Nandini Maheshwari is the founder and CEO of Instablogs, the first high-profile Indian blog network. She is a rarity among blog network owners (Nandini is female, beautiful, and not (overly) arrogant). She graciously agreed to grant me an interview, good stuff after the jump…
As the owner of Instablogs, you are involved in managing in a large number of blogs. What is your least favorite part of this responsibility?
We are in a startup-mode here. There is so much to do. Consequently I am left with little time to do some blogging myself. Maybe once things settle down a bit, I will start doing that.
I know that you recently turned down an offer of venture capital. What factors went into this decision?
There were free speech issues. I was not comfortable with an outsider dictating what we should put in our blogs. I am open to like-minded, free speech supporting investors all the time. Anyway itâ€™s too early to think about venture capital. First letâ€™s make a name for ourselves. I want to build the Instablogs brand first and foremost.
What do you think is the forecast for content ownership on the Web? Will it continue to be a profitable business model? Or do you think it could take another downward swing like it did in 2001?
The owner of the best story will be the winner of any given day. This owner can be anyone â€“ a single person-owned company or a big media house. Of course, the big media houses will do the usual thing â€“ buying successful startups.
As long as anyone online, has saleable content, one will have a profitable business, and this will be a sustainable business if you are able to build a community around your content property. Having said that, a community helps you put other useful content that may not be so saleable, as well. Take our blog on The Muslim Woman, or Stolen Childhood for example.
Now about that bubble. As far as we follow common sense business practices there is no fear. For us that means, keeping our costs down, and producing good content day after day.
When Instablogs launched it received a great deal of criticism from various people (probably in part because they had very high, even unrealistic, expectations). What advice can you give bloggers and blog network owners in reference to dealing with criticism (seeing as it is inevitable)?
I honestly believe criticism helps you to improve. In fact we faced some pre-launch snags that somewhat diluted our initial claim of hitting the blogosphere with 50 blogs. But thatâ€™s an old story now. We have moved on from that stage. Our blogs are now getting regular links from A-list blogs. We have managed to become a part of the online community. People have accepted us. They like our stuff. Now our traffic is going up and up, everyday.
My advice to new bloggers and blog network owners is take criticism in your stride, because criticism will help your blog(s) establish better be it through good advices or the invaluable links that you get in the process.
I know that the majority of your readers are based in the US. Was this by design, or did it just work out that way?
Youâ€™d find it strange but itâ€™s true. Even our blog on India – India Daily has most of the readers in the US, not in India. But now Indian as well as Asian readership is on the rise. There was no design. We just wanted to produce content for an international audience.
Whatâ€™s it like to work at Instablogs? Do you run a tight ship?
Itâ€™s fun; lots of freedom here. There is an atmosphere of easy collegiality. Of course itâ€™s like a newsroom here, but a newsroom with lots of fun and enthusiasm. Also, we are planning some innovations with our newsroom that you will soon learn about.
Thanks for taking the time to speak with me, Nandini! In case anyone hasnâ€™t yet seen Instablogs, go take a look–thereâ€™s a lot of exciting stuff going on over there.