BlogBash – 30 days 30 experts! was one of the most successful events ever done on the Chitika Blog. Dreamed up by Chitika’s CTO Alden DoRosario and inspired by an interesting series from the Month of Apple Bugs, Chitika’s goal for this event was to “empower the blogger.” The experts wrote about an array of wide-ranging topics, from “Dare to be Odd” and “Shopping and Blogging: How to make the marriage work”, to “Help me! My mom is my blogs only reader!” and many more.
Good thing your parents didn’t name you Urhines or Toolio. For the more fortunate among us, here are the Top 5 tips to keep in mind when you name your next website or business. Who am I to talk? I’ve made most of these mistakes — and lived through the pain.
1. Registering an extension other than .com
There are a lot of people out there who think that .com is the Internet. To make matters worse, lots of applications work better with .com domain names (e.g. Firefox appends www and .com to a domain name when you type something and hit Control-Enter). Moreover, over the long term, your brand will automatically be associated with the .com version. Here are some other things to remember:
- .net: Registering a .net is probably marginally acceptable. But you are setting yourself up for a painful purchase of the corresponding .com name if you become rich and famous in the future.
- .us, .info: This is completely unacceptable if you are building a long term business. Don’t skimp on the $3. Most people associate these domains with spam (since 99% of .info domains are spam).
2. Not giving yourself the chance to stand out
Give yourself the chance to differentiate yourself and rule your category or niche. Even though a generic name like buy.com might help in the short term, it does make it difficult to make it memorable over the long term. Imagine if Amazon had called itself InternetShopping.com? Or if Google had called itself search.com (Would it have dominated advertising then? How does “Ads by Search.com” sound?)
3. Hosting your blog or website on yourname.freeservice.com
Most people dont expect to get rich and famous when they start a blog. But give yourself the chance. All it costs is $5/month to host it on your own domain. And you’ll know within a few months whether you will hit it big or not. Also, as you are bootstapping your blog, its difficult for your users to take you seriously when you yourself are not willing to invest $5 in a domain name. To make matters worse, once you do go down the free path, coming out of it is really tough. Updating links for SEO, making your users update their RSS feeds — the list of things is a nightmare.
4. Making your name so obscure, nobody has a clue what it means
It’s nice party talk to explain to people how your company name means “Dancing Gazelles” in the African Zulu language. Problem is: Two seconds later, they forget the name. That’s not a nice thing the next time they need to refer your website or service to a prospective customer. At Chitika, we initially fell into this category. Luckily over time, our phonetic resemblance to chiquita, the well-known banana company, actually worked in our favor — as people always remembered the brand.
5. Forgetting to register international versions (and other variations)
As soon as you see your service gaining momentum, dont forget to register international variation of your domain. Yeah — its tough to initially shell out hundreds of dollars to register domains for all countries and variations (like .org). But when you see momentum growing, dont skimp — and dont forget. The day you get your first big PR buzz or New York Times mention, it will be too late (yeah — the domainers will beat you to it!) Comments are open. Please feel free to add your own two cents — serious or otherwise (this example, anyone?)
Some More Light Reading:
- Top 10 Mistakes Made When Choosing a Domain Name – allbusiness.com
- 8 Mistakes To Avoid When Naming Your Business – entrepreneur.com
- *Funny* Top 10 Domain Mistakes Ever – a-poor-excuse-for-a-blog.blogspot.com
Posted by Alden DoRosario (alden [at] chitika [dot] com) This post was inspired by Problogger’s Group Writing Project sponsored by Chitika.
Darren Rowse over at Problogger.net is holding a Group Writing Project! The topic for the project is “Top 5” Darren says, this is a great way to “make some new blogging friends and put your blog out there.”
We gladly took the opportunity to be a part of this cool event by sponsoring the winning prize of $1001!
Good Luck Everyone! DON’T MISS OUT ON THIS OPPORTUNITY!
ConsumerSearch.com, one of our favorite publisher clients, was sold to About for $33m in cash, according to this post on ComparisonEngines.com (via NYTimes) announcing this deal. Hats off to Derek, Max, and the team! It is always great to hear and share a success story.
Posted by Venkat Kolluri, CEO.
Nothing in Chitika’s history has caused more intrigue than its name. From being lovingly labeled as “peddlers of produce” to giving a 1-hour phone presentation with the other side looking at the wrong domain, we’ve had our share of domain fun. Read on for some interesting stories. There are definitely some lessons to be learned the next time you name your website or startup company.
So what does Chitika mean anyway?
The year is 2003 and Internet startups are dropping like hot potatoes. There we were (two geeks!) sitting at Wendys’ envisioning a company built around the concept of “Data Mining for Business Intelligence“. We brainstormed for hours on a name (essentially all variations of the word Digimine — cause the coolest company in our eyes at that time was Dr. Usama Fayyad’s Digimine). However, it’s tough to name your company when you don’t have a finished product or service. So in the end, Chitika co-founder Dr. Venkat Kolluri came up with a novel solution: Let’s solve people’s problems “in a snap”. He then digs into his South Indian roots and came up with the word “Chitika” — which in his native language Telugu means “In a Snap“. When you are starting off a new website or company and have nothing to show off yet — just piggy back off vague concepts (e.g. Chitika, Amazon, Accenture, etc)
We were told, “CHANGE THE NAME.”
Over the years as Chitika grew as a company, we had numerous people advising us to change the name (The logic ranging from “Hey, its so tough to remember” to “It rhymes with something dirty“). One person though stuck to her guns. Chitika advisory board member Meredith Hanrahan, CMO of salary.com, had a simple logic: Its tough to remember — but once somebody remembers it, they will never forget it.
It’s the Google Age, dude. How does the name even matter?
Well — that’s somewhat true. Google has significantly reduced the need to have a name people can remember. But there are some things that we have learnt along the way as to why the name matters.
- Branding: Over the long run, there is nothing better than to have a service associated with your company name. There can be hundreds of companies selling cola — but they will all be considered as coke variants. So give yourself this chance. Rather than naming your company Acme Networks, build a brand.
- Marketing: Having a weird name like Chitika really opens up the door for sweet marketing ideas. For example, at the last career fair our company attended, we handed out bananas as take-aways. Why bananas ? Cause half the non-techie world associates us with Chiquita — the banana producing company. So why not — lets play off that.
Over the life span of your website or company, your name is sure to cause much intrigue and pain. What matters most though is how well you leverage your name to meet your business goals. We are Chitika — and we are sticking to our bananas! Comments are open .. please feel free to add your own domain or name stories. Posted by Alden DoRosario (alden [at] chitika [dot] com) This post was inspired by Jeremy Wright’s (b5 Media) up-skirt post for the Chitika BlogBash.
Jenn K. Lee
“I think a common misconception among non-bloggers is that blogging is really easy. It’s not. I’ve never worked so hard in my life, but I’ve also never been this happy.“
A little something about me: Writing has been my passion since I was about 7 years old; it’s the only thing I do that makes me lose track of time while simultaneously making me feel completely present. Before pocketables my hobbies and other interests were writing and gadgets. But now that writing and gadgets are what I devote most of my waking hours to, I’d have to go with karaoke and online shopping. I also have a random obsession with snowflakes, marshmallows, and pillows.
Let’s take it back: Pocketables actually began (under a different name) as a writing outlet for me. One afternoon last summer, I signed up for a blogging account to keep an online diary, just a little journal where I could write about whatever was on my mind. Purely by coincidence, what was on my mind at the time was the Sony Vaio UX180P (gadgets rank right below writing for me). So I wrote about it and changed the name of the site about ten times (I didn’t get my domain until September, three months later) until finally settling on “pocketables.”
Hmm in 10 years… My husband and I are celebrating our 1-year anniversary next week, so in 10 years I hope to see us with children, living in a bigger place, traveling often, and still being grateful for the life we’ve built together. On a personal level, I just hope to still be writing regularly. I’ve been writing short stories, novellas, plays, and non-fiction since elementary school, so I’d love to be doing something professional along those lines someday.
Behind my passion for blogging: Blogging involves so much more than I could have ever imagined, and I haven’t even scratched the surface in learning about the industry. I try not to focus too much on all of that though, because I don’t want to lose sight of why I started pocketables in the first place. I haven’t encountered many struggles in my blogging career so far, at least none that stand out in particular, but I think a common misconception among non-bloggers is that blogging is really easy. It’s not. I’ve never worked so hard in my life, but I’ve also never been this happy. So it’s a ton of work, but it doesn’t feel like it. I couldn’t ask for anything more than that.
The Celebration Doesn’t Have to End After Blog Bash.. follow us on over to the after party!
A series of posts about the struggles & success of today’s publishers from around the world. We are hunting down the best kept secrets from site owners & getting personal with some of the coolest publishers today!
STARTS: MAY 3rd, 2007 on the Chitika Blog!
Starting off the series of “A Publisher Speaks” is: Jenn K. Lee from www.pocketables.net A site dedicated to reviews, information, and musings on portable consumer electronics and related accessories. She will talk about her passions, her blogging & where she sees herself in 10 years!
Come along with us as we explore stuggle and success of YOU!
Expert: Andy Sernovitz, WordofMouthBook.com
#30 of 30
About the Expert
Andy Sernovitz is author of the book “Word of Mouth Marketing: How Smart Companies Get People Talking”, and is the guru of the word of mouth marketing business. He is teaching the first graduate class in word of mouth marketing at Northwestern’s Medill School of Journalism. A 16-year veteran of the interactive marketing business, Andy has spent years helping companies learn how to do better marketing. Andy taught entrepreneurship at the Wharton School of Business, ran a business incubator, and started half a dozen companies. GasPedal, his consulting company, advises great brands like TiVo, Ralph Lauren, Sprint, and Kimberly-Clark. He created the Word of Mouth Marketing Association around the latest revolutions in blogs, buzz, and word of mouth. Before that, in the dot com days, he ran the Association for Interactive Marketing. Andy sends out an amazing newsletter called “Damn, I Wish I’d Thought of That,” which you can get at www.gaspedal.com
We’ve all had to deal with negative blog posts about us, our companies, or causes we believe in. It’s hard to ignore … and it’s even harder to resist getting into an all-out battle of the bloggers. Try to resist the temptation to get drawn into a fight. As they say “Never pick a fight with anyone who buys ink by the barrel.” You can’t win a fight on someone else’s blog – they will always get the last word. But you can do a few reasonable things to calm things down, and get your side of the story out there. What you can do is participate, earn respect, and tell your story. Jump in, join the conversation, and be a part of it. You can make sure that the conversation ends on a positive note, that your views are heard, and that you’re part of the community. Working with bloggers is hard for many PR-trained executives because of the inherent lack of control over the situation. It’s about learning to respond and participate instead of plant and initiate. It’s no longer about managing what other people say, but letting your own words speak for themselves. And it’s about earning respect (but not necessarily agreement) from bloggers by showing you know how to participate the right way.
Five steps to dealing with negative blog posts
1. Listen carefully. Every day you should be searching for your name, company, and products on the blog search engines. You should always know what is being said about your company, and never get caught by surprise. Stay in the loop, because it’s too late to respond to a post that you discover weeks after it appears.
2. Participate. Nothing earns more credibility with bloggers than a company that is part of the blog community. Blog. Comment. Converse. Don’t be a stranger. Become part of the community. It’s too late if you aren’t already blogging when a negative attack happens. You can’t earn respect after you need it … you need to earn it up front, and build a storehouse of good will.
3. Show that you are listening. Many bloggers are (pleasantly) shocked when they find out that a company is actually reading what they write. Post a note when you read something you like. Post replies and comments when you see unfair criticism. Post an offer of help when you hear a complaint. Always identify your affiliation with your company, and offer to solve any problems. In many, many cases, this is the most important thing you can do.
4. Convert critics when you can. You can’t make all people happy all time, but you sure can try. Work your butt off to find ways to make people happy. You should be doing this for all customers, but you should work extra hard to help bloggers. There is a double payoff here: First, you’ll have the story of a happy resolution as the most recent post on the blogs. Second, much research shows that converted critics are the most enthusiastic fans.
5. Write for the record. In the end, don’t expect to win every point in every blog debate. It’s not possible. What you can do, however, is tell your side of the story. Post comments or entries in your own blog for posterity. Remember the permanent record, and write what you want history to see. And then … move on. Once you’ve made a genuine attempt to resolve a problem, and after you’ve told your side of the story, it’s time to let it go. You’ve done all you can, and anything else will just drive more traffic to the negative post.
The Bottom Line If you want a good rep in the blogosphere, you need to be good. Genuinely good. Your reputation is the amount of respect you earn, less the number of people you annoy. So choose to earn respect. In the end, it’s much more fun to go to work each day at a respected company that is honest, fun, and treats people well. You might as well work to make that happen.
Expert: Jeremy Wright, b5media
#29 of 30
About the Expert
Jeremy Wright is a longtime serial entrepreneur who has been involved with the business, programming, and IT aspects of the technology industry for nearly a decade. He has focused on communication-orientated ventures and regularly consults on blogging, communication, IT, and time management. Jeremy is the author of Blog Marketing, a business book on blogging as well as as the President of b5media, a prominent blog network.
Y’know, I remember back when blogging was simple. More community oriented. Less commercial. There were no “blog measurement” companies, no “blog consultants”, hell there were probably only 3 companies that had blogs at all. A simpler time. A quainter time. The wild, wild west. Home, home on the blog… Where the jerks and the buffalo roam. Yep, them were simpler times. And then, just like our precious wild west, somebody realized there was gold in them thar hills. I still remember the original feud that raged across the blogging world back in 2003 about ads on blogs. At the time it was a shitstorm (pardon my French) around “running AdSense on your blog will compromise your integrity!” I mean it was serious! People unsubscribed from A List bloggers by the dozens! The blogging world nearly imploded! It’s pretty funny looking back on it. But eventually bloggers got used to ads. Readers got used to ads. And the truth was that almost nobody’s integrity was compromised. And those who had their integrity compromised were self-selected out and shunned. From Day 1, bloggers have always stumbled along in the world of advertising. Even at b5media, the blog network I help run, that we’ve often stumbled along a little bit. Sure, there’s a bit of a process for going from 3$ a day (where we started) to 3,000$ a day (what we’re about to reach)… but we totally ignored that process. We made a lot of mistakes. This post is designed to share a few of the lessons we learned while stumbling along in the dark. Sure we got lucky, had a fantastic team and had great timing… but we still made a crazy number of mistakes! I hope you’re able to learn something from them 😉
Have a Vision I remember in early 2005 when the first email that kicked b5media off was written. It was something like “hey, we’re all making decent money, let’s pool together and sell our blogs as a package!” Famous last words, eh? (yep, I’m Canadian!) Then, like a bunch of putzes, we figured “well, if we’re going to do that we should put them under their own brand” and “if we’re going to have our own brand we should launch new blogs” and “if we’re going to do that we should hire writers”. One of our biggest mistakes in the early days was having a clear vision. We did fairly well at planning 2-3 months out, but we simply weren’t able to figure out how the company would grow 2-3 years down the road. What would it look like if we had 200 blogs, tens of millions of pageviews a month, millions a year in revenue? We were pretty good at imagining the status quo growth (10-20% per month)… But because we didn’t envision big growth, we often had to stop in the middle of the highway, open up the hood and go “hang on, if this continues we have some changes to make here!” It’s pretty funny looking back on it. Basically, because we spent our first year playing catch-up with b5media’s potential (which felt like trying to race a boulder tearing down a mountain!) we simply didn’t do enough looking ahead to the future and we didn’t do enough “what would happen if?” type discussions. Who knows where we’d be if we had (I’m hoping it’s not Iowa… *shudder @ Iowa*)?
Shut Up Until You Have Something to Say I remember the day we launched b5. Duncan and I had been working basically non-stop for 3 weeks. We’d found bloggers, picked names, installed WordPress, designed themes, put plugins in, done the homepage… it was crazy. Absolutely crazy! We were all so excited that we … well, we kind of got ahead of ourselves. The day of launch we realized there was no tagline. So in a rush of excited, youthful enthusiasm we made the site headline “b5media – a new kind of blogging network”. Yeah, that was a good move. We got absolutely roasted. Especially because just weeks earlier, Weblogs, Inc. had sold to AOL for 25M$ (give or take). Everyone said we were just followers, that we’d copied WIN’s model, that there was nothing different about b5 at all and that we’d be dead in 2 weeks, nevermind 2 months. Yep, a great move. It didn’t matter that we’d been working on the project for 6 months, that we were trying to basically do the opposite of WIN, and that the tagline was really just a funny placeholder to us. It also didn’t matter that we had big plans! Big ideas! Big … erm… yeah. What mattered, and what I’ll never forget, is that we spoke too soon. We knew it would take time to show off all of our ideas, but we wanted to tell the world how great our ideas were right now! Hell, we still haven’t done half of what we originally set out to do! Only talk about things when you’re ready to show them off, or when you already have a history of doing cool shit. And even then…
The Main Thing is to Keep the Main Thing the Main Thing We started b5media with a few key things that we wanted to accomplish (one of the things we were very, very good at early on was documenting things… we had to be, until we got funded nobody in the company had ever even met!):
1. Make our bloggers famous – every chance we got we wanted to promote our bloggers
2. Value community – we honestly felt (and now know) that a strong internal community can make anything happen
3. Focus on great writers and keeping them happy – do this and the rest (traffic, revenue, etc) will happen
4. Build an industry – we’ve believed from day 1 that working with other networks, other owners and building real partnerships and sharing resources was the only way to turn the hodgepodge of networks into a real industry Each of the biggest mistakes made in b5’s history was caused by us forgetting about one of these things. Sometimes we’d forget how important a healthy community was and make some bull-headed decision and it would hurt! Other times we’d focus more on b5 than on the health of our industry and find that other companies didn’t want to work with us as much. We’ve never had a mission statement; the above 4 points are as close as we’ll likely ever come. But when you have a mission, you really, really need to stick to it!
Challenges of Growth When we first launched b5media, it was our goal that within 3 months we’d grow to 50 blogs and 100,000 pageviews per month. What ended up happening? 100 blogs and 1 million pages per month. We weren’t a TechCrunch or a Boing Boing or a Gawker. But we had serious growth challenges. Hell, we still do! We’ve had challenges in:
1. Keeping servers up – we started out sharing my 5$/month hosting plan. We’re now at 12 high-end servers. Each transition step was painful!
2. Managing the platform – running 200 blogs, maintaining the software, managing plugins, upgrading stuff… is HARD!
3. Paying bloggers – Ooh, blogger pay. We started out doing a type of revenue sharing (we did 60/40, but gave bloggers 100% of the first 100$ each month so it was basically 50/50). We’ve now moved to a 2-tier system where bloggers get a base pay (50-250$ depending on experience) plus a traffic bonus (1.65$ currently, though it goes up every quarter). The truth is that finding a fair way to pay the stay-at-home mom who loves gardening and just wants to write about gardening while also ensuring that the high-traffic blogger who has a massive audience are both compensated fairly is HARD! Paying our community has been, and will likely always be, a challenging exercise!
4. Stats – The metrics industry is in a state of upheaval right now. If we measure our stats the way some of our competitors measure theirs we’d be doing 30,000,000 pageviews per month. If we measure it the way others do, we’d have 7,000,000 pageviews per month. Finding a way to measure stats that is both accountable (ie: to advertisers) and stable (ie: for bloggers) has been one of our biggest challenges.
5. Designs – Yeah, when we have challenges we try and make them major! Blog design is a massive challenge for us. In an ideal world every blog would be totally unique, and totally imbued with personality. But doing that makes it totally impossible to manage the backend of those blogs centrally (which is fine with 15 or 20 blogs, but stupid with 200 or 300). Walking that tightrope between maintainability and customizability has been a huge challenge for us. The new templates we’re rolling out now are our newest attempt at this: they rely on a core template, but allow bloggers and Channel Editors to move elements around, do some minor restyling and add their own elements (like widgets and such). It’s not perfect, but yeah 😉 And those are just the biggest challenges! We’ve gotten into useless fights with competitors, had to put out new contracts for all of our bloggers, had to move the company across country lines, raised Venture Capital funding, had to part ways with a founder, spent too much money on meals with potential partners, had to manage acquisition talk… Running a blogging empire is a lot of work! But it’s a lot of fun 😉
If you’re looking to go from 0-3$/day or from 3$/day to a full-time wage or even trying to start a major blog-based empire, I have only 3 more tips for you:
1. Make sure you really, really want to do it first… It’s not easy. Sure, it’s rewarding, but if you can’t handle 100-hour weeks for months at a time it probably isn’t for you, heh.
2. Plan, plan, plan… Build financial models, traffic models, everything. Ask yourself what happens if you only grow by 1/10 of what you planned… Ask yourself what happens if you grow by 10000% of what you planned… Planning makes the world go round!
3. Build a great team… I can’t tell you the number of times the team and community at b5media have saved the company. Hell, how many times they’ve saved me and kept me sane. It’s way more balanced now than it was in the early days, but even today it’s the team and our community of absolutely amazing bloggers that makes us tick and that lets us do cool stuff. Without them, we’d be nothing, nada, kaput. It’s never perfect. It’s always fun. It’s always scary. It never stops. But going from Blog to Blog, Inc. is one of the most rewarding things I’ve ever done. We aren’t “there” yet, but if we can stay a community, stay a team and stay focused on what truly matters, we will eventually get “there”! See you at the finish line. We’ll bring the mojitos!
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.