Ritika Betala wants Foodies of India to be the go-to destination for anything people wish to know about their city in regards to food.
Foodies of India is a space created by Ritika Betala, where she collates her efforts to break the stereotype that vegetarian food is boring. On her page, she talks about restaurants as well as homemade recipes. Betala is a vegetarian by choice and wants to help people realise that such food is available everywhere.
Looking back, where did it all begin?
It started 6.5 years ago, when I had the opportunity of getting a blind lunch date with Rashmi Uday Singh, and I wanted to share the experience with friends and family and began the journey of Foodies of India!
What’s in the name?
Initially, I had started this with the aim for sharing my love for Indian food with my friends abroad, right after undergrad, so I wanted the word “India” in it, along with the word ‘food’. As I was brainstorming and looking at what was available — I landed on foodies of India, which struck a chord with me, as I wanted to create a platform where all foodies in India can share their experiences and learnings about food via #foodiesofindia.
What is your USP in this cluttered space? How does your content give you an edge?
Being a vegetarian by choice, I have always wanted to break the stereotype that vegetarian food is boring! On my page — @foodiesofindia, I talk about vegetarian food/restaurant openings in Mumbai as well as easy and quick homemade recipes that my mother cooks. Apart from that, another thing that I talk about is how vegetarian food can be easy to find during your travels — a myth because of which a lot of Indians restrict themselves to travel to a lot of places, especially in SE Asia.
Please take us through your content creation process. How do you stay relevant and relatable?
I’m always looking for inspiration — I get it from conversations with people around me, discussions in news and mostly — Instagram! I go by a theme (and try to stick to it as much as possible), so right now the theme is summer. I am looking for different things that remind us of summer, especially from our childhood. So, I have a content bank that I create for a weekly basis the theme that I have and post about it accordingly on stories and post. However, it does happen that sometimes I have to post things that might not be relevant to the theme or only closely related as it’s a collaboration or the need of the hour.
How do you make moolah with your efforts?
Honestly, in the food industry, it’s been a little difficult for me to get paid collaborations until the last few months. Whereas in the beauty/lifestyle space, brands are willing to go all out and shell out a whole lot of money in comparison to the brands in the food industry. I don’t work only on collaboration, reviews or invites — if there is a brand or experience I have really enjoyed on my own, I will talk about it on my pages, as the end motive is to share the love of food with others and not only those brands/restaurants who want to collaborate with you.
How do you maintain editorial objectivity with the influx of brand briefs?
The key is to stay relevant, after posting for about 6 years, I have understood that a certain type of image or video works better with the kind of audience I have. So, I try to keep the language, image, graphics to a minimum, plain and simple to understand, so there is a connect.
For e.g.: a lot of people think that because we are collaborating with a brand, we will be talking all flowers about the experience, its products etc., I try to keep it short and sweet, as we have all gotten into a habit of excessive scrolling through Instagram, whereas most of us don’t even scroll through the images in a carousel or caption in the ‘read more’ section, but just wanted to scroll through our feed as we are obsessed and addicted (the latter part is me!)
One instance/experience that made it all worthwhile
There’s many that happened to me, however, when I went to Varanasi recently, I met up with a fellow blogger from the city and she told me that she had started blogging because of my page and looked up to me for inspiration! I didn’t know how to react, she introduced me to her parents, and was a wonderful guide to the mystical city and I was in awestruck trying to figure out if this is all a dream or the reality I have been dreaming of!
Weirdest brand brief/request ever
Wow, I don’t know where to begin. But I’ll go with the latest instance that happened where they wanted me to diss a competitor brand straight up. I was not okay with that, as I didn’t want to spark any controversy or hate comments, so I spoke to them and figured out a solution for it, we ended up collaborating anyways. This was reassuring for me, as I realized that they were working with me for a reason.
If not blogging, you would be?
I would be eating my way through every day — just not blogging about it. And probably exercising a little bit more than I do now, so I can eat just a little bit more!
A day in your life…
No one day is alike, but that’s what I love most about it — I also have a full-time job in marketing in media and I blog through the day and night when I get the time away from work. You will find me during my breaks, trying to study and understand how the posts have performed, just getting a download on my newsfeed with the current topics and what other bloggers are doing/talking about (stalking for a few ha-ha!). I try to go out to eat in the evenings or during the day on weekends, but the one thing I do every evening without fail is to go for a 6-8 km walk with my mother where we catch up with what happened throughout the day, and we also use this time to brainstorm for upcoming posts and ideas for my feed on foodiesofindia.
Message/tips for upcoming bloggers
Try to understand your niche, what you really like and are passionate about and let that reflect through the work you do. Don’t thrive to work just for “collabs/reviews/invites” when you are beginning, if you are good at what you do. Try to be original and connect with the audience, take the time to understand and analyze what your followers like — the time to post, the type of image, the colours you use, the food/subject of the image — you are blessed to have such a great feedback mechanism provided by Instagram for you guys. Make use of the resources to understand where you are, what your audiences want and how you want to get there!
Your Favorite Influencer
There’s a lot of them in India and globally! However, to name a few, For food styling, I really look up to @allaboutthatpalate – Alok Verma, for food around the city – @foodofmumbai’s Saloni- she has come such a long way and has done things at the right time in the right way! I really enjoy their work!
The Future you foresee for your Personal Brand
Few years down the line — I want for all food enthusiasts, food lovers and fanatics to be associated with the term #foodiesofindia, where they are using the #hashtag to share their experiences and stories of how food has gotten them to a particular place/time/connected with certain people. I also want to work towards foodies of India to be the go-to destination for anything you want to know around what’s happening in your city, what are the latest openings and must-haves when visiting a place. I am going to try my level best to balance work and blogging life, so I can work toward achieving this goal!