since then has been on my own speed. I don’t own an expensive DSLR camera, so the photographs of my blog have all been taken with my trusty little point-and-click. I end up doing about fifty photographs per shoot and using about five to seven per post. I’m trying to join things such as blog hops and I use Twitter a lot to connect with like-minded bloggers. I’m moving to Australia in February to study in Sydney and be a pastry chef and I want to join blogger events there when I can; food bloggers are woefully under-represented in my current part of the world.

    So, I haven’t based my blog on anything or anyone’s; I take my photographs instinctively (as I am completely untrained in the field) and I cook things for my blog based on whatever I like to eat, whatever inspires me, or sometimes, if I’m feeling challenged by a bloghop to make something I never have before. I don’t know if there is a right way to go about it, and I’m not sure I care, but I’m just a novice – and not slavishly following convention, as you put it.

    Oh well. C’est la vie.

    -Awanthi

    Reply
  2. leaf (the indolent cook)

    I have to admit I started my blog without a super specific niche in mind, other than the vague idea that it will comprise mainly of a mix of simple recipes and eating out experiences, being a lazy cook and all. I’m glad to say that I’ve pretty much lived up to the promise of my blog name, even though my theme is by no means amazingly unique.

    In regards to freebies, it’s something I’ve thought about more and more, as I’ve started to receive an increasing number of invitations and such lately. I don’t think I would devote full blog posts to free products and events unless there was something exceptionally interesting to say. I’m more likely to give them a bit of publicity via Twitter and Facebook, and if they do appear on my blog they would have to share a post with other products/events, I’d say.

    I think most people just start a blog and it evolves from there. There is only a small percentage of bloggers who really know what they’re doing and leverage it all they can from the beginning, not unlike the execution of a business plan. I actually tend to prefer the less calculated ones, though, once they mature, as long as their content is good and presented well.

    Reply
  3. Andy

    Totally agree, I don’t know why they bother because it’s so transparent when people promote something just because they got it for free. Even when they don’t disclaim it’s not too hard to figure out what’s going on..

    Reply
  4. Simon Food Favourites

    maybe you could just focus and highlight the blogs that don’t take free meals?might make it simpler for you? i also think blogs that do accept a free meal should be more honest with their reviews and not just give such glowing reviews where nothing goes wrong and everything is soooo wonderful. there’s always something that I think could be improved and this might in the end help the restaurant become even better if they know about it. definitely too many puff reviews out there.

    Reply
  5. Catherine

    The glowing and gushing reviews based on paid meals is one of the reasons why I have yet to accept any free meals so far since I’ve started my blog over 2 years ago. Social media is a powerful thing these days, but getting spammed by bloggers attending free events is not fun at all.

    Reply
    1. Allan

      There is much truth in that. It is very easy to get sucked into all the freebies with so much PR propaganda, and produce swayed reviews. I am guilty of accepting such freebies.

      But taking freebies being one thing, being transparent and putting objectivity into the writing is where the money is. Sure there is always going to be some degree of unintentional positive-effect from receiving a freebie however much you try to be objective, but I believe there can be a balance.

      It is probably in the long term health of a blog to retain that vital integrity / objectivity. Like you say no one wants to read all freeloading posts with no personality / opinion.

      Reply
  6. Vanessa

    Just wanted to say a big ‘thankyou’ for including my blog in your list.

    I am a passionate foodie as you can tell by reading my blog and I love sharing my experiences with people out there.

    :)

    Reply
  7. Monica (@gastromony)

    Hi Phil. Thanks for compiling the list. I only came across it today after randomly looking at referrals in stats :| Great resource!

    Coming from a web dev background, I agree it helps to have a niche in mind when embarking on anything web related but unless you yourself are a niche by default (gluten intolerant, vegan, allergic to orange vegetables etc.) it takes some time to work out what aspect of food interests you the most since so much of it is appealing to most people.

    Reply
  8. Alex

    This is a great list, I had been trying to find a similar list for a while.

    Actually, I was really looking for a site that reviews food blogs (not restaurants for a change) considering there is so many around, I thought one would exist.

    Reply

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