How To Start Blogging – The Simple Step-by-step Guide

By Bloomberry

Some readers have asked for a guide on how to start a blog without having knowledge of codes. So do you really want to start blogging? That’s commendable!

But…how the heck do you get started? There’s so much info out there on the internet, and everyone’s telling you to do different things. So Where’s the starting point?

Gush! You sigh. But should you give up? Well, that would be yet another dream cast into the waste bin.

Not to worry, your dream is just about coming alive! I promise to keep it simple, relatively easy, and definitely easy to understand (no stupid grammar and jargon). Sound good? Let’s move on.

Why Join The Blogging World?

Below, I’m going to outline exactly what you need to do to get started and set up your own personal blog. Before getting there though, I really want to talk about WHY you should build a blog.

Note: If you already have a solid idea of the whys, then skip this and go right ahead with the guide.

Here are some reasons:

Blogging has quickly become one of the most popular ways of communicating and spreading information and news. There are literally millions of blogs online (don’t worry, you can make yours stand out and get noticed!).
It’s a great way to express yourself and also a fantastic way to share information with others.
You use your time in helping other knowledge seekers especially if you’ve got worthy content.
You become a better person and a better writer.
The best reason? You can make money blogging.

Did you know all of that? Well, nice to be reminded.

Note please that before ever you start creating a blog, you need to have an idea of what your blog will be about. Will it be news, entertainment, politics, a combination of various niche? Well, that’s the most important decision to make so you don’t get lost in the crowd. Giving it something new or improving on what have been there is usually the best. Don’t you think?

One very last thing before we get started:

Creating your own blog can take probably up to 30 minutes. So grab yourself a coffee or juice (whatever you fancy) and let’s get stuck in.

The Steps Covered In This Blogging Guide

There’s five basic steps you need to go through in order to set up a blog. If you follow this five step and the entire guide, you’ll have your own blog set up in 30 minutes or less. You are not about to set up a website from scratch, hence very little technical ability needed here. In fact, there’s no coding required by you. Happy, huh?

The 5 Easy Steps to Starting a Blog:

Choose your preferred blogging platform
Setting up a blog on your own domain
Choose a web hosting service for your blog
Designing your blog (sure fun!)
Making your blog a success

Are your still reading? You’ve made it this far! Let’s jump into step 1.

1. Getting Started – Choose your Blogging Platform (WordPress)

Before you can even start worrying about how your blog will look like, you’ll need to choose your blogging platform.

There’s a lot to choose from. You are able to create a blog with many different blogging platforms, such as WordPress, Tumblr, Blogger and more.

However, given that there are over 87 million active users using WordPress today, it’s clear which platform is the boss.pie-chart-blogging-platforms

Here’s why:
It’s FREE for everyone to use (including themes, layouts and add-ons that many other blogging platforms don’t provide).

It’s super easy to set up. Even many unlearned fellows are able to do it.

It’s secure; WordPress are always updating their software and keeping everything sound and secure, so there’s rarely a worry of having your blog come under hacking attacks. No wonder organizations like Sony, NASA and even university blogs are using WordPress.

Can be very much customized. There are hundreds of free themes and plugins that add more functionality to your blog, from contact and subscribe boxes to plugins that improve blog performance and more.

While the other blogging platforms are generally all pretty OK, nothing in my opinion has ever come close to matching the freedom and customization options that WordPress offers. So without a doubt, go with WordPress. Especially when you are just starting out.

Wait! At this point, you don’t need to install or download anything. We will, but first…
Let’s move to step 2.

2. Setting up a blog on your own domain (self-hosted WordPress)

Why you shouldn’t create a blog on a free blogging platform

Without a doubt, you need to self-host your WordPress blog.

Think about it – what famous, successful blogger you know is using a free blogging website like “startbloggingonline.wordpress.com” instead of their own domain name like “StartBloggingOnline.com”, for example?

It’s not just that – free blogging platforms have other problems too – including…

You don’t control your content – the blogging platform does. They could shut you down any time, and for any reason. Do you want that?
Read this.
The web address of your blog will be long and hard to remember (like yourfreeblog.blogspot.com) instead of a catchy, branded address you choose.
You’re not allowed to advertise on most free blogging platforms, making it much harder to ever make money from blogging.

Don’t get me wrong: If you really don’t care whether or not your blog will be successful, go with free blogging platforms. They’re an okay way to try out blogging for a little bit.

But if you ever want to look credible, build an audience and make money blogging, then you need your own blog, on your own domain name, with your own hosting. That way, you make the rules and control your content.

If I were you (and I can’t be you – winking), I’d start with a self-hosted blog on my own domain from day one. Setting up a blog like this is WAY easier and less expensive than you think.

Finding a domain name and web hosting provider.

You will discover that step 2 and 3 are almost muddled together. This way you will achieve your goal of building an active blog through this quick guide.

Now to the exciting part! To set up a self-hosted blog on your own domain name, you’ll need two things:

Domain name – This will be your personal blog address where people find you over and over again. For example Google’s Domain is www.Google.com. Your new blog domain name will be www.YourBlogName.com, or “.net, .org, .biz”, etc. Note that “.com” is pretty popular and easy to remember plus other advantages. The cost of a domain name is usually $10/year, but you could get one for much cheaper.

Web hosting – This will be the home of your blog address and content that’s on the blog. Without web hosting, you’ll be unable to use your domain. Think of it as a computer hard drive that stores all your content on your blog (images, blog posts and so on). The cost of web hosting is usually somewhere between $2-5 per month depending on the hosting company you use.

This cost is less than what you spend on lunch, so it won’t break your bank. But it’s an important investment to your blog success.

Where should I get my domain name and hosting?

When it comes to hosting, there are only two things that matter.

Page load speed – The average amount of time (in seconds) it takes your blog to load.
Up-time – 99.9% isn’t enough (it’s 42 minutes of downtime per month). You should be aiming for 100%.

There are hundreds of different web hosting providers. They all offer you a similar service (domain + hosting). Some highly recommended web hosting companies are Bluehost, iPage, Godaddy. HostGator, etc…

Why not let’s base our learning on HostGator? They (www.HostGator.com) are among the best for domain names and web hosting. In terms of blog load speed and uptime, they are excellent!

However, you can always go with another web hosting service as long as it’s fast, reliable and offers unlimited storage and bandwidth. This helps you to avoid problems later on.

Good decision! What do you think?

Slow down there! Getting a self-hosted domain name is one big decision you’ll have to make before you proceed. Follow the advice…don’t let ‘free’ becloud your judgement. Don’t go for a free domain name if you want to make something really good out of your blog as stated above.

If you don’t have a hosting or a domain name yet – don’t worry. I’ll be showing this in a minute.

At the end of this step (3), you will have a fully working self-hosted WordPress blog on your own domain name! Sounds promising, innit? Sip your juice! We’ll make it!

P.S. If you don’t want to use HostGator, you can always choose another hosting provider, the registration and the set up process should be some what similar. Some hosting companies do not have one click install for WordPress (not good for beginners).

Let’s proceed dear reader to step 3.

3. Choose a web hosting service for your blog

3.1. Go to www.HostGator.com and then click “Start Your WordPress Blog”.

3.2 Pick a Domain name for your blog (i.e what you would like your domain to be called. Example: butterflylife.com)

Already have a domain name?
Just write it in the right box on the Homepage of HostGator and keep moving to the next step by scrolling down a bit.

How do I choose a good domain name?

Choosing a bad domain name is one of the most common mistakes bloggers make. Be sure you choose a domain name that is…

3.2.1. Easy to Remember – Don’t choose a nonsense name, something tough to spell, or a long name full of dashes. “www.best-fashion-and-entertainment-world.com” won’t ever stick in someone’s head, but something like “www.fashionstar.com” rolls off the tongue.

3.2.2. Unique and Descriptive – You want a name that reflects who you are and what you care about. Be creative and build an identity you’re excited about!

3.2.3. Trustworthy – Domain extensions like “.com”, “.org” or “.net” are the most popular, with “.com” being the one most people think of first. Try to avoid crazy extensions like “.rocks” or “.biz”, as these are less commonly used, tougher to remember and not as trusted.

Type the domain name you want to use in the box, then click “next”. If the name is available, you’ll be able to claim it. If it’s not available, choose another one.

Your_Blog_Domain

If the name you want isn’t available, HostGator will show you some alternatives that are similar – or you can punch in a new name and try again. I’d suggest you to use something that ends with .com, .net or .org

3.3. Choose your blog hosting plan

I recommend the “Hatchling” plan for now – you can always upgrade later if you decide you want more advanced features, but you get more than enough with the Hatchling.

choose_blog_hosting_plan

3.4. Complete your registration

Once you’ve chosen Hatchling plan and found a name you like that’s available, you’ll need to register it by putting in your contact and billing information.

You’ll also have a chance to customize your package a bit. This is a chance to save some more money, so don’t skip it!

additional_blog_services

Few suggestions:

a) Domain Privacy Protection (DPP) hides your registration information in the “whois database”, a worldwide database everyone has access to. I recommend it if you want to keep yourself anonymous, but uncheck the box if you want to save as much as possible.

b) I’d uncheck all the other boxes (Site Backup, Constant Contact, SiteLock Security) as these aren’t really worth your money. You can always add them later.

3.5. Log in to your new account and install WordPress blog

It may take a few minutes for HostGator to register your account, so be patient. You should get a confirmation email when your account is ready.

Once you’ve logged in to your control panel (all the information you need for that should be in your inbox) , it’s time to install WordPress. Thankfully, this takes just one click!

Log-in to your Hostgator control panel
Look about halfway down the page for the left sidebar section
Click “Install WordPress.”

Once clicked, you’ll be automatically transferred to Mojomarketplace.com – shhh, don’t panic! this is just a site that helps HostGator install platforms (like WordPress).

You should immediately see a screen where you’re offered to “Install” or “Import” WordPress.
Click “Install” to get to the next step.

When you’re finished, “Install WordPress”, you’ll see a loading bar at the top of your page that will eventually tell you that your WordPress blog has been installed and you’ll see your log-in credentials.

3.6. Log in and check out your new blog

Once the installation completes, you’ll get an email that shares your login information, including an “Admin URL”. (In case you missed that notification bar)

To log in to your blog, click the admin URL. If you forget this URL, it’s simply www.yourblog.com/wp-admin (where “yourblog” is your domain name).

You’ve just logged into your blog?

start_new_blog_homepage

Wow! Congratulations! – you now know how to make a blog using WordPress. You’ve installed WordPress and set up your blog, all on your own! You can rise up and punch the air with excitement! As you can see, it was really easy and straightforward. Sip your coffee now.

Now let’s get to step 4. Keep following this guide and you will find designing a blog more interesting than you thought. The real fun part begins!

4. Designing your blog

Configure, Design and Tweak your blog

In this section, you will learn some WordPress blog basics, including:

Getting familiar with WordPress dashboard
Changing your blog’s design
Installing new plugins/features
Making your blog search engine friendly

If you’ve set up your blog, you’re now ready to start using WordPress and customizing your blog. It’s a promise – it’ll be pretty easy and fun at the same time.

Remember: You can log in to your blog by going to www.yourblog.com/wp-admin/ and using the credentials you set up with HostGator or any other hosting company you used.

4.1. Understanding the WordPress Dashboard

When you log in for the first time, you’ll see a dashboard or admin panel to the left that looks something like this:

Your_WordPress_dashboard

Let’s break down some of the most important ones for new bloggers to know:

Dashboard” gives you an ‘at-a-glance look’ at your recent activity, including how many posts, comments and pages you have. You can also write up a quick draft blog post here – but don’t – you will see a better way a little later in the guide.

Posts” is where you’ll click if you want to add a new blog post or edit an existing one.

Media” is the library of all the pictures, videos, and audio files you’ve uploaded to the site. You can manage all of those items here.

Pages” is where you can add a new permanent page – like a services or contact me page (not a blog post!) and manage the pages you’ve already created.

Comments” is the place you’ll want to go to manage your site visitors comments. You can see which comments are waiting for your approval, review comments you’ve approved, see which comments WordPress has labelled as spam and delete comments you don’t want.

Appearance” – this is where you can edit your blog’s design and install new themes and layouts. You will see exactly how to do this a little later in the page.

Plugins” is where you’d click if you wanted to install a new plugin, like a photo gallery or SEO tool. Keep your fingers scrolling, you will learn how to do this in a moment.

Settings” is the last section you need to know about. Here, you can change your site’s title and tagline, edit your email address and manage all of your site’s important settings.

4.2. Changing Your Blog’s Design (Themes & Layouts)

WordPress blogging platform uses design templates called “Themes” to figure out how your site should look. Changing your blog’s layout and design is as simple as installing a new theme.

There are over 2,000 professionally designed, fully-customisable and free themes to choose from – so you’ve got a lot of options. If you want to see more premium type of templates and themes, head over to the site Themeforest.net.

Rosy Advert

Here’s how to find and install a theme you love:

Mouse-over the “Appearance” tab in the WordPress sidebar, then click on “Themes”.

find_a_perfect_theme

On the next screen, you’ll see several themes are already installed. If you don’t like those, click the “Add New” button at the top, or the great big “Add New” square to start searching for a theme.

add_new_theme

Now, you’ll see tabs where you’ll find featured, popular and brand new themes, as well as a “Feature Filter” and search bar. Hope you’re following?

featured_themes

“Feature Filter” option is really lovely, because you can choose themes in certain color schemes, select specific layouts and even choose themes with built-in advanced features.

Just choose the options you want, then click “Apply Filters” on the left hand side. If you’re finding this challenging, just search by keyword – there’s no wrong way!

apply_filters

When you’ve found a theme you like, click “Install”. You’re nearly done!

Once the theme has been installed, all that’s left to do is click “Activate” on the next screen:

activate_your_blog_theme

That wasn’t difficult. Was it? Guess there’s joy in you so far.

4.3. Installing a New Plugin (add some cool features to your blog)

“Plugins” are little software modules that you can install to add more functionalities, features and tools to your blog. They can do all sorts of things, like:

Adding contact forms
Reducing comment spam
Making your blog SEO-friendly
Creating newsletter sign-up forms
Adding photo galleries
Creating sliding images

And lots, LOTS more.

Installing them is really easy. First, Mouse-over “Plugins” in the sidebar, then click “Add New”.

add_new_blog_plugins

Now, you can search by keyword to find plugins for almost anything! Use the search plugin box.

When you find a plugin you like, just click “Install Now” and then “Activate Plugin” on the page that follows.

activate_plugins

BE CAREFUL: Before you install any plugin, it’s a wise idea to Google its name and read reviews. Some plugins can break your theme, cause problems with security, or just plain work poorly, so always get a second opinion first.

Also, make sure your plugins (and themes) are always up-to-date. Don’t worry though, WordPress usually lets you know when some of them are out of date.

4.4. Configuring your blog to become search engine friendly

There are some things you’d need to do to make your blog more search engine friendly. Search engines do not like two things:

Ugly and clumsy URL-s – http://yourblog.com/2012/04/topic-a/auhtor-Mike/how-to-start-a-blog. A much better way is to use: http://yourblog.com/start-a-blog

See the difference? One is filled with irrelevant information and the another one is short, clean and neat.

In order to change your links to be more cleaner, click on the “Settings” -> “Permalinks” and use the following settings:

permalinks1

4.5. Spam comments
Unfortunately, lots of people want to leave automate spam comments on your blog. They do that for couple of reasons – to get people from your blog to their blog and to advertise their services/products.

To avoid that, make sure you moderate your comments. Here’s how to do that: Go to “Settings” -> “Discussion” and tick those two options.

disable_comments1

How are you faring so far? Still excited?

4.6. Managing Your User Information

If you ever need to change your user details, password, or add another user so someone else can access your blog, it helps to know how to manage your user details.

To manage users, mouse-over the “Users” tan on the left-hand menu.

new_blog_users

Adding a New User

Click the “Add New” link in the users section of the left-hand menu, and you’ll be usehered into the page:

Fill in the details for the user you’d like to add – including a password you can remember to share with them. You can send it to them via email by clicking the radio box option – but that’s not always the most secure way to do things.

BE CAREFUL: The “Role” you choose from the drop-down menu will determine what your new user is able to do.

Subscribers” are only able to manage their own profiles – not update or change content.

Administrators” can access all the administration options – making any changes or adding new users.

Authors” can publish and manage their own posts, but nothing else.

Contributors” can write and manage their own posts, but cannot publish them.

Editors” can publish and manage posts – including the posts of other users.

Warning! Don’t give access to anyone who doesn’t need it! Else you may run into troubles with your blog.

4.7. Adding/Writing Blog Posts and Pages

By now you should have fully working WordPress blog on your own domain name. You should also have a custom blog theme that fits with your blog’s topic. Congratulations – you’ve done a LOT and I’m proud that you’ve managed to get so far.

In the LAST step, I’ll show you how to write your first blog post and share some tips for writing blog posts.

In this section, I’ll show you…

How to write a post inside WordPress
How to add images, links and format text
Some quick tips and tricks for writing great content

4.7.1. Adding a New Post

To add a new blog post, click the “Posts” section on the left hand side-menu, then click on “Add New”.

Adding_a_new_blog_post1

On the next screen, you’ll see something like this:

Writing_new_blog_post

You can add the title to your blog post in the top field, and your content goes in the big text box below the title.

You can save your draft or publish your content live by using the box menu on the far right of the page. You can even schedule the post to be published later – or make the post private so only friends can see it.

BlogPost_status_visibility

Once published, your new post can be found in the “All Posts” section of the “Posts” tab, so you can edit it any time.

Let’s take a quick look at some things you can do to make your post more elegant:

4.7.2. Adding Images

To add an image to your post, click the “Add Media” button right above the lower content field.

Tip: Before you click “Add Media”, be sure you’ve left your cursor inside of your blog post where you want the image to show up. Otherwise, you’ll have to move it later on.

Adding_media

Next, click the “Upload Files” tab on the screen that pops up, then click “Select Files”.

adding_images_blog_post

Once you’ve found the file, double click it and WordPress will upload it automatically.

When the upload is finished, make sure the image you want is selected, then click the “Insert into post” button to add the image to the post you’re writing.

insert_image_into_blogpost

4.7.3. Adding a Link

Linking out to other websites is a great way to build relationships and share interesting content.

To add a link, click on the icon in the toolbar that looks a bit like a chain link.

instert_a_blog_link

On the pop-up, you’ll need to enter a few important bits of information.

Adding_link2

URL is the web address of the link you want to share. Make sure you include “http://” before the “www.” address, or your link will be broken.

“Link Text” is the text you want people to click on to get to your link. It might be “Click here”, or anything you choose.

“Open link in a new window/tab” – it’s a smart idea to check this box. Otherwise, when someone clicks your link, they’ll leave your blog.

If you want to link to an existing page, you can use the “Search” section to find a post or page you’ve already created and click it to add a link.

Finally, click “Add Link”, and your link will be added where you left your cursor in the post you were writing.

4.7.4. Adding Headers & Editing Text

It’s a good idea to use headers and bolding to make your content easier to read and scan.
Adding Headings

To add a heading, click on the drop-down menu on the bottom left of the toolbar.

Blog_Post_Headings

Try to only use “Heading 1” once within your page (usually at the top), and use “Heading 2” or “Heading 3” for other sections in the copy, as this is better for search engines.

Tip: You can also highlight the text you want to change in your blog post, THEN click on the dropdown menu and select the format you want the text to be in.
Editing Fonts

You can also bold, italicize, underline and even change the colour of your text in a click or two.

change_font

“B” is for bolding
“I” is for italics
“U” is to underline your text
“A” will open a dropdown menu where you can select font color

As you can see, you do not need coding knowledge to achieve all of these. But it is all pretty simpler for someone who has worked with Microsoft Word.

5 MAKE YOUR BLOG SUCCESSFUL

Now that you have set up your blog and know the basics, it’s time to make your blog successful. Many beginners struggle at that point, thus I will put together a handful of guides to get you going easier in future. Meantime do read up sherlock holmes approach to building a popular blog.

Things to do after you’ve created your blog:

The first thing to do is create a proper About Me and Contact page.

Creating a perfect ‘about me page‘ describing who you are and your objective (This is usually the most visited page on your blog).
Adding a Contact Page/Form on your blog (So that your readers could contact you).

Done those two? Go and read those posts.

Ready to take your blog into next level?

Once you have some content on your blog it’s time to get some traffic and make it profitable.

Get your blog listed on Search Engines (Google, Bing, Yahoo)
Get more traffic to your blog (you will be learning this in subsequent post).
Learn how to monetize your blog (Affiliate marketing, selling advertising space, getting new clients, etc)
Add a subscription box (So you could email your blog visitors personally).
Set up Google Analytics (For tracking your blog visitors).

There is more, but you have started and can only get better as you keep trying out new things and reading to improve yourself. We will keep bringing you more solid tips. Read The 3 ingredients of the secret sauce of successful blogging

Bloggers come to blogging arena with varying degrees of online and social media experience, but we’ve all made more than a few newbie mistakes – there’s always room for more learning and improvement, whether you’re a beginner or you’ve been blogging for years.

And that’s it! I’m more than confident that your initial blog set up is now finished and ready to go, and all that should have been really damn easy (unlike my first time, lucky you!)

If by some unfortunate circumstance you get stuck or have any questions about how to create a blog, just leave a comment below. I’ll help you out with any problems as much as i can.

P.S. COMMENTS ARE HIGHLY MODERATED – No self-promotional comments that doesn’t add much value to the guide itself. Plus, readers don’t have to scroll a lot.

Go ahead and leave a comment if:

Your comment adds some value to the guide. Some suggestions or tips aren’t included here, or an appreciation.
I’ll do my best to approve your comment within 24 hours.

You can now go get yourself something solid to eat. Enough of the coffee and juice.

Enjoy your new blog!

Credit to: Mike Wallagher

How to instantly remove password
protection from PDF Files

PDF files could be password protected to restrict others from opening and
having access to the information. While you may still need to fetch the data to
use it productively, to modify, read or even print PDF files, there is no way you
can edit or copy it since the file is locked. And what happens when you forget
the password you set for your own PDF file? This can be frustrating. However,
there is a solution.

AnyBizSoft PDF Password Remover is a free premium tool which removes
encryption from PDF files. It removes all the basic restrictions on printing,
copying and editing the content of PDF files. It also removes password
protection, if any, from the file.

How To Remove PDF file Restrictions

Download AnyBizSoft PDF Password Remover.

Now install the software and open it. A new pop up window will appear.

Click on the Add Files button and import your file.

Once your file is imported, click on the Start

Wait for a few seconds. A new popup will appear displaying the message
that the password is removed.

Press OK and now open your PDF file, the password is successfully removed.

How to remove restriction of a single PDF file

You can also directly remove restrictions of a single file without starting the
main interface. Just right click on an encrypted PDF file and select Decrypt with
AnyBizSoft PDF Password Remover from right click menu. Decryption process
will start.
Note: This tool can’t recover user password and it doesn’t remove protections
such as DRM

Man Who Discovers’ HIV-AIDS Finally Creates Its Cure Vaccine

FORTY SIX (46) years after AIDS has killed tens of thousands of people, a top doctor pointedly fingered for creating HIV in the early 1970s, Robert Gallo has come out now saying he discovered the vaccine…. Dr. Robert Gallo, this week described his breakthrough vaccine as “just another protein” but different than anything that has been tried before.

He also exuberantly labelled it “the beginning of the beginnings”. Gallo was exposed in a previous ZimEye article after having been confronted on live video for his alleged role in embarking on biological warfare intended to wipe out black people as well as gay men in the 1970s. This time Gallo has announced he is beginning the first human trials of his suddenly discovered HIV vaccine. He described the vaccine as “just a protein” but different than anything that has been tried before. It’s designed to induce a new kind of antibody to target infection right at the start, since the AIDS virus integrates within one day into human genes, and it becomes part of DNA in 24-36 hours. Gallo said it has taken nine years to get to this stage. The goal of the first phase is to prove his belief that the vaccine is safe.

“I think it’s very interesting and important to see how we do in man in the first phases and the second phases, but we know it’s the beginning of the beginning,” Gallo said. “I’d feel a eureka moment, an exciting moment, if I knew it works. You know, we have a way to go to know these things.” Phase one has started enrolling volunteers, 60 of which are needed. Twenty people will get this vaccine candidate, and Gallo said the first person will be injected by the end of this month. Phase two involves linking up with other people’s vaccines, Gallo said, in the hope of finding a “one-two punch” that really does the trick.

5 Brave But Crazy Startup Ideas That Paid Off

There are startups, and there are startups. Venture capitalists, particularly in Silicon Valley, want to identify startups of the rarest kind. Not those seeking a quick exit or cloning another business, but startups with a shot of becoming the next Facebook, Apple, or Google.

A common trait among many of these startup ideas is how audacious, stupid, or crazy they sound. They’re trying to create a market where none existed. Instead of taking competitors head on, they’re sidestepping them altogether by doing something entirely different.

Of course, it’s a thin line between ideas that are straight up bonkers and ideas that sound nuts, but actually have legs. Here’s a rundown of five startups that had those legs firmly planted on the ground.

Xiaomi

Xiaomi-Mi-4i-launch-in-India-photo-3-720x450

 

What? Founded in China in 2010, Xiaomi is the world’s third largest smartphone maker. It has ventured beyond smartphones into other consumer and smart home devices. As of 2014, it has over 8,000 employees and a valuation of over US$46 billion.

WTF? Xiaomi doesn’t want to make money by selling phones. Instead, it sells phones at or near cost. It relies purely on online distribution while others ship their goods to physical retail stores. It uses Android. It manufactures and sells its products in small batches, and relies on its users heavily for feedback. It plans to make money from ecommerce and services.

Why did it work?

The combination of these practices drove its product prices down. As a result, its devices punch above their pricing points, providing value for money to consumers. Manufacturing in small batches serves two purposes; it saves money from warehousing, and enables quick changes to its products.

Gathering and implementing user feedback drives up user loyalty: the users are flattered their suggestions made it into the product, which turns them into fans and evangelists. Next to Apple, Xiaomi is one of a few consumer electronics companies with as devoted a following.

Slack

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What? Slack is an office communications chat tool. It launched in August 2013 and is now valued at over a billion US dollars, with over 30,000 teams using it. It was founded by Stewart Butterfield, who started photo sharing site Flickr and sold it to Yahoo.

WTF? Slacks wants to replace your office email by centralizing your communications and work documents. It wants to be the one app you use all the time in the office.

Why did it work?

It integrates with major enterprise apps like Dropbox, Google Apps, GitHub, Heroku, Zendesk, and more. Slack keeps track of what you do on these services, and has a search feature that allows you to instantly access your document data and history. Chat is the trojan horse. It’s really a Google for your internal office communications. The app has gotten off to a hot start, and its future seems bright

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Flipkart

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What? Flipkart is India’s largest ecommerce site. Started by former Amazon employees Sachin and Binny Bansal in 2007, Flipkart has grown to a valuation of US$11 billion. Not bad at all for the duo, who had to face up to family and friends who thought they were out of their minds to leave their cushy jobs and start a company.

WTF? Flipkart began at a time when India lacked the delivery infrastructure for ecommerce and the people weren’t familiar with offline retail or online shopping.

Why did it work?

It began by focusing on a category which had low start-up costs – books. It developed a cash on delivery payment system to earn the trust of consumers and slowly won them over to online shopping. It built its own supply chain management system to deliver goods on time. The founders realized that customer service for ecommerce then was lacking, and they sought to focus on that.

Given the price sensitive nature of Indian consumers, Flipkart offered huge discounts for its items. Its low operational costs enable it to offer discounts that physical stores can’t match. The limited reach of physical retail in India benefits ecommerce, since consumers tend to have a limited selection from nearby stores. Flipkart gives them access to a wider range of goods than ever.

Uber

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What? Uber is the largest on-demand transportation company in the world, valued at US$40 billion. For passengers, it brings a ride to your doorstep which you can order from your app. For drivers, it offers an optimized way to pick up passengers and earn income. No cash is exchanged, since all transactions are handled by Uber’s system in the background.

WTF? Uber believes the smartphone can become the dominant way people get a ride. It also believes an army of private drivers can complement or even replace the taxi industry.

Why did it work?

The app first took off among Silicon Valley elites with the premium Uber Black service, which focuses on making users look and feel good. Its biggest benefit for consumers, however, lies in its convenience. The smartphone detects the user’s location, allowing drivers to easily find the passenger. Ordering a ride is just a couple of button presses away. Payment is seamless and the app automatically deducts from the credit card.

Less obvious but equally crucial is how Uber is increasing the supply of taxi drivers. It’s putting more vehicles on the road to service passengers by signing up drivers to complement the taxi industry. It’s proactively matching drivers with demand, allowing them to make fuller use of their vehicle and time.

Razer

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What? Razer is a US company that builds consumer electronics for gamers. Founded in 1998 and valued at US$1 billion, Razer builds gaming mice, keyboards, and laptops. It recently launched its own smart wristband, the Nabu.

WTF? Razer believes it can build a hardware company just by serving gamers. That was in 1998, where PC gaming revenue was nowhere near where it is today. It also stuck to its core business of investing in the PC despite the stagnation and decline of the platform.

Why did it work?

Gaming has exploded and become mainstream, growing four times in the US from 1998 to 2008. The competitive and esports scene has also grown. Twitch, a site that streams video games as they are being played, was acquired by Amazon for almost a billion US dollars. Razer seems prescient by building niche products almost before that niche existed. It owns 30 percent of the gaming mice and keyboard market through tight integrations between hardware and software.

Editing by Michael Tegos, image by smrtmazumdar
(And yes, we’re serious about ethics and transparency)

hacking

First Step to Effective Security – How to Know if You’ve Been Hacked

The online world is becoming scarier each day and the possibility of getting hacked gets increased each
time you sign into your online accounts. It’s possible that you haven’t been hacked yet, but you must
ensure to follow secure practices to remain safe in the future.
News of new data breaches and password thefts are as common as any other development around you.
These attacks occur via various means- either through a malicious email, or a flaw in your computer’s
operating system. Even the White House and Pentagon aren’t immune to hackers.
There have been about 5,593 data breaches since the year 2005 and this number is rising exponentially.
These breaches have exposed about 800.3 million individual records alone in the United States.
These data breaches are a big risk that ask you to be prepared and follow secure practices.
The Identity Theft Resource Center defines data breach as an “incident in which an individual name plus
a Social Security number, driver’s license number, medical record or financial record (credit/debit cards
included) is potentially put at risk because of exposure.”
So, what do I lose in a data breach?
Usually, it’s just your basic information like name and email addresses. By collecting this basic
information and connecting the dots, an expert hacker can gain tons of other sensitive information to
hurt you in various ways.
As written in the Forrester report, Planning for Failure, “even enterprises with the most mature security
organizations and advanced security controls can’t prevent every single breach — especially if your
opponent has the time and financial backing to target you.”
The situation is getting worse with time and keeping your data safe from the reach of the prying eyes
must be your top priority.
But, how to know if you’ve been hacked?
With the increase in hacking attacks, a number of sites have opened up that give you alerts when data
breaches take place. One of the best places to get these announcements is the mailing hosted at
the Identity Theft Resource Center. It sends regular emails with the weekly data breach information in
your inbox.
Haveibeenpwned.com is another website that allows you to check if hackers have compromised your
personal information. The website also tells you the reason and incident when your email address was
breached.