Expert: Keith Dsouza, Techie Buzz
#28 of 30
About the Expert
Keith Dsouza is owner of Techie Buzz, a blog about technology, computers and software. A Software Engineer by profession, Keith started blogging as a hobby after discovering the power writing has in other successful blogs. Keith’s aim at blogging is to spread the news about the latest technology and keep it as simple as it gets, review beta and alpha software, give information to users about how they can use this software and what the good and bad features are and occasionally write some tutorials and personal views on tweaking software, fixing errors and some tips for better usability experience. Chitika is pleased to share Keith’s perspectives on blogging in India.
Blogging in India did not build up much momentum until the last couple of years. Till then, blogging was a medium used by a select few people who were already aware of it. Even though I had a passion for writing, taking up blogging took a longer time for me as I was not aware of it even though I used the Internet on a daily basis. It was when one of my friends came up with this topic of blogs that I realized what blogging was. The first thing I learned about blogging from my friend was that he made money every month from his blogs and how many hits he got from Google. This was the biggest mistake of my blogging experience, thinking of a blog as a money making tool rather than a medium of communication with countless numbers of people who I have never met or known. But within a few months, I liked blogging and so money went down to second rank on my list. I did make my first 100$ after 6 months of blogging, but that was just the icing on the cake, because within six months I had started enjoying blogging so much that I was finally hooked on it. I went from owing one domain to owning two in the first 3 months itself. I have made quite a few mistakes in my blogging career. I didn’t follow a niche and wrote just about everything on the same blog. I write more about technology so mixing a personal blog with technology didn’t turn out to be the right choice. People would be more hesitant to visit my blog to read tech related news as it was in my personal name. Though I corrected the mistake and bought another domain name within a couple of months and moved my tech news to that domain, it was a costly mistake because I lost those readers I had generated in the first couple of months. Along the way, I’ve made lots of friends across the blogosphere, thus coming to know people from various places which would have been impossible if I hadn’t taken up blogging. The reason I am writing this post is also because of a dear friend, Liz Strauss.
Mistakes, mistakes and more mistakes The hardest part about blogging is that many people take it up just as a medium of making money and in the end earning nothing and losing a medium of communication. Many bloggers tend to get lazy if they are not making money because that’s the reason they took up blogging for. Many such blogs die a painful death, even if the blogger is an extremely good writer. One way I see many bloggers err is that they sometimes just write for the sake of writing completely unaware that what they write is being communicated to their readers. I have come across blogs where the title is good but the English is horrible or at times, the whole thing is horrible. I have had to use the close button the moment I have read the first paragraph because if I don’t understand what I am reading, what’s the point in reading it? It’s ironic how people assume others to interpret things when they cannot understand it. Communication using blogs has to be good if not perfect. Though there are many blogs that are very good, there are far too many that are very bad. Many bloggers do not realize that content is king and if they have good content people will definitely want to come to their site. Once the blog is successful, money will also follow. The other thing is that there are far too many duplicate posts being created. What I read on one blog will be a copy of what I read in another blog a few hours ago without much effort made to write the post in their words. If there is a major release by a company like Google many posts have the same content, though it is bound to happen, some effort should be made by the author so that the information being passed through the blog is in his own words, something that makes a user read it again even after the information he has already devoured. Many a times a flaw found in software gets more attention than the software itself, so if the blog is about software, rather than writing about the software, it could be more useful to use it and find out its features and limitations and write a post about that. I had an experience when Google Calendar was released, many people wrote about it being released. I took the time to use the software and found out that it did not work in IE7 passing back that information to my users through the blog. It made a lot of sense for me to do that, unfortunately not many bloggers do that.
Another thing is many bloggers do a lot of SEO for their sites. They tend to write posts for search engines not humans. Few succeed but many more wither away.
Lack of original posts and ideas Another thing about many of the blogs I’ve seen is the lack of originality in the articles, most of the blog posts are news picked up from the blogosphere or new software releases which is bound to duplicate, though that’s not bad as not all readers are aware of all the things at times so imparting that information is not bad, but writing an original post is a must, which many bloggers tend not to do. I like to read articles from Digital Inspiration as it posts original articles. LifeHacker is pioneer of original articles and I love reading those along with CyberNet Technology News. I have made a few posts which are original and help users solve problems or add value to their computers. Whenever I have solved a problem which I cannot resolve using search engines, I make a blog post out of it so that my readers can benefit from them. Few articles were related to un-installing Media Player 11 when it was in beta stage (I get about 200 visitors from Google for this), mounting box.net in windows explorer, fixing Firefox search box problem etc. Making such original posts regularly increases the value of the blog and keeps readers coming in from various search engines even months after you have written a post, since it is more likely to turn up in search results. Also most of the new trends that pick up in the blogosphere make its way into Indian blog sites rather than the other way around. Contribution to the blogosphere by writing articles is a great thing but we need to also contribute with more trends that are used by others. A recent trend was that of guest writing which picked up a lot of momentum in the last couple of months. That’s a definite sore point missing in the Indian blogosphere.
Abuse and Misuse Many new bloggers abuse the blogosphere to get more traffic. A couple of things I have noticed is that many new bloggers comment on better rated blogs which will be read by a lot of people as a way to get traffic. This is a menace and cannot be identified as lots of comments relate to the topics. Another thing I have seen is that many bloggers post their own content to sites like Digg and Reddit using different identities and getting a meager amount of traffic but in the process losing credibility in front of thousands of people and also misusing a system to generate traffic. I have seen literally every new article from many new sites in the upcoming pages of Digg. This is what irks me as many new bloggers use this platform to build their sites which is not wrong but in doing this they lose many a readers and may really not have a chance to be on the Digg home page even if they write a very good article.
Lack of Information When I started blogging there was not much information I could make use of, but today there are loads and loads of sites where you can get information about blogging. ProBlogger is the best place to start from. No one could be better than Liz Strauss to learn about having a relationship with the blogger. She is also the reason I am writing this post today. There are many more things that come up as problems with blogging in India. Internet bandwidth is a costly affair in India and thus writing articles, gathering information about software, downloading and using them has to be done carefully.
Technical Difficulties Many ISPs in India provide users with a cap of 1 GB download per month and charge per MB for any additional downloads. This limits the researching capability as many users will be blissfully aware of their remaining bandwidth. Though there are unlimited data packages, those are during odd hours when half of the people are asleep. Finding a good hosting solution is also quite a pain, many hosting providers charge a princely sum for a meager 20MB of web space, which usually deters a user from having their own blogs. Even in these there are bandwidth caps which further add up to the cos, a couple of Digg front page hits and the blog is paying thousands of rupees as bandwidth charges. I host my blog on Dreamhost which is a very reliable and provides me with unlimited bandwidth, etc. Many users look for free blogging platforms like Blogger, but look at the content – more than 50% of bloggers host crap and a very large amount of those sites are created by Indian bloggers. Most of the blogs that have a personal domain turn out to be pretty good.
Future Looks Good Today blogging in India is big and most big media companies like Rediff, NDTV, CNNIBN are pushing the blogging platform to the users and making them more aware of it. Newspapers like Mumbai Mirror are also publishing snippets from around the blogosphere on a given current topic. The exposure has definitely reached great heights, but the quality has yet to do the same thing. I find significantly less bloggers in India whom I prefer to read in my RSS reader. Hopefully along with the exposure the quality will improve too. Unfortunately at the time when I started blogging, I did not have the luxuries of knowing more about blogging other than the money making part. That mistake caused me to lose an opportunity to create a great niche and even more revenue at this stage of my blogging. But I am starting all over again, I got a well deserved break that allowed me to think over and plan what I need to do. Now that I am in the US, it will allow me give more time towards blogging, which I love. Hopefully I will keep up the trend of writing more original posts.