A blog post of significance: from Narendra Modi

updated in September 2018
 
In our series of blogs of significance, we bring to you the blog Narendra Modi, arguably the most talked about political leader in India today. For those not well-versed with Indian political affairs: He is the prime minister of India since May 2014 and has taken many bold decisions and started path-breaking social and economic schemes in India.
Narendra Modi post on Gujarat riots 
Narendra Modi's blog is a prominent Indian blogging site with high web reputation. It receives thousands of visits every day though he has many official sites as the prime minister of India. 

The blog was earlier a simple blog with no finery but has now been made into sort of portal. 

Modi does not talk to the press by way of press conferences as earlier prime ministers used to - sometimes with disastrous results. He uses his Twitter handle @narendramodi for immediate communication. On the blog, Modi puts his thoughts in detail on various governance and political matters.

In the post for which we chose his blog for showcase way back in December 2013, he had emotionally responded to the court verdict in 2002 Gujarat communal riots case. Just to recall, Modi was accused by his legal and political opponents for having acted on the rioters' side, and the opposition leaders keep hammering on this even sixteen years after the episode.

Two updates on SEO and Google’s search capabilities

1. Well, if you as a blogger, have regularly been watching the growth of your Google PageRank, you might have noticed that it remained constant or even dipped by a notch [in case it had 3 or higher PR] in the last 9-10 months. We have seen this happening with many blogs in our database. So, reports that Google has started giving PR a lesser importance in search results seem to be true. A report recently appeared that Google has updated the PR in December. Chances are that if your posting and linking habits have remained constant, your blog might have shown a lower ranking.

But, isn’t that a piece of good news for bloggers who concentrate on sharing good content rather than on link-building and excessive SEO?

Fashion Blogging: Look at 7 hard realities before you jump

It goes without saying that if you want to succeed as a blogger - whether in beauty or fashion or other niches - you will need to act professionally and take blogging as business rather than hobby. It is also expected that you are choosing the fashion niche for blogging because you are passionate about fashion, you love looking beautiful and you keep yourself  updated on fashion trends.

Though blogging into beauty and fashion looks easy - especially to beautiful ladies - fashion blogging poses many challenges born out of very high competition form brands, retailers, fashion magazines and websites, and established bloggers. 

fashion blogging for earning money
It is not that you cannot succeed if you are starting a fashion blog now. You can indeed succeed very well. However, for that you should take the right steps and also be aware of the challenges so that you can tackle them effectively. This post is devoted to these challenges and how to overcome them.

1. You'll need to be one step ahead of competition by being up-to-date on new fashion and lifestyle trends, new products, changing consumer preferences and so on.

Just browsing the net does not take you too far because all fashion bloggers do that. If you want to be one step ahead of them, you must regularly visit fashion events and product launches, read fashion magazines and develop the art to catch early signals from everywhere. Of course, make it a habit of regularly browsing prominent fashion websites. Go to Google and subscribe to Alerts so that you get a regular dose of posts on your email. 

You can safely ignore this advice if your blog is on fashion in ancient Egypt or India!

2. Fashion by its very nature needs celebrity endorsement. Do you have celebrities in your pocket?

The celebrity could be a socialite, a film personality, a brand ambassador, a top model or a top fashion designer herself. 

As a fashion blogger, you must have connections with celebrities. It greatly helps when you get a quote from them, are able to interview them, get a preview of their next appearance, and get a back-link to your blog from their websites/ blogs. 

3. Are you a known expert or celebrity in your niche? 

best fashion blogs need passion
If not, you are at a disadvantage as compared to celebrities who are keen to occupy social media space themselves. 

Moreover, if you are not an established face in the fashion industry, people will ignore you and not take your content on face value.

If you intend to offer advice, do you have a degree / certificate in that area?

Writing well
and networking are not sufficient for beating the competition in the long run because you will always have to be on your toes to come to the level of the established ones. You must get a label of expert as soon as you can, so that you have a minimum level of traffic and following from people wanting to hear you. 

Being a real expert in your field is of paramount importance. If you do not have a degree that is valued in your branch of fashion, grab that. If you can confidently put your view on something big, or able to predict future trends correctly, such things give a big boost to your image. When you give honest opinions on products and services, people start trusting and following you.

Since you are in a show business, you also need to be seen as an expert. So, showcase your greatest achievements. Be seen in a big action, e.g. participating in a big event, becoming a brand ambassador or being on a jury, people take you as an important person.

4. There are advantages of having a good domain and hosting it on an independent web host. But top domain names are already taken and good web hosting costs money. 

Do not be satisfied with a domain name that does not represent your passion and your strengths. Do not go for one that will become restrictive when the blog has grown to a higher level. 

After you have taken the domain name, give the blog a very attractive title. This is totally in your hand, and can compensate for a not-so-good domain name.

The other challenge is to spend money on web hosting even when the blog has not started earning. Yes, that is the reality. If you go for a poor web host, you may suffer later. So, go for a good web host; initially buy a shared plan and when the blog starts getting traffic and you want to introduce new features on the blog, upgrade to a more premium plan. 
fashion blog on children
5. Like it or not, you will need to invest on technology and SEO.

Blogging with the goal of earning money needs solid technical base and search engine optimization. Many bloggers ignore them. On the other hand, some bloggers go overboard and fall into the trap of unethical techies or fake professionals promising the moon.

Have a solid website, created on Wordpress or some other CMS. Consider design as an important aspect of the blog. Apply an appealing, modern and optimized theme. Make the blog responsive to mobile browsing.

However good a blog may be, it needs to be served before people. SEO and social media are two prime ways we attract traffic to the blog. If search engine optimization and technology are too much bother for you, hire a techie who is down to earth and not too experimental. But ask him to take only ethical actions. 

You may like to visit this ITB post: how to create a beauty/ fashion blog [and make it fantastic!]

6. You must be good at social media management. Most bloggers fail at it even if they have amassed a large number of followers [by mutual follow-unfollow or outright purchase]. For many, social networking and sharing end up draining their energies and time.

Choose the social network carefully. Go for just one or two. Instagram and Pinterest suit fashion, beauty and lifestyle blogging more than other platforms. Have a plan and a strategy to make the best use of these platforms. Apportion time to social networking and sharing. Use automation software to post on social networks. Frequently analyze how well or badly a particular platform is sending traffic to your blog and resulting in useful engagement.

7. Patience is the biggest asset to have, but is is in short supply among bloggers, especially when things do not happen as planned.    

New fashion bloggers often turn impatient when they do not earn money from blogging, more so when they started the blog with a bang and spent a lot of money on making the blog, buying equipment etc. 

Keep working according to a well-thought-after plan. If that does not seem to work, analyze and change the weak areas. Take advice from fellow bloggers and experts, and apply that carefully. 

Patience is required even when things work fine, because the niche is too crowded. Technological developments or change in policies by different platforms sometimes create havoc (Remember Google Panda algorithm and Facebook page-view changes?). Also because people's opinions might change suddenly and what you had been advocating might go out of fashion. 

These challenges are not posted here to frighten you. These are like good friends that caution you against pitfalls. You should visit them now and then, take corrective actions and move forward.

All the best!
updated in October 2018

Creating, reading and modifiying PDF files

In our series on sharing web utilities and computer tips with bloggers and other visitors, we bring you free programs to handle PDF related jobs. The utilities we recommend here are free.

Before coming to the tips, let's spend a para on PDF itself. PDF [=portable document format] files are a special category of files that are intended to be viewed across platforms in the same format in which these were created. So, this is a preferred file type when you want to share a final presentation, report etc with others. Though a PDF document is like a printed copy of the the document, and behaves like an image, its content can be extracted and a number of edits can be done on the document itself. More complex PDF documents are interactive [e.g. forms, buttons, links] in different ways. PDFs are superbly scalable and have very high fidelity, and so are used by designers and printers.


READING A PDF FILE

There are a number of programs that can read a PDF file. In many cases, the Adobe PDF Reader comes bundled with the computer / laptop but is quite resource heavy. This and many other such programs take a lot of  RAM and slow down the computer. After testing numerous such programs, we find that the free version of Foxit Reader (as of 2013 end) is one of the most handy and light-weight PDF opening program. In addition, it allows you to make some edits, highlight text, put markings and so on. 

We suggest that you configure your web-browser not to read a PDF file when you click on it. Instead, download the file and open it with Foxit or whichever program you like to use.


WORKING ON A PDF FILE

If you need to often put a bit of text [=annotation] on a PDF file or put some markings / highlights  etc on it, PDF Exchange Viewer is an excellent program, better than Foxit in some ways. But we'd rather prefer Foxit for just opening files because that is lighter on computer memory. 


EXTRACTING TEXT FROM A PDF FILE

Almost all PDF readers now have an option to extract text from PDF files [only if the text appearing on the PDF had been saved as text and not image]. A number of PDF-to-DOC converters are available on the web. But we found that Zamzaar's online PDF to DOC conversion gives you the best results [Btw, this website has facility for file conversion in many other formats]. 

CREATING A PDF FILE

New versions of major document processors including MS Office and OpenOffice come with the option to save document files in PDF format. There are a number of standalone PDF writers that use the print command to create a PDF file, and we find Primo PDF among the best. When you install it on your computer, it sits there as a printer. You can print any document or almost any other type of file into a PDF file by selecting Primo PDF from the print menu of any program.

ITB has no commercial dealings with the creators or distributors of the programs recommended here. We also advise that you do not download extra programs that sometimes come bundled with the main program, unless you are sure that you need them. There are a few free programs with greater functionalities, such as splitting and merging PDF files, OCR etc but we found them with malicious content or untested bundled programs and so are not recommending them.

Should I submit to blog directories?

We got an email this week, reading like this: I have a blog where I am putting everything that I like, mostly music, children and travel, to different places within my state. Can you advise if I should submit my blog to directories. My friend suggested four good ones and I checked them and they are fine. Are Indian directories OK?

We replied to the lady by email, and then thought we need to expand the subject and write a post on ITB.


WHY SHOULD I SUBMIT MY BLOG TO DIRECTORIES?

  • Of course you want to be discovered by others. This is more significant (i) if your blog is on a particular subject and (ii) if you want to make money out of it. For example, a blog on a research topic, photography, cooking...
  • You want traffic. All bloggers want traffic unless someone wants to keep the blog hidden for a purpose.


PLACES ON THE WEB, WHICH TAKE SUBMISSIONS

.BLOG domain coming, wanna go for it?

A new set of domain suffixes are being made available  by the international body for this purpose (ICANN). .blog is one such domain name extension. Called gTLDs or generic top level domains (common examples: .com, .net, .org),  these represent the broad category to which a website belongs.

A large number of registrars have started pre-registering .blog domain names. Pre-registration is free and non-binding; but it does not guarantee availability of that name. If you are interested in a specific domain name and that name is not available with.com or such other popular extension, you can consider going for .blog. Or, you might like to have an additional extension. If you are new to this subject, you might like to see our earlier post on why you should have your own domain name

It is not that once with a a .blog URL, your blog will get a great boost in terms of popularity and authority. It may happen or it may not, depending on factors such as whether searchers look for your type of content among blogs. But it will definitely help in people easily recalling your blog if you choose the URL with some thought. It will also help you if you feel that .com and other currently available extensions do not represent the type of blogging website you maintain.