Tuesday, 10 April 2018

How I stumbled on my way to be a Blogger

This is an interesting experience. This, I mean, how I started using Google for my work. Let me tell you something from the very beginning. I am an ordinary individual, the ones you meet every day, everywhere. So do not expect anything highly technical or something that goes over our heads when I narrate my experience with Google.
I am a voracious reader. I like to read fictions of all kinds. I also like to write. Having said this, I will tell you something else too. I started writing about the books I read and liked. What did I write? Well, I wrote the story synopsis, the characters,  what I liked about them and what I did not like. Needless to say, I wrote in word files.
Then the idea struck me: let me create a blog. This happened nearly 3 years back. So I decided that a blog is my answer to all things related to books. During that time, blog, blogger, blog post were buzz words. But, I had no idea what a blog was or how to create one. So I searched for a clue.
I hopped to Google. Is not that the storehouse of information for everything under the Sun? So that is where I went and searched for how to create a blog. A plethora of information in the form of links, pdf, videos was unfurled. I started clicking on everything that was provided. At the end of day-2, I was as confused if not more, as when I started. Everything was so technical and everyone who wrote appeared an expert on the subject and that did not help me one bit.  But, I accepted the challenge. Google was the most versatile search engine which provided me with a breakthrough. I learnt new terms, new ideas, and new applications which I never knew existed. Had it not been my passion, I would not have knocked on Google’s door.
At the outset, the idea of creating a blog and seeking information on the same was daunting. Google did provide me with excellent information, but, for a novice like me too much information was impossible to handle. Reading, browsing, jumping from one link to another were all futile exercises for someone who had no idea what she wanted and how to go about it. So I narrowed down to just how to build a blog using Blogger. And then I searched for step-by-step information, something in the form of a guide. Needless to say, that is when I began to crack the mystery. I also learnt that the key is to tame the lion (Google) and that comes with practice.
And holla, I started the blog on my own. I learnt everything via Google, how to choose a theme, how to insert tabs, how to post pics/videos using hyperlinks and also how to embed a chat roll. I made plenty of mistakes, but, also rectified them, thanks to Google. I learnt everything online, everything from Google’s resources. During my journey of creating a blog, I also learnt newer techniques, read interesting articles, and got excellent ideas on how to put thoughts into words.

You got to have patience if you are starting out with something. Google is perfect for learning, but, it is up to you to put it in to use what you have learnt. 

Monday, 12 March 2018


Traditional advertisement methods can be an expensive affair for the startups because they operate on a shoe string budget. To have a website or a blog is a boon for them as it positively impacts their business and helps it spread. Blogging is the most effective way of “pull marketing”. It is all about providing value to your visitors. It is about making them conscious about what is available and if you can provide valuable information, they will be attracted towards your services.
Today internet is flooded with websites and the netizen is overwhelmed with the amount of information being shared. Blogging is an effective tool to make your presence felt and help your startup stand out in the competition.
A blog which talks of a local community, its habits, its streets and the local flavor which are by and large ignored by media houses, is popular in the area to which it is specific. Start ups take the help of such blogs to create awareness among the locals about the products/services they offer. It helps in generating new leads which can be converted to potential buyers.
Blogging can help your startup in different ways:
1.      Blogging gives a clear idea about your startup. It also helps in getting feedback from your potential customers.
2.      It improves your site’s SEO ranking. The more active you are on your blog, the greater is the chance of it being ranked higher in the search engine and that helps a lot in remaining in circulation.
3.      It helps in building a loyal customer base even before you start selling anything. People get attracted to your ideas and will remain eager to see when you actually launch your product/services in the market.
4.      Good ideas attract investors. Remaining active on your blog will help you catching the interest of investors who are constantly looking for new entrepreneurs with good ideas.
Prospective buyers find a platform where they can share their requirements and a blog can help in monitoring the online presence and reputation. A blog gives the idea of the product/services being offered by a startup so that people can avail of the same.
To cite an example, Gurgaon based hyperlocal startup findyahaan is a market place connecting service providers with service seekers by leveraging location. It essentially helps in finding service providers in music, fitness instructors, chefs and tutors.  The blog about this startup made people aware of this service and by far, it has nearly four lakh customers in Jaipur, Gurgaon and Delhi NCR.
Mycity4Kids is such a startup which started in 2010 in Gurgaon. The basic idea behind this startup is "to reach out to all moms and ensure that the job of parenting never takes away the joy from it," says Vishal Gupta, one of the co-founders. This startup helps parents in raising their kids without being burnt out. They take care of their schooling, coaching, holiday plans and everything that has to do with children. They also host blogs on parenting where subject experts offer their advice.
Not only these talk about the startups, these also provide insight into how to make a mark in the market and bring about news and information in the startup business to keep everyone abreast. Take for example www.dealcurry.com. It talks about the new acquisition that health startup Portea had recently. This gives the client an idea about the changes being made to provide better health care. 
Many startups also look into the public health and get involved in awareness campaigns. Not all are involved in selling products/services. Take for example yourdost.com which features in Trak.in. This startup has saved nearly 70,000 people from committing suicide. This is one-of-a kind startup which deals with emotional well being of people in need of professional counseling. YourDost found a place in a website which shared information. It is a great help to a society which in constantly under stress. Starting off as a goodwill gesture, yourdost.com now has a pan India presence.
There are pit falls in this too. Do not over stuff your blog and post every few minutes. WordPress allows you to phase the release of your posts so you can actually control when and how much you should post. Depending on blogs for your marketing strategy of your startup is not the only answer. It can be an effective and powerful tool but, it needs to be used intelligently to give results.

Friday, 18 August 2017

Back Pain: Causes and Remedies

Most of us suffer from back pain at some point in our lives. There are many reasons for recurrent back pain, the commonest of all is a sedentary life style. As we get more and more accustomed to an executive job, remaining glued to our computers in the office, stuck to our chairs for hours on end, at the end of the day we come back home tired and a nagging back pain sapping our spirit. This pain is a gentle reminder that as we move upward in our corporate ladder, we neglect our health citing lack of time.  We often tend to neglect this pain and if it is getting out of control, we start popping pills.
Apart from our lifestyle, back pain may occur due to sciatica, vertebral fracture, and spinal arthritis. These are medical conditions and require proper diagnosis and further treatment. For immediate relief from this pain, you can apply the “ice then heat” at home. Apply an ice pad on the affected area, it will help soothe the pain and reduce the swelling if any. Follow this with a heat compression. Heat will help the circulation which will eventually relax the sore tissue.
When the pain persists or does not lessen, it is time to consult a physician for advice and further treatment.
If the back pain is less severe, certain exercises or yoga will be able to help you. Here are few yoga poses for your help and immediate relief.
1.       Spinal Twist: keep your left leg extended and fold your right leg. Keep the right hand behind you for support. Now twist your body towards your right and place the left elbow on the top of your right knee. It is a twisted position and strengthens your back muscles.
2.       Forward fold: sit on the floor and extend both legs in front of you. Bend forward to reach for your ankles bending at your hips. Hold this position for at least 5 seconds. Repeat.
3.       Child’s pose:  start on all fours and sit back so that your butts rest on your heels. Stretch and bend keeping your arms stretched forward. Lower your back till your face almost touches the floor. Repeat at least for 5 times.
These three are simple back exercises which will help you to relax the strain building up on your lower back because of neglect and long hours of sitting at a desk job. Get healthy, start leading an active life. Exercise. Soon you will be rewarded with a better and healthier you.

Monday, 24 July 2017

What steps should you take to check your social media addiction?

Today, smartphone and social media go hand in hand. For data hungry Indians, the love of staying glued to Facebook, Twitter, Instagram, WhatsApp has become a habit which is difficult to shed. We are slowly becoming a nation of citizens forever checking their phones, laptops or PCs for the instant status update, comments, and tweets. This habit has started influencing our social activities and has made us a slave of different social media sites.
No matter how absorbed you are with your social media activities, there are ways to curb it and keep it under your control rather than be controlled by it. Here are some tips which may help you if you are serious about the issue:
  • 1.       Fix a time of the day: it is indeed helpful if you fix a time in the day where you will spend some time with your social media apps. Choose a time when you are free and not disturbed by anything or anyone. However, make sure you do not touch your gadget early in the morning just after you wake up. That eats up your time and early morning is usually a rush hour in most households.
  • 2.       Curtail the amount of time you spend: Most of the social media interactions are trivial in nature. It is not wise to spend hours on it. Keep in touch with friends, have a say on a social issue, thank someone for wishing you well, but, that is about it. Do understand that these do not have any serious impact on your way of life.
  • 3.       Cultivate other interests: it pays to cultivate a hobby which keeps your mind and body healthy. If you were fond of reading but, lost it because of FaceBook, reignite it.  Pick up a good book instead of your phone. If you love gardening, start investing time in your garden.
  • 4.       Interact with your neighbours/friends: Develop an attitude to strike a friendship with your neighbours. Real friends are always at hand than virtual friends with whom you spend so much time. Invite your friend for a small get-together on the weekends. Have fun with real people.
  • 5.       Plan a small trip: plan a small trip to the nearby town/ sea beach, temples in the weekends. Moving out of the house sometimes can unclutter your mind and you can discover new ways to enjoy your free time.
  • 6.       Control the urge: there is always an urge to update your status the moment you click a picture, come across an interesting situation or take part in an ongoing debate. There is no need to be present everywhere dealing with everything all the time. These things can wait. Ask yourself if it is really necessary to give a reply, post a comment or upload a picture at the instant. Most of the times, it is not.

Remember the best way to control your social media addiction is to condition your mind to spend your time doing something worthwhile. It may be difficult to do so at the beginning, but, over a period of time with your attitude and will power you will come out as a winner. 

Tuesday, 14 February 2017

Witcher 3

Witcher 3 is an open world action role-playing video game developed by CD ProjeKt Red. It was released worldwide for Microsoft PlayStation 4 and Xbox One in May 2015. It is the third in its series, following The Witcher and Witcher 2:Assassins of the Kings.
Witcher 3: Wild Hunt is truly a game on epic scale and Geralt the Witcher is completely different from the sword swinging Mr.Loverman of the Witcher. Geralt is more mature, reflective and a fully transformed hero. And that is not all. The music, story and action all come together to give the player a completely different experience of playing an excellent RPG game.
As a player of the game, you control the protagonist of the game, Geralt of Rivia, a monster hunter who travels through the Northern Kingdom and you fight against many devils who come on his way. You get to use swords and magic to ward off the evil designs of Geralt’s enemies. You get to use endless possibilities but, the key is never to get overwhelmed by these. CDProjeKt is trying you to get used to the systems, by encouraging you to find the notice boards, travel on horse backs and discover what lies ahead. Here in this game the sytem and the storyline blend together beautifully to bind you to the game.
The game starts with Geralt on a mission to find his beloved sorceress Yennefer. In his mission, Geralt spends a large portion of his time on horseback and you get to explore the wilderness, discover characters as you progress through his mission. You get to encounter the starving peasants who inhabit these areas and are easy prey for monsters lurking in the shadows. You get to see ordinary folks suffering, injustices are rampant and sometimes the hero has to look the other way. Even then, as you move along as Geralt, you need to fight these monsters off. You fight off beasts, spirits and otherworldly figures to reach Yennefer. In the process Geralt gets involved in intrigues that decide the course of the nations.
The game has every classic look of an RPG game. You get to fight monsters to gain experience and also gain loots so that you upgrade your skills to fight more monsters. To find his beloved, Geralt becomes more of a detective so his vision ability helps him to read his environment. He is able to detect foot prints, blood, scents and you can now identify and trace more monsters to kill. The visuals are astonishing, landscapes are beautiful and it uses fog, cloud, light and colour beautifully. The game has incredible options of exploring the landscape and your quest is very well scripted and full of adventure.

On the downside, the loading seems to take extra long time and the frame rate falters occasionally. Facial animations occasionally look stiff. Sometimes gauging combat can be tricky. Apart from these minor glitches, Witcher 3 is a brilliant master piece and is the largest and most convincing open world game.

Wednesday, 11 January 2017

An Encounter with an Online Fraud

Let me call her Ms. X. it was a chance encounter with her on one of those numerous FaceBook pages where freelance writers and clients post their requirements. Ms. X has posted a job. It was simple and to the point. The gist was: she is a budding writer and has a collection of short stories. She needs someone to read, analyse and send her feedback.
What got me interested in that post was the nature of the job. Being an avid reader, I always have a soft corner for something to do with books. May be a review, a critical analysis of the characters or simply to rewrite the story in a nutshell. Naturally, I was curious and was interested so I shot a mail to Ms.X
A series of emails was exchanged. Ms.X sweetly informed me that she is an aspiring writer and has managed to write a few, “good” short stories which she wants to be read and a feedback needs to be given to her on “What works” and “What does not work” for the stories. She also informed me she intends to publish the stories and is in talks with a few on this. Delighted, I asked her to send across the stories to me to go through. She assured me it is a paid job and as she wishes to publish the stories, more work is expected to follow.
The stories arrived via an email attachment. I began going through the stories. Plainly speaking, I was aghast that someone spends time to write these. On no account these can be called stories. Full of errors, the narrative had nothing that can be called a story. A few jumbled up thoughts loosely connected with wrong grammar and syntax made her “stories”. I could not decide what to say and more importantly how to say it. But, I had a job at hand and looking at her enthusiasm I decided that I will go easy on my feedback.
Painstakingly I went through each story and wrote a feedback on each one. Since there was nothing much to write about anyway, I just managed to tell Ms.X what she should do with the stories, what these lack and how to rectify these. I even advised her to remove two stories from the collection as these two were not worthy of publication.
I clearly pointed her that she must rewrite the entire collection if at all she wants these to be published. I sent ny feedback on the due date and waited for her email. There was no email from her side and ultimately I sent my bank details to her for the payment. Her return mail had just one sentence: “I am not happy with the feedback”, which meant she had no intention of payment. She never had and that I should have understood when she had given me a missed call expecting me to call back.

If, Ms.X did not have rs.2 to make a call, how will she pay me in thousands for a critical acclaim?

Monday, 26 December 2016

Five Blogging Mistakes to Avoid

Many of us start a blog thinking it will be a money spinner for us. But, more often than not, their efforts fail.  One thing you have to keep in mind is that every blogger is different and the way they go about their task is also different. Whatever advice you garner while going through various blogs of successful bloggers or follow the “mantras” dished out by them, you must keep it in mind that these are just basic guidelines and is not a step-by-step instruction. Here we will discuss some common mistakes made by newbie bloggers.
1.       Not Focused: Many bloggers start off without a specific plan. They just take the plunge because the idea fascinates them. They begin without clearly thinking what they want to be a part of their blog. So the blog ends up being a mumbo jumbo of all sorts of things, not at all focused or does not target a particular set of audience. Decide on these questions. What is your blog about? For whom are you going to write? What is your aim in starting this blog? Without clarity on these points, your blog will not have any direction and will simply be too broad.
2.       No connection with the Reader: you write and you want readers to go through your blog and appreciate the contents. There is good chance that people visit your blog but do not return.  A very effective way of marketing is through e mail. Offer RSS feeds on your blog. This way, they can return to your blog to have a look at the updates.
3.       Lack of Consistency: Many bloggers start off as enthusiasts, but, over a period of time, lose interest and the blog suffers. Sometimes, blogs do not get updated frequently or the topics are not consistent with the blog.  Your blog should be based on a particular theme or idea. Your contents should revolve around this. Deviating from this will make readers or visitors lose interest.
4.       No Article Variation: Visitors like to read new contents written in well thought out style. A blogger has to look for different topics on the same niche and must not ramble about the same topic repeatedly.   The key to a successful blog is based on keeping the reader engaged. It is important to write on new ideas, products or contents that your blog revolves around.
5.       Poor Formatting or Research: Every blogger should keep it in mind that many of the readers prefer to read the posts on smart phones. It is a great idea to use bullets to break up text and keep the sentences short. Many times, bloggers also do not do much research on the topic they are writing about and end up posting a poor article which does not hold interest.

Blogging is an art. No one gets it right at the beginning, but, it pays to know how to go about it. It is a great idea to be in touch with other bloggers and learn from them. Do a bit of research before starting a blog of your own.