How Shihoko became a succesful blogger

Shihoko, 52, is a Japanese lady living in Australia, who loves cooking native Japanese food.

But that is the tip of the iceberg that her bio is. She is a food blogger and runs her blog Chopstick Chronicles, with her daughter Elizabeth. Shihoko went to Australia primarily to learn English. There she continued her profession - nursing - and found a side job of teaching Japanese. While talking of Japanese culture, she would also talk of Japanese food and that slowly drew her towards writing about Japanese food and photographing her recipes. After many years, she started her blog in 2015 - at the age of 48. In four years, her blog boasts of a sizable following and she is a name to reckon with in Japanese blogosphere.

Shihoko's daugher Elizabeth is her equal partner in blogging and seems equally passionate about trying out new dishes. The blog has led the mother-daughter duo to publish a book on Japanese food in 2019. Shihoko shares that it was because of the blog, that the book was possible: the blog was noticed by a publishing company who gave them the offer for the book.

Sheer passion,  patience and hard work - these seem to be the mantras that have made Shihoko a successful blogger.

The blog has a very professional, clean design and is a storehouse of Japanese cuisine of all types - sea food, noodles, meats and tofu, sweets, breads, drinks... When I asked a Japanese friend based in Delhi to comment on the recipes, he said, these are genuine Japanese dishes with the required native touch.

Which is the best blogging platform in 2020?

If you want to become a blogger in 2020, you have over a hundred blogging platforms to choose from (115, to be specific, according to a recent graphic on SocialSamosa). But not many would suit your needs. Let us look at the most suited platform for you, but before that let us browse some blogging stats.

Blogger [] is the most popular free blogging site and it is everywhere. Blogger is a Google product and thus integrates with Gmail and other Google products. It is completeley free and gives a large storage space for blogging resources. It is highly secure. You can modify the looks of your blog in a hundred ways, place advertisements on your blog and make money, and migrate to other platforms if the blog grows beyond Blogger's free resources or for some other reason. Blogger is very easy to set up and maintain. The present blog, SocialLogging, is on Blogger.

Wordpress [] is another free platform and almost as easy as Blogger. However, it needs some setting up. The free account does not allow many changes to its design and does not allow you to put advertisements.

Wordpress's software-only version is This is not a free blogging platform but a software kit (technically called content management system or CMS) and is much more popular than free blogging platforms named above. This CMS only creates a blog for you but it does not give you a blog name and does not host your blog (= it does not place your blog on the web). The blog can be visited by others only when you buy domain name (=name for your blog) and engage a website hosting service for the blog.

Talking still of CMSs, let me add that there are many other CMSs used by bloggers and website creators. These are slightly more complicated than Wordpress and do not have as big a community as Wordpress has; the community discusses blogging matters and helps new bloggers in sorting out issues. The most popular CMSs after Wordpress are Joomla and Drupal.

Tumblr is another free platform, with limited facilities for customization. It has been traditionally popular among the younger users, especially because it makes sharing of content within the platform easy.

Medium is another free blogging medium and would suit you if you are interested only in posting quality content (mostly text) and are not bothered about design, money making etc. This platform gives one of the cleanest, no-frill design to the blog, so that visitors concentrate on reading the content. The blogger can earn some bucks by way of a partner program in which the blogger gets paid on the basis of engagement, but Medium does not allow any other form of monetization.

I think, a blogger does not have to go beyond these platforms, though there are many paid blogging platforms and website builders with blogging options. For the sake of listing, let me mention Wix and Weebly (versatile, drag-and-drop website builders); Typepad, Squarespace and Ghost (paid blogging platforms with many facilities; they need some tech skills); Livejournal - one of the earliest blogging platforms (still exists but now lags behind others in features).

How do I select a blogging platform for my needs?

The above discussion should be good enough for deciding upon a blogging platform. Let me make things more clear with this graphic comparing key features of major platforms for blogging.

My final take on choosing the right blogging platforms is:
  • New bloggers would be fine starting with Blogger or Wordpress free blogging platforms.
  • Bloggers who want only to reach more people with their content, and have no wish or ambition to make the blog commercial or feature-rich, can go for Medium.
  • If you want to start with a free platform, test the ground, and then migrate to professional blogging, start with Blogger and then (i) either remain with Blogger and map the blog to an independent domain or (ii) shift to Wordpress CMS. But if you like the feel of Wordpress, start with its free platform from the beginning and later shift to Wordpress CMS.
  • Bloggers wanting to maintain a feature-rich professional/ commercial blog should go for Wordpress CMS and invest in a good domain name and web host.
  • While the choice of blogging platform is important, the quality of content, optimization, socialization and other aspects of blogging play a very important part in making a blog successful.

2020: Blogger finally is introducing new features!

Blogger, the blogging platform maintained by Google, is often criricized for being slow in introducing new features. While Wordpress has grown as the most used CMS and blogging platform, Blogger has lagged behind.

Starting mid-December 2019, Blogger is cleaning up some of its old stuff. It has changed the way Themes and Stats are offered, and promises to introduced modern-looking features in the days to come.

Hope, the changes being introduced by Blogger are not just minor tweaks to user interface for bloggers. My wishlist contains a few new themes, some features in post editors, some in-built SEO (search engine optimization) features. High time, Blogger rewards bloggers who have stayed with it despite the onslaught of Wordpress, with productive blogging features.

Is social media pushing you too much online? Try Pod and be social!

I as a user of social networking platforms have realized that most of my friends and followers on Whatsapp or Instagram are in fact inconsequential when it comes to actual real-life socialization. My Facebook friends (except for a few who are actual relatives and friends are also friends on Facebook too) would  hardly come to my help when I am under duress. I also do not feel satisfied enough when they 'like' something about me.

It is one bad thing that our busyness on social networking apps leaves little time for real-world socialization. Another related thing is that these apps have become a substitute for meeting and greeting because we use these apps also for sending greetings. Sometimes we don't hesitate in sending bulk messages or cut-and-paste gifs to all on our friend list/ address book.

Think of an app that encourages you to meet social media friends.

What about an app that would encourage online friends to meet and share news and feelings?

Some early platforms looked at online socialization as an extension of real-life networks but they were annihilated by Facebook, Whatsapp etc. There were some attempts at having real-life engagement through social media platforms, but they remained localized and faded away. So, except for a few niche ones (e.g. WhatsApp groups of close family-members/ friends), you won't find social apps that encourage you to meet up.

Pod, a new social networking platform/ app that believes in putting people on real-world interactions, seems to be succeeding in its aim. It already has about 5 million users across 200 countries, making around 60 million connections. That is a big number, isn't it?

Pod utilizes location data and artificial intelligence to find people with similar interests who are in the geographical vicinity. It then tells them about such people, encouraging them to say hello and meet up.

social media app

The app uses a map to show people around you. You can ping someone if you are interested in him as your hobbies or professional interests match or you would buy/ sell something from/ to him. Meeting is, of course, a desired action so that further socialization among a number of people in the neighbourhood takes place.

Pod sums up its philosphy thus:
At Pod we believe in the power of real connections. The first generation of social media apps have encouraged us all to take our friends, put them online and communicate with them online. At Pod we are on a mission to do the opposite. We want to bring people together.

Connecting professional purposes.

More than personal engagement, it appears that Pod would later focus on professional engagement. It is already making a pitch for professionals and businessmen to join the platform for exchange of information, ideas and transactions. 

Security and safety in engaging with strangers.

Meeting strangers without much background check, experts say, is not without risks to one's safety and security. The risk may extend further to one's family and professional life when people meet up and exchange information in good faith. Criminals may exploit this situation, especially if children use this app for real-life socialization.  Hope, Pod builds security features to take care of these concerns, but I did not find them on the app so far.