We made the year-end 2017 announcement that we were setting down our Tastemaker role to invest our time, energy and effort into yet another start-up business endeavor.
We're business people at heart, so living out loud as Tastemakers was a fun hobby (to plant our flag) that enabled us to hack into the blogging world, but was never a long-term plan. We committed for one year, learned a ton, met some great people, took copious notes, gave it our all (encouraging travel/promoting chefs) and pivoted back to business development for numero uno - E & B Woodward.
Spending the majority of 2017 posting about chefs and luxury travel in exchange for complimentary meals and comp'd travel across the globe was NOT a bad trade off, but there's no real money (cash exchange) or future in purely blogging, however, there is some value in bartering - blogging in exchange for goods and services as a side gig is not a bad plan - matter of fact, we highly recommend it.
Our thanks goes out to the World's 50 Best (William Reed) for showing us the ropes as far as what it means to be "online influencers." Now that we've had those lessons, we can apply strategy and perspective to any business we launch and get a leg-up with social media marketing. WOOT! WOOT!
Interestingly enough, as we set down the role, we were surprised to land a spot as "Top 8 Travel & International Influencers" for our global reach winning both the public and professional nomination for the UK Blog Awards 2018.
We just returned from a weekend in London attending the awards ceremony and we are THRILLED to announce that we DIDN'T win. We didn't go to win, we went to celebrate hacking into the blogging world on a whim and landing a coveted spot with W50B (only 22 people in the world held this role as of 12/31/17). These things don't happen every day, so we went to relish in the beautiful probabilities that intersected our path. (we love statistics!)
Why We Joined Tastemakers, i.e. The Instagram Game
- To plant our flag
- To hack into the blogging world
- To promote food and travel
- To honor chefs
- To see if personal revenue could be derived from "blogging"
- To bring people together
- To generate revenue for underdeveloped nations (by investing our own dollars globally and encouraging others to do the same)
- To tap the minds of celebrity chefs
- To make luxury travel assessable
- To meet top content creators
- To meet savvy business people
- To cultivate friendships around the world
- Taedium vitae
- To fall in love with other cultures
- To do something we've never done before
What We Accomplished In One Year
- Wrote and published a book (available on Amazon) with proceeds going to hurricane relief
- Photo and caption of Grant Achatz's Alinea dessert was 'top 9' most liked post of 2017 (9,160 thumbs up) for the entire World's 50 Best Instagram profile (555K followers and 2,865 posts)
- Received over $15,000 of complimentary food and travel in just under 10 months
- Nominated as top 8 "International and travel" influencers, UK Blog Awards 2018
- Red Carpet invitation (some expenses paid) to London for the UK Blog Awards
- Red Carpet invitation (some expenses paid) to Melbourne for Food Oscars
- Red Carpet invitation (some expenses paid) to Colombia for Food Oscars
- Red Carpet invitation (some expenses paid) to Asia for Food Oscars
- Travel to Europe, South America, Africa, Australia
- Private (all expenses paid) food tours of Bilbao and Guggenheim with Michelin Chef, Josean Alija
- Private (expenses paid) 6 Michelin Star dinner in Washington D.C. with 3 renowned chefs
- Appearance on Massimo Bottura's Instagram page (while with him in Melbourne, AU)
- Appearance on Jordi Roca's Instagram page (while with him in Melbourne, AU)
- Appearance on Ryan Poli's Instagram page (while with him in Nashville)
- Appearance on Frankie Solarik's Instagram page (while with him in Toronto)
- Content creation for The World's 50 Best Restaurants broadcasting from Grant Achatz's and Jenner Tomaska's Next Restaurant in Chicago - "instagram takeover"
- Republished by Peter Gunn of Ides Melbourne
- Business Consultants for a pilot 'Amazon Series' focusing on Mumbai, India collaborating with famous producer, Shubhashish Bhutiani and business owner Aditi Dugar
- Convincing Jose Andres and Ryan Poli to collaborate on a joint-menu in both D.C. and Nashville - out on May 29, 2018. Score tickets now to Minibar! Nashville dates TBD this fall
- Private Michelin Star meals (expenses paid) with executives from Michelin Guide in Washington D.C.
- One-on-one interviews with celebrity chefs for pilot 'Food World' podcast:
- private interview with Jose Andres (in Washington D.C.),
- private interview in our Germantown home with Ryan Poli (in Nashville),
- private interview hosted by and expenses paid by Four Seasons with Virgilio Martinez (in Colombia),
- private food tour and interview with Josean Alija (in Bilbao Spain),
- private interview with Frankie Solark (in Toronto, Canada) returning to the USA with the 1st ever bottle of his branded alcohol
- A genuine following of over 5,000 people (4,999 too many)
- All expenses paid to Mumbai, India for foraging and a restaurant tour (we quit food blogging and started business #2 right before this trip)
- A dozen new passport stamps
- Robust restaurant resume of the top 1% most elite restaurants across the planet
- Paid expenses to Istanbul, Turkey (sadly Americans were suspended from visiting and this trip was nullified).
What we learned on our journey
- That Tastemaking and Instagramming is not for us
- Food is the world's common denominator
- It doesn't matter how many likes, followers or comments on a profile.
- The only measurable impact is a portfolio of influence, restaurant resume, passport stamps and monetary value derived from the blogging experience.
- We treasure every chef and every bite in our own private utopia
- Abundance should not be expressed via social media
- There's no way to retain magical moments if they are lived on line
- Posts about food are deeply boring but posts about the experiences, romance and chefs surrounding food is liberating
- Our biggest asset is getting caught-up in the moment with no camera and no social media
- Writing memoirs is solely for our own benefit and amusement
- That we can't be bought and are truly free agents
- An even greater respect for restaurants and chefs
- There are some genuinely loving people in the world and we were graced with having interacted with them (Monika, Heather, Tony, Lux, Petitely, Sweet Treats, Lola...)
- We'd rather promote our own brand versus someone else's brand
- Bartering for food and travel is a decent exchange for short bursts of time
- How to build a professional website
- How to market on line
- Content creation
We much prefer our vacations and experiences to be about us, the once-in-a-lifetime moments with special people quickly get swallowed-up with picture taking (forgoing the magic of a moment to promote someone else's brand is not a good return on investment unless you're getting paid actual dollars and cents or getting free merchandise and you pick your moments carefully). For us, fine dining and travel is the core of our relationship, so we had to give up everything sacred to us in order to grow a following which was not a worthy exchange. We bucked the system anyway snapping slopping food pictures which we rarely posted because every other Tastemaker was already doing so (along with every other self-proclaimed and knock-off food influencer). Our unique angle was the romance surrounding the dining experience, not the actual food (we love the actual food and looking at food pics, we just needed a unique angle). What are Americans lacking the most? PDA! Public Displays of Affection, "so let's do that," we said. We never used a special camera or special lighting and we certainly didn't make any scenes at a restaurant. All of our photos were taken on the down-low. We could never get behind "eating for the insta." where food is ordered only because it photographs well, not because it's desired or necessarily tastes good - say WHAT?! Such an empty thesis on life's journey. Taking pictures and posting pictures is always, and should always be secondary to the occasion at hand, at least that's the way we see things.
The Facts - Mimetic Desire - The Hard Parts
- When you have abundance, you forgo some of it by living on line.
- When you lack abundance (romance, friendships, meaning), you gain some (or fabricate it) by living on line.
- It's impossible to please everyone.
We have no business living on line, so we had to reign it in. For our brief stint in the Instagram abyss as food/travel bloggers, our #1 endeavor each and every day was to make everybody feel like a somebody. Social media is a feelings game with words like "positivity" floating around, it throws participants into two camps: either feeling great or feeling bleak about oneself and the gap between the haves and have nots is only growing wider. Knowing this, we treated each and every person with dignity, respect and relevance. I guess it was easy for us.
We admire other people and their work. We never competed with the others or compared ourselves with anyone else, we just honored the lot of them (people in general, followers, friends, everyone we came into contact with we honored), and everyday put forth the effort to lead the way while making other people feel special. Never condescending, just observing.
Our biggest take away from social media is "Comparison is the thief of joy!" Honor others, don't compare, celebrate people for who they are, and celebrate their accomplishments. In this process, you yourself are lifted with dignity and grace. We continue to send our love to all folks dabbling in the influencer role, may they find the fulfillment they seek along every avenue they pursue.
Right before resigning our role, we were nominated for the UK Blog Awards, and in that very moment, we found out who nominated us and we immediately nominated them back, and then voted for them. We are thrilled to announce that our nomination won (Travel Like A Cheiff) which is vastly more rewarding than winning ourselves. It's the 'pay it forward' and 'service to others' mentality that makes life worth living.
Our biggest warning for both consumers and brands alike is to watch out for insincere bands of food people (food tribes/gangs) who are assigned jobs (with no pay) to like and comment on all their "friend's" pictures in an effort to (a) validate each others feelings and (b) deceive restaurants and retailers into believing profiles are creating a bigger impact than they actually are! Also beware of bots - a few bots (10-20% bots / 80-90% authentic) on a handle isn't unreasonable, especially when the brand or person is first getting started. 0 bots are preferred! I had to learn this the hard way in the beginning in that I hired a company who claimed they would grow my on line following with REAL followers, well that was a sham, there's no such thing, you just have to go at it the long, slow way of picking up one real person at a time over a very long period of time, if that's even the goal. I moved away from followers as a goal, and stopped looking at likes and comments, instead evaluating my ability to reach an audience through, even if they weren't engaging (business tools), and my handle became strictly for 'visitor verification,' so they could verify who I was. Not to mention, I thoroughly enjoy, to this day, keeping an open journal. I also love collecting and keeping up with awesome people from around the world.
Indeed there are many legit "influencers" in the world like Zoe Bowker, an actual person (and sweet friend) adding value, getting deals and driving traffic.
The most rewarding thing we gleaned from our time on Instagram was meeting new, rational, emotionally-sound people who we could then go and meet in person on the other side of the world - there are a handful of them, but they're like unicorns - so good luck in your pursuit. Actually, we've made it easy and rounded them up below.
We treasure the new friendships, diverse cultures and delicious cuisines we partook in. Every chef and nation that welcomed us into their restaurants, homes and hearts, we carry a piece of them always in our hearts. The loviest of Tastemakers and people making a stir on-line include Zeboy, MsIhua, Oscarbarreramarengo, Camipot, Zoe.Bowker and Chertiu along with Aditi Dugar of Masque Restaurant, and Pamela Chieffallo of Travel Like a Chieff.
Killing Off An On-Line Influencer
We have achieved the deepest sense of relief by setting down this Tastemaker role. We loved killing off @e.b.woodward The Tastemakers and repurposing the account for our own private brand and business endeavors - we maketh therefore we taketh away. Who doesn't love a good mic drop at the top? The only thing we feel bad about is making Erin's mom cry for shutting down the profile and removing so many connections. Actually a few people cried over this - once again we found ourselves utterly astounded. How can someone get so wrapped up in a stranger's life? How is that even possible? We'll never understand. Our closure came with toasting each other and hugging Pamela in London last weekend.
A Reason To Keep Blogging?
We don't want this blog to rank high on Google. We don't want to invest in SEO. We don't want the majority of the people (or our clients) to read our memoirs. We will continue to write because we love to write and organize a timeline of our lives to reflect back upon many years from now. We still get notes from randoms who find us across the world and those notes are fun, but we don't want to manage viewership or traffic or manage people's feelings anymore. For us, ebwoodward.com is a journal that we're confident enough to leave unlocked in a public place, letting our words hang in the abyss with no reassurance that they will ever be read, validated or relevant. For us, this is enough.
Update January 3, 2022: @e.b.woodward Instagram (food, travel, fun) still exists, and is set to private. We do love making new friends, but we're not looking to be well known! Since writing this post back in 2017/2018, we have successfully used our social media to drive over $2MM - real dollars and cents - to our very own store! We are happily (mostly) anonymous these days. If you're going to influence anything, do it for your own brand, brick and mortar. The point should be yielding joy and income. We keep our social media as a fun outlet and so those searching for us have full transparency.
Erin & Brandon
8 Replies to “Why @e.b.woodward Left Tastemakers & Instagram”
Very well said! Completely understand your decision to leave it all behind. I enjoyed following you both because you were as real as they get. This was validated when we met. I wish you both all the best in your future endeavors and hope we cross paths again! 🙂
You are the loviest of them all Pamela! Knew we were living parallel lives – have met my soul sister and our guys are cut from the same cloth. Thanks for all of your contributions and for reading all of our utter nonsense.LOL! See you soon in Nashville.
Erin, you are very genuine. It’s been a pleasure getting to know you online. I’m with your mom, I miss your posts that clearly reflected you because in some way you have become one of my IG friends and now I miss you and our fun banter. It’s been nice reading this post and learning even more about you. I wish you all the happiness and successes in the world.
Monika! One that we shouted out in the article! We adore you and your family. Your sweet family is what’s right with this world. Thank you for being a part of our lives. We will continue our friendship and would love a meeting in person either when you make it to the States or when we visit Canada. Forgive us for being so slow with liking and responding these days, we’re up to our eyeballs in business crap-o-la. We LOVE everything you post, all of your wit and beauty is so authentic. If you don’t hear from us for a while, just know we’re always thinking of you and Lawrence and the girls and sending good cheer! XOXO Erin & Brandon P.S. Thanks for taking the time to read AND reply to the memoire. YOU’RE SIMPLY THE BEST!
Thanks, this is very informative. Takes courage to leave when you’re on top. Really enjoyed following your journey.
E and B, I’m really happy that you had the opportunity to be Tastemakers for a year. More importantly, I’m thrilled you decided to discontinue the role when you found that it no longer aligned with your core philosophy. Best wishes to you two as you pursue your other professional and personal ventures. I have no doubt you will find success wherever you are in the world.
It’s 5:30am in London and l stumbled across your page, wow. My mood can only be described as that moment when you arrive late to a really good party and you KNOW you’ve missed out, you know what l mean.
I’m a 26 year old chef who’s a bit lost about what road to take and your blog is just so inspirational. I’m happy that at least there’s more content that l can read up on. The world needs more people like you, l’ve only read a handful of pages but l feel your spirit and l connect with it. I love it and thank you.
I met you at awards ceremony and thought you were way above league. I can see how this would be fun for a while, but I totally get why you moved on. The people in the blogging world can be a little dicy, insecure and sketchy. Good for you guys! Maybe I’ll see you around. Still follow you on the Insta.
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