The story of Vietnamese blogger 'Mother Mushroom'

If you are a blogger for long and have been interested in knowing how bloggers are faring globally, you must have heard about 'Mother Mushroom'. If you missed, read on...

Nguyen Ngoc Nhu Quynh is a prominent Vietnamese blogger who started blogging in 2006 when she was pregnant. She wanted to blog, but on her pregnancy and the would-be child. 

During a visit to the hospital, she witnesses poor patients braving a hot sun for their turn only because they could not bribe the hospital staff for entry. That changed the subject of the blog from motherhood to activism.

She started taking part in protests against environmentally sensitive projects. Her reports on corruption in government offices, environmental hazards (including a massive fish kill)  and also her stand against China-backed projects that she saw as exploitative, Quynh caught the attention of the government. She was imprisoned in 2009 for writing about land grabbing by a China-backed bauxite mine. She had to shut down the blog in return for being released.

But she continued with blogging and activism. She was again arrested in 2016 while trying to meet an imprisoned political activist. This time her charge was rather serious in Vietnamese system of governance: conducting propaganda against the Vietnamese socialist government. For that, in 2017 a court awarded her a jail sentence of ten years. 

mother mushroom

Under pressure from international civil rights organizations, Quynh was suddenly and quietly released on October 17, 2018 on the condition that she leave Vietnam. 

Quynh, 39, now lives in the US with her mother and two children. 

Mother Mushroom has received accolades and awards for her standing for human rights in the face of state repression. In 2015, she received an award from the Sweden-based Civil Rights Defenders. In 2017, she was awarded the International Women of Courage Award by the US state department. The latest one is the International Press Freedom Award, given to her in November 2018. 

In an interview to VOAnews after her release, she said on blogging for social change: We are not alone, because freedom is something that all of us, each and everyone of us, aspires to. Because of that common factor, because we all dream of the same dream, we are not alone and so if you can just overcome the personal fear of yours, you will find many, many other supporters out there. The minute that you speak out, thousands of other voices will join you. That is what we will draw our strength and force from.
  
But why Mushroom?

Quynh's blog indeed was supposed to be a motherhood blog. So she gave it the Vietnamese name Me Nam (Mother Mushroom) after her daughter's pet name, Nam, meaning mushroom. 

Businesses gain enormously from blogging!

Blogging is adopted by businesses very effectively for various purposes such as:

  • topical discussion 
  • sharing updates 
  • getting feedback 
  • improving overall SEO of their main website/ portal

In this post, I bring you some interesting statistics about use of blogging by businesses as found in recent surveys and studies made by companies on use of social media for business purposes.

In 2017, 66% of marketers reported using blogs as part of their social media content strategy says Social Media Examiner.

Social Media Examiner has also found that about 61% marketers are likely to use blogging in their business-to-consumer marketing. Interstingly, more (three-fourths of all marketers) are likely to use for business-to-business marketing!

53% of marketers say blogging is their top content marketing priority, says a HubSpot study.

A study by Tech Client has found that websites with blogs have 434% more indexed pages on Google! 

HubSpot also found that websites of companies get about  97% more links when they blog.

business blogging

Top ranking content on Google search pages is over 1100 words (Searchmetrics) and so, blog posts have a much higher chance of appearing on top Google search pages than small social media posts. 

A HubSpot study found that return-on-investment got a 13 time boost when marketers gave top priority to blogging as part of content marketing!!!

Blogs are rated as the fifth most-trusted source of online inforation. (HubSpot)

Blogs and bloggers as influencers: chapter excerpts from The Manual of Blogging

One of the chapters on The Manual of Blogging is on how blogs influence readers at large and how they particularly influence buyers, voters, employees and employers.

Excerpts:

Blogs have been exerting influence over individuals, society and organizations in different ways since their early days. In the last few years, the importance of blogs as the prime social media entities has gone down but they have become increasingly more mature in content and design. 

On the web, especially social media, traffic is often taken as a measure of one’s influence, but visitors do not necessarily visit a website/ social networking platform/ blog because they are influenced, nor do all visitors take a decision under the influence of the site they visit. On the other hand, when the message is powerful and the blog/ blogger has the required credibility, they have the potential to convince and encourage people to think and act in a certain way. 

As a web format, blogs are likely to be more effective than the traditional websites because of their updating and interactive character. Blogs are also likely to be more effective than social networking sites because blogs give the opportunity to bloggers to expand the topic well. Being interactive and also with unlimited scope to explain things in detail, blogs score over print media, television channels and posters/ hoardings in influencing opinion of readers. 

There are thousands of blogs on which bloggers write about the quality of products and services. Though enormous amount of information on products is available on the web and it is available instantly through apps and search, some research is available in which blogs with good content in paying niches such as travel and fashion are found to have a definite influence on buying decisions of visitors and followers. 

On the web, the word ‘social media influencer’ has gained popularity in recent years. This term is used for describing people with large following on social media. Their claim is that since they have a huge herd following them, their word matters a lot when it comes to people buying a product or service. 

Numbers do count when they are genuine. Advertisers place their advertisements on social media entities of influencers and pay them well for endorsing a brand. 

blogger-influencer
In the peak days of blogging, a number of researches showed that blogs did influence political decisions of the public. After the new-age social media became popular, it – rather than the blogosphere – has become the fighting ground between supporters of different political opinions. The jury is out on whether messages on blogs and social networking and chat sites can influence people enough to change their political views and to vote for a particular party/ leader. In most cases, the noise on the social media seems to be based on people’s pre-conceived opinions. However, it can be safely deduced that well-written blogs would influence political thought at least to the extent newspaper articles, editorials and political advertisements do. 

A number of employing agencies have gone on record stating that they take inputs from the web entities of prospective employees, and blogs are an important input to assess a person’s personal traits and professional competence. Many professionally qualified people maintain blogs where they showcase their skills and achievements. Professional networking giant LinkedIn promotes blogging on its platform and many employers are known to look at these blogs in deciding a person’s suitability for a particular job/ assignment. Thus, blogs do influence career related decisions of both the employers and potential/ existing employees.

The secret of Lauren getting 8.8 million subscribers and many million views on YouTube

Lauren Riihimaki is a sort of legend on YouTube, with her channel clocking 8.8 million subscribers. Many of her videos have been viewed more than a million times, and the total viewership of her videos runs into nearly a hundred million!

Lauren had not been into YouTube; in fact she didn't know much about the medium and had not even watching videos that were shared on YouTube. She was happy with her Do It Yourself (DIY) blog on which she posted tutorials based on her experiments in her dorm. Creating stuff out of household items had been her craze. But then things changed when she felt that she needed to put video tutorials on the blog. And then she realized that nothing could be better than YouTube for vlogging, and she shifted to it.


Initially it was hard for her, but she acted according to a well-conceived strategy: she weaved entertainment with DIY and persevered with her work. She went on to start videos in series, which became popular. She then started investing into the craft. Now she has a team to support her, including camera professionals and video editors. She has her studio. She and her team spend many hours even for a small video. A small video of a chat with a personality, she is reported to have said, takes no less than four hours and a normal video more than ten hours! 


Being consistent has earned Lauren loyalty from viewers. She does not forget to post a new DIY video every Sunday at 9AM, and her fans wait for her new videos. After sticking with Sundays all through, she has added an entertainment-based video on Wednesdays. 



Lauren's YouTube homepage
Lauren now also has a buzzing Instagram account. She has said in her interviews that she has always believed in making a brand rather than just getting popular and making money - the philosophy most YouTube video creators follow. 

Blogger vs Wordpress for blogging: a definitive answer

WORDPRESS VS BLOGGER: THE ETERNAL QUESTION - WHICH ONE IS BETTER?


Wordpress is the daddy of website/ blog creation: more than 25 percent of the world wide web is supposed to consist of websites and blogs created using this great software, and it is totally free. But if you are new to blogging, wait. This is NOT the Wordpress blogging platform but a content management system or CMS. You can create beautiful blogs or websites with this software but you have to separately buy domain name for the site and host it on the web. The free blogging platform from the same organization is Wordpress.com, which is in competition with Blogger (=blogspot) platrom. 

So, let's compare similar products: Wordpress and Blogger FREE BLOGGING PLATFORMS. They are the biggest such platforms and there are other smaller ones such as Tumblr, LiveJournal and Medium. In addition, there are many blogging platforms and website platforms that are not free.  

If you want to have a modern blog or website with many functionalities and earning strems, you can look to Wordpress CMS, and compare that with alternatives like Joomla, Wix and Google Sites. Once you have created the blog/ website, you will need to buy a domain name and host the on a web host. Both will need to be renewed year after year on payment of domain/ hosting charges.

Let's come back to the free blogging platforms. Both these blogging platforms suit personal or hobby blogging well. On both, you can create a blog with a few clicks. You can give your blog a name that you like and post as per your will (with some limitations, of course). You don't have to pay a penny to create and run the blog. As you will see below, Blogger allows you to customise the blog's looks and make money from the blog, free of cost.

Let us see how they compare and which one you should go for: 


WORDPRESS VS BLOGGER BLOGGING PLATFORMS COMPARED 


Advantages of Wordpress (free blogging platform) 

  • Is simple to learn. Needs no technical knowledge.
  • A user can open many free blogs. 
  • Gives clean and modern looks to the blog.
  • Is secure.
  • Has enough space for normal blogging. 
  • Allows HTML tags in posts.
  • You can upgrade free plan to have more features.
  • Migration to Wordpress CMS is easy and smooth.
  • Since free Wordpress platform does not allow advertising, blogs are clean and more content-oriented.

Advantages of Blogger 

  • Is simple to learn. Needs no technical knowledge.
  • A user can open many free blogs. Has many free themes - some new ones are comparable to Wordpress, while some old ones are very simple.
  • Is secure.
  • Has enormous space available.
  • Mapping to independent domain is free.
  • Allows the blogger to tweak with the help of HTML/ CSS coding of posts as well as the core of the blog.
  • Integrates well with other Google utilities.

Limitations of Wordpress free blogging platform

  • You cannot play with the code of the blog except some HTML in posts.
  • Space in free plan is limited.
  • Free plan does not allow posting of videos.
  • Free or lower-end plans cannot have advertisements.
  • Though there are many plugins available (some are free) for additional functions and there are many more themes available on the web (many are free), these cannot be applied in the free or low-end plans.
  • Mapping to independent domain is not free and one has to pay fee annually to keep the mapping going.
  • It is not possible to create very high-end blog even with premium plans.
  • The free blog has a subordinate identity as its URL comes with .wordpress.com suffix. (However, you can go for an independent name, with paid plan/ paid mapping.)
  • Blog needs to follow the content, privacy and other policies of the platform.

Limitations of Blogger

  • Old themes look plain vanilla, which is not liked by many bloggers.
  • It is not possible to create very high-end blog (e.g. with ecommerce facilities).
  • The free blog has a subordinate identity as its URL comes with .blogspot.com suffix. (However, you can map it to an independent name, for free.)
  • Blog needs to follow the content, privacy and other policies of the platform.

WHICH BLOGGING PLATFORM SHOULD I CHOOSE FOR MY PERSONAL BLOG? 



Both the platforms are equally good if you are OK with posting content, and don't bother about other frills. Both also allow you to display others' content through widgets. You also have widgets for presenting your own content in categories etc. 

Blogger allows much more flexibility than Wordpress, and you can customize the blog to a great extent if you know a bit of HTML and CSS - very simple web languages. You can post videos and even give your blog an independent domain name at no cost! There is another great advantage of Blogger over Wordpress is that you can put ads on the blog and make money through it. Personally I like blogger over Wordpress.


wordpress or blogger

However many bloggers go for Wordpress as they fall in love with its subdued but pleasing basic themes. There is not much on offer in the free plan, but once a blogger is at ease with the free blog and later wants to go for an independent blog built on Wordpress CMS, he finds it easy to migrate. That is one big reason why people using Wordpress CMS recommend Wordpress as a blogging platform.

To be fair to Wordpress.com, it gives you a lot more features if you are prepared to shell out some money, because then you are allowed to use third-party themes and plugins. Plugins are bits of additional code and can bring in a range of functionalities to the blog.