This post has been self-published on Youth Ki Awaaz by Dhairya Kumar Garg. Just like them, anyone can publish on Youth Ki Awaaz.

Fed Up With Click-Bait Articles, How I Started My Own Media Platform

When I was 17,  my folks and I felt that the Indian youth needed a space on the internet, where they could read well-researched content on issues that matter. After all, most media was – and still is – inundated with senseless, sensational stories about ‘keyboard heroes’ and ‘paid-off’ media houses.

So, where did all the opinions of young people go?

I wanted to start a blog where I would explain matters related to finance and economy in a simple and comprehensible manner. Here, I wasn’t trying to ape a Bloomberg or a Forbes. I had a substantially different vision, where I wanted to build a platform where the people from my ‘scene’ could learn about all the boring stuff in an enjoyable and quirky fashion. And so I began my writing journey, with my blog, which would go on to become Economy Decoded (ED) Times in future.


Dhairya Kumar Garg, founder of ED Times
Dhairya Kumar Garg, founder of ED Times

Initially, there weren’t any takers for this idea. After all, we live in an era where many of us indulge in the guilty pleasures of consuming senseless, clickbait articles, instead of smart digital media content. Consequently, selling my blog was not easy.

The biggest challenge, perhaps,was that blogging as a full-time career was an alien concept to most of us – unknown, unheard of, and unthinkable.

And there were many times when, though my blog was doing okay, I seriously considered shutting down the venture and building a career in the corporate sector. Neither the views nor the engagement with the content on my blog encouraged me to think otherwise.

Thankfully, I did not give up.

It took some time, but things picked up a little when I met up with like-minded people to work with. The reach of my blog also expanded, since the idea of blogging (as opposed to simply writing) was quickly picked up by university students.

The ED Times team
The ED Times team

All the same, actually being on the same page with them was difficult, as they were primarily interested in writing about lifestyle issues.

Then, there was the business model itself.  I was doing this out of my passion for writing. Converting my passion into a profit-making venture seemed unthinkable at that point. My parents, too, had their doubts about this being my full-time career, especially given that I had no clue how to make money from this.

To me, using subscriptions and ads as sources of revenue was a big ‘no-no’, because these are two things that totally slaughter user experience. To date, I am opposed to banner ads, which don’t appear on our website.

Without these, however, I had no idea about how to approach the corporates and the brands to give us work. Moreover, How do you convince these guys to pay you for writing?

Two things changed the game for us, and we haven’t looked back, ever since:

1. The folks at Economy Decoded (ED) decided to become a ‘youth generalist’ blog. This basically means that, we have developed into a dedicated group of young bloggers who have been churning out nuanced opinions on issues related to politics, lifestyle, sex and technology. Our growth has been purely organic – to an extent that these days, we go viral, at least once or twice a month, solely based on the quality of our content. We also believe in using social media organically – to give our loyal netizens access to politically-incorrect but socially-scrutinised blog pieces.

2. Our co-founder came on board to sail our ship full time, quitting a promising career in media and branding. This was because the entrepreneur in her identified with the vision of ED.

From day one, we focussed on creating a sustainable business model where we didn’t have to burn any cash to expand our digital reach. It took six months for us to become sustainable and then we started to make profits.

The ED Times team
ED Times has been making the right moves for quite some time now

As a result of these factors and our sustained efforts, we began to be recognised as potential collaborators and blog partners by some of the biggest brands in the country including Microsoft, PUMA and HDFC, and have even been media partners for events like the Jaipur Literature Festival, events with WaterAid, Indian Ocean Concerts, Auto Expo and Femina Awards, and even prestigious international events like the UN World Summit Awards!

All this has been possible only because our clients believe in our vision as well. After all, they want to be associated with a name that carries the same credibility that their brands stand for.

More than anything else, what has worked best for ED Times is the fact that we have always been fuelled by the demography we have catered to – the youth. We capture the pulse, we dig up the corners and we chase the shadows for amazing content.

The most important lesson that we’ve learned is to never stop believing in ourselves. As long as you can stay grounded and remain motivated, you’ll never regret taking the road less taken by.

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An ambassador and trained facilitator under Eco Femme (a social enterprise working towards menstrual health in south India), Sanjina is also an active member of the MHM Collective- India and Menstrual Health Alliance- India. She has conducted Menstrual Health sessions in multiple government schools adopted by Rotary District 3240 as part of their WinS project in rural Bengal. She has also delivered training of trainers on SRHR, gender, sexuality and Menstruation for Tomorrow’s Foundation, Vikramshila Education Resource Society, Nirdhan trust and Micro Finance, Tollygunj Women In Need, Paint It Red in Kolkata.

Now as an MH Fellow with YKA, she’s expanding her impressive scope of work further by launching a campaign to facilitate the process of ensuring better menstrual health and SRH services for women residing in correctional homes in West Bengal. The campaign will entail an independent study to take stalk of the present conditions of MHM in correctional homes across the state and use its findings to build public support and political will to take the necessary action.

Saurabh has been associated with YKA as a user and has consistently been writing on the issue MHM and its intersectionality with other issues in the society. Now as an MHM Fellow with YKA, he’s launched the Right to Period campaign, which aims to ensure proper execution of MHM guidelines in Delhi’s schools.

The long-term aim of the campaign is to develop an open culture where menstruation is not treated as a taboo. The campaign also seeks to hold the schools accountable for their responsibilities as an important component in the implementation of MHM policies by making adequate sanitation infrastructure and knowledge of MHM available in school premises.

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Harshita is a psychologist and works to support people with mental health issues, particularly adolescents who are survivors of violence. Associated with the Azadi Foundation in UP, Harshita became an MHM Fellow with YKA, with the aim of promoting better menstrual health.

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Meri Marzi aims to ensure sensitised, non-discriminatory health workers for the needs of female sex workers in the Suraksha Clinics under the UPSACS (Uttar Pradesh State AIDS Control Society) program by creating more dialogues and garnering public support for the cause of sex workers’ menstrual rights. The campaign will also ensure interventions with sex workers to clear misconceptions around overall hygiene management to ensure that results flow both ways.

Read more about her campaign.

MH Fellow Sabna comes with significant experience working with a range of development issues. A co-founder of Project Sakhi Saheli, which aims to combat period poverty and break menstrual taboos, Sabna has, in the past, worked on the issue of menstruation in urban slums of Delhi with women and adolescent girls. She and her team also released MenstraBook, with menstrastories and organised Menstra Tlk in the Delhi School of Social Work to create more conversations on menstruation.

With YKA MHM Fellow Vineet, Sabna launched Menstratalk, a campaign that aims to put an end to period poverty and smash menstrual taboos in society. As a start, the campaign aims to begin conversations on menstrual health with five hundred adolescents and youth in Delhi through offline platforms, and through this community mobilise support to create Period Friendly Institutions out of educational institutes in the city.

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A student from Delhi School of Social work, Vineet is a part of Project Sakhi Saheli, an initiative by the students of Delhi school of Social Work to create awareness on Menstrual Health and combat Period Poverty. Along with MHM Action Fellow Sabna, Vineet launched Menstratalk, a campaign that aims to put an end to period poverty and smash menstrual taboos in society.

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As a Youth Ki Awaaz Menstrual Health Fellow, Nitisha has started Let’s Talk Period, a campaign to mobilise young people to switch to sustainable period products. She says, “80 lakh women in Delhi use non-biodegradable sanitary products, generate 3000 tonnes of menstrual waste, that takes 500-800 years to decompose; which in turn contributes to the health issues of all menstruators, increased burden of waste management on the city and harmful living environment for all citizens.

Let’s Talk Period aims to change this by

Find out more about her campaign here.

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A former Assistant Secretary with the Ministry of Women and Child Development in West Bengal for three months, Lakshmi Bhavya has been championing the cause of menstrual hygiene in her district. By associating herself with the Lalana Campaign, a holistic menstrual hygiene awareness campaign which is conducted by the Anahat NGO, Lakshmi has been slowly breaking taboos when it comes to periods and menstrual hygiene.

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