There’s a popular quote, ‘Choose the job you love and you will never have to work a day in your life’. While there are many who aspire to follow their passion, only a handful make it happen. Chinar Grover, a CA aspirant-turned-food blogger belongs to this tribe.
This 26-year old from Delhi has always had a strong connection with food, and her Instagram handle @foodconnectindia says it all. Her feed on Instagram is filled with mouth-watering shots of food that will leave you hungry. No wonder, she has a huge following on social media, and the numbers are only growing.
As a child, Chinar was influenced by her father who loved exploring new places - from street food to restaurants. She would often accompany him, and that’s what piqued her interest in the art of gastronomy.
“Later, when I was in college, I would go out with friends and observe the little details wherever we went to hang out,” she adds.
On every outing, she would scribble some notes, and write reviews after she was back home. Gradually, she became an ‘encyclopaedia’ of the best food outlets in town, and her friends would ask her for suggestions for eating out.
Incidentally, in 2015, it was her CA coaching instructor who suggested that Chinar starts a blog and an Instagram page. And Chinar was more than happy to share her knowledge and passion for food on a public platform.
In her initial days, when she would go out with friends, she would take photographs on her iPhone, and put it out on Instagram. About Rs.5000 was her monthly investment to ensure a steady stream of content, solely food, on Instagram. After she established herself, she started spending this amount on buying gadgets, building a website and photography to promote her blogging.
But eating out a lot did take a toll on her health. “I didn’t get time to work out much, so my health was affected. But I managed to recover in a while,” says Chinar.
Treading unknown waters
Since blogging was not as popular as a career, Chinar’s parents and friends were apprehensive, and told her to focus on CA, instead of juggling it with blogging. But Chinar continued to spend her leisure time trying out new restaurants, while simultaneously pursuing CA. At the time, her plan was to make blogging a full-fledged career if she can earn well from it. “If food blogging didn’t take off, I’d always have CA as a fallback,” she adds.
After a few years of juggling, she dropped CA and moved to full-time blogging in 2018. While that lasted for about a year, it gave her an opportunity to work in one of her dream companies, Zomato. She is a growth manager at the food delivery and restaurant booking platform.
Content is king
Instead of venturing into all forms of blogging, Chinar wanted to specialise in what she loved the most - food. But she says she will be venturing into travel too; she is set to start her own website soon. “Food will take precedence. It will be more about exploring new food places when I travel,” says Chinar. Currently she writes largely on the food outlets in Delhi-NCR.
Today, food blogging is quite popular among millennials, with the likes of Nandita Iyer, Shagun Malhotra, Saloni Kukreja, and Gunjan Sawheny Chawla having lakhs of followers. But Chinar is picky about her content.
She says, “I was very clear about choosing projects, even when it offered good money. I only go for brands that I relate to. For instance, a brand had asked me to endorse a non-vegetarian item but I refused, because I was a vegetarian at that point. Also, for me creativity is important. If a brand does everything on their own, and doesn't give me the liberty to show my creativity, then it's a big no for me. If I wasn’t convinced of something, I wouldn’t do it, come what may.” She adds that she has got several opportunities that influencers with 200,000 followers would get. “So I would say content really matters; people will take notice eventually.”
In the last few years, blogging has turned into a full-time profession for Chinar. There are many who aspire to be successful in this field but are unsure of the return of investment. “If you create good content, and are in touch with the right people (PR), on an average, you can earn anywhere between Rs 50,000-75,000 permonth,” she says. But at the end of the day, it’s about creating a mix of content - one that you like, and the other that your audience wants to consume.
However, Chinar adds that the drawback with blogging is the lack of surety in timely payments from PRs. “You have to have savings to pay your bills,” says Chinar, who has a full-time job at Zomato.
“When you do something you love, it fills you with confidence. Most people I know, at my age, are just going about doing desk jobs, even if they aren’t too interested in what they do,” she says.
With her interest in social issues, Chinar also works with an NGO that promotes women empowerment. “I also plan to promote that on my website, since I am already an influencer. I want to give back to society in my own way,” she concludes.
(Edited by Athira Nair)