Broadly Specific’s 3rd Anniversary – Special Letter
Today, January 3rd, 2023 marks the third year that Broadly Specific has been in operation. What started as a passion project and a creative outlet during the pandemic has turned into…well, in many ways, we are still the same as we were 3 years ago. Passion, creativity and curiosity are still our main driving forces. While we strive for change and growth in the more tangible and perhaps financial senses to further increase the scope of our ambitions — and we have grown with the launch of our Patreon, podcast and soon YouTube channel — we will expand our reach on our own creative terms. Since the beginning, we do not subscribe to the idea of “content” meant purely for engagement and clicks. We strive to simply create because we want to create, to contribute our own thoughts and opinions on the topic we cover in a meaningful way. In this special anniversary letter, we will outline several things about our past and future.
A Brief History of Broadly Specific
What a lot of people might not know is that Broadly Specific — or rather the seed of it — first existed as simply another social media Film page run by the founder Bondan Syamsu (who is writing this special letter right now in the third person). The film page is derivative of others of its kind, we would post film stills of films we like and occasionally offer thoughts about those films. After some time, we want to go beyond being a fan page that exists solely to fawn over films and directors, we want to write articles and features. We want to research these films we love and craft love letters and meaningful criticisms. However, at the time, we want to go beyond simply covering cinema. Film websites and publications are numerous, many much better-staffed and filled with scholars more knowledgeable on the topic of film. Our passions and curiosity may also go beyond cinema, we love art, games, music, design, literature and so on; what happens when we want to write about those things? Thus, under the risk of making it too broad and trying to reach everyone while attracting no one, we decided on the oxymoronic name “Broadly Specific”.
More than simply trying to reach everyone, we want to try to break down the barriers that exist across these different mediums. While we are sure that curious individuals are multifaceted and dabble in different art mediums on their own, no one can be affiliated with everything, and perhaps some mediums are less represented than others in meaningful criticism and scholarly writing. We may also try to find parallels and build bridges between these different mediums, comparing them with each other in a way that has never been done before. For example, you might see one of our most successful features Bengawan Solo: How an Indonesian folk song became the post-WWII Asian Zeitgeist, which blends music, film and history together to reach a certain combined truth about something. We are no experts in these topics, but the act of writing and crafting these creations allows us to both improve our own understanding and share our contribution to these fields.
Our Current Challenges
We like to be transparent about our challenges and what we struggle with in running Broadly Specific. We will discuss some challenges here and present the solutions later on in our “The Future of Broadly Specific” section later in this letter. Our present issues boil down to three things: time, manpower and money. Firstly, time. Longtime followers of Broadly Specific are surely familiar with the occasional breaks and hiatuses that we do. We can disappear at the very least days or weeks at a time and at worst, months at a time. In fact, we just returned from a long break in 2022. Why we take these breaks is simple, we are all young adults with jobs, school, life and other projects. Our life is turbulent and uncertain, and we do not have a reliable set schedule that we can fit Broadly Specific into in the long term. We understand that we strive for quality over quantity, and our previous sole focus on long deep dive feature essays that take weeks or even months to write contributed to our hiatuses. However, coming back from long hiatuses every time can feel like having a fresh restart every time. Readers and followers that interacted and commented on our articles and posts disappear and move on, and this lack of audience retention can be a problem and an antithesis to our goal of sharing our contributions.
Secondly, we simply lack the manpower to be as consistent as we would want. We are eternally grateful to all of our contributors for the things they have created but we understand that they do not have a permanent fixture on Broadly Specific. As I have mentioned, life and other projects often get in the way. Currently, our workload and scope are spread too thin, and most of the daily operations are done by the founder. Simply more freelance contributors would allow us to fill our release schedule with more things, and we are still working on ways to attract more contributors.
And the final thing is money. One of our main ambitions is to one day be able to pay writers and contributors fairly, and it would also provide not only incentives for contributors but also the ability to invite distinguished freelance writers that would provide significant contributions to the site. This is still not possible and we are a long way from this. Before this can even happen, we need funding to simply break even on our yearly operational costs, let alone growth. Stable financials would also let us treat Broadly Specific at the very least as a part-time job, and essentially justify the opportunity cost of being more consistent and spending more time to create for Broadly Specific.
The Future of Broadly Specific
The launch of our Patreon was a big step forward for Broadly Specific. It represents a real way for the most enthusiastic readers and followers to support us directly and gain benefits from it. We strive to continue to grow our Patreon subscribers in hopes of solving some of the issues that we outlined in the previous section. We want to grow our Patreon to the point of not only allowing us to grow Broadly Specific beyond our current scope but to one day be able to pay contributors fairly for their work. We are still a long way from this, but we will continue to work hard to provide real value for our Patrons. We are continuously trying to improve the benefits we provide to our Patrons, and we are open to any feedback regarding this, both from our current patrons and from those of you who are considering supporting us.
As for our future plans, we are trying to increase the variety and length of creations that we put out. We will create both shorter essays and creations — such as reviews or short articles — and also our usual deep dive feature essays. We will also try to write about more mediums such as video games. We will increase our video game coverage in general as we believe it is a medium that has not reached its full potential by itself and through criticism of it, and we want to plant our flags in providing meaningful contributions to the medium. Lastly, we will increase the scope of our creations to go beyond writing and create more podcasts and videos on our new YouTube channel. We have grand ambitions for our YouTube channel, and we will create video essays
Special Thanks & Final Words
We would like to thank our Patrons who decided to support us financially at a time when you might be having your own financial issues in our current economy. We will be eternally grateful for your help and support. We would also like to thank our readers and followers who have read and commented on our pieces and think that we are worth following. Your support is why we are still here. We would also like to thank all of our contributors, past and present, who have decided to leave part of their legacy on our website. This month of January, we will still continue to celebrate our 3rd anniversary through throwback posts on our social media, so please look forward to it. Thank you.