Sunday, May 22, 2016

A decade of my blogging journey- SWOT Analysis

On this day, one full decade ago, I started a simple blog on blogspot and wrote my first post. I neither had any idea, nor a target that where I will be 10 years later in my journey as a blogger.

Today, as I complete a decade, I feel it will be good to do an introspection- of what I have done and what I have not done, what has worked for me and what has not. This is often called as SWOT Analysis and seldom made public. My idea of publishing below points is that if you or someone is looking to learn from my journey, you don't have do the same mistakes and can decide which of these works for you and then either adopt it as is or in a modified way, or do the exact opposite if need be.

Last year, I published Man Ki Baat when I completed 9 years. Most of those points still hold.

Blogging since a decade- Things I have done:

1. Blogged consistently, day after day
- Over 10 years, this blog has seen 1950 blog posts, averaging 3-4 blog posts a week. 2015 saw maximum 365 posts.
-Irrespective of various limiting factors I have managed to write regularly, spending an hour or two on my blog every day, late evening or early morning hours- My approach to achieve this was to break a trip or topic into various smaller topics and write small posts on each of them as and when time permits. Many bloggers take their time but write long, super detailed posts- I find it hard to find 5-6 hours in one stretch to achieve that.
- Few of you have unsubscribed stating "Too many posts". I feel shorter posts are easier on readers too- spending 5 mins reading a post each for 6 posts over a week is easier than spending 30 min in one shot on a long post. Also it gives better control to skip a post that doesn't interest you. I am keen to know your thoughts on this.

2. Kept my reader's interest in mind
- Have promoted brands and services that I believe beneficial, even when that brand has never engaged me. I've written about Spicejet and Air Asia multiple times as I find their sales genuine, though these brands never engaged with me in any way. I have recommended cars that are best suited to a person's need, even if that car company never invited me to their launch or gave me their car for review.
-I have never used superlatives like "This brand is the best thing on earth- leave everything and buy their product/service now". I have listed all pros and cons allowing users to take the right decision.
-There are many bloggers who can churn out great reviews purely based on press release or specifications. I've always tried add my perspective and first hand experience, even when some of them are not favorable to brands.

Things I have seen others doing but not done myself (or not done enough)
This is not to say that I did a great thing by not doing the below. May be I was lazy, may be I was stupid or ignorant. You be the judge.

1. Never bought followers or likes
Over 8 years I have earned 2600 followers in twitter- you can get these many in no time if you can pay 30-50 dollars. For many newcomers this is a sure shot shortcut to fame. Because many brands and agencies go with mere numbers and not necessarily check quality of followers or level of engagement, buying followers has worked for many. I am not excited by this proposition.

2. I was late to adapt hashtags
I think I was little late to the hashtag party. I wasn't using them effectively in my social sharing. Trying to improvise on this.

Similarly I have failed to take effective part in ongoing trending topics- like if it is a museum day, it is good opportunity to promote your museum related posts. But I have been little lazy and ignorant on this part. Catching up.

3. Never tagged people unnecessarily
Many of us get annoyed when we are tagged purely for publicity, even though we are not present in the picture or were not part of the activity. I belong to this category and I can understand how it feels if I tag my friends unnecessarily in my posts. Thus however important the post is, I've resisted temptation to tag my friends. After I realized that tagging someone in comments is less intruding (it only causes a notification and doesn't appear in their timelines) I have tried adopting to that.

Lots of people continue to tag influential people on their friend list on their posts, hoping to get some likes and shares and often succeed in achieving it as many friends feel duty bound.

4. Never scheduled my posts/updates or cross linked accounts
Almost all of my updates are posted manually. I have not used any scheduling tools. There is lots of research done to determine what time of the day is best for posting, how frequently one should post, after what time same link is to be re-posted etc. I haven't had time to master these and optimize.

I have also NOT cross linked my accounts. You can link instagram to facebook to twitter to linked in, so that posting in one can result in auto-publishing of the same in 4-5 places. I feel each platform is unique and since I have same/similar set of friends everywhere, blind duplication is spam

Both of above means I have to spend more personal time on social sharing and failing which I have lost some potential visibility. I am not saying I did right thing.

5. Never projected myself as an influencer.
Influencer marketing is a big business today and every blogger/social media guy wants to be identified as an influencer and get some piece of the action. However, I believe in being an enabler than influencer. I don't want to influence people into buying something that is not best choice for their needs or things they may not need. I believe in sharing by analysis, experience, listing pros and cons and then letting the readers take final decision. None of my profiles use the term "Influencer"

6. Never projected myself with fancy title.
Many bloggers call themselves CEO of their blog, even though they may not have a custom domain, a registered business entity or a team/revenue model/physical office. Printing a visiting card with CEO in it has its advantages- particularly when you want to strike a conversation at an event and network- no one will have time to assess true worth of your blog instantly, so calling yourself CEO will get you better attention, access and reach.

Because I don't have a fancy title, introducing myself and my blog to strangers becomes difficult- as they will have only few seconds of attention span and if your intro doesn't excite them, you will be forgotten next moment, irrespective of how good your blog is. At some point, I tried giving myself a title "Chief Blogging Officer" however fancy it may sound- but eventually dropped it. It is a free world and one is free to give themselves any title they feel apt. But in my opinion, one should have a registered business entity to do justice to the title CEO.

7. Haven't been very good at managing communities
I have seen many successful bloggers build one or more communities (facebook group, forums etc) in their areas of expertise and use them very effectively to engage with readers and indirectly benefiting from the same. Building and sustaining such communities is a time and effort intensive task and if you can succeed, rewards are high. However I haven't had much success in this department-largely because of time constraint and partly because I am an introvert and has been hesitant to invite all friends blindly.

At some point I considered running different blogs for different topics- auto/travel/photography etc- realized that I won't have time to manage multiple blogs, so this one blog continues as jack of all.

On that note, I have recently created a group for discussing budget travel tips and tricks. Feel free to join.

8. I am still a one man part -time army!
I have seen many bloggers go beyond being full time- they hire interns and professionals for doing mundane/complicated stuff, they have ventured into consulting and allied business beyond blogging and establish a very successful enterprise. However I still have my full time job and blogging continues to be part time

9. Never chased campaigns where I need to promote them and get votes
I have time and again stayed away from campaigns or opportunities which are vote based- in which I need to promote the brand with the hope of being most voted person and win something. I prefer to command than demand.

10. Haven't had much success pitching to brands
Most opportunities I got were when brands themselves contacted me. On a few instances I did try pitching to brands but never had much success on that.
- Unless you can reach right decision maker, your pitch may not see light of the day as junior staff will not have any motive to pursue your case
- When brands approach, they would have done some screening whom to select, set aside some funds for the event/campaign. Other way round is not that easy.
- I can't afford extensive follow-ups/meetings/presentations to justify my proposal

Thus overall, I am sticking to "Do your good work and wait for opportunities to come to you"

11. Never worked much on my photographs.
One thing I always wanted to but never managed to. All my photographs are published without any post processing. Didn't manage to learn extensive photography skills and never had time to process my pics much before publishing. To give an example, while I published photos of Sound and light show at Gardens by the Bay almost instantly after the trip, without any processing, Desitraveler took few months but had used lots of imagination and post processing to come up with pictures that are more interesting than live show itself. Check his post here. I have a long way to go before I can do things like that with my camera. Time is the main culprit.

12. Haven't spent much promoting my blog
I have bought a custom domain early alright, but beyond that, I am still using a free theme, haven't advertised my blog using ads, haven't spent money on logo/branding etc.

May be I should do some of these- like trying a better theme even if it is paid, spending some money on facebook ad to see how effective they are, get a logo may be and so on.

13. Failed to focus much on print
I have almost stopped writing for print- should resume this asap

14. Haven't done much of listicles
Top 10 things to do, X must visit attractions.. listicles like this get good traffic as many people don't have time for detailed posts and will be happy with bullet points/quick summary. I haven't done many posts of this type- may be I should try.

As you can see, things I have NOT done outnumber things I have done 7 to 1.

Above: My first and only physical blogger award till date.

Below is a summary SWOT Analysis for myself...
  • 10 years of blogging experience
  • Decent stats, traffic and followers
  • Not financially dependent on the blog
  • Continued interest and commitment to blog despite external factors

1. Working on blog part time only
2. Lots of potential improvements possible and need to be worked upon
3. Haven't spent on branding/advertising etc
  1. Despite onslaught of social media, blogging has sustained and offers enough opportunities
  2. Because I don't depend on blog for a living, I can wait for right opportunities, doesn't have to worry about competition
  1. Not having any fixed standards/certifying body means trying to stand out is difficult.
  2. Desperate influencers resorting to unethical means like buying followers, destroying sanctity of the medium
Indian Bloggers 
I am thinking of one more post- like my top 10 blogging moments. Again I use this excuse to thank my readers, friends and PR/brands which I have worked with, for giving me all that I have got.


Sandeep Shande said...

Great going Shrinidhi ..keep it going ..bottom line is your way is the best way ! Also, SWOT analysis looks interesting !

Anita Rao-Kashi said...

Congrats. I like the candid tone and approach you've taken here!

dablogs said...

A good introspection. It inspires me immensely.

dablogs said...

A good introspection. It inspires me immensely.

Anuradha said...

All the best for next 10 years Shrinidhi.

Do it your way - that always brings out the best in you. Formulas seem to work, but they fall flat in long run.

R Niranjan Das said...

Congratulations, Shrinidhi. Have many many more blogging years. I liked the way you dissected your blogging career. A few I can relate to and a few I can learn from. Thank you.

Simulation said...

Remember the day I pulled you into our team, just because of your analytical ability which were evident through your blog posts. Keep it up and all the best!

Anshul Ansh said...

what is your earning by blogging till date?

Prasad Np said...

Dear Shrinidhi: First of all congratulations on completing 10 years of blogging. You are an inspiration for all travel bloggers and you are one of the few who have set the standards of blogging very high.

Readers come to blogs to learn from your personal /unbiased experience and that is where eNidhi excels. My experience with print has been mixed and now I too don't approach editors much.
As for photographs go -post processing is important but not the most important thing. Next time we meet let us spend some time on the same. Many thanks for the mention in the post.

Prasad aka desi Traveler

rupam sarma said...

Many many Congratulations :)
Keep blogging. Best wishes.

Alok singhal said...

I am happy I didn't make some of the mistakes you did, seems the experience of my wife helped.

And I also follow some of your rules - primarily, no tagging, no color-coding pictures!

Congratulations, this has been a long journey ☺️

Vinayal said...

Congratulations! And Great Luck Ahead!

Shrinidhi Hande said...

@Vinayal- Thanks

@Alok- Great. What is color coding pictures?
Thanks for the wishes

@Rupam- Thanks

@Prasad- Appreciate your valuable tips and appreciation. I still have a lot to learn.

@Anshul- I think I don't want to answer that in public domain, as no one publishes their earnings in public.

To give you a hint, my earnings are nowhere close to what I earn in my day job, so it is a very small amount- else I would have probably quit long back. Plus I spend lot of money on my experiences. Overall I don't live on my blog so whatever I get is a bonus.

@Sundar sir- Thanks for all the support and guidance you've given me. Had it not been for the events in 2009, our paths would have crossed more often I guess

@Niranjan- Thanks bro.

@Anuradha- Thank You

@DA Blogs- Thanks

@Anita- Thanks

@Shande- thanks. My way may not be best way-I still have lots of things to improve upon.

Rajiv said...

Congratulations Shrinidhi. You for sure are am inspiration for so many out there. Three cheers to you & your passion. Keep going.


Umang Trivedi said...

Quite a candid post. Like the way you have expressed the points.


Shrinidhi Hande said...

Thanks Rajiv for good words and support.

Thanks Umang

Priyanka Kamath said...

Reading this is like introspecting oneself! Lot of tips for bloggers (like me) who are just beginning this journey.
Point #1 is by personal experience. I have tried both, writing really long ones and then moving over to shorter ones. And the feedback has always been in favour of shorter posts!

Shrinidhi Hande said...

Thanks Priyanka.

Shailaja Vishwanath said...

One of the BEST posts I have ever read and I love the honesty with which you have written. it reflects in your personality too, both times when I have met you face to face.

I admire all the points you have mentioned and yes, though I do a few things differently, I agree with most of it. Congratulations and well done once again.

Arti said...

Great pointers and 10 years! Wow. What a privilege and honour it has been for me to have grown up alongside authentic, transparent and honest bloggers like you. Thank you for doing what you do, the way you have done it, you are an inspiration to me. Here's wishing you many more happy years of travelling and blogging to come. Many many congratulations!

Jiggyasa said...

first of all many congratulations on this achievement. I wish..I m able to do a similar swot analysis years later, having begun just as now :) it was pleasure reading about your journey.

Seena said...

Congratulations! Such an achievement! Thankyou for sharing your lessons learned. Wishing you more yeas of blogging contenement!

Yogi Saraswat said...

Many many Congratulations Sri for completing a decade in this fantastic field of blogging with same zeal and writing will as of first post !!

Ami said...

Congrats Shrinidhi and a lot of what you said makes a lot of sense. It is quite inspiring to hear the same from you.

Shrinidhi Hande said...

@Ami- Thanks for the kind words

@Yogi - thanks a lot

@Seena- Thanks a lot

@Jiggyasa- I am sure you will.

@Arti-pls don't use such huge words. I am just another blogger. Thanks for your wishes

@Shailaja- thanks for the kind words and support

Andrew Ryan said...

10 years, amazing and congrats for this achievement , I also created one blog for happy new year 2017 . It completed 2 year...

Leena Walawalkar said...

Congratulations! This is a big moment! And kudos to you for your honesty, which is so rare in today's world.

Indrani said...

What an honest report on yourself just like the product reviews you do! :)
I have taken innumerable lessons from your style of blogging.
Please continue blogging with the necessary corrections that you feel you need to do.
We are looking at you Sir!

Amar Shekhar said...

Wow and congratulations on completing ten years in Blogging! Had a lot to learn from you... Happy blogging for the years ahead.

Tomichan Matheikal said...

First of all, congrats on completing a decade of blogging.

Secondly, you've shocked me with bits like we can "buy" followers. There's much to blogging that I'm still ignorant of, it seems, though I too have been a blogger for a decade (in different places like Sulekha, etc.)

Shrinidhi Hande said...

@Tomichan Check this post

@Amar- Thanks

@Indrani- thanks for the support.

@Leena- Thanks

Maniparna Sengupta Majumder said...

Congratulations! A 10-year consistency is not an easy feat.

I do follow religiously some of the things you have said here. I almost NEVER tag people, no question of buying followers on any social sites, I post on my blog manually, try to be honest with reviews etc... :-)

Shrinidhi Hande said...

Thanks Maniparna

adsunsri said...

Shrinidhi...looking back at 10 years of blogging by itself is no mean task and victory is indeed conquering of self which you have beautifully done here...a swot analysis speaks volumes about your sincerity to the activity..Congrats and keep blogging...

Shrinidhi Hande said...

Thank You Sunita

Nisha said...

What an honest post Shrinidhi! Just like your other posts.
Congratulations on completing 10 years. May you write for many decades more.

Please remember slow & steady wins the race. And you are one of the winners in my opinion.

Keep it up.

Shrinidhi Hande said...

Thanks Nisha

You have been very supportive in this journey.

SandeepaChetan said...

Your blogging journey is a great inspiration for us. We respect you for your honest writing. We have 55 posts on our blog. We write long posts. In the month of June we crossed 50K+ pageviews which was highest number for us. We think writing long post has more potential for visibility on the net. Google SEO does work better for longer posts.

Shrinidhi Hande said...

@Sandeepa- thanks for your comments. Yes, longer posts help. I do write them whenever possible, but ones more than 100o words are time consuming to write and read.

Best wishes for your blog..

Raisa said...

What an honest post Shrinidhi! Just like your other posts.
Congratulations on completing 10 years. May you write for many decades more.
new year 2017 wallpaper

Shrinidhi Hande said...

Thanks Raisa

Rahul Pasha said...

What an honest post Shrinidhi! Just like your other posts.
Congratulations on completing 10 years. May you write for many decades more.
Happy New Year 2017 Wishes

Anna said...

Wow and congratulations.....Happy blogging for the years