I had a pretty good year in 2021. I left my house! I ate in a restaurant! I saw people! I spent most of my year in Pittsburgh. Overall it’s been a wild year again starting with barely leaving the house, injuring myself one of the few times I did leave the house, getting vaccinated, going to restaurants and events again, getting surgery, doing a little travel, more eating, and more promotional work. I even did some things for my real job occasionally.
I’ll start like every year by checking in on my goals for the year.
- Gain more Instagram followers – 4,500 is a good goal
At the time of writing, I have 4,845 Instagram followers. Basically added 1,000 followers. This is about my regular rate of growth except for last year.
- Resume collaborating with other accounts
It was nice to do this a few times this year as things reopened. I thank a lot of the PR firms and other foodies who took initiative in planning some events for us. I did a couple of meetups.
- Write more, cook more at home, reach out to restaurants, and get in the kitchen – All are carry-over goals since I basically failed on all those.
- Write more – 12 blog posts
I did 6 including this one and only 2 of them were for restaurants. I planned to do more but I didn’t get to it.
- Cook more – 2 cool meals a month
I did cook a lot. Getting 412 Food Rescue Ugly CSA forced me to cook a lot this Summer and Fall.
- Contact restaurants – Email/message/call 1 restaurant a week
I did this once or twice all year.
- Get in the kitchen – Along with the above, see if restaurants are interested in having an observer
- Write more – 12 blog posts
- Plan more events – I like planning events for Foodies. I want to keep that going but also expand. I would love to plan some events anyone could attend. I have ideas. Maybe they are good. The most difficult part is finding a good time of year, a good location, and good food and drink.
I think I planned two events. I had grand ideas to do events every 4 to 6 weeks, but this did not happen. I think I was too ambitious in my ideas and I was definitely discouraged when the first big event I tried to plan had limited attendance.
Here are what I consider my biggest foodie highlights of the year
- In March, I got what I consider my first really good paid partnership from a non-Pittsburgh company. The service was really cool and I got a lot of food pretty cheap. Unfortunately, the service’s local partner didn’t really do a good job so I couldn’t keep up the partnership. I got another one not too long after that was really cool, which I applied for thinking no chance in hell they’d want to work with me and for some reason, they decided they did.
- April 26, recently vaccinated, I went out to dinner and sat indoors in a restaurant for the first time in what I think was 10 months. It was a glorious dinner at Gaucho Parrilla Argentina in their new downtown space. It was a great experience and a great meal. It was so nice to be back in a restaurant. My pictures were just OK in my mind since I was so out of practice.
- Then in June, I was so excited to go to my first big foodie event in over a year. Kennywood’s Bites and Pints Festival was pretty awesome. I missed getting to preview an event before opening to the public and telling everyone about it. Going on rides at Kennywood when no one is there is pretty great too. Little did I know at the time the surgery I was having 5 days later was basically gonna knock me out of commission for almost a month.
- July 2 was my 1,000th Instagram post. I recreated my original Instagram profile pic of me at a Pirates game holding a beer and shoving a hot dog in my mouth. This shouldn’t be a surprise, but the Pirates lost. As a side note, there were 14 photos of me this year shoving food in my mouth or taking a drink.
- August was 4 years of AlexEatsTooMuch. I did a fun happy hour with some foodie friends I’ve known since the beginning and some new friends I’ve met along the way.
- September was my busiest month with a trip to Chicago and Milwaukee, two big food events with One Bite One Day and Pittsburgh Pierogi Festival, and multiple partnerships.
Here were some of my favorite posts of 2021.
This year was really interesting overall. I spent the first 3 or 4 months doing almost nothing exciting. Lots of home cooking. A few product-related posts for some things that were sent to me. However, I really didn’t want to do anything for the first few months either. I injured myself falling on ice in February. I thought it was a groin pull. After almost 2 months of doctors and scans, I found out I had a bad hernia. I basically hated leaving my bed during that time. I learned two big lessons from this. The first was not to ignore the pain and the second was to make sure you have a good doctor. My doctor at the time (I have a new one now) kept saying it couldn’t be a hernia since my pain wasn’t where they should hernia pain should be.
The bright side of the beginning of the year was finally getting vaccinated and getting to see people in public again. I didn’t eat in restaurants until getting vaccinated for a couple of reasons. The first being I didn’t believe I needed to be another person in public adding to the risk of transmitting COVID and the second being I knew too many people who said they got COVID after specifically doing something indoors. I didn’t waste any time after getting fully vaccinated. I went to so many new restaurants in the first few weeks. One of which, Gaucho is a long-time favorite, and one of which, Gi-Jin has become one of my new favorites.
Throughout the year, I continued to do my full-time job from home. I love the flexibility it has given me to be able to get to events and try different restaurants. The downside is I do not spend nearly as much time downtown as I used to when I had to go to an office. I still consider myself lucky I had the ability to stay home rather than be in public.
By summer, I was doing a ton, but I basically had to stop for surgery to repair the hernia. With my luck, healing did not go smoothly and it impacted a lot of what I could do for a while. I did get to take a couple of trips, one to the Poconos to visit my parents, and one to Chicago and Milwaukee to get away and go to a wedding. I think Chicago has become one of my new favorite cities. It’s so easy to get to from Pittsburgh I think I might visit yearly. I also did a surprising amount of home cooking this summer because of signing up for Ugly CSA. I probably ate more vegetables in a 2 month period than I have in my whole life (not really). Unfortunately, I don’t think I made too many things that were very creative.
The last set of things I did this year that was a big step forward for AlexEatsTooMuch was a lot more partnerships. I did a couple of partnerships with national brands and did a few with some local brands. I have found that even though big national brands are cool, the local brands gave me a lot more creative flexibility when it came to creating my posts. I’m excited knowing that I will get to continue to work with some of those same local brands in 2022 and hopefully some new ones.
I think I need to create so more ambitious goals for 2022. As long as the world doesn’t go back into a tailspin I might even accomplish some of these things.
- Gain more Instagram followers – I know this isn’t interesting. It’s my goal every year. I’ll definitely cross 5,000 soon so I’m gonna hope for 6,000 by end of 2022. More followers allow me to do more interesting things and hopefully with more interesting things I get to do more giveaways and events.
- More collabs – This is also a total repeat. But I really want to start doing more things with other foodies, brands, and restaurants more regularly. I would really like to get more meals with others without waiting for restaurant invites. I want to work with more restaurants on a regular basis and come up with cool cross-promotional things. I definitely want to work with more local brands as long as they are a good match.
- Write more – Another repeat. I know. I need to stick to the goal of at least 12 posts a year. I was doing really well until the surgery. I need to get back into it in 2022.
- Create more Reels – I need to get better at taking video and getting in front of the camera to speak or doing voiceovers. I’m good at editing, but not so good at remembering to shoot video, and I always feel weird talking on camera. I also need to upload to TikTok. If for nothing else, but to create a presence there.
- Plan more events – This is literally a repeat. I like planning events for Foodies. I want to keep that going but also expand. I would love to plan some events anyone could attend. I have ideas. Maybe they are good. The most difficult part is finding a good time of year, a good location, and good food and drink.
- Be more interactive with followers – I need to do more polls and more questions. I also really want to do follower meetups. I hope special events at restaurants and bars would be interesting to people.
Going into 2022, I hope things continue to return to normal. Stay safe out there. Get vaccinated and boosted if you haven’t already.