Being a social media influencer is the new normal in the 21st century, but imagine a time when people were still understanding the norms of social media. It was a time when people were indulging more into exploring their own lifestyle which was once very private! We often get influenced by authors, great orators, leaders, and people around us. But with evolving times, social media has now changed the meaning of an influencer.
5 Years ago, a social media enthusiast, Ishani Shah, expressed her fondness towards writing for love related content. She started a page with the sole purpose of connecting with the people on the same emotional ground. As her page’s popularity grew, she dived into something new: Food blogging. Here, take a ride with us as we explore her journey more closely.
Where did the idea come from to start a page on social media? What was your motivation behind it?
Imagine 5 years ago, when digitalization was still building, the age where most of my friends preferred watching TV and playing outdoors, I involved myself in learning and connecting with new people over social media. Encouraged by the ones around me, I decided to take my interest in reading and writing small snippets to social media. Since Instagram was more popular among the millennials, I chose it over Facebook, and since then we have grown to a family of more than 1 million people.
While most of my friends were into memes and adult comedy content, I decided to have a page related to love quotes and creatives. Since at that point of time in India, there were no pages related to love content, it was a bit difficult to start off with considering the aspect of getting a response. I named the page “@relatedtolove” with the idea of posting “relatable” content relevant to love, for people to connect with the same emotion. That’s how the journey began and we continued to cross every milestone one after another.
Which people or books have had the most influence on your growth and why?
To be honest, I am not much of a reader, but I love talking to people. I try being a good listener to understand people’s thoughts, lifestyles, and ideas. I learn from them and try to implement them in my life. Having a bunch of loyal friends made me stick to my passion and it encouraged me to put my efforts into doing something different at that juncture. Exploring the virtual world, I made friends from all over the country: some influencers, some memers, some marketers, and some just well-wishers. They lifted my spirits up every time when things were rough for me, and that is what kept me going.
How difficult was it when you started off with it? How did you manage to get traction to your page?
It is pretty easy to start your own page but then to grow it, is a work of sleepless nights and patience. The start was pretty smooth; I could connect well with my audience but with time, things got difficult. A whole lot of new pages were introduced and competition grew bigger. Instagram changed its algorithm and that was a major setback as it reduced the reach of the posts. But one thing that I always keep in mind is that no matter how tough things are if you put your heart at what you are doing you will surely get the best results out of it. So, I continued to post the best of relatable content that people could share with their friends and loved ones and that is how we maintained our popularity in the space.
What inclined you to shift to food blogging which is like a completely different subject from your current one?
Like every other social media enthusiast, I was fond of snapping my food every time I visited a restaurant. I am a big-time foodie, I love exploring different cuisines and restaurants, and sharing my experience with friends. It was one day that I met my friend, Prerna, who happens to be my partner in crime, oops I mean partner in food, that is when we decided to create a separate page to record our mutual interest in food.
Can you tell us something about your journey as a food blogger?
Pursuing my love for food and with the hope of making a famous page in the food space as I did with @relatedtolove, I created a new page @relatedtofood, solely for the people who spend their time exploring different cuisines, restaurants, and new eateries in town. On our page, we have managed to cover everything from street food to cafes, family restaurants to restrobars, clubs to luxury 5star restaurants, staycations to delivery restaurants, food brands to now home-cooked food during lockdown, making our page a proper blend for all kinds of people. It has been one roller coaster ride from spending out of our pockets initially, to clicking at the most instaworthy cafe, to being invited to launch parties and blogger meets, we have surely come a long way.
About your work, what makes you the most happy? Being a social media influencer, how do you cope with changing trends and people’s demand for unique content?
The best feeling is when you get messages from people, appreciating your work. It feels great in knowing how my posts actually did make a difference in someone’s life by helping them in expressing their feelings and mending their problems. And all this just by sharing my posts as a medium.
People’s preferences are bound to change over time, and it is very important to be updated with the newest trend and flow with it. For instance, we covered restaurant experiences but when the lockdown was enforced, we were also forced to shift to home cooking, and I guess we have done a pretty good job at that too. You need to stick to your passion and adapt to the changes, in order to meet the demands of your followers.
Please share with us about your previous collaborations – which have been the most successful ones?
With a dream in my eyes, I started a page 5 years ago, and then it was only in my imagination that I will be collaborating with some of the great content creators and brands from our country. I feel really proud that social media has given me a platform to associate myself with some of the best apps, musicians, YouTubers, content creators, and web series in India. It is a sense of pride when your passion turns into something fruitful.
How do you see your passion manifest with your blogging efforts? Has it helped you generate revenue?
To start a page was merely an idea, a passion, with an aim to make connections in the virtual world. Making it a source of income was never my intention. But with time, and some overwhelming responses, I started gaining more audience, and people started approaching me for collaborations. From free promotions to barter collabs to paid promotions, I have done it all. One thing I’m proud of as a college student is that I never had to ask my parents for pocket money like everyone else around me did. I became independent, which helped me spend on my favorite brands at my will, pamper myself with all the luxuries that I probably never thought of having. One memory that I will cherish for life is when I bought an expensive gift for my parents, ironically through my earnings from the same phone that they kept swearing all day long!
What does a typical day in your week look like?
The first thing that most of us do when we wake up is to check our phones for news, messages, and memes. I too do the same. But my whole motive behind it is to think and come up with something that will turn out to be my first post of the day. Throughout the day, I am creating content and posting it which includes: making a new dish, clicking pictures, editing a video, and searching for the newest trends. Before lockdown, traveling to new famous cafes to get pictures before the whole world does was something that I loved.
What suggestions or tips would you give to budding/ young influencers?
According to me, social media is a really great platform to showcase your creativity and talent, and one should not be reluctant to express their interests. Trust your instincts and choose the field that you are really passionate about, even if you do not perceive it to be the most lucrative in terms of growth. It is a fast-growing world and you never know the right time when the audience starts connecting with you and your content. With the right efforts and hard work, you will definitely be able to grow. The key to growth on social platforms is to try and create relevant and relatable content. Follow the trend and established creators in your field, learn from them, but do not imitate them. Always create a unique reason for people to look up to you.
Author Bio: Ishani Shah, is a social media influencer by passion and a pharmaceutical marketer by profession. At the age of 22, she has already created a base of more than 1 million followers on the social media platform. Having graduated from one of the top B schools in the country, she holds an interest in the area of marketing and public relations. Being a food blogger, she loves traveling and trying out new cuisines/restaurants. Her passion for her work is what gets her going and helps her to take bigger and better steps towards growing her Instagram family. Follow her on social media @relatedtolove and @relatedtofood.