The current situation is starting to feel too weird not to talk about it. I haven't spoken to many people about my old project POVERTIES, started in 2011/2012, in a while because I either thought it was dead or didn't know what to do with it. It feels like some hidden part of my life now so I thought I should share a thing or two for my budding entrepreneurs and people looking to take their lives in a different direction.
I’m starting to see the benefits of talking about it it's like a real thing too. I feel like I may be cheating others (or myself) if I pretend that I don’t care about these issues anymore. Or even that I don’t spend hours pondering the next move or working on a new platform for the website. The learning curve to rebuild the whole website by hand is significant if you’re not very comfortable with both coding and designing. I'm quite proud of what I've done so far and there's many more exciting changes to come!
Over the past 2 years, I haven't written anything on POVERTIES but made several improvements in small batches whenever I had time. Yet, it just kept GROWING. With every major Google update that has the whole Internet shaking in fear of losing traffic, this brave little site was built on rock solid foundations and hasn't suffered in the least from any of these digital storms.
The truth is that I had no real plan for what I was going to do with the website in the long run - it was more of a "passion child" - and I ended up thinking it would mostly help me get a job. Which in fact it did. Many times.
But now comes the biggest move yet: moving to a new platform and turning it into a web magazine. This website has grown into a thing of its own - I could even sell it for a few thousand bucks. I'm talking +100,000 visitors/month with only 40-50 articles that compete with the biggest newspapers out there. I'm not interested in bragging, it's more that the situation feels a tad overwhelming, and humbling too.
For a long time I felt only remotely connected it, some an old project I was absolutely passionate about but hung onto because it was growing this much. I would almost hope it'd die out to make things simpler. I gave this project so much in the early years and it didn't feel quite as rewarding as I expected in return.
I kept looking for business ideas all this time, for the classic "gap" in the market and never realised I had found it from the very beginning. I thought I didn't want to be a journalist and maybe even that it wouldn't be possible given that English isn't my first language (but my command of the language has pleasantly improved over time).
Everyone is posing as a storyteller these days, and it is a tempting title. But working as a Digital Strategist or a Content Manager for charities & start-ups is as close as it gets to describing accurately what I've become. A tech-y digital guy with a love for stories in all formats: text, photos, graphics, videos and other new technologies.
What's baffling me today is that as the site grows and grows, is that I am getting more and more people getting in touch to ask me to:
I feel like a bit of a cheat to be honest. A small case of the imposter syndrome. I've never thought anyone would take me for an authority on issues such as corruption, social development and discrimination. I was more someone on a mission to set a few things straight about beliefs and facts regarding poverty and exclusion.
But after all I do take a quite authoritative tone on the website. And that's how people who taught me my trade trained me in: getting people to follow you through thought leadership.
In my moments of clarity I can see what went right. What unique approach I am offering to the deluge of crap content there is online. I’m not telling you what the secret formula is. It’s painfully obvious.
The number of people taking lazy, crazy, ill-informed positions on just about any issue without having any facts to rely on keeps growing - on both sides. Liberals and conservatives gladly stick to reading what makes them feel good about themselves (whether it's Fox News or the HuffPo). I (almost) don’t care about sides.
Start widening up your reading sources and always be critical. Whether you’re reading eco-friendly news pieces or about the latest political showdown, if something seems poorly written, if the logic seems a bit flimsy, it probably is full of crap.
I do want to adhere to humanistic, kind values. But if something doesn’t work, I want to know about it so we can keep looking for the right solution. Facts in social sciences aren’t always 100% true. Sometimes they conceal other truths, other viewpoints. The big picture versus the small picture. Even in hard “real” sciences, rules can be bent and distorted like gravitation and light. Nonetheless, sometimes facts are the best thing we’ve got to take decisions.They’re also not enough.
People want to believe in something. In something greater than themselves but mostly in shared values that create a sense of community. A community of people they can trust. If you forget that, you forget what makes us human and you end up misunderstanding why people feel threatened and exposed these days.
Those "love projects" or "passion fruits" you may have are uber important. They can tell you more about yourself than you think you know.
They will feel unbelievably frustrating because they won't give you back all the love (and burn outs) you've put in. And if they do, it will often take a whole lot more time than you originally expected.
In the end if you give up at the wrong time, you might realise that if you'd hung on just a little bit more... things were about to take an unexpected turn.
Poverties.org is my way of contributing to the web in a meaningful way. It's worth something standing for and working on for a few more years.