I have known Gautam Ghosh for a year now via his blog, following his social presence and listening to his thoughts at various social media events. He is undoubtedly one of India’s most prolific bloggers and a thought leader in the space of social media and human resource. Gautam has been included as the Top 100 influencers in HR, Top 25 HR blogs worldwide, etc.
Recently Gautam added another feather to his cap after being interviewed by Forbes. Shel Israel who wrote the story, tagged Gautam as the ‘Social Media Thought Leader from India.’ Shel further writes in his article that,
“Gautam is not even the best-known member of a new category of Digital Age human resource professionals known as social recruiters. But in my view, Ghosh is well-cast as a thought leader. He has been at the leading edge in two important social media trends:  human resources and  Indian business adoption. In both cases, he became an early practitioner when they were crawling at a snail’s pace and has remained at the front as both rapidly grow and head toward the mainstream.”
I strongly abide to what Shel had to say. Gautam’s blog that has been alive for last 10 years, is one of the reasons for his growing popularity in the Indian HR community. So I wasn’t surprised when Brave New Talent appointed him as the Product and Marketing Head last year.
Today his blog is referred to as a source of rich knowledge not only in India but internationally as well. The blog was featured as a case study in the book Business Blogs: A Practical Guide and has 2500+ subscribers which includes CXOs, HR heads, etc.
“I was attending a small HR gathering in 2006 and it was amazing – the number of people there who said they read my blog. I never realized until then that reading blogs was “mainstream,” and there are 2500+ people who have opted to get it via email. I didn’t realize until recently that the vast majority of my “readers” don’t read my blog on the site or by a feed reader. They read it when a colleague forwards my email. And these are CXOs and HR heads of firms.”
That isn’t a small feat but the journey of ‘Talent and Social Business’ goes back to the early days of egroups before it went on to become one of the influential blogs of India.
“I used to run two egroups (egroups was later acquired by Yahoo and is now Yahoogroups) on professional topics like Knowledge Management and HR. I had also joined many existing egroups on these subjects. One day I came across a post where someone mentioned that blogging could be a “Personal Knowledge Management” tool. And that’s how I opened my account on Blogger.com. It became a tool to connect with people across the world who shared my interests and ideas and also to debate about it.”
The beauty of a blog is that you can reach out to a set of people across countries. But it’s easier said than done. And Gautam had to wait till 2004 to taste the success of his popularity.
“It was in 2004, when the first Indibloggies were held. My blog was voted 3rd best Indiblog that year and that was a huge thing for me. The winner I think was India Uncut by Amit Varma and therefore a niche blog on HR and KM being 3rd was a great feeling for me .”
To run a blog during 04-05 and then being voted in top three blogs is a remarkable achievement. One of the main reason being Gautam that writes with a purpose and for an audience. Writing for a niche is challenging but will make you stand out if you keep on producing interesting content. And that’s what Gautam has been doing for the last 10 years on his blog.
But a decade is not a small time in a world where technology is changing with every sunrise. Today some of the pundits think that blogging is dead and it has been over shadowed by the social networks. As per a survey done by Drizzlin on the state of Indian blogosphere, blogging is far from dead and is only evolving with time.
Gautam shares that in the early days i.e. 2004-2005, the blogging world was small and passionate discussions would happen over blog comments. But with the proliferation of social networks, the platform of discussions have changed along with the number of blogs.
“Now the blogs are much more but the conversations have moved on to Twitter. Earlier the focus was on politics and movies. Now the focus on monetization is much more. What is also interesting is that I miss the bloggers who kind of abandoned blogging and haven’t made the transition to Twitter. What is great is the way many bloggers have grown – becoming authors and being invited by mainstream media for their views. It shows their passions in their areas – and dispels the notion of blogging as an online journal.”
One doesn’t need to dig deep to find the value of blogging as Gautam himself is a brilliant example. But I have always felt that blogging in India has been looked upon as an extra source of income.
“I don’t think blogging will generate money from day one. There has to be great body of content and a dedicated readership before one can think of monetization. Blogging is like planting a tree. You have to nurture and take care and grow a tree – only later can you expect fruits.”
I think most of the bloggers start with enthusiasm but fizz out after some months since either they have not clearly defined what they are sharing with their readers or not providing value to readers. But if you survive by the same passion then Gautam has a few words of advice (though he modestly says that it is tough to give it)
“Automatic traffic should not be expected. Blogging can feel lonely in the beginning – and why many people give it up. They think people are not reading and give up. The harsh truth is that they will not read it if you don’t add your own perspective and “voice” to your blogging. One has to have a “point of view” that adds value to the reader.”