Noodlies Founder and Food Travel Writer. Top 50 Australian Influencer. SBSNews Op-Ed contributor. Managing Director of IDENTITYComms by day.
WHAT LED YOU TO START WORKING IN DIGITAL/MEDIA PUBLISHING?
I started writing online content in 2000 out of necessity. As a newly elected local government councilor, I felt having a blog/website was the most effective way to connect with constituents in the Fairfield Council area. It was a pragmatic decision and one that has had a profound effect on my personal and professional development.
Back then, I used MS Frontpage, a clumsy program to create and maintain a website. Through trial and error, I learned the basics of building a blog – home page, HTML, hyperlink were foreign terms that eventually became familiar concepts.
After I retired from the council in 2009, I took up food blogging. Friends often asked for my Cabramatta food recommendation, instead of sending emails to them, I decided to write a food blog about culturally diverse food in the West. Then I noticed the ‘mainstream’ food media was all about fine dining in the inner city. They ignored the ma-and-pa migrants who were serving up authentic, no-nonsense deliciousness, seven days a week. That only motivated me more.
After more than 1,130 posts, I started to learn more about the world of publishing online content. Along the way, I picked up photography and video skills including digital photo and video editing. I slowly developed a better understanding of writing for online and why it’s important to learn.
WHAT DOES A TYPICAL DAY LOOK LIKE FOR YOU?
I run a small full-service marketing agency. Blogging is a side interest that keeps me sane.
I’m an eight-minute stroll to Canley Vale train station and my work in Surry Hills is 3 minutes from Central. I love public transport. The morning commute is a mix of listening to podcasts (social media examiner, Radio Lab, Replay All, Case File etc), reading, catching up on news on my mobile or tablet. In the evening, I’m tired and want to unwind so it’s Spotify, reading, checking Noodlies emails or napping.
WHAT’S YOUR WORK SETUP LIKE?
I’ve always been a Lenovo fanboy. For past four years, I’ve been their ambassador. I have a Noodlies blogging home office. All my blogging used to be with a ThinkPad X1 Carbon – no one makes a better keyboard. Recently, I’ve switched to a Lenovo ThinkPad X1 Tablet, it’s so compact and powerful. I pair it with a 32” Philips monitor. It’s huge. I split the monitor real estate into two windows – with the X1 Tablet screen, I’ve effectively got 3 screens. The Philips monitor has decent built-in speakers, which means I don’t turn on the Sony SRS-X2 wireless Bluetooth speakers much. I do a lot of typing so I’ve got a Logitech MK710 wireless keyboard/mouse combo.
I’m an android fan. My Samsung S7 is glued to my hands. On the train and at the agency the Lenovo Yoga Book and I are inseparable. The Yoga Book is the best device in the world, sexy, smart and so ahead of its time. I mean, I can draw on it with a supplied pen!
I’m obsessed with Google Keep at the moment – it’s the best to do list ever in my books – it uses colour to categories. I’m a visual person so naturally, I love it. I love food so of course, Instagram is always open. If you want a simple, yet powerful photo editing tool, I highly recommend Snapseed. I love podcasts so Pocket Casts is a must for me.
It might be unfashionable, but my favourite social media app is Twitter. It’s immediate and despite the longer character limit, it’s still relatively brief. I love how it allows me to be me, a publisher at times – telling everyone my views on everything or a lurker – reading everything that’s going on.
WHAT DO YOU DO TO GET INSPIRED?
It’s easy to be inspired when it’s food. Within a stone’s throw from home is a United Nations of food culture: Vietnamese, Chinese, Cambodian, Lao, Thai, Iraqi, Spanish, Filipino, Lebanese… I lose count.
I know when I write about them or post an Instagram, I’m supporting a migrant small business and not a commercial food chain or big business with fancy décor.
I love it that over the past decade bloggers have disrupted the echo chamber of traditional publishers. For years food writers barricaded themselves in the inner city, behind starched tablecloths of fine dining restaurants, ignoring exciting, affordable and delicious food in humble western Sydney eateries. I’m inspired that blogging can turn the tables and democratise food criticism. These days, I’m writing for traditional food media because they realise their readers are eating real food and the fine diner days are well and truly over.
It’s easy to be inspired when you know you could help effect change.
WHAT’S YOUR FAVORITE PIECE OF WRITING OR QUOTE?
I wrote the cover story for SMH’s Good Food on the best pho in Sydney in 2014. The story looked amazing in print (I’m biased), but it became one of their most read and shared stories that year. The heading the Editor went with was a straifavoriteey’s best pho”. The heading I submitted was “Phoking delicious”. That would have been my favourite headline of all time.
WHAT IS THE PASSIONATE PROBLEM YOU ARE TACKLING AT THE MOMENT?
The world is so bi-partisan right now. It’s like we’re split into two camps, each shouting at each other. I’m an optimistic person who hates conflict (to a fault). We troll each other and criticise first before we look at the merit of their arguments. People who profess to be passionate and caring but troll opponents in the filthiest way possible.
I pray there’s an app that makes us all take a step back, breathe and be civil with each other. I don’t have an answer, but that’s something worth tackling!
IS THERE A PRODUCT, SOLUTION, OR TOOL THAT YOU THINK IS A GOOD MATCH FOR YOUR DIGITAL PUBLISHING EFFORTS?
My dream is for a mobile phone that takes DSLR quality photos – esp in low light. God, my food photos, especially in dimly lit restaurants would be a triumph!
And please can someone come up with a better solution than email? Mine’s of control.
ANY ADVICE FOR AMBITIOUS DIGITAL PUBLISHING AND MEDIA PROFESSIONALS JUST STARTING OUT?
Have fun. When it starts to feel like a traditional job, that’s a warning sign.