According to renowned food writer, Amanda Hesser, you can’t make a career out of food writing. No matter how good of a writer you are or how vast your culinary knowledge is, you can not completely rely on this profession.
Sure, it is fun and gives you ample opportunities to experience different cuisines, but it doesn’t pay you well. And in the end, money does matter.
In a 2012 interview with magazine ‘Bon Appetit’, Hesser pointed out that conventional magazine and newspaper food writing is going on a steady decline. No doubt, there are quite a few online outlets where you can contribute but that’s only on a freelance basis. Apart from this, there are abundant online food writing courses that promise financial riches but that is just a marketing tactic and nothing more.
However, there is a flipside to it. Except for a handful of popular food and lifestyle magazines in the world, food writing was always a dismally paid profession. And, if you are really passionate about writing for food, then properly plan how you want to go about it. If you want to take it up as an activity that satisfies you and makes you happy, then just go for it.
Of course, becoming a well-known food writer will take time but it isn’t impossible. Carving a niche for yourself in the food business is a challenge.
Moment of change
Yep. The golden age for food writers is now and that’s because you don’t need to be in ’the’ business to write about food! You need to have a flair for writing and be open to exercising your palette. Since, it is a side-profession for you and you are not expecting a ’respectable’ payment from food writing, you have the liberty to experiment more. You can start a food blog or a magazine and even score a book contract!
Being multi-skilled helps
Don’t just stop at writing about food. Learn photography and try basic photo editing. The more diverse you are, the better it is. Don’t drop everything to try to become a food writer. The real problem is that there is no growth in this industry. If you start at Rs. 300 per article, chances are you’ll stay at it for a long, long time. There is stagnancy and you can’t avoid it if you don’t widen your horizons and learn something new to accompany your writing skills.
Diversify as a writer
Food writing isn’t about reviewing and rating a cuisine. It is a lot more than that. You can be a restaurant critic and write unbiased evaluations of assigned establishments. There’s very little difference between a restaurant critic and other journalists as they are expected to follow certain ethical standards and portray a clear picture of the situation. If you have a degree in nutrition or related field, then you can don the cap of a nutrition writer. You can concentrate solely on food safety, product development, etc.
Food writing does not need to be money making if it is taken up as a side-profession. You just need to enjoy this particular craft of writing.