Guest articles on blogs

It is about a year back when we thought of publishing guest articles on Indian Top Blogs. We published a post about it, and we did receive many articles from genuine bloggers. Together with them came a stream of unsolicited requests for guest articles, telling us how professional the writer is and how great the information would be. Some even sent sample articles. Some offered to give us back-links in their other articles etc. To be honest, some of these articles were of good quality, but we were slightly alarmed by the overwhelming response. We analysed the offers. We also Googled for information and discussions on guest articles. We sought opinions. Finally we felt that we needed more time to decide about accepting guest articles on ITB. This put a temporary, and then final, stop to our accepting guest articles. 

We have no regrets except that we could not accommodate a few quality articles sent by genuine bloggers. Our caution, especially in respect of unsolicited ones, is what Google subsequently made us wiser about.

Google now suspects guest articles 

In an article two months back, Matt Cutts, Google Webspam team head, wrote on his blog, "Given how spammy it’s become, I’d expect Google’s webspam team to take a pretty dim view of guest blogging going forward." 

So, to our blogger friends, we'd suggest as Matt Cutts does, to be cautious when someone approaches you with an offer of guest article. Though guest blogging could be fine as a way to express oneself on another person's blog and get audience for one's thoughts, it is not OK as part of one's link-building strategy. 

lifeofpri

Nostalgic Moments

"The blog is a chronicle of the times...a log of the life of Pri as today turns into yesterday -- the world through the eyes of a silent spectator viewing this slideshow with the aim of exchanging learning notes with fellow cohorts in this fascinating journey.

As she travels this thin line between reality and fiction, her mind meanders only to find peace in this repository of unhinged thoughts, reflective fiction and retrospective ramblings, so that somewhere down the years, as life goes by, she can turn back to read her 'yesterday' and smile as these nostalgic moments brush her by."
- Pri

Most useful widgets for blogs

Long ago, we published a post on using widgets / gadgets on blogs, and it is one of the most popular posts on ITB. To supplement that, we give here some ideas about which widgets go with which types of blogs.

The following widgets look fine on most types of blogs, if used imaginatively and without cluttering the blog with too many and too gaudy ones: blogroll of blogs / websites that have related content; social media sharing buttons / stats; archives; label list; best content on the blog [e.g. most popular posts]; pages [to be displayed in a menu bar or as a sidebar widget]; profile; search box; contact / subscription form [if in simple design]

In addition, different types of blogs can benefit from relevant widgets as suggested below:
  • Blogs on political and social happenings [current affairs]: news feed; latest comments; poll
  • Travel blogs: currency converter; distance measurement; map; weather; slideshow; world time; translation 
  • Blogs on photography, history, culture, fashion and beauty: slideshow or random posts [=photos]
  • Food blogs: slideshow / video roll; latest posts [=recipes]; weight converter; health stat calculators [e.g. BMI calculator]
  • Finance and economy: Financial calculators; news feed
  • Literature: lists [e.g. books, authors]

We are not sure of the usefulness of some of the following widgets the way these are put on many blogs:
  • translation [Unless the widget does a good job of translation, the translation could be a negative.]
  • stat-counter / followers' thumbnail cloud / current visitors [This is mostly a show off; doesn't give much value to the blog. Can be a networking prop if properly used.]
  • latest comments [Unless you value comments so so much!]
  • label cloud [Labels come out better in a list, but cloud can be a good way to project a very few things over numerous others.]
  • calendar [Today's date, OK. Archives in a calendar, OK. But a calendar for dates' sake, not very valuable.]
  • quote / joke of the day [Avoidable unless your theme really needs it, e.g. quotes from the bible on a Christian blog.]
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A final word: We have been talking about what is desirable on a blog. But there are times when you should listen to your heart more than your brain. If something charms you and you want it to be on your blog, do have it there. Especially if it is a purely personal blog on which you put everything that you like. Don't bother about logic. Just do it!

Indian elections: social media and the voter

In 2012 Presidential Elections in the US, Barack Obama is supposed to have used social media effectively to his advantage. It helped him connect with people, the argument goes.

Now that the world’s largest democracy goes to polls, the role of social media in influencing elections has often been debated in media circles, the Indian press and on the social media itself.

Hype beyond substance?

Do look at some facts that relate to the likely impact of social media in India. 

  • About 80 million Indians, possibly a third of them non-voters, are supposed to visit social media: this in a country with 820 million voters. 
  • A study has shown that social media might play an important, decisive, role in about 160 parliamentary constituencies. In these constituencies the number of social media users is sizeable, even more than the winning margin in the last election. 
  • Another recent study has found that people on social media can result in 3-4% swing of votes in a number of constituencies across India. Psephologists aver that this much swing is very significant in India where there are multi-cornered contests and winners generally win by a small margin of votes. 
  • Another survey hints at a big impact of social media in cities where about 37% of voters are online.
  • The leading Indian politicians have social media engagement numbers running into millions [e.g. @NarendraModi fans on Twitter: 3.54 million; AAP Facebook fans: 1.67 million]

Also look at these recent newspaper headlines in major Indian papers: 

  • India’s first social media elections
  • Political wars will be fought on Facebook this time 
  • Social media to influence elections in a big way; politicians worried.  

Do you believe in such premises? Not us. 

Making money from a food blog

ITB sent a detailed questionnaire to a dozen food bloggers whose food blogs have found place in the Directory of Best Indian Blogs and also to a couple of foreign food bloggers. Some kindly responded, three gave some information in confidence, one wanted only an audio session, two promised but failed to reply to specific questions and some ignored us. 
The present post is based on our research of the web on food blogging and the responses we received.

We tried to find how food bloggers make blogs, how much money they make from the blog, and what good practices they adopt. We’ve also tried to assess whether globally food bloggers have as many avenues to make money as their US / European counterparts.

HOW DO FOOD BLOGGERS MAKE AND MAINTAIN THE BLOG?

Well-known food bloggers all build blogs as independent websites and put them on an independent web host. Yes, some bloggers on wordpress.com and blogspot.com do have well maintained blogs, but their growth seems to have remained subdued due to constraints of free blogging. 

IS MONEY THE PRIMARY CONCERN OF FOOD BLOGGERS?

Almost all food bloggers do monetize the blog to different degrees, but almost most seem to have started it as a hobby, or when a housewife was looking for an engaging activity, or when someone wanted to show to the world her culinary skills. A few established food blog were also started by professional dietitians and chefs as supplements to their profession or to their main website.

Interestingly, many food bloggers prefer to call themselves hobby bloggers even though they are well established and earn good money. Some have told us, blogging has added to their popularity, self-esteem and social recognition, and they value these more than dollars that they earn from the blog.

WHETHER FOOD BLOGGERS MAKE ENOUGH MONEY?

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Audacity, an enormous audio editing software

Most of us need to record and download sounds – songs, cultural performances, speeches, audio instructions, religious discourse, mantras, etc – which is not of the perfect quality and needs tweaking. Sometimes we need to compose / edit / mix audio for special effects, new ringtone, jingle, background music and so on. 

Bloggers often need to put audio in their blogs. Audio is especially important for bloggers who post ‘podcasts’ on their blogs. Indian bloggers, used to film and devotional music, often share their favourite audio through blogs and other social media (e.g Facebook) accounts. 

Audacity is a simple yet powerul audio recording and editing program. It has numerous effects to enhance the basic audio. You can cut, chop, copy, merge, mix, and do many other operations. You can import and export audio in many formats. On top of it, it is completely free. 

Audacity is very easy to learn, mostly intuitively. A detailed manual, many tutorials and a helful forum come handy to learn advanced features.

Indian Top Blogs does not have any commercial dealings with the producers or distributors of the program recommended on the website.

Facebook and Twitter: started losing charm?

Two interesting charts to share this week on the fall of the most popular social networking sites, Twitter and Facebook. ITB, like other social media observers, have been seeing it happen: it is impossible for trend-setters, however smart they may be, to maintain the speed of growth forever. No-brainer, yes. But it still needs a statistical proof to get validated.

The first graph shows that though Facebook's usage has been rising, it is now getting less popular among the younger people. Not only in percentage terms but real numbers and that is what is important. Once this starts happening, things tend to slide down pretty fast. Remember Orkut?



The second graph shows that the number of users of Twitter's is getting flatter quarter after quarter.


Both these graphs have been taken from Statista