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Energy, innovation, passion and travel: 4 words that define Anuradha Goyal. She is proudly living her life as a travel entrepreneur and blogger, and inspiring a lot of other people to do the same.
Inditales, which began as an individual travel blog in 2004, has since then become one of India’s best resources for authentic information about travel destinations, experiences and insights.
Anuradha has travelled extensively across India and also explored more than 16 countries in 3 continents. She loves to walk around cities, spend time in museums, hunt for vegetarian food wherever she travels – the other life of her life is books and reading. Her interest in digital entrepreneurship and innovation led her to write The Mouse Charmers – Digital Pioneers of India, published by Random House India, an insightful look at some of India’s biggest digital powered businesses, and her papers on business innovation have appeared in various journals and forums.
Anuradha Goyal is one of those people who not only loves to travel, but has been able to build a content business out of her love for travel. We caught up with her in this email interview to find out what drives her.
Over the years, you have grown Inditales to be one of the most successful travel blogs in India. In your experience, where is the line between blogger and entrepreneur? What has helped you make the transition?
Anuradha Goyal: Where the line between Blogger and Entrepreneur lies depends on the purpose of your blog. When I started blogging, it was just for the joy of sharing your reading and travelling pleasures. Readers became guides for their local destinations for me. Today, however, blogging is a career option if you choose it to be so. If it is business for you, then you go define your niche, pitch to relevant brands and businesses, work on numbers as required by your target market and then create content accordingly.
On the other end of the spectrum is chronicling your search and research in the field you blog on. It may or may not have direct monetary goals. You do this to put knowledge in the public domain or to test your own learnings. Where the line lies totally depends on where your purpose and mission.
For me, over years the purpose is to showcase the ancient heritage of India and the world – especially the hidden gems. Like in Canada, I really enjoyed the First Nations Culture so I extensively wrote about it. I do engage with tourism boards, hospitality brands, publishers and other relevant brands for sponsored content as long as it fits in our Niche.
The road less travelled: Anuradha Goyal at Jhabua
Every few years, we see the rise of a new platform – whether it is Snapchat, Instagram or something else. What do you believe is the best way for anyone in the Content space to navigate the changing dynamics of platforms?
Anuradha Goyal: This is tricky. Since most of the social media platforms have not figured out a sustainable business model, they all are at the risk of getting lost any time. To me, my blog is at the core of my digital existence. This is what I create and own. Everything else is like going with the wind. We try to be present at all possible platforms, but for each one of us, some platform work and some do not. The business analyst in me is yet to figure out the justification of marketing spends on Instagram – it defies logic but there it is at the moment.
I think some platforms who find a firm business model that benefits them as well as their users will sustain. I still put a lot of emphasis on Google’s platforms as I know that the company is here to stay. Some of their products may fail, but their core business model is very strong and that allows them to experiment a lot.
Given that travel is now your “job” – what has changed about the way you travel or the way you look at travel?
Anuradha Goyal: Honestly, I have tried to not let it become a job. I travel and some partners come on board to collaborate for travels and that is where is it is. Having said that because of these partnerships, I now have an insider’s view of the industry. I remember at one of my talks at CII, I said, I stand at the door between the travel & tourism industry and its customers. I travel as a customer, but I also partner with industry to promote them, give them a voice. I hope that the industry would realize this and engage established bloggers in more ways than just using their social influence.
As someone who studies Innovation, I hope I work with some innovative products in tourism in India – be it with the Indian Government, Tourism Boards or the industry. There is so much scope to nurture innovation where most things still run the way they used to when I was born.
Your book ‘The Mouse Charmers’ looks at 12 digital entrepreneurs from India. What were some of the common threads you observed in the journeys? Is there something we can learn?
Anuradha Goyal: Common threads are listed in the conclusion section of The Mouse Charmers. The biggest common thread was that they all had a purpose beyond just making money. Most entrepreneurs were driven by creating something that does not exist. They were all very flexible with their ideas. Most of them started with a different idea than the one we know them for. So, they were willing to experiment and re-adjust their business ideas according to what they learned from it. They all had some key elements of their businesses that they picked up from other successful businesses. For example, Flipkart learning from Dominos or Airtel.
In your own life, you made the move from living in hectic Bangalore to Goa, which is perceived as everyone’s ‘idyllic’ dream home. What gave you the impetus to move, and how has that journey been?
Anuradha Goyal: I have lived in 10 Indian states and 15 odd cities in life. After living in big cities like Bangalore, Gurgaon, Noida, Hyderabad, we did not want to spend our lives stuck in traffic and we also wanted to be closer to nature and Goa just happened. We came here to work, but we decided to live here as Panaji was the perfect city as I had once upon a time described on my blog.
As a resident, e-commerce pretty much takes care of all the material needs in a small town. As an entrepreneur, there are many challenges, as all PR agencies and client offices are located in 3 big cities only and you miss out on personal contact. Travel always means an extra flight and extra cost. However, the biggest challenge is perception – believe me not many people take you seriously when you say I live in Goa :-). On the positive side, you get ample time and space to do the work you want to do.
What next for Inditales? What are the big achievements you would like to tick off in the next 3 years?
At IndiTales, I try to do one experiment every year. Last year we launched our Hindi site which has been well received. This year I started with workshops and internships, I think I need to fine tune this to be scaleable.
There are ideas in my mind for the next couple of years, that I would share when the time is right. In general, I would want to help incubate a lot of businesses in travel and tourism space. This is not a space that has been explored beyond the online travel agent space that now has many established players, one of which was a story in The Mouse Charmers.
You will be joining us soon at Breaking Barriers to speak to a bunch of ambitious women, on Innovation. Tell us what you are looking forward to most!
As a traveller, I have not been meeting too many women entrepreneurs in Goa, so I am definitely looking forward to meeting them. I am also looking forward to meeting the Women’s Web team, you are a great example of content entrepreneurship. I hope I find some potential partners to collaborate with besides the dose of inspiration that entrepreneurs always come loaded with.
(Breaking Barriers comes to Panjim on September 1st, 2018. Register here to receive your complimentary invitation! This event for women in business also comes to Pune, Hyderabad, Kolkata and Coimbatore, during Aug-Sept 2018.)
Anuradha Goyal is indeed a person to be inspired from. If you also love travelling, then her website will be a pleasure to your soul – with its beautiful pictures and experiences that will make you pack your suitcases and move out on a trip. But equally importantly, her story of moving from blog to business is inspiring for any one of us working in creative spaces! Join us this year at Breaking Barriers to hear more from Anuradha Goyal and other such inspiring women.
All images courtesy Anuradha Goyal
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