A friend asks me to go to Park Street for the ‘Bloggers’ meet’ on Friday.
When? And where?
Oxford Book Store
I made it certain that I would attend the meet.
For the first time in India, blogging was made a part of a literary fest.
The Apeejay Kolkata Literary Festival (AKLF) 2015 was held from 14th to 18th January at various heritage sites in Kolkata. On the 16th of January, bloggers from all age groups gathered in the iconic Oxford Book Store, at Park Street, for the award distribution ceremony of the ‘Great Indian Blogging Contest’, and to hear from established bloggers speak about SEO, self branding, monetizing blogs, presenting creative blog posts, and much more.
We also saw the prize distribution later in the evening.
At 2:30 PM, I reached Oxford Bookstore,
and climbed up to the first floor. One part of the first floor contains the ‘Cha Bar‘ – a small food corner. The other portion had been made ready for the event.
Jit Sengupta, the Assistant Brand Manager of East Zone at TOI would be conducting the whole event.
Anirban Saha, the founder of Kolkata Bloggers was the first speaker. He presented us the advantages of blogging with examples from his own life – how blogging escalated his confidence as a speaker and improved his English as well. He told us how blogging provides a competitive advantage to everyone, especially to aspiring authors.
When you have your work discoverable online, you open an entire range of opportunities for yourself
The world now lives and breathes online. Two terms were introduced – branding and promotion. Suppose you are going to introduce yourself to someone for the first time. Basically, the latter does the job beforehand. He ‘Googles’ you. He researches you. Now consider this:
What if you can not impress him? He might not meet you and you might lose an opportunity.
Your visibility and interactions online, creates a small brand for yourself.
Before leaving the dias, he gave us examples of how some bloggers made an offline presence with their content – The Great Bong, Arnab Ray, Anuradha Goyal, Suchi Singh Kalra.
Following him, Suman Chakraborty, CEO and executive editor of Roman Books, utilized a PowerPoint presentation to give us a brief idea about what publishers look for in writers. Along with that he informed us about a new project they would be undertaking – Roman Books would be picking out certain blog posts from various interested Indian bloggers and collating them into a book. The idea had stemmed from a senior editor at Roman Books – who had a blog that addressed letters to various day-to-day elements.
He notified us of the various elements Roman Books would be looking for in a blog post, emphasizing on creativity and saleability, lastly mentioning that only fairly established blogs, with good reviews and comments would be considered for the book.
Shib Nath Sen of JWT, an advertising agency, followed Mr. Chakraborty, with how to use blogs as a boost to sales and presence. He uses his blog to vent out the pressure from his career.
Blogs must touch the reader’s heart and everyone needs to develop a style of his own
He gave a few examples of how a distinctive style sets apart companies. Apple simply makes things differently. They have good marketing skills.
We just happen to make great computers – Apple
He also narrated incidents from his life to explain proper presentation that should be done in blog posts.
He touched some extremely valid points about blogging in general. Each and every blogger should have a target audience. Humans around the world have common interests. A person blogging for a particular reason might provide valid information for another person.
The reason why you are blogging is the reason why others will read it
SEO stands for Search Engine Optimization. Aji introduced a valid point:
SEO is a backdated concept. Blogs, nowadays, should target SMO – Search Media Optimization.
Earlier, he used various RSS readers, such as Google Reader to get updates from various blogs. Now, the scenario has changed.
Nowadays, you don’t reach out to blogs. Blogs come to you.
Everyone, around the globe, shares on various social networks. Thus, getting updates from bloggers is no longer something the reader needs to concern himself with.
Initially, monetizing a blog should not be the blogger’s goal. He should write for passion. Later, when the blogger starts to get traffic, proper archiving should be done. For many, a blog is a form of catharsis. However, it should be kept in mind, blog posts can have long term effects if done properly. ‘The perfect blog post’ is not easy. And no such thing exists. You can only strive to do better.
Before Anirban Saha went up on the dias again, the last speaker Shilpa Srivastava, Social Media Lead of Compare Infobase, provided insights on how to promote blogs. She constantly emphasized on leaving behind the ‘first person factor’.
Come out of the ‘I’ factor. Your blog should be more popular than you and not the other way around.
A wonderful piece of advice got hard-coded into my mind. Bloggers should initially ‘release teasers’ of their upcoming blog post. These teasers should be shared on various social media platforms. She included something she had done herself. Before releasing a post on a recent vintage car rally race, she had posted:
Do you know the difference between ‘vintage cars’ and ‘classic cars’?
This was something many were unaware of.
During the event, prizes were handed out to the winners of the ‘Great Indian Blogging Contest’. 70+ valid entries had come from members of the Kolkata Bloggers team itself. The topic announced by TOI had been
‘The Great Indian Chamcha’ – a humorous take on the culture of sycophancy that runs deep in politics and has slowly become part of our daily lives.
Actor-author Tisca Chopra gave away the prizes to the top three blogs posts – Namrata Kumari, Rushati Mukherjee and Sohaiil Mohammed (mentioned according to their ranks). Amartya Talukdar won the award for the most engaging blog.
The event was of-its-own-kind. The points enumerated by Anirban Saha, Aji Isaac Mathew, Shilpa Srivastava and Shib Nath Sen were valuable. I believe these are necessities for every blogger, irrespective of where they are living, or which society they come from, or even their age group. This was a big event for Kolkata Bloggers.
As a young blogger who has just started to share his work, this was very knowledgeable. Tips about sharing with ‘pre-teasers’, concept of SMO, branding and promotion are certain things I will keep in mind in my future posts. Teasers are something I will certainly use in the future, for example, when I’m writing about travelling to a certain place.
I congratulate the winners of the ‘Great Indian Blogging Contest’. From the little snippets Jit Sengupta read out (from their respective posts), I felt that TOI had made proper judgement.
The following day, that is one the 17th of January, TOI included the bloggers meet:
All photographs (except for the ones mentioned) were shot by Soupayan Dutta at the event. Check out his photography page on Facebook: Soupayan Dutta Photography
I obtained certain quotes from the event from the article in Times of India: Want to be a blogger? Experts tell you how