The Great Indian Bloggers' Meet

For the very first time in India, a blogging competition and a subsequent bloggers’ meet was organized during a literary festival. It was organised by The Times of India with the support of Kolkata Bloggers, as part of The Apeejay Kolkata Literary Festival 2015.

Bloggers from in and around the city were invited to send in their entries on the theme, “The Great Indian Chamcha” for the event, called The Great Indian Blogging Contest. The response was overwhelming, with over 70 legitimate entries submitted.

This culminated in The Great Indian Bloggers’ Meet, where the winners would be announced.

The posters for The Great Indian Bloggers Meet, by The Times of India with the help of Kolkata Bloggers

The posters for The Great Indian Bloggers Meet, by The Times of India with the help of Kolkata Bloggers

On the 16th of January, 2015, The Great Indian Bloggers’ Meet was held by Apeejay and The Times of India in association with Kolkata Bloggers. Several experts from the blogging and social media sphere were present to guide young bloggers regarding personal branding, blog optimization and the ways to use blogs to boost online presence. Despite it being a Friday afternoon, the Oxford Bookstore was packed by the time Anirban Saha, founder of Kolkata Bloggers, delivered the opening speech. He focused on the importance of blogging with examples from his own experiences. He mentioned how, on a personal level, he had grown in confidence and his English had improved ever since he started blogging. He also spoke about personal branding on the online world, and how the initiative of Kolkata Bloggers helps with it. He provided examples of people who had made their online presence count as a factor in positive offline effects – people like Arnab Ray, Anuradha Goyal, Samit Basu and Suchi Singh Kalra.

Anirban Saha, founder of Kolkata Bloggers, speaks at the Bloggers Meet

Anirban Saha, founder of Kolkata Bloggers, speaks at the Bloggers Meet. Photograph by Soupayan Dutta.

Suman Chakraborty, CEO and executive editor of Roman Books, spoke about what publishers look for in a blogger. He stated that the content should not only be publishable, but also come with positive reviews and a fair reputation. JWT’s senior creative director Shibnath Sen was the next speaker. A veteran in blogging, he said that blogging is the ultimate way to express our minds. One can write what they want without any fear of removal or content tweak. It is important for every blogger to develop his own style, and make his presence felt within the words.

Aji Isaac Matthew, CEO of Techshu, gave valuable tips on SEO (Search Engine Optimization), even going on to say that SEO was now redundant and that SMO (Search Media Optimization) is a more practical concept. He said, “The reason why you are blogging is the reason why other people will read your blog.” He also spoke about blog monetization, saying it can be an effective tool if monetization is applied after the blog starts getting decent traffic. Success may not come easy at first, but one must have the passion for blogging during its initial years without thinking of the commercial aspects.

Aji Isaac Matthew, CEO of Techshu, talks about blog monetization and SEO

Aji Isaac Matthew, CEO of Techshu, talks about blog monetization and SEO. Photograph by Sayan Biswas.

Shilpa Srivastava, the Social Media Lead of Compare Infobase, provided insights on how to promote a blog. Her recurring message was, “Your blog should be more popular than you.” She said that people needed to identify more easily with a brand, such as a blog, for it to be successful. She also stressed on the importance of bloggers maintaining a strong online presence, allowing their work to reach social media platforms like Facebook, Twitter, Google+ and Pinterest.

Prizes were awarded to the winners of The Great Indian Blogging Contest. The jurors had selected the top three from over 70 entries to the competition. Namrata Kumari, Rushati Mukherjee and Sohail Mohammed bagged the prizes for first, second and third respectively. The award for “Most Engaging Blog” was clinched by Amartya Talukdar. Actor-author Tisca Chopra was present at the event to give away the prizes. Judges included eminent bloggers Indrapramit Das, Mallika Basu, Arundhati Roy, Sunayana Roy and Abhijit Gupta.

Rushati Mukherjee, who was adjudged second in the contest, receives her prize from actress-author Tisca Chopra

Rushati Mukherjee, who was adjudged second in the contest, receives her prize from actress-author Tisca Chopra. Photograph by Sayan Biswas.

Amartya Talukdar won the "Most Engaging Blog" award. Photograph by Soupayan Dutta

Amartya Talukdar won the “Most Engaging Blog” award. Photograph by Soupayan Dutta.

This event was the first of its kind, and the huge number of enthusiastic bloggers who participated in the competition as well as those who turned up for the Bloggers’ Meet at the Oxford Bookstore on a weekday was a very positive sign for the online ecosystem of the city. Kolkata Bloggers would like to congratulate each and every participant. The Kolkata fraternity has shown that it has indeed taken a step forward in the online spectrum.

Kolkata Bloggers thanks The Times of India and Apeejay, without whom this event would not have been possible. It was a very good experience collaborating with them. The Great Indian Blogging Contest and The Great Indian Bloggers’ Meet were successful events, thanks to the organizers and the bloggers and enthusiasts from Kolkata. The Bloggers’ Meet received coverage in The Times of India, dated 17th January 2015.

A clipping from The Times of India dated 17th January 2015.

A clipping from The Times of India dated 17th January 2015.

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