Sharan, sports coach cum food blogger | Sunday Observer

Sharan, sports coach cum food blogger

"My platform has evolved in to something a lot more than I thought it would be. At first I thought it would be just food. But after sometime it became something I never planned for. I am extremely happy about how it turned out,” said Sharan Velauthan who is one of the very few male bloggers in Sri Lanka. His blog focuses on food, fitness, travel and also sharing his life experiences. His intention is to help others.

What is fascinating about Sharan is that he is full of life and ready to take up any challenge life throws at him.

During his interview with the Youth Observer he said he did not aim to be just a food blogger but to be someone much more than that.

Q What is your life like in Melbourne?

A I moved to Australia to study. Currently I am studying in Melbourne for my Master of Commerce degree and hopefully I'll be able to double major in Marketing and Finance. Since I am allowed to work part time, I work as a coach for the franchise 'Ready Steady Go Kids'. I coach 2-6 year-olds on different sports. Compared to all the corporate jobs I have done, this is the most rewarding. Just to see the little fellow who was timid at the beginning become like a Rock Star after about two weeks and see his progress when he leaves for school, is just amazing.

Q What is your main platform?

My main platform is Instagram. I go by my name, Sharan Velauthan. It was just my personal profile and I got started talking about food using hash tags. Gradually people started noticing. I am aware of my audience and I have done my research on how much time people spend reading a post on the platform. They do not read the whole description nor the hash tags when it is too long. A person is on Instagram during his/her spare time. What I decided was to make it my own niche where I can talk about the ambience, why I am there, the food, the service, the price.

Now I mention the price in Australian dollars since I have followers in Australia as well. My blog is very informative and that is why I mention the price. Sometimes I mention the ingredients too, so that viewers understand better. Some people are vegetarian or allergic to some food, so by mentioning the ingredients I think it helps them choose what is best for them. No one on the platform has really captured the importance of mentioning such minute details, which I think are crucial. Most of them only post a picture and just share their personal likes/dislikes on the food served.

Q What was your focus when you realised that your follower count is growing?

With time I realised that this platform is becoming me. It is me on a page. And I love it. I love to be open about my personal life. I have grown up with a mom who always encouraged me to be myself and never to be shy about who I am. I talk about fitness, food, travel and also certain other social issues. It is a whole mix. I feel that people relate to what I write because it is mostly about the things people do not talk about. People often tell me that the things I speak about has helped them immensely, it has made them talk about it openly with someone else. For example if you do not talk about bullying, if I was not given the necessary help and continued to be bullied all my school life I would have become the bully as soon as I got into a position of power. It has a ripple effect.

Q Tell us about your giveaways and collaborations?

Giveaways are ways for me to grow my platform and I am always open about them. I genuinely want to expand my audience. I am particular with whom I collaborate with. If I do not genuinely believe in the food/product, I won’t endorse it. I think I have been true to what I believe in and I have been vocal about it. I will never collaborate for money. I treat my followers as intellectuals and I do not want to lose them, ever.

Q Are you content about your journey so far?

Of course I am. I am happy with how my blog is growing although it is doing so slowly. Being a male, I do not trend as much. I have noticed that a lot of male bloggers do get disheartened because of that. My attempt is to try and break that trend and try to create the platform into a place where the content is appreciated and not the outward appearance of the person behind it. However, I hope that there would be more male bloggers on the platform.

Q How do you engage with your followers?

What keeps me going is the feedback of my followers. I make it a point to engage with them and to help them if I am in a position to do so.

I wanted to give up on things so many times, especially after coming to Australia. But I make sure that I do not give up. I mention the problems I face on my platform and I mention what I did to fix it, so if someone is facing the same issue, it might help them.

Q How would you describe your audience?

I think my audience is very open. They would have followed me for my stories on food, travel, fitness or my personal stories and I think they stuck through because of the genuineness of the content. Every time I end a giveaway I tell them that they can unfollow me if they want to, but I hope they stay with me on my journey. My followers are very supportive. Having an audience to call upon say on a petition or anything similar is quite encouraging.

Q What tips would you give to someone who has similar interests?

Do not fake your experience. Make it unique. I speak about the whole personal experience. If I go to a place where I do not really like the food, I reach out to them and make a story about it. I focus on posting positive reviews. I do not post negative stuff on my page. That is what I do. It does not mean it is bad to post negative reviews. It is my personal preference. Find a good user name that you can relate to. I’m no culinary expert.

Food bloggers should be careful when reviewing food places. Especially in Sri Lanka, consistency is something which is lacking. One week their food will be amazing and the next week the same dish will be terrible. So food bloggers must be mindful about the places they review. If you have doubts, then mention that on your post and ask for people’s suggestions. Be open minded and please do not lie to your followers.

Q What does fitness mean to you?

The only thing you can control is your body and mind. Fitness changed my life. I used to be the total opposite. Going to the gym started my day. You do not have to have the best physique. You just have to be healthy and happy. That is what matters.

Q How are you different to that of other food bloggers?

When it comes to food, fitness or any other subject, I have my unique take on it. I think that is important in our space. Especially in the Sri Lankan market, there is so much potential to grow. When it comes to influencer marketing ours is not yet mature compared to US or Australian markets. Take YouTube, if you’re an English speaking person it is such an easy thing to catch up with. I have not explored that space but I want to, soon.

Q Tell us about your Burger Series?

Well, I am someone who loves burgers. One is different to the other. That is the only reason for me to start a series on it. I love the fact that everywhere I go burgers taste different. Doing a series on burgers was actually one of my shower-thoughts.

I love beef burgers. But the best burger I had was a chicken burger. It was simply cut and dried, smoking, hot- hot when I bit in to it. For me that is what I need in a burger. In Australia, most of the burgers are amazing. Its because Australia has quite good meat. I chose 12 places from Australia for my Burger Series. 

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