How to build-4

Hyperlocal blogs. I’m obsessed with them. Maybe it’s because I live in Lagos, and anything that can create structure out of the prevailing chaos this city is, is bae.

Local bloggers help people make sense of the cities they live in and are very important. So important that we will be featuring a number of them over the next few weeks. Eat.Drink.Lagos is the first of these. Nosa and Folly use their blog to help people in Lagos make better outdoor dining decisions.

What is it? Eat.Drink.Lagos reviews restaurants in Lagos. They also host a “Lunch Club”,  an exclusive dining experience for just ten people every month.

Why is it interesting? With each review, these guys are slowly but surely structuring dining information in Lagos.

Who are they? They simply call themselves Nosa and Folly. And as you will see, they refuse to say much more.

nosa-and-folly

Ah well. Here’s our interview

Bankole: How are you guys doing today? First of all, I’d like to get some background. The people that read your blog know you as Nosa and Folly, the two wisecracking personas that are “eating through the Lagos struggle”, so we don’t have to. But who are you guys really?

Folly: Who are we ? Well Nosa is a boy and I’m a girl. For some reason, people don’t always get that. Some people used to think I was a boy, and some people probably still do when I think about it.

That’s hilarious. I don’t know how I knew you were a girl, Folly, but I knew.

Nosa: and someone thought I was a girl one time.

Hahaha, they’ve obviously never been to Lunch Club then.

Typical Lunch Club scene: Heels in The Kitchen x Stranger, April 2015

Typical Lunch Club scene: Heels in The Kitchen x Stranger, April 2015

Nosa: It was in the comments last week. “This Nosa that doesn’t have food in her house is talking”.

Folly: They make it sound like you invited the person over and left them to starve.

Interneters are interesting people. But back to the matter. Who are you? Don’t make me use Google.

Nosa: Government name? Can’t share that for obvious reasons. My family members might be reading this.

Folly: Nosa really?

Well, it IS going to end up on TC, so his concerns are, well…

Nosa: I’m Nosa. I spend way too much time on the internet, love food, and one half of Eat.Drink.Lagos

I’ll take it

Folly: Is it my turn now?

LOL, yeah?

Folly: I’m Folayemi, and one half of Eat Drink Lagos. Nosa wrote my bio for the site. I only added one line

Nosa: #FunFact

 

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Hahaha. Okay. Moving on. I only discovered your blog a few months ago, but now I find myself looking up your blog for recommendations on where to go for lunch and dinner and specific places in Lagos. And if it’s a place you guys have reviewed, I try to make sure I remember what you said. This is recently acquired behaviour, and now that it’s second nature to look up Eat Drink Lagos before I step out to eat, I can’t help wondering why something so useful didn’t exist before now. It seems like a no-brainer now, but what made you do it?

Folly: I don’t really think there’s a why we did it, I remember when we decided to start the blog over brunch at The Foundry. There were also a bunch of iMessage conversations around this. Nosa do you remember the why?

Nosa: I don’t think there was ever a why. I always said I wanted a food blog and we talked about it a bunch. We never started thinking we’d become a big thing, to be honest

Folly: Because he likes food, that’s the most likely reason

LOL, and you don’t?

Folly: I do. But Nosa likes food more than I do. He always calls portion sizes “kiddie portions” at restaurants.

Nosa: Now that I think about it, there was never really a why. I said we should have a food blog and she was like, “yeah, we should”.

So how did y’all meet in the first place? And how come you both know so much about food?

Nosa: Our inside joke is that I met her on the streets, but I really met her through a family friend. I have eaten a lot of food. At some point, you start to know things

rsvp-lunch-club

Haha, that makes sense.

Folly: I like eating out and so over time I have built up a bit of knowledge.

Nosa: Oh, I absolutely hate eating at home. My mother complains about it. She thinks I’ll be an irresponsible husband, just because.

Gbenga is convinced you must have a background in culinary art or some other arcane gourmet pursuit

Folly: Hahaha most certainly not.

Nosa: I had lunch at the Culinary Institute of America one time. Close enough.

Folly: Oh? fancy.

That reminds me. You both have been “abroad” at some point and are, you know, IJGBs?* Would that explain the extensive knowledge of food that is clearly not Nigerian, or did you always dine on that sort of fare – huh?? while you were in Naij anyway? You say things like “when I wanted chicken tenders, I was expecting this. But I got that”. Feel free to take exception to the IJGB label, by the way.

*IJGB is an acronym for “I just got back”, and is used to refer to Nigerians who have returned from an extended stretch of time abroad, typically for study.

Nosa: I actually like the IJGB label. I think it’s funny. But yes, we have been “abroad”, lol.

Folly: That could be an explanation because we both went to university in America, which you know is the land of excess in everything food related, so that definitely would have been a contributing factor. I’ve outgrown the IJGB label now though, as I’ve been back in Lagos for more than two years.

Nosa: My family moved around when I was younger so I got to experience quite a bit when I was little. The past year and half has probably been the longest I recall actually being in Lagos

Wow. There seems to be more than one year’s worth of Nigerian in you though. And I don’t mean that in a bad way.

Nosa: lol, that’s fine. I went to boarding school in Nigeria so I’m not that far removed. Just wasn’t in Lagos. I used google maps all the time in my first month back. I only just figured out where Ojuelegba was last week.

That’s hilarious. Okay, so on to more fun stuff. You didn’t intend for EDL to become a big deal, but it did anyway. As far as I can tell, people really love your blog. When exactly did you start, and when did you begin to see, er, traction?

Folly: We started the blog in late October, last year and we started to see real traction around December

Nosa: For me, it was when people actually showed up for the first Lunch Club

Folly: Nosa was a nervous wreck and still is surrounding Lunch Club. If he’s not stressing about whether the food will be enough, then he’s stressed about whether people will buy tickets, or whether the restaurant will be ready for us.

Nosa: I always think it’s too expensive or the food is not enough. I don’t want to provide an experience I wouldn’t pay for.

Folly: We always try to vary the price points cause the regular menus at the restaurants we go to are priced in different bands. We’ve always said we wanted to do a lunch club at White House in Yaba

Nosa: there’ll be no tickets for that one, lol

OMG, Lunch Club at White House? That would be something. But seriously, even though your tickets are priced between N7,000 and N10,000, they sell out like there’s no tomorrow.

Nosa: I don’t get it either.

I’m told it took all of twenty minutes the last time.

Folly: Or thereabouts

But really, what you guys have got here is a super-engaged community that buys your stuff. This reminds of Thrillist.com, the hyper-local recommendations site (but for dudes)

Nosa: I really like Thrillist. I used to have an account in college, but I never bought anything, lol. Thrillist and Eater are pretty much my main models for the site technology-wise.

Folly: Nosa is our in-house tech guy

Nosa: Eventually, I think the Lunch Club could go down that Thrillist line. We could have multiple Lunch Clubs in a month with multiple themes. Invites sent to only a select group of people based on their interests.

That makes sense! I’ve actually been curious about how this could scale.

Nosa: We could even do secret restaurant openings and all that. But that’s the future. Much distant future.

Exciting stuff. Speaking of tech, I have to hand it to you guys, considering it’s just the two of you and it’s all DIY. Click to call, and hyper linking the restaurant map info to each post was a nice touch.

Folly: That was your idea, so thank you

IT WAS?

Folly: Yeah, at Lunch Club I’m pretty sure you suggested it or at least something really similar in a “wouldn’t it be cool if…” line.

I might have said something along those lines, lol. I say stuff like that to anyone doing hyperlocal.

Nosa: I think I started it as soon as I got home

By the way, YOU GUYS already rank like in first three for Lagos restaurant searches. And that’s about to get even better because you are structuring the information better than anyone else.

Nosa: Folayemi is the SEO Princess

That’s a thing? LOL

Folly: I’m the Eat.Drink.Lagos Princess. In house specialist on all things British Royal Family. I’m still learning about Spain and the smaller European royal countries

Nosa: Oh, she did a whole bunch of education on SEO one day. Came back and pretty much “fixed” the site. We’re usually first page when you search for any restaurant we’ve been to. We were the first result for “RSVP” for months. It was so bad that people started emailing us to make RSVP reservations.

Folly: Hahaha that was so funny. I never wanted to reply them cause I felt they were just taking the piss, but Nosa is nice.

Screen Shot 2015-06-30 at 8.14.47 AM

That’s veerrrry funny. So tell us about the business of blogging. How is life within the shadow of Linda Ikeji?

Nosa: Peaceful. No spam. Nobody selling phones in your comment section.

This question is really not about Linda though, lol. I mean, you guys apparently have 9 to 5s. I still get looked at weird when people learn that blogging is all I do. So, is this a business? Could it be?

Folly: It could be, I want it to be.

Nosa:  Yeah, we both do. I just started work at a media company. Folayemi works in finance. It definitely could be a full time business. If we scale it properly, we’ll definitely have to look at it as a full time thing.

Folly: We spend a lot of time working on the blog every day of the week. We also have some ad revenue.

That is how you can afford to eat out that often, I suppose. Considering that you never eat free food. You have a pretty no-nonsense ethics statement up on the site.

Folly: That’s Nosa’s baby – the ethics statement

How much do you do in the way of site traffic? And where are people coming from?

Folly: Fun fact: we hit 100k page views a couple weeks ago. It was an exciting milestone for us

Congrats!

Nosa: Our traffic is mostly from Google search and Twitter. Mostly female. It’s like 70-30 in that regard.

Folly: 24 – 35s mainly

Nosa: Yeah, the millennials

Wait, only women are interested in fine dining? Or does that mean they are the ones setting up the dates?

Folly: Nosa has lots of girl fans so it’s probably them. I think he got a marriage proposal once too, in the comments.

AH. But they don’t know what he looks like.

Nosa: They saw my fingers one time and told all their friends. Apparently have feminine fingers.

Nosa-fingers

LOL. Okay, one last thing, tell me about Eat Drink Lagos’ apparent geo-bias. Is it Eat Drink Lagos or Eat Drink Lagos Island?

Folly: Eat.Drink.Lagos

I’m in the middle of Surulere, and I have no clue what’s here. I find myself going to VI to eat often, so more Mainland recommendations would hit the spot.

Nosa: Ok, so here’s the thing: when we started, we both worked and lived on the island, it was easier for both of us to go somewhere new for lunch and blog about it. We usually do mainland stuff over the weekend, we relied heavily on Trip Advisor and Foursquare for mainland tips.

Folly: I’m always asking for mainland tips, but no one ever really has any to offer so we rely a lot on google searches, which aren’t comprehensive.

Nosa: Now, I work on the mainland. So if I can spot something new there, we can try it over the weekend. It’s still very much a work in progress.

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