That food is a universal language might sound cliche but it’s the simplest way to encapsulate Mark and Bianca Tan’s experience when they started their blog Eatsplorations. The couple lived for a while in Jakarta in 2014 and wanted to tell stories about all the places they were visiting and all the food they were eating, so they launched an Instagram account eatsjakarta.
“Our goal when we started out was just to spread the word and help these smaller establishments,” Mark told The Crafters in an interview. Their earnest delight in food piqued the interest of many locals. “We didn’t think it would work since we were writing in English, but surprisingly the locals found it really fascinating hearing from the perspective of a foreigner,” he added.
Proof of how welcoming Indonesians were of their blog concept was how they taught the couple how to take better photos. In return, Mark and Bianca shared with them tips on how to create English captions. The longer they spent in Indonesia’s capital, the more they delved into food, later offering insider tips on the foodie scene.
The name eventually evolved to Eatsplorations, a play on “eating” and “explorations”, which is what the account was really all about. By February 2015, Mark and Bianca’s Instagram account already had some 20,000 followers. They later decided to document their epicurean adventures in a blog, which allowed them to write longer reviews besides taking drool-worthy photos.
Mark and Bianca are married now and have embarked on a new adventure: parenting. But that does not mean they’ve stopped eating and exploring. Mark noted that the idea for Eatsplorations did not involve a bucket list or dedicated trips to restaurants and establishments just so they can try out their food in the first place. Instead, they tell stories about where they themselves eat.
“When I have free time I would go out and eat on my own, and feature posts about places that I just like, which are not necessarily new joints in town,” Mark said. This unpretentious approach endears Eatsplorations to its audiences. It’s a blog by real people with real cravings, eating at places where you can really eat any day.
Mark said they also make sure they give their real thoughts on the food, even when it’s sponsored content. “If the food isn’t good, I most definitely won’t rave about it,” he said. That’s why he also makes it clear to partners that he’s being paid to write reviews, not fluff. Mark added that they also disclose whether or not they paid for the meal they’re writing about.
“People are more intelligent now,” he explained, noting that the audience assumption is that most food content are paid for. In that sense, not only is full disclosure a way for you to ensure transparency, it is also a way for you to highlight how not all reviews in your blog are sponsored. “In some shape or form, you should tell your followers if it’s sponsored,” Mark said.
But also don’t do it for the free food, he added. “When I talk to the younger ones, I emphasize that you don’t start a blog thinking, you can earn from it,” Mark said, as he encouraged content creators to be foodies only if food is really something you enjoy. Food is a universal language, but authenticity also has universal value.