2014 has been a very interesting year –
Twice we decided to close down the startup as we were not able to make money on our terms, two legal notices thanks to the stories we do, the continuous frustration of having no reserves and not able to hire the right mind.
The list is long but what matters is we survived another 365 days, making my belief stronger that original content can and will make money.
As an entrepreneur, I had quite a few lessons from 2014 which I thought of sharing.
To let go
This is a big one, took time and a strong heart to accept that there are things that I can do and I can’t. Not that I am not capable of doing it but it isn’t humanly possible.
Earlier in 2014, I wanted to evolve LI to a digital news media site and I failed. I realized in the first quarter that I can’t make it happen due to lack of resources and we were not enjoying too. News is all about reporting first which requires resources and even if I have them the final choice to read a news story resides with the reader.
In a tech event, a reporter affirmed, “I can get up at four in the morning and be the first one to report a news story.” That’s impressive, I did that too that but later realised, the reader who opens up the internet around 8 in the morning or after going to office goes to his favourite site to read the news and not the site broke the story first.
The lesson was clear, I will have to find what we are good at and let go dreams which are irrational. I realized that a team of two can’t break stories every hour all day and at the same time we don’t want to keep publishing the same press release that has already been copied by another ten sites. The sooner I realized this the better it was for me. From 7/8 stories we focused on writing 4/5 original ones. This has helped LI to focus on building original stories from Indian social media and strong reason for readers to click.
Today out of 10 things, I know I can do three things, so the focus is on the three things to make it better. It isn’t easy as an entrepreneur to let go things since you want to grow fast but you have to.
You grow as an entrepreneur when you start accepting and playing with your limitations.
To take breaks
The world will not end or your site traffic will not crash the servers if you keep working 24*7, even on Sundays. Entrepreneurs are the crazy bunch, we love to work without any breaks but not everyone is like that. We need to respect it.
Taking breaks has been a big lesson. In 2014, I made sure that I don’t work on Sundays do things that I love like cooking. It took time me to learn this but once I did life has been smooth and productivity has been fine. Apart from being an entrepreneur, I am a husband which I often forget with work so the one or two breaks in the long weekends have brought more smiles.
Besides our yearly data has also showed that even if we write on a Saturday/Sunday the traffic graph remains more or less same. So in 2015, we at LI plan to take more breaks and give the best in the five working days. This also allows us to think more which original stories require quite a bit
To spend time on story title
LI is a small publication with a very niche crowd. We were initially known and even today the major traffic comes from our campaign stories. Over the time readers have appreciated our app and insight stories and the interviews too.
Earlier our maximum time use to go in building and editing the story. The title was the last thing we thought of but today it is the opposite. Not that we have mastered the art of link baiting titles but initally our maximum time goes in thinking on the title.
Today before we start thinking about a certain story or get in touch with people for a story we focus on what will be the exact title. Once you know the title you have the flow of the story in your mind crafted which has time again proved the success of the story. Only experience can teach you this.
A good title has always helped us to get eyeballs from interested readers but that doesn’t mean you can have a crap content and still get more readers. Being a small publication we can’t afford it, only TOI can!
2015 is here but we don’t have any big plans to reveal. We are going to do what we have done in 2014 – keep our heads down and write more original Indian social media stories that will excite you to read them. However we promise to make 2015 stories tastier.
Wish you a great year ahead!
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