Updates: Social media impact on emotions, Instagram's growth and Vietnamese bloggers' plight

Is social media that bad for mental health?

There have been many studies in the last few years on the impact of social media on users' emotional well being. We have carried a number of such reports earlier on ITB. These have generally linked social media use with depression, envy, eating disorders, even a tendency to contribute less to charity.

This latest review of research literature (pdf link here, prone to break in future) on social media's relation with depression is non-committal. It says, the impact of online social networking on well being may be both positive and negative and that the relationship of social media and emotions may be very complex and influenced by many factors.

There comes another study (pdf link: might be lost in future) that finds that quitting Facebook for a week results in emotional well being: ...our life satisfaction increases and our emotions become more positive. Furthermore, it was demonstrated that these effects were significantly greater for heavy Facebook users, passive Facebook users, and users who tend to envy others on Facebook.

Modi most popular world leader?

Though Donald Trump was declared the Man of the Year for 2016 by Time magazine, Indian Prime Minister Narendra Modi beat all other popular figures by a huge margin in Time readers' poll.  

Time editors' perception mattered more than readers, and a person shaking American politics looked much bigger than one shaking a remote nation and being voted so overwhelmingly by Time readers. For record, of all the votes cast by Time readers, over 18% were bagged by Modi while Obama, Trump and Julian Assange got 7% votes each.

Instagram has 600 million monthly active users and is growing faster!  

After an algorithmic feed change earlier, Instagram had been drawing flak but it seems that the trick has finally been liked by the social media community. 

Just to recall, Instagram, in June, replaced its feed that used to be reverse chronological (latest on top) as in the case of other social platforms, with a feed based on one's preferences.

Of course, Instagram has made a number of other experiments and offered new features in 2016. All these have resulted in a fast growth; the latest 100 million have been added in just six months! 

Bloggers are having a tough time in Vietnam

This week, the Vietnamese government has detained a blogger for posting a large number of videos on Facebook and YouTube.

The videos posted by Nguyen Danh Dung have been  found 'hostile' by the authorities, and 'abusing democratic freedoms'.  

Quynh's this post on her FB page greatly offended govt
Two months back, a prominent blogger Nguyen Ngoc Nhu Quynh had been arrested on a similar charge. This lady blogger, Mother Mushroom, criticizes the government over human rights violations and corruption.

Interestingly, Quynh started as a mom blogger (MeNam - her pen name is adopted from her daughter's pet name, Nam, meaning mushroom) but soon started writing on social topics and became a force to recon with in the Vietnamese social media.

10 practical and proven blogging tips that will succeed in 2017

If you are a new blogger who has started blogging in later part of 2016 or will open a blog in 2017, you might have looked on the web for tips for new bloggers. Of all tips that you see, many would have become ineffective, if not totally irrelevant, if the tip-giver has not updated his advice.

We bring you a list of top tips that are effective as of 2017.

Take the right steps and succeed as a blogger!
1. Free blogs on Blogger and Wordpress (not blogs created using wordpress.org CMS) rule the blogosphere. 

You might have found some [successful] bloggers advising that you must buy a hosting plan to succeed as a blogger. They are saying this mostly because they have affiliation with some web hosting company/ domain registrar. The fact is that almost all hobby/ personal blogs and many well-monetized blogs are on these free platforms. All blogs using Blogger or Wordpress do not have .wordpress.com or .blogspot.com as the suffix of their URLs. (ITB is one of them!)

So, if you want to start a blog for a company or an organization, or if you wish to have payment tools and such advance features on the blog, do go for a fully paid-for blog. Otherwise, assess your requirements and decide. On these free platforms, you have the option to migrate to a paid format and to upgrade the blog later on.

2. Write on the subject you are passionate about. If passion is essential for personal/ hobby blogs, it is equally desirable for professional blogs. So, this age-old advice still holds good and will continue to be good till blogs are created in any format.

In practical terms, what we are telling is that if you open a blog on a subject in which you are neither an expert nor are deeply interested, you will get frustrated sooner or later. Your ideas will exhaust, you will feel bored, you will not know whether to quit blogging or mindlessly maintain the blog. If you are passionate about the subject, you will get these in plenty: interest, inspiration, ideas, authority, ... and success.

3. Quality matters. Google says so, pundits of web-writing say so.

Let's quickly summarize the properties of quality content:
  • The content is well-researched. That often lends it good length too.
  • It is written in correct and modern English (or whatever language you write in).
  • The prose is presented well, with short paras, sub-headings in case of long prose, perhaps an accompanying image that supports the written word.
  • The content is relevant and appropriate.

4. Design that works elsewhere on the web need not work that well for your blog, so don't copy others' style

Choose a design that makes navigation and reading easy, and is appropriate for the type of blog.

Don't clutter or unduly color the blog. A simple and sober design is often the best.

5. Don't ignore promotion and social media integration of blog. As we wrote elsewhere on ITB, a great writing is lost for ever if people do not get the opportunity to read it. So, link and display blog and individual posts on your other web spaces, network well, inform people about what and where you write, participate in offline and online events...

Not all forms of social media work equally well for all bloggers. Assess and then use the one-two platforms that suit you the best. Too many would waste time. 

Think of automatic postings on social networking sites from the blog, but don't overdo it.

When it comes to online connections, be more sophisticated than just commenting, having a blogroll and  badges and being part of communities.
Say no to link farms and cross-promoting communities that don't add value.

6. SEO still matters.  Google penalizes excessive SEO, but it continues to reward commonsense, ethical SEO to support good content.

Link your old content, link with good sites, be focused on the topic, give the blog a good title and each post a catchy heading, write detailed and authoritative articles. Google loves such actions. 

7. Avoid unethical conduct at all cost. No copy-pasting of others' content. No black-hat (i.e. unethical) SEO tricks. No fooling or tricking readers to commercial pages. No guest blogging unless on a reputed site.

8. Old blog that has been neglected can prove a treasure. If you have a blog that you opened in 2009, run well till 2015 and then abandoned because you wanted to give all your time to your baby or you had been on a scientific mission to a remote place or you just got bored of your routine that included maintaining the blog, 2017 can be the year when you start the old blog once again. Give the blog a new look, edit and update old posts and spruce them up, add new content, cross-link... and you have a fantastic new blog!

9. Blogging needs a professional approach; you need to treat the blog as your enterprise, even if it is a hobby blog. 

Remember, blogging needs discipline and time management more than anything else (passion comes on top, of course).

Set a goal. Prioritize your works including blogging and social media. Be clear about how much time you will give to the blog, social media etc, on a regular basis. Break down the available time to segments: writing, design/ SEO aspects, social promotion and so on.

10. Pay if you are deficient. It is not always good to depend on your own skills. When you make a house, you need others' help even if you are an architect and civil engineer rolled into one. If you start a business, you don't run it alone, do you?

Sometimes you need to pay because you are not sure of your skills or understanding, e.g. technology, SEO or design aspects. Sometimes you are expert in some area but lack supplementary skills, e.g. proof-reading or grammar (especially for English bloggers whose mother-tongue is not English). Sometimes you pay when you need exclusive stuff, e.g. logo, images or videos. Sometimes you pay for a service, e.g. customized emailing or a payment gateway.

You need not pay regularly for such enhancements; sometimes it is one-time payment, e.g. web-design. Take a decision after assessing whether (i) you have the required time and expertise, (ii) you will acquire these, or (iii) it is desirable to buy the needed service/ product. 

All the best! 

Related resources:
Main free blogging platforms
Free or paid? Web-hosting explained
Blogging myths you should guard against
How to make your writing shine
SEO: what search engines like and hate
Google's advice on content quality

Technology and blogging predictions for 2017: main trends

Let's begin with the blogging and technology trends forecast by us this time last year. They all proved right except one: no 'mobile first' blogging app has emerged. But, everything having become mobile-centric and social-centric, that is indeed not needed.

You can visit here the ITB predictions for 2016.

The reason we proved right was, we didn't predict big just by seeing some nascent trends emerge. We have always been conservative on that. For 2017 too, we do not foresee any major trend or tech upheaval.

What's in store in tech in 2017?

We have seen a number of experiments and offers from tech and social media companies. We feel, the following areas would keep generating interest in 2017:

Virtual and augmented reality. We have seen Pokemon Go, VR sets, 360 degree photography, circular video, and so on. 

Entertainment and sports are OK, but VR does not seem to move fast into mainstream. The lack of massive content and the need to wear hardware will keep it in check, it appears. Augmented reality would be more in play but only so much.

Among tech biggies, after Google's Cardboard and then Cardboard Plastic, Snapchat introduced fun Spectacles. Of course, a number of VR gear has come in the market, not bound to platforms. Yet, their usage is likely to be limited.

They are talking about 'mixed commerce' in which virtual, 3D models replace real models or samples. We don't see much traction in this direction.

Virtual assistants. Aren't you already using one or more of these: Google Assistant, Siri, Cortana?

We are not talking here of VAs for business, but personal VAs that assist you in finding a restaurant or fuel outlet nearby, searching something, recalling some expression that you commonly use but have suddenly forgotten, suggesting an edit, dialing a number, and so on. 

It appears that the new ones such as Google Assistant, which go beyond the desktop functions, might catch on, especially if IOT becomes more common.

Well, if you are not sure what IOT is, it is Internet of Things. Simply speaking, things such as TV, fridge, mobile phone, laptop being connected in a smart way. You being able to control them from your mobile phone or laptop.

Live video, video calls. Big messaging platforms have been introducing them: Facebook, Whatsapp, Periscope, Instagram, ...

Our take is that 'selfie' will graduate into instant video sharing in areas with good bandwidth. More video will be available live on companies'/ people's YouTube channels and on other platforms. A fraction of voice calls will convert into video calls. 

It has been predicted that over four-fifths of internet traffic by 2020 would be in the form of video.

One thing about videos that we forget when getting swayed by their visual superiority over audio and images is that video is obtrusive and it demands that you watch it. On the other hand, audio does not demand your full attention, and images can be consumed within a fraction of time that video watching demands. So, we feel that the current visual and audio formats would remain dominant for communication for quite some time   

Blogging and social media in 2017

The trends we have been seeing for over 2-3 years  will continue. It means:

The growth of traditional blogging would be flat but overall the number of blogs would remain as many.

New forms will call themselves 'blog'. In fact, messages on social platforms, which are bigger than Twitter size would start qualifying for "I wrote a blog/ post on ..." This is more likely in non-English social space in developing countries because most newcomers would adopt social media without first practicing long-form blogging.

More and more postings on social blogs and messaging apps will be visual and instant

There will be even fewer comments on blogs but blog posts will be shared more, mostly using social buttons.

Blogs will be browsed more on mobiles than on desktops or laptops.Going with it, all affiliate marketing companies and advertisers will think 'mobile first' as many already have started doing.

No disruptive tech emerging?

We do not see a technological development that is likely to disrupt the present platforms or the way we use tech. We would perhaps have to live with incremental advancements.  

Most popular apps, games in 2016 and Russia bans LinkedIn: social media updates

What played the most in 2016?

Google Play has released its list of most popular games, TV shows, apps, songs, movies and books at global and local levels that sold in 2016 from its store. You can visit the list(s) here: GooglePlay

The following are the five most popular in each category:
1. Face Changer 2
2. Lumyer - Photo & Selfie Editor
3. Castbox - Podcast Radio Music
4. Emoji Keyboard Pro

1. Pokémon GO
2. Clash Royale
3. Traffic Rider
4. slither.io
5. Dream League Soccer

1. Stressed Out, Twenty One Pilots
2. Sorry, Justin Bieber
3. One Dance (feat. WizKid & Kyla), Drake
4. Don't Let Me Down (feat. Daya), The Chainsmokers
5. Me, Myself & I, G-Eazy

1. Deadpool
2. Star Wars: The Force Awakens
3. Zootopia
4. Captain America: Civil War
5. Batman v Superman: Dawn Of Justice

TV shows 
1. Game of Thrones
2. The Walking Dead
3. The Big Bang Theory
4. Mr. Robot
5. The Flash

1. Deadpool Kills the Marvel Universe by Cullen Bunn
2. Harry Potter and the Cursed Child: Parts One and Two by J.K. Rowling, John Tiffany, Jack Thorne
3. The Girl on the Train: A Novel by Paula Hawkins
4. The Art of War by Tzu Sun
5. Me Before You: A Novel by Jojo Moyes

Americans visit Facebook daily, not Twitter?

A recent Pew survey of social media use by US adults shows that Facebook is the most important platform, followed distantly by Instagram, Pinterest, LinkedIn and Twitter. The survey, done in the first quarter of 2016 and published now, does not find any Google platform (YouTube, Google Plus) or a free blogging platform (Blogger, Wordpress) coming anywhere near.

Interestingly, while majority of Facebook and Instagram users visited the social media account daily, only 42% Twitter users visited it on daily basis. 

The sample was very small (1520) and thus only indicative.

Will Facebook follow LinkedIn in being blocked in Russia?

Recall Russia's telecom regulator banning LinkedIn last month? 

The US government has criticized the move, a routine it does after a country bans a social platform, with hardly any impact. Again routinely, Putin says he does not have to say anything as this is a legal matter. 

LinkedIn paid the price by not following the country's regulation that social media platforms must keep Russian citizens' personal data on servers based in Russia. The ruling impacts over 6 million LinkedIn users. 

As Facebook and Twitter also do not follow this condition, they may be the next to be blocked, say IT observers. Or Russia is targeting a smaller platform LinkedIn to warn others to behave?

Is FB developing a filtering software to please the Chinese authorities?

Facebook was banned in China after riots in July 2009 and has not been allowed since then, despite Zuckerberg trying all soft diplomacy with the Chinese premier Xi. It is now learnt that FB is developing a software that would censor content for Chinese users and satisfy the conditions of the Chinese government. 

FB is in a real catch-22 situation: it cannot grow fast any longer without a slice from the huge Chinese market, which has been grabbed by WeChat and local messaging platforms. On the other hand, playing into the hands of Chinese authorities would mean a backlash from other users and free-speech protagonists.

Social media watchers are not even sure a software based filter would satisfy Chinese authorities who might want a censorship as restrictive as their own, without any critical news seeping in through cleverly crafted keywords etc.

How to save your Blogger blog posts from an unwanted autosave?

Many bloggers whose blogs are on Blogger platform have shared their dismay on the web about their posts disappearing while they were working on them. A friend said, she selected the text that she had composed over a week, something happened on its own and the next moment there was nothing on the post. Such experiences can be frustrating.

The culprit is AUTOSAVE that comes by default on the Blogger platform, and you cannot avoid it. When you face sudden disappearance of text on a post, what happens is that you accidentally select the text and delete it (or you cut the text for pasting it elsewhere) and AUTOSAVE saves the post at that very moment. It saves the blank post and your text is gone!

How to retrieve post content on Blogger blog?

Google/ Blogger has no provision for undeleting post content. You can take these actions if you have accidentally lost content from a blog post on Blogger:

1. Quickly press Ctrl+Z (on Windows computers) or Undo (on iOS/ Mac) many times.

If you press 'undo' or Ctrl+Z on the keyboard, that works only for a few seconds because if in the meantime AUTOSAVE has saved a new version, the actions before that cannot be taken back.

2. Open a document (e.g. a MS Word doc) and give Paste command (Ctrl+V on Windows). It will paste the content if it was cut (not deleted) and is still stored in the clipboard.

3.Go to History on the browser and try to retrieve a previous version of the post. Often not very useful but worth trying if nothing else works.

4. You can also try clicking on the 'Previous' icon/ button next to the address bar on the browser. It also seldom works as AUTOSAVE works really fast.

5,6,7,8. These ones work fine if you had a published post but you accidentally removed its content and then saved it. Go to the cache of the browser and look for an older version. Or go to archive.com and ask for back versions of that page, which might have been saved by Archives.com a few weeks/ months back. Or, if you had been working on the same computer and have not cleared the browser's history for some time, you could find the previous saved version in it. Or, you could ask one of your subscribers (if you have a subscription widget on the blog through which others can subscribe to your posts) or email friends (if you send them an email after you published a post) to send you the post they received from you.

What to do to avoid accidentally erasing a post on Blogger blog?

Here is a very simple workaround, but you need to discipline yourself to do that. Moreover, this is a preventive action, not something that you can do if the post is already erased:

How to use a poxy blog to avoid autosave in Blogger
1. Open a new blog and make it private (Settings> Basic> Privacy)Compose a post. Keep its settings (font and its size, alignment etc) as similar to the main blog as possible. Now publish it. (The post will be published but will be visible to you only.)

After that, you can keep making modifications to this post. After each session, 'Update' it rather than 'Revert to draft'. 

Autosave does not work on a published post and so your post remains as it is!

However, keep Updating it at intervals so that your edits are not lost due to power failure etc.

For transferring the post to the main blog, open the post in HTML mode, copy the content and paste it into a new post on the main blog. (Open that post also in HTML mode.)

2. The other, some swear it to be much better, way to avoid accidental loss of post content is to compose posts in a blog editor. We tried a number of free blog editors and sought bloggers' comments on them, and found Open Live Writer to be the best. However, all may not feel comfortable with an editor outside of Blogger. 

3. You can also use Google Docs to compose posts. [A great tip: If you want to make complex posts, for example with table, Google Docs is a good way to go. Otherwise you have to put HTML codes into the post.

We don't find it a great idea to use MS Word or other word processors for composing blog posts. When you copy the composed text into a Blogger (or Wordpress) editor, all the commands and characters associated with the word processor are also copied. Our experience even with saving web or blogging versions of MS Word was also not satisfactory.

Life is the price paid by free speech bloggers... video, marketplace offers from biggies: Social Media updates

Zimbabwe's war on social media after the national flag became a symbol of protest

The Zimbabwean Government, threatened by the massive popularity of social media, has invoked  harsh laws and threatened the public to behave. The telecom regulatory authority has warned social media activists in no uncertain terms by issuing statements such as this: We would like all Zimbabweans to know that we are completely against this behavior and, therefore, advise that anyone generating, passing on or sharing such abusive and subversive materials which are tantamount to criminal behavior will be disconnected and the law will take its course. President Robert Mugabe himself has directly and indirectly asked people to behave or face action.

What has irked the government is the use of social media to spread criticism against the government. In April this year, priest Evan Mawarire uploaded a video in which he criticized the government's economic policies. The national flag that he had worn around his neck soon became a symbol of protest first on the social media (hashtag #ThisFlag) and then on the ground.

Niloy killer arrested in Bangladesh: Will he be tried and will other bloggers get justice?

Recall a series of killings of bloggers and other free-thinkers in Bangladesh in recent months, and worldwide criticism of the government for being soft on radical groups hacking anybody seen to be writing against Islamic thought as propagated by hardliners? Since July, the government has cracked down on such elements with an iron hand. 

This Islamist radical, Khairul Islam, is reported to have admitted to killing Niloy. He also eliminated a publisher, Dipan. 

Zone9 bloggers again under threat.

Ethiopia has arrested over 11000 citizens under the Emergency rule. Any sort of protest can get one straight into the jail.

Zone9, the bloggers that are the social media face of protest against misrule in this country, have faced arrest, threats  and unfavorable court orders.  Four of the bloggers released in 2015, appeared in the court a fortnight back. One of them, Befeqadu, has been arrested now for his recent interview to VOA.

This Mauritanian blogger might be hanged soon for being critical of Prophet.

The clergy in Mauritania is after Mkhaitir for his apostasy or heresy. It has urged the government to immediately implement death penalty to Mkhaitir. 

This writer/ blogger wrote an article in 2014 in a French web-mag Chezvlane, in which he said, Prophet Mohammed indulged in double standards in his dealings with Jews and Arabs. His sentence to death was swift and has been upheld by the court of appeal. Mauritania watchers say, he does not have much chance in the supreme court too. With the clergy after his blood, one more free voice might soon get silenced for ever.

The angry face of blogging in Singapore free, but for how long?

Amos Yee's YTube, blog pages

Amos Yee, 17, a Singaporean blogger, who was sentenced to six weeks in jail last week for his posts critical of Muslims and Christians, is being released before completing the sentence. He has earlier been jailed for a similar charge of 'intending to wound religious feelings' and undermining religious harmony. Yee posts primarily on his YouTube account, Facebook page and Wordpress blog, from which some posts have been taken down for being obscene or hurtful towards some religions. 

Now some tech updates:

Tried Facebook Marketplace yet?

Facebook last month launched Marketplace, a platform for buying/ selling products from/ to people nearby, in a few markets including the US and the UK.

Facebook Marketplace (image: FB)

Facebook says more than 450 million people visit buy and sell groups on its platform each month - from families in a local neighborhood to collectors around the world. So, taking it forward, Marketplace is supposed to be a convenient destination to discover, buy and sell items with people in your community.

Considering Facebook's huge popularity, this would definitely challenge the supremacy of the likes of Craiglist and eBay, will it? 

New heat in video calling app field: Duo vs WhatsApp vs ?

Google has not only launched Duo, the video calling app, but has this also bundled in its new Pixel phones. In fact, Google has deprecated Hangout on these phones in favor of Duo. WhatsApp has launched video calling, though on Android phones only (not iOS) as of now.

Video calling may not replace voice calling in the next few years but its share will go up significantly. So, after video on demand, small video clips, self-playing videos and live video, video calling was the natural next step in the internet-based communication world. It could not succeed well in the pre-app era but the latest offerings on apps seem to work from day one. That leads to the scramble. Facebook Messenger, Whatsapp (also owned now by Facebook), Hike, Skype, Google Duo... There are many players already and new emerging but like chat apps, only a few will sustain. Let's see.

5 reasons your blog is stuck for a wrong reason, and how to come out of it

You start a blog. Then you write the best you can. You follow the advice that you see on the web - adding photos, sprucing up the headline, SEO, technical tweaking...

The blog doesn't move forward. You realize that your friends who were initially commenting a lot on your  blog have become less interested, unless you had appreciated their latest posts.

Something is wrong with the blog, you feel, and look for reasons for its NOT going the way you had visualized when creating the blog. You look for more advice and tips. You find a claim of getting a hundred thousand followers in a month and fall for it. You find some unethical tricks and are tempted to try them.

Nothing works, or something seems to work for a few days and then the blog goes back to square one.

What should I do? Why is my blog not getting enough traffic though I write so well? I have tried all SEO, even paid for it, but I'm not getting a lasting success, why?

One of the main mistakes most bloggers make is that they choose a wrong niche*. The wrong choice of the subject of the blog is, in fact, the biggest indirect cause for the blog getting stuck in the mud.  

We have found it after analyzing 300 blogs in the Directory of Best Indian Blogs and an equal number of blogs randomly chosen from the rejected list, over the last three months.

Let's see why most bloggers reach that stage:

1. Choosing a subject on somebody's advice or seeing someone succeed with that

Many people start blogging because others in their friendship circle or relations are doing that. With the rise of social networks, chat sites and social apps, fewer people are under social pressure to open a blog, but it does happen. Blogs started with others' advice or by following a successful blogger also suffer from many other ills.

2. Choosing a niche based on its paying potential

Many bloggers who start blogging with the sole aim to earn money choose subjects that are seen to be paying. They do all the research on the web and choose a few ones that are highly paying. The smarter among them do a lot of technical tweaking, which sometimes pays well and sometimes boomerangs as search engines penalize them for it. In all such case, the blogger is in a hurry to earn and has little love for the subject or the blog itself, so in the long run the blog stagnates.

3. Not choosing the best among possible good niches

Some bloggers do a bit of research about their strengths and weaknesses - which is highly desirable - but stop at that; they end up choosing the wrong subject out of the ones they are good at. Or they feel they can dominate the web by opening a number of blogs. After opening many blogs, they find short of time and energy for so many blogs, and most of their blogs decay. 

4. Starting the blog first and looking at the niche aspect much later

The temptation to follow someone successful or to prove that one is better than others (point no. 1 above) often leads to starting the blog in a huff. All other things including looking at one's strengths, going for proper platform and choosing the right design take a backseat till one realizes that things are not going fine. 

Some bloggers are seen working on the blog's design and their writing from be beginning but realize very late that some other subject would have suited them better. They feel short of topics in the present subject or feel bored. When that happens, they do not know whether to remain with the blog or discard all the stuff they created and start a new blog. 
5. Not choosing a topic at all

A very large part of the blogosphere is filled with personal blogs - blogs that talk of everything that comes to the mind of the blogger. Such blogs grow in their own way, sometimes getting popular much beyond their friendship circle, even making good money - but 9 out of 10 such blogs remain personal diaries with very few people interested in them. In the age of Facebook, Twitter, Instagram, Snapchat and Whatsapp, others' interest in such blog has gone down significantly.

If you find yourself in one of these situations, even partly, do read on.

I am new to blogging. How do I choose the right niche?

If you are a new blogger, you have all the time to make amends. Take out paper and pencil and list niches in which you are strong. Among them, choose those you are passionate about. Choose those with paying potential (if earning money from the blog is your goal). For earning, analyze how you will monetize the blog; for traffic, think what all actions you will be able to take. After a detailed analysis of your own strengths and also examining blogs already in those niches, select the topic that suits you in most respects and you'd not regret later for having chosen that subject

The following posts will help you in this analysis:
Latest ITB blog listing: for a list of variety of subjects and good blogs in those niches
5 quick points before you start a blog 
Be aware of the myths before you jump to blogging

Can I change the blog's niche now after five years of blogging?

Changing the niche of a blog that has run for long and has a large resource base is a lose-lose proposition. Yet, if you are stuck with it, it is never too late to make the right change. 

Try to analyze the blog from all angles and after that decide if you should revive the blog. Be rigorous and unsparing in this self-examination. Do not be tempted to revive the blog only because this is an easy and soft option. Ask the moot question again and again: Am I not wasting my energies on a niche that does not suit me? If at the end, you are 100% sure (not 99.9%) of taking it to a great height by following the right course, go for it. 

If the blog is not in a niche best for you, you have other options: 

(i) Keep maintaining the old blog but don't expect much from that. Use your creative creative energies in a more suitable niche

(ii) Re-purpose the resources of the old blog, and start a new blog in a different niche. You can use the resources of the earlier blog in many ways so that the fruit of your labor is not lost for ever - as a personal diary; as a collection of your tit-bits and creations such as travel photos, poems,  thoughts on economy etc; as an e-book or a real book; etc. 

(iii) Start a new blog and keep the old one as a section of your new blog. It can give the new readers a glimpse of your personal life, hobbies or interest in a different subject. This section might be personal section of your new professional blog.  

As a mix of these approaches, you can discard the old one and put its resources in a section in the new blog after editing them and presenting as new stuff. 

You can visit this post specifically on the question of what to consider when thinking to revive your old blog.

Whatever decision you take - create a new blog or revive the old blog with a new zeal - do not commit the same mistake again. Choose the right niche.

*niche = a position particularly well suited to the person who occupies it; a distinct segment of a market; slot; position [The Free Dictionary by Farlex]