Hey folks, we’re back with another interview for our Ask the Creator series! This week we have Samira Kazan aka Alphafoodie in the hot seat. Samira leads a double life as an influencer but also a part-time Mathematics/Physics professor. Read her story to learn some amazing lessons about the industry but most importantly, be inspired!
Hey Samira! Tell us, how did you become a Creator?
It was all by coincidence. About three years ago, I used to skip breakfast and by 11am, I would be asking my colleagues if they’re ready for lunch! I started experimenting with healthy food I’d never heard about like chia seeds, kale or quinoa and made random dishes with help from Youtube. I was initially only sharing with my sister and then moved on to posting on Facebook. A friend told me I should use Instagram but as I didn’t know what it was back then, I was wary about taking that step. But after two months, I started instagramming my creations in an attempt to figure out how it works. From this, I began gaining followers and attention, and it became quite addictive! As a scientist, I was interested in looking at numbers and experimenting with them. You start noticing what works and what doesn’t and have fun with it.
How has it changed your life?
Massively! I gained so many opportunities through Instagram from meeting and spending a fews days with the Royal family, to making my very own collection with Wedgwood / Royal Albert – a product with my name on it! I’ve collaborated with brands such as Google, Pinterest, Facebook, Duty Free, Fox Productions etc. published in Vogue / Times / Guardian and had the opportunity to go to places I never would have without this platform. And I can’t forget to mention that I’ve started my own business!
What’s your favourite part about being a Creator?
The freedom to do whatever you like and create whatever you fancy as well as coming up with the weirdest ideas; some might be perfect, some might be bad, but it’s about EXPERIMENTING AND HAVING FUN! It’s a great way to understand what works and what doesn’t.
…it’s about experimenting and having fun!
If you weren’t a Creator, what would you be doing?
My real life job (pre-Instagram) was a Mathematics/Physics professor and I still teach part-time at the moment. Teaching mathematics is one of my biggest passions and I wish there was a way to combine maths and food…i’m still working on how to bring the two together!
Do you believe anyone can be a Creator?
100%. We all have a passion for something, it’s about discovering what it is and building on it.
Where do you take your inspiration from?
Inspiration is everywhere, from street art or a drawing in a shop to Pinterest. No one invented pasta or smoothies or ice cream, but it’s all about how we add our own creative style and twist to it.
What was the toughest stage in settling on your particular style and building a follower base?
I would say the early stage when you’re still not sure what you want to post about. You may have a million ideas (which is fine) and it’s important to experiment to know what works and what doesn’t. It doesn’t matter how long this stage is. It could be six months, a year or more it’s OK. You need to be patient and find what you like the most. Then you can narrow your focus and become known for a particular niche.
How do you choose which campaigns to take and not take?
There are two main themes to decide this:
1) Do I use the product in real life? Is it something I would buy and enjoy if I didn’t have instagram? If yes, then I would certainly start negotiating the campaign.
2) Is the brand willing to pay the correct fee for the work involved? I would also normally push for long term collaborations whenever possible.
Note: as a creator it’s great to put a lot lot lot more focus into creative sponsored posts rather than just posing with the product. Create something such as a recipe that your followers would find useful and that prompts them to save or pin it. This makes the brand happy and may encourage them to work with you in the future. But most importantly, your followers are not put off by the advert.
How do you prefer to work with brands and what are the best & worst experiences you’ve had working with a brand?
I love working with brands that give me creative freedom and listen to what I think works best for a particular campaign. I am the creator, they came to me for a reason. If they came to nit pick what they think works best on my page, then they don’t have a chance with me.
My best experience was one where the client was super impressed with the work I had done, the tip alone was €2000!
My worst experience was with a well known veggie crisps brand. The client asked me to lie about one of the ingredients (even though it was written on the packaging) – palm oil! Some brands sadly have no morals 🙁
I love working with brands that give me creative freedom and listen to what I think works best for a particular campaign.
How has the industry changed since you’ve been a Creator and what effect has that had on your approach and content creation?
In the old days, making pretty photos would easily get into the explorer page (which is the main way to get followers and be seen). But over a year ago, the algorithm changed and that made photos almost impossible to appear on the explorer page. For me, the main fun thing that works well is creating video content, anything that people would find useful and engaging. I only recently started experimenting with IGTV. I don’t have a strong conclusion yet but from my initial stats, main feed videos get much more insights than IGTV videos.
What do you enjoy about working with Buzzoole?
The creative freedom. I like that I can discuss my ideas and they’re open to listening and discussing with the brand before creating. So no time is wasted. With some platforms you have to create content beforehand and you may or may not be successful, which could be frustrating. With Buzzoole, you know the budget and the idea before starting to create.
How can we improve?
Long term brand collaborations and bringing brands and influencers together. Maybe organise conferences where the two meet and chat informally, so they can better understand one another.
What are the killer strategies, formats and creative solutions you believe Creators should be using to drive success?
Useful content. Studying their own page to see what works best for their particular audience and improve on it. After I watch a particular piece of content, I want to feel inspired to either create it or inspired in other ways. If I watch a piece of content which I would deem silly or pointless, I would be inclined to unfollow the creator. If I feel the creator is being fake or desperate, it’s not a great feeling. The best strategy is to focus on what you enjoy most and have fun with it.
What are your thoughts on the ongoing debate around fake followers?
It’s pathetic to buy fake followers and fake likes. It’s very very very easily detected. I’ve seen big brands fall into this and it’s sad. If your audience is based on fake followers, how can you tell if your content is interesting or not?
Where do you hope your Creator journey will take you?
I hope to keep inspiring people to eat the rainbow and that one day, i’ll be able to help make healthy, organic eating more accessible to everyone regardless of their income or social status!
After I watch a particular piece of content, I want to feel inspired to either create it or inspired in other ways.
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