Monday, July 31, 2017

Make Money through Blogging - Top 10 Ways to Monetize Blogs

Blogging has evolved from a small past time to becoming a full time profession. Some people have claimed to earn more than double in their blogging profession as compared to a proper 9-5 job. However there is no blueprint on the exact methods to earn money through blogging. Blogging is more like an art, and any income depends on how successful you have become and what niche you operate in. So there is no one rule for all policy here. This top 10 blog monetization techniques help you to explore the ways through which you can earn income



This is one of the reasons why, someone who has a good influence in social media & ability to drive traffic to his site has the potential to earn more. While blogging is shifting from a nascent phase to a much more developed phase , the revenue streams has also multiplied. There are so many interesting ways you can earn from as little as 100 to as high as 1-2 Lakhs.

Having done this for the past 11 years, I am listing some of my most favourite ways through which you can earn money . However this demands a significant amount of work, investment and effort from your side.

Before you start on the "earning" front, here are some mandatory steps you should have already done
    • Setup a blog and focus on a niche ( a subject you are familiar with ) 
    • Write a minimum of 20 articles over a span of a few weeks
    • Add your site to Google Search console, start tracking it through Google Analytics as well
    • Buy your custom domain (If hosted in Wordpress, buy hosting too) . Without a domain (a .com or .in etc), you'll never be taken seriously. 
    For both the above points, read my detailed points on:
    So here I have my tried and tested method for the past few years to generate a decent income through a blogging career. Some of these steps involves time, effort and of course a sizeable following to get it done. But in due course, once you achieve it, there's noone can stop you from earning that six figure income from blogging alone

      Top 10 blog monetization techniques

      1.Sign up for Blog Influencer companies. These are in reality, companies that hold a massive blog directory , and reach out to brands for campaigns. The advertisers then collaborate through the company for a specific campaign. One of the biggest example would be the most popular Indiblogger. A company or rather a community of bloggers, taking blogging to a whole different level than what it is now.
        • Other examples from above point would include BlogMint , BlogAdda, Influencer.in etc.

      2. Google Adsense  : One of the primary ways to earn money through blogging is to place ads in your website. These originate from a Google Adsense account. However , Adsense may not approve your application , unless your blog is minimum 4-5 months old or with a certain no of posts and content. If you are lucky, you might be approved within 2 months of creation of your blog. Sometimes it takes more.

      • Just sign up at www.google.com/adsense, add your website. Once approval is received, take the ad widgets and place it in your website (Dont try to add more than 3 ads in a single page).
      • Google not only pays you for every click but also counts the impressions of ads and attributes a few cents to that as well. So as long as you manage to get traffic, you can very well be assured of a good Adsense payout. Payout is done for every 100$ (after end of respective month)
      • Another alternative is Media.net  (which is now acquired by Yahoo).

      3. Affiliate Income : The prinary source of income for most bloggers would be through affiliate sales. When you refer a visitor to another site selling a product or service, they give you a commision of the sale. This is called affiliate income.   There are several websites which allows you to sign up to become an affiliate. This includes Amazon, Flipkart, Agoda, Hostgator, GoDaddy and so forth.


      How does Affiliate System work?
      monetizing your blog through affiliates


      Sign up as an affiliate for a website. Example, you can become a booking.com website affiliate and for every hotel booking referred by you, you'll get a small % as commission. You can place the booking.com "Banner" or "Ad widget" in the top of your site or even in the sidebars. Else you can smartly insert a referral link in between one of your travel posts.

        • Example : If you are writing a post about Top places to visit in Paris, you can also mention a few hotels which you would recommend and link the Hotel name to the Booking.com website through your affiliate link. Anyone clicking through the link and make a booking will help you get some income out of it. You can also try Bluehost affiliate system, Booking.com affiliate, Agoda Affiliate, Payoom etc 
        •  According to me, the best Affiliate system you can sign up include : Cuelinks. This is because Cuelinks automatically encompasses 100+ e-commerce websites incl Amazon, Flipkart, GoDaddy, Jabong, JetAirways, Makemytrip etc.

      Cuelinks Affiliate System

      4. Sponsored posts

      After 3-4 months, as you work on your backlinks, posting, SEO etc, you'll find your Domain Authority and Page Authority improve. Once you have some good traffic and respectable ranks to share, you can start collaborating for sponsored posts. This happens both ways. Several forums in Facebook request for bloggers to share their social media links, so that brands can contact them to write a product review. This can either be through  a barter system or a paid review. Depending upon the requirement you can earn anywhere between 500-5000 for a post.

      • To get sponsored posts, widen your reach, build contacts and network. Keep your lookout in Facebook media groups, follow other twitter influencers to see if there are potential opportunities. It took me a year to find a few of these. But once you get the hang of it, the opportunities will start flowing.
      • Approach brands PR directly :  If you have the contact details of PR, approach them with your blog media kid, your past achievements, Social media follower count, other blog engagements you might have done etc, along with your contact details. Again be sure not to spam them too often.
      • Instagram/Twitter Influencers : Sometimes all you need is a huge follower count like 8-10K and people would automatically start approaching you for influencer campaigns. This works very well especially with Fashion niche collaborations.

      5. Freelance Projects : Over the past year, I have done a couple of freelance projects. These freelance projects might last anywhere between a day to even a week and has a fixed pay.This involves a fixed set of deliverables and even a couple of blog posts, tweets and instagram posts from your end, depending on brand requirement.


      6. Skreem : (Applies to only India) If you are a good influencer and have a sizeable number of followers in FB or Twitter, you can apply to be a "Skreemer" . Once you are signed up , you will start getting short Twitter campaigns that you can execute which will reward with a small PayTm money. Their app link :  https://play.google.com/store/apps/details?id=io.skreem
      If it asks for a promo code , use mine 'hkmurali'

      7. Book Reviews : If you like reading books , this is a golden opportunity.  There are several publishing agencies and people who are looking for people to review their novels in your blog and also pay you for doing so. How cool is that? You can always reach out to me if you would like to get signed up for the same.
       book reviews income

      8.Brand Collaborations : At the start, let me tell you this is not easy. It takes months, if not years to build a popular social media profile that grabs the attention of brands and their PR's . Once you reach that stage, start writing about such brands and tag them in your posts. It just needs one collab to get the steam rolling and you'll find opportunities coming your way all the time.  In the fashion network, you might sign up to networks like PopXO which gives a signficant no of possible collaborations.

      9.Food Reviews : Zomato has a powerful feature caleld Food blog reviews. Next time you publish a restaurant review in Zomato , write it instead in your blog. Open the restaurant link in Zomato, scroll down to the bottom, you'll find a "spoonback" link. Copy the spoonback link and paste it back to your blog.
       Check my Maplai Food Review here.

      As you post more reviews, you'll find yourself among the top "Food Bloggers" in your city which can be a potential target for restaurant owners.You'll find yourself being invited for campaigns, food launches, resort stays and so forth. You can connect with me on Zomato here: https://www.zomato.com/hkmurali




      10. Buy & Sell blogs (Domains) : It's ironical that I am including it as a final point to sell your domain or blog after working so long. But you can also see this as a way to do it in a temporary basis. Buy a popular domain , increase domain authority by working on it for few months and sell it for 3-4 times the price you bought. Few sites which helps you do this is : https://flippa.com/ or https://forums.digitalpoint.com/

      Wednesday, July 19, 2017

      A Grand Feast in ECR - Maplai

      The food scene in East Coast Road, Chennai just got a face-lift thanks to a series of cafes and restaurants setting up shop here. The latest addition to this is the well known "Maplai" restaurant . After getting rave reviews of their first branch in Nungambakkam, they have now confidently expanded to ECR. This should definitely be included in one of ECR Top Restaurants.


      Luckily I was invited to a food bloggers meet to try out their super speciality "Maplai Virundhu" on the house. "Maplai" literally translates to Bridegroom in a wedding. Hence the meal technically stands for a grand feast that is usually served as a part of the hosting ceremony for the new family. So you might probably imagined how the meal served here turned out to be.


      Maplai Virundhu Menu

      Staying true to its name, the menu had an enormous variety of dishes right from a delicious soup, 8 types of veg starters, 6 non-veg starters, 3 rice varieties, 8 types of gravies, 10 types of breads and 6 starters.




      Quite thankfully, they have this meal served on the table than the standard buffet fare you find in most hotels. Without a doubt, it was a fabulous meal and definitely one of the best I've had in recent times. The lunch started with a thick Tomato Soup and then came 8 irrestible dips in various colours along wiht freshly fried Vadaams ( a South indian version of Paapads). The Dips included Mint, Avaka Mayo, Chilli & Garlic and a few other variants. They should have probably added a disclaimer, that this could be super addicitive and you cant resist eating them.



      Starters 

      Coming to the most favourite part of my meal, I give extreme importance while choosing a buffet. Despite being a vegetarian, I was given around 8 choices (most of them cooked in Andhra style)  which included grilled pineapple, bashed potatoes, Tandoori Vegetables, crispy fried Okras (LadiesFinger), Guntur Corn and ending with Paneer Tikkas . The starters were not anywhere similar to what you get you in typical "Barbeque" joints but rather had a distinct flavour , cooked in a Southern style which was super refreshing.



      Main Course 

      Having been given an interesting foray in starters, the main course also followed suit to have a completely revamped menu. Main course included 3 types of rice and 10 types of "South Indian" breads. This included Ghee Rice, "Thalassery Biryani" and Curd Rice. The Thalassery Biryani in particular was one of the highlights of my meal . The rice coupled with the curry layer beneath turned out to be the best I've had . My craving for "Veg" Biryani has suddenly shot up post this.


      The South Indian breads included : Malabar barotta, Appam, Idiyappam , Coin Parotta, Kal Dosai, Paniyaram, Wheat Parotta and the likes (All served on request) and not the usual Tandoori Rotis and Naans.

      Desserts

      A grand feast certainly contains a  dessert that should ideally a notch above what was servd earlier. The guys at "Maplai" ensured just that with a delightful mix of 6 types of desserts. These included :
      Sheer Kuruma(Vermicilli Payasam), Paan Ice Cream, Kubaani Ka Meetha, Pudding made out of coconut milk, Fried Bread soaked in Masala Milk and Tapioca Phirni .



      This is certainly one meal that you should experience atleast once.

      Maplai Restaurant in ECR is located near to the Neelangarai station and quite easily identifiable from the road.

      Maplai Menu, Reviews, Photos, Location and Info - Zomato



      Friday, July 14, 2017

      Under Construction Plug-In

      So the first time I encountered this Wordpress plugin , I mistook it to be something under development. Only to later realize it was an app to build a temporary under construction process and hence the name for this coming soon page plugin.

      coming soon page plugin



      Having said that, this can be an incredibly useful plugin which makes a huge difference in terms of professionalism and retaining visitors to you site . Despite buying a hosting and domain plan, there's still a lot of work left in building the site, adding content, designing a template etc.

      During the process, you may have felt the need to inform a set of audience that this is your domain. As expected the traffic might flow through , and they'll thrown with a bad error page ( probably a 404) or an incorrect URL page or worst case doesn't open at all.

      Designing Temporary Pages


      Retaining every person who comes through your site is key in engagement and increasing the organic traffic percentage. In software development mode, this is called "Test/Sandbox" environment and a "Live/Production" environment. In a website, you may not have such facilities or advanced features to create two parallel environments. So until you require the site with actual content to go "Live", you require a temporary "Under Construction" or better "Coming Soon" page.

      Designing a temporary page should be very important to attract audience ,make them remember to come back once the site is live. You should also have some  social media handles in the page which can help them stay connected to your website. In a normal blog editor all you can do is add a page full of text and a couple of images. This may not really appeal and may look very unprofessional or amateur.

      To solve this and make the job much simpler (of course save on hiring expensive web designers), you have a free WordPress plugin called Under Construction.

      So what should you do to get this?
      • Download the plugin here https://wordpress.org/plugins/under-construction-page/
      • Activate in the plugins panel in your WP Dashboard.
      • Configure the settings,social media links etc
      • Choose one among the 100's of page designs which you find here : https://www.underconstructionpage.com/
      • You are Done!

      coming soon page designs

      Advantages of using Coming soon page plugin :

      • Its super easy to use and loads pretty fast.
      • It's FREE !!
      • Updated designs are available every month.
      • Provides support for all caching plugins.
      • Highly optimized for SEO.
      • Social media integration with the page.
      • Google Analytics tracking of views support.

      If you still have doubts, you can probably check their video here


      Thursday, July 06, 2017

      Top Laptops under 60000 Rs

      Buying laptops can be very tricky. Without much knowledge into the world of processors, memory, storage etc, you'll be inundated with hundreds of models from something as low as 25,000 to as high as 1.5 Lakhs.  Additionally each brand comes with different specs at similar prices and narrowing it down to a few things can be super difficult, esp if you are looking for some top laptops under 60000 rs.



      Some of the top choices include HP Laptops, Dell, Lenovo, Apple and Acer. Even Microsoft came into this field with their kickass Surface Laptop. I bought myself a laptop, nearly after a month of research and it was a major ordeal. I have literally come to memorize the model names and the configurations after tons of comparisons. In order to save you the trouble, I have put together 5 laptops in different price ranges which could be a great buy.

      Laptops under 35,000 INR

      Configuration you could get is as follows
      • Intel I3 process ( or an equivalent AMD A8 processor )
      • RAM: 4GB RAM
      • OS : with or without Win 10
      • Graphic Card : Integrated graphics Card or 2GB AMD Graphics card
      • Storage : 1 TB
      Best options include :

      • HP Core i3 6th Gen - (4 GB/1 TB HDD/Windows 10 Home) 14-ar005TU Notebook 




      • Lenovo Ideapad 310 APU Quad Core A10 7th Gen - (8 GB/1 TB HDD/Windows 10 Home/2 GB Graphics) 310 Notebook

       

      Laptops under 40,000 INR

      Configuration you could get is as follows
      • Intel i3 or i5 processor ( or an equivalent AMD A8 processor )
      • RAM: 4GB / 8GB RAM
      • OS : with or without Win 10
      • Graphic Card : 2GB AMD Radeon Graphics Card
      • Storage : 1 TB
       Best options include :

      1. HP 15-AY513TX




      2. Lenovo Ideapad 300 80Q700UEIN


       

      Laptops under 50,000 INR

      Configuration you could get is as follows
      • Intel i5 processor 
      • RAM: 8GB RAM
      • OS : with or without Win 10
      • Graphic Card : 2GB AMD Radeon Graphics Card
      • Storage : 1 TB
      Best options include : 

      1. HP 15-AY503TX 2016 15.6-inch Laptop (6th Gen Core i5-6200U/8GB/1TB/DOS/2GB Graphics), Turbo Silver 


             


            2. Dell Vostro 3568 15.6-inch Laptop (7th Gen Core i5-7200/8GB/1TB/Windows 10 Home/2GB Graphics)

             

             

            Top Laptops under 62,000 INR


            Tech Configuration you could get is as follows
            • Intel i5 or i7 processor 
            • RAM: 8GB RAM
            • OS : Win 10
            • Graphic Card : 2GB AMD Radeon M430 or NVIDA Geforce 840X Graphics Card
            • Storage : 1 TB
            Best options include :

              1.Apple MacBook Air MQD32HN/A 13.3-inch Laptop 2017 (Core i5/8GB/128GB/MacOS Sierra/Integrated Graphics)



                2. Dell Inspiron 5559 15.6-inch Laptop (Intel Core i5-6200U/8 GB/1 TB/Win 10/AMD Radeon R5 M335 4GB DDR3/), Silver



                3. HP Pavilion 15-AU624TX 15.6-inch Laptop (7th Gen Core i5-7200U/4GB/1TB/Windows 10 Home/4GB Graphics)


                Sunday, July 02, 2017

                Overcoming Darkness - Dialogues in Dark : An Experential Activtiy

                Darkness has different meanings. It can be a state of life with just an absence of light. Or rather a negative force that may be pointing towards you. Much worse, this darkness rising may be a cloud of bad memories that are preventing you to move on, nor letting you live in the present as well.

                darkness rising 2017

                Being in the dark is not equal to living in darkness. The first refers to a state of ignorance and evil, while the latter is merely living unguided by light.We haver never really understood how our brain may function when it's not provided with complete info. A full visual aid from the eyes makes it possible to move, calculate the next steps and proceed with the navigation. What if this sensory information is suddenly turned off?  A small power cut at home and you find yourself struggling to move ahead. You have lived there for several years and yet you tend to grapple. This may not even be 100% dark. You always have a dim streak of moonlight, giving you that extra bit of help you need to move ahead.


                This is not quite the same as moving ahead with eyes closed. When you close your eyes, you shut off all kinds of illumination and you need to now activate a different sensory perception for any kind of activity. Your hands feel the object ahead of you, it's what it might be. You might want to either hold it to move ahead or even push it aside. It just gets a whole lot difficult, when its in an area that you have never been used to.

                Ever wondered, what goes on inside a visually disabled person? How is their world different from ours? What guides them and how do they survive in a state of permanent darkness? Managing their way even through busy roads, avoiding manholes and going back home with a little help can truly be a commendable thing.

                dialogues in dark experience

                Dialogues in the Dark - An experiential Activity


                Dialogue in the Dark aims to bring out just that. You enter  a state of complete darkness or 'pitch dark' as you may colloquially call it. It is so dark that you may initially find a little strain on the eye. Of course it all lasts for just 2 minutes. Once you are past that , the brain gets to accept and adjusts based on your surroundings. A visually challenged person takes you around the floor, that has several activities lined up in front of you. Be it crossing a dangling bridge or playing blind cricket or even trying to eat a mini lunch, this is an experience you should definitely try out. There are other interesting activities as well ,which I would let you discover than me describing it.

                Dialogues in the dark experience

                Food in the Dark Experience

                Coming to the food, it's not often you may have eaten in complete darkness. Of course most restaurants have dim lighting , providing a "candle light" experience. But eating something in complete darkness can be a whole different ballgame. In front of you is placed a hot tiffin carrier, which you get to dismantle, identify the food items and relish them purely based on taste. I was served with a Haryali Paneer Tikka, Gobi 65, Roti and Kashmiri Pulao. The food was great and probably the first time I actually got to feel the real taste, without the imagery shrouding it.

                Having food in the dark experience

                Experience the Darkness Rising


                This is a very unique experience and it definitely can be an eye opener for a lot of you. Visually you may have been enticed to a lot of things in life. But for the first time, you are now treated to a delightful experience which you actually get to feel from inside.Naturally given the darkness, don't expect any pictures . Additionally, you are not allowed to carry your electronic devices including mobile phones inside or any light emitting devices to retain the darkness.

                overcoming darkness rising experience


                I was invited to a bloggers meet by Dialogues in Dark through Chennai Bloggers Club and has definitely given me a memorable, unforgettable experience and hence my above review.

                Location of Dialogue in Dark : The restaurant is located at the 3rd floor of Express Avenue Mall, Chennai (opposite to Escape Cinemas). The walking experience is rouhgly 45 minutes while the dining is another 50 minutes.  Dialogue in the Dark has been present worldwide in 43 countries in 130 cities visited by 10 million visitors. In India, Dialogue in the Dark is present in Hyderabad, Bangalore & Chennai.

                Dialogue In The Dark Menu, Reviews, Photos, Location and Info - Zomato