Siddhi, founder of Thrive LGBT magazine gives some tips on building readership for your blog

Blogging is the new way to spread your word and market your cause. Everyone I meet at college want to start their own blog but not many know how to go about it.

“What will I write in my blog?

Will it get enough readership?

These are some of the basic questions that tend to pop up.

Siddhi Pal is an 18-year-old student at Ashoka University, Delhi. She started Thrive, an online magazine to promote LGBT rights at the age of 16 and has managed to get amonthly readership of 8000. She is very clear about the aim of her online magazine and this helps her to market it better. You can apply her tips for online magazines to blogging as well.

Siddhi believes, “Sexual Orientation is not accepted to be fluid in India. Any relationship which is not heterosexual is rejected as being unnatural in India, hence there is a stigma that the LGBT community has to face. Things are slowly changing and though the laws in the country haven’t changed, people’s views on sexual orientation are changing slowly.

There is a difference in the perception of sexualities among generations and it is because of the difference in the levels of awareness. My grandparents, for example, did not even know what the term “gay” or “lesbian” meant before I spoke with them about it, and our parents’ generation has “some idea” about the fluidity of sexuality, but tends to outright reject the idea as “western influence”.

Our generation is slightly more accepting because the level of awareness is rising. It is natural to reject something we know nothing about, but it is wrong to strip people of their basic human rights on the basis of our personal opinions”

She acknowledges that the LGBT community may not be comfortable in voicing their identity and the Thrive platform exists to share their opinions and stories to create a community feeling.

Motivation behind Thrive Magazine

The idea of Thrive came up when I was at the Just Peace Summit in New York in 2015. I was sitting with a couple of friends and having a casual conversation which, at the end of an hour, turned into an idea of an inspirational platform for LGBT+ youth and after three months, became Thrive.

Building Readership Step By Step 

I am based in New Delhi, India, and wanted Thrive to have an international readership. Initially, the toughest thing for us was to maintain geographical diversity in our articles and gage readership from across the world.

We were able to overcome this by using social media extensively, personally contacting people we knew in other countries and requesting them to spread the word. Our team was from different countries, so, that helped. 

Now, we are coming up with a Country Coordinator model, where we will have coordinators from each country, helping us getting articles, interviews, etc. from their respective countries’ we’re hoping that this will increase our readership and outreach.

I think the Share Your Story page, where people can directly post on our website their stories, opinions, comments, has really helped us increase our readership. The sex-education module has also contributed substantially to it.

“I started the blog when I was 16. The realisation that LGBT+ youth didn’t have many real life role models and a platform where they could voice their stories and inspire and get inspired by people encouraged me to come up with Thrive.”

I think the stories section attracts the most people because it is widely marketed by the people who have sent in their stories in their respective communities. Because the stories are personal, people find it easier to write down what they’ve wanted to share with others and then share their submissions. A couple of people have used Thrive as a platform to come out, while many just wish to send in their stories anonymously.

Some things to keep in mind before starting your own blog or online magazine: 

  • Be clear about your objective behind starting the website
  • If you know who your website is for, it becomes easy to use focused social media approaches and thus, enhances your readership
  • Know what to market about your blog/website- why should people read it
  • Accepting guest blogs helps to increase the readership
  • Making an interactive portal increases the audience because people sense a feeling of community and like to post comments and stories there
  • You can also form affiliations with other blogs and get marketed on their blog.

Zero to Launch- Marketing Efforts

“We had started marketing the website much before we launched it, in order to get articles. Our readership was the highest the first two months after the launch as that is when we had the most numbers of shares on social media as well.

I launched the website with the launch of the Thrive Magazine. Anjali Gopalan from the Naz foundation and Pramada Menon from CREA were present at the launch of the magazine.

The initial platform on which Thrive was launched was Squarespace but then we bought our own domain. The readership depends on the people who are getting featured on the website. If they are excited about it, they share it with many people.

We market each story on our Facebook page by sharing it and the person who is featured shares it with their own sources. This increases the ‘viral’ factor as the featured people also market it. We have an interview process to decide who gets featured.

I suggest new bloggers to start marketing their blog from before by spreading the word on social media like Facebook and Instagram. Also, accepting guest articles helps to market it and increase the audience. [Guest articles = more reads on the website]

I was selected to attend the Global Changemakers summit in Switzerland, and received the Queens Young Leader Runners Up Award 2017. These awards increased my network and helped me spread the word about Thrive among more people and, thus, did positively impact our readership.

We don’t intend to earn revenues in the near future but Thrive is soon going to transform to Thrive Plus which is a page against hate speech. Thrive Plus will accept stories which not only belong to the LGBT community but also about people who prevented hate from spreading around and did not support hate speech.”

If Siddhi can successfully start her own online magazine at the age of 16 and manage to get a readership of 8,000, then what’s stopping you from going viral?

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