Business blogging: should CEOs maintain blog?

Should businesses blog? Should a CEO be blogging?

Natural questions that come in the minds of people in top rungs in big companies. Let us find answer to question-2 in this post, though it will also partly answer question-1. However, I have talked about the benefits of business blogging separately and would request you to visit that post in case you would like to discuss that. 

Someone who has not applied his/ her mind to the question why a CEO should blog will perhaps give a straight answer, 'NO'. And there would be many reasons for that, e.g.
  • Blogging is a sheer waste of time. The time you would spend on your blog can get you much better gains if you invest it in your business/ career.
  • People in higher positions cannot afford to indulge in gossiping or writing a diary or a low-level hobby such as blogging.
  • Blogging does not serve a business interest, not definitely in my area of work.
  • Blogging is for people who have too much time in hand and no productive work to do, maybe lifetime chairmen of large corporations.
  • Maintaining a blog is boring. You cannot sustain it.
  • My web and social media officer advises me not to be on the web except for promotion of the company and its products.
  • I have not seen many CEOs or Chairmen blogging. The few old guys who blog have lived their life and use the blog for sermonizing.
  • Blogging would hurt if I (a senior officer, not CEO) showcase my talent and ideas on the blog and the bosses don't like that. It has the potential to damage my career and reputation if accidentally something unwanted gets posted.
So, why indulge in something that gives no earth-shaking dividends and is a recipe for accidental disaster?

Well, if you applied the same amount of skepticism to many other things you do, including networking, hunting for the next job, socializing in after-office hours, making presentations and speeches, etc, you would find them even more risky. Since you are likely to get direct results due to such activities, the risks are worth taking. That's why you are not scared of them, right?

Let me show you that blogging is even more paying, some of it indirectly. Let me show how it acts as a multiplier of other actions that you take for career promotion, building a personal brand, creating a fan following, improving employee relationships and so on - formidable assets for senior managers, CEOs and thought leaders in general.

Let me begin with an article by Peter Aceto, ex-CEO of Tangerine Bank. He has made this beautiful observation about blogging by CEOs:
But perhaps we're asking the wrong thing—whether CEOs should "blog."
Instead, how about this question: As leaders, are we reluctant to see the value in transparency and embrace it?
If you're thinking this is about social media, you’re wrong: This is about finding a better way to lead, to govern, and to do business. It's about transparency.
I tossed this question around and got another remarkable argument about blogging by top managers:
Blog if your competition is not blogging. That will keep you ahead as a leader with content. Blog if your competition is already blogging. And do that right now.
As a senior functionary or thought leader who is not blogging yet, I would request you to please take a walk with me, slowly, step by step. And then decide whether blogging is worth it. 

leadership blog by top CEO, Bill Gates
Bill Gates blog: global leadership, social good

What type of blog should CEOs maintain?


I am talking here mainly about a professional blog, which can be part of the company portal or a stand-alone one (better). The blog can have a personal section or (if you already have a big following, e.g. you are Chairperson/ CEO of Facebook, Apple, Infosys or GE) you can sometimes share your personal experiences for others' benefit.

I am also talking about a personal blog not directly related to your company. It can be an extension of your thinking side, sharing side, human side.

CEO blog must be sophisticated and awe inspiring, is that right?


Not at all. A CEO blog - or a leadership blog by any other person - can be a free blog on Blogger or Wordpress (Amitabh Bachchan, 78, runs a blog on Tumblr, a platform reported to be more popular among juveniles. He writes a post daily on the blog!)

However, it is better is to have a standalone, 'self hosted' blog, not on Tumblr, Wordpress or Blogger. Maintaining a Blogger blog and mapping it to an independent URL costs just $10 a year; maintaining a Wordpress blog in the same way costs $25 a year or so. A self-hosted blog costs $30 a year onward. Active politicians who want to have a personal website with many sections need to open a self-hosted blog with a costlier plan, but others can manage with smaller blogs.

As far as its design and sophistication are concerned, the blog can indeed be very simple in structure, and much of its secondary data can be automated so that it does not need much maintenance.

Any type of blog can easily be integrated with social networking accounts such as LinkedIn and Twitter.

How frequently should a CEO/ leadership blog be updated?


Not too frequently. Once in a week might be good enough. Even lesser.

What type of posts suit a CEO blog (or a blog by senior functionaries)?


If you are the top guy, you should write posts with meat -  articles that people would refer, articles that give insight into the industry, posts that give direction to the future.

Your articles (called 'posts' in blogging parlance) should usually be on professional matters. Once in a while you can think of sharing a personal experience.

You could sometimes be announcing a new thinking or development within your company.

Your association with company's social activities could also be shared once in a few months.

If you are in the middle rung of the ladder, a personal blog would suit you quite well. Participate on the company's internal blogging platform/ internal social network/ intranet, if available. Write progressive articles and avoid sharing any information or thoughts that your bosses will not like.

If you already are a thought leader, sky is the limit for your blogging. Sometimes write on the society, national economy or such topic of wider appeal. But do not make the blog a loud-speaker or a place to sermonize. Rather, share ideas.

Why have own blog? Is internal blogging in the company not good enough?


Having one's own blog (whether on company's portal or separately) is much better than the routine, customary messages you broadcast to employees from the top. Even if you want to limit yourself to the company blog, have a special section for yourself and encourage other top functionaries also to blog on the portal. That is a good way to communicate on managerial and professional matters and/ or connect with employees.

Effectively done, CEO blogging with employees in focus can help develop a trustful and participative corporate culture. It can help reduce tensions, factionalism and mistrust if already there.

Remember that internal blogs have limitation in terms of what you write and who all read it. If you want to expand your horizon as a thought leader or a human with ideas worth sharing, stand-alone blog is the answer.

Does CEO blog make sense when I am already on so many places on the web?


I came across such questions while doing research for this blog post: My company website has a Chairman's section, and I have a social media team. My social media team sends me draft articles for special occasions, which get published. My messages are all over our company website. I write for the annual report and for souvenirs. Is that not enough?

Most CEOs seem to be satisfied with their official communication or that generated by their web/ social media/ PR teams on their behalf.

But why should your thoughts - beyond those compiled by a ghost-writer - remain un-shared? Why should you not provide thought leadership in your industry? Why should you not contribute your original thoughts to nation building? Why should you not throw your force behind positive social actions?

However, even as the top functionary, if you have decided that your online personality should remain limited to official communication, so be it. At least be informal and write the stuff yourself (or re-write the draft submitted to you) so that it shows your own thoughts and perspective.

Is a LinkedIn account not good enough for business networking?


LinkedIn is supposed to be the social network of choice for professionals, and LinkedIn itself now allows you to post articles. However, since a stand-alone blog is a much more valuable property, I propose that you write posts on your blog and post their extract on LinkedIn (or any other business communication network that you use), and then link the two.

There also are business blogging platforms, enterprise social networks and  industry forums that promote sharing of progressive ideas. You can think about being active on them. It always helps to treat the blog as the hub and disseminate thoughts from it to other social media entities.

Do CEOs actually blog?


Most top executives have some sort of online presence including those of Fortune 500 companies. However, very few of them maintain a blog. When they do, their blogs tend to be uni-directional and dull. Uni-directional in the sense that the top guy talks so that others listen and follow, and there is no conversation. Dull in that the talks do not inspire, they do not come from a thought leader... in most cases the boss's post looks like the Director's Report at GBM or a press release.

Yet, a good number of CEOs and senior functionaries maintain a blog, and their blog inspires. I give here a small list of top company executives and sundry thought leaders who maintain a good blog and post regularly:
  • Bill Gates, the founder of Microsoft, maintains a very resourceful blog, gatesnotes.
  • Matt Mullenweg, the founder and CEO of Automattic, the company that runs Wordpress, maintains a personal blog.
  • Kevin Roberts is the founder of Red Rose Consulting. His blog KR Connect is a free blog on Blogger!
  • Tom Glocer is ex-CEO, Thomson Reuters. He started blogging when he still was CEO of the world's largest news agency. His blog: Tom Glocer's Blog
  • George Colony's blog: an example of a CEO writing regular posts on the blog section of his company Forrester's portal: The Counterintuitive CEO.
  • Reid Hoffman, the co-founder of LinkedIn and now a Partner in Greylock, maintains a blog.
  • Richard Branson, head of Virgin group of companies, also writes a blog regularly on his company's portal.
  • Bill Mariott, Chairman of Mariott International, maintains a blog, Mariott on the Move.
  • Larry Gaynor is President and CEO of TNG Worldwide. His blog: The CEO's Blog
  • Matt Cutts, the head of Google's US Digital Service explains technical matters and developments relating to his company and else, in his blog, Matt Cutts: Gadgets, Google, and SEO. Though he blogs only once in a while, the entire SEO community looks forward to his next post.
  • Erna Solberg, Prime Minister of Norway, very regularly posts on her personal blog.
  • Amitabh Bachan - voted as the actor of the century, he finds time to publish a post every day on his blog, Bachan Bol.
  • Dharmesh Shah, co-founder and CTO of HubSpot has a blog on startups and related matters, OnStartups.
  • Indian Prime Minister Narendra Modi used to have a thoughtful blog till he became PM. Now his blog is part of his portal: Narendramodi

blogging for business
Dharmesh Shah blog: serious industry talk

Advantages of CEO blogging: a sum up


There can be different scenarios, and one size does not fit all. The type of online presence you should have depends on company's and your personal expectations from such a presence. As the list above shows, even very busy CEOs can blog if they decide to, and their blogs can be quite insightful.

Again, your goal would decide whether you should write about personal thoughts and experiences or on company and industry matters. You might have sensed that there are advantages of both, in different ways. So, it is your call to choose one of them, or - if you have so much to share and can get time to compose posts - you can choose both!

The above discussion would give you a fair idea that blogging is useful in more ways than one, for the officer/ manager/ CEO as well as the organization he/ she is part of. Let me sum up the benefits that the top brass and his/ her organization gets by blogging:
  • If you are the top functionary, it gives your organization a face. You, the head, talking with the people your company wants to address makes a direct contact and high impact. Your explaining a difficult situation or preparing staff/ clients for a new development is much more genuine and carries much more weight than a press release, even a press conference.
  • Your blog becomes a great communication channel for you and your organization. And for you, it can remain so beyond your narrow official position.
  • Blog, inherently being a refreshing web entity, gets good search engine optimization (SEO), thus helping in web-discovery of your company.
  • Nothing beats a blog - not a Facebook, LinkedIn or Twitter account, nor an occasional speech on the company website - in establishing you as a leader, an expert, a brand. Over a long period, the blog can multiply your potential as a thought leader in your field or in general. You can make your blog the fulcrum of your brand-building and integrate Twitter etc with it; that way, you leverage the best qualities of different media.
  • The blog acts as a repository of wisdom, as against information. If you can think beyond the topline and bottomline in the balance sheet, you would know the importance of such an invaluable resource.
  • Contrary to the general impression among professionals and senior officers about blogging, it has been found empirically that blogging can boost one's business and career in many ways. The space here is not enough to show the surveys and studies, or go into the arguments. I have given a full chapter on business blogging in The Manual of Blogging (Forgive me if it looks like promotion of the book, but the chapter is really relevant for those undecided about the importance of business blogging.)
  • Blogging, let me repeat, need not be a burden on your time and energy. It should be a natural extension of yourself. You can blog once in a while or everyday depending upon your busyness and your creative urge. If it is part of the company's blog, be regular. Never forget to acknowledge good suggestions and feedback; never take offense to criticism; yet, never allow people to take you for granted.

When you - the CEO or a senior officer - should NOT blog


Blogging is likely to be counter-productive:
  • If you think of the blog merely/ primarily as an instrument for PR or career progression.
  • If you would use the blog for one-way communication, i.e. use it as an additional channel to make speeches or send routine messages to employees.
  • If you do not have a commitment towards your company.
  • If you are not prepared to be authentic.
  • If you would depend upon others to write posts on your behalf.

Blogging best practices for businesses

Blogging needs patience. It needs self-discipline. It also needs, especially when it is CEO's or a senior officer's blog, restraint in sharing information and making commitments. It also needs that you shed a bit of your ego and sometimes share your defeats, pains, achievements and special moments of happiness - especially on personal blog.

Well, blogging also needs a bit of time and resources for sprucing it up. The second part - resources - is the least important. Your company will sure take care of it if the blog is on company portal. For personal blog, you can invest a few dollars a year on it, can't you?

a top CEO blog
Richard Branson blog: as bubbly as it can get, yet thoughtful

This article on Forbes has some good ideas on how to make posts that make an impact, so instead of copy pasting them, let me give a link to the original article: The 17 Rules of CEO Blogging

This is another good article, telling how CEOs should carry out blogging effectively, on OrbitMedia, telling how to blog as CEO.

Tips for starting a blog in 2020 and achieving success in blogging

In this article you will not only learn about starting a blog from scratch but also mastering the blogging craft. I have created this post with YOU in mind, especially if:
  • YOU are very new to blogging and don't know anything about this online activity.
  • YOU have a blog with good amount of information but you are poor in technological aspects.
  • YOU want to open a self-hosted blog - not on a free blogging platform.
  • YOU already maintain a blog but it is  not doing well, so you are looking for successful blog ideas.
  • YOU have a personal blog for a long time but you now want to make money out of blogging.
First thing first: Blogging is not hard but it is also not fast!

Please note that for success in blogging, you do not require much knowledge of technology.
Also, don't go blindly for the confusing stuff some people advise (SEO, on page and off page optimization, AMP, schema, markup, etc): they usually show off jargon to scare you so that you buy their services.

However, you need to love your subject and have expertise on that.

You must also be ready to give time to blogging on a regular basis. Success in blogging demands time and energy - and patience: ask any successful blogger if you have doubts.

Arrangement of this long article

This article is long because it is meant to guide you step by step and to explain why some blogging ideas work and some do not. In fact, this is like a big ebook on blogging with many chapters.
You can jump to these chapters and come back where you left, by clicking on links at the bottom of each chapter.

Go to Chapter 1 if you want to open a blog but have little knowledge about blogging.
Go to Chapter 2 if you have expertise on the subject you love, but you are poor in web technology.
Go to Chapter 3 if you want to open a self-hosted blog.
Go to Chapter 4 if you have a personal blog but now you want to do blogging for money.
Go to Chapter 5 if you are looking for tips to make your blog successful, as it is presently not doing well.

start a blog

CHAPTER 1

I want to start blogging but don't know much about it.


Before moving any further, let me assure you again that you do not need any technical skills or someone's assistance for opening a blog.

I would suggest that you open a blog on Blogger. This is a free blogging platform. Blogger is also very simple to learn and so I recommend this platform for opening a new blog. You can open your blog in less than 1 minute if you already have a GMail account. If not, clicking on the above link will take you to Blogger site where you will be asked to open an account. On opening the account, you will get a screen asking you to give a title to the blog. Give it a name (you can change it as many times as you want) and then an address. Give it carefully because you will not be able to change it for this blog (You can open many blogs from a single Blogger/ GMail account). The next step (selecting a theme) is optional and on clicking next, it will take you to the blog dashboard. 

Your blog is already on the web! Click on View Your Blog on the dashboard and you can see your blog. Of course, it is very simple and needs a lot of work. You have not yet posted anything and so the page is blank. Don't worry. 

Once you know how to create a simple blog, experiment with it. On Blogger itself, you can open test blogs before you decide to open a blog that you will keep. See which theme and layout work the best for you. Similarly when you compose posts, put images and videos and see how they appear actually on the blog. Keep noting what actions give you the desirable results.

There is another good platform, Wordpress, for such doing similar experiment with blogging. Once you are comfortable with blogging on Blogger platform, open an account on Wordpress and make a blog there. The options are similar to Blogger but may work slightly differently. Experiment on Wordpress also with 2-3 blogs. If you like this one better than Blogger, go for it.

There are other popular platforms, e.g. Tumblr and Medium
If you wish to share others' posts and not be fixated with your own blog, Tumbler might look good, but you will have limited options for changing design. You will also not be able to earn out of blogging. 
If you just want to give information or advice on the subject of your choice but are not interested in giving your blog a special look or making money out of it, I would suggest Medium. It is simple and without fuss - a great place for writers and readers. You will also not be able to earn money out of the blog in the case of Medium.

Once you have made up your mind, stick to one blogging platform and just one blog.

When you are comfortable with basics of blogging, visit other chapters of this article and the links given here and there. These will take you to the next steps: how to make the blog visible on search engines, how to bring traffic to the blog, how to make money from blogging, etc. Don't forget to bookmark this article for later use.

Jump back: how to start a blog.
 



CHAPTER 2

I have a blog with lots of information but I don't know web technology.


Don't worry at all! As a blogger, you should become master of the subject, not of technology.

When you open a blog just for keeping information in it, you need not bother about technology. If you feel like applying a new background color, adding some widgets and doing search optimization (SEO) yourself and your blog is on a free blogging platform (Blogger or Wordpress), let me assure you that these platforms have enough screen-based options for these little tasks. You can learn some tasks easily by clicking on the menu items in the blog dashboard. If you get confused, I have posted articles on starting and maintaining blogs here and you can make use of them (Click on the links in the main categories widget in the right sidebar).

If you're thinking of starting a blog for a more serious purpose (e.g. earning from it or for professional works), you must look at the blog as a business or self-employment. For such professional blogging, knowing technology helps in doing additional tasks. If that is your goal, I will advise you to open the blog on Wordpress CMS rather than free Blogger, Wordpress, Tumblr or Medium platforms. (If you are very new to blogging, start with what I have recommended in Chapter I above and then come back.) Such blogs are called self-hosted blogs or independent blogs because they are not under a blogging platform but independent, and you need to get the blog hosted on a web host (for which you have to pay).

In all cases (free or self-hosted blogs), you will need to learn some techniques (not the coding/ technology behind them) for introducing important feature on the blog. These are no more difficult than sending a location map or taking a photo on your mobile phone. If you do not know them, you feel helpless at times, isn't it? Now that you have started blogging, it will help you greatly if you quickly learn such techniques within the blogging platform or the website-builder that you use.

You will need to learn additional techniques for web hosting, registering domain name, web security etc in case you decide to open an independent blog (more on it in the next Chapter).

Then there are some blogging actions that need some knowledge of HTML, but not too much. On some Wordpress themes/ plugins, even these are menu-based and do not require any knowledge of a web language. Some examples of such blog-features are:
  • Headline tags: these help in highlighting keywords.
  • Alt attributes on images: the ALT text makes images visible to search engines, otherwise search engines find it difficult to know the subject of images.
  • Rich cards: these help the blog come high on search results when people search for local products/ services.
A somewhat higher knowledge of HTML and CSS (a language that is used for adding styles on web pages) is needed if you want to play with base code of the website. If you want to learn a bit of HTML and CSS, there are great tutorials on the web. I found this one very easy to understand.

Options if you are a technology-averse blogger


If you want to keep your blog modern in terms of technology and features but fear/ hate technology, you need not learn technology at all! Yes, you can succeed as a blogger without knowing even a bit of technology. These are the options before you:

* If you've created your blog just for hobby, don't bother about tech.

* If you want to maintain your blog professionally:
  • Either learn technology bit by bit. You can decide to learn HTML and CSS if your blog is on Blogger. If your blog is on Wordpress, some knowledge of PHP helps in sprucing up blogs there. There are many tutorials on the web on these web languages.
  • Or learn technology like a pro. You can join a course on web technology, either online or in a technology institution. Basic web technology is not difficult and even a matriculate can learn enough of it with some practice. 
  • Or hire a specialist. If you want someone to design a blog, you will need the services of a web developer. He will also set up the blog and help with domain name registration and web hosting. For search engine optimization, you might think of hiring an SEO expert - but that is optional, as this article on SEO would show you.  
 Jump to the beginning: blogging basics.
 


CHAPTER 3

I want to open a self-hosted blog, not one on a free blogging platform.


When the blogger creates a blog, buys a name for the blog and places it as an independent property on the web (not on a free blogging platform), it is called 'self-hosted' or 'independent' blog. 

Advantages of self-hosted blogs compared to blogs on free blogging platforms


Free blogging platforms put a number of limitations on the blog. While Blogger is generous, the free plan of Wordpress has many more limitations. Tumbler is even more restrictive, and Medium does not allow any design change. On Blogger, you cannot have unlimited bandwidth or storage space, and you cannot do ecommerce through it though you can put advertisements. On others, you cannot even put advertisements.

On a self-hosted blog, you pay for all resources and therefore you are the boss: you can do whatever you like with the blog in terms of design, content, putting advertisements etc. The limits placed by free blogging platforms do not apply to you.

If you want to create a professional blog and want to earn money from blogging, do not go for a free blog except for experimenting. If you already maintain a free blog, migrate it to a self-hosted blog. 

Steps in hosting a blog/ website


You may want to start the blog directly as a self-hosted blog or you might have already created a blog on a free blogging platform and now want to make it self-hosted. Let us handle both the situations separately.

A. Creating a new self-hosted blog


For a new blog (or any other website) to work on the web, you need to (i) get a name (domain name) for the blog so that it can be identified, (ii) place the blog on some computer connected with internet all the time (called 'host'ing of blog/ website) and (iii) create the blog, beautify it and add content to it. There are hundreds of technological actions that are done in the background for web hosting but you need not bother about them.

For getting a domain name and hosting the blog, you need the services of a web hosting service. Web hosts usually give a complimentary domain name or you can separately buy the domain name from a different domain name registrar.

Bluehost, Godaddy and HostGator are some of the biggest web hosts. GoDaddy is also one of the biggest domain name registrars. They have many hosting plans with costs ranging from a few bucks  to many thousand dollars a year depending upon the resources they provide. You can buy a small plan initially and scale it up if your business grows and you need more resources.

You must give the blog a befitting domain name (It becomes the URL or web address of the blog and its posts/ pages). The name should be small, memorable, relevant to the subject of the blog. If you want to brand yourself through the blog, you can give it a name that reflects your identity. The name is to be given to the blog during the web hosting process.

Generally these actions do not need a technical help. If you get stuck during hosting process, the host will help you on chat/ phone/ email. But if you are technology-averse, you can take services of a techie.

Remember that web hosting as well as keeping the domain name has to be perpetual and you need to pay fee to the service provider year after year.

Once the blog is hosted and has a proper domain name, the real job is the designing of the blog. For creating/ designing the blog, I strongly recommend Wordpress, though there are many website builders or blog making suites available. All the web hosts named above have separate sections for 'Wordpress hosting' customised for Wordpress. Wordpress has all the tools for designing a feature-rich blog/ website. There are many free resources (themes, plugins), and hundreds of experts are available on the Wordpress forums all the time to help you with an issue or guide you on some feature.

B. Shifting from a free blog to a self-hosted blog


If you already have a blog on Blogger/ Wordpress, you can easily shift that blog to a self-hosted Wordpress blog. You need to go to 'settings' menu of the existing blog, export the blog contents as an XML file and then import this file to the new blog.

Keep in mind that the content of the old blog consists of many content pages, media, styles, comments, etc. The text content is generally transferred without much problem, but its formatting and styling, image placement, comments and other elements are disturbed or even lost. So, you must check each post/ page individually before publishing them on the new blog.

To learn more about web hosting and domain name registration, visit the link.

Back to the beginning of chapter 1, on blogging first time.
 


CHAPTER 4

I maintain a personal blog for a long time but I now want to make money from blogging.


Personal blogs usually are either limited by content (e.g. a poetry blog, a personal literary blog) or cover all things under the earth (e.g. in the same blog, one can write about his hobbies, experiences, and social and political thoughts). On the other hand, blogs for making money have to be focused on a subject. 

So, the first thing you should do is to decide the subject of your blog.

Not all subjects are well-paying. For some years, blogs on finance, travel, food, beauty & fashion and lifestyle are reported to be generating good income for bloggers. However, once many blogs and websites are opened on these subjects, they become highly competitive for new bloggers.

Do not decide the subject based only on its earning potential. You must be passionate about the subject and have expertise on it - otherwise you will get exhausted soon.

As said in the above chapter, one of the thing you must do - when you want to earn money from blogging - is to make the blog a self-hosted blog. So, you will need to move your personal blog to the new website designing software. If you find that the personal blog is not in right subject and lacks focus, open a new blog directly on the website/blog designing software.

As I have said earlier, Wordpress is a very good website designing tool. It is reported that a third of all websites are made with Wordpress. 
Then comes web hosting. Among web hosting services, I have seen many comparisons in which Bluehost was found the best among web hosts. But I suggest that you choose the web host after comparing different web hosting plans offered by web hosting companies in your country. 

Write quality stuff. Write matter that is well-researched, information that people are looking for, advice that can help people. 
This all needs a lot of research into the subject of the blog. You must also keep improving your expertise as you go along. 
You must keep updating yourself about new developments in that field.

Do all the necessary promotion and search optimization. However good the blog, you cannot make money if people do not visit your blog. Moreover, you need visitors who are interested in your subject, not random visitors. You must, therefore, identify the type of visitors you want: students? people wanting to paint their house? people suffering from diabetes? those interested in cheap travel? 
Find ways to meet people interested in the subject or at least interact with them online. 
Promote yourself on social media. Be present on web spaces frequented by your visitors. Send link on email or chat apps to interested people. And so on.

Search engine optimization or SEO is a must for blogs created for making money, because despite social media bringing a lot of traffic, search remains a major source of relevant traffic for blogs. Do visit these articles on SEO for updating yourself about what works and what not.

Finally, out of the many ways to monetize the blog, choose the best - those working for your type of blog. Some of these could be:
  • PPC advertisements (e.g. AdSense)
  • Affiliate advertisements (e.g. through ClickBank, CJ)
  • Direct advertisements (= when you get ads directly from a business)
  • Reviews (e.g. reviews of restaurants/ hotels, baby products, music, books) 
  • Paid posts (=when you write posts at a price or after being taken on a guided tour or getting a gift)
  • Using the blog as the base for getting offers (e.g. speaking classes)
  • Selling services and products through the blog (e.g. online courses, ebooks, merchandise)
Successful bloggers in different fields have shared that just blogging does not pay enough, and the blogger needs to tap more than one earning stream (for example, PPC ads and paid posts). It is also seen that all monetization methods do not suit all subjects and all regions. So, the blogger needs to look at the demand (local or in a  broad area or global?) for products/ services linked with the blog's subject. For example, a fashion blog may earn very well when it is in English and focuses on New York, but may not earn at all when it is in a local language focuses on a small town in India.

If you are not earning well from the blog even after years of blogging, you might be doing it all the wrong way. Check whether your blog suffers from one or more issues given in the next chapter.

CHAPTER 5

What is the key to success in blogging? Why is my blog not doing well though I work hard?


You will already know that success in blogging depends on dozens of factors. When a blog does not succeed, that usually happens because the blogger has ignored one or the other area and has been casual about that. When a blog does not work well despite the blogger's best efforts, there could be something deeper.

You might have come across people with a chronic disease that refuses to go. One doctor diagnosed the issue and gave some medicine. When that did not help, the patient went to another one. He did the same. Then third doctor and then fourth. The problem, perhaps, is not with the medicines or even with the patient's body; it is the wrong diagnosis in the first place.

I will suggest that you look at your blog from all angles and try to diagnose the issue. Don't stop there. Confirm that you have found the problem, by checking on the web or discussing it with an expert. Then apply solution and observe. In the meantime, keep looking for any other issue. Repeat the two till you get the results.

I give here a list of possible issues that might be bogging down your blog:

 A. Content issues:
  • Low-quality articles, with poor language or grammatical mistakes. 
  • Very small articles. 
  • Articles not well-researched. 
  • Articles without useful advice or information.
  • Wrong information. Content copy-pasted from other websites.
  • Articles good but no good headings and sub-headings.
  • Poor readability. Bad formatting. Long sentences and paragraphs. 
B. Design issues:
  • Poor design that is not appealing.
  • Too small or unreadable text.
  • Too childish design.
  • Poor navigation.
C. Traffic/ engagement related issues:
  • No search engine optimization (SEO) or faulty SEO or undesirable SEO.
  • Not on social networks or not using social media entities properly. 
  • Not engaging with commenters on the blog and other social media accounts.
  • Not promoting the blog at all among people interested in the blog's subject. 
  • Too much self-promotion that irritates and puts off visitors.
D. Improper monetization:
  • Not using different ways of money-making and depending solely on just PPC advertisements.
  • Too many or too few advertisements.
  • Advertisements not placed in proper places.
  • Improper advertisements, unrelated advertisements.
  • Taken wrong action and so the blog has been penalized. Such actions include clicking on ads on one's own blog, asking visitors to click on ads, putting advertisements in a way that fools visitors.
E. Other issues:
  • Blog being on a free platform. That can result in low level of search optimization, low reputation and consequent low traffic/ no money. 
  • Low frequency of updation.
  • No internal links with other resources on the blog.
On the subject of making money from blogging, I have a collection of articles at the given link, written in simple language and with workable tips: earning from the blog
Jump to chapter I: Start blogging.

What is SEO and how it works: basic questions about SEO answered

In the area of search engine optimization, you will find the same set of tips, with one less here and one more there, on most expert websites (and thousands of websites that copy-paste them). I would advise that you go through the present post in full before you look for actual tips on this website or elsewhere. Why? Because reading tips does not lead to success unless we know the 'why' and 'how' behind the tips, and this article tries to fill that knowledge gap. 

    1. What actually is SEO? Are SEO techniques necessary go getting a webpage high in search results?
    2. Does search engine optimization matter in 2020? A lot of website traffic now comes through social media.
    3. What is Google algorithm? What are the latest updates?
    4. Do SEO tricks work in 2020?
    5. Should I go for an SEO service? Will it quickly increase my search traffic?
    6. What is the top SEO strategy for a blogger who is not tech-savvy?
    7. My blog is not coming high in Google search results, why?
    8. Are Google and Bing webmaster tools good enough, from SEO point of view?
    9. Should I buy paid SEO tools available on the web?

What actually is SEO and is it necessary for good search visibility?


SEO or search engine optimization is the sum of all the actions you take so that your webpages (or blog posts) appear high on search engines when someone searches on the web for something related to the webpage.

So, SEO has two important aspects:

1. Content's relevance is very important.


Search engines (Google, Bing, Yahoo!, DuckDuckGo, etc) must be able to relate your website with the search query. If someone searches for 'yoga', your site will be shown by search engines only if it has content on yoga.

Take care that your website/ blog has enough content, and of good quality, on the subject on which you want the website to come up in search pages.

2. Website's authority is equally important.


For deciding which website to give a higher position on the search pages, Search engines must rank the websites according to their authority. Authority comes from quality of content and how other authoritative websites talk about this site.

Search engines keep a huge index of webpages that their software (=crawler) finds on the web. In this index, only valuable pages are indexed and each webpage gets a ranking based on hundreds of factors. For getting a high ranking for your website in search engine's index, you must ensure high-quality content and also have links (=backlinks) and recommendations from other good websites, and people should talk favorably about your website, on social media.

Thus, search engine optimization or SEO is mostly the actions we take for improving relevance of a website and its authority. You might also have noticed that quality of content is of paramount importance in getting a webpage high on search results. However, I must caution you that though good quality of content is supreme, only that will not get you on top of search pages - and you will have to apply at least some SEO techniques for getting the blog or website in top search results. You will get to know what other things matter, in this article and other articles on Indian Top Blogs.

Does search optimization matter, now that most website traffic comes through social media?


Social media is important for getting traffic to a website, but search remains one of the top sources of traffic. What actually happens is that if the content is relevant and of high value, SEO and social media work in synergy: people share the content on social media, which gives authority signals to search engines, website starts coming high on search pages, and the virtuous cycle moves on and on.

Search engine optimization remains very important, and its importance has only increased over the years - because now people do not remember URLs or ask others for references; they just type their search query on Google and then click on search results.

Since search engines as well as searchers have become smarter, many of old-type SEO techniques do not work well now. In fact, if we apply some of these techniques in 2020, these might hurt the website rather than optimizing it. So, what is important is that we apply SEO techniques that are natural and keep in mind searchers more than search engines.

We hear of frequent Google algorithm updates. What are the latest developments in this field?


What new developments the search engines, especially Google, carry out is anybody's guess unless they themselves announce a major update. However, there are some companies that spend hours daily in analyzing search data of different websites and then deciphering what Google might be secretly doing about search. Based on both these, these are the updates as of mid-2020:

  •     Google keeps updating its algorithms (=formulae) now and then. Such small changes can sometimes be done on daily basis! In a post in July 2019, Google shared that in the preceding one year, it had made 'more than 3200 small changes to its search systems'.
  •     Once in a while, Google comes with 'broadcore' algo updates, which are important and may upset a website's search ranking. Google's latest broad algorithm change came in May 2020.
  •     Google advises that website owners need not worry if their search volume suddenly goes down due to algorithm updates, unless the webmaster himself has taken undesirable SEO actions. Yet, many sites lose traffic badly when major updates take place.
  •     It is believed that other search engines follow Google and carry out their own algorithm changes now and then.
  •     Search engines now use machine learning and other artificial intelligence techniques for finding the exact intent of a search query (e.g whether it is for data, finding location, buying, comparing or something else) and serving the most relevant results. Google has announced that it now uses BERT, a natural language processing algorithm to find the intent of search queries better.
  •     Mobile search has gained priority. Google now tags its indexed pages also for mobile so that pages with mobile optimization are served when somebody searches on his mobile phone. In fact, it is stated that it is moving towards 'mobile first', giving desktops a back seat.
  •     Video and image are getting importance as web content, and search engines are finding ways to rank them high. Google has started showing videos on top of search pages.
  •     Search pages are now full of content that is not organic or naturally obtained. Advertisements or paid search results often come on top of search pages, and thus even the top organic search results come below paid content.

Do black-hat SEO techniques work?


Frankly, they work. But only some of them work and they work for a short time. They badly harm the website in the long run.

Please remember that all SEO is not natural; some of it is technical and most of it is forced. But that does not make it unethical. Good SEO is like advertising your website and its webpages to search engines. Problem comes when people take undesirable actions, e.g. fooling search engines into believing that a poor quality content is of very high quality. Such actions are called 'black-hat' SEO.

Google is known to slap penalties on websites when it finds them using black-hat techniques of SEO. It is reported that many SEO guys promise quick rise in search rankings through such techniques. One should not fall prey to their allurements. Even Google has itself said that attempts to instantly raise search ranking may lead one into trouble.  

Should I go for an SEO service? Will it quickly multiply my search traffic?


Part of this question has been answered in the previous reply: be wary when choosing someone who calls himself an 'SEO expert'. There are numerous fake SEO experts all around. In fact the Australian ombudsman on small businesses has recently called SEO 'a minefield of dodgy practitioners' and cautioned businesses against hiring SEO experts mindlessly.

When you do not know  the tricks of the trade, or you find some actions too technical and confusing, or you fear that a small wrong step might hurt your website, you can sure think of hiring an SEO expert. If you run the website for earning purposes and need a stream of traffic, the need is much more than when you run a personal/ hobby blog.

If you have time and inclination to learn, you can not only get answers to questions such as how to improve ranking on Google or use it for getting traffic and in turn make money and so on, but also master SEO by learning from the web or by taking an online course. You can also make use of free and paid tools, but do not get swayed by their jargon and the enormous data they generate. However, let me repeat again: in most situations, you need not go for SEO experts or paid SEO tools or mastering SEO. Being expert in your subject and trying to be useful and helpful to the reader, with a bit of simple SEO, can do wonders.

If you are not convinced about my advice, please go through this excellent Google answer to "Do You need an SEO?"

What top SEO strategy would you suggest to a blogger who is not too tech-savvy?


All major search engines advise web publishers to focus on quality of content and updating the content regularly. At the same time, at least some SEO techniques are essential because in the enormous crowd of websites, a blog/ website cannot come on top only on the strength of quality - it must apply some SEO techniques to show to the search engines that it is a website worth being shown on top of search results.

In fact, Google and Bing themselves suggest some technical actions that website owners should not ignore, e.g. relevant URL, title and description; proper site structure; use of ALT attribute with images; linking with authoritative references; proper use of keywords; and so on.  See answer to the next question for some specific SEO techniques that you need to apply. I will come out with a complete list of small but useful SEO techniques sometime later.

Despite what is said above, if you still feel that you need a regular stream of search traffic and you are not too tech-savvy, you can go for an SEO expert.  As mentioned above, be careful when choosing one.

Why is my blog not coming high in Google search results?


Many bloggers get frustrated when they find that their blog is not coming high in Google search results despite all their SEO efforts. If you are one of them, you might be wrongly taking one or the other action towards search engine optimization. For example, your content might be of poor quality, or it may be good but not useful. Your content may be of top quality but not relevant to what people are looking for.

Have you optimized your individual posts for visitors as well as search engines? For example: Have you given the post a great, interesting, heading and sub-divided text into sections with sub-headings? Have you added keywords in the post's URL, introduction, body, search description etc? Have you put alt attribute to images? Have you added a compelling description to the post? If you are on Wordpress, have you installed a SEO plugin (e.g. Yoast) and optimized the post according to its suggestions?

If your blog and posts do not come high in search pages in spite of all your efforts, look closely at the competition. You might be optimizing your posts for keywords that are highly competitive: what it means is that there may already be other web pages with very high authority and relevance for those keywords.

One mistake bloggers and website owners usually make is to try to optimize the website but not individual posts and pages. Google and other search engines show individual web pages more than websites when someone makes a search - so individual web pages need to be optimized. Page-level optimization helps greatly in improving relevance (while site-level optimization is more effective in improving authority).

Also remember that SEO has to be a continuous process; it is not done once in five years and then forgotten. You need not - and should not - go overboard with SEO but it always helps to optimize main posts when publishing them. Please also re-visit site-wide SEO once every 6-months or so.

Visit this link if you are interested in knowing the top SEO techniques that give results, without going for complex SEO tools and techniques. (Some points will look like repeats but that can't be helped because the basics of ethical and effective SEO remain the same.)

Google and Bing webmaster tools: are they good for SEO? 


Both Google Search Console and Bing Webmaster Tools are good as they give data on which keywords rank high, from where your site gets traffic, technical issues that might be hurting your website's SEO, etc. There are some good inbuilt tools for analytics as well optimization, and they give genuine and practical technical SEO tips. 

effective SEO techniques


Go for either of the two. Do not get bogged down with technicalities. Just see if your website has some serious issue and if your search graph is progressing positively. Take the actions that they suggest.


If you are attracted towards SEO tools available on the web, start with free and trial versions of one or two top SEO companies. Only after that should you take a final decision whether to buy one.

In general, you should not go for such tools, if

  •     You are a hobby blogger.
  •     You find that these SEO tools are complicated and useless.
  •     You do not have much technical expertise and you dislike technology.
  •     You already have an SEO expert by your side.

On the other hand, you can think of buying an SEO tool, if

  •     You have time for technical actions that SEO tools require.
  •     You do not hate doing technical work yourself.
  •     You do not want to spend money on hiring an SEO expert but would like SEO strongly implemented on your website.
  •     You find the available free SEO tools useful and think that you would have more options in the paid versions.

Types of web hosting and how to choose a web host that is best for your website?

You start a blog and put hard work on blogging. Soon you find that you need more web resources - space, bandwidth, security - and you look for a web host better than the one you have.

This happens often when the blogger buys a free or cheap web hosting plan and the blog grows faster than the blogger's expectations.

Not much is lost if you face this issue. Most web hosts these days are glad to upgrade the hosting plan for a fee, especially for cloud-based hosting plans. Yet, it is better to try projecting the blog's requirements for at least 2-3 years.

Choosing the web hosting plan that is best for your website or blog


Consider various factors that are relevant for your website/ blog, and then pick the web host that suits your needs. I discuss below some key points that many bloggers miss while looking at the numbers flaunted by web hosting companies to lure customers.

Note that most big web hosting companies have many plans, starting from cheap to very expensive ones, and their level of services may depend upon the money you pay for web hosting.

In web hosting business, big name is no guarantee but it helps.Generally speaking, big web hosting companies maintain a minimum acceptable standard of resources and services. Though many users complain on web hosting forums, that big web hosts don't bother about small bloggers/ website owners, going by my own experience and what I have seen on web hosting forums and chat groups, they are usually better than the web hosts offering you a re-seller plan at half the cost offered by the big company.

web hosting services

Different web hosting plans

Choose the web hosting plan after proper scrutiny of the web hosting services available in your area. Among plans, shared hosting is usually the best for bloggers and small website owners. These days, cloud based shared web hosting is very popular as it has the good points of both, the cloud hosting and shared hosting.

Let us discuss in brief different types of web hosting services/ plans. The following list is generic; different web hosts have their own plans, sometimes with features taken from more than one type of web hosting. 

Shared web hosting


In this type of web hosting, a server is shared by many users, and this option itself has many variations. This is good for users who don't want to spend a lot of money on web hosting plans and don't mind traffic and data transfer limitations of the shared plan. 

Reseller web hosting


This is perhaps the cheapest web hosting solution but I will not recommend it. In this type of web hosting, someone buys a bulky web hosting plan from a big company and then sells its resources in retail to others. In most cases, it fails on most parameters listed later in this article.

VPS web hosting


This gives the user an independent virtual space on the web hosting server. This plan is great for businesses that want more power than shared hosting, but don't want the much more costly dedicated web hosting. 

Dedicated web hosting


This web hosting plan is both powerful and pricey; it is reserved for sites that experience incredibly high levels of traffic per day. Bloggers and small businesses do not need this type of web hosting plan. 

Managed WordPress hosting


This web hosting plan is for those who want to build their sites on the back of the popular WordPress content management system (CMS), but don't want to bother with a lot of the back-end stuff (such as updating the apps and CMS, and enabling automatic backups). The web hosting company provides the necessary technical support.

Cloud web hosting


In this type of web hosting, you pay for only as much resources you use but is at present more expensive than shared web hosting. In fact, most big web hosting companies now provide cloud-based web hosting for all types of plans.

Cloud based shared web hosting is often the best web hosting plan for small businesses and bloggers whose business is growing. Being on the cloud, they can ask for bigger resources if they need in future. 

There can be a catch in any type of shared web hosting plan that you choose. The most basic shared web hosting plans are cheap but some web hosts start charging exorbitantly once you upgrade. Some companies are not discreet and allow all types of shady websites in their servers. If they do something fishy, that can hurt other websites/ blogs hosted on the same server. Some web hosting services carry too many websites on a single server, so when the traffic in some of them spikes, other sites are badly impacted.

Free web hosting


I will not recommend this type of web hosting for a professional/ business blog or website. If you are still interested, I have dealt with free web hosting in a separate article linked here.

When choosing a web hosting service, check server location


In olden times, you could buy hosting plans from only one location where the server of the web host was located - usually the US or Europe. Now most big guys have servers in many countries, at least one in each continent (except Antarctica, of course) - and they direct visitors to their country's office.

For example, if you are not located in the US and click on a link on a web host's advertisement appearing while you read this article, there are chances that the advertisement takes you to the web host's site meant for your country, and the rates might be better than what are seen on the ad. But if it takes you to the US or Germany while you are in South Africa or New Zealand, and visitors are also located near you, the distant location of server will be an issue. 

Other things being equal, go for a web hosting service available on a near-by server. Ideally, your web servers should be located near your audience so that the website/ blog opens fast. As site speed is a positive SEO signal, this also helps in search engine optimization of the website. In most cases, it is also more cost-effective to buy from a server in your location; it might also give you better customer service and in your native language.

In case you have shotlisted local service of an international web host, be doubly sure that the local web hosting provider is as good as the main web hosting company. Check online forums and review sites, make local inquiries and also call them up. Why I emphasize this is because I have seen many reports that sometimes big web hosts have unreliable franchisees or inefficient local units, especially in developing countries.

Web hosting review sites: should you trust them?


You will not be changing your blog/ website's web host again and again. Therefore, you should chose the best web hosting service that you can choose. Review and comparison sites can give important inputs for taking the decision. 

There are numerous websites that do web hosting comparison. You just have to use this expression on the searchbox and you will get a hundred. In addition, many blogs that deal with web hosting recommend a specific web host. I can't dispute the comparisons, reviews and recommendations but caution you that in many cases, these are colored; they have some commercial relationship with the web host they recommend. 

Do not go by the fancy 'star' ratings or '4.5 out of 5' type ratings given by review sites. They might do the ranking for a monetary consideration. Even comments on review sites and forums may be manipulated. 

How to compare different web hosting plans


There are many things you should look for in your web host and his web hosting plan. Based on your present and future requirement, you should go for a fairly good level so that you do not run out of them and pay heavily for upgradation.

Space is important. If you go for a small space, you will need to upgrade soon. If you will host losts of videos, the space will run out soon. Cloud based web hosting plans with automotic upgrades are good if you are likely to grow fast. 

Bandwidth is equally important. Low bandwidth means your site will hang when a large number of people visit your website simultaneously. Espceially if your website has some server-end calculation feature, the impact will be more. The same might happen if you have heavy resources that people will download.

Uptime. This is the time out of 100, for which your website will be available to visitors. Even the smallest web hosting services these days claim to have uptime of 99.9%. But this much uptime means, the site is likely to be down for 0.1 hour out of 100 hours or 10 minutes in a week. That may not be good for your site, so go for a higher number such as 99.9995.

All web hosting companies boast of a fantastic uptime, but many websites/ blogs suffer because web hosting companies do not abide by their commitment on uptime. This is one more reason I support big web hosting companies. Though there are reports of poor service when their servers sometimes go down or get slow, they still are the most reliable lot. Small, local, web hosts might have a problem here.  

Data backup. Does your web host back up your data regularly and provide the same to you?

Website security. Your website must have a basic level of security so that your data is not leaked and the users do not get 'insecure website' warning on their browsers. See whether the web hosting provider that you are selecting give you a free SSL certification? If not, how much does he charge you for a basic level of SSL security? Will he keep charging you year after year for that?

Control panels. The web host must equip you with control panels so that you can monitor the resources and perform some tasks to keep your website in good health. Not all web hosting providers are not equal in this. 

Hand-holding for setting up the website. It is quite likely that your website/ blog is created on Wordpress. If so, you do not need a website builder if the web host is giving you the website builder at a cost. Small businesses and all bloggers will seldom need a website builder that has features beyond what Wordpress CMS can give. If your blog is on Wordpress, try for Wordpress specific plan. It will make your life easy. 

If your website has been built on a website creation software, e.g. Wix, Weebly or Joomla CMS, check whether the web hosting company gives you the required hand-holding support. It should not happen that you buy the plan and then realize that hosting the website/ blog is creating issues and there is nobody in the web hosting company to give the basic technical support you need. 

Some web hosts have their own website-building software. That helps as it would be optimized for their resources, but it should not be poor in features as compared to Wordpress etc. If you want to open a simple personal website, perhaps you can consider this.  

Continued support. Some franchises and almost all resellers fail in this respect. However, even the big brands are known to be less responsive to small customers. Local search on the web and social media can help in a big way because people tend to share their negative experiences on the social media.

How to choose the right web host and plan: the final word

New bloggers and website owners often confuse whether to first see sites doing web hosting comparison or go by the brand name or look for inexpensive ones and then choose the best among them.

I will suggest the following sequence:
  1. Consider your present requiement and what will it be 2-3 years from now.
  2. Which plan you should go for: it will mostly be shared web hosting or shared cloud hosting. Decide what is the minimum level of hand-holding support, space, uptime, bandwidth, security, service level below which you will not go. Do you have the blog or website built on Wordpress or other website builder or CMS?
  3. What are the web hosting companies operating locally in my country (or city). Check on Google.
  4. What is the market reputation of the ones available locally: look at Google search, social media, forums, etc.
  5. If there is none available locally, go for international brands. Choose the web hosting provider that has a server near your client base. If none, go for any brand, but shortlist the best based on other factors.
  6. When you have shortlisted a few, see their plans and compare them. 
  7. Go to sites that do web hosting comparison. Do they help or confuse? If they do not help, leave out their inputs. 
  8. Finally compare web hosting plans of the best short-listed web hosts, for all parameters and cost. 

Blogger and Wordpress remain the best free blogging platforms

Of the hundreds of free and paid blogging sites available today, half a dozen are popular. Among them, Blogger and Wordpress remain the best platforms because they have so many features. But both do not suit everybody. This article answers all questions relating to their strengths and weaknesses and helps you to choose the right blogging platform for your needs.

BLOGGER VS WORDPRESS:  WHICH IS BETTER?

This question has been asked thousands of times and answered as many times. Yet, unless you look closely at their special features and also weaknesses, you do not get the right answer. In fact, there is no right answer because some find Wordpress better and some, Blogger. I will show these features and weaknesses to you so that you can decide which one is better for you.

Wordpress is the daddy of website/ blog creation: more than 30 percent of the world wide web is supposed to consist of websites and blogs created using this great software, and it is totally free. Mind it,

In the above paragraph, I used the word software, not platform. Wordpress software is NOT the Wordpress free blogging platform but the Wordpress CMS (=content management system) that is so much popular on the web. You can create beautiful blogs or websites with this software but you have to separately buy domain name for the website/ blog and host it on the web. This software or CMS is available at Wordpress.org.

The free blogging platform from the same organization is Wordpress.com, which is in competition with Blogger (=blogspot) platform. Wordpress.com is similar to Wordpress.org CMS in feel and is simpler to operate.

Let's compare similar products: Wordpress and Blogger FREE BLOGGING PLATFORMS. They are the biggest such platforms and there are other smaller ones such as Tumblr, LiveJournal and Medium. In addition, there are many blogging platforms and website platforms that are not free.

If you want to have a modern blog or website with many functionalities and earning streams, I will recommend Wordpress CMS. Before deciding on that, you may like to compare it with alternatives like Joomla, Wix and Google Sites. Once you have created the blog/ website through any of these CMSs, you will need to buy a domain name and host the website/ blog on a web host. Both will need to be renewed year after year on payment of domain/ hosting charges.

Let's come back to the two top free blogging platforms. Both these blogging platforms suit personal or hobby blogging well. On both, you can create a blog with just a few clicks. You can give your blog a name that you like and post as per your will (with some limitations, of course). You don't have to pay a penny to create and run the blog. As you will see below, Blogger allows you to customize the blog's looks and make money from the blog, free of cost - which Wordpress does not.

Let us see how they compare and which one you should go for:

WORDPRESS VS BLOGGER: the two major free blogging platforms compared

Advantages of Wordpress (free blogging platform)

  • Is simple to learn. Needs no technical knowledge.
  • A user can open many free blogs.
  • Gives clean and modern looks to the blog.
  • Is highly secure.
  • Has enough space for normal blogging.
  • Allows HTML tags in posts.
  • You can upgrade free plan to have more features.
  • Migration to Wordpress CMS is easy and smooth.
  • Since free Wordpress platform does not allow advertising, blogs are clean and more content-oriented.
  • Wordpress has introduced block-based editing (called Gutenberg editor), which makes it easy to format a part of post/ page.

Advantages of Blogger

  • The Blogger platform is very simple to learn and needs no technical knowledge at all.
  • A user can open many free blogs.
  • Has many free themes - some new ones are comparable to Wordpress, while some old ones are very simple.
  • Is highly secure.
  • Has enormous space available.
  • Mapping to independent domain is free.
  • Allows the blogger to tweak with the help of HTML/ CSS coding of posts as well as the core of the blog.
  • Integrates well with other Google utilities.

Wordpress free blogging platform: limitations

  • You cannot play with the code of the blog except some HTML in posts.
  • Space in the free plan is limited.
  • Free plan does not allow posting of videos.
  • Free or lower-end plans cannot have advertisements.
  • Though there are many plugins available (some are free) for additional functions and there are many more themes available on the web (many are free), these cannot be applied in the free or low-end plans.
  • Mapping to independent domain is not free and one has to pay fee annually to keep the mapping going.
  • It is not possible to create very high-end blog even with premium plans.
  • The free blog has a subordinate identity because its URL comes with .wordpress.com suffix. (However, you can go for an independent name, with paid plan/ paid mapping.)
  • Blog needs to follow the content, privacy and other policies of the platform.

Blogger free blogging site: limitations

  • Old themes look plain vanilla, which are not liked by many bloggers.
  • It is not possible to create very high-end blog (e.g. with ecommerce facilities).
  • The free blog has a subordinate identity because its URL comes with .blogspot.com suffix. (However, you can map it to an independent name, for free.)
  • Blog needs to follow the content, privacy and other policies of the platform.

  

WHICH IS THE BETTER BLOGGING PLATFORM out of Wordpress and Blogger?


You should have realized that both the platforms are equally good if you are OK with posting content, and don't bother about other frills. Both have a number of free widgets through which you can display many items such as popular posts, contact form, social buttons, categories of posts, feed, etc.

Blogger allows more flexibility than Wordpress, and you can customize the blog to a great extent if you know a bit of HTML and CSS - not very difficult web languages. You can post videos and even give your blog an independent domain name at no cost! There is another great advantage of Blogger over Wordpress is that you can put ads on the blog and that makes Blogger the best free blogging platform to  make money. Personally I like Blogger over Wordpress if I have to choose a blogging site for personal blog. I can even earn money from blogging on this platform.

wordpress vs blogger blogging platforms
Blogger and Wordpress have their own advantages.

However, many bloggers go for Wordpress as they fall in love with its subdued but pleasing basic themes. There is not much on offer in the free plan, but once a blogger is at ease with the free blog and later wants to go for an independent blog built on Wordpress CMS, he finds it easy to migrate. That is one big reason why people using Wordpress CMS recommend Wordpress as a blogging platform.

To be fair to Wordpress.com, it gives you a lot more features if you are prepared to shell out some money, because then you are allowed to use third-party themes and plugins. Plugins are bits of additional code and can bring in a range of functionalities to the blog.

Final answer to 'Which blogging site should I choose?'


- For personal blogging, both are equally good. Both also are good for beginners who do not know much about blogging. Open blogs on both, test them and stick with the one that you like. Remember that you will not be able to post videos (as of now) and advertisements on free Wordpress blog. Also note that if you want to make money from blogging but want to open a blog on a FREE blogging platform, you will have to choose Blogger.

- For low level professional blogging (e.g. opening a blog on which you would write only about photography, accounts, legal aspects, etc), and if you think it may become a big blog over time, you can think of both. Test them and stick to the one that you like. However, I would recommend Wordpress.org, i.e. Wordpress CMS.

- For high end professional blogging or business blogging, don't go for a free platform. Create a blog/ website using Wordpress.org CMS (or choose any other CMS or website builder if you want the website to look like standard websites and not like a blog).