Today marks five years since the first blog post was published on this blog. It also marks one year since we joined forces and decided to merge our blogs and YouTube channels. Happy anniversary to us! When Anders quit his job to pursue a dream of working with food, it wasn’t to get rich. The same can be said for Kaitlin, whose wanderlust trumped any ideas of a nine to five job. This is a passion project, through and through. The restaurant industry is the first thing on our mind when we wake up in the morning, and the last thing we think about before we go to bed. We dream about food. We breathe food. It’s in our DNA, and it’s definitely in our stomachs.
Our mission is to guide you to the best food experiences around the world. You can always be sure that we’ve personally eaten at all the restaurants we showcase. Unfortunately, not every place we visit lives up to our expectations, but we promise to only recommend the very best to you. Sometimes we warn you about overhyped places, but mostly, we focus on the positive and highlight the gems. We do this work so that you don’t have to – we want it to be easy for you to visit only the best restaurants, simply by walking in our footsteps.
Kaitlin has a special bond with Los Angeles and New York (having lived both places) and Anders has the same relationship with Oslo and Copenhagen – these are the cities where we are truly locals. Scandinavia gets most of our attention right now since it’s our home base, but we’ll continue to guide you to the best dining destinations around the world as soon as traveling is safe again. For our top recommendations, check out our city guides – you can filter these maps by type of restaurant (wine bar, coffee shop, fine dining, etc.), as well as filter for places that are open for lunch, or open on Sundays or Mondays.
“How Can I Do What You Do?”
We often get messages from people who want to do what we do. What’s the secret? Is there a short cut? How can you live off of eating at restaurants? Do the restaurants pay you? (Spoiler alert: They don’t). The truth is, there’s no secret, just a lot of hard work. That is the harsh reality of running a food blog. There is certainly no short cut to success – it has taken us many years to get to where we are today, and it still feels like we’re just scratching the surface. We don’t mean to discourage anyone, but you probably shouldn’t start a food blog in 2020 unless you’re ready to put your heart and soul (and all your savings) into a passion project.
The Truths About Running a Food Blog
Contrary to what some may think, we don’t actually make a living from eating at restaurants. In fact, that’s where we spend almost all our money. Other people might prefer to spend their money on designer clothing, nice cars, or vacation homes, but we value food and travel experiences over everything else.
We absolutely love what we do! And while it is a “dream job” in many ways, what you see on social media is only the fun part, the curated content, and the highlights. What you don’t see are all the hours of work behind the scenes. We are constantly tracking the best restaurants in Scandinavia and around the world. Before a trip, we will scour the web, do a deep-dive on social media, and contact local experts to help us pick the best restaurants to test in each destination. It takes weeks of research and planning to create the perfect itinerary. At the same time, we are budgeting and trying to find ways to finance everything.
But once we’re on the trip, it’s all a big holiday, right? Wrong again. There’s no time for relaxation on our trips – we are constantly on-the-go to experience as much as we can in every city. Time is precious. Hotels are not cheap, and even a sponsored stay with a hotel partner is not really free – it just adds more work for us during the trip and after. We spend our days shooting videos, taking photos, testing restaurants, and curating Instagram posts and stories. When we return from a trip – that’s when the real work begins. It takes weeks and sometimes months to write restaurant reviews, curate city guides and maps, and edit YouTube videos.
The upside of this lifestyle is that we get to work with what we love, and we decide our own work hours. We’re not chained to an office desk, and we get to see the world! The downside is that we’re always working. Constantly. Early mornings. Late nights. Weekdays. Weekends. There’s never truly any real time off. We’re always “on holiday” on social media, and never on holiday in reality.
How We Make a Living
So, how do we make a living? The answer is a variety of ways. Consulting has been an occasional side hustle, but that’s not where our focus lies. We’ve done our share of freelance writing for other media. Much respect to travel writers who manage to live off of that, because in our experience, the fees offered by most magazines and newspapers these days won’t even cover your travel expenses. Photography has been another source of income, but that’s also getting increasingly difficult in today’s world, where people just repost your Instagram photos instead of paying you for the right of use. Anyone working creatively knows how frustrating it is to be offered only «credit» in exchange for products and services, as if that is a currency you can use to pay your rent.
We’re happy to say that our main source of income these days is content marketing on our own channels! In other words, we sell exposure on our blog, YouTube, and Instagram channels. For example, we partner with brands that have an interest in sponsoring our YouTube videos (e.g. Augusta Arnesen / Bama Storkjøkken), and sometimes we make videos together with brands showcasing their products (e.g. Grana Padano). There are definitely brands we won’t work with – we are as selective with these partnerships as we are with our restaurant visits. We’ve turned down high-paying collaborations, for example, with a major coffee brand as well as a fast food company whose values do not align with ours. (We promise you’ll never see us getting paid to eat a Big Mac!) On the other hand, we love to work with relevant high-quality brands in the food & beverage, hospitality, and travel industries. That’s the only way we can continue our mission of showcasing the world’s best restaurants. Or at least it has been, up until now…
Then Corona Hit…
2020 has been quite a roller coaster, for us as well as for everyone else. We moved to Copenhagen in January and started to establish our new life in a new country, before we went to visit Kaitlin’s parents in Los Angeles in February. When we returned to Copenhagen it was March 12th – the day of the lockdown.
Needless to say, the global pandemic we’re all living through right now has had a major impact on our little business. When the restaurant and travel businesses bleed, we bleed too. From March to June, we basically had no income from anything. There was nothing we could do about it, so we decided to focus all our effort on helping our beloved restaurant industry survive. We created take-away guides to all major cities in Scandinavia, and we produced a YouTube series in four episodes highlighting some of the coolest initiatives we saw around Copenhagen. Paid work just had to wait.
What the Future Holds
A time of crisis makes you rethink everything. There’s no doubt we need to diversify our business. That’s one of the reasons why we are relaunching food tours! Anders has previously led food tours in Copenhagen and Oslo, and we also hosted a food tour together in Singapore last year. This is not unknown territory for us, but our new concept will be a little different. Because of the Coronavirus, we’re offering small scale, private tours instead of large group tours, and, for the time being, we’re only focusing on guiding people around our new hometown of Copenhagen. Click here to book a tour!
We don’t share that many personal stories here on the blog, but if you sign up for our newsletter we will send you a monthly email with the latest updates in our life, as well as a recap of our reviews from the month. Soon, we will also be launching a VIP food community on Patreon. We want to create a forum where you can discuss restaurants and rumors with us, share experiences, and find friends to share a meal with. It will be THE place to get the industry news first, especially for Scandinavia. We hope to host dinners with community members, offer discounts, and have lots of other special perks. Does this sound like something you want to join? We’d love to get your feedback and hear your suggestions on what an ideal food community entails. Please take the time to leave a comment here or send us a message either on Instagram or e-mail: anders(@)andershusa.com.
Update: our food community is live! Join The Hungries today!
PS: We recently did an hour-long interview on the American food podcast «Air Jordan.» The host, Jordan Okun, goes into more detail about our lives, job, and passion. You can check it out here:
Stay safe, and stay hungry!
Kaitlin & Anders