About my blog:
Dining Devon was established quite early on in blogging terms in 2011 by founder Chris Gower and was originally named Eating Exeter.
Dining Devon is an online magazine-style food blog that reviews restaurants, cafes and other foodie opportunities throughout the Devon area; reporting on dining events, pop-up restaurants, product reviews, staycations, interviews with foodie heroes and coverage of food festivals too. We have a passion for all things food and drink, including the hardworking people behind the businesses. I have been delighted to be a part of this wonderful entity since February 2016, as a serious hobby on the side of my full-time job as a Personal Assistant (PA) and Office Manager.
My main blogging category is:
How and why did you get into blogging:
Well, early 2016 and new to Twitter myself, I happened to notice a tweet from founder Chris, asking for a new team member to help him with the workload and demand the blog was attracting. I initially suggested it to my husband (who is a chef) but then I had a go too – I managed to write my first review, based on recent a brunch outing, on the bus ride to work one morning in less than 30 minutes. I surprised myself how my memory of the experience flowed out with ease. Chris loved my review and I have never looked back.
Where do you get your writing inspiration from?
Our write-ups and reviews are all about experiences – staycations in hotels, eating out, buying a food product from the local farm shop, meeting great food and drink producers. It’s all about writing about our experience so that the reader really gets a feeling for what’s on offer whether it’s a meal, a product, or a Q&A with a hard-workingty small business. We want to share great venues and food with our readers and encourage support of small producers and independents, whilst also highlighting the chains and their offering as everyone’s budget and preference is different.
If you could offer some words of encouragement to a newbie or frustrated blogger, what would they be?
Write about what makes you happy or what you are interested in, it will come across more natural online and, in turn, more engaging to the reader. I don’t believe I would be any good at writing about lifestyle or fashion – that’s not me. For newbies, there are many easy and free website options like WordPress or Blogger, and you don’t have to buy a domain name – so give it a go, it costs nothing other than your time. Using social media platforms well is the way to get people to know you are there though, so get savvy with using them. Have confidence in yourself and your work, you need to be able to promote yourself online and in person.
What has changed most about blogging culture/the blogging industry since you started?
As it is so accessible, there are more people doing it, so essentially there is more competition. But there is room for everyone, but be true to you, but also keep things fresh. There seem to be stricter rules coming in regarding transparency when blogging for payment or in exchange for goods to try (or maybe they were there before and I didn’t know a lot about them). Make sure you know your do’s and don’ts and etiquette.
What daily tools and platforms do you use in your blogging routine, for research, promotion, sharing and other:
We receive a few digital newsletters relevant to the food and drink industry to keep abreast of the news. Keeping an eye on your local news (i.e. Devon Live) or city-related social pages (i.e. Visit Exeter) for new openings or events. If there is a national day, create some posts relevant to that and for image creation, Canva is a fantastic free tool. Of course, having good PR relationships helps too as they will send press releases over. You can never stop learning in this industry, so following a few key and relevant blogs or even photographers on Instagram for image inspiration.
Tell us about your greatest blogging achievement to date?
The opportunity to write for Crumbs Magazine happened fairly early on, which as now led to a regular contribution in their Devon magazine. It’s wonderful to see your words and photos in print, and of course your name in bold! I feel the skills I have developed over the years in my day job have enabled me to engage with people who hadn’t been exposed to the blog before and this has led to some pretty great opportunities with regards to events and staycations, with incredible food to boot. I have attended some press events where we were the only regional food blog in attendance with journalists – and that’s really exciting and a privilege.
Where do you hope blogging will take you in the future?
I don’t think I could write like I do about other subjects; I absolutely adore food, drink and hospitality – it’s in my blood (it’s the industry where my career originally started) and gets me really excited. Working for a food or beverage company in business development and marketing would be amazing or even more food writing.
As a PA & Office Manager in my day job, I would also be very glad to be a PA to a celebrity chef, for example, as I understand the industry as well as the demands on the high profile person from within the office and admin environment. I did interview to be a PA for Michael Caines MBE a few years ago – some other lucky soul pipped me to the post; his loss I reckon. Instead, I enjoy catching up with him at events and have experienced his Michelin star food first hand on a press day. Sometimes it’s best not to ‘have your cake and eat it’ – I just feel very privileged to enjoy all this, even if it isn’t my full-time vocation.
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