Andrew John Virtue Dobson runs the lifestyle blog dobbernationLOVES, which he originally started to document his three year adventure in which he would visit over 50 countries. The blog is now focused on inspiring the world to, as his slogan goes, “Eat Well, Travel Hard, Live Better.”
Andrew is a great example of how the Internet and blogging has changed so much of the publishing and marketing landscape. With a simple blog about his travels, his life and the things he loves, he has become a popular brand whose opinion is sought after and highly respected. As a result, he now makes a living off his blog and receives pitches from brands and companies every day to review their product or to be part of a promotion.
We thought it would be great to ask him a few questions around what he does and how he does it.
Tell us how it all started.
I’ve been fascinated by travel since I was little. My mother used to show us National Geographic videos. I particularly remember being obsessed with Jane Goodall and her chimps. I bought my first Canon film camera at a very young age. I quickly became obsessed with capturing my observations of the world around me. I was taking pictures of my food before it was cool to do so; social media didn’t exist!
I studied Hotel and Food Admin in University, specializing in research in my final year in Culinary Tourism best practices. Once I graduated (literally the day I finished my last exam), I flew away and spent the next three years traveling around the world.
Why do you think you’ve been able to make a success of your blog?
Most people assume bloggers are hobbyists. I was for my first three years but then it sort of exploded and I couldn’t answer all of the emails coming at me each day while at a full time job.
Newbie bloggers need to ensure they have an authority on their subject, post regularly, write creative and valuable content, develop an audience, find a unique voice and learn the core capabilities of SEO, photography and video.
Running my blog is an exhausting endeavor and not for the faint at heart. I work seven days a week and sleep less than I should. I’ve had so many people ask about “how I find the time to do it all,” that I published How To Run a Blog: From Dusk Till Dawn, which outlines my schedule and offers hot tips for those looking for a bit of insight into how much work goes into running a daily blog on the solo.
I’ve been recognized in the industry as running a blog that is brand savvy. I exclusively make my income via sponsored posts and brand ambassadorships. I am currently working as a Brand Ambassador for Canon Canada and will be featuring SLR tips in upcoming destination guides via press trips. I’m also heading on a Canada Beef sponsored trip to Alberta in August, living with a cattle family and riding horses into the sunset.
Give us an example of one of the weirdest pitches you’ve received?
I am regularly pitched to promote and talk about products that I would never write about on my website. The PR and Brand teams pitching clearly have not taken the time to even visit my site. I immediately delete their emails. Boob enhancers and exotic “slip away” bed sheets regularly find their way into my inbox.
Why do you enjoy travel so much?
I get bored easily and find energy and excitement in exploring new places and spaces. It allows me to expand my culinary, artistic, architectural and historical repertoire which assists me in my writing. If I hadn’t lived in Asia for two years my Korean and Thai restaurant reviews in Toronto would be less insightful.
How did your love for food begin? Why has it become so important to you?
I’ve been obsessed with food since my mother can first remember. I think some people are born with heightened senses (in Food Science they call these “Super Tasters”). I liken my obsession with food, drink, and travel with someone who is passionate for dance, sports or gardening. Whatever floats your boat, I’ll be eating on mine!
In all your travels, tell us about at least one person who you encountered who made a lasting impact on you?
I’ll never forget my visit to the Van Gogh museum in Amsterdam. I was sitting on a bench staring up at a painting and realized the man beside me was blind. We chatted for about an hour and he explained that he had been visiting the museum once a week for over 10 years. I learned about a whole new sensory world as he mentioned he “listens to art.” While he’s never seen the pieces, they give him comfort as he listens to visitors react to the paintings and chit chat about them. I was rather blown away.
Most beautiful place in the world that you’ve been to?
Strangest place in the world that you’ve been to?
Best culinary experience you won’t ever forget?
Dinner at Frantzen Lindeberg; ranked as one of the top restaurants in the world located in Stockholm Sweden. Epic.
Weirdest/worst/strangest thing you’ve eaten on your travels?
A massive oyster the size of a cow tongue. I get shivers just thinking about it.
Best drink you’ve had?
My most memorable beverage would probably be in Seminyak Bali. I had spent two weeks making friends who hosted a goodbye party for me at a lux restaurant. I sipped on an outrageously expensive mojito while watching the sun set. It wasn’t that the beverage was blowing my mind but it was the emotional memories attached to such a beautiful salut that will never be forgotten.
Ryan Peter is a ghostwriter, journalist, copywriter and author of amazing books.