Food plays a key role in each of our lives. It provides comfort, brings us together, unlocks new experiences, and has the power to send us miles away into childhood memories with just one bite. I can certainly say that food has touched my life in every possible way. Growing up, I thought only chefs and food critics could shape their lives around this passion. Today, social media has made it so easy to dive into the food culture and share it with others. In general, an influencer (typically found on Instagram), is a creator that uses their content to reach and engage with their followers. Influencers spread along a wide range of niches, celebrity status, and follower sizes and are seen as an important asset to marketers looking to captivate a certain community. Specifically, a food influencer centers their content around any subject concerning food. So, what is it really like to be a food influencer? This article highlights a few of the things that I've learned through the experiences I've had running a foodstagram. 

A Passion That Drives

I started my foodstagram, @ikneadfood, about three summers ago as a fun way to share pictures and comments about the food I ate. My friends started to enjoy it and send me pictures of their own food so that I could post it. Today, I still make sure to keep it as an enjoyable pastime rather than something I stress out about. I am by no means a large, famous account but that's never been a goal of mine. I don’t worry about followers because being yourself is more important than worrying about a high number at the top of your profile. 

I always value quality and thought behind my posts. Followers and brands can tell when an account feels semi-robotic in its manner of speaking and will quickly lose interest. If I didn't enjoy something I ate then there's no reason for me to post about it pretending that I did. 

Beatriz Gras

New Friends and Business Exchanges

One of the coolest parts about being a food influencer is being invited to exclusive events and openings. There are a lot of food influencer communities like Zipkick and Bestfoodfeed that try to bring bloggers together and help them connect with restaurants and brands. Just last week I was invited to go to a cafe in Houston, Merchant, to try a few of their menu items and talk about them on my Instagram. It's a great opportunity to get to know the people that have put all of their energy, love, and pride into a restaurant and hear about their experiences. I also love getting to meet other food influencers like me. Sometimes I find it funny because we introduce ourselves as our usernames before we say our actual names; it’s great to connect faces to accounts that I’ve been following for ages! 

Beatriz Gras

It's not all about the free food. In a way, restaurants and brands are paying you through their products in exchange for coverage on your social media. Sometimes they'll have certain requirements such as tagging them in all posts, sharing highlight stories, or a minimum amount of posts. If a blogger doesn't go through with this commitment they may not be invited to any more events in the future.

Additionally, a lot of people assume that restaurants and brands hand out their products to accounts with thousands of followers or reach out with ease but both assumptions are false! First of all, although large accounts can hold more value because they reach a wider audience, local businesses look for smaller accounts because they typically can engage more with followers. Second, it usually takes negotiating with brands to reach an agreement. Typically an influencer reaches out first and then the brand decides the terms of the exchange rather than just sending a product willy-nilly. 

A World of Experiences

An exciting part about being a food influencer is that it forces you outside of your comfort zone. I am constantly staying up to date with the latest trends, newest restaurants, and events going on in my city. I look forward to trying to new foods with my friends and then sharing it on my Instagram. When you post a photo, you are sending a wave of curiosity through your followers who are looking for new places to eat and your opinionated content influences their decisions. You're probably the first to know about a lot of events and openings because restaurants may reach out to you directly or word will get around among influencer communities.  It’s also important to stay in the know because sometimes followers might ask for specific recommendations and you have to be ready to give some valuable suggestions.

Most importantly, my favorite part about being a food influencer is that it is flexible and unique for each individual. I like keeping my account fun and accepting posts from my friends around the world to share with my followers. There's no stress behind this hobby of mine and all of the cool events and people I have met through it are simply the cherries on top of a supreme sundae.