Anton Diaz’s Our Awesome Planet is one of the most influential food and travel blogs in the Philippines. It started out as an online journal of his family’s adventures when his first son Aidan was born in 2005. Today, Our Awesome Planet has catapulted Anton as the go-to authority for restaurant and destination recommendations.
In a recent interview, we talked to Anton about his digital journey into becoming one of the Philippine’s most recognized technopreneurs.
Before you ventured into becoming a full-time blogger and entrepreneur, you worked for P&G. Could you tell us how your career in P&G contributed to where you are today?
I worked for P&G for 12 years and I learned a lot of things in that company. In terms of marketing, I learned with the best marketers. I was part of management. I was the Chief Information Officer so I was able to talk to marketing agencies and a lot of people.
I learned a lot about marketing – who your audience is, how to understand their needs and how to market to them. Another thing I learned from P&G, as part of the IT department, is how to analyze data. And from the data, to analyze trends. This is how I’m able to figure out what’s the next best thing or the content that will work out in the Philippine scene.
Your background is engineering. Do you still use it when predicting trends, especially when it comes to your blog?
Definitely. It is very important to blog about a trend before it becomes huge. Based on different data points, you’ll be able to figure out the next best thing that’ll happen in the Philippines. Analytics and trend spotting is very critical to my business.
You’re one of the most successful bloggers in the country. Could you walk us through the beginnings of your blogging career? How did it turn from a personal journal into a travel, food, and lifestyle bible?
I started blogging in 2005 and one of the reasons I started it was that part of my work in P&G was to look for the next best thing in IT that would help in marketing. At that time, I could already see that blogging and social media were big enablers of Internet marketing so I had to start my own blog.
I actually started late 2004 and I was trying to blog about things. I really didn’t get into the groove until my first son Aidan was born in 2005. When he was born, I said “hey, I want to document the food and travel adventures of my family” so it became a sort of an online journal.
Now that we have four boys, we still document our adventures in Our Awesome Planet. This is also the reason why the blog is authentic. It’s an independent published blog. I don’t have any writers—it’s all me. Hopefully, one day, the kids would write as well.
Your blog involves your family, but how do you separate the personal angle of the blog from the business angle?
The edge of the blog is the personal angle. If you look at other websites, it’s managed like traditional media because it has writers and editors. So, when you look at the write-ups, there’s always a different style.
I write all the posts in my blog so there’s a consistent sense of my biases and writing style so it’s more authentic. There’s no line between business and personal. Business is personal and what’s personal is business.
At the start of your blogging career, what were some of the hurdles you faced and how did you overcome them?
Actually, until now, I think the challenge for most bloggers is how to make money out of your blog so that you can continue what you want to do. I think I’m able to do this by creating good branding and sticking to quality posts.
On the flip side, what are some of the unexpected benefits?
One of the biggest would be starting the travel posts. I’m able to see the world because of the blog and meeting a lot of new people. It’s a good venue for networking. I’m also able to inspire people.
Speaking of inspiring people, what’s the most inspiring story you heard or received from your readers?
One time, there was a married couple who said that they now have regular date nights and they try to do the things or go to restaurants that I recommend. They don’t have to go through the hassle of trial and error because of my recommendations. I’m very happy with that.
You now co-own several weekend markets in the metro. Could you share with us what got you started in this venture?
The concept started in the blog. We had an event called Ultimate Taste Test where we invited home-based businesses and foodies. The foodies would rate the businesses and the winners were the first ones invited to the Mercato Market. The Mercato Market is in partnership with RJ Ledesma and his wife Vanessa. It’s been going on since 2010. In the next years, we plan to develop it into something bigger.
You are very influential in the blogosphere. What’s your take on the future of digital marketing in the Philippines?
We are the social media capital of the world, but I think that businesses are still not yet leveraging on the Internet. But once they do, that’s when we’ll see a boom in the digital space in the Philippines.
What should we watch out for from Anton Diaz in the coming years?
A lot of Filipinos are travelling now, so we (the OAP team) are trying to feature different destinations in and outside the country. We are also doing a lot of videos now. We are planning to do a Philippine video guide for tourists to promote our country.
We’d like to congratulate Mr. Awesome Planet for being one of the Philippine Tourism Stars awardees by the Department of Tourism. The Tourism Star program “honours individuals who truly make it more fun in the Philippines.” Continue being awesome, Sir!