Saturday, July 25, 2020

Pandemic Journals: Joining the Online Selling Brigade

BulgOggie House Korean Beef Stew
Almost four months of different stages of quarantine and being locked down at home most of the time have forced most of us, Pinoys, into doing all sorts of things just to pay the rent and put food on the table.  I'm no exception -- a mobile phone glitch took away the chance of getting even a centavo from the Makati P5,000 one-time ayuda two months ago.  A promising full-time online writing/reviewing job turned into a payola/scam-mish/image-theft job I didn't have the stomach to keep barely a month and a half into the probation period.

I knew I had to do something apart from keeping borrowing from my cards to keep me afloat so I sold some of my photography gear (no prospects of assignments in the near future anyway) and decided to gamble and go into food selling online.  It took awhile to figure out what I will cook, and I'm still learning the ropes.  I'm not saying reselling stuff is easy or easier but cooking up the product is hard work.  When you do the canvassing, the supermarketing for supplies, the calculations, the cooking, the washing, the purchase of additional logistics (pots, pans, even small containers for organizing the kitchen workspace), the selling, the booking for deliveries, the billing -- it's a heck of a one-man behemoth job.

WHY BEEF STEW?  With the surfeit of online food available, my chosen product(s) take awhile to prepare: mainly old-style Korean beef stew.  For a market used to fastfood (literally order it now and have it in less than an hour or 30 minutes), this is food that uses a rather expensive cut of beef (brisket) and takes up to three hours to prepare. But I decided on this because this is something that lazier foodies would just want to order instead of cook.  I can whip up a mean peperoncino or spaghetti aglio olio but it's so easy, IMHO anyone who can buy the ingredients can attempt to cook it. 
Another offering: BulgOggie

LEARNING CURVE.  I am learning a lot, and I'm learning still.  But so is the burgeoning community of online sellers.  There are a lot of nice ones.  But there are also quite a lot of unethical ones.  I also buy from online sellers to support my fellow sellers as well as keep myself at home.  It's obvious that we Pinoys have a long way to go in this online business scheme.  One seller changed his price (increased by P50) even as we were talking.  Others take the whole day to respond. In any case, we better learn fast.  It seems that even with a vaccine in development, the public's behaviors have changed.  Life, itself, may have changed and metamorphosed into something we have no idea how to get a handle on.

ONLINE PERPETUATION OF "EXPERTS' ARTICLES".  I've been working, writing, shooting for online content for a decade now after two years of working in advertising so I'm familiar with the goings-on.  One thing apparent is the surfeit of "experts" who pretend to know what they're writing about, perhaps in the quest to fulfill word counts.  Turning online for recipes is an exercise in judgment.  One post was obviously written with little knowledge about cooking (perhaps copying other content elsewhere in the Internet as most online writers are wont to do), getting all the measurements of ingredients wrong.  I tried giving it the benefit of the doubt by trying the be faithful to the measurements the author wrote but as I suspected, the measurements were off by a lot - double for some ingredients, even providing allowances for personal taste preferences.  It's a lot of bullshitting really, as the "editor" in the scam-mish site I tried writing for a few months ago would advocate, trying to project expertise by way of research.  But at times, research can only do so much; more so when it comes to cooking.

PINOYS HELPING OTHER PINOYS.  An important lesson in this entrepreneurial exercise is this: buying from other Pinoys can help put food on the table, money on the till for the day's/week's expenses.   Buying locally is even more imperative as it helps the economy.  The Grab/Lalamove/Food Panda guys are also heaven-sent -- they provide much needed service at a time when staying at home is most needed; conversely, they can also make do with the demand for deliveries.

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