Featured Blogger: Andrea Strong of The Strong Buzz
Andrea Strong is a prime example of how a person can drastically alter his or her path at any time. Strong went from building an unfulfilling career as a corporate lawyer to following her passion as a food writer. Her redirection is our gain with all of the great industry food buzz she shares on her blog, The Strong Buzz. It features the latest updates on newsworthy restaurants, chefs, events and food ideas.
Q: When and why did you start blogging?
A: I started blogging in November of 2003. I was tired of sending clips to editors I was pitching and started my website, The Strong Buzz, as a way of collecting my clips and drawing attention to my work as a freelance food writer. I began writing my “blog” posts (the term was then in its infancy) and sending out a weekly newsletter when no one else was really doing this, and the Strong Buzz caught on quite quickly as a site with valuable and cutting-edge information since at the time most newspapers and magazines did not have websites or blogs themselves, so I was scooping major print publications and in that way really gaining a huge following.
Q: How do you think your blog stands out amongst blogs of the same genre?
A: The Strong Buzz has a very distinct voice, mostly my own, that is familiar and friendly and also one of many years of experience as a food writer and as someone who has worked in the business. There is a relationship that was built very early on between my readers and myself, one I think, of trust and friendship. I think readers look to me for reliable news and reviews and came to really enjoy the Strong Buzz because of its fun and familiar tone and high quality of information.
Q: What does your family think of your blogging?
A: They are really supportive. My family loves it. They are the family of a D List celebrity food writer! Who wouldn’t love that?
Q: Which blogger most inspires you to keep blogging?
A: This is probably horrible to say, but I don’t really read blogs all that much. I get great restaurant news from Grub Street and Eater, but I don’t read blogs. I really still love to read print stories. My favorite food writers are Calvin Trillin, Ruth Reichl, Michael Ruhlman, Robin and Rob from New York Magazine. I also love Jhumpa Lahiri and Nicole Mones, who write fiction, and all of their novels really beautifully capture the art of writing about food. You can’t read them without getting hungry.
Q: How much time daily do you spend blogging?
A: Writing The Strong Buzz used to be a significant part of my life as a freelancer, and I would write a couple of hours a day. I had a baby a couple of years ago, and since then I have hired a few writers who do most of the writing. It’s tough to be eating out every night and running after a 2-year old during the day.
Q: How many times have you redesigned your blog since it started?
A: I redesigned the website once in 2008. I built the site on my own and do not use blogging software because it was not available back when I started in 2003. So my developer and I reworked it and hired a great designer to modernize it and add new features like comments and videos.
Q: How much do you correspond one-on-one with readers?
A: Not as much as I used to. I’d say about twice a month. Some email me needing advice for where to eat on a particular special occasion, or are career changers (I was a lawyer) looking for guidance in how to get out of a job and transition to food writing. I also teach a class in food writing that helps people make this transition as well through Mediabistro.com.
Q: What joys did you not expect when you started blogging? What pains?
A: In terms of joys, I love the ability to write in my voice and to write about what speaks to me, it’s a freedom that is not available when you write for others. The pains really are getting used to people taking you down and being quite nasty online. There is that anonymity of the internet that seems to foster an atmosphere of meanness. It’s unfortunate, but true. Most people who comment are really just spewing venom. That can be hard to take at first, but you get used to it.
Q: What’s something your readers don’t know about you?
A: I am a half Persian (Jewish), and I was a lawyer for five years before I became a food writer.
Q: What’s your personal favorite blog post?
A: I like the review I wrote about Blue Hill Stone Barns. It’s pretty funny.
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