India! I dare you to be rich

Category: Blogging

Blog report, after four and a half years of pounding away. Best wishes to my readers for a happy new year.

I chanced upon the following report in WordPress "Jetpack" site statistics re: my blog's "progress" in spreading the good word about liberty and good governance. And critical thinking.

When I started this blog in mid-2010, it was a "great" day if even six visitors came by. Now this blog generally receives over a thousand views each day (from over 800 unique visitors). Almost an equal number are likely reading posts (or at least the headings) through email subscription, RSS feed reader, and Facebook.

I started this blog as an optional strategy to spread the word about the Freedom Team of India. I was not sure what  a blog would involve. 

In the initial years there was much frustration with software, hackers (lots of them), and problematic server. Last year I moved to Dreamhost, which has alleviated downtime and other issues. The blog is still very slow, but it works. That's good enough. (I don't have time to identify and fix the complex technical issues involved.)

I also finally found time to change the theme. Not precisely what I'd want, but it is a free theme, with minimal maintenance, so I'm running with it. 

After initial teething troubles for nearly 3 years, this blog is fairly low maintenance at this stage. I periodically update new WordPress versions, update plugins, and it keeps going. I would say that this blog strategy has been worthwhile. I would strongly urge FTI members to create their own domains and blogs.

Sometime last year or so I experimented with advertisements to see what happens. I have not taken any professional input (nor spent much time on this) but it appears that this blog is able to provide a small revenue stream (and – if one includes a few of my relative popular sub-domains, some of which themselves receive quite a large number of visitors – a little bit more than a "small" revenue stream) that comfortably covers its running costs. In fact, all hosting and domain costs incurred on this blog since inception have been fully covered by advertisement revenues received to date. In that sense, this is now a self-sustaining operation.

I have no plans to spend more time than I currently do, on this blog. Too much reform work is happening at the moment, and I'd rather focus on organisational work. 

But one day, who knows, I might start putting more effort into this, to more systematically spread the message of liberty.

In the meanwhile, I thank my thousands of readers (and hundreds of commentators) and wish them a happy new year, 2015.

I trust you've downloaded the latest SKC agenda, and will spread word about it among your friends. I look forward to your comments on the agenda.

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Cloud compting nirvana. You can now instantly access the SKC reform agenda that I’m working on!

A few days ago I pointed out that Microsoft's Onedrive has come out with a far more powerful cloud computing system than google docs.

I've been experimenting with this, and have now added the following section to the SKC agenda download page (here)

==DOWNLOAD THE NEXT VERSION: WORKING DOCUMENT==

Interim versions of the agenda can be viewed from here. This is an interim version and should not be used to provide feedback.

This is super-brilliant. With this whatever I do on this document will be AUTOMATICALLY UPDATED on the internet. I will still need to periodically convert into PDF and upload a fresh version separately, but now anyone can view the working document that is being incrementally improved. You can view online, and also download – which will show you all tracked changes.

In due course I propose to shift a lot of my public documents to this new system, so I never again have to waste time in separately uploading them to my server. Everything will be edited straight on Onedrive, and will remain public instantly to everyone in the world.

It's like I'm sharing my computer hard disk with 7 billion people at the same time. 

This is cloud computing nirvana. 

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Blog hobbling back to life

The transfer of this blog to a new web host didn't go smoothly because of a mistake I made while pointing the DNS to the new host. I had three choices:

Do you want the www in your URL?

  1.  Leave it alone: Both http://www.sabhlokcity.com/ and http://sabhlokcity.com/ will work.
  2.  Add WWW: Make http://sabhlokcity.com/ redirect to http://www.sabhlokcity.com/
  3.  Remove WWW: Make http://www.sabhlokcity.com/ redirect to http://sabhlokcity.com/

I should have chosen the first but chose one of the other two (I think the second). That led to infinite redirects and troubleshooting was a challenge. Finally found an answer  here: http://wordpress.org/support/topic/error-310-neterr_too_many_redirects  which says:

I have changed the siteurl (option_id #2) and home (option_id #39) options (option_name column) in [wp-prefix]_options table from http://domain.com tohttp://www.domain.com — it solved the problem.
 
I applied this solution through phpmyadmin by hard coded from http://sabhlokcity.com/ to http://www.sabhlokcity.com in the wordpress database. and now it is temporarily working. Once the revised DNS option ("leave it alone", i.e the first one – to which I've changed to) kicks in, I'll remove this hard coding.
 
Now I'll test for three days. and if everything works, will move for the long term to this host (dreamhost). 
 
I'd like to thank Anubhava Srivastava for transfering the blog and database. Even though WordPress is very complex – and I've got over 2000 posts – it CAN be moved from one place to anther.
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Technical (and financial?) support sought to manage this blog’s “resource limit” and memory problems

This blog has long presented many technical problems:

1) Hacking. At one time, massive hacking was a regular feature on the blog. So after a lot of work I put in a number of defensive plugins and that seems to have reduced.

2) Resource issues: Then there has been the chronic "resource" issue. "Resource Limit Is Reached.The website is temporarily unable to service your request as it exceeded resource limit. Please try again later." This seems to be related to the "entry processes" issue and to limitations of CPU/memory.

3) Memory: Then there is the memory issue with weird messages about memory problems.

4) Spam: Then the spam issue, with Akismet failing to work on many occasions, flooding the system with spam.

E.g. a snapshot from cpanel today:

To fix these problems, I migrated some domains to Godaddy, but that didn't work. Same problems experienced plus also Godaddy doesn't give shell access. So now I've wasted a decent amount of money on Godaddy without any results.

I wrote yesterday to a web doctor and got this advice:

Seems you already have the tool to review performance issue with Plugin Performance Profiler
http://screencast.com/t/ET4RuQRL3d

My advise 
– disable plugins that affect performance, find alternative plugins. 
– If you develop the site securely, you don't need all those security / firewall plugins
– use Good VPS, my recommendation is wiredtree.com

This is very similar to other advice I've received in the past – such as to disable/ remove all plugins one is not using, optimize the database tables, use supercache, etc. 

The problem, however, is that EVEN IF I disable ALL plugins, the resource problem continues.

I think WordPress has beaten me. I've learnt everything an amateur could learn about WordPress, can't do more unless I want be be a professional WordPress guru.

The idea of VPS doesn't appeal to me since (a) it is really expensive and (b) there is no guarantee that it will fix any underlying systemic problem. 

I would really appreciate someone who can take this whole thing off my hands – the backend, the security, the resources, etc. If such a person can step forward, I'd be able to focus on the WORK for India I'm trying to get done. 

Managing may well cost some money, and I can chip in a little bit, but just can't afford the $2000+ per year asked by some providers.

The first step would be to identify the cause of the existing problems and make it work sturdily for about three months. Then onie can think of migrating to some other server – if absolutely needed.

This is a big ask, so I'm going to make this post sticky for a while and hopefully someone will find this and step in to help.

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Google has paid me $139 after 2 1/2 years. A report on advertising on this blog.

About a year and half ago I wrote about advertising on this blog. In the main my experience with adsense has been sporadic and inconsistent. I've put ads, then taken them off – because I didn't believe that these things earn any "real" money.

In around 2 1/2 years adsense has earned me a "grand" total of AU$139.71, or 4.50 per month. Google did pay up in the end: I actually received this money on 22 October 2013. I'm not sure what's the tax treatment of this income under Australian law. I suppose I must pay the usual income tax since I'm not a business and can't "offset" this with my expenses (which are higher).

Intensification of ads

I recently spent some time reading the instructions that google provides re: adsense, and have intensified my advertising system.  As a result you'll note a lot of ads on my blog now.

I've now reviewed the results of this change over the past 15 days or so. I'm pleasantly surprised to note that ad revenues have increased significantly. Leaving aside some one-off blog posts which are receiving very high interest, ad earnings per month from this blog (and related websites) should perhaps average around $15 per month in the future. That would mean I am able to break even (in the future) on this operation including the 10-15 domains I own (which cost around $10-15 each, per year). Anything beyond $15 per month per month would allow me to:

a) upgrade to a better server; and

b) pay someone to fix the innumerable coding problems on my websites which make them extremely slow and inefficient.

Key lesson: I must write material that interests USA. Indian advertisers don't pay well.

From adsense statistics of this blog I found that advertisers pay far more for clicks by US visitors than clicks by Indian visitors. Each time someone from US clicks an ad, I get appx $0.37, compared to $0.08 from someone from India. I will therefore need to write more on the American system/economy, or otherwise "cater" to the American audience, in order to bump up ad revenues.

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