Interview with Go Eat Give Founder, Sucheta Rawal
We like to highlight bloggers who have become successful in their craft from time to time. Not only is it inspirational, but it is also a example of what you can accomplish with your blog. Even more, that there are many paths that come from being a food blogger. Here's our latest interview with Sucheta Rawal, founder of the non-profit, Go Eat Give.
AoFB: How did you get started with writing about food / drinks?
SR: I was always a big foodie and loved to cook and entertain. My friends would call me for restaurant advice and cooking tips. One of them introduced me to a friend who was the editor of a SouthAsian magazine based in Atlanta. So I approached them and started writing their section on restaurant reviews. Thats where the food writing started!
AoFB: What's your favorite type of food?
SR: I love anything made with fresh ingredients where you can taste real food (not the modified unrecognized version of it). Also, I like to experiment with a lot of different kinds of spices. Having said that, my two favorite cuisines are Italian and Indian.
AoFB: Tell us a little about what your career involves.
When I started doing restaurant reviews, it was purely as a hobby while I held a full time corporate job to pay bills. I started contributing to more magazines, teaching cooking classes, and finally incorporated a lot of travel writing. If there is one thing I enjoy more than food, it is traveling! As more friends encouraged me to share my unique voice on exploring countries, I created a blog called "Go Eat Give." Here I wrote about restaurants, recipes, travel destinations, volunteer programs and culture. As the popularity of the blog grew, I started getting invited for speaking engagements and interviews.
Now, Go Eat Give is officially a 501c3 nonprofit organization. We have expanded our services from a FREE blog covering 40+ countries, to international cooking classes, monthly cultural awareness Destination events & volunteer vacation programs around the world. We work with partner nonprofits in Cuba, India, Indonesia, Nepal, Spain, Kenya & South Africa. I don't spend as much time blogging now, since I lead some of these tours & coordinating the Destination dinners, but its been very exciting to see how the concept has impacted lives of people locally and globally.
AoFB: What is something you wish you knew before you started blogging? Or something you wish you learned early on?
One of the things I wished someone had told me before I started blogging is - have an intention for your blog and every blog post you write. Sure, you want to share opinion and keep your own voice, but when you are broadcasting sometime to the world wide web, it stays out there forever! Readers create a perception of you & your writing. If you want to write a journal, you can keep your posts on "private" setting, but if you want to be known as a credible writer, make sure your every post is well though out, meaningful and free of grammatical errors.
Another fact I learned from experience is that it is very time consuming to do exactly that: write a well constructed 500-800 words blog post, with properly formatted photos, linking back to website and sharing it on social media. It takes me average of 2-3 hours to complete a blog from start to finish. So if you are thinking updating your blog is something you plan to do after you finish cooking dinner and tuck the kids into bed, make sure you have allotted enough time for yourself.
AoFB: Tell us what your 3 favorite tools or online resources are.
Wikipedia: I always check facts before posting my articles.
Pinterest & Google images: Good for inspiration esp when I want to experiment with a new dish
AoFB: What do you do to stay fit?
I always start my day with a light meal (tea, fruit, eggs) so that I don't have to deprive myself of anything rest of the day. When I'm not traveling, I try to cook healthy at home as much as I can, eating mostly vegetarian.
Yoga keeps me aligned physically and mentally when I'm traveling. It also helps with digestion (after those big meals) and back pains (resulting from long flights).
AoFB: Do you have any advice for aspiring bloggers?
I started my blog just as a means to share my passion for food and travel, but I think often times new bloggers think their blog would be their business. Selling ads and getting free meals is great. However, if you want to quit your job and follow your passion, it has to involve selling other skills that companies are actually willing to pay for.
Another common mistake I see with many bloggers is that when they start blogging, they are very enthusiastic about it, but after a few months you begin to see fewer and fewer posts, and eventually the blog becomes a grave site of some delicious reviews. While its discouraging to not see your Google Analytics skyrocket after you posted the recipe of your most raved about cheesecake, you must not loose hope and keep at it. Consistency and persistence are key to running a successful blog. It takes a long time and lot of hard work to build a strong traffic.
AoFB: Who is your hero?
My formative years were most influenced by my grandmother in India, who I grew up with. She would host travelers from around the world, and spoil them with her delicious food and generous hospitality. I also use to accompany her to do charity work participate in cultural events in our hometown. She was perhaps the most socially active lady in town, and still is at 80+ years!
AoFB: What has been your biggest accomplishment?
The powerful impact Go Eat Give has makes me feel very accomplished. After every Destination dinner or a volunteer trip, I see the reaction of the people who have participated. Some of them are deeply influenced by the culture or take back some learning that they had never imagined. Practically everyone who has been on a trip with me has had a life-altering moment. Also, when I see our attendees break into a group dance (be it Afghan or Bollywood) & have a fun time, I feel great about being able to create that positive experience for them.
Winning the "top 5 most influential cultural bloggers in the world" in 2012 was also a nice pat on the back.