Danuska Da Gama | NT BUZZ
The numbers speak for themselves. 16481 Instagram followers. 4423 Facebook followers. 2090 Twitter followers. But when Jade D’Sa began ‘That Goan Girl’ in 2014, it was just about finding a creative outlet and nothing more.
“I moved to Mumbai to study and then got my first job, which was really monotonous. I’d have unfulfilled days at work, come back home to an empty apartment, cook, eat, sleep, repeat. I needed a creative outlet – something for me to do when I came back home after work every day,” she says. And that’s when ‘That Goan Girl’ decided to start a blog. She however admits that at that point she knew nothing about the blogosphere, and didn’t even read blogs before starting her own. “So I watched YouTube videos and Googled everything about designing, coding, writing and sustaining a blog – and over time, it became a passion,” she says. Since D’Sa lived alone in a new city and could barely cook back then, she ate out frequently and that is how she started learning and blogging about the food.
Seven years later, it still remains just that – an online diary and a creative outlet. But, today she certainly understands the web, what it takes to become a blogger and be consistent and everything else in between. From food and journeys, and everything in life that interests her, D’Sa has covered it all. Mumbai is her base, however she now shunts between Goa, Mumbai and can be seen travelling most of time.
But she’s had her share of challenges as a blogger in India. “For starters, very few people seem to know what a blog is. They assume it is limited to writing captions on Instagram and posting pictures,” she says. Thus, she says that people reduce the dedication, work and creativity that go into actual blogging. The other challenge she says, is that there is content overload these days. “People have very little time during which they choose what to read and where to go, so I need to raise the bar with every story I put out so readers keep coming back,” she states.
And each blogger is expected to have a niche and be as unique. ‘That Goan Girl’ thinks that an identity is developed over time. “Every person is unique and a blogger just has to find a way to translate that uniqueness to the blog. Readers can get similar information from any number of bloggers, but it’s one’s personality that will have them come back to you. That’s what makes someone stand out in a saturated blogosphere,” says D’Sa.
When asked how much patience done needs to have to achieve the numbers and rake in the moolah, D’Sa has just one answer she keeps harping on.
“If one starts blogging for numbers and money, one will be sorely disappointed. It takes years of consistency and patience to build a blog that grows at a steady pace in terms of numbers and fetches you an income,” she says.
D’Sa reveals that she blogged twice a week for two whole years before she saw a rupee come out of her blog. “And if I had started for the money, I’d have given up in 6 months. If a blogger is doing things the ethical way, it will take a couple of years to see results, but once those results come, it will only snowball from there,” D’Sa says.
In a web that’s cluttered with information, and power of ‘influencers’ rules the roost of most commercial brands, it’s also tough to identify bloggers who are honest. “Sadly, it seems like the sole purpose of most new bloggers is to get brand collaborations and freebies,” D’Sa points out adding that with a overabundance of blogs for a reader to choose from, it is more imperative than ever for a blogger to be authentic.
D’Sa says that bloggers aren’t only working for a brand they represent, but are also speaking to an audience that trusts them – “and trust is the main reason for a brand to collaborate with a blogger over a celebrity.” “I have to earn each one’s trust – and after putting in all the work to do that, ruining this trust by working with a brand I don’t truly love isn’t worth it at all,” she says. Apart from representing a brand, ‘That Goan Girl’ first and foremost represents herself, that’s why she finds it critical to work with brands she truly loves.
Food and her sojourns form the basis for her blog and D’Sa rightly thinks bloggers steer towards food and travel because it seems like the most ‘glamorous’ of the lot. “I blog to document my journeys and adventures for no one else, but myself. I’d do it even if I didn’t have any readers,” she confesses
D’Sa also owns and runs a digital marketing company called Digitally Scrambled, when she isn’t blogging. “During the day, I handle online marketing (and blogs, too), for several clients in Goa, Mumbai and beyond. I still experiment with food, I watch a lot of cooking shows and travel whenever I can,” she says.
Her day typically begins with an hour on social media every morning over breakfast. From then on, she gets busy with her agency, meets up with clients. Evenings are meant to go out for a drive or try a new eatery. D’Sa blogs every night from 11 p.m. till she falls asleep. “I travel for around 200 days a year, and even when I’m on the road, most days are like this, too, with a little bit of sightseeing thrown in,” she says.
Calling herself a professional risk taker, D’Sa plans to stick to her ‘digital nomad’ lifestyle – that of travelling to at least four-six places a year while working and blogging on the go.
Awards and accolades
Best Blogger in Goa’ by Indiblogger and ‘Best Culinary Travel Blog in India’ for 2 years in a row by the Food Bloggers Association of India
D’Sa is part of Food Superstars, which is a small, exclusive group of foodies from around the country, handpicked by Vir Sanghvi and Gaggan Anand
That Goan Girl’s rules for ethical blogging
Don’t copy and give credit where it is due.
Disclose collaborations and promotions as such. Don’t create content merely for SEO purposes – SEO should be secondary.
Share your opinion freely – good or bad.
Be transparent – people bond with real people (you don’t have to tell readers everything about your life, but don’t be an impersonal, faceless person either.)
Never ever be fake, because what’s the point of building something no one (not even you) can relate to?