P&B: Andrea Contino
This is the 6th edition of People and Blogs, the series where I ask interesting people to talk about themselves and their blogs. Today we have Andrea Contino and his blog, gwtf.it.
Andrea is currently working as Head of Communications at Red Bull Italy but he's about to move west and work as Senior Communications Manager at Red Bull North America.
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Let's start from the basics: can you introduce yourself?
While I'm writing this I'm the Head of Comms in Red Bull Italy. But soon Sr. Comms Manager Gaming in Red Bull North America! I've a humanistic background since I've studied foreign languages at the high school and I've a degree in Communications Sciences. I ended up doing this job most likely having a blog and living the early 2000's online communities. No jokes.
I was writing for an online Italian video games newsite while finishing my University studies and I ended up talking about the interactions within those online forum communities in my final degree dissertation. From there I've started to build up my network, It was 2006 and blogs were at their peak, who had one was a so-called influencer. I opened mine in 2007, we were the forerunners of what people do on Instagram and TikTok nowadays, luckily without any dancing, but with sometimes raw content and transparency at its best.
I got in touch with many people and companies which through my blog got to know me better and better and at the same time I started working for Microsoft so my personal and professional life started to collide, exploding then in the marvellous adventure I'm living nowadays.
What's the story behind your blog?
I've opened my blog, as said, in 2007. The occasion was a press trip to Canada for EA Sports. I needed to cover the new FIFA game and I was thinking it would have been a nice starting point. I'm not a developer, I've no programming background, therefore I've picked an unknown platform at that time: SquareSpace.
My blog was called Fluxes and I came up with this name after days of thinking about what could have possibly been the best name for a blog. I ended up with fluxes as a stream of consciousness and thoughts. But I was never satisfied with my blog, never. So I kept changing over the years. First I've moved to the contino.com domain, and renamed my blog to AC. Then I bought the domain andrea.co and redirected the blog there. I finally moved it to the actual domain, gwtf.it and renamed it Go With The Flow, which is my life philosophy and more coherent to what I am. Unfortunately I tried WordPress for a little while in 2021 just to find out that it wasn't the platform for me and wasting a lot of money to keep it alive (300$ per year), I was back to SquareSpace from 2022 onward. Tried Medium for a little while, but back home to SquareSpace definitively.
Downside of that? I've lost a lot of readership. Honestly I don't care. But if there is a learning behind those movements, I can suggest anyone who has a blog not to change platforms after some years if not really necessary. I tend to agree with Matt here.
What does your creative process look like when it comes to blogging?
Usually inspiration comes from both online and offline. Online I stick to my feed reader, feedly, where I find some good pieces of writing to start thinking on. From what I found super stimulating I start thinking what kind of thoughts I can add to other's. I open my draft and start to write without overthinking too much about form or grammar. After finishing my post, I go through it and adjust what needs to be adjusted. Hit publish and never look back.
For what is coming from offline I usually like to speak about 3 things: food, travelling, personal experiences. It's an absolute pleasure to put down your thoughts and save publicly somewhere. They could help somebody else one day. I'll never know.
Do you have an ideal creative environment? Also do you believe the physical space influences your creativity?
Usually sitting at my desk in my home office. It's where I think I've the right environment and quietness to express at my best. But I've written some of my best posts while on the metro train or sitting under the shades at the beach. Another thing not to underestimate for me is those minutes before I fall asleep. Usually for me is a time to think and where many blog post ideas came from. That's why I've a cheap old android phone with just wifi enabled standing at my bedside table, always ready to receive my inputs.
A question for the techie readers: can you run us through your tech stack?
I tried all the possible combinations here. Hosted, 3rd party platform, different CMSs. Now I'm using Squarespace as a 3rd party platform which hosts my blog. My domain gwtf.itis actually registered with Google Domains (only because Porkbun is not able to register .it domains, otherwise I firmly suggest them) which funny enough will end up to be acquired by SquareSpace in the near future LOL.
Given your experience, if you were to start a blog today, would you do anything differently?
Yes. I would start with WordPress and not SquareSpace. I mean if it was 2007 again. Otherwise nowadays I would rather go with Ghost or a static blog, like Jekyll or something like that. Because WordPress has become a pain in the ass when it comes to plug-ins or this or that feature. All they want is for you to pay more, hiding behind the free software flag. I've always loved SquareSpace, but it became a Marketing platform lately. They completely left behind their blogging promise and I found several bugs in the mobile app, but support is great and they fix things quickly. The other thing I would do differently is to study a little bit better the HTML and CSS foundations in order to be able to develop my blog all by myself.
But, I've seen a lot of new platforms flourish lately and I've tried to collect some of those for the younger generations here
Financial question since the web is obsessed with money: how much does it cost to run your blog? Is it just a cost or does it generate some revenue? And what's your position on people monetising personal blogs?
My blog costs me nothing. I won a contest several years ago with Squarespace. So I don’t pay a penny to have it hosted there. I just pay 12€ yearly for the domain. Not that bad!
Generally I've always avoided having ads on my blog, I don't like it and I never want them to be on my site. I've monetised my blog in the past through product testing, mostly food, but I've always refused to write sponsored posts. I generally hate those important bloggers that do that. I personally think it's disrespectful for their readers community.
That said I totally empathize with those fellow bloggers who succeeded in blogging for a living. I totally respect them in any shape or form, but I'd rather prefer they ask for support and tips for what they create. Well if you want to leave me a tip, it's really appreciated :) PayPal.Me
Time for some recommendations: any blog you think is worth checking out? And also, who do you think I should be interviewing next?
I'm a techie and a geek. So my RSS Feed is full of those kinds of blogs. Here is my top 3 suggestions:
I really think Matt would be a great one to have as a next interviewer.
Final question: is there anything you want to share with us?
Well some cool stuff I've collected here and there during my life:
- Book: The Dice Man by Luke Rhinehart
- TV Series: The Boardwalk Empire & The Leftovers
- Movies: Her & The Joker
- Cool website: radiooooo.com
Lately I'm re-discovery one of my biggest passions, cool football shirts and using this website as a bible footballshirtculture.com
This was the 6th edition of People and Blogs. Hope you enjoyed this interview with Andrea. Make sure to follow his blog (RSS) and get in touch with him if you have any questions.
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