I can’t believe it. Ten years! I’ve been doing this thing for ten freaking years! When I started this in 2011, never did I think I would still be doing it. I wanted to commemorate the day by writing a blog. Originally, I was going to write a year-by-year highlight of it but scratched that idea. Instead, I saw a white screen and just started typing away like I always do. Here’s me rambling on about nothing:
One of the most asked questions I get is “What made you start writing a food blog?”
It really came down to a few things. I loved to write, loved to eat out and I didn’t trust reviews I read online. It felt like there wasn’t any content written specifically for the average Joe like me.
So, I set out on a journey around town searching for all the dining options Wichita had to offer. I wanted it to be written from a regular diner’s point of view. Someone who hasn’t exactly been all over Wichita to eat, typically visited mostly chains because he didn’t know any better and wasn’t some guru on all things food. At the start, the audience was strictly for my family and friends to follow.
During the first year of the blog, I would try to visit one restaurant a week but five months in, I flamed out and lost interest in writing. Blogging became very sporadic. The next few years, it got worse. I would go weeks and sometimes months without writing. There were times I thought about quitting altogether. I thought writing a blog would be easy but it took lots of time to find a voice and get comfortable writing about something I didn’t know much about. By no means would I call myself a foodie.
My audience was anywhere from 10-50 readers per blog. Every time I would take time off from the blog, I would get an email from a random reader I never met. They would tell me they loved my blog and missed it. It’s crazy how just one random stranger could make an impact and give me the push to continue on.
Between 2016-18, I tried to make it a point to blog every couple days and treated it like a limited hobby. There were still times I’d take a week or two off. Even with the limited writing, my following grew to 5,000 Facebook likes and 20,000 online readers. Truth be told, I still hadn’t found that big passion for writing.
At the end of 2018, everything started to click. It took me 7-8 years to finally see the impact of the blog. Restaurants would begin reaching out to me on a regular basis, traffic to my site picked up and I began to write every single day.
It was at that time, I set out on a goal to eat at every single restaurant in town. Over the years, I had built a good foundation and covered quite a bit of ground. After nine years of blogging, I finally attained that goal and have to continue working at that every month with every single restaurant opening in Wichita.
In February 2019, I hit over 10,000 likes and was averaging roughly 50,000 readers regularly. I was finally hitting my stride. Blogging became more than just a hobby to me. It was fun, it was relaxing, it was a good stress release.
2020 was a time none of us will ever forget. The pandemic started and I found my new goal. I wanted to help the restaurants I loved so much. I knew I had a voice that could make a big impact on a restaurant. It was my personal mission to support as many restaurants as possible during the pandemic. Putting my money where my mouth was and spending more money on eating out that year than any other year.
My blog’s traffic had the biggest spike during the pandemic. Traffic to my blog started to average over 100,000, I hit over 20,000 likes on Facebook and what you see now on the blog is what its become.
What I Learned And Am Proud Of
I’ve learned more than I thought I ever would through blogging.
Over the past decade, I’ve been introduced to so many different cuisines that I never had before. Growing up, we mostly stuck to Vietnamese food and national chains like Furr’s, Godfather’s, Grandy’s, etc. There was a world of food out there that was unknown to me. Discovering it and finding gems scattered throughout Wichita was incredibly fun to me. So fun, that for many years I would find myself driving all over random parts of town just to see if there was a hidden gem ours news never covered. I wanted to be that guy who would write about every single place, not just the popular ones.
I learned one person can make an impact. People underestimate the power of their voice. Telling one person about a restaurant you love could turn into hundreds or thousands of dollars for a business if the one person you tell goes on to tell others.
I learned I hate proofreading and apologize for any errors you see. It’s still something I try to avoid doing and just hit publish since I’m too lazy to read things over.
I learned you need to grow a thick skin when putting your opinion out there for the public to see. There’s a ton of hateful people out there in the world. When you don’t agree with them on something, the claws come out. When 2020 came along and hate clouded people’s minds, it only got worse. For whatever reason, social justice warriors also came my way with the hate. That was a ton of fun!
I learned there was a gap in what was being covered in Wichita. There was a strong desire from people to see what was out there in the community they had never heard of. They wanted to hear it from someone like them. Someone who was just another average (I’m very average!) person in the community who did it on their own dime and time. Someone who was out in the trenches so to speak just eating away because they had a passion for it and not a paycheck.
Wichita By E.B. started out as one person who went online one evening, registered for a blog and would spend 10-20 minutes a week writing blogs. I’m truly proud that this was built organically. Every single news station over the years invited me out for interviews or do video segments. I appreciated the offers but passed on them. There was a sense of pride in building it all by myself. I didn’t want any one person to say, “I’m the reason he’s where he’s at.”
The Push To Write
Obviously, the support from readers was a big motivation in continuing on with blogging. I’m built differently, though. Making people happy is nice and all but proving people wrong takes motivation to a different level.
People in the community unknowingly gave me added motivation. I’m the type of person who thrives more on the negativity of others than positivity. Through the years, I’ve heard the whispers, negative comments and jokes from some people in the media, newspapers, restaurant and food truck owners, those working in Wichita organizations and general haters. People tried to tell me my blog wouldn’t amount to much, they said to stick to writing on Yelp, they’ve said this idiot doesn’t know crap about food, leaders in town said nobody will listen to that guy, they tried to tell me how to write and what to write about. I’ve heard it from very prominent bar, food truck and restaurant owners, a president of a major Wichita organization in town, a prominent writer in town and many others. I’ve kept a mental list of those detractors. Michael Jordan who made a career on detractors said in “The Last Dance” documentary, “You have to establish who you want to be in this life. Don’t be who they tell you you should be.”
I didn’t do this for fame or to please others. I did this my way and ten years later, I’m still here. Mistakes were made along the way, I had to grow and mature (well try to mature), continue to learn and evolve but it was all under my own terms.
A Big Thank You
I get I’m not everybody’s cup of tea. But for those who have been supportive of me, I can’t thank you all enough.
To my family and friends who have endured and joined in my fanatical passion of Wichita, thank you. They’ve put up with so much and taken part in many of my zany ideas.
To the readers who have followed me from the start, thank you. And to any readers who have joined along the way, thank you.
To those people who have supported me monetarily through being a Patron or bought me a coffee, by sharing news stories or tips with me, given me words of encouragement, shared my blog to others, or simply read anything I’ve written, thank you.
I’ve built many new relationships over the past decade with fellow lovers of food, supporters of Wichita, and people in the industry; relationships and friendships that I’m incredibly appreciative of.
The blog has given me so much in terms of friendships, opportunities, education and experiences. I really can’t say thank you enough for all of it. The only way I know how to though is to continue chugging away right here on the website. Here’s to another ten years.
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