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028: How to Use Patreon + Amplify Marginalized Voices with Anela Malik

Curious how to use Patreon to monetize your blog? Learn how one blogger quit her full-time job with the support of this membership platform, plus get inspired on how you can best amplify BIPOC and marginalized voices.

Wondering how to use Patreon as a blogger?

Many people think that the only way to monetize your blog is with ads, sponsors, and affiliates–but what if that’s not a fit for your business?

Patreon is a membership platform that makes it easy for artists and creators to get paid for their work. It allows content creators like artists, musicians, and influencers to focus on their work full-time with the support of their patrons. For fans, the site is a good way of funding the work of your favorite creators, while also getting rewards in return.

If you’ve never thought about using Patreon as a way to monetize your blog, today’s conversation just might change your mind!

How to Amplify Marginalized Voices in Food

With the political and social justice climate of 2020, a lot more people are highlighting BIPOC voices than ever before. While uplifting marginalized voices is a beautiful thing, it can also be done in ways that are exploitive–so today, we’re talking about what NOT to do when amplifying BIPOC voices.

Plus, we have a fascinating conversation about how food is political and powerful. Food is connected to our histories and to our cultures. It’s connected to conversations about what’s normal and what’s popular. As consumers, each of us can contribute to creating the world we want to see through our buying choices.

Let’s get into it!

How to use Patreon to monetize your blog

My guest today, Anela Malik, is a food writer and advocate based in Washington, D.C. Malik’s work focuses on highlighting marginalized voices in food through her blog and Instagram, Feed the Malik, founded in 2018. Her platforms highlight the perspectives and contributions of women, immigrants, and the LGBTQ and Black communities in food culture and history.

Recently, Malik has worked to uplift Black-owned food businesses in the DMV. She created the first comprehensive database of D.C.-area Black-owned restaurants open during COVID and launched a service connecting local Black-owned food businesses to free resources and expertise to help them survive and thrive. Malik’s work has been featured in publications, including The Washington Post, The Washingtonian, and Washington City Paper.

What you’ll learn in this episode:

  • How do you find unrecognized stories in the food and restaurant industry?
  • How to make the leap from a passion project to full-time blogging
  • How to use Patreon, a monthly subscription site, to monetize your business
  • What’s more important and valuable than the size of your audience and the algorithm
  • Exploring People Of Color during Black Lives Matter, and how NOT to amplify black voices
  • The politics of food and how it represents the power to change
  • A business idea for restaurants during COVID

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And finally, don’t forget to subscribe to the show on Apple Podcasts to get automatic updates. My goal for this podcast is to inspire those who seek flexibility and freedom in their lives by making something happen with holistic, soulful, step-by-step strategies from me and other experts.

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Anela Malik 0:00

Hey y'all, it's Episode 28 of the Success with Soul podcast and I'm your host Kate Kordsmeier. Today I am so excited to introduce you to a new friend of mine Anela Malik. She is a food writer and advocate based in Washington DC, whose work focuses on highlighting marginalized voices in food through her blog and Instagram called feed the maleek. As a former food writer, myself and Ella's work really resonates with me and the way she brings culture and history into her food writing while highlighting the perspectives and contributions of women, immigrants, the LGBTQ and black communities as well. So of course, we're diving into these topics on the podcast today. But one of the other cool things that came up in our conversation is how to monetize your blog without using ads and sponsors and brands. And especially when you're doing something that is so mission driven And maybe feels out of alignment to monetize in that way. So anala is sharing how she was able to quit her full time corporate job to focus on feed them a leak her blog, and how she did this in a way that felt truly aligned with her soul's purpose. It's such a good one and I can't wait for you to hear it. So let's go. You're listening to the Success with Soul podcast with Kate Kordsmeier x journalist turned CEO of a multi six figure blog and online business. But it wasn't that long ago that Kate was a struggling entrepreneur who lacked confidence, clarity, and let's be honest money. But all those failures, experiments and lessons learned helped Kate create a thriving business that impacts thousands and brings freedom, flexibility and fulfillment to her life. If you're ready to do the same and make something happen with holistic soulful steps, Step strategies from Kaden, other experts. You're in the right place. here's your host, writer, educator, Mom, recovering perfectionist, bookworm and sushi connoisseur, Kate Kordsmeier. Hey, anala thank you so much for being here.

Absolutely. Thanks for having me.

I'm so stoked to talk to you because you live in DC, right? Yeah, so I used to live in DC too. And oh, I miss it so much. Is it still as wonderful as always been?

It is but it's kind of strange right now. Living Yeah. You know, a big city in the middle of COVID-19 means that it's all together empty, but it feels cramped because we're spending so much time in our small city apartments. Are you in in the city? Yeah, we're in a small one bedroom in the city for a month. Yeah,

that's some some tight quarters. Yeah, well, but at least you Don't have kids in there with you because we have a four bedroom house and I'm still like, I need more space.

I think we we both have said myself and my husband that after. after this is over we'll probably never live in an apartment again that doesn't have an extra bedroom. We thought we didn't need it without ever be home this much. And now. Oh, hi. You both are working from home

and yeah. Yeah, I think that is definitely I will admit I am not envious of you being an apartment. We were saying this the other day, my husband and I have like, I never really thought how grateful I would be to like have a house. I don't know. Do you have an elevator? Or are you having to deal with that kind of thing? No, I guess we see that's the beauty of there's no high rises.

No. Yeah.

Kate Kordsmeier 3:48

Yeah. So that's good.

Anela Malik 3:50

But yeah, I know you think you you don't need all this space and then something like this totally unexpected happens and you're like it wouldn't be the worst thing to have a little bit of room. At this point we'd pay for it. We will.

Yeah. Well, pre-COVID, tell us about your life in DC and what you do.

So I've been back in DC for, I guess a little over a year now. I was living overseas and I moved back with my husband for work. So we have, you know, reacquainted ourselves with the city. And I am a DC based food blogger, writer, advocate. I focus on uplifting marginalized voices in food and really just exploring parts of the local scene that aren't elsewhere highlighted because there's so much here. It's such a thriving, like food city, I think in 2009, yeah, in about 2009 2019. He was voted as you know, the most exciting food city in America and I think that's true. So that was my life pre COVID was trying to explore this really exciting scene and I'm still doing that to an extent now though things have changed dramatically.

Yeah. Okay, so a couple questions for you there. I don't know if you know this, but when I lived in DC, it was 2011 to 2013. And I was a food reporter. So I wrote about the restaurants in DC for national magazines and some local stuff, too. And I totally agree that is one of the coolest, if not the coolest food cities, and just so much diversity in the restaurants. And I think there is starting to become more there was still like, especially in terms of like male versus female chefs. That was a you know, there was some room for improvement there. What do you feel like it's like today, because now I'm like, gosh, that was seven to nine years ago.

Well, I think the industry in general is still slowly changing in that respect, right. So most executive chefs are men. That Standard in every city though DC has some really exciting restaurants that are led by women. There's made on which has won, you know, a whole slew of awards. And may Jon's executive chef Marcel. Also, they just brought on a executive pastry chef. That's a woman. Right. So there is change happening, though it's still slow in the food industry, I think.

Yeah. So tell us more about your blog and how you're helping to, you know, with this very issue.

So I focus on marginalized voices in food, and I try to take a broad lens and what that means is right now, particularly because of COVID, and this outgrowth of a recent civil rights movement, I'm focusing primarily on black voices in the food space, black owned businesses and black chefs, black restaurant tours, but in general, I also try to highlight you know, female chefs Female, restaurant owners, people of color minorities, immigrants, etc. Because these are voices in the food space that don't necessarily get as much like mainstream coverage, though they are essential parts of the food scape. If you think about running restaurants in America without immigrants, then we don't really have a restaurant industry. And if you think about, you know, the labor of women in restaurants, I think that that's something that also has been, to a large extent unrecognized because, you know, women often work the front of house jobs, which might be like less, I guess, esteemed. If you're a bar manager, or you're just the head hostess or the lead server, you're not going to get the same recognition as if you're an executive chef, but the restaurant could run without you. Right? Totally.

Yeah, same thing with the back of house that we don't see a lot is like Who's washing the dishes? And who's bussing the tables? And? Yeah, I think very underrecognized groups there for sure. So you're focusing on the restaurant industry or the food industry at large.

So, a little bit of both, I used to focus primarily on the restaurant industry. And now, you know, as COVID keeps impacting our life, things are changing. People, for example, are not eating out as much now as they did at the beginning of the pandemic, right. So, I think because of economic uncertainty, and just this, this sense of instability, people are shifting their spending habits to save more money, and that means cooking more at home. So I've started trying to highlight more products that are, you know, food products available in stores, for example, as opposed to focusing on restaurants because, as our lifestyles change, you know, food is still a huge part of our lives. It's just the way we interact with food might shift. Little bit. Yeah. makes total sense. So for somebody if they haven't, if they're not familiar with your blog, what kinds of stories? What kinds of posts are you writing in order to amplify these voices? Mm hmm. So for example, this week I just published on my website and then I'll have, you know, accompanying graphics and promos on various social media channels, the story of Andre Williams, so he is a DC native, a chef who's worked at quite a few restaurants here in the city who just quietly opened his own restaurant, his first standalone restaurant concept in Chevy Chase in DC, and he's someone who's worked in DC for a long time has worked in the industry. And now, I think this is every chef's dream is to open their own restaurant and his concept is really interesting. The food is really well executed, but his restaurant has not been covered by any of the local food papers. And you know, he doesn't have a PR team. He doesn't have a Any marketing experience, he doesn't quite know how to do that part of it. And so that's where I try to fill the gap and find restaurant tours or anyone working in the industry who has an interesting story who's working on a cool concept, but maybe might not be able to have to find the platform to put their story out there.

Yeah, so how do you find these stories yourself? Like, are you just so connected now in this industry with somebody else's, like, I want to do this? How do you get started?

So I would say that it's really important, if you want to be a blogger, about anything is to learn as much as you can about your niche, right. So I find stories everywhere. I follow executive chefs on Instagram and Twitter. But I also if I can find a line cook, I'll follow the line cook or service staff or bartenders. And I usually find really interesting stories not from you know the big names in my industry on Twitter. I find the interesting stories from Somebody's cousin is opening a restaurant. And so they post about their cousin because they're proud of this person. And if you just pay attention to the little things like that, you'll realize, oh, there's a lot happening around me. That may be if I if I wasn't so focused, I wouldn't I wouldn't pick up on.

Yeah. Yeah. I mean, it's so true, because as much as I'm loath to admit it, I feel like when I was in journalism, yeah, I mean, it's easier for journalists, if your restaurant has a PR team. They've got images at the ready. They've got you know, they're used to like interviewing and understand kind of the industry and how media works. So they get a lot more coverage because they make the journalist job easier, but are they more deserving of the coverage? Probably not. So that's such a good point. And I love that you're kind of finding these like underdogs, for lack of a better word. So do you monetize your blog at all? Or is this more of a passion project? Or? I'm not sure that that's the right term either. But let me just ask the question, as do you monetize your blog?

So it started as a passion project. So that was an accurate question. It really started as a way to push myself to explore more of the food scene. I've always loved food. And I've always thought that food, you know, can connect us and teaches us about, you know, each other's histories and cultures, especially having traveled and lived abroad. You know, where did you live abroad? Jordan did I see. So I lived in Amman, Jordan before moving back to DC. And some of my best experiences probably all of them in Jordan had to do with food, of course. So it started as a passion project, and I'm actually in the process now of I hate to say monetizing because that's not my ultimate goal. My ultimate goal is to make my project feed the maleek sustainable So, you know, I started as a hobby blogger, and I was just doing a couple hours a week of like little things here and there. And then over a year long period, the time investment required, just grew dramatically as I became more passionate about, you know, my subject matter. And as I realized that, especially in DC, I do think there is a gap in the food media coverage. And that's not to say that there's no reporters who are doing incredible work. But DC is a city where the largest ethnic group is still blacks or African Americans, but there's no full time black food writers here. Any of the major publications, and

I know that DC has the largest Ethiopian population outside of Ethiopia. Yes. Which is so cool. And I miss the incredible Ethiopian food so good.

Yeah. So things like this right are our stories that I want to dig into. And so as it started taking more time, I realized I had to make a choice between continuing to work a full time job. And then by June, my blog had also become a full time job. I was working 60 plus hour weeks for over a month before I realized this probably not sustainable. So I'm quitting my job. Yay. Congratulations. That's a big thing. No, it is. It's a very scary step to, but I realized that I have to try.

This is your calling, like you're doing such beautiful work and making such an impact. And I don't know what your what your previous job was. But I'm really excited for you.

Thank you. It's terrifying. Yeah, I'll be honest about that. However, I think that this work is important. And I've been really, really lucky that the community and my followers do support me so I could monetize my Instagram and I'm open to that to doing branded work and ads, but I really want to started looking at making this project more viable in the long term, realized that I didn't want that to be my primary goal. And I didn't want to be kind of dependent on that sort of income, because so much of my work is local. And I think that that's what makes my account special, right? I want to talk to and focus on mom and pop shops who don't have a budget to pay me. And so how do I do that and pay my bills. And so I've launched a Patreon. And I think I just launched Yeah, a week ago. And so far, the response has been awesome. I definitely can pay my rent, and pay my bills and have the space to continue working on these stories, and also doing a whole host of other, you know, related activities to kind of help support the local restaurant scene as well. And so I think I'm really lucky in that respect, because if I did not have the community and my followers, I wouldn't be able to try to make a go at this project. So this is fascinating. So, for anybody not familiar, and I am, I know of Patreon, but I've never used it myself. So this is where you basically ask your people that read your work and, you know, participate to support you financially, right? I mean, is it like donations? Or how does what's the like terminology that you use. So it's a monthly subscription, and set up, like tiers various prices. And, you know, it's clear based on which subscription level you choose kind of what you'll get from that relationship. And when I started talking about making them weak, more sustainable over the long term, I have quite a few followers who messaged me and said, I would sign up for a Patreon and expect nothing in return because you already are giving us valuable work and we think you should be paid for your work. And so that was like mind blowing for me. I hadn't really considered that people wanted to pay me You know, I, I just it never crossed my mind. And so I do have, you know, a Patreon that I just started, it's been really great. And people have been really supportive. It's almost like the way I describe it. If you've never been on the platform, it's very similar to a Facebook community, except it's there's a paywall.

Okay, so this is really interesting because obviously, in 2020, free content is the norm and people just expect to get stuff for free. So it's great that you have built this audience that believes in you and your mission and actually values your work enough to say no, you should be paid to do this. This is providing value to my life and you know, the mission that you support. So are you okay, talking numbers a little bit?

Yeah, sure. Why not? Okay. So

tell me like how Many, let's see how many page views was your blog getting a month when you started the Patreon?

Oh, okay. So this is something that goes up and down for me, right? So I've had, I've had a few, I've had three pages basically go viral. But then beyond that, especially because I blogged so much about Black Lives Matter as it relates to the food industry. So in June, I had a huge traffic, right, like, huge traffic, and then it's tapered off. So right now it's at about maybe 20,000 page views a month.

Okay, this is great. I just want to give people a sense of like, what they could expect, like, could you start Patreon when you're, you know, brand new is this do you feel like you've established yourself a little bit more before you switch to that model? Because I could see the argument of doing it that way. But I could also see the argument of well, if you teach people that your content is free, And then all of a sudden that becomes paid, then, are they like, Oh, you know, I thought this was free, and then it's hard to get them to make that switch in their own minds.

No. And I worried about that when I started this project. So I have, you know, a small blog, as far as pageviews on my site, and then right now, I think on Instagram, I have 22,000 followers. And, and I, I did two things, which I think were really essential to making this project like work, right, is I deliberately cultivated a very active email list. And so for me, it wasn't necessarily important to have the largest email list though, of course, I'm trying to grow it but I wanted to make sure that my open rate and click rate was high. And, and I thought of it as and I still think of it this way when I make my content. I always try to think about not what's like maybe The most shareable are going to do the best. As far as the Instagram algorithm or even SEO, sometimes, I try to think about what's the most valuable to the people who follow me and engage with me. So sometimes that might mean your content isn't as algorithm friendly. But in my experience, it means that people, the people who do follow you, they will open your emails, they will click on the things you send them. You know, they will engage with your content. So there's a balance because, for example, like food bloggers have recipes. One of the most common complaints about online recipes that I've seen as a consumer and just, you know, I watched the Twitter threads about about these topics is that you have a list of ingredients, which has all of the amounts for each ingredient, so a quarter cup of flour, and then there's like, this long story, which I get it longer posts do better. There's reasons for that. And then you get to the bottom, which has the step by step. And the, the amounts are not restated in the step by step. So that's pretty common. And it's a complaint that I see online all the time. And I, I think that, you know, people probably assume that the longer you have someone stay on the page, the better, which in some ways, if you think about it, it's true. But the way bad user experience

Yeah. And so I think about it this way is like, if somebody wants to read one of my recipes, what is the best way to get them to be able to do that, and then in their minds when they think about another recipe and where they want to look for it to get them to come back? To me? Yeah. And so that's how I think about my email newsletter as well is I try to pack it full of, you know, interesting articles commentary, if I see a deal on something that I think is really awesome that I use personally. Like, I'll put it in there, even if it's not an affiliate link, even if I'm not gonna make money off of it. And because of that, I think I've had pretty good success with my email list. And that's where I converted the most people to Patreon.

Okay, so, so many good things to unpack here. First, I just want to like repeat for everybody listening, if you were like multitasking or anything, come back and listen, value over algorithm. Yeah, that is so important. And I'm so glad that you said that. Because if you want people to come back, and you want people to pay you and you want people, you know, to actually make this into a living, you need to put service above all else, I think so. I love that you said that. And I love that you talked about the importance of email. And this is something that I feel like is unique to bloggers because a lot of times people think that in order to make money from your blog, you have to have millions of page views because you're just getting ad revenue and that's paid on a you know, per page view type model. What I have found with my blog group rebel is that actually having an email list that is like you said, active engage that I am nurturing those subscribers that that is where it like when we started doing that it was like our income quintupled just by focusing on email. So I'm so glad you mentioned that as well tell me how many email subscribers you had when you started to your Patreon. Probably just 1000 Okay, I love this. This is such a good like such a beautiful example of just like you don't have to be huge to make a serious impact and make this a living. Okay, if you're comfortable sharing how many Patreon subscribers Do you have and what does that equate to in revenue.

So I am not sure of the number of subscribers. It's 150 ish and pay trend does take a cut like all platforms do. And so after their cut, it's $2,000 a month, and I started my rollout a week ago. Dang girl.

That is so impressive.

And you know, for now, this is my first month doing Patreon. But that's enough for me to leave my job and be like I can pay rent. And you know, there are other ways that I can monetize. But it's a good start to feeling comfortable trying to pursue a project that I'm really passionate about. Yeah.

Kate Kordsmeier 24:38

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Anela Malik 25:52

Okay, so let's go back to this whole like making the leap. I want to just talk about your mindset. How did you really get to that Place where you felt like, I mean, was it just about having this base salary? Did you feel like you needed to save up like a cushion before you did it walk us through your process.

So I actually had very few concerns, which goes against my personality, my regular personality, I'm usually very risk averse. But I got to the point where I felt like I had to do this. And I'm married. My husband has a very stable job. So I talked to him first. And he was very supportive. And I'm very, very lucky to know that if it all fell apart, and I can't make this work, he would float us through until I got another job. Right, so I have that safety net. My other concern was health insurance. And health insurance is so expensive. In the United States, I have really good health insurance through my current employer. And my husband was like, well, we can switch to my jobs health insurance, which is also very good. So that was like my primary concern. And on top of that, I know I can always find a job. And I say that as someone who I've worked in the restaurant industry off and on for 10 years, and it would suck, and it would feel like a step backwards, because, you know, in many ways those jobs are somewhat abusive, I would even call them just the long hours on your feet and the financial uncertainty, etc. But if I needed to walk down the street and walk into a restaurant, get a job, I could do it. And so, you know, those are skills that don't go away. I can make customers happy, I can learn a menu, I can learn all about the wine program, and I can serve your food and I can sell your food. And so I I've always felt like having that experience in the food industry is in and of itself, a safety net. That will be hard. Because anywhere in America, you can probably get a job in a restaurant.

Yeah. But I think even if you if even if your background isn't in restaurants, I think what's really important is something that you said and you kind of glossed over But I was that if everything fell apart, you could get another job. I think that that's so much what people get so afraid. What if it doesn't work out? And what if it all falls apart? But sometimes when you really sit down and you think about it, you go, well, then I'll just start something new. I'll just do something else like, and then I keep asking myself this, what you know, we always our first reaction is often what if it falls apart? Or what if it doesn't work? But what if it does? And like, isn't that that reward so much greater than the risk of what if it doesn't work? And then kind of going in with this mindset of like, No, I'm gonna make this work and maybe it's good motivation that you are like, I don't want to go back to the restaurant industry. So this is gonna work.

And I also did, you know, all of the things that I could think of and I probably missteps because I've never done this before. I've never been an entrepreneur, but I sat down and I wrote, you know, very basic business plan and thought about what are various ways that I could make myself feel more secure. And for me, it wasn't necessarily about savings, it was just about having conceptualized multiple income streams. And these are not multiple income streams that at this point, you know, will allow us to buy a house in DC, but it made me feel more comfortable. And so I said, I can, you know, monetize my Instagram. I know that I can I have those opportunities in my inbox right now. I say no to most of them, because I don't think that they're, I don't think they're right for my audience. But, you know, that's an option. So that's one bucket. And then I wanted a bucket that was more stable, one source that was more stable, and that's where Patreon came in. And I actually got the idea for Patreon from my audience. I'm extremely transparent with my followers on Instagram, and I am very, very often on stories asking them questions and I'll just field there, right? replies and sift through them and see kind of what works best for me. And Patreon was a suggestion that my followers sent me repeatedly. And so I didn't really understand how it worked. But then I sat down and, and looked through the materials and thought, okay, I could do this. And because it's a monthly subscription, yeah, you're gonna have some drop off every month, but it's not going to be like huge fluctuations, right? It's

pretty stable, recurring revenue, which I feel like is, is the thing we're covering revenue is what everyone in the online business space is talking about these days. So, so smart and also just such a good lesson and being vulnerable and transparent with your people. And that that, you know, resonates so much with people and then makes them actually want to support you and what think about, you know, what if you hadn't shared that and hadn't talked about, you know, what you were thinking or what your concerns were and what you're trying to do, and then maybe you know, Patreon never would have come onto your radar and you would still be working at your other job. And this would just be a dream.

That's true. And when I announced Patreon on Instagram, because that's where I talk to my followers the most intimately is in my stories. I did a whole day where and I warned them. They're going to be way too many stories for me today, for some of you. So just wait till tomorrow to come back. But I will answer any questions you have about the future of feed the maleek about what this means for the blog about what content will be on Patreon, about anything you want to ask. And so I answered questions all day long, and it was exhausting. But I felt like the conversation was really important because I'm invested in my audience whether they know it or not, like I'm invested in providing them with things that are valuable that teach them about this place where they live, that helped them find you know, the best things they might not find otherwise. Wise. But I think it's important sometimes to do things that are uncomfortable to let them know that you are invested in them, like sit around all day answering questions about, you know, very personal things. Because now they feel part of the process. And they are part of this process, whether they kind of recognize that or not. And even now, with Patreon members, I'm asking them in Patreon about kind of what priorities they think are most important moving forward as far as, as like my food content, because I am trying to chart a new path where I'm not necessarily a journalist. I do write a lot. I have been published in major papers, but I'm not seeking to do that right now. I'd rather publish for myself for various reasons. Smart, but I'm also leveraging Instagram a lot. I post every day. I'm very active there, but that's a very different style of content. And you know, my Patreon community is helping me so out like what they want to see what's most important moving forward.

I love that such a good community you've created. So now if somebody goes to your blog, is it there's a paywall, like, they can't see anything? Or how does it How does it work?

So if you go to my blog, you can see everything. There will be a button on multiple pages that says support feed the belief, which will take you to my Patreon. And there are a few levels on Patreon. A few tiers, my lower tier is actually tier where you don't get anything in return, you get the satisfaction of knowing that you're helping this project. And, you know, I'm very transparent about the things I'm working on. And so you could see, okay, well, this is the type of thing that this money would go to. And I if you believe in that great, there's a middle tier which is $20. And that tier, I give people a sneak peek of what projects are upcoming and I do that by actually breaking down, feed them a week's budget, which I had a habit of doing on Instagram before And so I just put that on Patreon, because that's where the funds are coming from. And I'll tell them, you know, these are the projects that I can prioritize because of Patreon income. And this is where Patreon income is going. So like the next month, it's going to be rent my student loan bill. And I'm working on a project to create original guides to black owned restaurants in the region. And so I'll delineate out how many restaurants I'm trying to visit within that budget for those guides, etc, etc. So they'll get a sense of what I'm working on through that process. And that's nothing that I used to do every Friday on Instagram. Yeah, I kitty cat.

Such a again, such a good reminder, like transparency works. I mean, it's not even about the goal of transparency, but it actually is like an added bonus of just being really honest. So your blog will always remain free and it's so it's free. Really it's not a paywall. It's really just people supporting you to continue creating content. But even if they don't, they can still access.

Yes, there will be some content. That's Patreon only. Sure. So if you think of it, like, my blog is my blog, and Patreon is the Facebook group, right that you have to pay to get access to. There is a tier, a higher level tier, a $50, a month tier for my patreon where they do get access to exclusive content. And so things that I publish widely, I will put there first, so they can read them first. And a lot of behind the scenes stuff, which seems like extra work, but for me as someone who's creative and writes a lot Anyway, these are things that I wrote or am writing that I think are important, but they're maybe not important for the broader public. They give my audience a peek into, for example, what it's like to go viral during a movement for Black Lives, which is, you know, exhausting and Emotional. And a lot of the things that happened to me during that period, frankly, were very exploitative and awful. But I don't want to publish that widely, because I don't want to drag anyone and it's over. But that's the thing that I know my patreon followers would appreciate and give them a real picture of what's happening as I tried to put together, you know, this project. And so there are a few things like that will be Patreon only.

Okay, that's really cool that, that there's some like exclusives for Patreon people. Tell me more about this, though about what is it? I mean, what is it like going viral for something that is so emotional, and yeah, let's see. Okay, talking about it.

Yeah. I mean, in many ways, it's awesome, right? As a content creator, you want people to appreciate your work. Right? That's ultimately I write things I want people to find value in them. I make a video I want people to enjoy it. But it was Be like, it's like being on a roller coaster that's never stopping and you're not really strapped in. So major publications were putting together these lists at that time of, you know, black food bloggers to follow black writers to follow. And these are publications like, you know, thrillist and food 52. And they have huge readership. But they want, they don't tell you that they're putting you on a list. They just put you on the list. And then you wake up in the morning and you have 400 DMS, and your account grew from 5000 followers to 7000. And you also have a lot of weird email. Like, you know, just everyone wants something. So, there was a week where I had an interview request at least three times a day, every day. And all of the people who want to interview you, most of them, frankly, they want to interview you right in that moment. They're like, do you have time in five minutes? Because Because it's the moment where everyone wants to talk. about black lives. And when you say no, they just disappear. They don't actually want to wait a week even to have your voice because it's not about your voice. It's about they need one black voice to plug into their show, etc. And I started a directory of black owned restaurants in DC. And I started working on it in March and I published the first week of April. So before this, you know, moment. And that went viral. And what it turned into was, frankly, some very large voices in the local scene, taking my work and saying, reposting it. That's it and then framing it as it was created in partnership with me when I've never met this person I've never worked with. I said, Yeah, so lots of things like that, where people want to pretend frankly, like they are part of this movement, like they support black lives. But in doing so they're actually just taking the work of black artists and creators and then making themselves look good. So lots of that, which is why I decided I didn't want to publish any more with outside publications, because I was just tired. So, so tired of feeling like, you know, everyone wanted a piece of me, but nobody wanted it either on my terms on my time, nobody wanted it like actually in my voice. And that's not necessarily the fault of the local papers that I had published with because, frankly, most of them were great. It was just this atmosphere at the moment.

That's terrible. I'm so sorry that that was your experience, total exploitation sounds like and it's unfortunate. I mean, I think, you know, as a white woman, I've been learning a lot this year in particular, but always and it's really just become clear to me, I think you can tell the people that are in it for like the long run and that they're not just like, like you said, Oh, I just needed to talk to you today because we had to get something out about vlm and if you can't do it, then who cares? I don't actually care about amplifying your voice

100% and, you know, I even just so many crazy things. I had famous people, like really famous people with millions of followers, share my Instagram and say, I just discovered this amazing voice in the food space, you should follow her. They don't follow me. The person who shared me doesn't follow me. They just needed to share a roundup of black people on their Instagram stories. So they could seem like they were part of this moment.

Kate Kordsmeier 40:32

Yeah, that is so gross.

Anela Malik 40:34

It's gross. And it felt really gross. And it was also at a time where I was working really, really hard to keep the directory updated. Because, you know, whatever people's reasons were for sharing it and re tweeting it. It was getting so much traffic, and all I wanted was the businesses on it to reap the rewards, right. And so I was getting requests left and right to update this someone changed. They're ours to, you know, add these four businesses that I had missed because I'm one person at a time I was unpaid. And I was doing this at night after my job. And so I would stay up late updating it because, you know, I'm like, well, 10,000 people might look at this today. And what happens to this business if I can't be bothered to add them until next week? So there's a lot of pressure. Yeah.

Kate Kordsmeier 41:25

Wow. So

Anela Malik 41:27

much that like, I didn't even think about and, you know, I want to try to say, like, people have maybe good intentions, and maybe they're just thinking like, you know, okay, I don't actually follow. I mean, this is just totally making up excuses. I'm just trying to find the silver lining of like, didn't end up amplifying your voice, even if it was done in a really cheap, disgusting sleazy way and I you know, that's a stretch

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Well, on this note, let's talk a little bit. Let's bring it back to food. And one of the things that I really liked that you say on your website is that people think food is a political, but you don't believe that that is the case. So let's talk about that. Why is food not a political?

So I'll I'll bring you guys all I'll bring you all I'm trying to move away from unnecessarily gendered language. And I'll bring you all along with me on my political science background. So I studied political science in undergraduate and then also as a big part of my master's program. So politics is essentially in very, very basic terms. It's a series of arguments that we're having about power. So in our society, we think of politics as this very formal framework where people on the hill go to vote and they wear suits and they write bills. Politics is also the conversation we're having about what's popular right now in our society, what's considered normal, what's considered abnormal, and we've seen that political conversation change dramatically in my lifetime. And then, if we understand politics that way, and we look at food in 2020, especially right, where, last year, the viral chicken sandwich craze, the demand for chicken sandwiches was so high, it actually changed the chicken industry, right, the preferred size of chicken breast got smaller from chicken producers, because the smaller breasts are easier to fry for chicken sandwiches. So if we think about food as something that can change this, you know, our demands for certain foods can change the supply chain. We can change how restaurants in our cities, you know, create their menus because suddenly, we want farm to table. We want seasonal, we want organic. And that's just us as consumers. We're not even talking about food influencers and food writers who have the power to basically determine what's popular and what's trendy. And so of course, food is wrapped up in this conversation about power. Especially if we go a step beyond writers and influencers and just the demands of customers and think about how food also is a bearer of historical memory. It is a result of all of the histories that came before it, that have put their imprint on that dish. And the people who have, you know, created this dish, they were likely taught to cook by their parents who were taught by their parents, and influenced by migration, marriage, all of these life events and historical events. So all of that creates food and so I Say that, of course, food is political. And yes, that's shorthand for that lengthy explanation. But I think it's a good way to remind people that food is absolutely connected to our histories and to our cultures. It's connected to conversations about what's normal and what's popular. And if we look at it that way, then we get a much richer picture of the food that we consume.

I like literally just got goosebumps, as you're talking. I feel like that is so eloquently said, and just really how fascinating it is. How much power there is in food, like you said, I just think we probably don't often think of it that way. And then recognizing your own power and you know, anybody else who's a food blogger or writer or in this industry and what you have the power to enact change one way or the other.


that's really cool. And I I think that I'll always be fascinated with food because of this, right? Because there's always a story behind it. It's never just, you know, a meal on a plate. There's always something interesting that went into that and something to learn about it. And so that's probably why I ended up with food butter.

I love that. And I mean, I can definitely relate to that I I started as a food writer and kind of ended up becoming more of a travel writer, but I only was writing about food on my travels. You were so good writer. Yeah, the cultural aspect of food was so fascinating to me and I just loved like going to somewhere that is a completely different culture and society and way of life and seeing like, what are their grocery stores look like? And what are the markets like and, like, what's their silverware or lack thereof? Like I mean, that was one of the coolest things about living in DC was my first experience eating Ethiopia. And food. And like using that in JIRA, and you don't use your fork. And why is that? And it was because of like, you wipe with one hand there and eat with the other and it was just like,

Kate Kordsmeier 50:11

Whoa, this

Anela Malik 50:12

is so interesting. And I love that. I don't know if those are the kinds of stories that you are talking about as well. But I just think looking at food from this cultural lens is is so fascinating to me.

Well, when I'm allowed to travel again, yes, I will be looking at food through that lens. And I you know, I still think even at home, there's a lot to learn. Like the Ethiopian community in DC, I hosted a zoom session with two, you know, Ethiopian food folks here, one, their family owns a cafe and the other one has a fine dining Ethiopian restaurant. And we learned a lot and it's just, you know, this is a community in DC that I think a lot of people visit their restaurants for food and then take it home or they eat and they leave, but we don't necessary. saralee understand, how did such a large diaspora community come to live here? There's, you know, and and what, what do they find to be? I always ask people, what did they find to be most interesting about American food culture? And a lot of people will say, you know, a lot of immigrants will say, Oh, it's a very grab and go culture, which is, many people

are always like, what's your obsession with sandwiches?

And to go, Why is everything to go? You know, even coffee coffee to go? Because in a lot of cultures, you sit down, right, and you have a cup of coffee, and you don't really deal with other people. Nobody

has gone down and do anything. Yeah, yeah. But that I mean, it's such a good point that it's like, even though the way that we eat represents the type of society that we live in, and I feel like especially when I'm in like European countries, they're always saying, you know, you guys aren't you guys hear I'm doing it to you Americans are so efficient to a fault you don't know. How to just relax sit down and have your espresso and enjoy yourself. And you know it might also I have this business idea for you that I'm like I take it or leave it but this just came to me as you're talking about this zoom call food and the time of COVID is weird. And net travel. What if you could take a restaurant owner or a chef, they get on a zoom call like they give they give a recipe to your Patreon people, everybody makes the recipe then they all come on to a zoom call together with the chef, they talk about the food, the culture, the traditions that come into it. This is the custom when you're eating this and this you know this ethnicities food and like it becomes this like virtual dinner party, where you're talking about all these different food cultures and customs. I love this and I love that everyone would cook beforehand because I done Few cooking classes on zoom. And I never cook along because I feel like then I'm distracted. And I can't hear the stories from the chef and I just want to hear the story. Yeah. So it's like everybody cooks the recipe together. So we have all had this shared experience. And then we come and we sit down, we eat together, over zoom. And then we can actually, you know, it feels a little bit more like no, we're just out to dinner or we're at a dinner party and we can actually have these conversations not be like, Wait, how many tablespoons of

I love that I might, I might use that. I do have plans to bring local restaurant owners on to talk to my Patreon folks, especially because I provide free services for local black owned restaurants. And you know, a lot of that I'm able to do because of Patreon. And so in a couple months, I'm going to you know, show people this is your impact. These are, you know, the restaurants I've been able to do free photography for these are the people I've been able to do so Social media training for and grow their accounts. You know, as a business owner, oftentimes, you know, you know how to run your business, but you may not know the marketing side, and I'm not a marketing expert, but I feel like I do know social media especially and for food. Instagram is very important to your digital presence, if you're a restaurant or a food business. And so those services in part, I'm able to continue now because I can pay my base expenses through Patreon. So, I mean, I'm definitely going to try to show that impact to my Patreon community because they're making it possible. Yeah, so cool.

Kate Kordsmeier 54:40

And also, not to continue giving

you business advice. I love it. I'm getting a pen.

Anela Malik 54:46

I was just thinking, and I don't know anything about Patreon. Like you've just totally schooled me on everything, Patreon because other than like, the basics of what it was, I didn't know, but you could probably make make more money and more of an impact and not have to give away to Patreon if you just created your own membership, so maybe something to chew on.

I thought about that. And then I was like maybe in a few years when right now I'm just getting started.

You're like dipping your toe into this pool. I think Patreon is like such a beautiful way to do that. And I had everything sounds like kind of setup for you and you're not having me.

Yeah, they make it very easy. And I but it's

pretty easy to set up a recurring payment on PayPal and just send people a PayPal link.

Kate Kordsmeier 55:36

I'm writing this down.

Anela Malik 55:40

Just throwing it out there. Okay, one last question for you before we get to our quick lightning round to wrap things up. But we've talked a lot about diversity in what you're covering and in the stories that you share. What about diversity in your audience? Is it just natural that of course there's diversity in your audience because of the content? Or do you find that? Like, do you have mostly a black audience? Or is it all across the board.

So my audience is very diverse, though it is primarily female. And I think that as a result of what happened in June, my audience became even more diverse. And so I more than doubled my following. But on top of that, I now get the sweetest emails from people who have been using my directory as a reference. And they're usually older folks like folks who don't necessarily have an Instagram either. Mm hmm. And so that has been surprising and interesting to me, because I think, you know, it's easy to think that Instagram is representative of our society. And you know, it's just like, these are the people that you chat with every day and it just seems so simple, but that's not true. And I've been really Excited to connect with, you know, some of my older readers and followers who have a very different perspective. Some of them, I'll be frank, like their emails have made me cry. I got an email from a woman in Baltimore who she said her protesting days are over because she's old now. And she's retired and she's sick. And, you know, she has a cane and, and but she was like, I was at the marches back in the day, and I want to do more to support, you know, local minority owned businesses now. And that's how I found your blog. And she said, I don't need out much though. So could you send me a list, if you know of any other businesses in my community that are minority on everything from hardware stores to flowers, and I'm going to send my daughter when she goes around to run the errands to send her around to run errands at all of these local shops. Amazing. And it was so cute and so sweet. So that has been the best part, I think.

Yeah, I think Love that. Okay, quick lightning round here. We asked this the same five questions to everybody and don't overthink it for same to your mind. So what is your favorite way to make self care? make time for self care?

My first thought was fried chicken fried chicken. I love it.

Okay, what is one tool or strategy that you use to help with time management?

I write everything down. And that seems intense. But whether it's a digital system or a paper system, if you're juggling multiple jobs and multiple competing projects with deadlines, unless you're a savant, write it down,

write it down. What is the most powerful business or mindset book? It could be that you've read ever, but I found when I ask people that they're like, oh, ever I don't know. So also just lately,

I actually can't tell you but I can tell you that there are a few podcasts that I really enjoy that okay like often even though they're not, you know necessarily in that niche they often bring on speakers who talk about you know, mindset and, and business strategies. And food blogger pro lately has had really good speakers have talked about their business journeys and you know, kind of the mindset and just what it takes to really grow in this industry.

I've been a guest on food blogger pro twice.

Love it. I love podcasts.

Okay, what is a mantra or affirmation that you're telling yourself these days? You have one.

Kate Kordsmeier 59:43

I mean, these days,

Anela Malik 59:45

you really like something that's meaningful to you.

So actually, there is a restaurant in DC that is woman owned and run and they have long before this movement. They've always Tried to, you know, uplift diverse communities and I really respect that and they pay fair wages and all these things that are, you know, not standard in the industry. And their co owner and general manager often says, we got us we meaning this community of people who are invested in equity in the food space that we can care for each other in a way that's not exploitative and, you know, doesn't cause burnout or create these like crazy unrealistic expectations on us. And so, I often think of that,

so cool. I love that we got us. Obviously the podcast is called Success with Soul Can you share with us what Success with Soul means to you?

I think it's the concept that if you want to be and this is my personal definition, if you want to be truly successful, it has to come from you authentically. And I think you could probably make a lot of money Doing something that you don't care about, or even doing something that you find to be morally abhorrent. But which is it's true, you could I bet. But to be an at least to feel, you know, deep in your core that you're really successful, it has to come from you and it has to come from something that's authentically you. Yeah. So true.

Thanks so much for being with us today. And Allah tell everybody where they can find you.

Yeah, absolutely. You can find me on Instagram at feed the maleek and it's feed as in you know, feed me the maleek m as in Mary al ik because people always ask how it's spelled. And my website is feed them where you can find longer form writing and interesting, you know, tidbits about the local food scene.

And where can we support you on Patreon, right, good stuff. I have to correct myself because I am still learning. I talked about me Don earlier and Chef Marcel, and they have recently announced that they are they identify as non binary. And so it was when I was talking about female chefs. Okay, that's actually a new a new thing that I think they recently made public. So I'm still getting used to that transition in my language in my thinking, because I, you know, initially framed them as one identity and, and that's not how they self identify, which is something we're all navigating. And

yes, for sure. Thank you for being honest about that and calling it out. So we will make that note.

Absolutely. Well, thank you so much for having me. This was awesome.

Kate Kordsmeier 1:02:43

It really was.

Thanks for listening to the Success with Soul Podcast the place to be for holistic online business strategies and achieving more with less,

Anela Malik 1:02:58

as this show is a brand spanking A new any and all support is greatly appreciated. So if you haven't done so already, please subscribe on the apple podcast app, Google podcast, app, Spotify or wherever you listen. This makes it possible for me to continue to provide free helpful content and bring you amazing guests. You can also give us a rating and review with your honest feedback so we can improve and better serve you in the future. Plus, you could be featured on a future episode during our listener spotlights. Your reviews are super helpful and motivating to me personally. But beyond that reviews help with rankings, which helps others find the show and allows me to keep providing you with free content every single week. Share the podcast with your friends, family, coworkers, dogs, cats, neighbors, whoever. And don't forget to join the free Success with Soul Facebook community at We have follow up conversations about the podcast episodes and I often go live to answer your Burning Questions. Plus, you'll get to hang out with like minded bloggers and heart centered online business owners exchanging priceless feedback, encouragement and other golden insight from the trenches. That's Until next time, remember to celebrate your progress, not perfection.

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