A Food Critic is a person whose job is to critique the food of restaurants, food trucks, grocery stores, and even food delivery businesses. Food Critics make from $40,000 a year to well over $100,000 a year. Salaries vary based upon a number of factors including education, employer, and location.
Now let’s dig into the details about how you become a food critic and how you will make money as a food critic.
Do You Need A Degree To Be A Food Critic?
You do not necessarily need a degree to be a food critic.
If your dream is to work for a newspaper or magazine as a food critic, then you probably will need a degree in journalism.
I encourage you to really think about the cost of that degree vs the potential earnings. There are lots of people in America with great jobs who are still paying off student loan debt well into their forties. Don’t do that.Stacey
However, if your dream is to start your own local food critic business, you do not need a degree.
Instead, you’ll just start your own website where you provide people in your community with information about local restaurants and food services. No one is going to be looking at your resume.
Both getting a job as a Food Critic and starting your own Food Critic Business are viable plans, but honestly, it will be easier to start your own local food website than to get a job with a newspaper as a food critic.
Newspapers are struggling to survive in this online world, and food critic jobs are one of the first to be cut when times get tough.
However, with your own website, there are lots of ways to make money and the side-benefits of being a local food critic are very attractive.
We’ll dig into those side-benefits in a bit, but first, let’s talk about making money as a self-employed local food critic.
How Does A Local Food Critic Make Money?
With a local website that provides very location-specific information, you’re not going to have an audience of millions, but you are going to have a very engaged audience that will be very attractive to local advertisers.
Imagine that you have a website that just covers local food. Some of the topics that you might cover include:
- New Restaurants
- New Menu Items
- New Chefs
- New Delivery Services
- Grocery Store Deli Reviews
With some careful Search Engine Optimization (SEO) you can probably dominate the common voice searches that your friends and neighbors are using every day.
I’m going to give you a few examples of what people are searching for in your city, but keep in mind that “My Town” will be replaced with the actual name of your city.
- “Restaurants Near Me”
- “Best Chinese Food In My Town”
- “Best Pizza In My Town & My State”
- “Restaurant Delivery In My Town”
- “My Town Prepared Meal Delivery”
- “My Town Weight Loss Meals”
You could put generic ads on your website using something like Google AdSense, but you’re only going to make $4 to $15 per thousand page views.
A better option for your local business is to sell ads directly to local businesses, including those businesses that you are reviewing.
Yes, that means that your reviews are going to have to be kind unless it’s really bad business and in that case, you owe it to your readers to write the truth.
If your website is getting a few thousand visits a month from local people who are actively looking for a restaurant, then most restaurants in your town would happily pay you $20 to $500 a month (depending on the size of your city & the size of their business) to advertise on your website.
But don’t limit your potential advertisers to just restaurants. Here are some other local businesses that might be interested in advertising on your local website.
- Prepared Meal Businesses
- Local Gyms
- Event Venues
- Grocery Stores That Deliver
- Local Daycares
- Jewelry Stores
- Clothing Stores
- Liquor Stores
As you can see, many local businesses are potential advertising clients.
If you can find a dozen local businesses that will pay you monthly (honestly I charge either quarterly or annually if I can) you can quickly be making $240 to $6000 a month in advertising!
However, advertising on your website isn’t the only way that you can make money as a local food critic.
Other potential lines of revenue include:
- Host / MC at Local Food Events
- Hosting & Advertising Food Tastings At Local Restaurants
- Hosting & Advertising Wine Tastings At Local Restaurants
- Hosting & Advertising Events At Other Local Events
Your Local Foodie Email List
Don’t get trapped into thinking about your website as your only place to sell advertising.
What if you had a local email list where you shared the best events in your community every weekend?
How cool would that be!?!?!
And how much could you charge local business owners and event organizers to feature their upcoming event to a list of people who have opted-in to hear about cool things to do you in your community?
Even if you just charge $20 to $200 for a featured spot in your weekly email, that email list could soon be making you more than your current day job.
The Perks Of Being A Local Food Critic
In addition to the income potential of being a food critic, there are lots of perks.
But before we dive into the list of benefits, let’s paint a picture of what kinds of articles you’ll be writing on our local food critic website.
- Restaurant Reviews
- New Menu Item Reviews
- Interviews With New Restaurant Chefs
- Interviews with New Restaurant Manager
- Interviews with New Restaurant Owners
- Food Truck Reviews
- Reviews of New Menu Items
- Reviews of Grocery Store Food Courts
- Reviews of Food Delivery Services
- Stories About Upcoming Community Events Around Food
- Reviews of New Food Related Businesses
- Reviews of Local Culinary Arts Programs
I made this long list to demonstrate to you how many different kinds of articles you can write on your local food critic website. You’re not going to be writing just a single article about every restaurant in town.
Instead, you’re going to be visiting the same businesses again and again giving them the coverage that they crave.
That means that these local food business owners/employees are going to LOVE you.
This means that you get the preferred treatment that we all reserve for the people we love.
To be clear, you are not going to be buying friends with good reviews. Instead, you are going to earn friends with honest but kind reviews.
In time, you’ll become a friend and confidant to the local food scene.
Maybe instead of writing that bad review, you sit down with the owner and share your feedback in a kind way so they can improve their service and better serve their customers.
That means that they win, your community wins with better food & service, and you continue to nurture your relationships.
How cool is that?!?!?
So what might these food critic perks include?
I’ve made a list of the perks that I’ve experienced or heard of, but this list is in no way inclusive and in no way guaranteed to every local food critic business owner.
Local Food Critic Perks
- Input Into New Menu Items
- Invitations to Taste Potential New Menu Items
- Preferred Reservations
- Preferred Seating
- Discounted or Free Food
- Complimentary Desserts or Drinks
- Invitations To Closed Events
- Introductions To New Foodies In Your Community
Food Critic Business – The Wrap Up
Well, if you’ve made it this far, you know I focused this article on being a self-employed food critic instead of seeking a job as a food critic.
Honestly, that’s just because my base nature is to be self-employed. You can get a job as a food critic, but I fear that the education cost will outweigh the salary potential.
On the other hand, there is no ‘required’ education to be a self-employed food critic, and with that home-based business, your income is only limited by your imagination and hassle.
And by its very nature, this food business is a great candidate to start out as a side-hustle that grows into a full-time income and more.
You can start out as a local food critic today, and if all you get in the first year or so are some cool ‘perks’ then you are way ahead while doing something you enjoy.
If you keep hustling it, the income potential is at least $100k a year and it could be much more if your hustle, imagination, and city are large enough.
If you are considering starting a Local Food Critic Business, you need to take a look at my Recommended Tools Page.
That page includes many of the tools that I use to run not only FoodBusinessPros.com but my other home-based food businesses.
You don’t have to make the mistakes I’ve made in the past because now you have a friend in the food business.
Someone on my email list sent me this question, and I know others have the same question. Still, I can't tell you how nervous I am setting down to write about good food business ideas for women. You...
My wife and I started a personal chef business in 2005 with rudimentary cards printed using our home computer printer. Honestly, those were some ugly business cards, but they did what they needed to...