Debunking the controversy of blogging in exchange for free food

Do I blog for free food?

Short answer, NO. Long answer, keep reading.

Note: This post is about my personal perspective and may or may not share the same sentiments of other bloggers or influencers.

It is a common belief that we create content for restaurants in exchange for a free meal. There are 2 scenarios on this. First, bloggers get invited by the restaurant to try their food. Second, bloggers pitch to create content for restaurants in exchange of free food (duh!).

I don't do the second scenario, so let me focus on the first: getting invited to review a restaurant.

I never ask for free food, NEVER. I receive invitations to free dining but I never asked for it. They are extended to me as a way of introduction, or as a gesture of gratitude.

When a blogger is invited to dine in for free and review the food, the review may be perceived as biased or sugar coated because "the blogger ate free therefore he won't say something bad about the restaurant."

If people don't understand the vision of a blogger, they can easily say that such blogger can be "bribed" of free food in exchange of a good review.

I blog to build relationships. When a restaurant invites me, if I have the time and the capacity, I say yes - not because the worth of my blog is just a free meal, but because I value the LONG-TERM PARTNERSHIP I could create with the restaurant.

Restaurant as a business has their needs, and so as bloggers have needs too. A healthy relationship will go a long way.


Given the hours spent in writing, video editing, taking photos and sharing content, the value of a blog or vlog is far beyond the free meal.

How I do food review

Taste is subjective. What's good for me may not be good for you. When it comes to food, I'm not really hard to please because I appreciate more than I criticize.

Now if something is really bad, I'd rather not write a review at all (It is clear on my disclaimer). I am not entitled to write anything that may harm a restaurant only because of my bad experience. Again, taste is subjective.

Instead, I talk to the manager and give him directly my feedback. This is a way to not disrespect the person who invited me in the first place.

In some cases, I still write those little undesirable tastes in a positive and constructive way - something that is favorable both for the restaurant and for me. Like...

"The seafood is nice, but I find it extra sweet that it affects the natural seafood flavor."

"If they can lessen the salt, it would taste even better."

Blogging or video editing is a hobby to many. It is an outlet to unleash their creativity. Invitations are opportunities for them to enjoy their hobby. If you are one of those hobbyist, remember that you are accountable to your readers or viewers as well. You can respond to as many invitations so long as you remain honest in what you say to your blog or video.

Personal invitation works better

These days, third-party invitation is becoming a norm. While there is nothing bad in it, there is less opportunity for the other invited bloggers to connect directly with the restaurant owner (or manager).

I prefer to be invited personally. A direct invitation sets a foothold for me to establish interaction with the restaurant.

If you are invited via another blogger, it's okay. Once you are in the restaurant, stand-up and properly introduce yourself to the owner or manager and build your own bridge.

So, do I blog in exchange for free food? 

NO. I blog to build relationships, and with that, sometimes, comes the free food. :P

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