Kulfi Bites: How we’re finding our purpose and content focus
June 23, 2021
It took us a while to write Kulfi Bites’ About page. Here’s why.
By Samia Abbasi, Editor
Every so often, I reread a newsletter Priyanka Ganjoo wrote back in October 2020 titled “Should we continue Kulfi Bites? A business decision” (excerpt at the end of article). The title almost says it all. The weeks leading up to that newsletter, we took an important step back to assess whether Kulfi Bites was the right direction for our time and energy, in the early stages of building Kulfi.
Our blog started in such an organic way, propelled by curiosity toward our community’s relationship with beauty and the excitement of delving into unique intersections of beauty, identity, and career. We had loose parameters to guide us, and we learned a lot as we went: the process of conducting an interview, creating an engaging piece from idea to final draft, marketing long-form content on social media in bite-sized ways. You can imagine that there was a steep learning curve, but we had a lot of fun with the process — the MEMES!
I believe that “purpose” and “focus” go hand in hand.
“Purpose” answers why you’re doing what you’re doing, while “focus” lays out the what and how of your platform. So, for Bites, our purpose is to celebrate self-expression and challenge norms in a space where South Asian & BIPOC can be seen in all their complexities, and our focus is interviews and personal storytelling that highlights curiosity, confidence, and joy in the scope of beauty, culture, career, and wellness.
As a content creator or content platform founder, it can be such a process to find your purpose and focus. That’s exactly what I want to talk to you about today: key reflections on how we’re finding our focus at Bites and what is driving us forward. I want to note the present tense; we’re still in the midst of it. But after 17 months of creating Bites, I have some insights to share.
It takes time, patience, and reflection to find your focus & purpose —and that’s okay.
When researching “how to scale a magazine,” I Googled variations of that question only to get lukewarm answers like: “SEO is important.” (— okay and??). You can imagine how excited I was to find out about a workshop series happening in June 2021 called How to Start Your Magazine. Hosted by Kya Buller of Aurelia Magazine and Amy Mae Baxter of Bad Form Review, the mix of practical and experiential knowledge they’ve infused into this series has been priceless. I especially appreciate their affirmation and encouragement; it’s hard to be a magazine founder or editor-in-chief, but you’re doing a great job with the resources you have.
On the topic of finding the confidence to keep going, Kya summed it up so beautifully:
“It sounds cliche but it’s true: everything starts somewhere — so give your community time to find you.”
I can’t agree more! You might feel directionless if you don’t immediately start out with a well-thought-out, compelling mission statement. But a lot of Kulfi Bites’ purpose and focus has fleshed itself out by: a.) taking small steps back to analyze and reflect, b.) taking risks and experimenting, and c.) producing content that follows our curiosities.
In August 2020, we took our Beauty Diaries & interviews and categorized them into 4 sections: beauty, culture, career, and wellness. The next step, which took many months, was figuring out the perspective and scope of each category. By writing articles and reflecting on what gives us the most energy, we were able to pick out key themes that would become the descriptions for each Bites section. We’ve noted down the trends that have resonated with our audience, and these observations could only be found through launching 2-3 articles per week. Something important I learned was to:
Give yourself the confidence to discontinue parts of your work that are simply not working out or not giving you energy.
This, if anything, also helps to tighten your content focus and release internal roadblocks. You know what ideas don’t necessarily fit, and that can give you so much clarity when you’re developing your platform’s perspective. Reminder: you can also think of things that don’t work out as “shelved ideas.” Meaning, you can always come back to them when you have a fresh perspective or new resources to filter into them.
How do you even put the feeling of reading & writing Kulfi Bites into words?
Writing the Kulfi Bites About page was like a heat mirage: alluring but fleeting, perceivable yet invisible. If you’re a creative who’s trying to figure out your social media or website bio, you might relate to this; it can be hard to define something you work so closely with because you see it in a very specific way.
I’ve had so many conversations with Kulfi team member Janvi Sai about how Kulfi Bites makes us feel, and equally, how challenging it is to mold that vibe and emotion into a singular mission statement and origin story. Janvi has an amazing way of taking specific feelings and distilling the essence into tangible words for people to read. She states that:
The magic of Kulfi Bites is “joyful representation and honest storytelling.”
Her insight was so impactful! Some of our audience’s favorite pieces really highlight the lived experiences we have with beauty, culture, career, and wellness. We want to read more stories that explore joy and confidence in a South Asian and BIPOC lens. Leaning into the Gen Z perspective, in particular, has really helped us create content that adds new layers of insight into familiar conversations on the internet.
It’s also great to get feedback from people who interact with your content, including how people talk about your platform when you feature them or vice-versa. I encourage you to screenshot and save the messages that make you smile!
There are hidden meanings embedded in these messages that can help you flesh out your purpose, focus, and strengths.
I want to give a huge thank you to the Bites contributing writer team, Kulfi team, and our community: Your sheer excitement and faith in Bites means the world!
Lean into what actually gives you energy v. what you think you need to be doing.
Oh, the joy of expectations and perfection *sighh*. I think about this all the time: the concept of feeling self-conscious about what I’m doing v. what I feel like I should be doing. Priyanka pointed this out in her newsletter, too: “Somewhere along the way though, I looked at page views and site traffic and felt discouraged because we weren’t getting millions of views.”
The internet has made it so hard for you to not only create genuine content but also have it be seen by a wide audience. There aren’t many tangible metrics to figuring out whether you’re on the right track with your content platform. You might be wondering if you need to be more flashy, click bait-y, or trendy. But ask yourself: Is that what you really need right now? Does that type of content bring you fulfillment? More and more, I feel like social media-consumers are excited to see and read things that are personable and come from the heart, that really dig into the specificities of the human condition.
Think of your storytelling as a space where someone will stumble on it at the right time & place — and it’s exactly what they need to hear.
So, I encourage you to lean into the topics and ideas that give you the most energy, that genuinely make you feel excited about the process of exploring the idea, rather than just the end result. We found that with Bites content, the stories that are specific to us can also resonate with so many people. And it’s easy to think the opposite: Nobody is going to care. This topic is too niche. Time and time again, that has proven to be false. It’s important to remind yourself:
“My perspective and storytelling is a gift!”
After all, you are the one putting in all this amazing work, so your content should also reflect your curiosities and wildest dreams, as much as your audience’s feedback and desires.
End Note: Trust your evolution.
There are so many things I’d love to say on the topic of purpose and focus. Above all, it’s important to acknowledge that your content is constantly evolving. In 6 month, 1 year, or 3 years down the line, there will be even more clarity and specificity in your platform’s mission, because
You’re putting in the work of creating things, feeling it out, and recalibrating your focus.
I always struggle with the idea of “being consistent” and all the other advice that people will give you about creating content and achieving a following. At the end of the day, I find so much strength and encouragement in my perspective and the community around me.
About — Samia Abbasi is the Content Lead & editor for Kulfi, based in the Bay Area, CA. She has a degree in English Creative Writing from Mills College. She is a communications volunteer of South Asians 4 Black Lives and has previous editorial experience with The 1947 Partition Archive and Hachette Book Group. She is an avid reader, anime-watcher, tea-drinker, and loves spending time with her cats Zayn & Naru. You can follow her on Twitter & Instagram at @samiabossee and get in touch at firstname.lastname@example.org.
Excerpt from “Should we continue Kulfi Bites? A business decision” by Priyanka Ganjoo from October 28, 2020:
Many of us grew up not feeling beautiful. I knew I wanted to change that. But how? Beauty, to me, is shared storytelling. It’s what we tell ourselves and tell each other. This is why Kulfi Bites is so important to me, because I want to share 5 or 500 or 5,000,000 stories of South Asian people uplifting and celebrating themselves and each other.
As these stories get shared, my hope is that they change the narrative around beauty.
Somewhere along the way though, I looked at page views and site traffic and felt discouraged because we weren’t getting millions of views. We spent hours and hours perfecting each piece, was it even worth it? It’s not a decision I take lightly. As a lean team, each hour we spend on one task means an hour away from another important task. In the time we write an article, we could be pitching Kulfi to magazines (check out our feature in Allure) or developing new products. I felt a bit lost. Then we had a conversation with David Yi of Very Good Light, who has created a space that's redefining masculinity and men’s beauty standards. He was so excited and supportive of what we were doing because he understood that no space like Kulfi Bites has existed before. He told us to not overthink but to keep producing content that was meaningful to us. And I realized that instead of leaning back, we need to lean in and share more stories than ever before.
Samia is leading the charge here — from publishing one story a week, she’s now publishing up to five stories a week. From Janvi Sai in New York City falling back in love with her brows to Tahmina Begum in London sharing her idea of self-care rooted in her Bangladeshi upbringing to Rameen Saad in Karachi discovering how being a content creator helped her find confidence to Ria Biyani in Mumbai embracing her skincare journey, I’m inspired by these stories and their collective impact on us. So, more Bites are coming your way!