Image taken from Unsplash
Content Writing as a business is there for almost 2 decades now. But still, we see businesses struggling to create quality content!
This is what I realized after working with 37 writers at my first media platform FadBulletin.
I thought of creating a solution for the problem of content creation at scale. The thing is, people don’t always need to raise eyebrows after hearing your startup idea and the problem you wish to solve.
And let me be frank — Ours was Boring!
Customers already knew about content writing for long, they tried it at a point or the other, of their business growth, but it remained a problem!
I started working on WittyPen in late 2015, and met a number of writers and businesses to understand more about these problems in the content industry.
When talking to Writers in India:
“We don’t get paid well” was the first response, followed by “Content usually gets rejected and we never get paid for that!”.
But was it the fault of customers only?
I found businesses saying, “We are unable to check the credibility of a freelancer. Will they be able to understand our business?” another being “What they submit, often, is very different from what we ask.” Adding to the list, next response is, “We do not have the bandwidth to manage multiple freelancers at the same time”.
India has largest number of freelancers, but the content industry is highly unstructured to meet the requirement.
That’s what made me more confident to pursue WittyPen.
As a business, your ideal way to grow is to reach out and engage with your users. For that you need content. Content that builds thought leadership, informs the user about the product, industry, etc., and educates them about it.
Even though we see a huge growth in videos and images bringing the major traction, they still are backed by text and storytelling.
Putting all of this in one place, I found these to be the key barriers:
1. Bridge the communication gap between Customers and Writers
2. Standard process to analyze writer credibility and fix payments as per the skills
3. Process to ensure content quality is maintained as per the customer
4. To do all of this at scale!
The problem statements were simple to hear, but not so easy to solve.
We haven’t done that completely yet, but we are at a better stage. Solution is an iterative process, and we are getting stronger each day.
Like a lot of startups, we thought to be lean, we didn’t start building a platform on day 1, but had to wait for 8–10 months before we began to code.
It was one of the best things we did, but before the launch of the platform, did we sit with the problem all the time?
No, we already started working with customers and writers.
Here’s what we did:
1. Created a Website: A single page website, which spoke directly to the customers, about the problems they faced, and the solutions we offered.
2. Use Typeform: No login, no signup, fill up the form to place an order.
3. Payment When Convinced: Since our customers were Businesses, we didn’t have a huge flow of customers initially which gave enough bandwidth to call each customer and understand the content required. And after the call, the customers could realize the credibility to pay us through an Instamojo link. This saved a lot of cost and time for us.
4. Gsuite to the Rescue: This is one thing you should not compromise on, the company email adds credibility and our complete business model relied on the way we used Google Docs and Google Sheets. Gmail is one of the best for email, and we relied on it for our communication. Since we knew how to use GDrive well, we created calendars, content, revisions, everything on Gdrive and collaborated with the concerned teams.
As humans, sometimes we forget that we are close relatives to monkeys — it is our nature to copy from something superior and behave accordingly. But to succeed what we should keep in mind is the possibility to Adapt!
We have global competitors, funded and doing well, but what worked for them in western countries was nowhere close to be working India.
If you have ever worked in a services company/agency in India, you understand that the customers want you to do everything. The DIY culture is far to reach, and we were fortunate enough to realize this in early days.
To keep up with this, we created a hybrid model which includes the human intervention as per the customer’s need but also relies on technology which helps us scale.
We built a combination of Marketplace and SAAS product and supported it with human intervention to assist customers at initial levels to place an order, help them pitch ideas, create projects for multiple orders, etc.
What we have now at WittyPen is what we learned from our customers in early days, and now we are building products on top of it.
Building a startup is not easy. Reaching a product market fit is one of the early milestones to success, and we are reaching ours.
But if you are planning to start up, focus on the value you want to deliver to your customers, build a prototype and talk to a lot of your potential buyers before getting to the actual product. Going lean is the right way to grow and also to save enough time, money and bandwidth.
Learn from customers and build your path to success!