A Classic Twist

Zainab Storms, Founder

Washington, D.C.
A Classic Twist A Classic Twist
Cooking up her own family memories

Born and raised in Sierra Leone, Zainab Storms moved to the U.S. to continue her college education and met her husband while pursuing her PhD. But it was her bridal shower that became the catalyst for another twist in her life, specifically, A Classic Twist, her popular cooking blog she's been running ever since.

At first, Zainab wasn't quite sure what to do with the cake pans and other baking supplies she received as gifts in the prewedding American rite of passage. But Zainab soon realized that baking was intrinsically tied to family memories for her husband who had recipes from his parents and grandparents that he treasured.

Operation Learn How to Bake was now in full progress.

A Classic Twist
Discovering a new passion

Zainab started teaching herself how to bake, bought more equipment, including a Kitchen Aid mixer and even took a class at a local craft store to learn how to decorate cakes. As she was preparing to bake a cake for her husband on Valentine's Day, she started the blog with the intention of documenting recipes - some of which were very difficult - and saving them for later use. Whether it was learning how to layer cake or making macarons, she wanted a record, something that she might have been able to share with her future kids one day.

But little did she know that A Classic Twist would take off.

"I started sharing and people started coming to the site, and it just grew," she says. "The blog became a creative outlet, something I could retreat to after doing science all day long."

Zainab's audience is mostly women, but broad when it comes to age groups, ranging from teenagers to retirees. "Many people are teaching themselves how to bake or looking for easy, simple recipes," she says. "Most of my audience comes from Google or Pinterest, but from those who have been around a while, a lot of interactions happen on Facebook or Instagram. I even have some people who email me."

“I started doing this because I wanted to teach myself to bake, and I don't want someone else in that experience to be stopped by a paywall.”
Creating a community for home cooks

Zainab never thought her creative baking outlet would be something she could earn money from. But once she started connecting with other bloggers who were also baking, she saw the possibilities for profit.

"It began to grow organically, and back then I didn't know anything about SEO, so I started teaching myself how to make the site more user friendly," she says.

Then, she began to use Google Adsense.

"With AdSense revenue, the site grew enough - to 50,000 monthly readers - that I was able to join Mediavine and keep the site going further. It was not something I anticipated happening - it just happened," she explains. "I started monetizing it and it became a business. It's always been a side business for me because I've always had a full time job, but it's something that I still enjoy and love doing."

Zainab uses tools like Google Analytics to help her grow A Classic Twist and counts on the ad revenue she receives to keep the site free, a critical part of the content experience she offers.
"I started doing this because I wanted to teach myself to bake, and I don't want someone else in that experience to be stopped by a paywall," she says.

A Classic Twist
Baking up a small business

Though she never planned to be a small business owner, Zainab is enjoying the experience. "It's really empowering and it's a second stream of income. I've outsourced to other small (women-owned) businesses and it's nice to know that I'm directly contributing to someone else's income and helping their family."

Zainab has a virtual assistant who helps her with scheduling a steady stream of content, as well as a photographer who also works with her to plan content in addition to taking pictures.

As for the future, she plans to continue creating recipes, even with a full-time job and two kids on her plate.

"I want it to be a place where people can come for great recipes," she says. "And I think I would like to do a cookbook in the future, something that I could give my kids in 10 - 15 years."

About the Publisher

Zainab Storms is a baker, home chef, neuroscientist, world traveler, and mom. She's the creator of A Classic Twist, a blog dedicated to sharing everyday classic recipes with bold twists and flavors.
A Classic Twist