At Creators’ Talk,  we speak to real-life creators about their unique experiences in creating and monetizing their content. We also talk about their challenges and how they are overcoming them. We hope these stories will inspire you to build your niche and monetise your content over time. 

Today, we’re featuring Maryam, a food creator and the founder of Arewa foodie. In her story, she shares a lot of insights on how to monetize your content as a food creator in Nigeria. 

Hello Maryam, Can you share a little bit about yourself? 

Hi, I’m Maryam also known as Chef Maah. I’m a chef and food content creator. 

Did you always want to be a chef? Or was it a passion that blossomed from being a foodie? 

Honestly, I was living with my aunt. She was the actual foodie and the one who taught me how to cook. When I finished secondary school, I started a food business where I was making small chops, and sold them to my coursemates.

Then I got inspired by Diary of a Kitchen Lover who is so creative and that prompted me to build my own social media account. I attempted an online course on food blogging and now I’ve gone knee-deep into content creation. Thankfully, I have been able to monetize my content through brand campaigns.  

God when? While we are at it, please share your tips for getting such high-quality food pictures.

I don’t know why, but most people think I’m using a Camera because of the pictures on my page but contrary to what you think, I’ve never used a camera. I use my phone. It’s just a matter of how you shoot. 

A recipe that might take you 30 minutes to make can take you 2 hours to shoot. And at the end of the day, the content might even fail. So you need the patience to take multiple shots from different angles until it looks great.

We can imagine. Cooking is already hard enough and you have to take clips of every step?

Yes. Especially since your 2 hours shoot has to be compressed into a one-minute video. For me, video editing is what really takes a lot of time. Then there’s the voice over too. You have to stay composed and write a script that’ll help you make things easier. Because if you don’t write a script, you’d end up rambling and not make any sense. 

Unfortunately, there are a lot of people watching and critiquing your content.  So you need to think through every word before putting it out. 

Oh yes… especially since cooking is something most people do every day.

See…almost everyone has their own way of cooking a particular meal. I can choose to cook white rice my own way and someone would say that’s wrong. But the point of that content is to inspire you to cook a similar meal. You don’t have to do it exactly my way. So being a food creator can be challenging if you don’t know how to deal with opinions and criticism. 

Have you ever had a creative block as a food creator on what recipe to share? 

Oh, a lot. But I’ve found a workaround for it by writing recipes as soon as they cross my mind because I forget things easily. Thankfully because of this, I rarely run out of content ideas

For example, now, I have 10 more food videos that I haven’t posted. Before I post them, the whole process of writing captions and doing voiceovers has to come first.  I have to also be consistent in posting too so I batch-create, which is something I highly recommend.

So do you struggle sometimes with getting ingredients for these recipes when you plan to shoot these videos? If you do, does it mess up your content calendar? 

It seriously messes up my calendar. Most of the food items, I don’t get it at my location. So I order some from Jos in Plateau State because they have fresh stuff. Again, I batch-create, so if I don’t have the ingredients at that time, I either go for another recipe or wait for ones from Plateau. 

Okay…Let’s get into the money part. What was the first deal you got as a creator?

Food content is honestly so diverse and full of many opportunities. My first deal was with Ayoola Foods and it didn’t exactly go as planned. I was very excited to get money o, don’t get me wrong. But we had some misunderstanding so it didn’t go well.

The second was with Checkers Custard. I was still a small content creator so the pay wasn’t exactly great. But I took on the project as a learning process because there are other brands out there watching your content. 

So I try to put out my best because I don’t know who’s going to see my content – it might go viral or just stay in my Instagram community. 

Now that we’ve seen the sapa days, was there any particular brand deal that brought in the big money or your breakout?

I started working with Nexus Appliances during the last Ramadan and it was a contract for three posts. Immediately after this, they reached out again that they’d want more. So I created 20 more recipes for them. The contract is ending soon but they’re thinking about renewing it. Then I got a Malta Guinness contract – currently working on this too. 

God when?

Seriously, once you start working for a big brand, instantly, it’s like you’re attracting other brands. Because they see the work you’re putting in for other brands. They’d say ah this person is really good. 

Do you have any advice on landing these big brands? Should they shoot their shots? 

Nope. It’s a big no. I wouldn’t recommend that. Whenever you reach out to a brand yourself, seeking collaboration, they often don’t see value in you. And here’s a tip – many times, they won’t reach out to you directly. 

These brands have marketing and PR agents. The agents will work for the brand for a period of time and another agency will take over once their contract expires. So these agents, are the ones who reach out to you. The brand already paid these guys so they’d have a budget for creators. So of course, they’d try to price you to get value for less. 

Just make sure you package yourself very well. Don’t settle for less honestly. If I plan to charge 500k for a particular content, and an agent reaches out to me that they have a client – and they won’t say the name of the client or brand, when they finish negotiating with you, if you come down to 200k and they say the brand, you might just cry cause you’d feel used.

My advice, get a rate card and stick to your rates. They can afford you and trust me, they’ll see the value to pay you your worth. Just keep putting in your best. 

Thank you Maryam!

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