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.
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.
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.
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.