Svetlana Gladkova is the Vice President of Business Development at Profy.com. Profy is a new and exciting entry into the hosted blog market that is aiming to outdo the current heavy hitters by building from the ground up as a one stop blogging, social network, and RSS reader. The social features and the greater customization and monetization options should put Profy in a good position after the service exits beta. There’s a lot more to recommend Profy and as long as users won’t scoff at Profy placing an ad on their free blogs, I think we’ll see a steady rise in traffic as users switch or supplement their other blogs with Profy. I do have a few Profy invites if you leave a comment I’ll see what I can do. If you want to see a Profy blog you can take a peek @ KnightKnetwork.Profy.com. Svetlana was kind enough to talk to me about Profy and share some of her thoughts about blogging in general:
What benefits do you see in going with a hosted blog service over self-hosting? Why should users choose Profy in particular?
We generally see benefits in both arrangements – it just depends on what exactly you are looking for in blogging and on your experience. Self-hosted blogs are obviously good in terms of customization and actually having a unique website of your own. But for many people (that do not have enough technical knowledge) going for a self-hosted blog is too complicated and involves too much hassle: purchasing a domain, paying for hosting, choosing the blogging software, installing and configuring the software and your plug-ins, installing all the updates, etc. It is just too difficult for so many people! And many people only regard blogging as a kind of hobby of theirs and they don’t want to invest all the time and efforts into that – these people usually go for hosted blogs and this does not look like the worst choice to me.
As for why Profy:
- We make it much easier to create your new blog, customize it and add various widgets you want to be displayed and that’s important because some other platforms actually take lots of time only to have the blog ready – and by the time you are ready you are just too tired to actually start blogging. We actually hope that we’ve made all of these simpler and more intuitive on Profy so that you could actually focus on the creative side of blogging and not on the technical one.
- We actually allow Profy bloggers to monetize their blogs. Unlike other blogging platforms that normally do not allow users to display ads on their blogs (with the exception of Blogger.com but that’s obvious taking into account that they allow to use similarly Google-owned AdSense). We have no limitations for that – any user can grab any advertising code from the ad network of their choice and start displaying ads immediately and earning money based on their readership and traffic. We think it is fair that people should receive such an opportunity even on hosted blogs when they invest their time and efforts in creating content.
- And the most important part is that while other blogging platforms only view blogging as a process of publishing posts, Profy is intended to get all the things related to blogging done in one place, within one browser tab. It just makes your life simpler to be able to read news, search in blogs, communicate to your readers and other bloggers all in one place – so that’s the major benefit of using Profy.
Blogs are increasingly becoming a node on people’s social network and there are a growing number of plugins and widgets that try to add that functionality to existing blogging platforms. Profy seems to have been created with the social network in mind, do you see the blog as social node trend continuing? Does Profy have plans to grow into this space further?
Yes, absolutely – Profy is actually created with the community in mind so that no blogger would feel that his posts are not read by anyone. Here you can reach out to anyone and you can actually communicate with people sharing your blogging interests both publicly (in comments to blogs) and privately (in the instant messaging mode). Blogging is actually a very social process and people do not write blogs for themselves, they want to be heard most of the time – and that’s what Profy makes easier for them. And our goal is to actually bring blogging to a new social level where you do not focus on your blog stats and subscriber count – you can actually see the people that read your blog and you can communicate with them. This is why we have chosen to add the functionality for people to be able to display not only what they write but what they read as well – this is a social process of discovering interesting content and we think it is important for many bloggers to be able to continue learning and discovering new content from each other.
It is also important to mention that Profy is actually built as a platform for all things blogging – not as a single blogging application. So the idea is to eventually enable any developer to add his or her application related to blogging and let Profy bloggers use it right here. There are thousands of apps built around blogging already and we don’t want to invent the wheel here – we are going to take apps that people already use and integrate them to work on Profy as well so that it will add extra value to bloggers using our platform.
Will Profy ever place an ad on it’s users’ blogs? Is there any policy about users monetizing their own blogs?
Yes, we are going to partly monetize our platform by placing an ad on a user’s blog here (unless it is a premium user who pays not to have our ad displayed – though the premium functionalities are still in the works). But at the same time we do not limit you in how you use your own blog here – if you want to monetize it with ads, feel free to do so (see my answer to the 1st question).
The ‘blog it!’ feature, while handy, makes it very difficult to determine that it’s not original material. Are there any plans to make this more transparent?
Yes, exactly, we are going to add to the “Source” link some visual distinction (like adding some background color maybe) because it does need to be more obvious, of course. This is to be implemented in the shortest possible time because it really looks like an incomplete feature that needs to be completed fast.
Customization is always important to users, you have a good selection of prebuilt templates, further customization in the color scheme and layout, and a place to add custom code as a sidebar widget. Are there any other options currently or that users can expect in the future? (custom templates for example)
Absolutely! We definitely have it on our plans for more tech-savvy bloggers to be able to edit CSS, upload custom templates and we even want to involve a community of designers to work on the templates for Profy so that the choice would actually be huge. If some further ideas for customization of blogs are offered by the users, we will definitely try to add them into our roadmap to give people what they actually want to have on Profy.
Heavy RSS readers rely on keyboard shortcuts to save time when “feeding”, Can we expect that or other enhancements to the RSS reader before Profy exits beta?
Definitely yes, keyboard shortcuts are necessary for heavy users and we understand it perfectly well – bringing keyboard navigation to a decent state is one of our priorities because keyboard definitely makes reading experience simpler.
Is there anything that you would like to add or promote that I didn’t cover?
Well, I think there is also one thing that is worth mentioning. Since Profy is not only about blogging itself and it actually allows bloggers to read feeds here as well, there is a system of social discovery of content on Profy. For any user that allows it in his or her privacy settings you can view the list of subscriptions and for every feed in your feed reader (the ‘Feed’ tab) you can view the list of subscribers that allow you to view what they are subscribed to. This is a truly unique feature of the platform that is only possible because of a combination of feed reader/blogging application within one platform and that is something no one else can do but Profy.
Another important thing is crossposting. Since we actually intend to make Profy your one-stop platform for all things blogging, we think that you should be able to use even if you already have a blog on other platforms. Currently Profy has subscription capability for Blogger.com and Livejournal with further platforms to come in the future. And you can update any of your blogs on these two platforms right within Profy. That is a feature that can actually make lives easier for lots of bloggers and that’s why I want to emphasize it here.
Thanks to Svetlana for her time and insight, again if you are interested in an invite please leave a comment and I’ll see what I can do