In our interview series Top Blog, some of the top bloggers in Singapore share with us their blogging journey you’ve always wanted to know about. Expect to see the nitty-gritty in their lives and a never-before-seen side of them unravelling before you.
This week, we have a chat with the Daniel Ang who started the food blog, danielfooddiary.com. He let us in on his road to internet fame, from simply sharing his food experiences with his friends to being one of the most sought-after food bloggers in Singapore. What Daniel has to say about the increasingly saturated food blogging scene will no doubt, lift some of the questions aspiring food bloggers may have.
When was the time you first started writing your blog, Danielfooddiary?
2008. This is my 10th year.
We bet many readers would be interested to know the reason behind you blogging about food, especially when the search for good food is a favourite past time for Singaporeans. What inspired you to blog and sustained your passion till today?
I wish I had a beautiful story to paint, but it just happened. The idea of a “diary” meant that I wanted to write it on a regular basis of my dining experiences and thoughts.
Lots of sacrifices have to be made, but if you set your heart into wanting to do it, and do it well, that passion should be able to carry you through.
When you first started your own food diary, did you expect it to evolve into a full-blown online publication?
Not at all. I started out thinking, “It will be nice if a couple of my friends appreciate what I write.” Because a few of them kept texting me to ask what they should eat.
Then, DFD just grew and grew. I thank God for the opportunities.
I am surprised at the choice of words of “online publication”. The very essence of DFD is still about food in a blog/diary form.
Was it tough creating a name for yourself in the local blogging scene at first?
This is a strange question, as I never thought about creating a name for myself.
If I have wanted to, there could be other more concrete and tangible measures, such as increase exposure, more appearance in videos, cross-collaborations, write more controversial or possibly click-bait pieces, but I chose to do quite the opposite.
Besides, how has a background in communications given you an edge when it comes to blogging about food initially? We were intrigued by the fact that you’re currently working as a corporate trainer and lecturer teaching Mass Communications and Social media at various institutions.
My mass communications lecturer and tutors must have emphasised the words “news value” too much. It is still my guiding principle when I dine at a restaurant or café. I will ask, “What is the VALUE of this place?”
What are some of the highlights and defining moments in your blogging journey?
When I did the crazy thing of flying to Spain to try “The Best Restaurant In The World.”
Many times, we write titles like, “The Best …..”, but I felt something in me was missing. I needed to know what was “The Best”. So I made it a point to make it a learning journey, and I knew so much more about food through that journey.
We know that Danielfooddiary.com generally declines media tastings, events and food products. Could you share with us the reason behind it?
There is possibly a laundry list of reasons, but the very first thought that went through my mind back then was – I spent too many hours clearing invite emails. I needed that time to write or rest.
Typically, food bloggers receive tasting and event invites on a daily basis, and it can range anything from 3 to more than 20 per day. I will try my best to reply all, and it is typically a “No” anyway.
No offence to Public Relation agencies out there – they are doing a fantastic job. But some, just some food tastings can come across as overly orchestrated, and less authentic. You know sometimes we are not even allowed to choose what we can eat from the menu. It made me feel like “I was working”, which shouldn’t be the case.
I wanted to experience a restaurant from the very beginning – from making that reservation call, getting the seat, and getting direct interaction with the service staff.
Over the years, how has the food blogging scene evolved?
It has probably changed too much, especially when Instagram came into the scene, coining terms like “instagrammable food”. Other than taste, aesthetics and presentation have become important aspects in dining. I don’t think it is a right or wrong, but a signal of the progress of times.
Many food bloggers in the past (perhaps those who start 5 to 10 years ago), have probably moved on with other aspects of their life. It is understandable why. Blogging can take up too much time. Too much.
What are some of the rising trends we should all look out for? E.g. the next game-changer in the industry etc…
The trend I see, is that there will be more trends, and shorter ones. Consumers will constantly be looking out for that next-big-thing in terms of food.
On the other side, a substantial group of diners will go back to the basics, meaning cook their own food, and search for that old familiar good taste of hawker food – which is fast diminishing.
Are there any tips that you would offer to aspiring food bloggers or writers, especially when the industry is becoming increasingly saturated?
Don’t do it for the “likes”. Don’t do it for the money.
Do it if you really, really like it. Write about something only when you are passionate about it, because it will show in your writing and photos.
With that said, I noticed some food writers simply writing, but not experiencing. Do I make sense here? Sometimes my friends and I suspect that they didn’t even eat the food at all – you can tell from the writing or photos (taken from somewhere else).
Experience that food yourself, and it will change your life.
If this whets your appetite in knowing more about top bloggers in Singapore, keep an eye out for more interviews to come in our Top Blog series. Next up, we cast the spotlight on popular food blogger, Seth Lui as he enlightens us on what makes a successful food blog.