5 habits for success in blogging

People start blogging under a variety of influences and with a variety of goals. Whatever the initial provocation, majority of bloggers either quit blogging altogether or reduce it  significantly. Some do so in six months, some in a year. Only about twenty percent of bloggers persist with blogging beyond a year.

Yet at any given time, the number of bloggers and blogs is quite large: it includes a large number of those who are waiting to fall into low or no activity.

There are two main reasons for frustration or boredom with blogging: One is that most of us bloggers take up this activity as a hobby; so when its initial charm recedes, we find it dull. Another big reason is that we expect too much from blogging in terms of popularity and/or money. When it does not happen, we take it as a waste of time.

As we elaborated in this post on the love of blogging, one can gain a lot by way of professional reputation, expertise, personal growth, self-realisation, promotion of one's products, money, and so on, if we take up blogging seriously and systematically. Here we give a check-list for bloggers, which they should refer once in a while to ensure that they are in the right path.
Have you defined a goal for your blogs? 

Just 5 blogging habits that will give your blog a long, purposeful, life

Indian Top Blogs. Talking about ourselves.

Once in a year or so, we indulge in self-talk. Bear with us, friends, as we need to tell about our changed priorities. Hope, we are able to serve you and the blog-world better.

Now that we have some comparatively free time, we will furiously clear the backlog of detailed review of blogs. Hope, we are able to resume this highly appreciated activity next year.

We have been publishing blog-showcase for some time now. We need to clean the list by looking at old entries. We intend to remove blogs that have not maintained good standards of blogging in the last one year. In future, we are going to be more choosy about which blogs to showcase. We are also going to showcase good discussions and blog-posts more than blogs per se.

A friend has asked whether we intend to upgrade ITB to a higher level. Another well-wisher wants us to monetise it aggressively and offer paid reviews. At present, we are happy with the little way we are able to contribute to the blogosphere. In fact, we'd like a low-profile, high-content lifestyle for ITB with the exception that we'd allow our teammate, Prabhakar, to contribute more on social media by way of discussions and comments - of course, depending on the time he can spare.

We have published some posts on free software and tools. We will keep doing so. We also intend to offer some stock photographs and other types of images for free use by bloggers.

Facebook friends: fake smiles?

A survey conducted in the United Kingdom reveals that one out of three Facebook account holders don't feel too friendly in real life about their virtual friends! Yet, guys who admit not liking their Facebook friends won't delete them from their 'friends list' because they want to keep updated about such people or they are scared to unfriend them.

Why bloggers must have a Facebook or Google Plus account?

Let your blog and social network complement each other

We would advise active bloggers to necessarily have a Facebook / Google Plus account.  Conversely, active Facebook / Google Plus account holders must have a blog.
Why, you might ask.

Well, serious bloggers should legitimately expect that more and more people look at their content. It is more so, in the case of bloggers who want to promote their personal products [e.g. book, research papers]  or monetize the blog by carrying others’ advertisements. For them, just having a blog will not get good amount of traffic unless they are seen by more people. Though SEO and having an offline community helps, there is no substitute for traffic coming from social networks.

People who are active on social networks such as Facebook, Orkut, Google Plus and Twitter need a strong knowledge and resource base so that their visitors take them and their content seriously. Nothing beats a well maintained blog. No social network site matches blogs in this respect, though some platforms have tried to mingle the two [e.g. Tumblr].

Manually carry info across web platforms

Common web design issues in Hindi blogs हिंदी ब्लॉग डिज़ाइन में खामियां

updated in October 2018

We have talked in detail in the linked post about the peculiarities of Hindi blogging and Hindi bloggers. In the present one, we'd share some very common web design and readability problems we found on Hindi blogs. 

We feel bad when we find that many Hindi bloggers ignore some very elementary web design aspects and it makes their blogs shabby, unprofessional, kiddish, unreadable... sometimes even ugly and irritating. 

It is ironical that many young ones who start their blogs in Hindi to earn from the blog do not have good appreciation of design concepts. They feel that their blogging would succeed on the strength of search engine optimization (SEO) tricks that they learn from others, and some of them succeed too. We would advise bloggers who want to make an earning from blogging in Hindi not to go for such shortcuts. SEO is useful and desirable, but when the blog is rich in content and good in design.

Let us show some common web design and readability issues by real examples. We have, however, masked the blogs' identity by smudging, blurring or shading some parts. We have given links to posts on ITB on related aspects.

Hindi blogging

A. The first image has screen shots of two blogs. The main shot shows a large number of elements all around with hardly much real content. The inset is a blog in which the opening screen has a huge photo and the link to main blog is hidden at the bottom - and this is not a photoblog.

ITB's view: Don't clutter the blog. Give prominence to the main content. Show up the best or the most current content in the top 10 inches of the blog.
For advice on these matters, you can visit these ITB references: 

B. In the image below, the top screen shot is a post supposed to be in Hindi but when it was posted by the blogger on the blog in native font, it became abracadabra. The lower [red] text is a part of the huge label list at the bottom of a blog. The text [blue] in the right column is a portion of a massive label list in a sidebar.

Hindi blog design
ITB's view: In Hindi blogs, use Hindi in Devnagri script and in Unicode font, not Roman script or native fonts. Use labels wisely; when the label list is too big, it not only loses its utility it badly clutters the blog.

ITB detailed tips on using labels/ tags/ categories: use labels effectively   

C. Have a look at the screen shots of text as it appears on two blogs. These shots show spelling errors or matra issues, indicated with arrows.

Blogging in Hindi

ITB's view: Before you push the 'publish' button for a post, have a final look at grammar, punctuation [especially the usage of ending marks and indentation] and matras [especially कि/ की and bindu as in है/ हैं ].

Hindi blog designs

D. The next image is a collage of four columns taken from different Hindi blogs. Note the first one: it has a thin columns that cannot even list the month-wise archives properly. There is a widget under it [a red arrow pointing at it], which does not open as it cannot be accommodated in the column. In the second one, the sidebar is comparatively wider but is so much filled with text that you cannot comfortably read it. The third shot [dirty yellow] has a sidebar hanging beyond the main content and the blog's bottom is full of badges and an empty looking social widget. The fourth one has enormous blank space [grey] and a few links and widgets scattered here and there. 

ITB's view: We have seen very long and thin sidebars in a large number of Hindi blogs, including those listed in the Directory of Best Hindi Blogs. Sometimes the sidebar hangs down much beyond the main content. We advise that you keep a decent width to the sidebar(s) and keep only those widgets in the sidebar which add value to your blog. Do not over-stuff the sidebar(s) with text and long lists.
Many bloggers stuff long text and long lists, blogrolls, badges etc in the sidebar which makes the blog look unkempt and childish. Widgets that do not open or go beyond the sidebar also spoil the looks. Blog's bottom is not a sink or dustbin; it should be kept neat and clean, and it should be used purposefully. 
ITB reference on good use of widgets/ plugins: using widgets with impact  

top Hindi blogs designs
E. This collage has three parts. The top left screen shows a huge popup covering the entire page. The rectangle below it shows a post that is an image of the blogger's article published in a magazine, which is not readable. The third shot, in blue, is an example of (i) text that is unreadable due to poor contrast between the text and the background (i.e. black text on dark blue background), and (ii) long sidebar that goes on and on. 

ITB's view: Pop-ups are OK if they serve a purpose, for example, asking the visitor for some action that will help him in some ways. Even there, pop-ups should not be too big and should go away if the visitor does not take any action in 5 seconds or so. 

Use scanned images for text only when it is unavoidable. 

Hindi blogs
F. The collage above has four screen shots. Look at the readability of each of these portions: light blue text on green; black on blue; light text on background that has text and also nearly the same color value as that of the text; and [at the right bottom] text and background of almost similar color.

ITB's view: Text is there to be read, so do not ignore text color in relation to the color of the background. Avoid experimenting too much with text coloration. [More on this after image 'G'.]

ITB has a detailed post with tips on how to choose text color for blogs and websites: taking care of text color  

  G. This picture is even more interesting when it comes to reading and use of text colors. Look at the top pink bar and notice how the text becomes unreadable because of wrong choice of colors. In the two left columns, do you notice the use of bright green, pink, cyan, orange and yellow colors? 

Design Hindi blogs

Have a look at the Chrome warning. Your visitors are likely to get such warnings if you put on your blog links and widgets that have malicious code. Will a visitor getting such an alert visit your blog again?

ITB's view: Let us repeat that being playful with colors is OK, but we should not take too much liberty with TEXT colors. Whether in text or otherwise, avoid using garish colors, especially the primary colors - red, green, yellow and blue. In blogs and websites that has a large amount of text content, one should use a sober color scheme in which text is eminently readable. 

Text should also not attract attention to its looks such as curious font, variations in text size, and too bright and gaudy colors.

We have a detailed post telling us how much is too much when using colors on blogs/ websites: when a blog is too gaudy.

Well, we have talked recently about the risk of putting malicious code on the blog. This is not a design issue but we put it here to illustrate that widgets must be chosen with care. You can visit this ITB references if interested in knowing about bad code that can hurt your blog: beware of harmful code     

Other annoying issues we found on Hindi blogs: 
  • Use of too small or too big text.
  • Too big footers after each post, giving details of other blogs of the same blogger etc.
  • Use of photos of sizes that are too smaller or bigger than the width of the column in which they are put.
  • Childish use of text inside title images.

यह पोस्ट अंग्रेजी में है, लेकिन चूंकि ज़्यादातर बातें चित्रों के माध्यम से समझायी गयी हैं, हमें आशा है कि हिंदी के ब्लॉगर्स उनका लाभ उठा सकेंगे. हिंदी के बारे में बड़ी पोस्टें हिंदी में नहीं लिख पाने के लिए हम क्षमा चाहते हैं.

10 tips for high blog authority

If you are a university student, which book would you read – the one recommended by a learned professor or the one you can get cheap from a second-hand book seller? Whose advice would you take for buying a sophisticated gadget – a gadget-guru or a grandpa? 

The short point we are trying to make here is that you seek advice from those with authority on the subject in question. You respect opinion of those you trust.

This applies also to website / blog visitors. If you have a blog with a high perceived authority on a subject, say, ‘water purification’, your blog will be listed high on major search engines and more people will discover it while searching for this subject. And if your content is authoritative and useful, they will visit your blog again and again and recommend it to others. The blog’s authority is likely to rise over time not only because you will continue to enrich it but also because more people will promote it on the web and perhaps in the real world too.

Now don’t tell us, you don’t care for your blog’s reputation. If that were the case, you would not be blogging at all or keeping your blog private to yourself. You might not be blogging to make money out of it, but you still need appreciation, audience, social engagement and feedback. No? And if money making is your primary aim for blogging, you cannot live without high authority.

What we are discussing here is NOT how to add a thousand visitors a day or get the top place in search pages. We are advising that you make your blog valuable; number of visitors will go up without asking for that. In any case, if you are after numbers, we have a question to you: do you want a crowd of casual visitors or people who care for what you say? What type of visitors will give you correct feedback and [if you keep the blog for business] buy your product?

What adds value and authority to a blog?