Kimia Kalbasi (@kimiaskravings) is taking on the New York food scene one Instagram at a time. Her advice to budding bloggers? Make it happen for yourself. In between delicious meals at the city’s hot spots and trips to exotic places, Kimia answered some of our questions about what it takes to make it as an influencer.
I worked a full-time corporate job while growing my brand on the side. Whether it was attending networking events, traveling on press trips to amplify content, drafting posts, emailing brands and publicists, pitching myself, running around to restaurants for media visits, shoots, meetings, client calls, collaborating with other influencers, learning more about the industry, or joining relevant panels and discussion groups, I did everything I could to become a business-minded influencer.
I was trying to keep up as much as I could, but it got to the point where it felt like I was juggling two full-time jobs — a demanding corporate job while launching my empire. I felt I was stretching myself too thin and wasn’t dedicating myself to either, and exceeding both my mental and emotional capacity. From there, I had to decide to focus solely on my job and treat blogging as a hobby or take the risk to dive in full-throttle and make it as a rising influencer. Spoiler alert: I couldn’t be happier with my decision.
I have tons of fun facts to share! Right off the bat — it’s funny because people have told me they thought I had been doing this full-time for the last year and a half. However, I only started pursuing this career full-time a couple of months ago. I have a tech sales background and I worked a corporate job since I graduated college. How I got started is a super long story, but I’d love to share that another time!
Spark Notes version, and #TBT to humble beginnings, in a nutshell, I always loved documenting my experiences and day-to-day via social media, whether it was dining, traveling, hanging out with friends, etc. When I started freelancing for an online food/travel publication (a whole other story), I was able to create more content of all the cool places I was invited to, and from there, I had a friend ask me one day, “Kimia, why don’t you start a blog?” That’s when the light bulb lit up, and I decided to convert my personal social channel into a niche platform for food. Before doing so, I already had some sort of following (a little less than 2K from what I recall) so I figured, why not build up the following I already have from there. I STILL have the notes on my phone from when I was brainstorming ideas like “The Hungry Heart” or “Feelz 4 Meals” (LOL) and then my cousin suggested, “Kimia’s Kravings” because not only is alliteration my favorite literary device (#nerdalert), but she explained, “As you grow, you can go into other verticals too so it doesn’t apply solely to food.” Since then, I’ve expanded into travel and lifestyle content and dipped my toes in the health and fitness world as well.
Blogging was a fun hobby and side gig for me until it got to the point where I could monetize as I grew. Although you can decipher a lot from social media, there are facets you’ll never know, like the blood, sweat, tears, and hustle that goes into building a brand. Outsiders will never truly grasp and understand this because they only see the glitzy, glamorous aspect.
Without a doubt, my phone! It’s how I stay on top of my emails as I’m constantly on the go, keeping track of my schedule of meetings, appointments, and events. Also, even more importantly, a feel-good attitude to seize the day. 🙂 No matter how tough the going gets, I’ve discovered that my optimistic outlook has guided me to keep going, and it’s been like that for as long as I can remember. Wake up, feel good, and show up. That’s how I would describe a quintessential day in the life.
Make it happen for yourself. Don’t wait around to get approached! Don’t be afraid to reach out and introduce yourself whether it’s via email, through a connection, at an event, etc. People get scared and intimidated to reach out or introduce themselves, but remember, what’s the worst that could happen? In an ideal world, brands would reach out to influencers for opportunities left and right, (#wishfulthinking) but it doesn’t work like that — especially in the beginning. Meet as many people as you can, tell your story, and have fun while you’re doing it! If you’re not having fun throughout the process, what’s the point? Inevitably, there will be ups and downs, but as long as you keep yourself up, the burns won’t hurt as bad.
This attitude creates a domino effect and people you’ve never met will approach you. Be sure to brand yourself and come prepared with credible numbers to back yourself up. In this oversaturated market of niche influencers, brands need to understand WHY they should work with you beyond the fact that you have 100K followers. So what? Provide your audience insights, demographic info, and other statistics in a media kit to make yourself marketable and show your value. Side note: I actually create media kits for other bloggers if anyone ever needs one or doesn’t know where to start!
Hmmm..that’s a great question! I have a “Brand Wish List” which is a compilation of brands that I would love to work with now or down the line as I grow. Currently, as I travel a lot for press trips, I’d LOVE to work with Away [Luggage]. I’ve reached out to them a few times and have yet to nail ‘em down, so it’s definitely a challenge I’ve accepted, but I’ll keep going until I earn the opportunity to work with them.