Interested in learning more about what the behind the scenes look like for an Instagram food influencer? Read on to learn more about Darryl Gordon’s unique journey into becoming an Instagram food influencer.
Who is Darryl Gordon?
Darryl Gordon says he “fell into” being a food influencer and loved it. One day, he got a call from a woman who had seen his writing online, and she asked if he would be interested in doing a restaurant review. He said yes and loved the experience of talking to the restaurant owners and creating a restaurant review. Eventually, he started his own blog writing reviews and an Instagram account, San Diego Foodie, after a friend recommended he post his reviews on Instagram. He gained 18,000 followers on Instagram in two years, which surprised him.
His favorite part about being a food influencer?
The fantastic relationships he’s developed and some of the unique experiences he’s had along the way.
While Darryl will never ask, he loves being invited to tour the kitchen and see how a restaurant operates. His personal favorite experience was at a San Diego Thai restaurant. One night, he ate there with his family and really enjoyed the Pad Thai. He spoke with the chef about how the Pad Thai was made and told her that he was having a hard time making a great Pad Thai dish at home.
The next day, he received a call from her, and she invited him back to the restaurant. When he arrived, she had written the restaurant’s Pad Thai recipe and gathered ingredients in individual bags for him. It was such an incredible experience for him because not many restaurants would give out their recipes, but the chef cared enough about the Thai culture to help Darryl recreate their dishes. Darryl clearly treasures this moment, and it was a significant moment of community and love shared over food.
Challenges in the Food Industry
For Darryl, the most challenging part of being a food influencer lately has been seeing how restaurants, servers, chefs, and people in the food industry have struggled during the last two years. It’s affected Darryl deeply because he cares about the industry and has made many friends along the way. To help out, he works diligently to bring awareness to excellent food to try and help these restaurants that are still putting intense passion into their work, despite all odds.
“There’s more to food than just eating the food. It’s going in and saying hi to your favorite waiter who’s been serving you for years and waving to the owner and looking through a menu.”
Know Your Goal
Darryl Gordon doesn’t personally have any affiliations or partnerships with brands. His current goal isn’t to make a full-time living from being a food influencer since he works another job. Personally, he views all restaurants the same and wants to help them get noticed through his reviews. He loves meeting new people in the industry, talking to restaurant owners and chefs, and trying new food. For Darryl, getting to help San Diego restaurants is the goal of his platform.
Darryl measures his success through the personal feedback he gets. He’ll visit a restaurant and share a photo of the delicious meal he had. Later, he’ll return to the restaurant only to have the owner run up to him excitedly and tell him about all the people that have come in wanting the dish that Darryl posted on his Instagram account. That appreciation is absolutely priceless for Darryl and is ultimately his “feel good.”
Whether your goal is becoming a full-time food influencer or building a platform like Darryl to share your passion, we recommend that you consider what your true purpose is. If you’re interested in monetizing your platform, consider how you can set yourself up for this from the start. If you want to expand your brand into a blog or YouTube channel, consider ways to incorporate long-form captions and videos into your social media now as a way of priming your audience.
Choose a primary social media. While it’s great to diversify your social media accounts by having a TikTok, YouTube, Instagram, and more can force you to be spread too thin, making strong growth challenging. Darryl personally focused on his blog and Instagram. Today, he primarily posts on Instagram, though he does have a TikTok as well.
Say yes to new experiences. Darryl got his start in the food influencer industry by saying yes to writing a restaurant review, even though he had never done that before. Keep yourself open and try saying yes to new experiences, working with new brands, and more.
Adapt with the times. Darryl has been reviewing San Diego food since 1995. He started with written reviews but tried posting to Instagram two years ago, which grew his audience significantly. Even though he continues to grow on Instagram, he has also made a TikTok to try that platform out as well since it’s a newer platform with a lot of potential.
Experimentation with different social media platforms helped Darryl reach 18,000 followers in under two years. Moral of the story? Keep your eye on new platforms and mediums because you never know what will help you find and connect with your audience best. Don’t hold on to older platforms that give you diminishing returns when other platforms may be better suited to your niche or have a larger audience for your content.
Love what you do. Darryl clearly has an intense passion for food, new restaurants, and supporting food businesses, especially during the last few years. Looking at Darryl’s captions, photos, and writing, it’s apparent that he genuinely adores what he does and is passionate about the food he is talking about. Viewers pick up on a sincere passion for what you do, so don’t hold back! Show this passion in your content.