Two Sisters, Two Cities and One Blog

One year later: sister bloggers disclose what it takes to work from India and Switzerland.
A year after blogging from two different cities, how do you guys manage time and results on the blog?

Pragati: To be honest, it has not been easy. Do I wish we were sitting in the same city even if not the same office? I would say, hell yeah! We are not just separated by the distance; we are also in different time zones. No matter how hard I try, by the time I begin my day, Manavi is kind of wrapping hers up or heading out for meetings/events. So what do we do?  We use the time difference to our advantage, we pick up each other’s pending deliverables, we review and provide feedback while the other one is in slumber and we manage our respective teams by backing each other up. On the technical side, we rely a lot on Skype, WhatsApp, and Dropbox for collaboration.

Manavi: Blogging out of Switzerland was an opportunity that fortunately came to us when Pragati shifted to Basel a year ago. While it’s a great chance to expand to a new audience, it’s been a challenge to work in sync. We usually rely on Skype calls for interviews, Whatsapp groups to coordinate with each other and our fabulous interns. We try to stick to an editorial calendar as much as we can, but yeah, it would have been nicer if she was just here.

What gave you the idea of blogging in Switzerland? 

Pragati: I have always been very closely associated with Be For Beauty, it was my sister’s brain child and was very close to my heart. Whilst running the corporate race and handling a family, contributing towards Be For Beauty always remained a far-fetched dream. But moving to a new country was a new chapter, a new leaf and finally making this dream of one day working with BfB a reality. My moving to Switzerland was the icing on the cake. We could broaden our network, our audiences, and our reach. We added more categories and started writing in other lifestyle areas like travel and food.

Manavi: All Pragati’s doing.

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One year later, how is it to blog in both Basel and Delhi?

Manavi: Well, it’s been three years of blogging in New Delhi. I’m glad I had this city as my base since I’ve worked here all my adult life and that kind of opened up opportunities for me. The blogging industry has grown exponentially in the last three years and that will hopefully add more value to what we do.

Pragati: I am still pressed on time; I try to add the Swiss flavors to our blog but we still feel we have a long way to go. But if you look at our blog, we continue to keep it very rich in content and strive to bring in fresh ideas and perspectives.

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What does your Monday look like?

Manavi: Mondays were definitely more stressful in other jobs. Since it’s my work, I usually end up working on weekends just to make sure things are smooth at the beginning of a week. Mondays are good to catch up with on social media scheduling, emails, calls and a decent amount of writing.

Pragati: Since the time I joined Be For Beauty, I really look forward to my Mondays. By the way, we have no concepts of weekends, we take breaks whenever possible. At times Saturdays and Sundays are more stressful than the weekdays, so we don’t really experience any blues. While in routine jobs, the mailbox is spilling by the time it’s Monday – we don’t have such cases most of the times.

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What’s next in 2017?

Manavi– We have been trying to find our niche in this industry for about 3 years now. And now we’ve finally done that: we’re lifestyle content creators and our work includes creating content for ourselves (aka the blog) as well as others (writing for magazines, handling content and social media for clients).

I’m glad we’ve found our strengths and we hope to do some good work in the lifestyle industry.

Pragati – We have big plans; this is a very crucial year for us. We are no longer just a blog – we are now a small startup which manages content and social media for niche clients. We plan to grow in terms of people, process, and prospects.

Where do you find inspiration for your blog topics?

Pragati: From everywhere. From the latest trends to the stuff we love. We genuinely want to provide value to our readers and put all our efforts into our written and visual content.

For instance: we added the entertainment section to give people choices and genuine recommendations even though it was an unusual category given the theme of our blog.

Manavi: We plan some stories just for ourselves, some things that we’re passionate about that may or may not generally fit the trends. Others are a mix of seasonal stories, editorial collaborations and sponsored posts.

How would you describe your own personal style and beauty regime?

Pragati: Style to me translates to comfort. If I am not comfortable, then am not wearing it. I definitely like to color coordinate my looks. Apart from my engagement rings, I love minimalist accessories. While my wardrobe is filled with shades of black, blue and gray – I love doing “mix-n-match” outfits. I do not wear heels and sandals anymore since I suffer from plantar fasciitis, that is something I wish I had more choice with.

I am usually well-groomed – eyebrows, upper lips, short nails, facials, waxed arms, and legs. These things are usually quite important to me.

Manavi: Well, unlike Pragati, I don’t think I’m very well-groomed. I shave using coconut oil every 4 days, I use a granular scrub that I make at home or a salt scrub from time to time but that’s that. I’m not very particular about facials: they come and go in phases. I’m actually more used to hair spas both at home and salons. I prefer using face packs that I make at home using kitchen ingredients.  Things I don’t skip include a light face cream (I love La Roche Posay), my toner and a foundation that I blend with my stippling brush and compact powder. I will choose an eyebrow pencil over a lipstick these days.

As for style, I think it’s very staple, it’s not as experimentative as it used to be. I feel conscious about my beer belly and I don’t wear half the things I used to before I turned into a blogger (ironic, right?). I usually stick to classic colours and I only wear prints on shirts and dresses. Most of our stories are about how to carry a particular trend with tips on looking leaner or taller because we feel a lot of you go through the same thing.

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Who was your first style icon?

Pragati: The girls in Basel are so well dressed that I end up getting most of my inspiration on the trams and the trains. I don’t really have a fav style icon that I look up to, this is something quite temporary. Priyanka Chopra is good, she flaunts her skin colour and carries the most ridiculous outfits with ease.

Manavi: I don’t remember, but back in India Today we all used to love Nandini Bhalla’s (editor, Cosmopolitan India) personal style. There are a lot of women on my Pinterest who inspire me every day and I’m thankful for that.

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What do you splurge on?

Pragati: Travel. More than anything. Since I moved here, this is one investment I like to make, especially since the time here is limited, clothes, accessories and makeup can always wait. But I do shop, especially when I need some cheering up. I like to go to H&M, Zara, Promod, and Orsay but I don’t purchase makeup and skin care products very often.

Manavi: I rarely splurge but when I do it’s mostly on food and drinks. I like to go out as often as I can in a week. I do like shopping but I think I shop once every two months.

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What do you love most about what you do/blogging?

Pragati: That we touch chords, almost on a daily basis. When you get calls, messages from friends and strangers telling you how much they appreciated what you wrote – it feels quite rewarding.

Manavi: There is a lot of freedom (and pressure) that comes with working independently. It’s a good feeling to make a name for yourself and to be known as someone whose content is good on most days. And like Pragati said, there’s no better feeling than reading feedback on it.

What is on your perennial to-do list?

Pragati: Oh well, our TODO lists always keeps getting longer and that is really frustrating. One just needs to switch off once in a while as the TODO list is not going to get any shorter. Our TODO’s usual have post ideas to explore/write, promotions, follow ups and emails to address.

Manavi: Lather, Rinse, Repeat. OK seriously, it’s working on our client accounts, blogs, social media accounts and working on new leads.

What do you find the most frustrating aspect of blogging?
Pragati: I have to be honest here, while it is very rewarding in non-materialistic aspects, the money takes its own sweet time to show up. It is not for the hypersensitive or the introverts’ if the aim is to make a living off it.

Manavi: We’ve not had overnight success and I’m OK with that. We have struggled with reaching out to audiences like us, that we write for and I guess that’s been frustrating from time to time.

A lot of people think that blogging is an easy way to make money online. Do you have some tips for those people who are interested in making money from the blog?

Pragati: Well it’s only harder. And money comes in much later. First, comes the appreciation, then the popularity, then the glamor and probably after a lot more the money. Indeed, patience is the key and so is perseverance. You need to constantly put yourself out there, link everything in your life to social media and keep a close eye on the quality of your content.

Manavi: If you’re looking at blogging full time, I think you should take it seriously just like any other career choice.There are many things you can do with it: you can become an influencer, you can start a business, you can get a job because of your blog.
Last but not the least, how was it shooting this story?

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Pragati: It was fun, getting up at 5.30 AM on a warm (no HOT) summer morning in New Delhi and heading to Lodhi Garden to meet Lakshya (our photographer). In spite of the above we were soaked in sweat pretty soon, we were laughing while our feet were crying(out loud) and people were staring(in disbelief) maybe they saw a ghost in the park! Who knows.

Manavi: OMG, What a day! It was 42 degrees and we woke up so early and everything that could go wrong before the shoot did. My dress is rumpled despite ironing it twice and our makeup was running down our faces but once we started shooting with our photographer, Lakshya, it was super fun. I usually get very conscious during shoots but it was super fun shooting with P.

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