Nosheen Babar has been living overseas in Ocean Springs, Mississippi, a small coastal town along the Gulf Coast Of Mexico, for over 17 years. Always passionate about cooking, she got more involved once the pandemic started. As we all saw, the lockdown resulted in people spending more time at home – some took up cooking as a hobby whilst others experimented with their culinary skills.
When you live overseas, many of us miss our wonderful Pakistani cuisine. As Nosheen tells us
I would have a hard time finding an authentic recipe from Pakistan and often thought of starting a blog.
Women have been performing spectacularly in the startup space, and we are so inspired. Interested to find out more, we asked Nosheen to share with us her journey towards establishing her own blog called Untold Recipes by Nosheen, where she is a recipe developer, recipe writer, and food photographer. Let’s have a look at what she has to share with us!
1 ) Please tell us a bit about yourself. What was the biggest motivator for you when you started your food blog?
I’ve always enjoyed cooking and trying new recipes, be it for Pakistani food, desserts, or other types of cuisines. I’d often find a recipe I liked but ended up tweaking it to my taste buds, the ingredients, or the technique, hence the self-learned “recipe development” skills.
Often in looking for recipes, I found that the blogging market is saturated with bloggers of Indian origin, but there are much fewer Pakistani bloggers in the business. I would have a hard time finding an authentic recipe from Pakistan and often thought of starting a blog.
I’ve often been asked to share my recipes and, on occasion, have seen interest from people in the community where I live for cooking lessons. When the pandemic started, I was cooking more myself, as was everyone else. I found myself joining online recipe sharing groups and saw a surge in interest for cooking and recipes in general and a good response to what I shared. I had thought of starting a blog in the past as something I wanted to do, and the timing was just right, and here I am.
2) What do you enjoy most about running your company?
I’m doing something I love, which is not something many people can say about their career choice. When you’re genuinely passionate about something, it really doesn’t seem like work.
That being said, I’m learning tons of new skills and finding talents I didn’t know I had. I do all my own photography, research, content writing and develop and manage my own website. It’s a wonderful feeling of accomplishment to start a career at my age, learn all these new skills, and navigate today’s highly technical environment.
It’s also enriching to have people contact you and say they love your recipes and website and share their pictures of what they’ve cooked from the blog. I get to constantly engage with my followers in this manner and love getting to know them.
3) What are your most popular recipes?
Being a very new blog, I’m still in the process of collecting data to see which recipes people are most responsive to. Though, I will definitely say that most of my vegetarian recipes have proven to be the most popular so far. I think that’s partly due to globally healthier eating habits and current research pointing towards more vegetables as a part of our diet. Also, most are easier to cook than the meat recipes such as Nihari or Haleem that are up on the blog.
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4) How much time do you need to spend personally involved in the running of the business?
At this point, I’m spending close to 6-8 hours a day, almost 7 days a week. I hope to cut back some in the future in a year or two in the future once I establish myself, but as a new business, I feel this is a good start.
5) What was the best advice you received when you decided to start your venture?
I think the best advice came from a fellow food blogger, and she told me to keep doing what I love and not give up even on my toughest days. Food blogs are perhaps the most competitive niche in the blogging world; capturing a market share is a slow process. Perseverance and hard work are needed most, and it’s more of a marathon than a sprint.
6) How has the pandemic affected your business? What changes have you made to adapt?
The pandemic has actually been the key factor in my starting the business, and for what I do, this a perfect time to be in business. Everyone is home more, cooking more, eating out less, and providing people with a steady stream of new recipes is just what they need to take their mind off things.
7) What do you envision about your brand, and where do you see it growing?
For now, I’m focusing on increasing my followers, getting more traffic on my site, and ranking higher in Google searches. I hope to monetize my website by the end of this year and then build from there. To achieve this, for now, I’m focusing mostly on providing excellent content and making my website more user friendly.
Once I’ve achieved all of this, I look forward to adding more videos and my recipes, maybe doing live segments on my social media, and working on my YouTube channel.
Some other goals further along the line would be to offer online cooking classes, publish a cookbook, and perhaps launch my own products.
8) How do you balance your work and personal time or family time?
The work/family balance is tricky at this point as I need to invest a lot of time in a new business. Coupled with the fact that my children have been home more due to the pandemic, it can be tough at times, but my family has been very supportive of my endeavor on the whole, and I’m learning how to find the right balance as I go along.
Dinner time is something we all make sure we’re together for, and on the weekend, I work around our various family and social commitments. I do a lot of my research, writing, and website development tasks at night so that I’m able to manage my household chores and family commitments during the day.
9) What advice would you offer to entrepreneurs who want to enter the industry?
Food blogging, in particular, is a very competitive field, as I’ve mentioned before, so if you want to start your own blog, I would suggest that first of all, you spend some time making sure you have good quality and original content. Figure out your niche and focus on being the best in that area. The best way to do that is to know and understand your competition honestly.
Also, understand that it takes more than just cooking well to be successful. The website you create, how food photography works, managing your social media, and understanding how Google works are just a few of the areas you need to understand before starting your blog.
Establish a budget for yourself and set goals for milestones to achieve to help you stay focused on your real objectives
Nosheen’s delightful recipes will be shared on Wow 360 every week. Let us know if you have any requests for Nosheen in the comment box below.
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About Nosheen: She graduated from Southeastern University and completed her high school at Karachi Grammar School. She later worked at Bank of America and ANZ Grindlays Bank. She has also served voluntarily for several boards, including Treasurer of an Elementary School Board, Second Vice President of an Elementary School Board, Treasurer of a Middle School Board, and On the board of a Non-Profit (O.S.E.F-Ocean Springs Education Foundation.
For exciting recipes, stay tuned to Wow 360.