390: Overcoming Burnout and Building a Successful Career as a Food Creator with Karishma Pradhan

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Flames burning and the title of Karishma Pradhan's episode on the Food Blogger Pro Podcast, 'Overcoming Burnout.'

This episode is sponsored by Clariti.

Welcome to episode 390 of The Food Blogger Pro Podcast! This week on the podcast, Bjork interviews Karishma Pradhan from Home Cooking Collective about how she overcame burnout and built a successful career as a food creator.

Last week on the podcast, we reshared our episode with Sarah Cook from Sustainable Cooks where she talks about what specific strategies she implemented to grow her blog’s traffic and increase her revenue. To go back and listen to that episode, click here.

Overcoming Burnout and Building a Successful Career as a Food Creator

Today, we’re really excited to share this conversation with Karishma Pradhan! She runs the site Home Cooking Collective, and she has a really unique story to share about how she became a full-time food creator.

In this episode, you’ll hear what her career used to look like as a data analyst, why she transitioned to working for herself, how she overcame feelings of burnout, and how she earns an income now by sharing food content online.

It’s a really inspiring interview that emphasizes the importance of finding work that serves you and empowers your physical and mental health. We hope you enjoy it!

A quote from Karishma Pradhan’s appearance on the Food Blogger Pro podcast that says, 'I kind of got started by actually just offering free cooking Zoom workshops.'

In this episode, you’ll learn:

  • What Karishma learned working in data analytics
  • How she transitioned to working for herself
  • How she overcame feelings of burnout
  • How she got into sharing food content online
  • How she analyzes user behavior as a blogger and content creator
  • Why she decided to start hosting cooking workshops
  • How she got into doing freelance recipe development and food writing
  • How she prioritizes her time and manages her work


About This Week’s Sponsor

We’re excited to announce that this week’s episode is sponsored by our sister site, Clariti!

With Clariti, you can easily organize your blog content for maximum growth. Create campaigns to add alt text to your posts, fix broken images, remove any broken links, and more, all within the Clariti app.

Sign up for Clariti today to receive:

  • Access to their limited-time $45 Forever pricing
  • 50% off your first month
  • Optimization ideas for your site content
  • An invitation to join their exclusive Slack community
  • And more!

You can learn more and sign up here.

If you have any comments, questions, or suggestions for interviews, be sure to email them to [email protected].

Food Blogger Pro logo with the words 'Join the Community' on a blue background

Transcript (click to expand):

Bjork Ostrom: This episode is sponsored by Clariti, C-L-A-R-I-T-I. Here’s the question. Are you manually keeping track of your blog posts on a spreadsheet or project management tool? Maybe it’s like Airtable or Asana, or maybe you’re not even keeping track of anything at all? When it comes to optimizing and organizing your content, how do you know what to change and how do you know what you’re doing is actually moving the needle? With Clariti, all of that stuff is easier. It’s easier to keep track of things. It’s easier to know if the changes you’re making are having an impact. And that’s why we built it. We realized that we were using spreadsheets and cobbling together a system, and we wanted to create something that did that for you. And Clariti brings together WordPress data, Google data, like Google Search Console and Google Analytics, and it brings all of that information into one place to allow you to make decisions and also inform you about the decisions that you’ve made and if they’re having an impact.

Bjork Ostrom: I could talk on and on about the features, but the best way to understand it is to get in and to work with the tool yourself. And the good news is Clariti’s offering 50% off of your first month if you sign up. And you can do that by going to Clariti.com/food. Again, that’s c-l-a-r-i-t-i.com/food to check it out. Thanks to Clariti for sponsoring this episode. Hey there, this is Bjork Ostrom. You are listening to the Food Blogger Pro podcast. We’ve been doing this podcast for a while, and the reason we continue to do it is because not only is it fun for me to have conversations with unique, creative, smart people, that’s one of the massive benefits that I experienced personally from this, but the other benefit for this podcast, or the other reason that we do it is because we’ve learned that listeners benefit from the conversations.

Bjork Ostrom: And the reason is because we have conversations with people who are really smart, who are really creative, who are doing unique things in the world, and that’s the case today. Today we’re having a conversation with Karishma Pradhan and she has really transformed what she does, what work is for her, over the last three, four, five years. And we’re going to talk about her journey and how she’s done that. And some of the conversations we have on the podcast are people who have been blogging since 2009. And the inspiring thing for me in those conversations is people who have stuck with it, they’ve continued to publish content over a long period of time, but we also have conversations with people like Karishma where their journey is more recent, their transformation is more recent.

Bjork Ostrom: And this conversation today, she’s going to be sharing about how stressful her job was. She’s going to be talking about the idea of going into a war room type setting where they needed to do this data analysis and get information back to these business owners. And just the stress around that and how that made her realize that she needed to transform the work that she was doing. And she’s going to be talking about the steps along the way that she took in order to make that transformation. And now her day-to-day looks very different. She’s a recipe developer, a food photographer. She’s going to be talking about workshops that she does and how that was an important piece of the puzzle for her and realizing that this could be a thing.

Bjork Ostrom: And she’s also going to be talking about her site, Home Cooking Collective, and what that’s been like to kind of in unison build all of those things up. She’s also a contributor to Simply Recipes, an extremely popular site, and some other sites as well. So what I found most fascinating with this conversation is kind of the intentional steps along the way to not make one big leap, not make one big change, but to kind of twist and change the dials and to make adjustments to move towards an eventual goal of focusing on creative work or owning her own business and how she was able to do that over a period of years. And to do that in a really kind of systematic way. So we’re going to have that conversation and I think you’ll get a lot out of it. Excited to share it with you. So let’s go ahead and jump in. Karishma, welcome to the podcast.

Karishma Pradhan: Thanks so much for having me. It’s like I’ve said, and I’ve heard on the podcast as well. It’s truly an honor to be able to chat with you and to all of the listeners. I’ve learned so much from listening to your podcast. I’ve actually, through your podcast, have hired and have been hired by many people, so it’s just this awesome full circle.

Bjork Ostrom: These were people we interviewed, and then you’re like, oh, it’d be cool to work with them or connections that have made.

Karishma Pradhan: Yeah, it’s like sponsorships and people that have really particular skill sets. I work with Ansley. She’s my tax accountant, so it’s just really cool to be able to come back and share all of that.

Bjork Ostrom: Oh, awesome. Yeah. Well, it’s always fun when people have some context around who we are and what we do and how the conversations that we have. So thanks for jumping on and being willing to share a little bit about your story. One of the things that I’d be interested to start with is your background. You have a background in data, which feels like a really good thing to have coming into this world, but one of the key pieces that I’m interested to hear you talk about a little bit is in your career path dealing with stress and burnout.

Bjork Ostrom: And I think it’s something that a lot of people can relate to, even for myself, being aware of what burnout is and trying to get to know that better, number one, to avoid it, but also if you’re in a season where you’re experiencing that, how do you get out of it? So bring us back to that moment where you started to realize, hey, this is something that you’ve realized I’m dealing with this. And then what did it look like for you to build a plan to address that or kind of work through that?

Karishma Pradhan: Yeah, absolutely. So yeah, I started my career in data analytics, specifically marketing and web analytics, which is very relevant I think in a lot of ways to what we all do today. And I kind of cycled through a number of different jobs. I worked at larger corporations, I worked at startups, and I did that for about five years. And towards the end of that kind of period, what was happening to me was, I love data analytics and I feel like I learned so much from people around me, and I really learned about how to run a business. It’s a really awesome place to be because you’re often in front of higher ups, CEOs, things like that, because data is so important to them. But what I had realized in my last couple of jobs is there’s also sort of, the counter to that is that there’s a lot of stress and pressure that comes in being in data.

Karishma Pradhan: And so what had happened was one of the jobs that I was at, towards the end of it, the last few months, we would essentially be in fire drills every single day. So I don’t know if people know what fire drills are, but essentially it sort of means someone comes to you and they say, hey, we need this data, or we need to answer this question in X amount of time. And it might be two hours, it could be two days. But usually a fire drill essentially means drop everything that you’re doing and just go and do that thing and focus on it. And a lot of times there’s a disconnect between people and data and the people that are asking those questions and it’s like, yes, I can do it, but maybe it’s going to take me two weeks to do this in the way that you want me to do it well, to make sure it’s accurate. But a lot of times the answer back is, well, we need it now.

Bjork Ostrom: Or yesterday?

Karishma Pradhan: Or yesterday, yeah. Yesterday is a very common answer. So towards the end of that job, the last few months, we would come into work and instead of sitting at our desks, we would go directly into what was called a war room, which is essentially just a conference room. And we’d be just kind of slogging on our computer trying to get the answers out. And there was just so much of a focus on getting the data now and also getting it perfectly accurately, no mistakes at all, which is very difficult to do when you’re under pressure. And I ended up leaving that job because for me, that was a lot of stress. And I found another job that I felt like was a lot more balanced. But what had happened I think was maybe my body a little bit had started to break down and I became more and more sensitive to the stress.

Karishma Pradhan: So a couple months after I had started the next job, I started getting headaches a lot more frequently. I grew up, I’ve always had migraines, but usually they would happen maybe once a week. But I started getting tension headaches. And basically over the next couple of years at that job, it started ramping up from getting tension headaches a couple of week, a couple days a week to almost every single day I would leave work with a tension headache. And it was just something that to me felt, okay, now this stress is something that I thought I could really keep under control.

Karishma Pradhan: I could just sort of deal with it. But it could become this really physical thing for me where it was kind of ruining every single night for me. And I’d wake up feeling fine, but for me, that was really difficult. So that was the start of the point where I started thinking, is this the right career path for me? So I think for me it was kind of like, there was stress that I thought was, maybe this is normal, but I think it turned into this kind of physical thing that-

Bjork Ostrom: And persistent as well.

Karishma Pradhan: Persistent and getting worse and worse.

Bjork Ostrom: Lindsay just the other day was talking about this book that she read called The Body Keeps the Score.

Karishma Pradhan: Oh yeah.

Bjork Ostrom: Brain, mind and body and the healing of trauma. And I think that concept is just like, yeah, totally. If a tension headache as a result of stress just makes so much sense that those two things are connected. So what is an example of a situation where somebody would be like, we need this information in two hours or two days? Is it e-commerce and their sales numbers are going down and they don’t know why?

Karishma Pradhan: Yeah, that’s a perfect example. So I worked in a couple of different industries, but the last company I worked for was e-commerce. And it was exactly that. It would be maybe there is a particular holiday that’s either, maybe it just happened the day before or there’s a holiday that’s coming up and we’re noticing what they call softness in sales. And so the question would be, they would be coming from the higher ups and it would say, what’s going on here? We need you to figure out what’s going on and help us make a decision. And a lot of it is because they need to decide if they want to, with e-commerce, they need to decide do they want to change something with their marketing? Is there something that can actually, we can take an action and so that we can actually improve those sales really quickly.

Karishma Pradhan: But I think that there was another point where what I was realizing as a data person is there isn’t always a really clear answer. And a lot of times what we’re doing is we’re just giving people our best guess. And so there’s a lot of pressure to come up with an answer or to focus a lot on the short-term, as opposed to really being able to take a step back and say, is this a trend that’s continuing long-term and what can we learn from that? So I think that was another thing that was difficult to deal with.

Bjork Ostrom: Because the data is always going to be clear, but what’s not clear is the answer as to what’s influencing the data. And my guess is sometimes it might be, if it’s e-commerce, you might be able to say, hey, the numbers on this have slipped because it’s now not ranking as well on Amazon as it did before. And so you need to get in a better position than you are right now on Amazon search results for whatever it is, duct tape or something. But in other times it might be like, oh, actually there’s this potential trend of people doing less home projects because they’re not at home because of COVID and so people aren’t buying duct tape as much, but it’s kind of a best guess. The data’s really clear that the numbers are slipping, but it’s not always clear as to why. Is that what you’re saying?

Karishma Pradhan: Yeah, exactly. It’s not always clear as to why. And even if it’s clear as to why it’s not always clear if there’s an actual immediate action that can be taken? So like what you’re saying is if people are just doing less home projects, so then what’s the next move there?

Bjork Ostrom: And people want to know what’s the answer and there’s pressure for you to produce that. So coming out of that, you start to have this realization, this is stressful, this is difficult for me personally, it’s probably not the best fit for me personally. How do you make the next step out of that? Did you know what was going to be next and what you were looking for?

Karishma Pradhan: Yeah, so in some ways I did know. I sort of planned it for six months or so. I really started thinking about what is it that I want to do next? So on the one hand, I have always really loved to cook. I started cooking when I was 12. I was obsessed with the Food Network and it’s something that I just never really considered as a feasible career path. There’s just always, I feel like pressure to stay in STEM and do something that is going to make enough money for you and support you and have that security. And so I think I just sort of turned it away as a possible option for me. But the more and more that I was working and I was feeling unhappy, I wondered, well, what if I just tried this and can I try it in a smart way?

Karishma Pradhan: So my basic plan was to try to do something in the food industry. I wasn’t sure what that was. And to have some security by essentially, once I quit my job finding data analytics consulting projects to support my income on the side, I felt like that was a great way. I had been saving up money to be able to quit my job, but I also felt like it would make me feel a lot better if I had something part-time to work in data where I felt like I had a much better chance of being able to actually find something and secure some sort of type of work there.

Bjork Ostrom: In the startup world, they talk about runway a lot and they say, if you are in the early stages, you raise around what’s your runway? Your runway has to do with how much money you have in the bank and then how much money your startup is spending. And I think when we are thinking about as entrepreneurs, solopreneurs, whatever it is, we can use that same idea to say, what is our runway? And the variables that you need for that would be what are your monthly expenses? How much money do you have in the bank? And then you can supplement that with what you’re saying with consulting work. And maybe it’s not on the thing that you want to be doing, but it can really extend your runway. So for somebody who’s like, hey, I want to try this. I know that my expenses, I’ll just make up some numbers.

Bjork Ostrom: My expenses are 4,000 a month and I’ve saved up 12,000 and I can do it. This is going to be math on the fly. You’re going to have to check my math. So 4,000 a month, I’ve saved up 12,000 and I can do 2,000 a month in consulting. Then suddenly you have six months of runway. Is that right? And so you can start to play with those variables. And if you can, in the instance that you can do as much consulting work as needed to meet your income, then maybe what you could do is great, not only do I have a buffer in the bank for kind of slush money, but for the most part I can pay my expenses, but I’m not going to do any more consulting above that because then what I’m going to do is just work full-time on my business, what it is that I’m working on.

Bjork Ostrom: So you don’t have to use actual numbers, but I’m curious to know, did you have kind of a comfort level in terms of, from a monthly perspective, I want to get to 50% of what my expenses would be or 100% of what my expenses would be to cover that? And anything above and beyond that I’ll work on my business. What did that look like for you?

Karishma Pradhan: Yeah, yeah. No, that’s a really great question. I think for me it was a little bit of it was I think I wanted to make sure that I covered my monthly expenses through the consulting work. And then if there were additional expenses from the food blogging business itself, that was something that I was willing to cut into my savings. But generally I kind of wanted to cover basic things, my rent, utilities, food and things like that through my consulting income. Because I had really just gone from such a different world of full-time in this full-time job to doing something part-time. And as I actually started feeling more and more confident working on things on the food side, I was able to recheck and consider that every few months. But for starting, it really felt great to have this part-time gig actually cover those critical expenses.

Bjork Ostrom: And the nice thing too about that type of work is it can flex in a way that a full-time job can’t so you can scale it up or down depending on what the month to month looks like. And there’s just maybe a little bit more flexibility within that. Because similar, Lindsay and I had similar paths where we still we’re W–2 employees, but our jobs, we were lucky enough to have jobs that allowed flexibility in the way that we went to 75%, then 50%. Then towards the end, I was working a day or two at the nonprofit that I was a part of, and it just allowed for a nice transition to help smooth that over. Not everybody can get that, but it was nice to be able to do that. I’m curious to know, where did you find those jobs? You knew that you wanted to do freelance consulting. Was it previous companies that you had worked for that continued to work with you in a contracted basis? Or was it like a marketplace? How did you connect with those companies?

Karishma Pradhan: Yeah, I was really lucky. I think for a lot of people who are going from full-time into consulting, it’s really important to build out your network. And I had that network, but I was really lucky in that I kind of went to a startup marketplace. It might have been like Angel List. And so they were specifically looking for someone who is a part-time data analyst. And so that was just a really great opportunity. We just connected very immediately and I was able to get started on that pretty soon. And the other thing, you mentioned the flexibility. I was really lucky to have the flexibility and that’s exactly what happened. I was doing 25 hours a week at some point with them and I slowly and slowly scaled back down until they were able to work with me to hire an actual full-time analytics manager for their company. So I think that was really great as well was they were really open to my needs, especially with knowing my headaches and burnout and things like that. I was really lucky.

Bjork Ostrom: That’s awesome. So knowing that you are wanting to make this transition and part of that transition is for your own physical and mental health, what did you build in as considerations or lessons learned now that you had more control over the work that you were doing and the schedule that you kept? I’d be curious to know how that experience informed your own kind of custom schedule and in the ways that you focus and work.

Karishma Pradhan: So there’s definitely a few aspects, and I think a lot of us in the industry struggle with this, but when I left my job, it’s not like I immediately knew how to balance my own workload because a lot of the stress, it was self-imposed. I was putting that pressure on myself to search for perfection and search for accuracy and all of these things. So I think it required a lot of reflection and a lot of trial and error. Some of the things that helped me was the ability to say, why am I doing this? Why am I choosing to have a more flexible lifestyle?

Karishma Pradhan: I’m choosing to do this for sustainability. I’m trying not to burn out. I’m trying not to make these mistakes again. And so when I find myself in these places, which kind of happens where I’m on a roll and in this really intense bout of creativity and I find myself, I’m working until late at night, or I find that I’m starting to feel more headaches, I kind of have to take a step back and say, okay, you worked maybe through this weekend or you just worked 12 hours a day for the last four days.

Karishma Pradhan: So I sort of actually make myself take time off. So if I work on the weekend, I make sure that I take time off during the week. And the other thing is, with my headaches, if I have a migraine or something like that, I make myself obviously take the day off. And I make sure that the next few days I really dial it back a little bit. Because that’s kind of the thing is why else am I choosing a job with this flexibility if I can’t work around it and actually use that to my advantage?

Bjork Ostrom: Yeah. It feels like there’s so much to be said about knowing yourself. And one of the hard realities in just I think in the human existence, but especially online, is that we can look at other people’s realities and we pair that against our reality, and for better or worse, I think a lot of times worse, I think at its best, it’s inspiration, at its worst, it’s demotivational. And that we look at somebody else and we’re like, wait a minute, this person is hustling, whatever that means, 12 hours a day, seven days a week, they’re making all this progress. So at least for myself, I can look at that and place that as this expectation. And so much of it does come back to in service of what are you after? What are you trying to get? What is the purpose behind it? And that’s such a personal question.

Bjork Ostrom: I think of… analogy on the fly. I think of, so you go to the hardware store and then you can look at a drill. I don’t know anything about drills, but my guess is that there’s a heavy duty drill that a construction worker could use and use it all the time all day long. And then there’s probably one that an amateur like myself would use that uses it once a month. And the amount of exertion that you could have within those respective pieces of equipment, that’s going to be a spectrum to that. I think the same is probably true for people. I think there are some people who are just built in a way where they can work at a certain capacity and then there’s others who aren’t. And you need to know what your limit is. So if it was a machine, it’s like you don’t want to take the thing that is most valuable to you, and in this case it’s us.

Bjork Ostrom: It’s like us as creative vehicles. You don’t want to push that to the point where it breaks down because then it’s not going to be able to do anything. And so you need to know what that upper limit is. And I think it’s important and really appreciate you bringing that up to talk about it because if you push past that and you experience burnout, it’s not sustainable. And what you said is how do you sustain yourself in this world? And I think about that for myself a lot too. What does that look like? And in a season of exploring that and trying to figure that out, how do I operate in a way where every day feels sustainable and healthy and appropriate?

Bjork Ostrom: So appreciate you bringing that up. So you have this new perspective moving into the work that you’re doing. The other thing that I’m curious to know is what were the things that you learned from your data analyst role that you were able to immediately take into your role in the content creation world? Were there things that you had as tools that you could immediately deploy that gave you kind of an inside maybe advantage or mindset when it comes to business building?

Karishma Pradhan: Yeah, it’s a really interesting question because the first thing I was thinking about this question, and the first thing I wanted to point out was because I was so burnt out from the data industry, the first part of building my business, I really was shying away from the data.

Bjork Ostrom: That makes sense.

Karishma Pradhan: And I wanted to say, I really wanted to build this creative skillset for myself.

Bjork Ostrom: Almost as a reaction to your last five years of data work. It’s like I don’t want to do data work and I want to do something. Yeah, that makes sense.

Karishma Pradhan: And unfortunately, it’s really important and it’s really useful to have data to build that into your business and to be able to drive yourself towards success. And so I think over time I’ve been able to really incorporate some of those tidbits. I think the thing for me as well though is that I probably was doing pieces all along but not realizing it because for example, something like Google Analytics, I used in many of my jobs every single day. And so for me it’s possible that I was probably using Google Analytics and looking at trends and things like that, but to me it was just such a normal thing that it didn’t feel like such a heavy lift. But I think definitely having that experience with Google Analytics and other types of web analytics tools was super helpful for me able to just quickly be able to track traffic over time.

Karishma Pradhan: There’s also some really interesting pieces as well that I learned of being able to track particular events on your site. So when someone is clicking on a particular button or they’re scrolling in a specific type of way, I kind of learned working with some of the engineers at my companies how to actually build that into my site, which I think is a really interesting piece of data that not everyone is necessarily, it’s not that easy to build out on your own. So that’s kind of cool too. And one of the things as well is I focused a lot on user behavior and really trying to understand how are people navigating through a particular site.

Karishma Pradhan: So at my work, it was e-commerce, but in my own business it’s really trying to understand what are the barriers that readers are facing as they’re going through my website? How can I make things easier for them and really taking that perspective? So I think that was something that was super helpful as well. I actually had my site redesigned in March and I really had fun trying to think through and troubleshoot building this site, what are the easiest ways to get someone from one page to another? What are the ways to ensure that they’re interested in my site? I’m showing them kind of everything that I have and they’re not just necessarily leaving after a few seconds.

Bjork Ostrom: How do you do that? How do you understand user behavior better? And is it within Google Analytics you’re looking at data and seeing the flow that people go, where they stop, where they continue on? Or is it more of the soft skill of user case studies or observing actual people using your website? For somebody who wants to get better at it, how do you do that?

Karishma Pradhan: Yeah, it’s totally a combination of both. Both are really, really important. So definitely looking through Google Analytics, looking through kind of page flow, behavior flow, and trying to understand where the places people are landing on your site and where they’re most likely to go next, where are they most likely to drop off? But also I think the soft skills. So in my job we would do lots of user testing and I would sit in on these and we do something like this, like a Zoom call where someone’s going through the website and they’re noticing places where they’re confused by something. And that’s really helpful.

Karishma Pradhan: So I think just kind of combination, you can even ask your friends and family to go through your website. I know I’ve had family who just, they’ll tell me, they’re very blunt and they’ll tell me, this particular thing on your site doesn’t make sense to me. I don’t understand it. But I think being able to step back every once in a while and asking friends and family to go through your website and to ask some of these questions of what’s confusing to them can be really helpful.

Bjork Ostrom: Yeah, that’s great. How about on the Google analytics side? You were talking about events. Do you have an example of what that, you kind of shared one, but for somebody who’s looking for a tangible takeaway that they could maybe fold into their process for Google Analytics, is there anything that you’d point them towards that would be a helpful or interesting thing that they could start to look at from an analytics perspective?

Karishma Pradhan: Yeah, I mean there are some interesting, more easier things to set up, I think, would be to try to understand something like, are people clicking on a particular button? Or if you have maybe a video on your homepage, one thing that can be cool is to try to set up are people even playing this video? Sort of understanding that, I think that can be really interesting. Another thing is trying to understand where people are scrolling is really interesting as well. Because I know sometimes it can be really confusing looking at your site and seeing, oh, I have this particular bounce rate.

Karishma Pradhan: So I’m noticing that a lot of people are just only looking at this one page, but what are they actually doing on this page, for example? Are they actually interacting? Are they scrolling? Or are they just going to the site and then immediately closing out? So I think those are examples of really interesting things that you could add in.

Bjork Ostrom: Yeah. In the example of the video, you can have that be an event and the event could be the click. And I think of that, especially in instances where you have a specific thing that you want to make sure is happening, and even subscribing to an email list. So if that’s your primary motivation, you can start to track that as an event. And then you can see percentage wise, how many people actually when they come to this page, subscribe to that. And that’s where you can start to use that data to inform decisions to say, great. So how do we get 1% of people to 1.5% of people to sign up for this or whatever it might be?

Bjork Ostrom: One of the things that you mentioned when we were just getting started is we were talking about your business and the different components of it and talking about workshops. And that was something that you started to do and you said that it was really kind of like a catalyst or a launching point for what you were doing. Can you talk about what you meant by that? Maybe explain a little bit about how you use workshops within your business.

Karishma Pradhan: Yeah, so one of the funny things about when I quit my job was that the last day of my full-time job was actually the first day of the pandemic.

Bjork Ostrom: Nice.

Karishma Pradhan: March 12th, 2020. And I was living in New York, so everything’s down.

Bjork Ostrom: Wow.

Karishma Pradhan: Yeah. So at that point I essentially realized, okay, well I can’t work at a restaurant right now. I can’t do anything in person if I wanted to delve into the food industry. And so one of the things I had realized as the pandemic started beginning was people were really looking for opportunities to connect with one another through Zoom. That was such a big thing that started. And I had seen some other food bloggers and Instagram influencers starting to do different types of Zoom workshops. So I kind of got started by actually just offering free cooking Zoom workshops to, kind of started with friends and family and people that were following me on Instagram.

Karishma Pradhan: I was really just starting out and I wanted to use it as a way to be able to cook with people, be able to teach them some skills. And it was a really fun experience for me I think just getting started in the industry, and it also taught me so much about how to actually teach people how to cook and how to break down steps, which I think has helped me so much in writing my own blog posts and trying to understand, well, what are the barriers? When you’re teaching someone virtually through Zoom, if you’re teaching them to do something particularly that requires, I was teaching how to make handmade pasta where you have to form it into a very particular shape. And so trying to translate that kind of through Zoom not in person was very challenging, but very interesting. And it taught me a lot about how to really break down those steps if I’m teaching it in all different kinds of mediums.

Bjork Ostrom: Yeah. It’s almost like anything that we can do to refine our skills around being a better communicator is a win.

Karishma Pradhan: Yeah, exactly.

Bjork Ostrom: That’s essentially what publishing content online is is the continual pursuit of communicating some message, whether it be education, humor, information. How to do that in the most effective way possible. And when you get to bump up against people in real time, the feedback loop is real time where you get to see, I said this and then what you created was this, and it’s not what I thought that I said, but that’s what you heard. That allows you to get so much better and refine your skills quicker than you would in other ways. Is that something that you’re still doing? Or I’d be curious to know what, maybe the question is this, as your business stands right now, I know for you it wasn’t necessarily, hey, I just want to start a blog and that’s what I want to do. It was kind of more general fascination with food and that is an industry and that is a pursuit of a business or a career. What does that look like for you now in, I know there’s kind of multiple different pursuits that you have that make up kind of your day-to-day.

Karishma Pradhan: Yeah, yeah, so exactly. I didn’t know exactly that I wanted to start a food blog, but I’m really happy. I’m at the point now where I’m focusing a lot more on my own blog and I’m having a lot of fun doing it. It is kind of being able to combine this passion that I have for cooking and also being able to really teach other people. But in terms of the other pieces that I do, I also do freelance recipe development and food writing. So I work with different publications. I’ve worked with Simply Recipes as a regular contributor, which has been a really great opportunity, a really great source of regular income because they’re always looking for a number of recipes each month. So that’s been really great.

Karishma Pradhan: And I’ve also kind of worked doing one-off pitches to publications, doing food writing work or specific types of recipe development. And then I started off really focusing a lot on the workshops and now I would say it’s definitely a smaller part of my business, but it’s something that I do really love doing. So I still do private workshops now, which I think is really fun for me. I’ve done kind of corporate workshops as well, which is great. Yeah, so basically it’s a mix of freelance recipe development and food writing for publications. I also do freelance food photography for different clients, sponsored content and then these workshops.

Bjork Ostrom: Cool. How do you find those connections? Let’s say for the corporate workshops that you do, are those people who follow you, do they reach out to you? Are you reaching out to them in pitching? What does that look like?

Karishma Pradhan: Yeah, I would say it’s a combination of both. I’ve definitely had followers who maybe they’ve taken one of my own workshops before and they really liked it. So they might reach out and say, hey, I work at this company, we’re looking for a corporate workshop. Would you be able to host something like that? I haven’t done much sort of pitching on my own, but I have sort of made connections with certain people that I know might be a part of something and then eventually it might turn into something. But usually it comes from just somebody who’s an existing follower that has already taken one of my workshops.

Bjork Ostrom: I have a friend who is in a very different industry, but one of his sales, the sales process that he uses is he has kind of top of funnel content. So YouTube, podcast, blog, and then what he does is he does these, the thing that he sells is a two day consultation. It’s like he consults consultants. So yeah, Boston Consultant Group or Mackenzie, he’ll work with companies like that to consult them on business development. But he’ll do a free one and invite two people from companies. Then they get to come together and attend and see what it’s like.

Bjork Ostrom: And just like you said, a lot of times what happens is those people then go back to their company and say, I think we should do this. And then he is able to charge per seat for those workshops. And so I think for somebody in this space, there might be something kind of cool there to say, hey, I’m going to do free workshops in whatever category. Focus on corporate, doing corporate invitations for people to attend for free with the hope that then they go back to their team and say, hey, we should do a 50 person workshop on whatever it might be.

Bjork Ostrom: So what does it look like for you as you consider the kind of different components that now make up your day-to-day? And some of it’s freelance, some of it’s within the business, but within all of this, whether it’s our job or the business that we have, we’re kind of the CEO of ourselves. And so you’re combining all of this up into one kind of pursuit. How do you go about balancing the things that are guaranteed, let’s say freelance recipe development. You could do that and that could be your only thing potentially. But the downside with that, the upside is like there’s a guarantee with it. The downside is that you’re maybe not building kind of the snowball of your business that over time could kind of pick up speed.

Bjork Ostrom: But in the early stages, maybe there’s a little bit more risk with it because you’re doing work that’s not guaranteed. So do you have a decision making framework to say, hey, I’m going to fill up this much of my time with guaranteed things versus work on and pursue these other things that maybe might not be guaranteed in the same way, but I know it’s for the greater pursuit of building this business, which takes time.

Karishma Pradhan: Yeah, absolutely. So I think that’s such an important thing, and it’s very difficult to balance all of these guaranteed incomes with these long-term sort of ventures. But what I end up doing is I actually, I took Joanie Simon’s food photography pricing course, and I actually use that as a way to estimate basically how much time do I have in a given month to do any type of work, whether it’s freelance work or my own blog work. I sort of say this, I have this many hours in the month.

Bjork Ostrom: For example, easy example, 40 hours, four weeks. So okay, I know that consistently I’ll have 160 hours or so to dedicate towards work.

Karishma Pradhan: Exactly. Yeah, exactly. Just knowing also that there’s probably a lot of admin work, so it’s also important to make sure that you’re kind of on the lower side and giving yourself that freedom. But if we started with 160 hours a month, then what I do is I say, how much current guaranteed income do I have and how much time does that take? So I look at if I have 10 hours in this month that I know that I’m charging whatever my hourly rate is, let’s say it’s like 100 an hour, then that’s going to guarantee me X amount of dollars in the month. And then so what is left? That is the time that’s left for me to focus my pursuit on something that isn’t necessarily paying me right now, but will in the future.

Karishma Pradhan: And each month or each year, those numbers are going to be different, right? It’s based on what the risk level is. So one year you might say, yeah, it’s really important me for me to feel like I have that security. The next month might, or next year might say, I feel like I’m really building my blog and I’m really getting to this point where I’m going to be making income soon. So now I feel like I might be able to lower that income threshold per month and focus more on something that I feel like is a long-term effort.

Bjork Ostrom: It’s really cool to look at the kind of arc of your story because it feels like really intentional pursuit of tweaks and changes to get you to your goal. And starting on the left side, whatever it was, let’s say seven years ago, you’re in this data analytics job, it’s stressful, it’s not a good fit. And the next, this is going to sound probably much more simple than it actually was. The next evolution being, okay, I’m going to contract, have a little bit more freedom there. It’s still within this industry that I know. And then I’m going to also backfill with the pursuit of the thing that I’m most excited about or where I have a poll. And the evolution out of that was, now that I’m going to wind down the data analytics stuff, and the way that I’m going to fill that with guaranteed income is within the area that you have the poll. And the backfill continues to be the pursuit of the things that are owned within your world.

Bjork Ostrom: And then from that, you can, like you said, tweak and change. Maybe you reduce the amount of hours that you have, but increase the dollars attached with those and so you’re charging more. But it almost seems like this soft data approach to decisions that you’re making from a finance perspective within your own business in the ultimate pursuit of, this will not be a question, when you look at where you’re going, where is it that you want to end up? And I’d be curious to know if you feel like you’re there potentially, or if not, what are the other elements that have to change in order to get you there?

Karishma Pradhan: Yeah, I think the ultimate, yeah, it’s a really good way to, I think, summarize how this journey has been for me. I think my ultimate goal is to really reclaim ownership of and control and being able to pursue this passion. But having a lot of control over how I do it and what I’m putting out. So I think for me, the ultimate goal is to have most of my income be generated by my blog. Right now, that’s not the case, but obviously I hope that’s to be the case in the future. And I think a lot of it comes down to, I find so much joy in developing recipes and really being able to teach people how to cook, teach them to cook from scratch, see cooking as a form of relaxation. And I feel like I can see it as I have my blog and then maybe I have more regular workshops again. And it’s really, it’s all centered around being able to instill this passion and education in others. So that I think is my ultimate goal.

Bjork Ostrom: Yeah. When I look back at how things changed for us over time, it was kind of the similar progression. I think the work that I was doing I enjoyed, but I knew that it wasn’t something that I wanted to do forever. And so started to think about what are the ways that I can start to do work that I know is in the realm of what I’m interested in? And at the time, it was video. I was kind of interested in video, and I was also interested in all things online, like websites and social media and things like that. And so I was lucky enough that the nonprofit that I was at, they had that need. And so I was able to experiment and dabble with video, doing video creation, editing, shooting, and then was also able, they needed a website redesign. So I was like, okay, let’s see what this looks like and how that works and managing computers and stuff like that.

Bjork Ostrom: So it allowed me to do, it’s kind of like on the job training. And as you’re doing recipe development, you’re getting better at developing recipes. And that’s going to set you up well to go down this path. It’s pointing you towards where you are going and where you want to go, which I think is such a wise thing to do. And also, it’s hard to do because it’s not immediate. It’s these slow steps that get you there. But in the long run, what we’ve seen is people have success if they’re willing to stick with it. And so it’s cool to see that.

Bjork Ostrom: So if you were to look back, one of the questions we like to wrap up with or end on is kind of this look back question. So if you’re to look back, knowing what you know now, I know that you’re not a decade into it, but what are the things that you’d tell yourself in order to compress your journey or maybe skip some things that you wish you wouldn’t have done or do things that you wish you would’ve done sooner? What would the advice be that you’d give to yourself when you’re kind of just at the beginning stages of this?

Karishma Pradhan: Yeah, I think one of the things that I would tell myself is faster is not necessarily better. And to allow myself to really slow down and reflect and think about the decisions that I’m making. I think that I felt like there’s so much of a pressure because I feel like there’s a pressure from leaving my job to try to make these things work. It felt like a risk, and it felt like when I was in that phase, I really was trying to push to just try all these different things. And I think being able to just really step back and say, almost framing it the way that you did of kind of the way that I went through this journey, all of the high level steps, they made a lot of sense, but there was a lot of going back and forth to getting there.

Karishma Pradhan: And I think a lot of trying to, in the pursuit of just trying to grab up jobs and things like that, whereas being able to just really focus on what is the pursuit that I’m trying to go for? What is this thing that is driving my passion? And really slowing down and being able to reflect more often I think would’ve been helpful. But I’m still very proud of the place that I’ve gotten to.

Bjork Ostrom: Totally. Yeah. It seems like one of the things that we don’t consider to be work, which actually is work, is the intentional stepping back. And like you said, reflecting or analyzing or just even thinking why. I think sometimes we can put our heads down and we can show up and we can work and we don’t look up and say, why? What is the reason I’m doing this? And I think if there’s some way that maybe it’s scheduling it in, maybe it’s building in a daily routine around, I don’t know what it is, but I think the more that we can do that, the better off we’re going to be. It almost allows us to course correct if needed. So I think that’s great. We covered a lot and I’m sure a lot of people would be interested in continuing to follow along with what you’re up to. So can you do a quick little shout out to the different places people can find you online? And like you said at the beginning of the podcast, potentially work with you or connect or whatever it might be. I’m sure people would want to know.

Karishma Pradhan: Yeah, absolutely. I really love connecting with others in the community, so I’d be happy to chat more about my experiences or just get to know someone. But you can find me. My blog is homecookingcollective.com. My Instagram is at Home Cooking Collective. Those are my two main social platforms.

Bjork Ostrom: Cool. Awesome. We’ll put those in the show notes as well. Thanks so much for chatting. It was really good to connect.

Karishma Pradhan: Really good to connect. Thank you so much for having me.

Leslie Jeon: Hello. Hello, Leslie here from the Food Blogger Pro team. Thank you so much for tuning into this week’s episode of the podcast. As you might know, aside from the podcast, we also have the Food Blogger Pro membership where we have exclusive courses, the forum, live Q&As and more all for our members. And so if you’re not a member and you want to learn more and maybe join, you can head to foodbloggerpro.com/join to do so. But we are always adding new content and updating our content to improve the value of our membership for everyone who is part of Food Blogger Pro. And so we wanted to quickly update you about all the exciting new content we have coming to Food Blogger Pro in the month of January. So first things first, on Thursday, January 5th, we are launching a very exciting thing that we’ve been working on for a while now, and these are our coaching calls.

Leslie Jeon: So in these one-on-one coaching calls, Food Blogger Pro members have the chance to ask Bjork their questions. So we’re holding one coaching call a month, and our members get the opportunity to just kind of chat with Bjork about some of your best blogging questions to get his advice and see how he can help you work towards your blogging goals. And then we record each conversation and then add it to Food Blogger Pro so that the greater community can learn from one another. And so on January 5th, we’re actually going to be sharing our first coaching call, and it’s actually with me. So I did a coaching call with Bjork last month, and we’re sharing the conversation in case you want to get a feel for what they look like. And if you are already a Food Blogger Pro member and you want to submit an application to do your own coaching call in the coming months, you can head to foodbloggerpro.com/coaching/call/application to do so.

Leslie Jeon: We’re so excited to finally launch these coaching calls, and we really hope that our members enjoy them as much as we will. Then on January 12th, we’ll be hosting our monthly live Q&A for Food Blogger Pro members, and it’s an exciting one because it’s actually going to be with Kate Ahl, our Pinterest expert. She’s from Simple Pin Media and she is by far the expert when it comes to all things Pinterest, and she’ll be joining us to answer all of your questions about Pinterest strategy in 2023 as a food creator. So it’s going to be a really great conversation, and if you’ve been looking to kind of level up your Pinterest strategy in the new year and learn more about what you should be doing on Pinterest to have success nowadays, since so much has changed in that world, you won’t want to miss this Q&A,

Leslie Jeon: So if you want to add it to your calendar so you don’t forget, you can head to the live tab on Food Blogger Pro to learn more and go ahead and do that. And we hope to see you there on the 12th. Last but not least, on Thursday, January 19th, we’re going to be sharing a brand new course with you all about iPhone photography and editing. So we hear from you all the time that, especially when you’re first starting out, it can be really expensive to buy a DSLR and dive headfirst into the world of photography. And so a great place to start is just using the tools you already have, which might just be your iPhone. And so in this course, we’re going to walk you through optimizing all the settings within your phone, creating and taking beautiful photographs, and then also editing your photographs using just your phone.

Leslie Jeon: So stay tuned for that course. It’s going to be jam-packed with information to help you take and share beautiful photographs with the world. So that’s an overview of everything coming to Food Blogger Pro in January. And if you’re not a member and you’d like to join so you can get access to all of this, you can head to foodbloggerpro.com/join to learn more about our pricing options and get signed up. We would so love to have you join our community. That’s it for today though. Thanks again for tuning into this episode, and until next time, make it a great week.

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