One thing that kept most of us from drowning in boredom during the lockdowns was online content. OTT platforms, social media sites such as YouTube, Facebook, Snapchat, Instagram, etc. became our chief modes of entertainment. It also gave millions of people a chance to become content creators and showcase their talent.
Around the same time, Kolkata-born and US based Mish Sen gave up her full-time consulting job in March 2020 and became a food instagrammer. Since then, she has been wowing people with her simple Indian recipes. Mish tells us, @eatswithmish, her Instagram food page was launched during the lockdown to help those people who were struggling to get their favourite dishes amidst the COVID-19 outbreak.
Mish focuses on healthy versions of all our favourite Indian dishes with some treats and indulgences thrown in for good measure. She believes that food should be delectable but also nutritious, helping us to nurture our bodies and minds in an optimal manner. In this healthy (or healthier) way of eating, there is room for treats without drowning in guilt. After all, life is all about balance and one should not look at food as simply good or bad but in terms of the choices that we make which bring us pleasure and enhance our health and longevity.
Her mission is to help people to cook Indian food in a healthier way. Food which is simple, efficient and delicious to boot! Her page sums it all up via its tagline—Tasty. Healthy. Easy.
Mish is one among a plethora of bloggers and content creators who are tasting success with their content and she plans to take it to the next level with the addition of online cookbooks and courses. In an exclusive interview with SME Futures, Mish opens up on her love for food and the journey of becoming an online creator.
Edited Excerpts Tell us something about yourself. How will you describe yourself?
Born and raised in Calcutta (now Kolkata), I learned to appreciate food from an early age. In my family, cooking was everything. When I was a child, I would stand in the kitchen and watch my grandmother whip together the most incredible gourmet dishes, all without fancy equipment and all from memory referring to no cookbook or notes at any time. When I was in college, I started to learn the culinary arts in earnest, studying under my grandmother.
Coming to the US to attend graduate school, I missed my favourite dishes from back home, so I started undertaking these cooking adventures in the limited time that I had available. Before long, I became confident enough to host dinner parties as well as tweak a few recipes to my taste and was met with success. Since 2018, I have been an Indian cooking consultant at my local community education centre offering my insight and mentorship to local residents.
I am an English teacher-turned digital marketer-turned food blogger! And I actually use both my teaching and digital marketing skills for my food blog, and they help me a lot! After all these years, I feel confident enough to teach others about the joys of Indian cooking through my food blog, focusing on dishes that are simple, straightforward, and fast. I think of cooking as something that everyone ought to be able to learn and enjoy. I know how busy life can get, and I understand that at the end of the day, it is about creating something delicious to eat!
On my social media handles (@EatswithMish) and my blog www.eatswithmish.com, you will find the recipes that I love most. A major foodie, I have drawn inspiration from my mother’s and grandmother’s culinary sensibilities, emphasizing on healthy versions of all our favourite Indian dishes with some treats and indulgences thrown in for good measure.
Your profile displays easy Indian recipes, and in a short span you have gained around 27K followers, how do you feel? Are you going to explore other cuisines?
I feel great! It has been an incredible journey so far and it is a wonderful feeling to see that so many people actually find my content valuable enough to want to see more of it. I sometimes throw in dishes from other cuisines, like Continental, American, Chinese or Thai but my core content will always focus on Indian food.
How does a typical day unfold for you as a food blogger?
It varies a bit from day to day but on an average day my mornings begin with answering DMs and replying to comments from my followers, then engaging with other content creators’ posts. I then post my content for the day.
Next, I will start preparing either a concept for my next shoot or if I already have everything prepared, I will start shooting. That takes a bit of time. I also spend time reading up on several social media blogs and seeing what I can implement in the future. Additionally, I will head over to the Reels tab and seek inspiration for future Reels and also find awesome creators to follow.
To be a strong digital creator you must know what trends are happening, and what techniques/ strategies can be adopted that will delight the audience. I also spend some time creating the digital products that I will be launching. So, as you can see, it’s a pretty full day!
You gave up your job as a consultant to be a full-time content creator. Was it an easy decision?
Actually, it was! I loved being a digital marketing consultant but when the pandemic hit, and things went kind of awry, I decided one day that I need to just take the plunge without weighing the pros and cons. As a brand-new content creator, the future looked very uncertain, and I decided to take a leap of faith and just get started and I am so glad that I did! My first post was on March 24th, 2020.
Take us through your ideation process? What are the preparations that you do for creating content?
Ideas come from a variety of things. Firstly, staying true to my mission of providing easy Indian recipes, I think of recipes that I can prepare simply and make them healthier. I also take polls and questions on what my audience is looking for and they tell me what they want to see on my feed. I also get DMs with requests which I execute.
Which video or videos are your favourite that you enjoyed creating the most?
I actually love creating Reels on Instagram. They are incredibly challenging, but I love that challenge! You have to tell a whole story in 15 to 30 seconds or as in my case provide a whole recipe in an engaging way- it’s a skill and I am trying to improve each day. Reels are a wonderful way to improve one’s editing and storytelling skills.
Who is your favourite content creator that inspires you?
These are my absolute favourite content creators—@cookingwithayeh and @pinchofyum. They are amazing storytellers, and their content is supremely engaging. Additionally, they share a lot of tips about content creation selflessly which I truly admire. Very few creators in my opinion share things like that generously.
You are also an author and have launched a cookbook and are also working on a mini e-cooking course. Please update us on that.
Yes, I launched my first limited edition cookbook in the States in November 2020 and released it locally. I am working on a kindle version of that book with additional recipes. And I am also working on a simple e-cooking course that will help novice cooks feel more confident in the kitchen.
How has the landscape for content creators changed in recent times?
It is super competitive now and you have to bring a lot more than just your basic skills to the table. You have to learn a good deal of technology and keep up with the new features Instagram or the platform you are on, introduces. Engaging with your followers in a meaningful way is very important and you have to find various ways of doing so. You also have to understand your audience well and serve them with excellent and valuable content.
Luckily, my experience of trolling has been minimal! I had one person who was being annoying during a live session once and another time I received a DM that was a bit rude. Nothing more other than that.
But I know it’s there and it happens a lot. In fact, I have seen awful comments on other creators’ live sessions and feed comments, and I have literally been stunned that people can be so mean.
See, in my opinion, people feel very bold hiding behind a computer screen because they can be anonymous. It is a form of bullying and it’s very wrong. It is one of the hazards of being a public figure. My request to all of you out there is that when you see trolling happening during live sessions and negative comments being posted, say something, do not be quiet. Support your creator and stand up for her/him.
This year I will release my book and my course. And then yes, I will expand to YouTube (hopefully), and also launch my website!
Any advice for women who want to follow their passion and create content?
I would say, just start!
First, understand what your niche is and then just start. And refine yourself as you go along. There is never a perfect time to start with exactly everything in place. It is better to start first and then improve your skills as you go along. But once you start, you have to be really committed in order to succeed. And don’t compare yourself to anyone else or you will begin to be overwhelmed. Yes, competitive research is important but be inspired by the competition, don’t feel inadequate. You can do this!