Eating a nine course meal with the chef of a DC restaurant in addition to being offered free cookbooks just to write a review sounds like a dream. For DC food blogger, April Johnson, it’s her reality.
April Johnson is a Northern Virginia native. She presently works in DC in international sales. Oh yeah, and she loves to eat. In 2011, April started her blog Let’s Do Lunch and since then has grown a large following, becoming one of the top 10 blogs on Urbanspoon.
I had the opportunity to grab coffee with April at Peregrine Espresso in Eastern Market, to discuss the secrets to making it big in the food blogging world.
How would you describe your blog?
It is mainly a food blog. I eventually want to move into talking about DC and things to do in DC as well as travel tips. I throw in the occasional recipe if I have time. And I take photos. Those are always in natural light. Photos are key.
What inspired your blog?
A love of food. I read one blog and thought, “wow I could do this.” Every vacation I go on is always like, “where do we eat” not just “where are the tourist attractions.” I always research food and where to go.
What is your favorite part of blogging?
Being able to share the food I eat. I have so many family, friends and co-workers that ask for advice because I’m a foodie. I also like the writing aspect of it.
I really like how blogging has opened me up to trying different types of food and has gotten me into photography. For example I have tried bone marrow, caviar, octopus and sweet breads.
When did you know your blog started to take off?
When I first started I wasn’t using Twitter or anything. I was kind of clueless. What really helped me out was Urbanspoon. I was able to link my blog to it and move up their DC blogger list.
Now that Twitter is a big thing, I use it a lot. When I started to get invited to go to places for free I knew my blog had taken off. When I got my first negative comment, I started to realize I made it. It made me see people were reading.
How do you go about writing a post?
I pretty much take pictures at everywhere I eat. If I go out with friends or family they know I will take a picture of their food and try it.
If I am invited to a place, I will usually try and write a post within two week. If it’s a newer or popular restaurant I try and do it right away, because I know it will get a lot of hits.
What is a cool perk you have gotten from your blog?
The coolest things to me aren’t just when I get to go to a restaurant, but when I get to meet the chef. It’s not just eating for me, but also cooking. They get to tell you specifics about the dishes.
Being able to actually eat with the chef is cool, which doesn’t happen a lot. Usually people just bring you the food.
How do you go about writing negative reviews?
It depends, if I am invited to go try the restaurant and I have a bad experience, I won’t write about it. If I go on my own time and spend enough money, I will usually write a post. I give myself time to cool off before writing it though.
If I pay for it I think it’s fair. I don’t usually write that negative reviews. It has only been a couple experiences that have been so horrible I wouldn’t want to go back.
What is your favorite DC restaurant?
I get asked this all the time. I really like Zaytinya. Another place, DCity Smokehouse has really good BBQ. Also, Rasika, they serve Indian food, and they are amazing. Lebanese Taverna is a chain but good. Can I include a Virginia place? Pupatella is Neapolitan style pizza. I go there a lot.
What is the most memorable meal you have had?
I was invited to Ovvio Osteria I got to sit with the chef and the owner. It was memorable because it was just five of us sitting there and bonding over our love of food and wine. We literally ate so much.
How can someone start a blog?
Just start writing. That’s the best thing I can tell you. Create a Twitter account and follow blogs around the same subject matter. If it’s something you want to do, then don’t care about anything else, just write.
What advice do you have for someone who wants to write about food?
Try and use good, descriptive words. Don’t just say the food was good. Also, use social media, that’s a good one. In general, just interact with people.
Don’t just tweet about what you write. You can obviously promote your own post, but if you only post your blog people won’t follow you. Tweet restaurants or other blogs and just be very interactive. Restaurants will re-tweet what you write, and other people will read it.
Check out April’s awesome food blog and follow her on social media:
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