The recipe for a successful food blog is as full of nuances as a delicacy whipped up by a master chef. Behind the delectable pictures of gourmet food and savoury words is hard work and a burning passion for the craft. And Soham Sinha knows how to combine both.
One of Kolkata’s most sought-after food bloggers with an Instagram following of 101K and counting, Soham is a former student of South Point High School who studied law at Heritage Law School before taking up food blogging as a full-time job.
Soham tells Edugraph how he found his passion and what he does to stay on top as a social media influencer.
Edugraph: Soham, your Instagram handle Kolkatadelites is a treasure trove of food stories! Tell us how you got into food blogging…
Soham Sinha: I got some free time after my Class X board exams from South Point School and decided to do something out of the box. One day it suddenly struck me that food blogging could be a good option in Kolkata as nobody was doing it. However, I didn’t get much pocket money back then and could only afford to visit an eatery once a week. I used to click pictures of the food but didn’t know where to put them. Then I came across Zomato and put the review of one restaurant up on the site — that’s how it all started.
You studied to be a lawyer. What made you leave that career for food blogging?
Soham: I was posting reviews on Zomato even after my admission to Heritage Law College under Calcutta University in 2015. After posting more than 100 reviews on Zomato, I got a call from a restaurant asking me to review their food. Soon after, I started getting regular calls from other eateries.
My experience with Zomato inspired me to concentrate on Instagram. A restaurant asked me to do a paid review when I gained 7,000-8,000 followers. After a while, I started getting more calls. By my third year in college, I was not only helping brands promote themselves through my page but also curating good content, food photographs and ambience pictures for their social media. I went on to win Best Food Blogger Award (Best Food Instagram category) organised by Sidd’s Hospitality and Candid Communications, for two consecutive years in 2019 and 2020.
After my final year, I practised in Calcutta High Court for two months but soon realised that it was impossible to juggle law and food blogging. I eventually opted for my passion — of being a food blogger and an influencer.
You started off with creating content on food but now travel is also a part of it. What are you aiming to do?
Soham: I have always been keen on curating content related to travel and food. Travelling was rather costly when I started out and that’s why I began creating content in the area of food. But for the last one and a half years, I have been focusing more on food-inspired travel to guide people on the kind of local delicacies they could consume while travelling within a specific region. We were recently in Gujarat thanks to a collaboration with the Ministry of Tourism under the Government of Gujarat. We went on a trip for seven days and covered the Rann Utsav.
You have over 101K followers on Instagram. What do you think is the best way to retain such a following?
Soham: I created my Instagram profile in 2013 but became proactive only around 2015. It usually takes around a couple of years to understand what the audience wants. My target audience is basically those who are in their 20s to 50s.
First, you have to understand what your audience demands. You might be getting direct messages (DMs) from them in terms of what they want to see. Second, you also need to keep tabs on what content is actually reaching out to people through the number of shares, saves and likes. Third, you have to be very consistent with the type of content you are generating. Finally, you have to understand the algorithm of Instagram.
What kind of camera do you use to create content?
Soham: Initially, I had a simple phone camera to click pictures. After a while, I bought a Canon camera and used it for two to three years. However, I have again come back to the phone camera as it’s easy to handle and control.
There was another reason behind this shift. The type of content that could be generated from the camera was much better than the clicks on my phone camera. But those pictures were making my profile look like a photography profile, which I was not very keen on. I feel the phone can be the main weapon with which somebody can start off as a content creator in the field of food.
You have to understand what your audience demands and also need to keep tabs on what content is actually reaching out to people through the number of shares, saves and likes.- Soham Sinha
Your videos often give us a glimpse of the activities going on inside kitchens. How does that help you engage with your audience?
Soham: This has to do something with the crowd. People love to know what’s going on inside heritage restaurants and cafes in Kolkata. I had to get permission from restaurant authorities to enter their kitchens and capture the entire process. Capturing how a product is being manufactured generates interest in a lot of audiences who might be keen on knowing the recipe.
Are there specific points that you keep in mind when taking food pictures?
Soham: We have editors who take care of the post-production process. Sometimes videos are shot for almost 15 minutes and we have to trim them down. Every dish has its own angle and my aim is to capture that. For instance, if it’s a plate of biryani, it has to be a side shot. If you are clicking a chicken steak with sauté vegetables and mashed potato, it has to be a top shot.
Do you research a place before you visit it? Can you take us through how you shoot the videos?
Soham: If it’s a new restaurant, then we don’t have any idea about the place and the kind of food it serves — we need to improvise and create content on the spot. But if it’s an old restaurant or cafe, we know something about it.
However, I feel a place has nothing to do with its history because everything changes over time. Creating content is not really pre-decided because we do not know the crowd and the situation when we visit an eatery.
What kind of editing style and software work best for food blogging?
Soham: For Kolkatadelites — my personal page — all the content for the past one and a half years has been clicked on the phone. I use an iPhone 11 and do the editing on the phone itself. For photo editing, I recommend three apps: the normal phone editor, Snapseed and Adobe Lightroom.
For videos, I would suggest Inshot or Adobe Premiere Pro. If someone is comfortable editing in any other app, it’s absolutely fine as long as they don’t change the ethos of the video. For short-duration food videos, transitions play a great role in upping your reach. Edited shots of pouring, dripping and plating shots work well for the audience.
How do you use what’s trending on Instagram to push your content?
Soham: This too has to do with apps. I have been part of the Instagram media partnership programme ‘Born on Instagram’. We have been provided with partner managers on Instagram who send us weekly trending songs and things that actually help us post videos. They also help us in curating content and making it go viral.
You need to put in a lot of effort and create good content to become viral on social media. At the same time, you need to be familiar with trending things like hashtags and songs because they would give you a better leverage.
How can one get in touch with you for internships?
Soham: Anyone can send me a CV if they are willing to join my team or create content. They are always welcome. It’ll be a paid internship. For us, it’s not about creating content for our page only as we also create content for other brands. My email id and WhatsApp number are synced with my Instagram profile.