April 30, 2015

geetika-gupta

Hues of Me
"My blog is all about my venture with life. The corner where I can be myself without getting judged and bring out the issues that affect me the most. The issues that happen in the society against which I stand. It gives a hint of me, my perspectives and all the blessings I have in my life in the form of wonderful relations with my near and dear ones. I'm trying my hands on haiku and fiction. Poetry is something I love and is the best way to express."
- Geetika Gupta

April 28, 2015

Create a great blog. Let it twinkle among a billion blogs

By a guesstimate, there are close to 400 million blogs on the web. So, if you too have created a blog which has just a few thousand visitors and a few comments a month, it is like a star in the sky: hardly visible. 

Not feeling depressed enough? You should, if you search for the theme of your blog on Google and your blog does not figure even on the 5th search page. Who goes beyond the first page in search results?

So bad, isn't it? So pathetic, indeed!

Let's leave the pathos aside and look at what your blog is worth.

If you have a blog that reflects your sentiments and world-view, and you update it regularly, and a few friends visit it and put their comments on your posts, it is already much more valuable than a diary that you would maintain and show to every friend who visits your home. It is more valuable than the friendly fights and debates and arguments that you would have on topics you are passionate about. It is much more subtle way than bragging to broadcast your great ideas and talent.

If you have made the blog primarily for showcasing your skills, products and services, you need to take care to make it popular and authoritative. Rest assured that over time, the blog would be a good earner for you directly or indirectly. 

Your blog could just be your archives of poems, short stories, household tips that you've learnt over years, house remedies, recipes that your grandma confided in you... You could then convert these into e-books or physical books. You could showcase them in different ways and earn great appreciation and/or money. 

There are numerous ways a blog can fill void in people's lives, help them organise their small emotional and intellectual assets, support their incomes... Do take your pick and make your blog your great asset.

Yeah, your blog will remain a star in the galaxy, even if it grows like the Huffington Post - now a multi-billion blog. Our existence (and mine, and that of Obama) is really that small in times of space and time. You have a house, that is one among two billion houses in the world. Even your salary, your factory and the award you won recently are hardly of any significance (unless you are a real multi-billionaire and a big CEO or a Nobel Laureate) and of hardly any consequence to other 6,900,000,000 people on earth (unless you run a huge charity). Even if you are among the top 50 influencers  or you own one of the top 100 companies in the world, you are that big on this minuscule earth which is only a million-trillionth of the known universe. And if you lived a hundred years, that would be a hundred-millionth of the life of the universe. 

Cheer up, friend. Make a blog, beautifully arrange your intellectual, emotional or professional show-pieces on it. Blog your way to happiness and success!

April 25, 2015

Use camera on phone; go blogging, YouTubing

You must be using your mobile phone for clicking pics and videos in many ways: taking selfies, shooting vacation photos, adding effects to these pics on phone itself, putting them on social media platforms such as Facebook, Google Plus and Instagram, sharing them on an instant chat platform such as Whatsapp, storing them on desktop / laptop, making albums and slideshows out of them...

Have you used your phone's camera also to shoot photos for the blog? Photos can generate reader interest in, and reduce monotony from, even the most serious text content. And you can relate photos to your text content in interesting ways, adding further value to the post. 

Just keep clicking whenever you find some shot unusual or spectacular. However, take permission when shooting close ups of people or shooting people in special circumstances. Do not shoot people in private places.

Shoot first and write later!


During out discussion with an avid blogger, we got this gem of advice: shoot first and write later. Clicking photos and leisurely browsing them later can generate fantastic ideas for the blog. This, we add, can be especially useful for bloggers writing about a location, social subjects, people's behaviour, how their city is being / not being maintained by the municipality, seasonal flavours, news in papers / on television (if you like to click newspaper reports or television shows, using the phone). The unstated advantage is that you already have a photo on the subject that would go well with the text.

Since blog posts do not need very high resolution / quality images, photos taken with mobile phones are well suited to blogs. Just crop them a bit, enhance (improve light, contrast, hue etc) if you so like, add an effect if you want to make them unusual, and the photo is ready for posting on the blog. We have carried a series of articles on ITB on what to keep in mind while putting photos on blogs.

YouTube can be your grand video showcase!


You must have watched videos on YouTube, but have you tried this great video medium for storing and sharing your own videos? If not, do try it out.

YouTube is available free, and you already have a YouTube account if you have a Gmail account or a blog on Blogger. You can have your own 'channel' on YouTube; just explore there and you'll find how.

For having your own videos, what can be better than the mobile phone? Thanks to advancement in mobile technology, videos taken by mobile phones match or are even better than videos taken from low-end pocket cameras. 

You can have different playlists and you can also choose to share some of them with only your close friends. YouTube also allows you to give a note alongside the video.

If you post even one video in 15 days, you are sure to build a good online video library over time. So, don't miss the potential of this free platform and start clicking videos with the phone and putting them on YouTube.

April 21, 2015

3 extra streams to earn money from blogging

This is the second post in the series on earning big from blogging. The first one dealt with AdSense and other types of advertising on blogs.

Blogging is not enough for earning handsomely, even if you go for AdSense and other advertising on the blog. You must go for other activities: activities that complement the blog and in turn get complemented by the blog.

We present here three of such activities:

1. Review products or services.


This is one of the surest ways of blog monetization, but before going for it, have a look at your blog's theme and the market it is linked with. You can review products that go with your blog's theme. If you have one on photography, you can review cameras; if on travel, review hotels; if on food, review restaurants; if on literature, review books...

Yes, what do you do if you already have a blog on a theme that does not have links with such products or services? Examine it more thoroughly and you might find some link. You can think of expanding the theme itself (e.g. if the blog is on shoes and if you feel the market for shoes is saturated, go for bags, even accessories and garments). 

If there is no way that you can get a product that is amenable to review, think of starting a new blog for this purpose only.

Reviews on the blog can really earn you decent money!

You need to (i) very regularly, (ii) intelligently, and (iii) honestly keep reviewing the products or services. After you have a good number of free reviews, you can contact product / service sellers if they are interested in a review of their stuff on your blog. If your blog is popular and your reviews are of good standard, chances are that sellers or their agents will come to you on their own.

You, however, need to be patient. You also have to decide whether your blog will be only a review blog or it will have a lot of other useful matter on the blog. As compared to just reviews, expert views on related subjects are taken more seriously. This is no bookish philosophy; this has actually been found to have generated good money for reviewers.

When you review a product or service on payment, mention it clearly on the post. Also, let the review not be influenced by such considerations. This might wean some prospective seller away from you but it will pay you much more in the long run.

2. Have arrangement with businesses.


Dealing directly with businesses connected with your blog makes great sense; however, in most cases, you need to develop real-life links with them.

Besides advertising and affiliate/ commission relationship (this we discussed in our first post in this series), there can be many ways businesses might get interested in your blog. They may pay for special events / competitions held on your blog, sponsor a blog meet that you organise, ask you to hold events for their own products on your blog / under your blog's banner.


3. Sell your own services and products. 


That's straight. Sell your product or service, including solutions to others' problems, using your blog. 

Use blog as a landing page or let blog lead to the landing page.

Published authors, photographers, musicians, painters... professionals and creative persons can use blog in great many ways to promote as well as sell their creations. 

Coders and tech experts (seen successful blogs on SQL and Excel on ITB's Blog Directory?) can eminently sell their expertise through the blog.

Similarly, doctors and yoga / alternative medicine experts can offer advice and consultation on payment.

Many bloggers that we have studied for their incomes offer classes. 

We have also seen a number of fashion and food bloggers who run boutiques, eateries, spice stores etc and very successfully get customers through their blogs.

April 18, 2015

Directory of Best Indian Blogs: any suggestions, friends?

This is one of those few posts where we like to talk to you about our own work. This time, can we talk about the compilation of the fifth edition of the Directory of Best Indian Blogs on which we have been spending many hours a day for the last two months.

Over the last five years, ITB has received great support from our valued visitors. Support not in terms of money or effort, but by endorsing us on your blogs and other social media spaces, and giving us recognition as one of the best directory compilations of English blogs in India.

We always are in search of outstanding blogs. We keep making an appeal for blog suggestions, and many visitors do respond by sending us mail at kp.nd.2008@gmail.com. Please suggest some good blogs to us, this time too.  

As this is going to be the fifth edition of the blog directory, we also need your support by way of suggestions to improve the listing. On our own, we have made the selection criteria quite stringent but we often are torn in the horns of dilemma: Whether we consider a very popular blog though its content is not that great? Should we be lenient towards an exceptionally good blog that has gone slightly irregular of late? Whether to keep excluding corporate blogs? Should we keep the earlier edition of the Directory alive even after a new edition has come out? And so on. 

So dear friends, would you please share your views on the present Directory and how it can be made even more credible representative of the best English blogs in India.

As in the past, we are bringing out the Directory on 30th May.

April 14, 2015

Net Neutrality: what lies ahead for your blog and your net connection?

The debate on net neutrality has been going on globally for some time. It has become scorching hot in India, after the telecom regulator TRAI came out with its discussion paper on this subject and then the leading telecom company Airtel started offering a zero-cost service to netizens for visiting corporate sites and apps.

Before coming to the debate and how it might even impact blogging, a few lines on What is net neutrality?

Net neutrality means keeping the internet neutral, i.e. not letting internet providers favour or disfavour net services based on content, source, etc. It means, internet providers [=Internet Service Providers and Mobile Internet Service Providers or Telecom Service Providers] cannot say, they’d give more speed if you browse a particular content or a particular app and reduce the speed if you go to another site. 

Now the debate on #NetNeutrality

TRAI recently came out with a consultation paper [You can download the pdf here], seeking public views on regulation of the 'over the top' services. In simple words, these are all IT services or apps that you get over mobile phones.  TRAI has sought views on the matter by 24th April.

What has raised heckles of netizens is some assumptions in the consultation paper that give the idea that TRAI might be trying to help telecom companies earn more by prioritising internet towards services that are paid for by corporates. 

Airtel, about a week back, offered Airtel Zero, a platform that allows companies to offer their services free to customers after making payment to Airtel. 

There are reports that India’s prominent e-commerce venture, Flipkart, has pulled out of discussions with Airtel on joining Airtel Zero, after its app on Google Play started getting voted down by net neutrality supporters.

Facebook’s offer of Internet.org services, though with a supposedly noble cause of providing free internet services where these don’t exist or can’t be accessed, does violate the principle of net neutrality.

Well, why is it such a big deal, you might wonder, when consumers get the services and products free. In fact, Airtel CEO recently defended the company's stand on these lines: Offering products by charging companies but levying no data costs from customers is a regular industry practice… This does not affect internet being provided to others… The debate over net neutrality should in fact be on net equality…

But the above logic is not that straight-forward. What might happen is that big companies and these internet providers may join hands and ensure that when you go to these big companies’ websites or apps, you have great internet width while you get frozen pics or hanging pages when you visit others, mostly free sites and blogs.

Eventually, lack of neutrality has the potential to kill the free web, as it is freedom that makes it such a vibrant and creative place. In addition, newcomers / startups will have a tough time reaching their services and products to netizens, and it will dry up innovation. 

There is great support for #NetNeutrality on the social media, and it is growing by the day. A support group has opened a site, http://savetheinternet.in, which gives a straight format for petitioning TRAI against the assumptions made in its consultation paper. As of now over 300 thousand emails have been sent to TRAI so far.

AIB's funny but informative 'Save the Internet' video on YouTube explains how TRAI premises could fatten telecom companies' pockets at the cost of other stakeholders. Believe it, the 3-day old video has already been seen 1.6 million times already!

Many organisations, political parties and celebrities have joined the chorus - sometimes just for being in the news, and looking progressive and anti-establishment.

What do American, European and Indian authorities say?

The Federal Communications Commission (FCC), in February 2015, ruled in favour of net neutrality by adopting the Open Internet Rules. In essence, these rules prohibit blocking, throttling or paid prioritisation of internet.

The European Parliament, about a year back, passed a law to keep the net fully neutral. But now, the European Council has voted that some 'specialized' services can be prioritised. What these services will be is not known.

Only yesterday, India’s Communications and IT Minister, Ravi Shankar Prasad, clarified that the government favoured non-discriminatory use of internet. He announced setting up of a committee independent of TRAI, which will give its report in about a month. If the recommendations of TRAI and this committee differ, the matter will be referred to the country’s topmost policy maker on ICT matters, the Telecom Commission.

April 10, 2015

Is a blog enough to earn handsomely from blogging?

Two blogger friends have made queries why they are not earning enough from blogs. 

One query is from a new student blogger. His classmate, who has opened an SEO-crammed blog, claims that he would start making at least a thousand dollars a month from the blog within a few months. 

The other is from an old blogger who has tried all tricks on 'reputed' websites that come up on top of Google search pages when you search for making money through blogging, but has failed to make even Rs.70 (about a dollar) a month from AdSense and almost nothing from a host of affiliates. In fact he has tried a number of other things such as being active on forums and link farms, paying money to a techie on the promise of making the blog a money spinner, himself trying monetization tricks on the blog, trying the tips given by bloggers claiming to be making thousands of dollars, selling e-books, comparing products, and giving tips on photography and travel to India. The total that he's got from all these efforts in the last five years is Rs.4500 (about $75) and for this he must have spent no less than 1000 hours and about Rs.1000.

We engaged in email conversation with both the bloggers, did our own research and had discussion with a tech expert who we know has made good money from web operations. The present post is a result of that. Since one post is not enough for the subject, we'd discuss other aspects later.


Blogging does not earn money unless you make it earn for you.

Simply blogging, i.e. composing posts, keeps the blog updated and keeps adding to the wealth of resources but it does not get you dollars. At least not till you have done something more that makes people give you money for it.

What all should I do, you'll ask. We'd discuss it over many posts. In this post, we list the major advertisement types available for bloggers. Done in moderation and with care, these advertisements do not irritate visitors but give the blogger steady streams of income without much effort.

  • Start with AdSense ads.

AdSense is an advertisement service offered by Google. It publishes ads of companies etc to the website/blog and the website owner or blogger earns commission when people click on ads and buy products through those ads.

For availing this free service, go to the AdSense site and apply for an account. Once your account is approved, you can post advertisements on your blog even if it is not on Blogger. If your blog is on Blogger, go to 'Layout' and 'Add a gadget'. Select 'AdSense' and it is done. Customise the ad space if you like. 

For knowing what you have earned out of AdSense ads, go to AdSense website, log in and go to 'Reports'.

The AdSense ads are usually based on the recent searches and browsing that happen on that computer. So, if your blog is on yoga and a person on a laptop has been looking at fashion websites and then opens your blog, chances are that the AdSense gadget on your blog will have more fashion ads than those on yoga.

  • Think of affiliate advertisements.

Affiliate ads are those from some affiliate service that publishes ads on your blog from companies who pay when people buy their products using the ad. The commission is generally higher than that offered by AdSense. 

Here, unlike AdSense, the ads are those on the company's product. Suppose you have a blog on gardening and you opt for affiliate ads of a shoe company, the ads will be of that shoe company only.

Some affiliate networks work better differently in different geographies and for different products, so go for the ones active in your area of work and your country.

If interested, you can look at these major affiliate programs: Amazon, eBay, Clickbank, CJ.

  • Direct ads are the best, but difficult to get

If your blog talks about something that visitors would like to buy, you have a good chance of getting ads directly from sellers. For example, if you review fashion products, you can approach those product makers / sellers to place their ads on your blog; if you give updates on mobile phones, there are chances that you get direct ads from mobile companies (though this market is quite crowded); if you discuss gardening matters, people selling seeds, pesticides and plant nutrients, garden equipment etc might be interested in giving you ads; if your blog is about some city or local tourism, local businesses might be attracted towards your blog; and so on.

Getting direct ads is difficult till the blog is fairly established. In addition, you need to do more than just blogging and working with AdSense or affiliates; you need to talk to the target advertisers (the seller, company PRO, PR agency, etc). 
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If you are a food blogger, you may like to see our earlier post on making money from food blogs.

Do go for email subscription [just by putting your email ID in the subscription box in the right column] or follow us on Twitter, so that you don't miss the coming posts on money making from blogging and on blogging / social media topics.

April 7, 2015

Porn banned by Blogger? That's an old story!

A month back, Google announced that it would ban explicit matter on public blogs on Blogger platform. The ban was to come into effect last fortnight. That didn't happen.

Google says, it has decided to live with its existing content policy. This policy allows bloggers to post nudity or explicit sex-oriented material on blogs provided the 'adult content setting' is turned on. The setting in turn warns visitors about the content. In addition, Google says, "commercial porn will continue to be prohibited". 

Immediately after Google decided to ban porn, a large number of established bloggers protested, saying that the move was against the avowed policy of Google not to curb freedom of expression on the web. Many of them feared that if Google forced them to go private, they would lose all links, shared data and community participation that they had generated over years.

What is Indian Top Blogs stand on this?

As a decency-oriented site, are we at ITB peeved, you might ask. Well, we are not peeved, but wonder why Google went for banning porn in the first place? You can search on Google whatever you want, in a fraction of second; is sex-oriented blogging worse than that? Then, where do you draw the line? Also, would bloggers not go to places like Tumblr that allow more anonymous posting of any material? Frankly, to us it looked like prohibition; we all know that when governments ban liquor sale, illicit liquor takes over and governments end earning less while people consume lots of spurious liquor and illegal trade prospers.

Good that Google stopped before it could create this lose-lose situation.

April 5, 2015

jyotidehliwal

Aapki saheli (आपकी सहेली) 
http://jyotidehliwal.blogspot.com

jyoti-dehliwal-blog
The blogger of this rather new Hindi blog, Jyoti Dehliwal, says, through this blog she wants to share heart's feelings - to tell about hers and to know about others'.


 "ये जिंदगी उस रब की रजा है, जिसका अपना ही मजा है, हर वक्त खुदा से मेरी यही दुआ है, कि आपको इतनी खुशियाँ दे, कि आप भी सोचो इसकी वजह क्या है !! इसी क्रम में---कुछ मेरे दिल की बातें आपको बताना चाहती हूँ एवम् कुछ आपके दिल की जानना चाहती हूँ!"



April 2, 2015

Blogging: It has been good, ugly and calamitous

Let’s start with the calamity, not because that makes the headline but because it is too unfortunate to have happened.

Bangladesh blogger - the third one in a year - pays with life


Yet another blogger, Washiqur Rahman, has been killed in Bangladesh. Remember the recent killing of Avijit Roy, another blogger, by extremists? A year back, another blogger had met with similar fate. With the murder of Rahman, fundamentalist forces in Bangladesh have reinforced their message that criticism of fundamentalism or spread of liberal thought will not be tolerated.

Rahman's Facebook page
Dhaka police say, attackers brutally hacked Rahman to death with big knives just 500 yards from his home. The suspects are students from two religious schools of the city.

Rahman blogged under a pen-name, Kucchit Hasher Channa (= Ugly Duckling). Later he shifted to Facebook where he wrote satirical pieces on Islam and joined a number of liberal groups.

The pretty ugliness of blogging


#facesofprostitution: do these look victims?
Well, we don't know if it is ugly but it sure started with being pretty. A film 'Pretty Woman', which was released 25 years back, came for criticism last week on the blog of 'Exodus Cry' for fantasizing sex trade while a majority of those in sex industry have faced rape, drugging, being taken hostage or strangled. 

The blog post is now generating protests from sex workers. Sex workers peeved with the Pretty Woman post say, the blog gives the impression that all sex workers are victims and that puts their profession in a demeaning stereotype. In fact, a hashtag #FacesOfProstitution is trending on social media, with sex workers sharing their happy experiences and showing pride in their profession.

Bernanke and blogging – are you serious?


Ben S. Bernanke, the former Federal Reserve chairman is known for his strong actions and views on economics and finance. But now he is a blogger! 
Bernanke's Blog

And what will he write about in his blog? You guessed it right: economics and more economics.

Bernanke’s blog is on Brookings Institution’s blogging platform. In his very first post, Bernanke argues that savings are not a virtue that they are made out to be, and low interest rates are hurting the rich more than the poor.