I set up current domain name and blog in 2009. But at least a couple of years prior to that I was started blogging.
It was in 2008 (I think), that I had set out to manage two blogs – one on advertising and the other on all things Apple. Back then the Mac-PC wars were common on the web and maybe it was my inherent desire to ‘defend’ Apple that triggered this thought. The blog on Apple was meant to offer news & views (I was quite chuffed with ‘Mac Love Not War’ as its title) but I soon realised I will not be able to match the professional news media and full-time bloggers in terms of speed and depth of news coverage. I could also not claim to be an expert on all aspects of Apple’s technology and business to dish out opinions. So I shut that and focused on lbhat dot com – a blog on topics pertaining to advertising. A few avoidable snafus which highlight that I did not do enough homework on the blogging front:
- My WordPress skills in terms of handling any code or modifying the files through FTP was rudimentary at best. My site crashed in 2009 and I wasn’t able to recover much of the content. I then junked that domain and set up the one I currently use.
- I also wasted far too much money and effort in web hosting and choosing, buying themes over the years. I also lost a bit of content and page views during one of the migrations from one hosting provider to another
- I also should have learnt the basics of Google Analytics and SEO best practices which could have helped understand why my monthly page views dropped drastically
I have have attempted to post regularly on this blog. Here are some observations on blogging in general and my effort in particular:
‘Blogging’ is back in fashion but format and delivery has changed: apart from Blogspot and WordPress there were several other platforms which came into being in the early part of the last decade. Medium was launched in 2012. The open-source blogging platform Ghost, known for its minimal interface was released in 2013. All of these were about expressing in long-form text. Blog posts across topics used to garner reader comments and both healthy exchange of views and flame wars were seen in the comments section. The monetisation of such blogs was dependent on remuneration from Google Adsense alone.
The rise of social media platforms such as Twitter and Facebook led to the phrase ‘micro-blogging’. The character limit on such forced people to share short, pithy messages and that led to the perception that people will not have the time or patience to read long form articles. The of-repeated ‘low attention span’ came into being. Soon, in my view, traditional blogging lost a bit of it shine. People were hesitant to set up blogs because of the perception that they will not find an audience for it.
Over the last few years, the rise of the creator economy, enabled by video and audio platforms, has revived the interest in content consumption. YouTube, TikTok, podcast creation (through tools like anchor.fm) and distribution through Spotify, Apple Podcasts, Instagram and others have enabled an ecosystem of content creators and (some) paying consumers.
A beneficiary of this would also be the long form written text as seen in the popularity of Substack, which was originally for sharing paid email newsletters. Today it has more than 500,000 paying subscribers and thousands of writers who post newsletters on the platform. Most of these are free (some with subscriber count running into hundreds of thousands).
Substack’s most popular writers make vast sums from the platform, with its top 10 publishers bringing in $7m (£5.1m) per year between them.
Business journalism too has seen content creators successfully monetise their writing by offering subscription-driven long-form, research-led articles. And then there are independent newsletter producers who not just aggregate news from various but produce it all well in terms of good copywriting, using gifs and such like.
Apps like Stoop Inbox which help you discover, subscribe, and consume newsletters come in handy in this age of information overload.
Such an ecosystem is also facilitated by folks who are considered ‘voice of authority’ in their domain – who provide the much needed experience, advice and anecdotes.
So, blogging – in the form of writing is no longer dependent on one or two publishing platforms. There are myriad choices and the scope for monetisation too has increased.
Content beyond text: as I mentioned earlier, content today encompasses video and audio format too. The COVID-19 pandemic and prolonged indoor stay is said to have accelerated the consumption of streaming content. Conversations, tutorials, comedy routines and showcase of expertise are common themes across video and audio. In my blog, I have failed to create anything beyond text and that is something I regret. Video reviews, audio or video interviews should have been experimented with but I have thus far simply written and pressed ‘publish’.
In this context, here are a few content creators (text based or otherwise) and enablers whose work I admire (not always follow regularly though):
Roshan Cariappa: the VP-Marketing of Vymo, a B2B firm, he is a prolific content creator curating podcasts, talk shows, writing articles and more.
Aiyyo Shraddha: her comedic takes in Kannada or Tulu about everyday life gained a lot of traction. Since then she has expanded her target audience through equally funny and sharp takes in English and Hindi.
Sanjay Subrahmanyan: a Carnatic music expert, I love the way he has monetised his skill with a ‘Sanjay Sabha’ tier on YouTube. His production team also deserves kudos for creating a consistent design language across platforms. While I have zero knowledge about music I enjoy the fact that his videos convey a mastery of his craft and that he enjoys creating such content.
Ambi Parameswaran: a legend in the advertising & marketing world, I am awed by the sheer energy, commitment and perseverance in authoring best-sellers, writing regular columns and hosting shows on trade portals such as Brand Equity.
Rishad Tobacccowala: a veteran of the advertising industry, I simply love his insights and articulation on business and trends in human behaviour. I particularly like these two articles: The 5 P’s of Success and Re-thinking Presentations.
Ankur Warikoo: an entrepreneur, mentor and public speaker I love his easy-going style, focus and clarity that he brings to his courses.
All said and done, my nature is to write for an audience for one: myself. Also, I don’t really care much for chasing metrics such as page views, average session time, number of subscribers and such like. If such metrics happen or increase I consider it a bonus. But I need to make efforts to diversify the content types such as video and experiment with guest posts, interviews and also start using platforms and tools such as YouTube and podcasts.