Foodie editor: We’re not a flyover state in regard to food, too
By Lauren Grace Bejot
University of Nebraska-Lincoln
Tyler Thomas experiences life through food, not art, not music. He feeds his passion by making it his hobby.
Thomas majored in advertising and public relations at the University of Nebraska-Lincoln, where he also earned a political science minor. After college, he worked at Swanson Russell, a prominent Lincoln, Neb., advertising agency, for two years as an interactive project manager. Then, he saw an opportunity at UNL to explore his passion for social media. Now he is the social media and content director at UNL. “I create, manage and curate the eight different platforms the university runs.”
Thomas emphasizes the importance of making people feel a part of the university, “Seventy percent of my job is listening. The other 30 percent is to post and engage.”
A year ago, Thomas realized he needed a creative outlet while working at Swanson Russell. He decided to create his own blog, Nebraska Foodie. “I come from a very large Italian family, and I lived in Belgium for a few years. A lot of the memories I have are what I ate.” Thomas said everyone can relate to food regardless of culture or income background.
His family and friends supported him during the start of Nebraska Foodie. A designer friend from Swanson Russell insisted on helping create his Nebraska Foodie brand identity, and his fiancée, Mandy, is a co-founder and contributing writer. Thomas hopes Nebraska Foodie’s restaurant, food truck, event and drink reviews will help the community find new and exciting places to eat. “That’s where Lincoln, Nebraska, really struggles. You find a few good places, and you don’t go anywhere else.” All reviews are positive and shed light on the importance of supporting local businesses. “My philosophy is that if a restaurant is bad, it’ll tank itself. There’s no point in my adding negativity into the world.”
Thomas explains that he has no plans to quit his full-time job: “Down the road, I’d like to be paid to do Nebraska Foodie to offset my own costs, but I don’t want to quit my job and become this big blogger. The goal is to monetize by selling ad space to grassroots, local businesses.”
He said he’s looking to make the content of Nebraska Foodie more interactive with videos, but “I don’t want Nebraska Foodie to become money-oriented, and I’m not having fun with it.”
Thomas’ goal is to make sure the reviews are easy to digest (forgive the pun). He doesn’t want people to think, “does that even make sense? He just looked up every adjective in the book — all those words are weird,” Thomas says. He sends his articles to his friend, Amber, at Swanson Russell and then to Mandy, his fiancée, to double- and triple-check his grammar and syntax. “I also like to get people’s feedback on how I’m writing because I don’t want to get stuck on writing in a certain way.”
Thomas consistently interacts with the readers of Nebraska Foodie through his blog reviews, Twitter and Instagram to keep true to his mission: supporting local businesses. “I’m not bashing big chains because they do help the local economy, but if you look behind their big signs, you see all these little local places. There is a niche food community. We’re not a flyover state in regards to food, too. I want to tell the story.”
Thomas recommends that future bloggers to build a community and create a conversation with people you’ve never met. “If you’re not learning, and you’re not having fun, then why are you here?”