Pakistani Food Blogger-s and Influencers are on the rise, and why not? After all, Pakistanis are very serious about their food. How can we not be? The aroma of Biryani, Haleem and Kulfi are enough to ensnare our senses. We are a country with the most diverse and tasty dishes in the world, owing to the variety of spices and condiments we inherited from our ancestors.
In the past, food enthusiasts- both reviewers and cooks sought opportunities in the media to showcase their passion. The legendary Kokab Khwaja, Zubaida Aapa and Chef Zakir would be seen on TV and print magazines- the ones our moms would read cover to cover. As time went by, social media took an important place in our lives, and food enthusiasts in Pakistan started their own blogs.
We talked to one such person who turned her love for food into a solid blogging career and has received praise not only from Pakistan. But from all around the world. Riffat, popularly known as ‘Girl Gotta Eat’ is one of the most popular food bloggers in Pakistan. One scrolling spree on her Facebook is enough to make you star-eyed over the amazing delicacies of Pakistan.
Riffat is based in Karachi, and we are quite impressed at her food discoveries around the city. Moreover, Girl Gotta Eat is also partnering with like-minded brands for influencer marketing campaigns, which is a success story in itself for niche-related markets.
Without further delay, let’s talk about how Riffat became a top food blogger in Pakistan:
Tell us a little about yourself. When did you start blogging/vlogging?
R: I grew up reading classics and was always fond of storytelling. I did my undergrad in film-making and journalism to take my love for narratives to a more visual medium. Simultaneously, I would write for Dawn, Tribune and did a piece for BuzzFeed India.
Blogging & Vlogging happened accidentally. It had been 2 years since I graduated. I picked up my camera after a really long time and did a short video on “Churro Icecream Sandwiches”. The video had no mention of my name or my branding but when I looked at the comments and how well it was received, I thought I should make another video, and then another – and so on. That’s how GirlGottaEat began.
Is it full-time work or do you have a day job too?
R: I was working at a startup as a Social Media Manager. I had a day job up until last January, but GirlGottaEat has been my full-time for over a year now. Even though when I took the plunge, a lot of things were up in the air and I had no business plan, things are more settled now and I have more faith.
Since many of you ask us how to start a blog, we took some guidance from Riffat on which devices she used when starting out and how did she edit her videos.
What apps and platforms you use to create content and maintain your blog?
R: I started with Instagram initially, posting daily but it was when I started a Facebook page did my work get traction. I shoot with Canon 80D, use a Rode Mic for audio, edit in Adobe Premiere but some beginner tools were phone apps like Splice for video editing.
We hope it is clear to you that devices and platforms don’t matter as long as you keep going and make interesting content for the right target audience.
What was the main inspiration behind GirlGottaEat?
R: The main inspiration was the thought that when you look at food, you mostly aren’t thinking about what nutrients or macros it has but how it makes you feel. I wanted to capture that on video while keeping it organic without bringing in an artificial set or food styling. Food needs to be messy. It needs to stir something. The inspiration for the format of my videos was Insider Food.
How do you stay motivated and focused, especially when work/life requires more attention?
R: I just love the fact that at least for now my work and my passion is basically one. I love eating out, meeting people and investing in myself – starting GirlGottaEat has allowed me to do all of this and call it to work.
However, when there are challenges – what keeps me motivated is going back to where it started it all. Thinking about all the food in Karachi that needs to be talked about – you can never really stay demotivated for long.
Three ground rules you always follow when creating content
R: It has to be relevant to somebody who enjoys watching or having food. If I create a video and spend the entire time just filming the restaurant’s ambiance, it won’t really be relevant or engaging for a huge no. of people.
– It needs to be informative. Will somebody learn anything new after watching the video?
– It has to be shareable. I’m always trying to think from the perspective of a viewer. Does this video convince me to tag my friends?
Here is a question we were impatient to ask Riffat from the day we saw her BTS videos of food prep in various restaurants:
How do you get permission to shoot kitchen videos?!
R: When the videos are in partnership with a brand, getting permission to shoot in the kitchen is easy. 😀
Have you faced trolls? How do you handle troublemakers on the web?
R: Yes, a few! I find trolls really amusing and sometimes, also helpful. If somebody is just hating – I kind of go towards the blocking route. If somebody is throwing shade, I respond with GIFs and if somebody actually points out a specific reason why they don’t like something, I try to take care of that in my next video.
Want to share an event/a memory that reconstructed your faith in blogging/vlogging?
R: No particular event but I LOVE reading comments from people in the US, Canada, India etc who talk about how looking at all these videos makes them want to come to Karachi. ????
I recently did a food tour in Lahore and a lot of people from Karachi were tagging their friends and planning trips to Lahore. These are honestly the best reactions and make you want to keep going.
Best campaign you have worked for?
R: Karachi Eat! It’s a little stressful to shoot because food festivals tend to be chaotic but I really liked the stuff that came out of it.
And the hot chocolate videos I have done for FLOC.
Why food blogging? You have also started girlgottaexplore and girlgottashop, what’s with the separate accounts?
R: GirlGottaEat has a dedicated fanbase of people who are into food and I think it’s not a good idea to host non-food content here for now.
Explore and Shop started because I eat out too much and I need to motivate myself to do other things in life. (We get you, R!)
Following are the Key takeaways from her journey thus far
So there you go. Riffat really makes the whole journey seem like a piece of cake (pun intended). We have some key takeaways for budding bloggers looking to grow their blogs/channels:
- Stay motivated. Your work is your real motivator
- Start small, and stay consistent. Eventually, great things with happen
- When creating content, think of the target audience and not the entire internet population
- Passion will guide you. Be it fashion, sports, fitness or art- follow your heart
- Turn a deaf ear to the haters and trolls, they don’t matter
We also asked Riffat for her advice to beginners and enthusiasts.
What would you tell a person who’s about to start their own food blog/channel?
R: Don’t be intimidated by the content that is out there already. Pick anything of interest that is calling out to you and think: If I were to describe it to a friend, what would I say? Then, click publish.
We hope you like this interview. Which influencer do you want us to interview next? Tell us in the comments section below.