Name: Geoffrey Anderson Jr.
Degree Earned and Year Graduated: Bachelor of Science in Communication (Journalism track); 2008
Tell us a little bit about your blog:
Miami Food Pug is a local dining blog, ran by me and my girlfriend, that combines our love for eating with our love for pugs. We review local restaurants, profile local chefs and host events to raise money and awareness for local rescues.
What inspired you to start your blog?
When my girlfriend and I started dating, we bonded over our love for food. One night when we were vacationing in Chicago, our friend told us we should start a blog since we’re always posting our food on social media.
We thought about it but weren’t sure what would make our blog unique from everyone else’s. So we turned to our other love: pugs. After determining that taking a pug with us to restaurants for a photo shoot would prove to be a logistical nightmare, we decided to just Photoshop pugs into our food photos.
It was quirky and took off instantly on social media. We then used that momentum to create a full-fledged website (and put my journalism skills to good use).
What were some of the most challenging things about starting your own business and how did you overcome them?
One was the blog’s name. With a name like Miami Food Pug, it’s extremely hard to be taken seriously. But when we secured our first interview with a notable restaurant (Uvaggio in Coral Gables) and did a writeup, it caught people’s attention and legitimized our site — slowly but surely. From there, securing more interviews to produce more content became much easier; people started reaching out to us instead of the other way around.
The other challenge is time management. My partner Dianne and I work full-time jobs in addition to blogging. I work for a healthcare marketing agency by day, which can be particularly hectic. Thankfully, our jobs are done the second we leave, so we can focus our full attention to MFP once we’re out the door. While we still have trouble finding the time sometimes — we do need lives after all — we make an effort to carve out at least an hour a day to create content. If you’re passionate about something, you make the effort.
What are some of your blog’s accomplishments?
Our most recent accomplishment was a surprise: This past December, Zagat recognized Miami Food Pug as one of the top 101 food Instagram accounts in the country. We were floored when we found out.
Another accomplishment was being recognized in 2016 as the top South Florida food blogger by South Florida Bloggers, a collective of bloggers throughout the tri-county area. And back in 2015, Johnson & Wales University awarded us Best Food Blog at their annual ZEST culinary awards.
What does a typical day for you look like?
Like I mentioned, I have a full-time job so a typical day for me starts after work — roughly 6 pm. Depending on the day, we either have a media visit to a local restaurant or some sort of interview scheduled. If it’s the former, we usually arrive a few minutes early to scope out the place and get some photographs of the venue. Then, we eat and document our meal on social media. When we get home, Dianne starts editing photos and I start reviewing our notes and writing. We hardly eat at home anymore.
How does your job connect back to your coursework? Were there any classes or professors that influenced where you are today?
The blog is a creative outlet for me. Since it’s mine, I have the freedom to write about anything I want. The interview and writing skills I learned during my time at FIU have been instrumental to our blog’s success; they’ve helped us separate ourselves from the “social media influencer” label — we actually write about things.
It’s been 10 years since I graduated, but there’s one teacher and class that I remember vividly: Rafael Olmeda, who taught Writing Strategies at the time. He always used to say, “Show me — don’t tell me.” He repeated that to keep us from using too much exposition in our writing, and I still try to adhere to that creed as much as possible.
What’s been the coolest thing about your job so far?
The opportunities that the blog has made available to us. Because of our blog, we’ve been approached to guest write for different publications produced by the likes of American Express, Aventura Mall and more. We even became food editors for a monthly publication called Biscayne Times, which has a readership of over 75,000 people. We’re also going to be making an appearance on the Food Network soon.