Mumbai is a magical place.
People who come here with small dreams stay put here to grow them bigger. Something very similar was the case with Kalyan Karmakar.
He has been awarded FBAI’s “Best Food Blogger” award for 4 consecutive times since its inception. He was also dubbed as the “Power Blogger of the Year” by Godrej Protekt. He creates purely authentic content on his website and has some impressive number of followers who he interacts with thoroughly.
This hearty foodie originally belongs to Kolkata but chose to settle down in Mumbai for good.
- He blogs at Finely Chopped and is a regular contributor for NDTV Food, The Times of India, DailyO (India Today) and The Indian Express.
- Not only is he the author of the highly acclaimed Book “The Travelling Belly” but also part of the jury for the Living Foodz Epicurean Awards.
His association with Food and writing go back a long way to his childhood and his growing up years. And like a beautiful bottle of wine, his passion for food has only grown better and stronger with time. required a lot of travelling and this lets him explore his passion even more. His enthusiasm for food showed in all mundane discussions with his wife and she convinced him to start his own food blog. Finally, Finely Chopped was born. He started sharing his food journey including food haunts and walks around the city, for food lovers spread across the globe.
Years after, struggling between a full-time job and part-time blogging, he took the leap of faith. He left his Job in 2013 and solely started writing full time for his own blog.
This vibrant influencer decided to pen down his travelogue for his readers to enjoy just recently. It’s wonderful how well he has used his marketing acumen in understanding what his clients have in mind. Call it coincidence or sheer street smartness, he has used both his passions, writing and food, to grow organically. He has recently started a series named “ #EveryBiteMatters ”, discussing the places his obsession for food takes him to. “Chatting with your mouth full” is another such endeavour, where he has lively FB sessions with other prominent food Bloggers and discusses mutual love for food.
PagePotato started a series named “Influencer Speaks”, where we aim to bring in Influencers on board with us. This series will focus on knowing influencer journeys closely and understanding their viewpoints. They will share their insights on how to grow in the digital medium in today’s date and age.
Kaylan is the first Influencer to start with. We asked him a couple of questions and he was happy to answer them for us and our viewers.
Piyuesh: Tell us about your journey so far starting from a blogger to now India’s top listed food influencer. We would love to know the marketing aspect of your journey.
Kalyan: I never started with the intention of becoming an Influencer, it happened with time. I have always loved food, every aspect of it. And the writing was something that I have been doing since childhood. I started my career after my MBA as a market researcher and some brief stint with advertising agencies, here in Mumbai.
Blogging started about 10-10.5 years ago, in 2007. After a good couple of years, I reached the inevitable middle management in the company. Things started seeming monotonous even though I was very competent at work, winning awards, visiting seminars and all.
During those days, I didn’t have many friends to hang out with and those used to be the Orkut days, so I became active there. I wrote about restaurants and recipes that I enjoyed, in a very organic manner for people to enjoy. Then my Wife suggested the idea of starting a blog, it was a very new concept back then. She was the one who named it Finely Chopped, because I would review restaurants and recipes etc. on the blog.
The initial days were very critical but my love for writing kept me going. And gradually my blog became more like my dairy, including things I do on a daily basis. I believe blogging comes easily to me because it was spontaneous and non-pretentious, including regular aspects of things I do and enjoy. And then gradually Facebook and Twitter came in and I learned the nuances and started sharing on those platforms as well.
I have never done any commercial marketing for my Blogs, apart from the occasional experimentation with AdWords. I do my promotions by sharing it on social media platforms. Earlier, we bloggers used to comment on each other’s blogs which isn’t the case anymore. It was meant to be a hobby and then social media played its magic and things worked out. 2013 I took a break from research and stated food writing. It was a confusing time and out of the blue, the Editor called up to say the proposal was on and asked me to start writing. And a year later Travelling Belly was published. Meanwhile, I did consulting jobs with brands and Newspapers. I left my freelancing job just before my book was about to come out.
Piyuesh: How do Brands approach you and how do they gauge your credibility or effectiveness?
Kalyan: The discussions are primarily led by agencies and not by clients.Though two of my largest projects so far were initiated by the end client.I have rarely come across mass media agencies, most of the agencies are digital agencies. There can be times when the Influencer and the client discuss directly. In times like these, it becomes difficult for the influencer to understand the perspective of the Client. My experience in marketing has come very handily in this aspect. Sometimes the agency says what strategy would be better or the influencer would suggest some groundwork that might help. The deliverables are listed out and the cost is mentioned.
Coming to effectiveness, agencies ask to share blog statistics. A very common approach is to share a screenshot to have that transparency. Depending on the client, there could be a quantitative metrics or a qualitative metrics to be considered.
Piyuesh: Can you please share an example of a campaign where you got a poor response to a professional endorsement and why?
Kalyan: In the agency world, when they make a pitch for a client, it includes the creative, the circulation, the TRP etc. But that is not how I work lately, I work with a creative strategic point of view. I commit to the creative output and where I put it up. I convey the message my client wants to convey. I usually do not have those issues. I haven’t got into the media effectiveness of this aspect and stick to the creative aspect of the business. For now, the agencies take care of these altercations. I would tell about my blog stats, but don’t guarantee. This is because anything that is client related gets lesser traction than something that is organic.
Piyuesh: 3 Key things which most of the budding influencers are doing it wrong in influencer marketing today?
Kalyan: Not really for me to comment. I would talk about things I wouldn’t do-
- I wouldn’t appreciate coming across someone who is trying too hard. That sense of desperation shows to your audience and that’s a turn-off. Do something that you enjoy organically and stay consistent.
- Find your own voice, that will set you apart from the crowd.
- Be transparent. Tell your audience which blogs are organic and which are paid content. It becomes easier to connect with your audience when you are transparent.
Pallavi(Participant): How to plan ahead of time? How to manage that consistency you mentioned earlier?
Kalyan: Every person has a different approach to this.
- Having a schedule is a best practice usually suggested, I won’t deny that.
- To me personally my blogging is about my daily life, like my diary. Every blog I write is about what’s happening in my life. Luckily for me, it has a lot to deal with food, travel and people I meet. A blog should reflect the style of the person writing it.
- Not down your targets and check regularly how far away you are from it.
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