It is our TENTH anniversary here at Foodie in Lagos and some people know about the history but as we turn the big TEN, it’s a good time to share the evolution of Foodie in Lagos and how my love for food and searching for blogs to read reviews on, pushed me to start Foodie in Lagos.
Who is Tai, Founder of Foodie in Lagos?
My name is Tai; I am the Main Foodie at Foodie in Lagos, as I like to say, “I am the only Foodie in Lagos you should know”. I studied Banking & Finance, and I have a second degree in Finance. I was also an Investment banker for about 12 years, but now I focus more on investments in the tech space. I’m also a wife and a mum of two.
WHY DID I START FOODIE IN LAGOS?
I had quite a bubbly social life in my early 20s (lol, I feel old now), so most people in my circles and at work, always seemed to ask me for recommendations on where to go considering I was always updating my BBM (Blackberry Messenger) status then, and a friend said, ‘Tai just start a food blog already’.
I had played with the idea for quite a while because I followed and read a few blogs and thought, why not start mine? I had also led PR and ran the blog for the Underground by Inner Circle – a group of friends who were mining new music talent in the industry and a few fundraisers, so I was very comfortable doing that and was basically a ‘Social Prefect’.
I had shared the idea with two of my friends who were also foodies, but they just left me hanging – I guess they could not commit or did not just have time to be as dedicated to a blog at the time. I talked about this a little here when we turned 9. Side eye Seun & Tunde – LOL
HOW DID I NAME THE BLOG?
So, I’ve been a big lover and appreciate really really good food. I live in Lagos, and I thought – why not Foodie in Lagos – since I was a Foodie who lived in Lagos, I also thought and wondered if it would be limiting and did not think that much into the future, expansion or anything in terms of geography because after all, I was having fun and loved sharing my experiences as long as I did not have to repeat it a few times and friends could easily read it.
I started the blog on WordPress even though I didn’t know much about building a website and was used to Blogspot. But I wanted something else, so I registered www.foodieinlagos.wordpress.com (it’s still there) and gradually found time to update it amidst my busy life as an Investment banking professional.
By 2015, I came up with a logo (thanks to Yox) and moved to Foodieinlagos.com because I felt WordPress was not working for me anymore and I preferred to own my domain. I even had a blog launch giveaway for moving from WP to .com. However, no one told me how much work it would be to manage a domain – LOL
In November 2015, I officially launched the logo on Instagram and it began to feel real. Like yeah, this is now legit! I also never really explained the logo because I thought (still think it is sha) it was easy to understand; well, I think it is easy to understand, but not many know what the map of Lagos looks like, LOL.
I remember a friend that reached out when another friend of hers’ first logo variation was similar to mine, and she was ready to fight the designer thinking it was the same, but it wasn’t (bless her). This might be a good time to explain the logo of our brand.
The concept below – is self-explanatory!
Ah! so when I started blogging, I was using an iPhone 5 but had a DSLR camera that I was using because I wanted to pursue photography full time – I had a photography blog (LOL – blogger of life o) which I had started in 2011 and focused a lot on still & travel photography. The DSLR camera was too big to be carried around, and restaurants then were not as open to their pictures being taken, so I stuck to just using my mobile phone and kept it simple.
HOW DID PEOPLE GET TO KNOW ABOUT THE BLOG?
Well, I did not have that much time on my hands, but folks on Twitter were very welcoming and encouraging. They would retweet and share, so my followings started increasing. However, I was not as consistent because blogging is work! I also had other commitments at the time. I soon found out that because the tone of the blog was original and reviews were honest and unbiased, the reputation of the blog was doing its own marketing on its own.
HOW DID WE ARRIVE AT WHAT WAS IMPORTANT TO TRACK?
With Instagram getting popular and content consumption on the rise, the attention span for long-form content reduced. It was important to me that I was putting out content that was interesting to read; that’s how the summary review tables became a thing.
I did a survey with about 100 people asking them what was important for them when they go out to eat; that was how the summary at the end of each blog post started. Even if you did not read the full post, the summary told you what you needed to know.
Some days were really exhausting because I am a lone founder and had no one to bounce ideas back and forth with. Things were a little slow, of course, as my job was super demanding, but every time I took a break to write about a dining experience, it instantly lifted my mood. Instagram growth also started, but it was really slow, and it is still slow because staying consistent is tough if you are not a full-time content/digital creator.
Haha, I remember when the IG page hit the first 500 followers, then 1,000 followers on the 27th of August, 2015 being 6 months after steady posts were going up on Instagram with the first post going up in January, 2015. I was surprised and asked myself, ‘do I make sense that these people are following me?’ For the longest time, the page was anonymous because I just wanted it to be about the food, I am also really shy about public appearances and all that berry stuff, so I was always amazed when people followed a face-less page.
These are the couple of times I showed my face on my socials:
P.S. I am still very shy, but I have to keep showing my face because people were starting to think the page was owned/managed by a man.
When we turned Five in 2018, we ran a whole week of giveaways, and I was really surprised at my commitment to still go on because life was not what it was in 2013. I was single with no kids; I had more time to myself (even though I thought otherwise at the time). By 2018, I was married with a toddler; I had no time at all. In 2019, Foodie in Lagos won the Food Blog of the year award by the Pyne Awards, and I remember being so shocked when I was called to receive the award, like wow, and how?
In 2016, I had a Food Fair in collaboration with the Lagos Home Show where we had 26 food vendors. I had done a lot of events in the past for the Underground and Inner Circle, I remember being so worried about the weather, about if people would turn up or if it would flop. The focus was to encourage non-brick-and-mortar vendors who I patronized a lot on Instagram to get a chance to meet new customers and connect as well as a place to meet new people and socialise. It went well thankfully with vendors selling out.
By 2017/2018, we started hosting smaller events in collaboration with the Ministry of Enjoyment till Covid hit and things halted. When I look at the hashtag for the Food Fair, I just smile. I hope I’m able to do another at some point.
Food blogging is expensive!!! Send Funds!
Also, what has been difficult is just managing my time across my interests. I also don’t like that when I give my honest opinion on my experience, and the restaurants/owners take it too personal and fail to realize they need feedback to be accountable and to grow.
Another area that has also been annoying is when some creators don’t know how to draw a line between being inspired by your content or straight out copying and pasting down to the type of events, tone, and even brand names – it is crazy to see. Sometimes, I ignore it, but some days I am just human. I have also had times when other pages/creators who are too lazy to create theirs would lift images from my page and post them as theirs; some even repost the videos without taking out the watermark – I don’t have the energy, but it is very annoying!
I love the interesting people I meet on a daily because of Foodie in Lagos.
I plan, plan, plan, and stay true to my Why. For me, starting the blog was never focused on fame or popularity, and I guess that has kept me grounded.
I like that I have never compromised integrity. My followers and audience trust that when we say something is black, it is black. I would love to host a bigger food fair/fest and collaborate with exciting brands and host smaller events frequently, and essentially remain original and focused with the hope that this little blog of mine has been able to help a lot of people make good food choices and of course, make more money to afford all this food!
Whew, putting all of these down, although it doesn’t capture a full picture of the last ten years, has me having a flush of all sorts of emotions. A big thank you to everyone who has been a friend and supporter of the blog – too many to count, but thank you!!!
It’s been a good Ten years, cheers to Ten more!
With Love, Tai.