It doesn’t take much reading of SmarterFitter to realise that there’s one overarching obsession that permeates everything I do: food.
For a while now I’ve been trying to figure out a way to turn my love of food into a full-time job. But here’s the hitch: my career so far has largely been technical, starting with a BSc and MSc in math, and then a series of computery / statsy jobs in banking, finance, and e-learning. Even now, as a freelance writer, most of my income stems from writing jobs that are about techy subjects, such as blog posts about social media, or research studies for big brands on online marketing, or, as I worked on this week, a white paper on Facebook and the pharmaceutical industry (soon to be published!).
The thing is, I studied applied math for a reason: I’m a geek. I love computers. I love data. I love science!
But the thing I’ve realised in the past few years is that, as much as I love math and science, I love food just a little bit more.
The food-as-full-time-job challenge
So how do I make a full-time living doing food stuff without abandoning my tech side?
Webstaurants is an experiment that attempts to answer that question.
Like the business card says, Webstaurants “helps restaurants use the internet to make more money, fill more tables and generate business.” My goal is to help restaurants get online, establish a presence (through blogs, Facebook, Twitter, etc), maintain that presence (important) and use that presence to fill tables and increase sales (crucial).
At present, Webstaurants is a business of one: me. Anyone who’s ever started a business on their own knows it’s tough work, but I’ve passed one major hurdle: getting my first client.
For the past few months I’ve been very grateful to have as a client one of my chef idols, Rachel Demuth of Demuths Restaurant and Vegetarian Cookery School in Bath. I’ve been helping Rachel maintain her Twitter, Facebook and blog accounts, as well as promote various events, such as her upcoming supperclub in July, which filled up in less than a week, primarily through online advertising.
It really is about who you know
Where there is one client, there must be more. And so I’ve been working hard, trying to network with foodies, meet other restaurants, and meet other business owners for advice and inspiration.
One such business owner (and all around friendly bloke) is Shaun of Black Dog New Media. He also runs a small business doing webby stuff and suggested we set up a social media event for chefs, restaurateurs, foodies and anyone in the hospitality industry. And so, EatDrinkSocial was born.
Our goal with EatDrinkSocial is to facilitate and share best practice, experience and knowledge in a friendly atmosphere, and of course, enjoy some tasty snacks and hopefully meet some folks who might want to buy our services.
Rachel has been kind enough to offer her cookery school as a venue for our first event, happening 27th June. After a slow start, we’ve had a sudden spurt of interest, with five confirmed attendees yesterday alone. Of course, we need more to make it a success, but I’m encouraged by the interest so far.
Weakness is for the weak
I had a great boss at one of my early jobs writing about statistics for an e-learning company. He said there are some people who spend all of their lives battling their weaknesses; sometimes its better to instead focus on your strengths. I realise now that I spent a long time battling my weaknesses in math because I simply really wished I had it in me to be an academic mathematician (the reasons why are a whole other essay in itself). It took me a while to recognise that I was a whole lot better at actually writing about math than doing the tough research. Writing I can do, I’ve always loved writing – creating content as they’re calling it in these interwebby days. And let’s face it, I’ve got way too many other things running around my head (like “what’s for lunch?”) to have the focus required for rigorous mathematical research.
Having accepted that I won’t win Field’s Medal, and that I’d be better off making things and being creative, I feel much better about life and my career. Of course, in pursuing these strengths, I’m having to overcome a whole bunch of other weaknesses, such as sales and marketing. But if I can pull myself together enough to get one client, I should be able to get another, and another, and eventually I’ll have enough business to hire people to do the jobs that I would rather not do (for a great, quick and inspiring read on delegation, check out Delegate or die: the self-employment trap).
If you’ve managed to read this far, then your interest and readership is more support than I can ever ask for. But if you feel like doing a little more, here are a few ways you can help support Webstaurants and EatDrinkSocial:
- Like Webstaurants on Facebook
- Follow @webstaurants on Twitter
- Like EatDrinkSocial on Facebook
- Follow @eatdrinksocial on Twitter (and share news of our events!)
- Share our invitation to EatDrinkSocial with your foodie friends
- Come to EatDrinkSocial yourself!
- Send me feedback on the whole idea.
- Tell me about restaurants you know that aren’t online, but should be, or are online, but could be doing a way better job.
Thanks, readers. You are all superstars!