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Back in March, we told you about the rise and rise of the food blogger, tracing the successful evolution of individual home cooks into professional bakers, video instructors and party caterers. Indicating that the community is increasingly aware of its power as influencer and content-creator in a changing media environment, 40 food bloggers will meet this weekend in Bangalore to propel themselves to the next level.
On the agenda of the first Indian Food Bloggers’ Meet: talks on food styling, self-publishing, search-engine optimization, social media manoeuvres and much else. “When I started seven years ago, food blogging mainly centred around writing about food and sharing recipes. Now it involves being visible on social media, advertising, monetizing, and frequently leads to food-related careers,” says Aparna Balasubramanian of the blog Mydiversekitchen.com, one of the four organizers of the event. “Food bloggers are an important community with a unique voice, but there has never been an occasion earlier to interact with members from across the country, not just socially, but with a focus on food-blogging activities.”
Balasubramanian’s co-organizer (and Mint contributor) Nandita Iyer (Saffrontrail.blogspot.in) agrees. “A well-run blog can be a springboard for careers in professional writing, food styling, food photography. But I know from my own experience that it takes a lot to push a food blogger into taking the plunge into new territory. The conference is an event for the blogger, by the blogger, to encourage the community to explore new directions.”
To ensure they were taken seriously—and not dismissed as part of the “freeloader” club that is an unfortunate subset of the blogging community—the organizers kept a sharp focus on quality. “We made it mandatory for participants to have an active blog that’s at least a year old—and not just random food photos on, say, Facebook or Instagram—and also introduced a registration fee of Rs.2,500,” says Iyer.
Going by the schedule, they have got themselves quite a bargain. Shrewdly staying away from trained professionals, the discussions will be led by people who have made the transition from home-based hobbyists to related freelance careers. Balasubramanian, an interiors and food photographer, will conduct a session on food photography and Iyer will discuss the power of social media in furthering a blog; other speakers include food stylist Deeba Rajpal and cookbook author Rushina Munshaw Ghildiyal, both established bloggers. Also in the line-up is Aparna Jain, who self-published The Sood Family Cookbook before it was picked up by HarperCollins, and now heads Partridge Publishing, the self-publishing arm of Penguin Random House.
“Self-publishing makes complete sense for networked food bloggers,” says Jain. “They have their own databases, and a single link on their website would probably fetch them more sales—and better returns on their investment—than on Flipkart or Amazon, though a presence on those e-tailers is important as well.”
More encouragement lies in the weekend ahead for food bloggers looking to make the leap from the Web to the wider world. The sky, it seems, is the limit for this rise.
The Indian Food Bloggers’ Meet will be held from 1-2 August at Aloft, Cessna Business Park, Bangalore.