Bill Gates recommends top books on his blog

'Bill Gates'

The name sounds familiar, even if you have taken four shots of vodka or got up after a disturbed sleep. Isn't it? If you are still confused about the person, look at this Wikipedia page on him. 

By the way, besides being one of the richest persons in the world and a top philanthropist, he is a blogger!

In this post, Bill has given a list of books he recommends for this summer. You can go to the original post on his blog through the link [Bill Gates reading list] or by clicking on the image below. In short, the list includes these titles:

The Rosie Result, Upheaval, Nine Pints, A Gentleman in Moscow, Presidents of War and The Future of Capitalism. Of course, he recommends his wife Melinda's recent book on philanthropy, The Moment of Lift.


Choosing the right web host: What to look for in web hosts and web hosting plans

You start a blog and put hard work on blogging. Soon you find that you need more web resources - space, bandwidth, security - and you look for a web host better than the one you have. 

This happens often with the blogger buys a basic web hosting plan and the blog grows faster than the blogger's expectations.

Not much is lost if you face this issue. Most web hosts these days are glad to upgrade the hosting plan for a fee, especially for cloud-based hosting plans. Yet, it is better to try projecting the blog's requirements for at least 2-3 years.

Choosing the right web host


Consider various factors that are relevant for your website/ blog, and then pick the web host that suits your needs. I discuss below some key points that many bloggers miss while looking at the numbers flaunted by web hosting companies to lure customers.

choosing the right web host for the blog

What makes a good web host? Big name is no guarantee but it helps.


Generally speaking, big web hosting companies maintain a minimum acceptable standard of resources and services. Though many users complain on web hosting forums, that big web hosts don't bother about small bloggers/ website owners, I still feel that they are much better than the one offering you a re-seller plan at half the cost offered by the big company.


Choose the right web hosting plan: shared hosting is usually the best for bloggers.


There are numerous web hosting options available in the market. Some common ones are: 

Shared web hosting 



In this type of web hosting, a server is shared by many users, and this option itself has many variations. This is good for users who don't want to spend a lot of money on web hosting plans and don't mind some of its traffic and data transfer limitations of the shared plan. 

VPS hosting 



This gives the user an independent virtual space on the web hosting server. This plan is great for businesses that want more power than shared hosting, but don't want to deal with dedicated hosting's prices. 

Dedicated hosting



This web hosting plan is both powerful and pricey; it is reserved for sites that experience incredibly high levels of traffic per day - bloggers and small businesses do not need this type of web hosting plan. 

Managed WordPress hosting 



This web hosting plan is for those who want to build their sites on the back of the popular WordPress content management system (CMS), but don't want to bother with a lot of the back-end stuff (such as updating the apps and CMS, and enabling automatic backups). The web hosting company provides the necessary technical support.

Cloud hosting



In this type of web hosting, you pay for only as much resources you use but is at present more expensive than shared web hosting. In fact, most big web hosting companies now provide cloud-based web hosting for all types of plans.

Small businesses and bloggers can run their websites for a long time on a cloud-based shared web hosting plan - and being on the cloud, they can ask for bigger resources if they need in future. This is the plan you should look for.


There can be a catch in any type of shared web hosting plan that you choose: some web hosts start charging exorbitantly once you upgrade; some companies are not discreet and allow shady websites that can hurt the entire server; some have too many websites sharing the server, so when the traffic in some of them spikes, other sites are badly affected. 

Therefore, look for reviews of shared web hosting plans offered by different companies. Again, big companies with high reputation are less likely to be indiscreet.

There are numerous websites telling you which website hosts and which of their plans are the best. Some bloggers on web hosting recommend a specific web host. I can't dispute their reviews and recommendations but caution you that in many cases, such reviews and recommendations are colored; they have some commercial relationship with the web host they recommend


When choosing a web hosting service, check server location


In olden times, you could buy hosting plans from only one location where the server of the web host was located. Now most big guys have servers in many countries, at least one in each continent (except Antarctica, of course) - and they direct visitors to their country's office. 

For example, if you are not located in the US and click on a link on a web host's advertisement appearing while you read this article, there are chances that the advertisement takes you to the web host's site meant for your country, and the rates might be better than what are seen on the ad. But if it takes you to the US or Germany while you are in South Africa or New Zealand, and visitors are also located near you, the distant location of server will be an issue.

Ideally, your web servers should be located near your audience so that the website/ blog opens fast. As site speed is a positive SEO signal, this also helps in search engine optimization of the website. In most cases, it is also more cost-effective to buy from a server in your location; it might also give you better customer service and in your native language. 

But be doubly sure that the local guys are as good as the main web hosting company. Check online forums and review sites, make local inquiries and also call them up. Why I emphasize this is because I have seen many reports that some hosts have unreliable franchisees or inefficient local units outside their headquarters.

Another advantage of big web hosting companies is that they offer cloud hosting. The server location would not be an issue as their servers near you will automatically host your blog.
   

If your blog is on Wordpress, try for Wordpress specific plan. It will make your life easy. 


It is quite likely that your website/ blog is created on Wordpress. If so, you do not need a website builder if the web host is giving you the website builder at a cost. Small businesses and all bloggers will seldom need a website builder that has features beyond what Wordpress CMS can give.

If your website has been built on a website creation software, e.g. Wix, Weebly or Joomla CMS, check whether the web hosting company gives you the required hand-holding support. It should not happen that you buy the plan and then realize that hosting the website/ blog is creating issues and there is nobody in the web hosting company to give the basic technical support you need. 
   

A good web host gives high site uptime, saves your data, robust security and SSL certificate - usually all free

All web hosting companies boast of a fantastic uptime, but many websites/ blogs suffer because  web hosting companies do not abide by their commitment on uptime. This is one more reason I support big web hosting companies. Though there are reports of poor service when their servers sometimes go down or get slow, they still are the most reliable lot. Small, local, web hosts might have a problem here.  

Security of the website is very important. That includes server security, secure connections, security certification, and data backup and recovery. Your website/ blog is at serious risk if the web hosting company does not care for these. Some web hosting companies do not provide SSL certification (HTTPS layer protection to the website/ blog) or charge for that; some do not back up your website/ blog in cheap shared web hosting plans. Do not compromise on your website's security even if you have to pay a higher sum for this. 


Choosing the right web host and plan: the final word

Do not go by the fancy 'star' ratings or '4.5 out of 5' type ratings given by review sites. They usually do it for a monetary consideration. Even comments on review sites and forums may be manipulated. That is a reason I suggested above that you choose from one of the top web hosting companies operating in your country and then go for the best plan that suits your requirements and your budget. When analyzing your requirements, think of at least 2-3 years from now.

आपने ब्लॉग बनाया क्या - मेरा लेख राग-दिल्ली पत्रिका में

अपने इस ब्लॉग पर तो में ब्लॉगिंग के फ़ायदों, ब्लॉग बनाने के सरल तरीकों तथा संबंधित विषयों पर लिखता रहता हूँ. इस बार हिंदी में लेख लिखा है राग-दिल्ली वेब पत्रिका के लिए. चाहें तो इस लिंक या नीचे दिए चित्र पर क्लिक करके वहां पहुँच सकते हैं. 

संक्षेप में, हर उम्र के लोग कई तरह से ब्लॉगिंग से लाभ प्राप्त कर  रहे हैं - ज़रूरी नहीं कि लाभ धन दे रूप में हो. ब्लॉगिंग बच्चों में रचनात्मकता और अभिव्यक्ति को बढ़ावा देती है तो वयस्कों को अपने व्यवसाय या पेशे को आगे बढ़ाने में सहायक होती है और बूढ़ों को एक नया प्लेटफार्म देती है जिसमें सक्रिय रहकर वो नई पीढ़ी के साथ अपने अनुभव साझा कर सकते हैं और अपना समय अर्थपूर्ण तरीके से बिता सकते हैं. लाखों ब्लॉगर इस विधा से धनोपार्जन कर लेते हैं, जिनमें से कई तो ऐसे भी हैं जिन्होंने अच्छी खासी नौकरी छोड़कर ब्लॉगिंग को अपनाया है. 

राग-दिल्ली वेब पत्रिका के नाम से आप शायद परिचित नहीं होंगे, क्योंकि यह एक नई पत्रिका है. अभी टीम छोटी है इसलिए बहुत सारे लेख नहीं हैं, लेकिन आप अगर इस पत्रिका पर एक नज़र मार कर देखेंगे तो पाएंगे कि पत्रिका का बौद्धिक स्तर हिंदी की कई नामी वेब पत्रिकाओं से अच्छा है. मीडिया में करीब तीस वर्षों तक सक्रिय रहे विद्या भूषण अरोरा इसे सम्पादित करते हैं. सामाजिक और राजनीतिक विषयों पर उनकी खासी पकड़ है. 


why should you do blogging





How to start a blog - when you know nothing about blogging

This post was originally published in 2019 and has been thoroughly updated in 2020.

Though blogging is the bread and butter of the blog you are reading, this post is specifically for helping such bloggers who would like to start a blog in 2020. New bloggers today doubt whether starting a blog now makes any sense particularly in view of much more engagement on social networking and sharing platforms.

I have kept it simple so that the people who know nothing about blogging can easily create their first blog and learn the concepts behind various blogging actions.

I have already published some posts  on advantages of blogging, creating a blog in different free platforms, professional blogging, having an independent blog and making money from blogging. But these should come afterwards, and so I have given links to such resources at the end of this post. You can use the present post as a step-by-step guide to first start a simple blog and then learn frills that go for creating a feature rich blog - all for free!

This post looks lengthy, and there is a reason for that: I have explained why you are writing or clicking something. If you skip them, creating a new blog on Blogger would take less than 60 seconds, but you should give it some more time so that you know why you do something and how it will impact your blog later, isn't it?

A word before we shoot off to actually creating a new blog on Blogger platform: Blogger these days has two variants: classic and new. You can switch to one of them any time, and the option for that is at the bottom of the first Blogger window, called Dashboard. Some menus and other buttons are arranged differently on these, especially Theme, which we will discuss in the lower sections.

Let's start!

How to start a blog


We will create a blog quickly on Blogger free blogging platform and then discuss other aspects. That will introduce you to blogging, because I am assuming that you know nothing or very little about blogging. (If you know a bit but would like to go to the next step, you can skip the present section.)

How to create a blog in 5 minutes


1a. Open a Gmail account by clicking on this Gmail link. If you already have a Gmail account, log in.

1b. In the same browser, open another tab and type this on the address bar: blogger.com

1c. You will get a screen asking you to create a blog. On clicking the button, you get the window like given here (pic 1)


Start a blog on Blogger
PIC 1: STARTING WINDOW ON BLOGGER
     

What is blog title, how to give title on a Blogger blog?


In the text box next to Title, write a good name for your blog. If you  want to open a blog on cooking, you can write My best recipes; if the blog is on spirituality, you can write My views on life and God; if it is on football, you can think of writing Top football blog.

At this stage, don't worry too much about the blog title. You can change it whenever you want.

What is blog address, how to give the blog an address/ name?


In the next box, marked Address, whatever you write will become your new blog's web address in this format: https://www.example.blogspot.com. [This will be the web address or domain name of the blog. When a visitor types it on his browser, your blog will be shown.]

Write the web address of your blog carefully. It will be the permanent address of the blog you are creating, and you will not be able to change it.

How to choose right Title and Address for the blog?


Let us spend some time at this point to discuss what all you should take care when giving your new blog good Title and Address.

The Title that you gave to the blog will appear on top of the browser whenever someone opens the blog. This will also be the name by which the blog will be known. The Address (=domain name) is your blog's address on the web. The browser on a computer or smartphone can find your blog only if it goes to this address. So, if you have given the address example.blogspot.com to your blog, anybody can see the blog by typing this in his internet browser's address bar. You will share this address with others when you want them to visit your blog.

All types of addresses will not be available because others would have already opened their blogs / websites with those addresses. So, you will have to try a few times before you get the most suitable address for your blog.

When choosing the address (=domain name) for your blog, you must take care that the address/ name is easy to remember and is closely related to you or your blog's subject. If it is short, that much better. Do not give it an address that does not make sense or is difficult to remember or is not related to the subject of your blog or your own identity.

Keeping the title and address relevant also helps by attracting visitors and making the blog prominent on search engines (Google, Yahoo, Bing etc). Please note that when your blog comes high on search pages of Google or Bing or Yahoo, a lot of traffic flows in. You can later make use of this traffic in making money out of the blog.

1d. Now, click on Create Blog! And, believe me, your blog is already there on the web. Check it by typing it on another tab on your internet browser on smartphone/ computer.

Before we go further, let me introduce some blogging terms that will come again and again in this article and you will be using them often in your blogging career:

Post: An article written on the blog is called post. Posts are the main content on the blog. Posts can have text, audio, pictures and videos or a mix of any of these. Posts can have the facility for commenting and quick sharing to social media accounts. Old posts go down when new posts are written. When you start a blog, there may not be many posts but over time you must write a good number of informative and useful posts.

Page: On Blogger, you can open a page, which is technically similar to a post; but a page does not appear on its own unless you show it through a gadget. Pages do not go down when new posts and pages are published. Therefore, pages are used for creating standalone information such as contact number, background, blogger's bio, etc.

Individual posts and pages both are web pages of your blog (which is a website).

Widget or gadget: A gadget is an additional elements that you can place on top or bottom portions or in the side column of the blog. Such elements add new features to the blog, e.g. displaying time and date, calling popular posts, showing pages, listing different categories of posts, etc.

HTML: This is the base language of all web pages. Whatever you do on Blogger by way of giving it title and description, creating new posts and pages, editing posts/ pages, changing a setting, changing theme and layout, etc - everything is converted into HTML (and associated web languages) by the blogging software. Only because of HTML, a blog/ website appears on the visitor's internet browser.

Theme: Blogger has many readymade blog templates called themes. These are like different suits in a fashion shop where the designer has already designed clothes of different colors and shapes that go in a suit and so you do not have to start from buying the cloth, cutting, designing and sewing the suit yourself. You can customize the theme the way you can customize your suit according to your height, etc.

Layout: Layout means how different elements are placed on the blog. It is like the diagram I have shared with you below (pic 4), and is like the layout of a building in which you know how rooms, bath, kitchen, stairs etc are placed. Through the Layout menu, you can add new gadgets, customize them and move them to different places on the blog.

Dashboard: When you open Blogger after creating your blog, the first screen that comes up is your blog's dashboard. It has your blog's title and a list of menus like this: Posts, Pages, Stats, Comments, Earnings... Settings (see the left column in pic 8 below).

If you have opened many blogs in the same Blogger account, you select one blog from the top and the dashboard of that particular blog will open. You can initiate dozens of blogging actions from this place using menus - I have elaborated the functions of each menu item later in this article.

I will take you to the blog dashboard again and again so as to modify the blog's content and looks from there. So, familiarise yourself with the dashboard.

I have opened the blog. How do I write articles, put images?


Don't worry if you find your brand new blog unimpressive. For this tutorial, I have created a blog, anirud.blogspot.com and I will work on it so that you know how to go forward.

Right now, the blog is without any content. When I opened the blog on my internet browser, it showed the blog's title and nothing else. You can see it in pic 2 here:


What do I do to create a blog on Blogger platform?
PIC 2: FIRST SETP IN STARTING A BLOG

2a. Let us create some experimental content on the blog so that it is seen when we move to the next stages of creating the blog; we will edit the experimental text later.

For creating a post, go to the Dashboard, click on Posts. Click on New Post button and you have the post editor open before you.

2b. In the title box, write test Post 1, and write whatever you like in the lower (= body) part. Click on Labels on the right side and write European in the box. Click on Done. Now click on Publish button.

Similarly make another post, with title Test 2. In Labels box, write Indian, then click on Done.

Let me tell you what we have done: We created two new blog posts. Because the blog is on cooking, it is likely to have posts talking about European, Indian, Chinese, Japanese and other types of dishes. If your blog is on some other subject, think of all the categories of posts you will write on the blog.  You can use my expressions or yours; the choice is yours.

Let me introduce you briefly to the formatting and other tools available on the post editor. These are in the form of small icons at the top of the post editing window. In the picture below, I have given the actions they perform. We will use some of them right now, but leave the rest for later.


Tools for creating posts on Blogger blog
PIC 3: TOOLS AVAILABLE ON BLOG POST EDITOR

2c. From the post editing tools, selected Image icon (next to Link). It leads to an image uploading window. I selected an image available on my computer and pasted it here. This post now has an image. Publish this post.

2d. In the Dashboard, click on Pages. In the page editor, give it title About Me. Write something about yourself in the lower box. You can write about your experience, why you are starting this blog, your address etc. Then click Publish.

Now the blog has two posts and one page. One of the posts has an image and the two posts are supposed to related to European and Indian cooking.

Let us beautify the blog step by step.

How do I design my new blog to make it beautiful?


3a. I will suggest that you take out a paper and pen and make a sketch of your blog and think what all you will like to have in it. For example, on anirud.blogspot.com, I will like a big title. I will like to have a background with something related to foods. Its main column will have the posts that I write. When one clicks on a post, he will go to another web page in which the post will show up big. Let there be one column on the right of the main column where I will show one after the other the following gadgets: About me, Popular posts, Blogs I follow, and my social media links. Perhaps a form where visitors can make a quick comment.

Under the title, I will like to have a menu bar that shows some pages and categories of foods that my new blog deals with.

The rough layout I made for this blog is given in pic 3:


What is the right design for a new blog?
PIC 4: ROUGH LAYOUT OF NEW BLOG

Why do you need to have a proper blog layout from the point you start the blog? Because it gives clarity to your thoughts, and also because it becomes more and more cumbersome to change the layout later.

Let us select a theme for the blog and apply it. Different themes have different in-built layouts, fonts and color combinations, style of display of the blog and its page, etc.

3b. Go to dashboard, click on Theme.

3c. Click on Customize button. It will take you to one of the most important tools for making your blog wonderful - the theme designer. The screen would be like shown in pic 5 below:


What are the best themes for Blogger platform?
PIC 5: BLOGGER'S THEME DESIGNER

There are two parts of this window. The upper part has numerous options to design the blog and the lower part gives live preview of the blog.

You may like to some experimentation to find the right theme for the blog. Of course you can change the theme later on, but a good theme from the beginning helps in branding the blog.

There is a row of picture thumbnails on the top (See pic 5 above). When you click on any one, its variations come in the lower row. When you click on any of the lower thumbnails, the colors and looks of the blog change in the preview window.

3d. Don't fear in playing with different themes available. But do not work on the menu on the left side yet.


Choosing the right theme for a new blog
PIC 6 EXPERIMENTING WITH BLOG THEMES

For this experimental blog, I first applied the Simple theme. It gave a plain look to the blog as shown in 1 in the above pic 6. Then I chose Soho theme, and got results like 2 in the above picture: it had option only for left column where gadgets collapsed when not in use. I did not want that, so I did not apply that theme on my blog. I tried Notable theme for this blog (3 in pic 6). This looked too serious for a cooking blog.

Finally I applied Emporio theme. I think this is good for my food blog. Its third variant has plain background. I want to change that to something related to foods. I click on Background, and then on the image thumbnail. It gives me a choice of many ready-made images. I click on chili. The main image area is now filled with that chili image. If I upload an image from my computer, that would come here.

See picture 7 below. If you have taken similar actions while I am with you, your blog would look at least this much good. Has the blog started taking shape?


Should a new blog start with a new theme? Yes.
PIC 7: NEW THEME APPLIED THROUGH THEME DESIGNER

At this stage, let us be satisfied with this little play with Theme Designer.

3e. Click on Apply to Blogger button at the top right and then click on Back to Blogger. More than half done!

How to add new functions to the blog, if I don't know any tech?


As discussed earlier, gadgets (=widgets) add special content and features on the blog. Let us make four widgets for the blog, as I had mentioned while discussing the blog layout.

4a. Starting with dashboard, click on Layout. It should look something like shown below (pic 8).


How do I put widgets in Blogger blog?
PIC 8: BLOG LAYOUT IN BLOGGER

Look at the sidebar next to Featured Post. On top of it, there is a link for Add a Gadget and under it, you have rectangles with names of some gadgets already there, including a 'Report Abuse' gadget. These rectangles represent individual gadgets. Look at some of the gadgets already available on the top portion also. These relate to the title part of the blog.

You may have a different set of gadgets depending upon the theme you have chosen. In some themes these will be placed in a left side bar. In some themes, there may not be some gadgets.

4b. Click on Add a Gadget  link. This opens a small window with a series of gadgets. For the present experiment, let us choose Pages by clicking on plus sign next to it. In the small window that comes up, you will find two pages in it: Home and About Me. Uncheck Home, and click on Save. The gadget window will disappear, while a new rectangle will appear under the Add a Gadget link.

4c. The next gadget we are going to create is the list of popular posts in the blog. Right now you have only two posts and nobody has shared or made comments on them. So, this gadget will show these posts only.

In the Layout window, again click on Add a Gadget link. From the gadgets shown, select Popular Posts. Look at the options available for your understanding but don't change any. Save.

4d. For adding a gadget to show the blogs you like, Go again to Layout, then Add a Gadget link, then select Link List. Give it the title, Blogs I Follow. In the box New Site URL, give any blog/ website address that you like - better if you give the URL of a site related to the subject of your blog. Save.

4e. The last gadget that we will add will have our social media links. We could have added a Link List gadget here, but let us write something next to our social media links. So, let's use Text gadget (Layout > 'Add a Gadget' link > Text).

In the Text gadget window, Write something like This is my Facebook Page. Select these words by moving cursor over them. From the small buttons above it, click on the link button (showing a piece of chain). It will ask you to provide a URL. If you have a Facebook page, put its URL here. For experiment, you can put any other URL; if nothing is coming to your mind, put https://google.com .

If you have been following me closely, you would have found windows like shown in pic 9 below:


How widgets affect a blog on Blogger platform?
PIC 9: TEXT GADGET WITH LINKS

4f. One small job before we move forward. Look at the Layout. On the right sidebar, you have many rectangles, each showing a gadget. I am not happy with their arrangement. I would like About Me on top, Popular Posts under it, etc. So, let me move the gadgets up and down. I place mouse above any of them and when the mouse cursor changes to a four-arrow-cursor, click on it and drag it up or down till I am satisfied with the arrangement of gadgets on the sidebar.

As a second thought, I think of bringing Pages gadget to just under the title so that it becomes part of menu bar under the title (You can see pic 4 above about what I wanted to create and pic 10 below for what I finally achieved). I dragged the Pages widget further up and placed it under the Header gadget on top of the Layout window.

4g. Now click on save button at the bottom of the window.

The blog is almost ready. It is now crying for useful stuff on cooking.

What is 'good content' for a blog? How do I write great posts?


5a. When you start a new blog, you should create some good content before you make the blog live. Do some research, write some articles, collect or shoot some photos and/ or videos. If you choose the blog's subject carefully, writing good articles should not be a problem.

5b. One very important action you can take at this time: make a list of articles that you can think of. Make the list long - perhaps going to 50. Then review the list by checking which one of them people will be interested in. If the list of articles on which you can write and which will interest people goes up to 20-30, you are going to be successful blogger. If you do not get many ideas, think again; make a Google search. If you still have problem in finding about 50 articles, there is need to change the subject.

If you want to be a successful blogger in the long run, don't ignore this. You can skip it for the moment but bookmark it and come again, till you are ready with a list of 50 titles on which you can write good, useful posts.

5c. One pro tip: Keep composing posts on MS Word or other program that you use. But use them only for text work, not images/ videos. Do not copy-paste text directly from Word or other word processing programs - because the formatting and other code of these programs makes the HTML of blog posts too messy. First paste the text to Notepad and then copy that from Notepad to paste it on the blog.

5d. Let me take you again to the Dashboard. Clock on Posts. Click on the Edit link under Test Post 1, the first post that we created earlier.

Change its title to something useful. Since it is my first post, I have written this: Welcome to my cooking blog!

In the body of the post, write something useful. This will be the text of your first post.

5e. Add at least one image to every post, and make it a habit. This will pay you in the long run. Cooking blogs look wonderful when they have small images of recipe being made and then one or more big images of the final product.

Do not copy-paste an image from your computer. Put your mouse cursor where you would like to place the image. Now click on the small image icon on top of the post editor window ( see pic 3). It will prompt you to upload an image. Select the image and again select the image when it has landed in your blog. The image will be placed where your cursor is placed, and you will be able to see it on the post editor itself.

To see how it will appear on the blog, click on Preview button on the right top corner of the Blogger window.

Remember that content is the most important part of a blog. Without good content, no amount of beautification can take the blog to great heights. Since this article has become very long, I advise that you visit articles on writing good content that I have published in SocialLogging.


Should I start new blog on Blogger platform? Yes, look at this!
PIC 10: THE FINISHED BLOG 'COOKING WITH ANIRUD'

As far as basic setting of the blog is concerned, your blog is now ready. At this point, I would suggest that you write a number of good posts relating to your niche (subject/ area of blog). Give each post a label that would help you categorize the blog later.

Once you have published 8-10 posts, you can announce the launch of your blog. Now on, you are a blogger and should improve the blog's looks and SEO slowly.

Without telling you, I have already taken some actions on the new blog I created as an example. Let me now introduce these and some other features that would help you in customizing and improving your blog:

What are some good features that I should have on my blog?


6a. Menu bar under the title: The space under the blog title is a prime property. A menu bar at this place works great for telling the reader about the content on the blog. The menu bar can have categories/ labels of the blog content; there should also be a link to 'About Me/ Contact Me' page.

In some themes, the menu bar under the title is in-build. In some themes, the Pages gadget turns into a menu bar when moved from side bar to under the title. In the case of cookingwithanirud.blogspot.com, what I have done is to bring Pages gadget here. Instead of adding pages, I have put posts of different categories, e.g. European and Indian food here.

6b. Links to internal web addresses: On Blogger, each post and page has an independent web address (=URL). When you put labels on posts, Blogger creates a web page with the following URL structure: blog full domain name/search/label/label name .

You can use these URLs for sharing the blog post through social media or email. In this blog, I have put the links for labels in the menu items as you can see in pic 10.

6c. Pictures and videos in posts: Blogger allows you to upload pics and videos from your computer/ phone or the web, on your posts and pages, and also for making blog background and header image. The icon next to image inserting is that for inserting videos (pic 3).

Do not use others' photographs/ videos without permission.

After putting the photo, you get a number of options below or above the photo. I have used Caption under each photo (e.g. PIC 8: BLOG LAYOUT IN BLOGGER) in the present article so that my readers know which image I am speaking about.

Search engines cannot read the subject of photos. So, you should give ALT or alternate attribute to main photos. To do so, click on the image on the post editor, click on Properties option under or above the photo. There is a box for Alt Attribute. Give some useful but very small description for the photo here. This will help SEO of the blog. By the way, I have not talked about SEO here but SocialLogging has useful articles on SEO that you can visit later.

6d. Contact form: I have given a contact form in the side bar of this experimental blog. Contact form helps readers to make a quick comment on the blog.

Useful menus on the blogger dashboard


The blog dashboard has many menus that we have so far either not used or used them partially. Let us see what all these menus can do. Sometimes, you can achieve the same result from two different menus. For the sake of clarity, I am repeating the menus here though I have explained some before.

Posts menu: As you might have already seen, this menu gives a list of posts published on the blog. When you click on a post, it takes you to the post editor. You can also see posts by labels.

You can keep half-done posts as drafts. You can keep editing the drafts till you are satisfied. They do not show up on the blog till you publish them.

Another great feature of this menu is scheduling of posts. You can write a post for the futurewe use this menu for You can write posts but if you are not satisfied with them, you can keep them for future. If you just Save them, they are called Draft. You can later Publish them.

You can also give a future date and time when the post should be published. Click on Schedule in the right side bar.

Pages menu: You can create a large number of standalone pages. If your blog is on food, you can make an independent page on one aspect, e.g. conversion table for quantities of ingredients. You can show this page through a gadget, and you can also refer to this page in posts by linking it.

Layout and Gadgets menu: You can add AdSense advertisements using AdSense gadget. These will work only when your site is verified by AdSense. Please see the Earning menu below for some more discussion.

You can also put affiliate ads on the blog. There are some affiliate networks and some companies like Amazon also offer affiliation. You put their ads on your blog, and they pay you commission when someone buys through your blog.

Click on Blog Posts in the Layout menu. You can change the number of visible posts in one screen, date of posting, buttons under ads, ads between posts, etc through this gadget.

Some themes have provision for a Featured Post, as in the example blog here. Featured post is a post that is displayed in big rectangle above other posts and has a featured image associated with it. You can change the Featured Post attributes using a gadget of this name in the Layout menu, if the theme has this option.

Theme menu: As we did earlier, this menu is used for changing the theme of the blog. From Theme menu, use Customize button, but with care. If your existing theme has Featured Post, three columns etc but the new theme does not have Featured Post or has only two or single column, the new theme may show these gadgets wrongly, not show them or mix up the earlier layout.

Do not use the Edit HTML button on Theme menu unless you are sure that you will not disturb the underlying HTML. You can use this option safely for putting some meta description for verifying your blog, e.g. for AdSense or affiliate ads. Leave editing of HTML for a later date.

Settings menu: In the Basic sub-menu, there are options to change the title and description of the blog, applying an independent domain name to the blog and giving permission of editing of the blog to others. The last one is very useful when you want to have a multi-author blog.

Posts, comments and other sub-menus are safe and obvious.

Under Search preferences sub-menu, enable Description. This will allow you to write a useful description for each post on the blog. This is the description that will come when someone sees your posts in search engines and also when the postvis shared on social media.

The Other sub-menu has two very useful tools: One: You can import and back up (export) your blog content. This is very useful when you want to move the blog later from Blogger to elsewhere. It also keep a back up of your content so that you can use it if by any chance the posts etc are lost. Two: There is also a tool to manage your videos.

Stats menu:  This menu gives statistics about growing popularity of the blog, most shared posts, region and device-wise visitors etc.

Comments menu: This is used for checking comments on the blog. If you have applied moderation of comments (that is, you will approve the comments yourself. This option is available through Dashboard> Settings> Posts, Comments and Sharing), you can tick which comments you want to select or reject.

Earnings menu: This is used for associating your blog with an AdSense account so that you can earn money through AdSense ads. The AdSense gadgets will show ads and you will get commission only when your blog has an AdSense account associated with it.

That's all for now. This post has become as big as an ebook and I cannot afford to make the post any bigger, so let me guide you to some relevant resources on Sociallogging:

I have a number of useful resources on blogging and their number is growing. For search engine optimization, there is an exhaustive list of SEO actions that succeed.

This post gives a brief on earning from blogging. There are many examples of successful blogs, and you can take inspiration from them if you want to make money from blogging.

Making a blog on Wordpress platform is almost as easy, though some menus work slightly differently. Wordpress free platform does not allow you to make money from the blog by putting AdSense or affiliate advertisements. It also does not allow posting of videos. I have an exhaustive post on Sociallogging, on the differences between Blogger and Wordpress.

Let me close by saying that you can make a personal blog or a professional looking blog on Blogger or Wordpress free blogging platforms easily and make it wonderful. What is needed beyond just 'starting a blog' is to make it resourceful and useful for visitors. That is what is successful blogging in 2020 all about.

All the best wishes!

8 niches for making money from blogging in 2020

Making money from blogs depends upon a number of factors. But the niche [or area/ subject of blogging] comes on top because unless the niche is an 'earning' niche, all efforts might go waste. Consider the following realities:
  • People search for products and services all the time on the web. Some products are in high demand. People click on their advertisements and also buy them online if the ad comes in front of them. If there are discount and additional benefits available, the propensity to buy increases that much. So, when a blog has ads for such a product, its visitors are more likely to click on ads.
  • Even when people search for information and advice only (no buying intent), there are higher chances of their looking for things that are trendy. And then, if a blog has information or advice on that subject and links for further reading, the chances are much higher as compared to blogs that do not deal with a trendy subject.
  • The earning niches change over time. Yesterday's money making blogging niches have become less-paying because either too many people already are selling services in those niches or buyers' tastes/ choices have changed.
  • One blogging niche that earns well in one location might not do so in another.
  • In some niches, searches are not with buying intent while in others, searches are mostly made with the intent to buy.
  • Even after you have chosen the right niche for your blog, how much money you make from blogging will depend on many factors. Some of these may not look too relevant but they influence how much time visitors stay on the blog and how seriously they take your advice/ recommendations. These factors include quality of posts, expertise, SEO and promotion, engaging with others, regularity of blogging, efforts made for monetization, and integration with other activities such as selling ebooks or courses online.
    

Blog topics that make the most money


The following 8 blog topics are among the most searched on Google. Many brands are ready to pay to bloggers in these niches, in different ways (affiliation, direct promotion, reviews, PPC ads, blog tours, etc). Moreover, the niches given in the list are almost universal, i.e. these niches are presently working in most geographical areas. 

However, remember that you need to work very hard to create a base for yourself because there are thousands of big firms and bloggers already there who have optimized their websites/blogs on these topics.
 

The best niche for blogging: 'making money'


Interestingly, making money itself is among the top paying niches in many geographies. You can, depending upon your expertise and experience, focus on the best solutions you can offer for making money.

The focus area need not be limited to online money-making. You can expand it to earning offline, start ups, making small businesses successful and so on.


best niches for blogging

Travel blogging: a highly profitable blog niche in 2000


This niche is unbeatable for passionate travelers. There are hundreds of travel bloggers who make handsome money and enjoy their life at the same time. 

Hotels, travel agencies, tourism departments of governments, owners of luxury ships and yachts, airlines - a dozen related businesses are willing to pay to travel bloggers, and in many ways.

If you have interest in taking photos, that complements travel blogging very well. In addition to putting fascinating photographs on your own travel blog, you can sell the photos to reputed magazines, advertising agencies and others interested in good quality photos. You can also post photos on photo-sharing sites and earn extra bucks.

Health and wellness: topics with less competion but good potential to make money

[Includes alternative medicine and weight loss] 

Many people who suffer from ailments try to diagnose it on the web before they visit the doctor. Once they are prescribed a medicine, they look for its details on the web. When the disease becomes chronic, they try to find alternative answers.

There are many lifestyle related issues such as blood pressure, diabetes and weight gain, which affect millions of people. Increase in longevity has also led to many diseases such as heart diseases, bone and muscle decay and various types of cancer. Since there are no easy solutions for these, people look for new ways to deal with them and don't mind experimenting. 

People's overall interest in health and wellness has also increased over years, and a large number of people of all ages look to the web to find tips.

Bloggers in this niche cannot compete with big diagnostic or pharmaceutical websites. However, bloggers can choose a narrow topic and carry detailed information and genuine tips on the blog. 

Local information, alternative systems of medicine (e.g. yoga and alternative systems of medicine such as homoeopathy, Unani, Chinese, Ayurveda, naturopathy, acupuncture) and solutions to specific ailments (e.g. male pattern baldness, menstrual bleeding, migraine, high blood pressure, children's runny nose, pregnancy issues) can get the blogger the required attention from people. 

The beauty of health niche is that its narrow sub-niches too get attention of paying brands.

Technology and related subjects are blogging niches that pay well

[especially with trouble-shooting and tips]

Technology is a very crowded niche, and yet there is scope for very focused writing, news and advice in many areas. These include a narrow coding topic (e.g. a series on a new web language), tips of professional use of commonly available software (e.g. MS Excel for financial calculations), specialized science/ technology topics, and troubleshooting in different tech areas.

Review of new gadgets receives a very high traffic. However, a small blogger can't think of competing with big review sites and established bloggers.
 

Beauty and fashion are popular blog topics that are reported to make the most money 


Beauty, fashion and lifestyle is an evergreen blogging category that earns well in most regions of the globe. 

Fashion/ beauty/ lifestyle bloggers in established markets (e.g. USA, Europe) draw attention of buyers as well as brands, and those in new markets (e.g. India, Philippines) have a new opportunity unfolding.

Beauty and fashion often go together, and now bloggers add other lifestyle areas to make a well-sounding 'lifestyle' blog. While the first two are broad enough, lifestyle allows bloggers to add other related topics including parenting, travel, hobbies, home decor and so on.
 

Parenting and child health blogs are in high demand and do make money


Parenting blogs attract new moms, and there are millions of curious and anxious moms out there all the time!  Moms (and pops) are perpetually worried about the health of their newborn, toddler and school-going kid, and it does not stop till the child is quite grown up. 

First time parents are especially drawn towards parenting blogs, and would try to read anything that looks logical and doable for well-being of their kid. They also engage with bloggers to find answers to their doubts.

Parenting blogs ideally should have a mix of personal experience and professional advice. Patenting also fits well as part of health and lifestyle blogs.
 

Food blogging makes good money and does not need big investment


Cooking is also an evergreen blogging subject that fascinates all, especially women, and makes good money for bloggers. 

People look for authentic cuisine, especially ethnic or exotic. Then there are those looking for special dishes for a party, participating in cooking competitions, checking ingredients and tricks, searching food for kids/ patients/ pregnant mothers/ etc, chefs themselves... The list goes on.

Brands want to associate with a cooking/ food blogger. These include restaurants and  hotels, bars, airlines, and sellers of ingredients,  kitchen equipment and white goods. They offer advertisements, paid reviews, press trips and other considerations for promoting the brand and/ or being seen on the blog.

Once established, food bloggers can write on magazines. They can appear on cooking shows, restaurant endorsement events and so on. Many food bloggers also write books out of their blog posts. 
 

Blogs that review products and services make money, but there is high competition.


This blogging niche gets results, though there is enormous competition from established comparison sites and blogs. 

If the blogger keeps publishing authentic reviews of products and services, and has enough patience, this niche can make money for the blogger. For reviewing physical products, initially the reviewer may need to contact producers and service providers for reviewing their products. It pays in the long run when the blogger buys products (does not accept gift hampers from sellers) before reviewing them so that he/ she is not influenced by the brand.

Reviews are often part of other types of blogs (e.g. beauty, books, travel) and they supplement the blog's earning.

This social media platform for the LGBTQ community assures dignity, safety

It is not likely that you have seen a new social media platform, called The Pridebook.

This platform is especially created for the LGBTQ community by two techie friends based in the technology capital of India, Bengaluru. 

The general impression the society carries about LGBTQ+ community begins with the stereotypes people see during their childhood, reinforced by parents, films etc. In not-so-progressive societies, the condition of people with these queer genders is rather pathetic. Governments and corporates have also not been able to take care of their special needs. 

There are many groups and communities of this social group on social media platforms, and The Pridebook will sure give them another, secure, platform to share their common concerns, feelings, ideas.

The creators of the platform claim that since the society still is not responsive to the special needs and feelings of the third gender, they are ensuring that engagements on this platform are whitelisted by manually filtering of content. That should make the platform safe and cozy for people of the third gender and with alternative gender choices.

Among the popular social media apps that are popular among LGBT+ people, mention must be made of Grindr, Blendr and Her. Most platforms focusing on this community encourage geo-socialization and dating. The Pridebook seems to be platform with a difference. Perhaps it would be a worthy  alternative to Mooz platform, which claims to be 'the biggest LGBT community online'. 

This platform is already available in over 40 languages, and other languages are being added. There are plans to add sections on vocational training, career counseling and other support to this group. There would also be job openings from corporate houses. 

social media platform for LGBTQ community

One can also hope that others join this platform so as to show their support for this community.