After much deliberation, I think it's time to officially call it a day on this blog. Let's face it, I've not written anything on here since April. I'd hardly noticed, and I'm sure you hadn't either.
What initially started out as a webpage to post pictures of my paintings post-uni, it somehow turned into this 'thing'. I wasn't sure what I was doing - I still don't - but it was a platform for me to share my love of food and drink and some of the places I like to go to. It was sincere, there were no expectations of me, I was doing it for myself and didn't care if anyone actually read it or not. Things have changed.
For the past year or two, the only posts I've done have been for meals comped by restaurants and PR companies in exchange for a review. That's not to say that I only ever go out on a freebie - there's a reason I'm always in my overdraft you know! It's clever marketing; the power of bloggers and influencers has boomed, and although I take part, it's just not how I started out.
I remember the first time I was invited to a restaurant in order to review it. I was naïve, spending far too much time trying to write the best thing I could in order to justify my free meal... Only to then realise that multiple other bloggers went to the same place that month, ate the same things that I did, basically having the exact same content. In essence, you end up getting the same blog post over and over again, each with a different person's "voice" on it.
Meat And One Veg Blog wrote about it recently in a post entitled 'Why I am not accepting any more free meals'. Fair play, that's a bold move, and there are quite a few things he says which strike true with me (and I'm sure many others too). "Looking back I can clearly see on a few occasions that I have been too generous with my opinion. Occasionally I have chosen to miss off dishes that may not have been very good; embellish others that were average." We're expected to write something good about a place because they've invited, fed, and sometimes even watered us for free.
Despite having that niggle that I may be selling my soul to the digital devil, I'm not about to rule these opportunities out completely. Bloggers can be a great tool for places to boost interest, and as Lewis Loves said in a post, "Sometimes these businesses are savvy enough to market their own brand and don’t need much help, although they are almost always glad of the continued support. However, for every King and Queen of the Retweets, there are many more small businesses who have something really special but can’t seem to get the message out there. We like to champion them to as many people as we can..."
It's all about Social Media these days, and for me that no longer feels like my Blogspot page, Instagram has basically made it redundant. I don't have enough time or energy to write lengthy posts any more - other people seem to do it much better and more frequently than I ever could - so with the instant visual appeal of Instagram, it just makes sense to focus my efforts there. I'm sure half the people who clicked on my blogpost links only looked at the photos anyway.
It's not just the app to add a nice filter on your photos any more, it's a global guidebook with geotags and hashtags galore. It's 100% my go-to reference when looking to go out for dinner; photos with informative captions can tell you a lot more about a place than a TripAdvisor review from someone whose personal preference may well be Wetherspoons Curry Club on a Thursday.
That said, it's also full of clever promos, ads and sponsored posts, which give a false sense of reality and unhealthy ideals (the Scarlett London Listerine shebang going on right now for example). You'd be a mug to believe everything you see online. I might post every #WineWednesday, but 9 times out of 10 I'm not drinking that wine on that Wednesday.
I'm not a business and I'm not a brand; I won't be asking you to double tap my posts if you like the look of something in order to gain likes and followers. I'm a person, and as my profile quite simply says: "Cheltenham dweller. Lover of all things food and drink."