How I Became a Yelp Elite… And You Can Too

I was out to dinner at Bar Verde at The Grove in Los Angeles when I was first introduced to the concept of a Yelp Elite.

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My first real Yelp review at Bar Verde on January 24, 2015.

It was Restaurant Week in Los Angeles and so my two roommates and I were enjoying a boiled-down version of the restaurant’s menu for a fraction of the price on the top floor of Nordstrom. One of my roommates, who we have always known to be a stickler for good service and quality food, told us for the first time that night that she was a Yelp Elite, and what exactly that meant. Before this, I had known Yelp as a place to read other people’s reviews, but never really to post my own (and I guess I never really thought about where all those reviews I was reading came from). At best, I had posted one or two reviews blinded by fury and bad customer service, but I hadn’t considered reviewing places regularly.

My roommate had become a Yelp Elite a few months before, and glorified the title with talk of exclusive events with free food and a community of like-minded foodies. I was immediately sold on the concept — I wanted to be part of this illustrious community that shared laughs over gratuitous meals.

I wrote my first review that night for my meal at Bar Verde, and fell down a rabbit hole from there lined with detailed reviews and a plethora of photos. After months of hard work — okay, months of eating at delicious restaurants and writing about them — I am now a Yelp Elite. For those of you still on your Yelp journey, use this blog post to guide you in the right direction towards becoming an Elite. I can’t guarantee results, but I can tell you that all these things worked for me.

Check In Everywhere
One of the many features that Yelp users take for granted is the check-in option at Yelp locations. To do this, make sure to use the Yelp mobile app and click the “Check In” option under the bar that says “Write a Review.” Checking in not only allows your friends to see where you frequent, but checking in more than once makes you a “regular” there, and depending on how often other people check in, you can become the Dutch or Dutchess of this place. Currently, I hold 8 Dukedoms, and have checked in 256 times. Yelp definitely takes into account your check-in’s, so even if you’re only at a place for a few minutes, check in! It’s as simple as clicking a button.

Write Detailed Reviews
This may seem like an obvious tip, but be sure to write reviews that do more than skim the surface. If there was a specific dish you liked at a restaurant, name it. If the service was good, name your server. Mention that the bathroom had lavendar-smelling soap. People love these details, and so does Yelp when they look for Elite members. Write the kind of review you’d want to read.

Add Photos!
One of the most important things to do whenever you write a review is add photos. I really can’t stress this enough. Everyone loves to see a picture of what they’re going to eat before they eat it, especially from someone who has no stake in the restaurant and can be completely honest. Show me what I’m in for!

Add Random Yelpers
Unlike Facebook or Instagram, Yelp is the kind of place where you can add a random person as a friend and it’s not weird at all. In fact, it’s encouraged. Find people who are in your area and add them as a friend to see their reviews and tips in your feed. Interact with them: like their check-ins, compliment them and ask them where they recommend eating. These people will interact with your reviews and esentially make you a part of the Yelp community.

Make Lists
One of the many features on Yelp is something called ‘Lists,’ in which you can group your reviews based on similarity. For instance, one of my lists is my favorite brunch places in Los Angeles. Make a few lists that group together some of your reviews — perhaps your favorite diners in your area or the best burger joints? These lists will help fellow Yelpers out and look good when someone nominates you to become an Elite.

Know the Minimum Requirements
In order to become a Yelp Elite, Yelp has set up some minimum requirements that must be met. For your consideration, I will list them here, as they are presented by Yelp (you can also view them here):

  1. You must be at least 21 years old
    Since many Elite events serve alcohol, you need to be at least 21 years old to take part.
  2. Use your real name and a real photo of yourself
    Authenticity is key — if you can’t stand by your reviews, how can you expect someone who reads your reviews to?
  3. Elite members cannot be business owners
    Don’t worry — if you own a local business, we have a special site just for you. Check out Yelp for Business Owners.

Ask Someone to Nominate You
To become a Yelp Elite, someone who is already an Elite member must nominate you for the position. My advice is to reach out to someone who is Elite and ask them kindly for a nomination, especially if you have a friend with the status. For me, I had my roommate, but even if you don’t know someone, reach out to one of your Yelp friends! People are happy to help. Also, it is possible to nominate yourself. However, do this when you are ready. Wait to nominate yourself until you have around 60–70 reviews under your belt.

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Be patient once you have been nominated.

Once you are nominated, you will receive a message from the Community Manager in your area, who will notify you of your nomination. After you receive this message, it’s a waiting game. It took me about 3 weeks to become a Yelp Elite, but it happened eventually! I promise it’ll happen for you too.

nutrition editorial assistant @ first for women || USC graduate || find me on twitter @megreenwald

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