Get free web hosting, yet run your blog with independent domain name!

How much do you need to maintain a good website or blog?

Thanks to Google, which runs the Blogger blogging platform, very little.

Please note that we are not talking about a huge website with ecommerce or huge data sharing. We are also not talking about a blog like the Huffington Post, which employs hundreds of employees to maintain it. We are talking about a nice looking website or blog, which is regularly updated and has hundreds of posts with photos and occasional videos too.


Blogger provides free web hosting to even blogs with an independent domain name!


When you open a blog on Blogger, it gives you a blog address (e.g. example.blogspot.com) and hosts it free for you. There are limits to how much you can post and store on Blogger, but these are big enough for a blogger not into blogging for business. For example, you can post as many posts as you like but not more than 50 a day (most good blogger publish 2-4 posts a week); and your photo storage is limited to 15 GB. With the photos getting compressed in Google Photos, this is quite good space. Besides, small photos do not count towards your space limit.

What you need to do is to buy a relevant and good domain name. You can choose any (e.g. GoDaddy). But Google can help you choose one (on the blog, go to Dashboard> Settings> Blog Address>Set up a third party URL for your blog). In both cases, you have to BUY the domain name (=your website/ blog address) and keep renewing it year after year. This is the only expenditure you incur and your blog remains hosted on Blogger servers, and you continue to use all Blogger tools.

When you go to the given link on Blogger (Blog Dashboard> Settings> Blog Address>Set up a third party URL for your blog), it asks you for the new domain name or offers to get one on payment. You choose the option, give it an independent name and that's it. Now your blog example.blogspot.com becomes example.com. You have got free web hosting while having an independent domain name: great, isn't it?


Free web hosting for Blogger blogs

There are numerous advantages of letting Google host your blog, and these include: no botheration of the blog's security, very small chance of it getting hacked, free HTTPS security, and use of the latest web technology. In addition, you can earn from the blog by publishing different types of ads.

The other big free blogging platform, Wordpress, also allows you this facility of mapping your example.wordpress.com blog with an independent domain name, but charges you for that!

Do you earn well from blogging? If not, you may be ignoring something so simple!

When people starts blogging with a view to earn from the blog, they feel that it should be very easy. After all, if one puts a large number of ads on the blog and does search engine optimization, there should be no reason that many people would visit his blogs, click on the ads and the blogger would earn handsomely.

When after a long period of toil, such bloggers do not earn enough, the hard reality dons on them. Experts who have analyzed why some bloggers earn big and some don't have found that the basic formula remains the same. It is that only a few bloggers apply the formula correctly. 

The earning formula for bloggers is not that difficult


In one sentence, the formula is just this: the total earning is the multiplication of the number of visitors and actions taken by them! It is so simple, and yet let's see how it works - or why it does not work. 

For example, take two numbers, X and Y whose values can be from 0 to 10. Thus, their multiplication can result a maximum of 100. Now suppose you cannot raise the value of Y beyond 3, their product can be now cannot be more than 30. So, you can get only 30% of the potential if you do not allow one of the numbers to go all up to 10. This is what happens in most cases of blogging. The blogger works hard in one area but ignores the other - the end result is much less than 100%.

In the graphic given here, we have broken the basic formula into two. This results in three sets of actions you need to take. If any of them is weak, the product or the total earnings will be badly affected. You need to see see which of the areas you are ignoring and take the required action. In each set, we have also given actions that you can take but the lists are not exhaustive. 

You got the point? You might be creating awesome content, but not promoting enough... or writing and promoting enough but working in a poorly paying niche... or working hard to optimize and promote but creating very ordinary content. 

In essence, if your blog is not earning good for you, you need to check which area of activity you have been ignoring. Improve that by 50% and your results will be double. Isn't the formula so simple and yet so much ignores?


Here you go!


make money from blogging

India's best literary blogs in 2018

We issued the list of best literary blogs in India last year and received good response from readers. The following list is that of best Indian English literary blogs in 2018.

We have discussed our observations of Indian literary blogging scene in the last post linked here. They still hold good. In the present one, we just update the list. Hope you find the blogs rich in content.

Blogs are arranged according to the operative part of their URL, in alphabetical order. Each entry contains the URL with link - blog title - short description.

literary-blogs

abhijitbhaduri - Abhijit Bhaduri - author of leadership books
abhinavagarwal - Abhinav Agarwal - musings, book reviews
akswrites - The Untold Stories - musings, short fiction
anieshabrahma - Aniesha's Musings - musings, fiction, book reviews
anureviews - Anu Reviews
- big collection of book reviews
artofleo - I Rhyme Without Reason - musings, book reviews
bookgeeks - bookGeeks - book reviews, author interviews

cynthology - A few drops of ink - book reviews
ddsreviews - b00k r3vi3ws - a large collection of book reviews

devikafernando - Devika Fernando - author blog of the romance fiction writer
geetaavij - Fabric of Life - book reviews
inderpreetuppal - Inderpreet's Eloquent Articulation - musings, fiction, book reviews

jaiarjun - Jabberwock - book reviews
kaapitimes - Hot Cup of Kaapi - musings, book reviews

knownturf - Known Turf - author blog of the literary writer, some book reviews
literarism - Literarism - curation of literary articles in English
maniparna - Scattered Thoughts - some book reviews (besides other things)
meotherwise - Me Otherwise - musings, book reviews
nishitak - Nishita's Rants and Raves - lifestyle blog with many book reviews too
privytrifles - The Book Elf - a large collection of book reviews

readingonarainyday - Reading on a Rainy Day - musings, good collection of book reviews
saffrontree - Saffron Tree - a massive collection of children's book reviews
saurabhchawla - Saurabh's Lounge - stories, book reviews
shanayatales - Shanaya Tales - lifestyle blog with book reviews
soumya-hintofme - LOL: Life Of Leo - musings, book reviews
sundarivenkatraman - Flaming Sun - author's book blog of romance fiction writer
tabularasabookblog - Tabula Rasa - book reviews
thereaderscosmos - The Readers Cosmos - book reviews, author interviews

thisislitblog - This is Lit - good collection of book reviews
uspandey - One Grain Amongst the Storm - fiction, poetry, musings

vishytheknight - Vishy's Blog - good collection of book reviews

How to make money by putting Adsense ads on your blog

When you start a blog, you do so either as a hobby - just to put your thoughts into it OR you make the blog to earn money out of it. Earlier, most people created blogs for the first reason, but now the trend is towards trying to make money out of blogging. 

AdSense becomes very important for bloggers who want to earn from blogging, because it is one of the easiest ways to monetize one's blog - even with a free blog and without spending a penny on hosting, web designing etc.

There are thousands of posts on the web on AdSense. In this post, we have tried to answer most questions that bloggers face, and the tips given here will work well in 2018 and next few years. Because the post is an all-in-one post on AdSense, it has become quite big. So, we have divided it into two parts. If you are new to AdSense, you would want to learn as much as you can: if so, continue reading the rest of the post. If you already have AdSense on your blog or are interested  only in tips on maximizing your blog's Adsense income, jump to this  section:
What must be done so that AdSense really earns dollars for you.

What is AdSense


AdSense is an advertisement network run by Google, through which advertisers can place their ads on websites. In November 2018, it is reported to be serving nearly two million websites, including blogs!

The process of putting AdSense and earning from it can be summarized like this: Advertisers register on AdSense site and tell it to serve their ads on different websites. They also set their budget for the ad campaign and tell AdSense how much it should pay to the website owner/ blogger when someone sees or clicks on the ad. On the other side, bloggers and website owners register on the same AdSense site for placing advertisements on their blogs/ websites. Once AdSense approves his application, the blogger specifies what type of advertisements he want on webpages (advertisements are available in different shapes, sizes, colors, choice of picture, etc) and in which places (top, bottom, sidebars). When the ads are published on webpages and visitors click on them, Google pays to the blogger/ website owner at a rate that is determined based on many factors - the most important being how much cost the advertiser has fixed for one click. 

Let's talk more on these one by one, but before that: does your blog qualify for AdSense?

Does my blog qualify for AdSense? If not, why?


When you apply for AdSense, it is usually approved by Google within a day or week. But a number of bloggers see their applications rejected. Some reasons for rejection of AdSense application are given below:

  • technical reasons (e.g. not filling the application form properly or not putting the AdSense code on the blog)
  • very new blog
  • not enough content
  • content of very poor quality

Even when the blog is initially approved for AdSense, Google can reject the blog later if it finds that the blog is not following Google's policies. The common actions disliked by Google on AdSense are:

  • using improper means to bring traffic to the blog
  • clicking on own ads
  • soliciting clicks
  • using copy-pasted content from others' websites/ blogs
  • putting inappropriate content, e.g. pornographic material

Don't worry. If your blog is not getting approval or has been rejected later on, you can take corrective actions to get your blog approved. Please visit this Top Blogs link for more details:    How to overcome AdSense rejection


Please note that you can use AdSense only when you have the permission to alter the HTML code of your blog. Blogger platform allows that very easily. You can also put AdSense ads on Tumblr blog too. Wordpress, Medium and LiveJournal free blogs do not have this facility. Paid blogging platforms such as Ghost allow AdSense because you can modify your blog's HTML. You can put AdSense ads on any blog or website that is self-hosted (= created through any content management system (CMS) such as wordpress.org, Joomla, Drupal; or through website builders; or through HTML tools and then hosted on a web host).

Steps for opening AdSense account and putting ads on your blog

  • Go to this site: AdSense: start
  • Open your account; signup by filling all the required details. Copy the code offered. [If you already have a Google account, you can use that for AdSense also.]
  • Copy code and paste it in the <head> section of your website/ blog. Follow these steps for this:
  • On Blogger blogs, it is very simple: on the dashboard, go to Theme, then open theme editor. Look for </head> in the HTML. Just before this tag, paste the code. After that, go to Layout and put the desired ad either between blog posts or as a gadget (=widget) anywhere on the blog.
  • On other websites/ blogs, after you have placed the code before </head> tag, you need to go to your AdSense account, to to 'Ad units' and create new ad units of whatever size, shape and color you want. Then you copy the given code and past it on the HTML of the website/ blog at the location you want.
  • If your blog is not on Blogger platform and you do not have the confidence to manipulate the blog's HTML, look for a plugin that might be there for placement of AdSense or HTML or Javascript on the blog. Most website builders, CMSs and premium Wordpress plans have plugins for this purpose.

In 2018, Google has come out with a system of automatic placement of advertisements using the Auto ads facility: if you opt for this, you do not have to bother where the ads will appear on the blog because using its artificial intelligence tools, Google will decide the best placement for AdSense ads on your blog. This option is available in the AdSense account: 'Auto Ads' is just below 'Ads' on the dashboard.  



adsense on blog
Ads can be posted at different places on the blog.

WHAT SHOULD I DO TO EARN BIG FROM ADSENSE ON MY BLOG

AdSense advertisements are everywhere, but not many people earn handsomely from their blogs by using AdSense. There are many reasons for that, and if you are an established blogger and still not earning good from AdSense, you must pay attention to the minutest detail of your blog and the way ads have been placed on your blog and take necessary corrective actions.

How to make the best use of AdSense


For great AdSense earnings, you need good traffic and also people clicking on the ads. If you can crack both, you have the key to success. But if you lack in one, the other one cannot compensate for that. Mind it, the second one is more important than the first!

Good traffic would mean that a large number of people who are interested in the blog's content visit the blog. There are a dozen ways to get good traffic. You need to:

  • Have the blog in the right niche, i.e. talking about the subject that gets good traffic. If your blog talks about a very narrow subject, not many people would come there naturally. So, a niche with good to high traffic is the first requirement.
  • Write quality content. If  you have a photoblog, have your best photos there. If your blog is a curation of others' content or is a news blog, showcase the most interesting things on top of the blog. This may not help too much in getting traffic directly, but it gets indirect traffic as visitors bookmark and share the blog/ post and refer it to others. It also makes people stay on the blog longer.
  • Optimize the blog for search engines, i.e. SEO. For better search traffic, each post has to be optimized for keywords that get good traffic but do not face too much competition. A bit of research is required here because high-traffic keywords have already been optimized to the hilt by others. Many SEO experts suggest that if you are not getting much search traffic, you should go for extra long keywords and target small audiences - this way, you come on top of at least some search pages and get traffic from them. In addition, getting good references from others (e.g. back links on other blogs, sharing on social media) is necessary for a blog for its moving up on the search pages.
  • Cross-post on social media. You must re-purpose your posts' content on social media. Do not copy-paste but make 2-3 tweets out of each post, make a short post for Facebook, one for LinkedIn (or whichever social platform suits your type of blog) and give links back to the main post. However, do not expect enough traffic from social media unless you are quite active there or have many followers. Social platforms often try to serve promoted (=paid for) posts more than organic ones and Facebook does not even serve your page's posts to all your followers if you do not promote the post.
  • Offer feed or subscription so that people regularly read your blog. Send regular emails to people who subscribe to your blog. Promote the blog's individual posts among your acquaintances who would be interested in that content.
  • Go for paid promotion. If nothing else works, advertise your blog on social media and websites. Ads served by Google, Facebook and Twitter are among the easiest methods to publicize the blog on the web.

There also are many ways to make people click on the ads. Consider these:

  • Make visitors stay longer on the blog. For this, your headlines need to catch attention and the content needs to be engaging.  As said earlier, good content not only attracts traffic, it makes people read it and thus stay longer on the blog. You can increase the time of stay also by putting images, videos and infographics.
  • Induce people to click on ads. While soliciting clicks is not allowed, you can induce visitors to click on ads by putting focused content ( to increase the probability that visitors are served relevant ads) and then suggesting action that would make them feel like checking out the ads. (e.g. on a post on cameras, visitors can be told to check the latest offers from different brands and compare them according to the sensor size. There is a good probability that the post would get AdSense ads on cameras... and the visitor might feel that he should check the sensor size of the cameras being advertised.) 
  • Don't go overboard with advertisements. Placing too many ads and from many advertisers may invite AdSense penalty. Even if that does not happen, visitors might get irritated and may decide not to stay longer on the blog.
  • Optimize ads. AdSense itself has many options (Go to dashboard and click on 'My ads'). You may want to avoid ads of certain types. You can think of placing large ads at prominent locations on the blog. You could also think of running A/B test [You let AdSense serve different ads at different places on your blog to different visitors and after some days, it would tell you which ones were clicked more.] There are other options worth looking and optimizing the blog for AdSense.
  • Go for Auto ads. This new feature does the work of proper sizing and placement of ads on your blog. So, if you do not want to experiment with size and placement of ads, this option would suit you.

How much can I earn from AdSense on my blog


If you have your blog in the right niche and you take right actions for traffic, optimization, content etc as well as proper placement of AdSense ads on your blog, you can earn handsomely from the blog. Google does not allow sharing earning data, so we cannot share our data. But if you search for AdSense income on Google, you will find some reports of bloggers earning over $10,000 a month from their blogs! Even if you discount exaggerated claims, there seems to be good scope of earning if you take the right actions. You can safely fix the target of a few thousand dollars a year. 


Is AdSense enough for earning from the blog?


Depends. If the blog is only a supplementary source of income, AdSense alone may do the job. However, many successful bloggers who earn their livelihood from blogging have reported that they do not depend entirely on AdSense, because it cannot earn you beyond a point however much you optimize your blog for it. So, if you want the blog to earn enough like a full-time enterprise, you must also think of other streams of earning, e.g. affiliate advertisements, product reviews, etc. In fact, the top bloggers do not depend upon the blog fully for earning. They make the blog the center of all their earning activities and add non-blogging activities such as selling courses to supplement blogging income.

    We cleaned 'Top Blogs'. Will it boost SEO and relevant traffic?

    When we blog for a long time, the blog amasses huge amount of resources. Like we keep buying furniture, furnishings and other products, and after some years the house is full of them. 

    One thing that not all families do, or have the courage to do, is cleaning the house of old items that have outlived their utility. Only savvy people do that, and their houses are less cluttered,  more efficiently arranged, more livable and better looking. 

    Recently we realized that over years we at Top Blogs have created massive content - over 720 posts and a dozen pages. Some posts were important at the time they were written but have lost relevance now. We have showcased a hundred blogs and have now found that many of them are no longer updated. So, we thought we'd clean Top Blogs of old baggage.

    What we are doing to make the website lean and more focused on content

     

    cleaning blogs improves SEO


    • Removed all comments. We found that in some pages (especially the blog directories), we have over a thousand comments. Only a few of them are spam but we think that keeping comments of 2011 vintage and in such large numbers do not serve any purpose. 
    • No more comments under the posts. But there is a comment form now. We would still love to engage with visitors and friends with whom we have long relationship. Such blogger friends and casual visitors can comment through the form or write to us at kp.nd.2008@gmail.com.
    • Removing showcased blog that have gone bad. 
    • Updating old posts that are still relevant but some information has become obsolete or new technological developments have taken place in the mean time.
    • Removing old posts that were transitional, like calling for entries for the next edition of blog directory. But we are retaining those which have good information that gives perspective of old times (e.g. how has Hindi blogosphere grown over the years).
    • Merging posts when similar content has been posted year after year on a sub-topic, and then updating the merged post with the latest information.
    • We are continuing with badges for directories on demand from bloggers but we are not too keen to continue them in future.

     

    Lessons learnt: cleaning helps improve search optimization


    • Though SEO experts would have different opinions, we believe that a too heavy blog becomes thin in focused content and therefore becomes less search optimized. There may be some loss in terms of number of indexed pages on Google and Bing, and some backlinks going waste, but that would be compensated by density of good content. This is because when there is more valuable content in a blog, there is likelihood of better click through rate (CTR) and a lower bounce rate - both good from the point of SEO as well visitors' satisfaction.
    • When the blog has numerous posts, the fresh content can be lost in the crowd. Old pages might compete with new pages in the indexes of search engines. If old ones come high on search result pages, the searcher may be put off because he is served old pages with information/ advice that is no longer useful.
    • Navigation of the blog improves when the number of posts on various sub-topics are not too many.
    • In fact, we have seen good improvement in search ranking of Top Blogs and even in AdSense earnings within a few weeks. 
    • However, be careful in removing old content. A sample study revealed that many of our old posts have been linked on the homepage of many bloggers; thus, if we remove them, those bloggers will have a 'broken link' which will look bad. Moreover, many times some old posts have been linked on new posts. If we decide to remove these old posts, we must also remove links to them.
    • Comments are good for engagement. However, when they become too many - and when most of them are of  'nice information' or 'thanks for including my blog in the directory' type - they lose value. If some people put valuable comments, they also are lost in the crowd.
    • Badges and cross links are not good for SEO. Bloggers should issue badges only to help others in getting value for their blogs. As a blogger who wants to put others' badges on his/ her blog, you must avoid placing badges from shady sites or blogs with very low value. 

    This process is likely to go on for a few months. We would share actual gain or loss in terms of relevant traffic, domain authority, position in search pages etc sometime in early 2019. In the meanwhile we won't publish social media updates except when something too big happens.