With the internet, anyone can pop online and write a review about a place they dined at. I do this all the time, and one of my favorite places to review the places I've eaten at is Trip Advisory. I give more details in my podcast about how to become a food critic
I have been trying to break into the food critic industry for a while now and to be honest, it's not an easy task, but it can be done! My husband and I love going out to eat, he has pretty much turned me into a foodie. I went from being this country girl living out in the sticks, eating at Sonny's BBQ or Taco Bell, to now knowing the correct way to eat lobster. Most of our dates for the past 12 years have revolved around food. This has given me a pretty good palate! For the past 2 years I have been writing reviews on the places we eat at, and a few months back I got contacted by one of the sites I give free reviews too, letting me know my reviews were one of the higher ranked ones! I was so excited that I started thinking about becoming a paid food critic. Who doesn't want to get paid to eat?
Here are my 10 tips for becoming a paid food critic.
- BA, or degree in journalism - Most of the places I've found that hire food critics always ask that you have a BA or have a degree in journalism. I don't have either of these, so most of the higher paying jobs are not on the table for me, but don't count me out yet. Just because I don't have a degree in journalism doesn't mean I can't be a food Critic!
- Experience - Even without a degree, almost everywhere I've looked ask for experience. This is great for me personally because I have a ton of experience being a freelance writer, as well as all the reviews I've done online. I can refer potential employers to my reviews, and they can see how well my reviews rank, and how much influence I've had on my readers. So, go get some experience. Start writing reviews. Go to Trip Advisor, Yelp or other sites that ask for your reviews on places you've been. Even Google has a place where you can review places. This is the best way to start getting experience! When you eat somewhere, write about it.
- Take Notes - Whenever you go out to eat, always have a pen and paper in your purse. Jot down the dish you ate, your wait time, and any little details you may have liked or disliked about the place. If you are anything like me you tend to forget things once you leave, so having notes always helps me remember what I want to say about that place. Remember to be unbiased and honest. You don't want to complain about the guy next to you smelling bad if it has nothing to do with the service you got.
- Become knowledgeable about the food - One of the biggest mistakes you can make as a food critic, is not knowing the correct name of the restaurant or food that you ate there. Familiarize yourself with the place, and the menu. Make sure you are spelling the food names correctly, or as it's written on their menu. For example, Over the moon tots instead of tater tots. Know what you ordered and how to spell it!
- Research - The one thing I always do when I want to learn about something is research it. I go to Google, or Youtube, and search for as many things possible about the subject. Not all of them will be good information, but you have to take the good with the bad and know when to call a bluff on some post out there. Meaning, if you see something that says for $200 I'll teach you how to make money as a food critic...walk away. You can find this knowledge on your own for free. Don't pay for something you can do yourself.
- Blog - The best way to get started is to just start writing! This goes along with experience, but when you start your own blog you are in control of the content. There are a ton of FREE blog sites you can start with like Blogspot, Wordpress, or Medium. You don't need to invest money upfront for this, just start your blog on one of these free platforms and see if you get any feedback. In my opinion, a blog is the best way to get started in this industry. Especially if you don't have any schooling on the subject. If you can become known as the local go-to person for places in the area, then you are bound to be picked up by your local newspaper, or other places that want your influence for their gain. Start blogging and marketing your blog to local sites. Once you get content to share, you can start getting momentum! See where it leads!
- Networking - Finding like-minded people is a great way to learn what the do's and don't are to this industry. Facebook has a ton of groups for all sorts of things. I know you can find one for food critics or if not, make your own group for food reviews in your area. Become the ADMIN of your own group and connect it to your blog. A win, win for marketing and connecting with locals all at the same time!
- Go incognito - The one thing you don't want to do when you are working as a food critic is to tell the restaurant that you are a food blogger or food critic. This will change your experience, and you want it to be authentic. If the place you review knows you are doing a review, they will go out of their way to make sure you get the best service possible, and it won't be a real review. Stay anonymous so that you can have a real authentic experience, and so that your readers will know the real story of the place you go to. Now, as you gain popularity, you may start to get recognized, but ultimately you just don't want to announce you're a food critic.
- Be fearless - What I mean by this is that when you are reviewing food, you want to not be scared to try new things. Actually, you kind of have to try new things. If you go to 10 places and always order the steak and mashed potatoes, then your reviews are going to start getting pretty boring. I know we all are picky when it comes to the food we like, and dislike but if you want to be a well-paid food reviewer, you're going to have to get out of that comfort zone and try new things. Now, that doesn't mean you have to eat mealworm cookies or chocolate covered ants, that is unless you want to, but it does mean you need to expand your palate and taste those grits you never cared for, or the fattening chicken and dumplings your momma told you that go straight to your thighs. Hey, if you want to eat for a living you might want to invest in a Gym membership as well, cause you need to try it all. Not all at once though...In moderation. HAHA
- Food Poisoning - The bitter truth about eating for a living is there will come a time when you get food poisoning. Unfortunately, it's part of the job. Whenever you are dealing with numerous restaurants and even mom and pop type places, there is a chance you can get food poisoning. Just look at Gordon Ramsay for instance, he has been on many TV shows and talks about the hundreds of times he's gotten food poisoning. It stinks, and yes I mean that literally, but it's one of the downfalls of eating for a living. On the plus side, at least you can expose them for unsanitary food.
These are my personal tips that have been helping me along the way, and I hope they help you as well. Get eating and writing about it now, it's never too late to start! As always, I would love to hear from you so feel free to find me on Instagram, Twitter, Pinterest or Facebook. Or send me an email! I look forward to hearing from you!