Zenia Irani makes it a point to balance editorial and sponsored posts, almost always highlighting the latter for transparency.
Half a decade ago, over half-a-bottle of wine, Zenia Irani found a name for a blog she runs till date. Branded Bawi depicts her quirky personality and though she writes a tonne about food, gives her the liberty to expand the scope of her content. She tells us more about her days as she juggles between her life as an audiologist and blogger.
Looking back, where did it all begin?
The journey into food writing and blogging began way back in 2009. I contributed to a section called Budget Bites for the Times Food Guide under the guidance of Rashmi Uday Singh. The writing bug bit me then and there was no looking back. I started writing for a few other blogs and websites back then until someone asked me why I don’t have a blog of my own. The blog began in 2014 and it’s been a beautiful five-year-long journey of self-discovery and sharing.
What’s in the name?
The blog was a Valentines Day gift to myself and I came up with the name after guzzling down half a bottle of wine. #TrueStory
I like that the name Branded Bawi shows my personality and quirk. It also does not limit me to a single genre of blogging.
What is your USP in this cluttered space? How does your content give you an edge?
Unlike so many new ‘influencers’ who simply rely on producing content for Instagram, I give equal focus to all platforms. I post regularly on Instagram, Facebook and Twitter, write reviews on Zomato in addition to my blog.
My content is a mixture of food, travel and lifestyle — not restricted to a single genre. I try and keep it as natural as possible, making it feel like a personal diary of sorts.
Please take us through your content creation process. How do you stay relevant and relatable?
It is so important to look at current trends and what is trending on social media. But over and above all of that I try and post consistently without compromising on the quality of posts that go out.
How do you make moolah with your efforts?
The moolah is actually a bare minimum honestly. I do get paid campaigns for Instagram and Twitter, and regularly indulge in them. But because I have a day job which brings money to the table I say no to many brands that I do not believe in or would not like to promote.
How do you maintain editorial objectivity with the influx of brand briefs?
It all boils down to balance. The travel posts on my blog are a mixture of sponsored FAM and self-sponsored trips. (In fact, I think the latter dominates.) Even on Instagram I try and keep a balance posting sponsored and non-sponsored content. Also if a post is sponsored I try and mention that, unless the brand requests otherwise.
One instance/experience that made it all worthwhile
There have been so many beautiful moments over the past five years — some of my closest friends have been via blogging, I’ve learnt a lot and travelled to some wonderful destinations. I also won twice at the Indian Food Bloggers Awards! But one of the happiest moments I can remember was when an 80-year-old patient of mine said she was a regular reader of my blog and follows me diligently.
Weirdest brand brief/request ever
Can’t think of anything at the moment.
If not blogging, you would be?
An audiologist helping people with hearing problems, which is my day job.
A day in your life…
A day in my life is filled with multi-tasking. I used to work as an audiologist in addition to running the blog. I constantly juggle so many tasks at any single time, there’s never a dull moment.
Message/tips for upcoming bloggers
For anyone who has just started to blog, I only ask one question, ‘Why do you want to do this?’ If you are getting into this because you think it’s going to be an easy road to becoming a celeb on social media, or for free meals at restaurants then it saddens me. Write and post because you feel passionate about something — food, travel, beauty, fashion whatever is your calling. Your blog is your identity. Please put up content that you’ll feel proud of. It is okay to make mistakes.
Your Favorite Influencer
There are so many people out there creating some amazing content. But my favourite influencer has got to be Lilly Singh! She truly is a ‘superwoman’ in my eyes — she comes from a humble background, look at the heights she’s reached. Her book taught me to stay true to myself and that life is a constant hustle.
The Future you foresee for your Personal Brand
I moved base to Toronto, Canada last year and it’s been an extremely challenging yet rewarding process. I am focusing on sharing the trials and tribulations any new immigrant faces on Instagram under the hashtag #LifeOfANewImmigrant. I hope to create new content centred on my adopted country, and I hope it helps anyone looking at making a similar move.