I, wogma, have a tale to share, a story to tell. Be warned, this actually classifies as a rant post. But, if you are interested in what's been happening with me in the last few months, the answers are here. And nevertheless, it's a review of meetu's mis-judgment. So, who knows, you might just have fun. Here goes -
Good news first - Yay!!! I finally have a new look that looks good and makes all my parts easily accessible.
Bad news - It took meetu a real long while to get here, didn't it?
Regular readers must have noticed the frequent design changes wogma has been going through - some decent, some bad and some very bad. For not-so-regular/new readers, firstly, be informed, that such a post by me happens only once in a couple years. Also, know that this is the 5th design in 3.5 years. Ouch!
So, why tell you this now? Because through the last 18 months readers and friends have been very concerned about me and I think I owe them an explanation. More importantly, this is the look and functionality with which meetu, navin and I have been most satisfied with. Also, I want to rant…
I was stagnating at about 1500 visitors a day around July 2008. Nothing exciting other than the occasional high-profile/good movie was happening to get more readers. meetu had a few features in mind to enhance the reader experience, but they needed programming . The then CTO, Navin was getting busier and busier with PuneTech. So, she decided to reduce her dependency to minimum.
And her ever-supportive husband handed her a 500 page book on PHP (if you don't know what that is, you aren't really missing much.) Anyway, there she was sitting with a supposedly little book on "PHP programming". tsk tsk…what she was willing to go through for me…
Around that time, she got an e-mail from a Pune-based company asking if she was interested in a business association. She was looking out for ways to make me more popular. No harm meeting, right?.
The offer was simple. They'd take care of marketing wogma, and the technical headaches. She'd focus on content. I was truly happy for her! If this actually happened, she'd get time to try her hand at the long overdue fictional short story ideas she keeps thinking of while doing admin work for me.
The business association would pay her the amount I was earning per month till then. So, in the partnership, she'd suffer no loss of income. Anything over and above that to be shared 50-50. All she had to do was provide daily content. Fair enough.
September 1, 2008 a deal was signed. Of course, the back and forth on the agreement and the little things that were being ignored or trying to sneak in should have raised a signal. But well, they didn't. Because she didn't want her reservations and conservatism to hinder my growth. And this seemed to be the only way. Let an expert who's done it earlier handle it. She'll stick to content..
The plan was to give me a new look and spice it up with some appealing visuals. After all, the old look was too "unprofessional" and "too personal" to attract advertisers and corporate deals, or so she was told. Maybe.
After about a month, after a reminder or two, she got a new wireframe of the site that they were supposedly working so hard on...in an excel spreadsheet! Colorful boxes, not to scale, and all that jazz. Oh, so this is how a site is designed at first, huh? Int-er-es-ting!
She really should've started wondering about the attention I was receiving from her "partners". But na-ah! She didn't do it.
4 months later, after missing many-a-deadline, I had a new logo and a new look. I looked swanky! I was relatively happy. So what, if the content created in those 4 months was not marketed, publicized as meetu was doing it earlier, let alone better? So what, if traffic was slowly decreasing? I was wearing "big people's" clothes!!!
Meanwhile, she religiously had a post a day - come Diwali or Christmas, come family vacation or illness. It was her job to update me every day. She owed no partner nothing. She was also sticking to her end of the deal. Even though there were complaints from readers - "stick to mostly reviews." No, wogma need to grow and this seems to be the only way out. Or so she was told.
New design came and new design stayed. No marketing offers went through. Later she was told that her reviews were very contradictory to popular opinion, that's why people were not interested in my content. And, get this, in marketing - following-up with potential advertisers more than twice - was tantamount to begging, or so she was told.O...kay
Traffic was down to 1/3rd of what it was before agreement. Though the content almost doubled.
Technical backend was at its worst. Simplest of things, like changing "WOGMA" to "wogma" took at least three weeks - after follow-up. Don't even get me started on the little more difficult things. New features? Uhhh…say..what?
About 8 months into the contract came the final straw. Around 10pm on a Saturday night, meetu gets a call from one of the partners,
Sorry, meetu. Wasn't able to reply to your mails in the last couple weeks. I'm leaving for South Africa, will be back in 6 weeks. We'll talk then.Turns out they had bagged the IPL team "Kings' XI" account. Wow! Bloody brilliant!! Good for them!!!
So, she was to get in touch with "so-and-so" from their office, if I needed anything. So-and-so's contact information? Figure it out, girl! I've had enough!
The graph of excitement-anticipation-frustration-anger-helplessness-resignation-disappointment-failure wasn't a happy one to go through. She lost motivation to keep up her end of the bargain. She didn't want to write an article a day just for the sake of writing. I didn't want to give my readers something that was not really interesting. That there was a film-release strike on, only helped. Nothing can be worth her losing motivation to write for me . . .
It's over. I went back to the maybe-not-so-slick but MY blog.
Oh, by the way, in the process of shifting backend for the blog, we found out that the database is so messed up that simple redirects were nightmares. Not to mention that basics online marketing stuff was ignored or rather were detrimental to traffic and ranking, for example URLs were the most SEO-unfriendly. Apologies for the geek talk; I got a bit carried away there.
I hope you can see through the constraint I'm using in this post under the advice of well-wishers. I hope you can sense the anger waiting to seethe out of meetu's gritting teeth.
I had written until here about 10 months ago. Since then, I've found the awesomest well-wishers in Rohan, founder of Social Web Factory. His team helped me put up an interim decent-look till meetu figured what she really wanted for me.
Nirav and Manu were constant supporters and kept their suggestions flowing till meetu finally knew what content was to go where. Also, facebook helped her hunt out a friend from 20 years ago, Mushtaq of Ain Digytal Inc. He has designed the spunky new logo. And, of course, Navin is back to being the CTO of wogma. ;)
I don't know if I will go back up and beyond. But I'll try my best. New features are still brewing. And anyways, as long as meetu and I enjoy films and writing about them, we are doing just fine, right?
Dear wogma well-wishers, I have forgiven meetu for the cost I had to pay for her learning experience. Hope you have too. I'm actually exhilarated by the new design and ease of use. And the shine in meetu's eyes tells me that she is very enthused about filling me in with more content and working harder than ever. In true filmy spirit, then -
(We emotional types, get hurt, smile and move on...)
And further in the song -
are, rain wo kaun sii jo na Dhal jaae re!
(there ain't a night that doesn't turn into day)
Tell me now, what's your song to raise my spirits?
Your always, Wogma
Ps. Oh yeah, the monthly minimum that meetu was entitled to - she didn't see a penny of the $1500. The contract didn't specifically mention the amount. Obviously, her bad for thinking of professionals as ethical or having moral obligations. But, like I said I've forgiven her.