6 Basic Camera Shots Every Filmmaker Must Know

6 Basic Camera Shots Every Filmmaker Must Know

A Film is made up of scenes – a scene is made up of shots.

Shots, when combined (or let’s say edited) in a meaningful style make up the whole movie. Filmmaking is a language – and it has its own grammar. Filmmaking is spoken in terms of the scenes and shots.

A scene comprises of many shots.

Think of a scene like a sentence. What is a sentence made up of – words, right? True. But just randomly throwing out the words does not make the meaningful sentence. In order to make a sentence that makes sense – we need to learn how to put words together (which I am doing right now 😃)

In a similar way:

For a shot to make sense, we need to combine the shots (in fact, different kind of shots) in a proper way so that it makes sense to the viewer – and also moves forward your story.

… before that, we need to learn what each shot means to the viewers.

Let’s have a look at the various kind of shots and where it might be appropriate:

#1 – Wide Shot

Wide shot, as the name suggests is the shots that shows the wide range of the view. It’s generally used as an ‘establishing shot’ – which basically means to educate the viewer on the place or the environment that the action is taking place.

Wide Shot – Reveals the Whole Scene

It usually encompasses all the elements within the scene. It closely relates to the way we see the acts in the stage. We can see everything that’s going on within the scene.

Usage:

  • used as an establishing shot.
  • to show the high-level view of the action.

#2 – Long Shot

… also known as Full-body shot.

Long shot indicates that we can see the person from head to toe. In fact, it does not have to be a person, it can be an object as well. For example – we can capture the long shot of the car or building.

Long Shots can comprise of 2 person – also known as Two Body shot

These shots can be important when shooting actions where the character is moving. These shots provide a sense of location to the audience (although might not reveal every elements of the scene)

Usage:

  • Shoot the movements (when camera is moving along with the subject)

#3 – Medium Shot

Medium shot, as the name suggests is the half-body shot. It is generally used when the character is doing things. Maybe he is holding something, talking or reading something.

Medium shot is ideal for interviews (or people talking in general), where body language is still important and it also reveals expression of the character (something a long shot shot does not)

In these kind of shots, we are closer to the action – hence we become more involved in what the character is saying or doing – without focusing on a specific character’s emotions or any other particular details.

Usage:

  • used to shoot the general actions.
  • ideal when ‘body language’ and ‘expressions’ both are important

#4 – Close-Ups

Close-up shot refers to the shot that covers face of the person.

… also sometimes referred to as ‘head and shoulder’ shots.

Close-ups are generally used to emphasize the emotion of the person (or character). Since we are seeing the face clearly, the details of the face are clear – for example, how his/her eyes react to a certain situation.

These kind of shots are ideal when the character is moving.

… or when the character is doing some action. Since we cannot see below his neck – we do not know what his hands or legs are doing – hence any sorts of movement happening would not be perfect for close-ups.

Usage:

  • To emphasize on the emotions of the character.

#5 – Point-Of-View Shot

Point-Of-View shots are the shots as seen through the character’s eyes.

The character is going through some dramatic situation – and sometimes it’s better to make the audience look through the character’s eyes to help them feel the situation – for example, the height of the building. In case, our character is afraid – it’s not enough to use medium shots or close-ups of their expression – the audience needs to see what the character is seeing.

Seeing through character’s point of view helps us empathize him/her.

These kinds of shots add much value to the scene.

Since we want the audience to travel through the protagonist’s life, it’s better to make them live the character’s life – and POV shots are powerful medium to do so.

Usage:

  • To help the audience see through the character’s eyes.

#6 – Over The Shoulder Shot

Mostly used for conversation purpose, OTS shot is a variation of the close-up shot. In this shot, we shoot over the shoulder of one actor to the medium close-up of the other actor (the one who s/he is looking at)

These kinds of shots add depth to the scene – foreground becomes the actor who is not talking. Next, it helps our audience know that we are not shooting the character in isolation – there’s someone else in the scene whom a character is talking to.

Usage:

  • Used in conversation-style shots to make audience feel like the scene is not shot in isolation.
  • Used when the character is looking at something – for example – reading books

How to Combine The Shots?

A shot is a building block of a scene.

How we combine the shots together to build a scene determines what kind of emotions will the scene provoke and what does the scene contribute for the whole movie.

The general rule of thumb is to start with an establishing shot (or a master shot).

It provides the context, or the environment in which the action is happening. And afterwards insert the other shots of the scene so that the scene makes sense to the viewers and also it helps move the story forward.

In Conclusion

Camera shots are an important part of filmmaking.

The shots are the building block of the scene. Similar to the fact that a scene does not work in isolation, the shots don’t work in isolation as well. Every shots you take is adding something to the scene – which means that you need to have 100% clarity about the scene before you even touch the camera.

I plan to write next about the camera movements, please be tuned.

How Do You Format a Screenplay – ‘Screenplay Formatting 101’

Ever read screenplays?

If you have, then you might have noticed that every screenplay uses the same format. Even spacing the character is done according to the standard. Having a standard in screenwriting is quite important for producers and directors and all the casts and crews to go through the scripts.

Firstly, it all starts with a scene.

INT. LIBRARY – DAY

Here, it’s essential to describe the scene where the action is taking place – it provides the information for the crews to work on their part. For example, location scouts can search for the location mentioned in the scene (‘library’ in this case).

INT. – means Interior

EXT. – means Exterior

After that comes the place where all the action is about to happen. You can be as specific as you can in this context. Here I wrote the library but it could be more specific than that – for instance, if it’s the library of a university or a public library.

After the ‘-‘ (dash) sign comes the time of the day. Whether it’s day, or morning, or dawn or midnight – whenever the action takes place.

Secondly, describe the action.

Remember that the film is a visual medium. Everything you describe should be something that can be seen (or at least be heard) in the screen. It’s not necessary to write the feelings that goes on into the character’s head – you can describe his expressions and reactions though.

Here’s an example:

SAGAR, a 25-year-old man searches for the book as he goes through the piles of the books – seems in a hurry. He goes through the ‘Psychology’ section. And then picks up a book and searches for a place in the corner to read the book.

As you continue writing, there will be characters having conversations with each other.

Whenever you introduce a character for the first time in the script, you have to CAPITALIZE the name so that the reader understands the entry of the character. Next up is dialogue.

RAJIT:

(speaks in a soft voice)

Hey !! How are you doing?

The dialogue starts with the name of the character aligned at the center. (You don’t need to know exactly how many inches from the left side – use a screenwriting software for that). The character speaking is always CAPITALIZED.

The phrase in the parenthetical refers to the guide for the actor to perform – these are not necessary until and unless the character demands it.

Dialogue and Action

Dialogue and Action are going to fill the most parts of your script. Movies are mostly action and dialogue. Most of the times, novice screenwriters try to add a lot of things to the script that is not part of the story. As a professional, please try to avoid that habit. As a screenwriter, you’re not writing a shooting script – you ‘re writing a script for the producers, directors, actors and other crew members to read.

As far as possible, write in plain English (without jargon s)

Here’s the best advice anyone can provide you when writing the screenplay – move forward your story.

Cinematography – Theory and Practice – Book Summary

It’s the summary of the book – Cinematography – Theory and Practice.

Chapter 1 – Writing with Motion

The term “Cinematography” is from the Greek roots meaning ‘writing with motion’.

When we create a film project, one of our primary tasks is to create a visual world for the characters to inhabit. The visual world is an important part of how the audience will perceive the story; how the audience will understand the character and their motivation.

Random choices do not help you tell your story.

Conceptual Tools of Cinematography:

  • Frame
  • Lens
  • Light and Color
  • Movement
  • Texture
  • Establishing
  • POV (Point-Of-View)

Frame:

Choosing the frame is a matter of conveying the story, but it’s also the question of composition, rythm and perspective.

Lens:

Every lens has a ‘personality’ – a flavor and an infection it adds to the image. There are many factors: contrast & sharpness for example, but by far the most influential aspect of a lens is focal length: how long or wide the lens is.

Light and Color:

Light and color enables cinematographers to make film reach at a gut, emotional level.

Texture:

Changing the color and contrast of the picture, desaturating the color of the image, filters, fog and smoke effects, rain, using unusual film stocks, various printing techniques, and so on.

Movement:

Movies are one of the few art forms which employ motion and time, with the like of dance.

Establishing:

Establishing is the ability of camera to reveal or conceal information; letting the camera reveal the information is usually more cinematic way of getting information to the audience than dialog or voice over.

Point-of-View:

Having the camera see something in much the same way as one of the characters would see it: to view the scene from character’s point of view.

Chapter – Camera Movement

  • Camera placement is a key decision in storytelling. More than
    just “where it looks good,” it determines what the audience sees and
    from what perspective they see it.

How to Write a Successful Character Biography?

Character Biography are a essential part of writing a movie script.

Unless you know your character well enough (especially protagonist), you will not know your story better – since the story in the movie is all about the character. Before we even write a piece of dialogue or fade in the first scene, we have to know the character well enough to make a story about him/her.

As it’s mentioned in the book ‘Screenplay’:

A Character is an illumination of the incident and an incident is a determination of the character.

A character is the most important part of the screenplay – because the story you’re telling – it’s all about the character. Hence, you have to craft really well when writing a screenplay.

What is a Character Biography?

Character Biography is a method to write about the character that you’re creating and building. There are 2 areas to consider while making a biography for the character:

  • Interior Life
  • Exterior Life

Exterior Life

In order to note down the exterior life of the character, there are so many templates and there are some questions that need to be answered and then you have a character’ exterior life.

Here’s one of those templates:

Full name

Nickname:

Age:

Nationality:

Religion:

City of birth

The current place for living

Job title:

Employing company:

Income:

Is he or she married?

Mother tongue

Birthday:

Interior Life

When it comes to the interior life, there can be no templates or structures – it’s just about how much deep we know the character. The only way I think is to write a paragraph about the character – their back story – what shaped her to become the person she is today.

However, there are few questions that will help you along the way. Here are a few of those:

  • What are your character’s deepest fear?
  • What was the moment (or event) in the story that turned his life into another direction?
  • What is your character’s dramatic need?
  • What does your character think about life in general?

Well. That’s it for now !!

That was a short post – I hope you consider making a character biography before you write your next screenplay.

5 Legitimate Ways To Make Money Online in Nepal

Looking for legitimate ways to make money online in Nepal? You are in the right place.

In order to understand how do people earn money online, let’s understand how do people make money in general? People make money based on their SKILLS. Whether someone works somewhere (in a job), or work freelance or even start a business, s/he makes money based on their skills. Hence, the first step in the process of generating money online is to develop a skill that pays off online.

Now, you must wonder where to gain skills? And how?

Make Money Online in Nepal

No worries, there is a myriad of ways to gain skills all over the internet. After all, the internet is the place where information is accessible at the tip of the hand. A lot of online course websites offer you the opportunity to gain skills as fast as possible. Here are few of those:

With the resource in hand, now you need to actively look for skills that pay off (especially in the context of Nepal). I personally gained a lot of my digital marketing and SEO skills through these E-learning platforms. Over the course of years, I’ve come to realize that learning skills are just half the process, you need to be able to apply the skill at the right time. Regardless of what skill you have, the most important fact that matters is how to attract and retain clients. Because in the end, you need paying clients. Or, at least you need to generate a system that makes passive money for you.

Below are few of the skills that pay off well (in the context of Nepal of course):

  • SEO
  • Digital Marketing
  • Blogging
  • Website Design
  • Copywriting
  • Videography / Video Editing

Of course, there are more – these are just a few prime examples of skills that work in Nepal.

Now, let’s move to tactics (or let’s say steps) to make money on the internet. Suppose you have gained the skills you need, or you already possess those, or even you’re trying to go the traditional business approach in the context of the internet, you’ll need a proper system. Remember that you might have more than 1 source of online income – you don’t have to necessarily limit yourself to one.

Here are a few of the ways to earn money online in Nepal:

  1. Freelancing
  2. Blogging
  3. Google Adsense
  4. Affiliate Marketing
  5. Sell Your Products

Freelancing

Freelancing is the go-to tactic to earn money online. The freelancing model has existed for decades – you get clients that pay. Of course, getting, clients has somewhat become easier because of the internet and how clients see a contractor’s portfolio has changed because of the internet working model.

As a beginner, it would be somewhat difficult to launch that first paying gig.

However, once you have those first few gigs (which of course will not be highly paying gigs), you start gaining momentum and gettings clients will be a piece of cake.

Signup for a few freelance websites like upwork.comfreelancer.com or fiverr.com, and start bidding.

Learn Copywriting.

Of course, a lot of factors come to play when a client decides to hire a freelancer. One of the best strategies that a freelancer can develop is to hone their copywriting skills. Once you do that, you’ll learn to understand your client better – why should they hire you over your competitors or what phase of the business they’re in? You’ll be able to answer all those questions once you start learning copywriting.

Best Copywriting Resource? Go through this article:

How To Become A Copywriter

Blogging

Writing a blog post is easy, consistently writing blog posts is difficult.

Only follow this strategy if you have a sheer passion for this field. Most of the successful bloggers today started out blogging as a passion, which in turn helped them build a great readership. And they started upselling the course or used affiliate marketing to monetize that readership.

Although a viable thing, gaining huge traction through blogs is much difficult these days.

The best advice I provide to all the aspiring bloggers is to work on building on their readership and also brainstorm on the ways to capitalize on that readership without hampering the trust you’ve built over those times. In addition, learn to write your blog on a niche. Of course, as a beginner, you would want to write on every topic you know. Don’t do this – always write with the target audience in mind – especially when you have to monetize later on.

Later on, you can start writing content that pays – for example, review blogs.

Google Adsense

Adsense works great if you have a website or a blog that gain huge traction every day.

Google Adsense is almost similar to any traditional advertising platforms. Just think of your website, or blog as a publishing platform, which people visit every now and then. Marketers and companies would love to place their advertisement on your webpage as you’re getting the attention.

Google Adsense is the mediator for this.

Google has a large network of advertisers and content publishers and a complex algorithm to tie them all together. Adwords is the platform where advertisers bid and the AdSense is the platform through which Google decides where to place their advertisements. Adsense has a bit of competitive advantage over traditional ad placement because if the relevance (thanks to the data it collects from users.)

Affiliate Marketing

Don’t confuse affiliates with advertisements, although it works somewhat in similar ways.

Affiliates mean referrers. People are referring to a company’s product or service when they are an affiliate. The endorsement is a kind of affiliate marketing. See all those celebrity endorsements on media? That’s somehow similar to affiliate marketing – except for the fact that you’ve got a content platform in order to be an affiliate.

Amazon is a prime example of affiliate marketing.

Let’s say you wrote a review about a product on amazon. Once your viewers visit the link you provided, Amazon sees you as a referrer and if those people buy any products from Amazon within 24 hours, you’ll earn some money as a part of being an affiliate.

Learn here: https://affiliate-program.amazon.com/

Sell Your Product

E-commerce is on the rise – not just in Nepal, all over the world.

If you’re an offline store, it’s time to brainstorm whether to take it online. We may start looking for products that people tend to buy online – books, home appliances, even groceries, or tech products. Your website has the potential to sell anything online. You just need an open mind for this.

These days, everyone wants to build a huge e-commerce platform like daraz.com (remember they have backing from Alibaba). Why not start small within our niche? Let’s start by selling products we have expertise on, or even which we can sell in that manner.

21st century is the century of inbound marketing.

If you don’t treat the consumer as God, you’ll be dead soon (I mean your business), focus on the customer service – how you’re gonna acquire and retain them.

Conclusion

In conclusion, the Internet is a legitimate way to make money online.

… only if you approach the right way.

Always remember that people always pay for the value you provide in their life. Think about the ways you can add value to their life. Will you do it by freelancing and helping other’s business or through selling your products yourself – let me know through the comment section below

How To Speed Up WordPress Site? (in 7 Simple Steps)

Who likes a slow loading website?

After all, we do not like to wait for long to find out the information we are looking for.

In this post, I’m going to show you how to speed up WordPress website using 7 detailed and easy steps.

The best part is –

… all these steps are friendly for non-technical WordPress users (even if we may encounter some technical jargon, we’ll tackle it in a non-tech user-friendly manner)

It’s no secret that website speed matters for SEO.

In fact, one of the WordPress SEO tips I included in my previous post was to increase website speed.

Here are those 7 of my all-time favorite steps to implement for your WordPress website to make it load fast like lightning (step-by-step):

Table of Contents

Go through all these techniques step-by-step, apply them to your website and then you should have a really fast loading WordPress site which your users love.

Compress Images – (Using Smush Image Compression)

Generally, images make up a large portion of your website’s weight or size.

… around 54%

Even if your website is largely filled with text and only a few images, images will be responsible for increasing the size of your site – since the text does not take much time to load.

Hence, your website will improve a lot even if you only compress your images (i.e decrease image’s file size)

Use – Smush Image Compression !!

For any WordPress users, I always recommend them to use a plugin named smush image compression to compress the pictures for their blogs and sites.

WP Smush - Image Compression WordPress

Here’s what it does – Smush decreases the file size of your photos, without a noticeable difference in quality. In other words, it makes your images web ready.

Cool, right?

What’s even cooler is that you basically don’t need to do anything – it smushes your images immediately after the upload.

If you already have a lot of images uploaded- no worries.

You can bulk smush all the previously uploaded images – note that you can only bulk smush less than 50 images. In order to smush more than 50 at once, you need to buy the premium version.

Here’s how to start using the plugin. Go to the “Smush” on the left menu of the dashboard.

Smush Image Compression

Make sure to check “Automatically smush my images on upload” on. So that whenever you upload a new image, it smushes (compresses the images) automatically.

WordPress SEO Tips - Smush Automatically

And – that’s it!

This step alone is going to save you a lot of space – and you won’t even realize it. Over time, as you add on images for your blogs, you’ll care a lot less about the website’s size. However, this plugin always does it’s work in the background.

Of course, smushing is not just the only way to compress the images.

There are millions of other ways that you can do outside of WordPress as well. Sometimes, you may opt to decrease the file’s size manually. Check out this article to learn more about image compression for the web.

View comparison between image compression plugins.

Looking for an SEO Specialist in Nepal? Look no further – have a look at my services.

Leverage Cache Plugin (Using W3 Total Cache)

Caching is an absolute must for any WordPress users. As a WordPress user, caching will help you make static HTML / CSS files from your PHP files.

… so that the browser should not fetch PHP (backend) every time.

Among the myriad of cache plugin to choose, W3 Total Cache is our best pick …

… W3 Total Cache is also the most popular one.

👇

W3 Total Cache is all you need (not just for cache, but also for minifications) – more on that later 

However, one has to confess that this plugin is not as beginner-friendly as most of the plugins out there. There are just too many options for a beginner and it’s so easy to get confused using this tool. I’ll try my best to explain everything for you as we move on using this plugin.

First, let’s tackle general settings only …

Although we should not know about every tiny settings that the plugin offers, there are few which you need to take care of. 

First step, Enable the page cache. 

For Page Cache method, choose Disk: Enhanced – which should be the default one.

(this is an important step)

Caption

(Page Caching is the most important setting)

Without going into much detail, I’d like to say that page cache is there to save a static version of your page and then respond that to browsers, without fetching backend (dynamic) code. This way browsers (like chrome) will take a short route to show your webpage.

Next, two of the important settings are – “Database Cache” and “Object Cache”.

👉

 Disable the “Database Cache”

👉

 Enable the “Object Cache”

In case, you notice that your WordPress dashboard is loading slowly after you apply these settings, you may opt to disable Object Cache.

Next up, enable the browser cache.

Browser Cache helps improve your website speed by caching static resources, in your visitor’s browsers – which prevents the need to reload static content.

Well, these are the most important general settings.

Rest of the settings – you may leave that to default.

(We’ll discuss minification settings in W3 Total Cache later in this post)

w# Total Cache is a huge plugin, with lots of options you don’t even need. If you’re looking for thorough guide on every setting, learn more on how to configure W3 Total cache here.

Looking for a professional SEO Company in Nepal? Make sure to check out Swopna Digital as well.

Lazy Load Your Website (Using BJ Lazy Load)

What’s ‘lazy loading’?

As the name suggests, it is about loading your web page lazily – which means that the upper part is loaded first and then lower parts are loaded later on (as you scroll down).

😃

How lazy! 

This way, even if your website’s fully loading time is 3.0 second, you should not wait 3.0 seconds to see the page.

As you scroll down, the more parts (images, videos or even text) will be loaded slowly (in a way that does not affect user experience).

Here’s the basic idea:

If you have included an image on your blog which is located on the lower sections of the page (let’s say after 1000 words), why should you load that image right away?

After all readers are only going to see that image after some time …

… that’s where lazy loading comes in.

Lazy loading makes your website load faster by downloading (initially) only the parts that are visible to the users, and other parts later on as it comes closer to the visible window.

BJ Lazy Load is the plugin I recommend for most WordPress users.

Although BJ lazy load works pretty well out of the box, there are few settings you need to take care of, in order to get most out of the plugin.

First, let’s go to Settings >> BJ Lazy Load.

This takes you to the settings page of the BJ Lazy Load Plugin, where we’ll find everything you need from the plugin.

Two of the most important settings for us (right now) are:

  • Lazy Loading Images
  • Placeholder Images 

In most of the cases, there’s no need to check the settings. However, make sure these 2 settings are configured properly. 

Lazy Load Images – Change to “Yes”. Since images make up most of the website’s real estate, lazy loading images is enough in most cases.

Placeholder Image URL – Leave it blank. 

It’s a better idea to change every of those options to “YES”.

In case, this affects the user experience of your website, then consider removing some of the lazy loads (except images). 

… or you may increase the threshold.

Threshold – determines how close should your images come to the viewport (visible area) before it’s loaded.

By default, it’s 200 px.

If you notice that your images are loading too slowly than it should be, then consider increasing this number. However, do not decrease it … 

Other plugin options for Lazy Loading (in WordPress) are Lazy Load XT and a3 Lazy Load. 

Check out this blog article to learn more on Lazy Loading:

“How to Implement WordPress Lazy Load on Images and Videos”

Minify CSS / Javascript

According to Google, here’s what minification means:

“Minification refers to the process of removing unnecessary or redundant data without affecting how the resource is processed by the browser”

Let’s make it simple:

Whenever you type a URL (like swopnadigital.com ) in the search box, your browser will connect to the server and get the source code to show your website. Sometimes, the source code contains unnecessary details like formatting, spaces, unused code etc. 

Even if we remove these, your website will still remain the same.

What this does is decrease your file’s size slightly and helps your browser serve your website faster.

in this process … 

… the browser will have less burden, and your website loads faster.

Before minification, a CSS code looks like:

/*
    Change sidebar layout and color
*/
#sidebar{
padding:15px;
color:#333;
background:#f3f3f3;
}

/*
   Change heading's font 
*/
h1 {
font-size:28px;
color:#333;
margin-top:15px;
}

After minification, it looks like:

#sidebar{padding:15px;color:#333;background:#f3f3f3;}
h1{font-size:28px;color:#333;margin-top:15px;}

Both of these codes generate the same result for a browser. Hence, minification of resources is an advantage over leaving it to as it is.

That being said, minification does not dramatically decrease the file’s size …

… it just saves you a few kilobytes.

😃

However, later on when you check pagespeed score (through pagespeed insights), you’ll notice an increase in the score, which also gives you the satisfaction of having increased the score 

Enough with the explanation, let me show you how to do this:

If you have W3 Total Cache installed, you don’t need any other plugins for minification.

(I guess you’ve already used W3 Total Cache for Caching purpose)

First, turn on minification in the general settings of W3 Total Cache:

For minify mode, check the “auto” option.

I recommend to minify all 3 resources – HTML, CSS, and JS – leave all the options to default.

Minification can sometimes be tricky – and it might break your code if done it wrong.

Just follow along and you should do fine.

Check out all the settings I show (using screenshots below) and try to match these settings – don’t change unless you know exactly what each of these mean.

HTML & XML:

CSS:

JavaScript:

Rest of the options – you may leave it to default. 

That’s it for minification using W3 Total Cache. Just a few hours of work, which will help you for a lifetime.

Cool, isn’t it?

👌

Well, if you want to decrease your page load time on your own and don’t want to hire a specialist – then an hour of work (for minification and caching) is considerable – I guess 

Not using W3 Total Cache? 

Check out these other 2 plugins for minification – Fast Velocity Minify and Better WordPress Minify   

Are you an aspiring blogger? Learn how to start a wordpress blog the right way.

Check Pagespeed Insights for Recommendations

Google Pagespeed Insights is a tool which helps you analyze what resources are responsible for your page load time.

Just go to PageSpeed Insights.

And, enter the URL of your page you want to check.

After it analyzes your page, it generates the result and provides you with a score. If it’s green, you’re doing fine with your site speed.

Now, scroll down to the section where it says – “Optimization Suggestions”. 

This is where you should provide most of your focus.

Click on “show how to fix” to view more details on the suggestion. 

At this point, you’ll see which resources need optimization and what you can do about it.

For instance – one of the suggestions that PageSpeed Insights provide is to compress images – you can even see estimates on how many “kilobytes” you’ll save by compressing that image.

In this case, the tool shows me 16% reduction that is ~ 94 KB, which is more than enough to drag my attention. 

… compressing these 2 images will contribute a lot in the site speed.

Check out for other optimizations – and see how many kilobytes can it save for your website. If the number catch your attention, follow the suggestions. Some of these suggestions can get technical (contact your developer if you’re confused).

Here, it suggests me to compress the website with gzip. 

However, I may not know what gzip compression is. In that case, I do a quick search on Google to see what it is this all about.

Now, it’s time to do a little bit of research. 

After a few clicks here and there – and I found that W3 Total Cache has an option to enable gzip compression. After that, I’d search for “how to enable gzip compression”. 

This is how you apply the suggestions from PageSpeed Insights.

Remember to prioritize the suggestions that will save you a lot of space (resources)

Use GTMetrix To Find Out Resources Slowing Your Website

GTMetrix is one of my all-time favorite tools to analyze website speed.

While PageSpeed Insights only show the suggestions to improve the loading time, gtmetrix shows the exact resources that are slowing down the website, the exact page loading time, optimization suggestions and so on.

Enough talking …

Head over to GTMetrix. (https://gtmetrix.com)

Type the URL of the website you want to analyze.

Test Region is Vancouver, Canada. Location may slightly change the site speed (result)

Similar to PageSpeed Insights, it provides you with scores (from PageSpeed and YSlow). Recommendations in gtmetrix are separated as tabs. 3 essential tabs (that we need the most) are: PageSpeed, YSlow and Waterfall)

There’s not much to focus on PageSpeed (if you follower the previous step)

YSlow tab should be the prime attention for you at this time. This tab shows you few more suggestions than pagespeed, and is a bit more sophisticated. YSlow tab prioritizes the recommendations based on grade – on the basis of importance.

Red one – is the one that needs mot focus.

As always, if you’re confused, Google is always there to help.

Review all  the steps that YSlow tab shows you thoroughly. Sometimes, changing just 1 thing might bring a noticeable result.

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But, the best part of gtmetrix is  “Waterfall” tab.

Here, you can see all the resources that browsers need to load to show up your website in front-end (or screen). Every entity that the server provides to the browser is a resource. And, more the entity – more the time it takes to load.

An SEO specialist’s job is to decrease the amount of resources …

GTMetrix show you all those resources (including the time it took to load)

Run a few tests first, and then note down what’s causing your site to load slower.

(bars on the right indicates the time)

You don’t need to go into tiny nitty-gritty details of the waterfall chart.

Just search for the images and some external scripts (and what time they are taking to load) 

If you find some plugin scripts that slows down your website …

… the plugin needs a second thought.

Only keep it if you absolutely have to.

In case, images are slowing down your website, it means whether you should serve scaled images or need to compress the images using external software like Photoshop.

Analyze every request (resource) you can through this amazing tool.

Also read: On Page SEO: 7 Techniques to Boost Your Website Rank in Google (fast!)

Minimize the Number of Plugins

Here’s the general truth:

More Plugins = More Code

More code means there’s a higher chance of your website slowing down. Sometimes, plugins increase the number of requests to the server, which then increase the response time.

All these will cause your website to load slower.

Hence, it’s a better idea to adopt minimalism.

Minimalism is not just important for design. It’s useful for most of the aspects of life. For WordPress, making it minimal will help you a lot when it comes to site speed.

Of course, it’s not always the case.

But the general rule is that only use plugins that are absolutely important for you.

Remove the deactivated plugins you have not used for quite some time – after some time, you’ll have the choice of reinstalling it.

Next thing is, you might have plugins that you have installed – which are there for no reasons.

For instance – Demo Importer, Attachment Page Remover, etc. 

These are the plugins you need only once – after these serve their purpose, it’s better to delete them – in order to keep your site minimal.

Minimalism has the other benefit:

… you’ll spend less time debugging in case anything goes wrong.

Hence, check for the other plugins – which you might not have needed, but still is there sucking up your resources. Plugins like “Mailchimp for WordPress”, “Google Analytics” is not necessary if you’ve integrated them through code (or used API). 

The question always remains – “How many plugins is too many for WordPress?”

The answer is – there’s no answer.

Check out for yourself – which plugin decreases your site speed in a noticeable amount. It’s more about the quality of code than the number of plugins. But as a digital marketer, you’ll never know how’s the code behind the plugins(unless you’re a developer).

For shared hosting, general idea is not to use more than 20 plugins.

In the long run, you’ll be better off using less number of plugins

Also read: How to Increase Organic CTR – 8 Quick and Easy Techniques

Conclusion

Well, these were 7 of the useful steps you can take to increase website speed in WordPress. 

I have not included steps like “Use Premium Host Server” or “Use CDN”. Although, as a WordPress site master, I know should upgrade the servers, but there’s nothing I can do about that right away. Hence, I have have only included the actionable tips to boost site speed. 

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Now, I want to know from you 

What are some of your favorite ways to increase site speed in WordPress? Is there any particular tool you use?

Or, any specific tactic to boost page loading time?

Let me and our readers know using the comment section below

How to Start a WordPress Blog? – An Instructive Guide for Beginners

Starting a blog should not be difficult.

However, most of the people fear to blog and are holding themselves back because of reasons like lack of technical knowledge (and other excuses). 

Maybe, that might have stopped you a decade ago or so. 

Today, anyone (even an amateur) can start a blog and get it off the ground without being a technology geek.

Blogging has been easier than ever before.

The only difficult part in blogging is the consistency – to continually come up with content ideas, and create high-quality content that stands out in front of the audience. Apart from that, starting a blog is just a piece of cake. 

👇

Just follow along and you’ll have your own blog after the end of this post.  

Table of Contents

As with many things in life, blogging demands patience. That should not stop you from building a productive habit of blogging – and change many lives in case you build traction to it.

👇

In this post, I’ll show you how to start a WordPress blog (step-by-step)  

Develop the Idea & Research the Niche

The most important step is to RESEARCH.

There’s no question about that. Without research, you’ll enter the niche with a lot of competition, and almost no profit. And, it will be more difficult for you to stand out.

Believe me, blogging is a long-term game.

In order to win, you have to set long-term goals. Or else, you’ll just be another drop of water in the ocean. 

Of course, researching is not a compulsory step, and you can start writing as soon as your blog is live on the internet. But, this step will save you a lot of time and should you decide to monetize your content later on – this step will prove to be the most valuable one.

Step 1 – Come up with an idea (or topic)

Think about topics that you want to write about. 

At this point, you should not constrain yourself to limited thinking. The idea is to get as many topics you are interested in as possible. Ideas come from everywhere – you just need to have an open mind. 

Take a paper in your hand (or sticky notes), and brainstorm the topic ideas.

List down all the ideas:

Technology Blog
Gadget Reviews
Yoga & Meditation
Lifestyle
Parenting
Film Reviews
Finance & Investment
Interior Designing …

List down every topic you are interested in. 

Don’t think of not having enough knowledge or not being the expert in the field. It’s not necessary to be an absolute expert who knows everything about the topic, in order to blog.

Everyone who writes about blogging knew nothing about the blogging when they started out. 

The point is:

You’ll figure out everything along the way. 

As one of the quotations goes, even a journey of a thousand miles begins with a single step.

That’s particularly true for blogging.

Even a blog of thousands of articles starts with a single post. However, you need to be prepared for your journey – especially if you’re trying to blog to make a living. In addition to the time, it takes a lot of efforts to take your blog to the level where you could make a living.

Needless to say, you need to develop a lot of skills along the way.

Step 2 – Find out the market (audience) for that topic

Although there is a myriad of ways to do market research online, we’re going to focus on 2 ways to quickly look through the data and decide whether the niche is worth being into. 

The idea is to quickly skim through the data …

… not detailed market research.

The first step, go to trends.google.com.

Use a few of the keywords that relate to your topic (“Interior Design” in this case) and find out what the Google trends show:

Here, you can see that the term – “interior design” has a stable number of searches throughout the years, which means …

… this is a green signal.

The only time when you need to think about is when you see the graph slowly declining over time. That means, all the efforts that you put out today might not generate fruitful results in the near future.

Repeat this process using other related queries, until you are satisfied with the niche.

Next, let’s go to adwords keyword planner and find out the estimated searches for the important keywords in your niche.

Head over to Keyword Planner (sign up for adwords if you haven’t already)

Click on the “Get search volume and forecasts”. 

And then, type in the important keywords that relate to the niche you’re trying to blog about, and then click – “Get Started”

Here, you’ll find the data (search volume, estimated CPC etc.) of the keywords that we typed in.

In this case, there seems to be the market of the niche – “Interior Design”. Google Adwords mentions that we can get around 23K for the US $1.6K, which is again a green signal because there’s at least money being spent in that area. 

The only problem is when you notice that no money is being spent on the keywords.

It will be particularly helpful later on, should you decide to monetize your blog.

Don’t forget to look for the search volume as well.

The more the search volume, the more lucrative becomes.

However, the more search volume also means that there’s a lot of competitions for sure. In order to quickly go through the competition, I would check the “Domain Authority” of the top 3 websites that are already ranking for my keywords.

If that’s too high for me to compete, then it’s time to give it a second thought.

In this case,  the websites have a domain authority of more than 80, which will be difficult to compete. In that case, I would repeat the process using other long tail keywords, and try to find out the opportunities for me to rank. 

In case, I find none …

… I would be better off finding the other niche.

Step 3 – Consistency (Whether You Can Continue … ?)

Question yourself this –

“Whether I can continue writing about this topic for 1 year without having anyone paying me for it?”

If yes, then go for the topic.

If no, it’s a time to give it a second thought. 

Generally, blogs do not start to generate revenue in its first year. Because it takes time to build a huge readership, it takes a consistent amount of effort and hours of dedication to gain a loyal and substantial number of followers.

And, when you’re not passionate about the topic – it’s too easy to give up.

But when you’re consistent, you’ll consistently increase the domain authority of your blog domain and build a large traction along the way, which you’ll help you be established as an authority within your niche.

The whole idea of finding the niche is:

“To find an area where your passion and the market opportunities intersect”

Looking for an SEO Specialist in Nepal? Look no further – have a look at my services.

Get Domain Name and Hosting

Before setting up our wordpress blog, we need a place to set it up (host) and we need a path for our audience to visit it (domain)

In simple terms,

Domain Name: Unique address through which our audience identifies our website in the internet (for instance – swopnadigital.com)

Host: Server computer which stores all our files (website’s source code, images, and other assets)

Before deciding a domain name for your blog, it’s necessary to know if the name is available in the internet. In case, it’s already taken by someone else, you can always opt for different variations of the name.

To check the availability:

Go to Godaddy.com and then type your preferred domain name in the search box:

Vary your keywords for the domain and find something that’s available on the internet. 

After you find a domain that’s available, you can buy it right away. If you’re satisfied with the price, then add the domain to cart and buy the domain.

After you buy a domain name (make a path for themos audience to visit your site), it’s time to get a hosting service, where you can store all your files and database.

Although you can buy the hosting from Domain provider, it’s recommended to buy the hosting from the different vendor.

Here’s why:

There’s nothing wrong with getting the domain and hosting from the same provider. Maybe, they might make it even easier to set up your website. Nevertheless, it’ll be difficult for you to change the hosting later on (if you wish to change it!!)

We recommend Bluehost to get hosting server.

Regardless of wherever you get hosting server from, make sure to look for certain factors:

  • Is the server up for 24*7?
  • Is SSL included?
  • Customer Support (in case of difficulties)
  • Is it under your budget?

Another good option for hosting is Hostgator.

After you buy the hosting server (most probably a shared server), they’ll provide you with the username and password through which you can access the cPanel – cPanel is like the control panel for your website.

You’ll upload files, create a database, set up the mail server, etc. using cPanel.

For our purpose, we’ll see how to install WordPress on your website using cPanel.

Based in Nepal and having difficulties to pay for the domain? We recommend to check out Prabidhi Labs for the reliable domain and hosting service.

Set Up WordPress (using cPanel)

WordPress is everyone’s first choice when it comes to the blogging platform. As of 2018, WordPress powers more than 30% of the entire web.

Isn’t that a lot for a single platform?

It is.

However, when you start understanding all the benefits that WordPress provides to its users, it won’t be strange to you that wordpress is this popular. Here are a few of its benefits for the bloggers:

  • Easily Customizable
  • Extend Functionality using plugins
  • Quickly create posts and pages
  • No need to code
  • Thriving, Engaged Community

With all these benefits, WordPress comes in handy for every blogger to quickly create amazing blog posts and share that with the world. Now that we have our domain and hosting in place, it’s time to install the wordpress using cPanel.

How to Install WordPress using cPanel?

First, log in to the cPanel (using admin passwords)

This redirects you to the main dashboard of the cPanel – every setting you’ll need are separated into sections, and you can search for the settings you need.

Step 1 – Creating Database:

First, you need a database where you’ll install your WordPress. A database is basically a way of storing data and files using tables (no need to worry about that as a blogger). You just need to be able to create a database and install wordpress within it.

Search for SQL in the search box of your cPanel.

Now, create a database – give it a name and continue.

After the database has been created, it’s time to create a user through which you can access the database. 

Remember to save the username and password for your database user (you’ll need it in the next step when installing wordpress to the site)

Now that we have a user and a database, it’s time to add the user to the database and provide it the privileges.

Select the correct user and database and then click add.

Don’t forget to provide your user the privileges.

When asked for the privileges, make sure to check on the “All Privileges”, and then click on the next step. 

At this time, we’re all set up for the database and are ready to move on to the next step – make sure to save the following details for this step:

  • Database Name
  • Username
  • Password

Step 2 – Uploading WordPress:

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Download the latest wordpress version from its official website 

Save the zip file you download in the location that’s easy to find.

You need to decide where you need to install the wordpress – most of the times, it’s your homepage. So, you should find out the document root of your website. Generally, it should be named – “Public_html”. Contact your hosting provider if you don’t find your document root.

First, go to File Manager.

Search for your document root i.e “public_html”

Anything that you’ll upload in this folder will be live in your domain – (for example – swopnadigital.com)

Since we’re just installing wordpress on our homepage, this should be the folder where we’ll store the wordpress files. Upload the wordpress version you downloaded earlier (zip file) within this folder.

On the top-left side of the dashboard, you should see the “upload” button. Click on that, and select the zip file from your computer.

After you upload is complete, the progress bar turns to green and the next step is to extract the zip file.

It’s time to extract the zip file and move that to the main directory (root).

After you extract the zip file, it creates a folder named “wordpress” and then unzips the files. For our purpose though, we need to move all the files (like index.html and all) to the main folder.

Select all the files and then move to the root folder (i.e “public_html”)

In this case, remove the word – “wordpress” and then select move files. This way you upload all the necessary files in the root folder, which can be visited using your homepage (main domain)

Step 3: Installing WordPress

After you upload the wordpress, it’s time to install it.

In this step, you’ll need the database info (database name, username, and password) from step number 1. Make sure (and double check) the username and password or the installation may break down.

Go to your homepage – (for example – https://swopnadigital.com)

And then you will see an installation wizard that helps you install the wordpress.

Select “English” as a language and continue.

Your browser shows you the form that asks for a few database information.

👇

Match the field and enter the information that we saved earlier. Let me show what are those information in our case 

Database Namesmartclu_main
Usernamesmartclu_main
Password*************
Database Hostlocalhost
Table Prefixwp_

The server will verify the information after you submit it. When everything is all right, there should be another form that asks for your website info. Although you can change it later on, it’s better to submit the correct information early on.

Site Title: Name of Your Site – Put in the name of your blog.  

Username and Password: Admin user and password. You’ll use this to log in to your wordpress backend.

Your Email: WordPress will use it to contact you (for comments, securities and so on.)

Check the checkbox off – “Search Engine Visibility”. If you check this box on, search engines will not be able to index your website. As a blogger, your consistent traffic will always come from search – hence you need to take care of a few SEO things right before you blog.

Now, it’s time to run the installation.

As a part of the default installation, wordpress installs its default theme (named similar to – “Twenty Seventeen”) and implement few settings, which you want to change, however. If you want to make a custom blog for you, the first step you need to do is to install and activate a theme that matches your style. 

Find and Install a Theme

WordPress comes with a default theme – for example – twenty seventeen, which is far away from someone’s expectations – both in terms of design and usability.

If you’re serious about blogging, you need to download a theme.

Here’s the tricky part: 

WordPress theme marketplace is flooded with all kinds of themes. And, finding the right one for our purpose is almost like picking cotton. Sometimes, we get so picky about the design that no theme feels to be made for our purpose. But as a beginner blogger, it’s better not to care much about design.

Find a theme with a decent design and start writing!

The easiest way to find a theme is to search it right from the wordpress dashboard.

Go to Appearance >> Themes (on the wordpress dashboard)

And then, click on “Add New” to add themes to your wordpress site. 

At this point, search the wordpress repository using the word of your choice. Try to use different variations of the word and then search again until you find the theme that matches your taste. It’s OK if it does not match 100%, you can customize it later on (for example – fonts, layouts and all).

The point is:

Search for a theme that has a decent design right out of the box.

When you find the theme of your choice and are ready to install that on your website, it’s time to actually install it.

Click on the theme and it loads the preview of how your website’s homepage will look like after installing. You should see the “install” button on the top left side of your screen – click on that.

In the preview screen, you can change a lot of things – content or design. WordPress can help a business build a full-fledged website – that might intimidate a beginner though. As a blogger, if you focus more of time on design, you’ll miss that time to create the content.

Hence, not that productive.

The section that you need to focus most is the “blog” section. In terms of design, you need a good layout, readable fonts, a comment section and readable paragraphs (line heights and so on.)

When you’re satisfied with the design, activate the theme.

Looking for a professional SEO Company in Nepal? Make sure to check out Swopna Digital as well. 

Start Writing 

Now it’s time to write …

Writing journey often feels like a roller coaster. Sometimes, you’re motivated enough to write (and write on and on …), while sometimes you find yourself in a position where words don’t seem to come out. 

That’s how it is.

However, a few efforts in planning and you’re good to go with your blog. 

As I said, WordPress can be completely customized – especially with the help of plugins. For our purpose, we don’t need to overload ourselves with tons of information. We just need to know enough to start writing. 

Let’s know the difference between posts and pages:

Post & Page

On the WordPress dashboard, you’ll see two section – page and post, which is often confusing for a beginner. We need both for our blogs.

Simply put, a page is a static page in a website. 

Pages don’t change often …

… unless we change it manually.

For example – homepage in most of the pages. Browse any of a business website and you’ll find that their homepage is a static page – in the sense that they don’t change often. It will be the same even after you write 100s of blog posts.

Posts, on the other hand, are comparable to the diaries.

A blog post is like an entry in diaries. The piece of content you’re reading right now is a blog post. Blogs are the collection of posts – whether you upload photos and videos or just write text form of content, you do that in blog posts.

In order to add a blog post, go to Posts >> Add New.

Write a heading title and permalink – even if you don’t create permalink (URL), wordpress generates one for you based on your heading. You’ll want to change it, however – for SEO purpose. Using short URLs is one of the on-page SEO techniques. 

Now, it’s time to write the main content. 

😃

Everything else you did before was like a trailer – this is the actual film that your audience is going to watch. (“read” in this case )

Here are few writing tips I provide for a beginner blogger:

 Create a content calendar. Starting a blog is easy – continuing the one you have is your real test. When you have a content plan in your hand, it becomes easy to manage time and it even provide extra energy to continue. 

 Make your post readable – both in terms of design and content. For design, make sure you have large enough font size and write small paragraphs. For content, write in the language that is understandable to your audience.  

 Encourage engagements within your blog. Make sure people who read your article comment on your posts – make it easy for them to do so. It helps for SEO purpose as well.

 Always help your audience. When you help your audience, they start to build the trust with you. And, in turn they’ll promote your content when they feel right.

This is how a wordpress dashboard for new posts look like 

… note that it will change after Gutenberg will be released as a default editor for wordpress 5.0

There are a lot of formatting options – (bolding text, linking to external source and so on). Most of the times, I find myself using these tabs later on after I finish writing – with some exception like adding images. I would recommend to turn on the distraction-free editor which will help you focus on your writing and nothing else. 

… and be ready for Gutenberg as well.

When you’re ready to hit publish button, take care of a few things:

 Write Meta Title and Description (for SEO)

 Choose Categories and Tags

 Check for Grammar and Spelling Errors

 Publish your post 

And, that’s it! 

Congratulations that you made this far in this post. And, if you’ve followed every step properly, you should’ve published your first post as of now. Now that you have a blog that you can be proud of, check out a few other blogging and SEO resources from us:

WordPress SEO Tips: 7 Essential WordPress SEO Tips

Speed Up Website: How to Speed up WordPress Site? 

Increase Organic CTR: How to Increase Organic CTR (in SEO)

In Conclusion,

Blogging is a journey, not a destination. 

It continues till the point you write, create the content and provide the value to your audience. Sometimes, the energy can be high – sometimes it can be low. My only suggestion is to keep writing and eventually it pays off.

Now, it’s your turn 

Have you set up your own blog? Or, are you in the process?

Please comment in the comment section below and let me and our readers know that you have a blog. If you’ve tips and advice for a beginner blogger, make sure to share that as well.