Introducing Shumaila…Yet another Inspiring story of a young woman who proved it right that “A journey to success begins only when YOU take the First step towards it”, sometimes it just takes you to an unexplored Destination and brings JOY! Here’s her story…
I got married in 2010 and since my husband was working in the US, moved base to live with him. Thanks to US Visa laws and a remote mining town with no job opportunities for me, I was left with plenty of time on my hand. The initial few months, I felt very unproductive with nothing to do the whole day and I needed something to change that.
Besides not having many job opportunities, another downside of living in a remote mining town is the lack of good restaurants. And that’s how my thing with cooking began – born more out of a necessity than any passion. If we wanted to have something nice or something besides burgers and pizzas, I had to make it.
I had never cooked before marriage. Baking though I always loved. My mom baked a lot and she is pretty good at it. I never helped her though; unless you count eating and appreciating as helping- in that case, I helped her a lot. But I grew up with the smell of freshly baked goods and always loved good food, something that I get from my dad.
So with nothing better to do post marriage, I started experimenting a lot in the kitchen. I had been following two-three blogs then and thought why not start one of my own. July 2010, I started my blog as a place to document my newly married life and a place to store the recipes I was trying, and of course as a way to keep myself busy. For the first five months only 6 people knew about my blog, choosing to keep it that way since the blog was more of a journal for updating my family and close friends about my life and of course a thing for me to keep my mind occupied. Thanks to their encouragement, I made it public and started sharing it with other friends and on social networking sites.
Running a blog does have its own nuances. It takes time and effort both. You really need to have a passion for all of it. Sometimes (actually a lot many times) I get frustrated and have had my share of meltdowns. Sometimes a dish takes longer to make only because I have to photograph each step. And since I always use natural light, finding it in my kitchen isn’t always easy, and I have to shift the setup somewhere else. Having a strong dislike for cleaning dishes doesn’t help either. Most of the times, the props used to serve food for the blog are different from the ones used for cooking the dish, and that means additional utensils getting dirty. If not for the blog, I would definitely be serving food in the pot that it is cooked in, but using that for the blog might not be its most flattering shot. And in the US, unlike India, there is never any help to clean the house or your dishes.
So, if it takes 20 minutes to make a particular dish, taking photographs, getting the props ready and getting the necessary stuff for the shot set up might take an hour. Its not always like that but generally yes, you end up spending double the time. And that can be a little too much effort. Its difficult not to have the thought cross your mind that had it not been for the blog, I would have been free much earlier with all my work. But then again, if it hadn’t been for the blog I would have felt completely unproductive. Something that started as a way to keep me busy has turned out to be such an amazing learning experience. And along the way I discovered so much about my own talents, which probably would have been left unexplored had I a 9 to 5 job in the corporate sector
With blogging and trying recipes, a passion for photography also grew- food photography in particular. Even though I was always the one amongst my friends to carry a camera all the time, I only used it to capture moments spent with my friends and family. My love for food photography only came after I started blogging.
During the initial one and half years of blogging, I used a point and shoot camera, and would photograph at any time of the day. There were a lot of poorly lit photographs. I wouldn’t even bother with composing much. So those photographs were all poorly composed too. As I grew into the blog and learnt a whole new world of food blogs, I got impressed by the talent all these bloggers had and their photographs would have me drooling. I would also look at the photographs on FoodGawker and TasteSpotting (2 very popular food porn sites) and all that inspired me to improve my photography. I started giving more thought to the composition, started shooting during the day- and make use of natural light. I would submit my photos to the above-mentioned sites, only to get rejected. But the rejection is what made me want to improve. I know photography is very subjective- what appeals to you might not appeal to me, but the approval of these sites became a measure on which I improved my photography. Slowly, my photos started getting accepted, and along the way I learnt I really enjoyed the whole process- of composing a shot, choosing props that would make the food pop, the angle and playing with the light. From my savings I also saved up enough to buy a DSLR and learning that became a new hobby.
I also switched to BlueHost as my webhost late 2012 which allowed me to get associated with BlogHer, a blog advertising partner. Blogher, google adsense and a few affiliates have helped me monetize the blog a little and turned the passion to something a little more. I am still not earning that much from the blog to support a living, but enough to keep me creatively going. I have been approached by magazines for my recipes, and have done reviews and articles for certain brands. A few popular food and social sites have also used my food images for their posts. I have also made a couple of blogging friends, and through them have learned a lot. Their encouragement along with the positive response of my readers pushed me to do a course in Cake designing from the Bonnie Gordon College of Confectionary Arts last year. And now I have taken up making fondant cakes, cookies and cupcakes for birthdays and anniversaries on the side.
All in all, the blog has given me an identity besides just being a housewife. Of course now people know me as the Novice Housewife, but that’s ok. I am not complaining.