How Paperless Postcards uses non-fiction content to build conversations
The bootstrapped Mumbai-based non-fiction content platform has already tied up with Star World Premiere. The art of making conversations is all but forgotten today. With the attention span of a goldfish, it isn’t difficult to get people to shift focus. Yet in this day, Bistriti Poddar is bringing back the art of conversations and content via a medium we are all familiar with—online—through Paperless Postcards. Started in April 2016, Paperless Postcards is all about non-fiction content conversations focused on real-life incidents. Having worked in the digital media world for over six years, Bistriti found it to be one of the most powerful mediums of communication but also believed that most of the content available was either too frivolous or intimidating. Explaining why she started up, Bistriti says, “I wanted to create something that was powerful and would inspire people but wouldn’t be intimidating or hostile. I felt that content with a ‘me’ element would help people relate to it and build something lasting.” With this idea in mind, Bistriti, who was then head of content at Bewakoof, began working on Paperless Postcards. She says in the initial days when Paperless Postcards was a Facebook page for people to share their non-fiction content, the team got over 1,000 requests within a week. “It was then that I figured I was onto something big. It was a validation of my belief that it is content that is responsible for building brands,” says Bistriti. From there on, Bistriti began onboarding people who wrote content and were able to understand her vision. Today, Paperless Postcards has a team of 12 people. Initially, when the team witnessed enough traction and engagement with people either writing back or sharing content, Bistriti decided to build a separate kind of branding for Paperless Postcards. Focused on conversations, Bistriti decided to revive the art of storytelling through letters and postcards. As of February this year, the team claims to have a reach of over two million people in a week. “At 10-11 percent, the engagement rate on our page is higher than any other platform. We are a team of writers, data scientists, digital marketers, brand propagators, designers, and filmmakers. We have done four flash films around the concept of breaking stereotypes, two of which have got over one lakh views,” she says. As for revenue generation, the team works on brand collaborations and conducts content marketing, creative writing, and entrepreneurship workshops. The brand collaborations work on the influencer marketing format, where Paperless Postcards creates different hashtags for brands, on the basis of which non-fiction stories and articles are written. Paperless Postcards has already collaborated with the likes of Teach for India, Star World Premiere, and TVF. The workshops have been conducted at IIT (ISM) Dhanbad, Narsee Monjee Institute, and NITIE Mumbai. For brand collaborations, the team charges Rs 3 per engagement and guarantees at least 2,000 engagements. The workshops are priced at Rs 150 per registration. Being a bootstrapped company, one of the biggest challenges Paperless Postcards faces is working around limited budgets to create awareness. But Bistriti says that since their content is mostly different and real, their reach is all organic. The team is currently looking at more collaborations and workshops and is also building an app. Today, the idea of writing and sharing stories has become popular, and other sites that revolve around storytelling include The Untold Words, Terribly Tiny Tales, The Scribbled Stories, and The Melting Words, to name a few. Apart from this, Ameen Haque’s Storywallahs too has storytelling as its anchor. Where Paperless Postcards scores, however, is the emphasis on non-fiction.