I started this blog in Karachi, and it wasn’t meant to be a commercial venture then. It was just a young girl, writing about her life and aspirations, for whoever wanted to get to know her better. There weren’t many, but it was personal and helped me get on with life. Words have always been cathartic for me.
Then, life took me to Dubai and Cherry Cross was opened to a whole new world of opportunities. I started a bloggers’ community, which was a great way to meet people who shared the same passion. Soon, PR firms and brands picked up on my trail and we started working together. Say hello to a phase of overwhelming amount of goodies and food. Monetising the blog wasn’t the focus, as I had a day job that I was relatively content with. Cherry Cross was my way of feeding my passion, and an outlet to put my thoughts and opinions in words. Despite the glitz, words remained the most important part of it all. I enjoyed the perks massively but posting pictures with half-assed descriptions on Instagram wasn’t my idea of blogging.
When I started Cherry Cross, I assumed blogs to be an online equivalent of magazines. I expected to see the same level of journalistic acumen and professionalism. Soon I realised that blogging was more about swaying public opinion instead of creating literature that’s revered in intellectual circles.
Like I said, I wasn’t thinking very clearly. I just rode the wave, without much direction and let time be my navigator.
And then came the most challenging milestone of my 28 year-old life. I moved to Europe. Something I had never imagined or wanted. It was a region that was made for holidays. Living here was never a part of whatever flimsy plan I had for life. But here I am. I can either crib about it, or accept and make the most of it. I have been doing the former for last six months. I am now slowly transitioning into the latter. There have been a lot of set backs but I think I will arrive – sooner or later.
In all the time that I have been here, I have been thinking of taking Cherry Cross to the next level. To make it a voice that mattered. To reach readers that might like what I (or my team) has to say. I went back to the board, and started scribing a plan.
First step – leveraging the network. While I will travel to Pakistan and UAE often, for I have family and work in both the countries, I won’t be there all the time. I have spent a lot of time networking and creating recognition for Cherry Cross in UAE (Dubai to be specific) and felt like it was all going to go down the drain with my move. It would be such a shame, right?
Salvage it, my mind screamed. I went out to look for someone who could be Cherry Cross’ representative, in my absence, and keep the name alive. I advertised, and despite it being an unpaid gig, got a phenomenal response. After the screening and interviewing process, I met Beth, and the rest is history. She is now Cherry Cross’ staff writer in Dubai.
As it was such a success, I tried the same exercise to find a representative for Pakistan. Utter fail is an understatement. I got a lot more applications but the quality of writing was shocking. Some of the applicants hadn’t bothered reading the description, and one even said that they have a friend who has worked in sales department at Cherry Cross, and therefore the ‘company’ comes highly recommended. I didn’t know whether to laugh out loud or cry.
I still haven’t been able to find a full time rep, but have added two writers to the team from Karachi. This takes care of the representation, and we are ready to start with pitching collaborative proposals to PR companies and brands.
With representation in three countries, and readers from all three (and many other countries) as well, the blog is becoming more of a mixed plate, without a particular direction. A reader from Lahore won’t be interested in a review of a hippie café in Berlin. While some content will be relevant to all audience, there will be some that will be too region specific. How do I cater to that? What origin do I hold on to? While I was born in Karachi, Dubai feels a lot more like home. And Cologne is my present reality. How do I pick one, or do I need to? Can I, somehow, manage all three, while getting people to, and not away, from the website?
A solution could be investing in it, and getting it sorted on domain level. I can keep Cherry Cross’s dotcom version as an international forum, and create country specific versions. So, if you log on to Cherry Cross from Islamabad, it will automatically redirect you to www.cherrycross.pk – there will be an option to log on to the main site at the bottom. Likewise, if you log on from London or USA, you will be redirected to www.cherrycross.de
Another solution could be streamlining content so that it only focuses on one or two subjects. Currently, Cherry Cross focuses on fashion, beauty, lifestyle, food, travel and relationships. Like I said, I wanted to create an online counterpart of traditional magazines, and believe that variety in content is key. I never intended for it be a style diary or showcase what I wore yesterday. Words, of substance, are very important.
What do you think about this? I feel like it would jeopardise the essence of Cherry Cross. But from an operational point of view, it makes a lot of sense.
And now over to you – I would love and appreciate to hear your thoughts. Maybe you can share an idea or two, about what do you think of it all – am I overacting? Regional website is a great idea? Redefining content is the way to go? There is an alternate route, which promises better results? Or just say hi and that you empathise.
– Shaheen –