BLOGGING: PASSION OR PROFESSION?
Updated: May 5, 2020
British-born American author, editor, and blogger Andrew Sullivan hit the nail on the head with that description.
Blog, an amalgam of two words- web and log is a log of thoughts posted publicly on the World Wide Web. In Internet lingo, web log soon became blog. With a history almost as old as the Internet, this style of self-publishing technology revolutionised the way writers expressed themselves and connected with their readers. Soon niche blogs began to appear, specialising in everything from counselling to sale of products. The last decade has seen blogging become not only an important part of the online landscape but also an earning opportunity for bloggers.
That makes one sit up, doesn’t it?
So how is it an earning opportunity? How does one create a platform that attracts and keeps the ‘traffic’ flowing? And what is it that brings in the dough? Pinkishe explores. And as always, with special reference to women.
Featured here are bloggers, Meera Bharath, Pamela Nandi, Rukhshana Kapadia, Sukanya Basuand and Surabhi Surendra in conversation with Pinkishe about their
Q What is your blog niche?
Meera: I am currently focussing on free flow poems, short stories and video blogging the storytelling way for children and parents.
Pamela: Food and travel blogging is my passion. I am also engaged in lifestyle blogging
Rukhshana: I am a food blogger and writer. I write both creatively and for commercial projects.
Sukanya: My blog is all about books, book reviews, critical analysis of literary work and my own books.
Surabhi: My blog’s niche is relationships from the perspective of women including parenting, marriage, body image and life in general.
Q How did you begin your journey as a blogger? Is it your sole profession? Did you undertake any research before starting the blog?
Pamela: I started off as a Zomato reviewer and then began my journey as a blogger. This is not my sole profession. As for research, I had constantly followed the post of a few social influencers for at least a year.
Rukhshana: I started reviewing and sharing my food experiences in the culinary world which led to my blog. I am a Hospitality Consultant by profession but I also blog commercially.
Sukanya: I used to write solely for print media. I started with my book blog to know the reading trends because that way you can write about subjects that are already selling well. So yes, I did a lot of research but it was about 'how to become a good author' not 'how to become a book blogger'. Later however, it took a good turn. I'm an author by profession, but book blogging helped me stay updated. Otherwise I would only read things that were considered the best, owing to their massive success. Since I started reviewing, I received a lot of books written by indie authors or from small publishing houses. Some of them were absolutely amazing.
Q Is starting a blog similar to starting a business enterprise?
Meera: If you plan to start a blog with the intention of making money then yes, it requires working on a business enterprise module. It would involve creating content for a specific market, understanding the pulse of the readers, enabling advertisement plugins in their blogging page and the blogger should align her line of interest with that of the reader.
Rukhshana: I don’t think there is a similarity. Over the years a few bloggers in India have reached a level where blogging is their sole profession but in my opinion 95% of bloggers would and should only blog for the passion and pleasure of writing as even established and well-known bloggers for the most part all have alternative careers with blogging being part time income sources.
Q Many women are gifted with the art of expression, but they seem unclear about how to earn through blogging. What would you like to tell them?
Meera: Blogging is a step by step process. Patience, perseverance, continuity, consistency and content quality are its backbone. Blogging as a medium, is a connect through words which when put in the right way, will leave an impact for sure.
Rukhshana: One has to focus on the quality of content over the years. As your followers grow you could be approached by brands to work with them. It’s very rare for bloggers who are just starting to be able to convert their blog into a commercial one.
Sukanya: Most bloggers try monetizing too fast. When you're just starting to build audience, you might not want to bombard them with advertisements. In fact, most of my blogging revenue actually came from sponsored posts and paid collaborations, not ads.
Surabhi: It takes time. Blogging has become more competitive with the ever-changing Google algorithms and millions of content mills around. However, if you’re honest with your work and have an authentic voice, you will find a loyal following. Earning depends on several factors. The easiest way I can think of is to establish your blog in a niche and then offer sponsored posts.
Q What strategies/practices would you recommend to increase viewership
of a blog? Is it only promotion or something else too?
Meera: Active promotion would help. I write poems or short stories and couple them with an image, with due picture credits. I also share my content on my social media. Following other bloggers could open opportunities for symbiotic association. Sharing their blog on your page will enable your friends to read their stories.
Pamela: Active promotion can help, but it’s not mandatory and you could lose organic followers.Build your audience, always look for interesting topics pertaining to your niche, start publishing the blog at least 2 to 3 times in a week and respond to readers’ comments. Start guest blogging and advertisement.
Rukhshana: Always quality of content, using researched key words and sharing your blog link on suitable groups in the virtual world.
Sukanya: Don't promote, build a brand. I'd advise looking up top bloggers in the niche and following their actions. Once you're into it you can carve out your own brand, a separate identity for your blog and your USP.
Surabhi: Nothing has helped me as much as guest posting on other blogs.
Q How do you tackle unpleasant visitors?
Meera: It's important to nip it in the bud and let them know that their behaviour isn't appreciated. Most important is to keep your cool and maturity.
Pamela: My advice is to keep on MUTE. As you climb up the ladder, more will be the unpleasant situations you’ll have to face and this is very common.
Rukhshana: Be firm but if they persist, inform them that you’ll delete their comments. If they still persist block them. However,this is rare.
Surabhi: Thankfully, I don’t get many negative comments. But once in a while if I do, I just ignore them.
Q What are the new practices in blogging that we need to be aware of?
Rukhshana: A lot of attention is now on ‘micro-blogging’ like Instagram which is more visually engaging. Videos and YouTube now have a huge following. The shift is from the written word to audio and visual mediums.
Sukanya: Brand collaborations and giveaways. Contests are good for increasing audience engagement.
Q What is the blogging scene like in India today, especially for women bloggers? Is it a lucrative career option irrespective of its genre?
Pamela: Blogging is booming day by day, but you should have organic followers. I don’t think it can be a lucrative career option at the early stage. A lot of hard effort is required if you want to take it as a profession.
Rukhshana: It’s very active and rewarding as a writer but not developed into a lucrative full-time career option as yet. It takes time to build a blog with quality content which engages followers and readers and make it attractive to approach a brand with a commercial proposal for a project.
Surabhi: There are certain niches that are being dominated by women such as fashion, style, parenting and even travel. In India women bloggers are picking up and doing very well.
Q While we thank you for your time and insightful answers, would you like to share a few words of advice for aspiring bloggers?
Meera: Keep the content intact so it doesn’t drift. Proofread as an editor would.
Maintain consistency. Update your readers even when you don't have a post.
Share your links on social media.Do not push anyone to read your content or provide feedback. Get married to Patience. Check out a few courses that would enable you to write effectively. Write at least 100-500 words everyday. Join writing communities on social media and participate in their events.
Pamela: Your blog should always carry helpful info with relevant pictures giving due picture credits. Do not follow any shortcuts.
It’s good to start writing only about the topic you are passionate about. Avoid fake and blindly copied information. Get a good connection of bloggers, who can be your mentors and follow them on a regular basis.
Rukhshana: Start because you love to express yourself on a particular subject not because you want to make money out of your blog. The motivation has to be creating genuine quality content consistently. Keep learning, keep researching and pay heed to feedback. Follow well-known bloggers to learn from them but be original with your content.
Sukanya: Teach yourself digital marketing and branding, stay on the tip of your toes, know what's going on in your industry. Do both what others are doing and what they are NOT doing. Do everything. But most importantly, know what you'll not do as far as your blog is concerned.
Surabhi Surendra: Be authentic. That’s the mantra for survival.