Iranian.com: Where it is and where it should be
By Jahanshah Javid
March 26, 2001
My daughter went to school a little late today. I had to go to the attendance
office to explain. I told them she had a doctor's appointment. I lied,
of course. But I wasn't worried about that.
The woman in charge was looking at me in a strange way. Who wouldn't?
I was wearing the same clothes for the third day in a row. I had not washed
my face or brushed my teeth. Forget about shaving. And my hair... well,
let's just say it needed to be washed and combed.
I'm careless about anything you can imagine. I don't care about what
I eat, how I sleep, or the way I look. And you can imagine that I'm not
much of a father; I'm just very lucky to have a daughter who's much smarter
and far more together than I am. You could say she often looks after me.
My relatives hardly ever hear from me; not even the closest ones. I
fall in and out and in and out of love as predictably as a pendulum. I'm
here today, gone tomorrow. Friends are always there for me, but I'm hardly
ever there for them. I hear, but I don't listen (or is it the other way
around?). So, I'm not your average, mature, responsible, adult. I'm still,
pretty much, a boy.
All this 39-year-old boy wants to do is work on iranian.com. In fact
that's all he's really done in the past five/six years, morning till night,
in a room in his apartment in New York, then Brooklyn, Palo Alto, Berkeley,
Washington DC, and here in Oakton, Virginia. Soon he will be working from
a garage in San Francico. Photos: working,
my left, behind
The reward? When I finally hit the "send" button at the end
of the day, I have a wonderful feeling of satisfaction; that I have done
something worthwhile; something for everyone; something to think about,
something to laugh about, something that shows the best and worst in us;
as diverse as reality.
Over the years nearly 1,500 features from about 550 people have been
posted on this web site (See Who's
who & site index).
You simply can't find a more diverse online resource on the Iranian diaspora
and many other topics. Then there are virtually thousands of photos, cartoons,
songs and tid bits in various sections.
As a result, iranian.com has become more popular than ever. The monthly
stats have risen to more than 85,000 unique visitors, one million page
views and more than seven million hits.
With this apparent success, iranian.com should be generating tons of
money. It isn't. I'm still being financially supported by my relatives.
In addition friends have generously donated money when I have been most
in need. I also have a part-time job as a radio reporter, but that's about
to end soon. I won't even tell you about my debts.
Why? Why isn't this site making any money? Why do I still live like
a godless, homeless hermit? Because I have been busy editing articles,
scanning photos and creating html pages. Consequently there hasn't been
any time to do marketing. I don't even know how. If someone asked about
advertising, I would send them an email with some information. That's it.
I wouldn't follow up.
So how much does iranian.com generate? Average adverting revenue (up
to January 2001) has been less than $800 per month. And average monthly
revenue from subscriptions to The Iranian Times has been about $300.
That's, um, not good. But, hopefully, this will change.
In a couple of weeks, this site will undergo major changes, mainly in
terms of design and presentation. The Iranian Times subscription
service will end and the Today
page will be the main window to all the new features and news. There will
also be a few new sections, which I think you will enjoy.
And from now on, greater attention will be given to marketing. You will
see ads from major international companies, not just Iranian businesses.
Said Amin, iranian.com's first
marketing assistant, will be seeing to that. He is a young entrepreneur
who understands the commercial benefits of the Internet very well (see
one of his successful sites, IranianPersonals.com).
If you are worried that iranian.com will become too commercialized,
don't be. Making money isn't bad. I thought it was until a few years ago
when I hit rock bottom (and stayed there). If iranian.com is to survive,
I have to survive.
I have to be able to afford health insurance, at least for my daughter,
and maybe I can then pretend to be a responsible father. I have to be able
to pay my rent. You know what I'm talking about. You have bills too. You
work your butt off to make money to pay them, right? I have to do the same
in the best way I can, through iranian.com.
I have to be able to pay the wonderful writers and artists who contribute
to the site. Eventually, iranian.com has to have an office with one or
two secretaries, at least to respond to emails from bacheh nanehs who think
eenjaa khooneh-ye khaalast (I just had to say that. My patience is wearing
very thin). Hiring some adventurous writers and photographers and nutty
technical support people wouldn't be bad either.
Now what if the marketing effort fails? What if AT&T and British
Airways and BMW don't ever advertise here? That's okay. This boy will go
on doing what he has been doing, no matter what. It's just too much fun.