In conversation with Nikhil Merchant, adjudged Blogger of the Year at the prestigious Living Foodz Powerlist Awards 2016. Food blogger Nikhil Merchant of Nonchalant Gourmand has one piece of advice for all budding bloggers: Stop worrying about followers.
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In conversation with Nikhil Merchant, adjudged Blogger of the Year at the prestigious Living Foodz Powerlist Awards 2016.

Food blogger Nikhil Merchant of Nonchalant Gourmand has one piece of advice for all budding bloggers: Stop worrying about followers.

How I began…

I started cooking at the age of 12, and as the interest grew, I found ways to express my interest in food via other mediums. I was writing a column for DNA when my friend and photographer – Nikita Modi asked me to cook up interesting dishes for her to shoot. She also suggested I start documenting them on this trendy new thing called as ‘blog’. I liked the pairing of her expert photography with my humble writing skills, and we took off from there in the year 2007. The blog is a wonderful medium to showcase both our work and it is indeed a personal space put out there for the public. It’s born out of complete passion and a place to store our memories.

Kick-start kit for a budding blogger…

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A master class in photography – because we eat with our eyes. Impeccable writing skills, a good web developer to start your own portal (or get a free wordpress or blogspot page). Ideally, take the advice of an IT developer before choosing your blogging platform.

Content, followers…where should one focus?

Followers should be the least of your worries. Content is kind. The other most neglected part of blogging is social media – share! Share! Share your work on various social media platforms available to you, it’s the best way to get eyeballs and at the same time draw inspirations.

To build a good blog, you …

Need patience, perseverance, and the willingness to keep an open mind to learn while networking. Decide on a theme – do not try to write on a certain topic just because it is trendy, stay true to your subject and keep at it.

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Four mistakes bloggers should avoid are…

  • There is no such thing as a free meal – you may get away with it once, twice—but you will lose credibility in the long run if you cannot deliver what you promise.
  • Plagiarism – it may seem very tempting to view other bloggers work and copy/paste ideas or themes, but this is unacceptable. Let it rather be a space for your unique experiences, ideas and thoughts.
  • Number counting – Forget the numbers—of followers, subscribers, hits—focus on consistently writing. While it may be important and motivating, remember that some people may be reading you but may not make it obvious that they are.
  • Poor Language – there is no room for unsound language and grammatical errors. Make sure you edit, re-read and structure your posts well. You can cut through the clutter with your sparkling prose.

When reviewing a restaurant…

Dig into the source of your unpleasant experience, speak to the management / brand, allow a chance for them to explain. I’d also recommend visiting places on your own as often as you can.

To monetize blogs, plan to…

Diversifying into other businesses such as consultancy, photography, creative agencies and content marketing. You could also host cooking classes with your own recipes. The world is your oyster and you should totally shuck and eat it for all its worth.

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Advertorials and sponsored posts…
should carry a disclaimer somewhere in the post. The golden rule for advertorials/sponsored posts is that it keeps things ethical and transparent. Make sure you choose your advertising portals sensibly. You don’t want to see an advertisement for diarrhea medicine pop up in your latest recipe post. I have seen that happen, trust me!

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