ssl

Don’t have SSL Certificate installed on your website? It’s high time for you to take the matter seriously.

Don’t have SSL Certificate installed on your website? It’s high time for you take the matter seriously. Google is now started flagging all websites which are not having SSL Certificate installed on it. This means that if your website doesn’t have an SSL certificate, it will display ‘Not Secure’ in the URL bar of it’s Chrome browser like below.

ssl-not-secure-warning
We turn to the internet for everything from selling to buying, it is the introduction of an E-world. With this dominating trend, online security has become a necessity. Undoubtedly, Google loves it’s users and therefore, it is their way to make us feel secure on the internet.

Why are SSL Certificates Critical?

Here are some of the reasons to have SSL Certificates:

1. Encrypts Sensitive Information

The information you send on the Internet is passed from computer to computer to get to the destination server. Any computer in between you and the server can see your credit card numbers, usernames and passwords, and other sensitive information if it is not encrypted. When an SSL certificate is used, the information becomes unreadable to everyone except for the server you are sending the information to.

2. Protects You From Cyber-criminals

They are clever!

According to Cyber-security Ventures, cyber-security damages will cost the world over $6 trillion annually by 2021.

It is impossible to escape the rising tide of cyber-crime if your website doesn’t have an SSL certificate. They will identify weakness(es) in your network…mostly, when information is transmitted. You surely can protect yourself from this mess by installing SSL certificates that offer a vital means of defending against transit-based hacks.

3. Builds Trust & Brand Power

With SSL certificates, your customers will see visuals like lock icon and green address bar that indicates well-trusted encryption is in use. Well, if a customer sees that on your website, he/she will be assured that my information is traveling safe. Undoubtedly, this will add brand power and boost the credibility of the brand.

Free or Paid SSL Certificates? Which One’s Right For Your Website?

When you install SSL certificate, the information becomes encrypted to everyone except for the server you are sending it to. This encryption will ensure that your website and your visitor’s data is safe from prying eyes. So no matter if you’re a blogger, an e-commerce shop or a payment gateway, you must shield your website with an SSL certificate.

There are different types of SSL certificates, both free and paid, that you can install on a website. While the level of encryption is the same for both, free SSL certificates come with a few limitations.

Differences between Free SSL Certificate and Paid SSL Certificate

Validation: Free SSL Certificates consists only of Domain Validation which provides a very basic level of authentication. The Certificate Authority automates the process of verifying if the applicant owns the domain. Free SSL certificates are ideal for platforms like personal websites and blogs. On the other hand, with paid SSL certificates, the Certificate Authority is responsible for manually verifying the identity of the website owner before issuing the certificate. Paid SSL comes with provisions for Organization Validation (OV) and Extended Validation (EV) certificates. Besides owner identity, OV & EV certificates require a thorough verification of the businesses which is conducted by the Certificate Authority. If you’re a business and want to increase the trust of your customers, a paid certificate is what you will need.

Validity: Generally, free SSL certificates are issued for 30 to 90 days. This means that you will have to renew your free certificate regularly, which can be quite a hassle. On the other hand, paid SSL certificates can be issued for a period of 1 to 2 years which reduces the number of times you will have to renew your certificates.

Warranty: When you opt for a paid SSL certificate, you are generally covered by a warranty. This warranty acts as an insurance against any damage to the business resulting from a flaw in the certificate. e.g. data breach. The warranty level ranges from $5000 to $1 Million, depending on kind of SSL certificate you’ve purchased. Unfortunately, there is no warranty provided with a free SSL certificate.

Support: With a free SSL certificate you get little to no help from the Certificate Authority. On the other hand, Certificate Authorities and their resellers issuing paid SSL certificates provide premium support to all their customers.

Server Compatibility: Paid SSL certificates are compatible with most hosting services including dedicated servers and are easier to set up. Free SSL certificates are only easy to install if the hosting provider has made provisions to support it.

Trust: With paid SSL certificates come visual indicators like a lock sign or a green address bar and better site seals. These visual indicators assure your visitors that they are on a safe website and builds trust. Free SSL certificates do provide ‘https://’ but the visual indicators that build trust are missing.

So does it make sense to pay for SSL certificates when there are free ones available? The answer depends on the type of website and how much you value your visitor or customer’s trust. If you have a personal site or a blog, then you can look at using the free SSL option. However, e-commerce and business websites should not think twice before investing in a paid SSL certificate.

Job Interview

The Cover Letter needs as much attention and skill in the preparation as your resume

Approximately 75% of all the applications that we receive for jobs are without cover letters. While we all know that a resume is important to the job search process, it is not necessarily the most important document you will need to secure an interview. In fact a strategically targeted cover letter is the most important weapon you need to fight this battle and to win it. There are two key reasons why.

  • The cover letter allows you to target the job and the employer in a very specific way, leaving the resume to market your skills, qualities and experience as a part of the bigger picture. Your resume then needs less tweaking with each application because the letter, which must be different each time, does that for you.
  • A great cover letter should not just repeat your resume in a shorter form, but should tell the employer what it is about the job that is attractive to you and why you want to work for that employer. You will also need to include the unique skills and the qualities you bring to that job and the company.

Writing a killer cover letter requires thought, knowledge and understanding.

Almost all employers and recruiters of professionally managed companies read the letter first. Some will not even consider your resume until they are satisfied by the content of your letter. So it is a very important document.

  • You will need to do research on the employer and the job before writing the letter
  • It will need to be written in an engaging style using keywords applicable to the job
  • In the letter you will need to show that you have made the effort to learn about their company by acquiring relevant knowledge before going to the interview, if you are chosen.

But what do you do if the employer is not disclosed in the job advert ?

Well, the letter still has to be written specifically to the job addressing the key requirements stated and your enthusiasm needs to shine through. No letter can just say “here is my resume” if you want a call for an interview. You will need to convey:

  • You have reviewed the job requirements thoroughly and understood the business
  • The company is the employer of your choice
  • You believe that your personality fits with the organisational culture (providing it does)
  • You really want to work for an organisation with your values

These all will help you to sell you and your skill to the company. The cover letter needs as much attention and skill in the preparation as your resume. So do not just attach and send the CV without cover letter if you do not wish to be ignored.

social media

Social Media Channels that are Best for Business Marketing

Social media has been the game changer in almost everything that surrounds us. With the birth of social platforms, custom targeting of prospective customers is easier than ever. One of the greatest innovations of technology is social media, not just in our ability to communicate but in our ability to market directly to those we want to reach.

One of the best features social media marketing has for businesses today is its low barrier to entry. Gone are the days where a business is required to spend thousands of dollars on advertising to reach its prospect. You can now reach your audience spending as little as five dollars per week!

But which platforms are the best for businesses to use? In order to create a successful social strategy, you have to be familiar with how they work. We’ve provided a list of platforms for marketing business and acquiring new clients.

1. Facebook

With more than 1.59 billion users, Facebook comprises of the largest blend of demographics of any social platform. It provides an extraordinary medium for your business to connect with your prospective customers all around the world. And from an advertising perspective, it’s the easiest to manage and allows for the best possible targeting.

2. Twitter

Twitter’s value lies in its ability for your posts to go viral: the more people share your posts and “re-tweet” your content, the more followers you will attain. You can post recent news, updates and articles. Hashtags make a big difference in building momentum for your posts, so pay attention to what is trending today and include relevant hashtags. You can also re-tweet people who have many followers to increase the likelihood of them following us back.

3. LinkedIn

If you are working in a B2B field, this is the social media network for you to focus on. Connecting with business professionals in any industry is easiest with LinkedIn as it allows you to target them by industry, job title, etc. As with all social media, LinkedIn prioritizes relationship building more than any other. Don’t lead with a sales pitch; start by building a connection. One of the best features for businesses are LinkedIn Groups. Businesses should establish Groups in your target niche or industry and invite others in your target market to join.

4. Instagram

This popular photo-sharing platform can be used at events and trade-shows. Whenever you’re hosting events, you can always offer an incentive for the attendees to post photos to Instagram using event hashtag.

5. Pinterest

Only use this channel if you have great images to share. Quality images are likely to go viral on this site due to its visual nature. If your image is pinned by a highly-followed member, it has the potential to be viewed by millions. It’s also great for promoting products.

6. YouTube

Aside from being the second largest search engine, YouTube is owned by Google. So when it comes to search engine optimization, videos are more likely to appear in search results than other websites.

7. Yelp

Yelp is critical for businesses today. If you don’t have an active strategy to build reviews on Yelp, your customers may do it for you soon enough. All it takes is one poor review to harm your abilities to build your social platform. Asking your customers to review your business on Yelp prevents any negative review from standing out.

It’s up to you which among these platforms will likely be a marketing paradise for your business. Just remember that it is not just the social media site that you have to check, but the compatibility it has for your business.

Anti-Virus & and Anti-Malware programs

Free Anti-Virus & and Anti-Malware programs for you

Below is a list of free Anti-Virus & and Anti-Malware programs that have received high recommendations. You can run two or more anti-virus scans on potentially infected computer(s).

Kaspersky : http://www.kaspersky.com/virusscanner
Avira: http://avira.com
Avast! Antivirus : http://www.avast.com
AVG Anti-Virus : http://free.avg.com
Trend Micro : http://housecall.trendmicro.com

MalwareBytes and ComboFix are anti-malware programs (with free versions) that have had known success in detecting recent strains of malware.

ComboFix : http://www.bleepingcomputer.com/combofix/
MalwareBytes : http://www.malwarebytes.org

If you are using an Apple computer, the following program is available.

ClamXav : http://www.clamxav.com

twitter

9 Advanced Twitter Tips and Tricks

Here are 9 things you should be doing to up your Twitter game.

1. Follow the leads. Twitter isn’t just about your tweets; it’s also a great source for information on your competition. Monitor their engagement, find out what the hot topics are. This will give you fresh insight on how to broaden your own following and what those people are looking for. It may even show you what your competition is doing better than you. With a little tweet tweaking, you may be able to get those followers to convert to your own company.

2. Save the sales pitch. Don’t get caught up in using Twitter as a selling tool. Instead, use it to increase customer loyalty and offer valuable information to your followers. Overmarketing will merely leave a sour taste in followers’ mouths, and you may even end up losing them if their feed gets too clogged with too many promotions. Be viewed as a resource, not a door to door salesperson.

3. Keep it short. Posting links and content is a great thing, but Twitter users are all about brevity, so be sure to shorten your links may be by using a redirect service. Twitter will also automatically shorten your links using their built in T.CO shortner.

4. Reply with a period. Twitter filters allow users to only view replies if they are following each side of the conversation. But by starting off your reply with a period, the post won’t start with @–it will instead be viewed as a separate tweet and will be seen by all of your followers. Breaking grammar rules never felt so good.

5. Lose a few characters. Yes, 140 characters is the technical limit on Twitter, but all the cool kids are now only tweeting with 125 or less. Short, punchy tweets will grab your followers’ attention rather than getting lost in their feeds. The more characters left, the easier it is for people to retweet and add their own comment as well.

6. Ask Questions. People want to feel like you value their opinion and asking questions, even simple ones, tend to receive more engagement.

7. Be a resource. Providing value and being seen as a resource is a sure way to build a quality follow and to get retweeted. In a sea of nonsense and worthless tweets, if you’re the one sharing quality, interesting content; you’ll stand out. If you spend all of your time sharing what you ate or drank, you very well could lose followers.

8. A picture’s worth a thousand tweets. I can’t stress enough how important pictures are in any social media platform, and Twitter is no exception. Twitter now displays images in timelines, and if you’re not taking advantage of this you’re missing out. An image attached to any tweet is sure to increase visibility and engagement.

9. Don’t be too good for people. No matter how well known you are, or how busy you are don’t be that person who thinks they are too good to reply to anyone. I’m typically slammed, but I still take time every day to answer each and every person (that I see) who tweets me, thanks me, says they are reading my book etc. I believe in building your fans and brand champions one engagement at a time. It’s amazing how one quick conversation or reply can make someone feel appreciated and turn them into a brand champion or personal fan.

Black-Hat-SEO

Black Hat SEO ! What it is ?

Black Hat SEO definition: Black hat SEO is a practice that increases a page’s rank in search engines through means that violate the search engines’ terms of service. The term “black hat” originated in Western movies to distinguish the “bad guys” from the “good guys,” who wore white hats (see white hat SEO). Recently, it’s used more commonly to describe computer hackers, virus creators, and those who perform unethical actions with computers.

Implementing Black Hat SEO tactics and strategies can get your site banned from search engines, excluding you from the number one traffic referral source on the Internet. At the same time, some Black Hat tactics are remarkably effective. It’s important to have a proper understanding of Black Hat SEO and its consequences.

What Is Black Hat SEO, Anyways?

Black Hat SEO is most commonly defined as a disapproved practice that increases a page’s ranking in a search engine result page (SERP). These practices are against the search engine’s terms of service and can result in the site being banned from the search engine and affiliate sites. A list of tactics and strategies employed by black hat SEO practitioners have been openly denounced on Google’s Webmaster Guidelines and Bing’s Webmaster Guidelines. “Is the work that I’m doing adding value to the user or am I just doing this for search engines to see?” is a litmus test on whether an SEO tactic would go against a search engine’s webmaster guideline. If no value is added to the user, but rankings are likely to increase, then your decisions are highly likely to be black hat. The same test can be applied to to paid search practices to determine whether an activity is considered black hat ppc.

Black Hat SEO Tactics

  • Content Automation
  • Doorway Pages
  • Hidden Text or Links
  • Keyword Stuffing
  • Reporting a Competitor
  • Sneaky Redirects
  • Cloaking

Black Hat SEO Techniques

  • Link Manipulation – Buying links, advertorials, and link schemes
  • Article Spinning
  • Link Schemes
  • Link Farms
  • Link Wheels
  • Link Networks
  • Rich Snippet Markup Spam
  • Automated Queries to Google
  • Creating pages, sub domains, or domains with duplicate content
  • Pages with malicious behavior, such as phishing, viruses, Trojans, and other malware.

How To Report Black Hat SEO

There are two reason why you may report black hat SEO. Either your website has been attacked through a malicious hack, virus or negative seo campaign of spammy links, or that you see a spammy web results on a competitive keyword your website is ranking on. For the latter, you may file a webspam report through Google Webmaster Tools. Please use this tool with discretion. SPAM does not stand for search positions above mine!

In the event that your website has been attacked through a malicious hack, virus, or malware, request for a malware review after you’ve removed the malicious code.

In the event that your website is the target of a negative seo campaign of spammy links, please use the Disavow Links Tool in Google Webmaster Tools after you’ve tried to contact webmasters whom are pointing these links to your website to have them removed.

Why Are Black Hat SEO Practices Important To You?

Black Hat tactics can get your website banned from Google and other search engines. Though there may be some short term success through increased traffic to your site, that success may very well be short-lived. With hundreds of millions of users searching on Google per day, can you really afford to be de-indexed?

Are Black Hat SEO Techniques For You?

It depends: Are you trying to build a long-lasting business? If your answer is yes, you should probably avoid Black Hat SEO. Rather, you should look for alternative means of improving your search engine rankings.

social-media-marketing

10 Benefits Of Social Media Marketing

To some entrepreneurs, social media marketing is the “next big thing,” a temporary yet powerful fad that must be taken advantage of while it’s still in the spotlight. To others, it’s a buzzword with no practical advantages and a steep, complicated learning curve.

Because it appeared quickly, social media has developed a reputation by some for being a passing marketing interest, and therefore, an unprofitable one. The statistics, however, illustrate a different picture. According to Hubspot, 92% of marketers in 2014 claimed that social media marketing was important for their business, with 80% indicating their efforts increased traffic to their websites. And according to Social Media Examiner, 97% of marketers are currently participating in social media—but 85% of participants aren’t sure what social media tools are the best to use.

This demonstrates a huge potential for social media marketing to increase sales, but a lack of understanding on how to achieve those results. Here’s a look at just some of the ways social media marketing can improve your business:

1. Increased Brand Recognition. Every opportunity you have to syndicate your content and increase your visibility is valuable. Your social media networks are just new channels for your brand’s voice and content. This is important because it simultaneously makes you easier and more accessible for new customers, and makes you more familiar and recognizable for existing customers. For example, a frequent Twitter user could hear about your company for the first time only after stumbling upon it in a newsfeed. Or, an otherwise apathetic customer might become better acquainted with your brand after seeing your presence on multiple networks.

2. Improved brand loyalty. According to a report published by Texas Tech University, brands who engage on social media channels enjoy higher loyalty from their customers. The report concludes “Companies should take advantage of the tools social media gives them when it comes to connecting with their audience. A strategic and open social media plan could prove influential in morphing consumers into being brand loyal.” Another study published by Convince&Convert found that 53% of Americans who follow brands in social are more loyal to those brands.

3. More Opportunities to Convert. Every post you make on a social media platform is an opportunity for customers to convert. When you build a following, you’ll simultaneously have access to new customers, recent customers, and old customers, and you’ll be able to interact with all of them. Every blog post, image, video, or comment you share is a chance for someone to react, and every reaction could lead to a site visit, and eventually a conversion. Not every interaction with your brand results in a conversion, but every positive interaction increases the likelihood of an eventual conversion. Even if your click-through rates are low, the sheer number of opportunities you have on social media is significant. And as I pointed out in my article, “The Four Elements of Any Action, And How To Use Them In Your Online Marketing Initiative,” “opportunity” is the first element of any action.

4. Higher conversion rates. Social media marketing results in higher conversion rates in a few distinct ways. Perhaps the most significant is its humanization element; the fact that brands become more humanized by interacting in social media channels. Social media is a place where brands can act like people do, and this is important because people like doing business with other people; not with companies.

Additionally, studies have shown that social media has a 100% higher lead-to-close rate than outbound marketing, and a higher number of social media followers tends to improve trust and credibility in your brand, representing social proof. As such, simply building your audience in social media can improve conversion rates on your existing traffic.

5. Higher Brand Authority. Interacting with your customers regularly is a show of good faith for other customers. When people go to compliment or brag about a product or service, they turn to social media. And when they post your brand name, new audience members will want to follow you for updates. The more people that are talking about you on social media, the more valuable and authoritative your brand will seem to new users. Not to mention, if you can interact with major influencers on Twitter or other social networks, your visible authority and reach will skyrocket.

6. Increased Inbound Traffic. Without social media, your inbound traffic is limited to people already familiar with your brand and individuals searching for keywords you currently rank for. Every social media profile you add is another path leading back to your site, and every piece of content you syndicate on those profiles is another opportunity for a new visitor. The more quality content you syndicate on social media, the more inbound traffic you’ll generate, and more traffic means more leads and more conversions.

7. Decreased Marketing Costs. According to Hubspot, 84% of marketers found as little as six hours of effort per week was enough to generate increased traffic. Six hours is not a significant investment for a channel as large as social media. If you can lend just one hour a day to developing your content and syndication strategy, you could start seeing the results of your efforts. Even paid advertising through Facebook and Twitter is relatively cheap (depending on your goals, of course). Start small and you’ll never have to worry about going over budget—once you get a better feel for what to expect, you can increase your budget and increase your conversions correspondingly.

8. Better Search Engine Rankings. SEO is the best way to capture relevant traffic from search engines, but the requirements for success are always changing. It’s no longer enough to regularly update your blog, ensure optimized title tags and meta descriptions, and distribute links pointing back to your site. Google and other search engines may be calculating their rankings using social media presence as a significant factor, because of the fact that strong brands almost always use social media. As such, being active on social media could act as a “brand signal” to search engines that your brand is legitimate, credible, and trustworthy. That means, if you want to rank for a given set of keywords, having a strong social media presence could be almost mandatory.

9. Richer Customer Experiences. Social media, at its core, is a communication channel like email or phone calls. Every customer interaction you have on social media is an opportunity to publicly demonstrate your customer service level and enrich your relationship with your customers. For example, if a customer complains about your product on Twitter, you can immediately address the comment, apologize publicly, and take action to make it right. Or, if a customer compliments you, you can thank them and recommend additional products. It’s a personal experience that lets customers know you care about them.

10. Improved Customer Insights. Social media also gives you an opportunity to gain valuable information about what your customers are interested in and how they behave, via social listening. For example, you can monitor user comments to see what people think of your business directly. You can segment your content syndication lists based on topic and see which types of content generate the most interest—and then produce more of that type of content. You can measure conversions based on different promotions posted on various social media channels and eventually find a perfect combination to generate revenue.

These are the benefits of sustaining a long-term social media campaign, but if you’re still apprehensive about getting started, consider these points:

Your Competition Is Already Involved. Your competitors are already involved on social media, which means your potential social media traffic and conversions are being poached. Don’t let your competitors reap all the benefits while you stand idly by. If, somehow, your competition is not involved on social media, there’s even more of a reason to get started—the field is open.

The Sooner You Start, the Sooner You Reap the Benefits. Social media is all about relationship building, and it tends to grow exponentially as your followers tell their friends, and their friends tell their friends, and so on. The sooner you start, the sooner you’ll be able to start growing that audience.

Potential Losses Are Insignificant. Realistically, you don’t have anything to lose by getting involved in social media. The amount of time and money it takes to create your profiles and start posting is usually minimal, compared to other marketing channels. Just six hours a week or a few hundred dollars is all it takes to establish your presence.

Conclusion : The longer you wait, the more you have to lose. Social media marketing, when done right, can lead to more customers, more traffic, and more conversions, and it’s here to stay.

Choosing the Right Blogging Platform for You

Are you looking to start a blog or get back into blogging? Perhaps you’re getting bored of the platform you’re currently using, but you’re scared to deviate from what you know. Not to worry – our guide focuses on some of the top blogging platforms on the web – we’ll do the grunt work for you. Sit back, relax, and enjoy the read.

WordPress

Hands down, the heaviest hitter on the market is WordPress. There are two versions available WordPress.com and WordPress.org, both of which have different features. WordPress.com is basically a cookie-cutter blog that users can create. The pros are that you can start a blog in no time and WordPress will host it for you, along with spam protection, automatic updates and backup, security, and a great selection of plugins. In terms of design, you won’t be able to make many design changes, but there are a lot themes you can choose from. Which brings us to the cons – obviously lack of design freedom as mentioned. Plus, since there are so many users, your domain name will be something like “yourfifthdomainchoice.WordPress.com”; however, you can pay extra to get rid of the “.WordPress.com” suffix. Other limitations include a strict upload limit on pictures and you will have to pay extra to upload video directly (you can embed video, though). With all this being said, WordPress.com is still a great option for the blogger just looking to get started.

WordPress.org is for those looking for more customization out of their blogging platform. You can upload your own themes, install your own plugins (or choose from their 19,000+). While the application is free to download, you will have to find a host for your site. Backups and maintenance are other aspects of your blog you will need to do yourself. Basically, hosting a blog on WordPress.org is similar to hosting your own website. While .org is free, there can be some trickiness and if you’re inexperienced you might be on the help forums for a long time before you’re up and running.

Tumblr

Bought out by Yahoo! for over a billion dollars, Tumblr is a media-focused blogging site with a very strong following. The design and layout is different from WordPress; users post their own content, usually in the form of a photo or video with a caption, as well as like other content from other tumblrs and share or reblog them on their own page. Themes are easy to install and there are many free ones, as well as themes you can purchase. Finding content on tumblr is very much the same as Twitter as it also uses hashtags (#). To be a tumblr you simply have to find something you like, and post about it – it’s that simple.

Blogger

Blogger is a Google-based blogging platform which requires you to have a Google account to get started – that’s it. The platform is easy to use and simplistic; layouts can be arranged, rearranged and applied at the click of a button. The Advanced design features enable users to change the fonts, backgrounds, columns, size of columns and more, but the layout can look a bit old-fashioned compared to other blogging platforms. Bloggers will have two options when hosting their blog – automatically hosting the blog on Google’s Blogspot, or users can move the blog to a custom domain, removing the “.blogspot.com” suffix. Google no longer offers the option of purchasing the URL, so you will need to purchase a custom domain from a domain registrar first if you wish to choose this option.

Typepad

An old veteran, Typepad has been around since the beginning. While you will need to pay for an account, there are some great features like unlimited storage, customer service, and a great design set. The main draw to Typepad is that it’s easy to set up. In order to get the most out of Typepad, however, you will want to invest in the “Unlimited” package as it jumps the monthly uploads from 150MB per month to 1000MB per month and increases the number of blogs you can post from 4 to unlimited. The “Premium” account includes everything the “Unlimited” account does except doubles your monthly upload limit and includes priority support, but it comes at a cost of double the price. For $30/month you might want to find a hosting provider that may give you more freedom.

Medium

For those looking to focus more on writing and less on fancy design, Medium, created by the same guys who created Twitter and Blogger, is a great place to start. The easy to use interface and simplistic layout allows bloggers to make words the main focus. Recently they have added the function to embed various types of media like tweets, YouTube and Video clips, vines, and more. They use Embedly as the embedding service which supports most media types. In terms of feedback on your posts, there isn’t the traditional “comments” section at the end of the post. Instead, users have the ability to comment on each paragraph by using “notes”. The idea behind this is that everyone can share ideas and collaborate on a blog – the author always gets creative control on what is seen, though. The community isn’t open directly to the public yet, but they appear to be sending invites to those who follow and tweet them.

While this list isn’t meant to be exhaustive, it is meant to give you a bit of a taste of the big platforms out there, as well as a hint of the newer trends hitting the scene. Blogging is about getting your voice heard, and all of these platforms provide an outlet for that. The key is to find your platform, pick something you’re passionate about, and start writing.

India’s ecommerce poised at $43 bn in 5 years: Meet the key growth leaders

Indian e-commerce is projected to explode from $10 billion to $43 billion in the next five years, according to Nomura’s India Internet Report last month. There are 11 categories, and within them 42 players, that are poised to shape this blazing path.

MARKETPLACE

The multi-category segment is on fire this year. The largest pie of the online retail ecosystem is drawing the maximum risk capital and eyeballs.

The top three players — Flipkart, Snapdeal and Amazon — are expected to do $4 billion in sales this fiscal. “Indians are horizontal bazaar shoppers and don’t have deep vertical buying experience offline in most categories,” says Suvir Sujan, co-founder of Nexus Venture Partners, an early investor in Snapdeal.

Today, all multi-category players are on the inventory-less marketplace model. They are all investing heavily in warehouses and delivery. They are making acquisitions. “You will see us do some very interesting and strategic acquisitions very soon,” says Kunal Bahl, cofounder and CEO of Snapdeal.

VC firm Accel Partners expects the product e-tailing market to expand from $2 billion in 2013 to $8.5 billion in 2016. And, for now, the focus is more on growth and less on profitability.

TRAVEL

If the multi-product players have the largest share of eyeballs, the travel portals have the wallet. At around $8 billion, online travel accounted for 70% of the overall Indian e-commerce market in 2013, according to IAMAI. Three shifts are underway. One, with air tickets becoming a staple, travel portals are turning their focus to hotel bookings and travel packages. “Online penetration (of hotel bookings) is only around 7%,” says a recent Nomura research report.

“Commissions paid by hotels are nearly 3x those in the air (ticket) segment.” Two, there’s a growing emphasis on smartphone traffic and applications. “Mobile is the perfect channel for a travel company to provide real value to the customer and create higher engagement by enabling an easy travel-booking experience,” says Deep Kalra, founder & group CEO of Makemytrip, the largest online travel agency. Three, the segment has seen early signs of consolidation.

FASHION

After electronics, fashion and lifestyle is the largest category in online retail, with a 25% share. But unlike electronics, it is more the domain of specialists than marketplaces. Myntra, part of Flipkart, and Jabong are the leaders, competing fiercely with discounts and for exclusive brand partnerships. Myntra, which is targeting sales of Rs 2,000 crore this fiscal, has raced ahead by launching several private labels, including Roadster and Dressberry. While external brands give a margin of up to 35%, in-house labels go up to 60%. Jabong, which has exclusive partnerships with international brands and designers, is also lining up its own labels.

Then, there are web-only brands like Fab Alley, Zovi and Yepme. And, lastly, there are the multi-category players. Large players could drive acquisitions. “Don’t be surprised, with the advent of online players like Asos and large Chinese players coming into India,” says Sudhir Sethi, founder-chairman of early-stage venture fund IDG Ventures India. “These players would not like to start ground-up but will look for an acquisition to be the base for their India entry.”

FURNITURE

Furniture is tipped to become the third largest segment in e-commerce, after electronics and fashion/lifestyle. The value of goods sold by leading players is on course to increase 3-4 times this fiscal. What makes furniture an interesting category, says Niren Shah, managing director at Norwest Venture Partners India, is that it’s a $15-20 billion market but consumers don’t have many offline choices.

Pepperfry and Urban Ladder are the leaders, the latter recording average ticket sizes of Rs 18,000-20,000. Among marketplaces, Snapdeal has launched, and Flipkart and Amazon are exploring. But they might not find it easy, given that existing players took nearly two years to perfect logistics and supplies. “Furniture is different from all other categories,” says Ashish Goel, founder & CEO of Urban Ladder. “Players need to build a specialised supply chain and also help in building the manufacturer ecosystem.” Similarly, Pepperfry is working with manufacturers to build furniture that can be assembled on delivery. The pieces of this segment are falling in place.