How to make money from blogging

Share your love


In the vast digital landscape, where ideas find a home and communities thrive, blogging has evolved into more than just a platform for self-expression. It has become a gateway to financial independence, offering the potential for individuals to turn their passion into a lucrative venture. If you’ve ever dreamed of escaping the constraints of a traditional 9-5 job, blogging could be the key to unlocking a new realm of possibilities.

This comprehensive guide aims to illuminate the journey from a blogging enthusiast to a savvy entrepreneur, walking you through the crucial steps and strategies to transform your blog into a revenue-generating powerhouse. Whether you’re a seasoned blogger looking to enhance your earnings or a beginner eager to dip your toes into the blogging waters, this guide is your roadmap to understanding and mastering the art of making money through blogging.

So, fasten your seatbelt as we embark on this exciting journey together, exploring the intricate steps of choosing your niche, setting up your blog, building a thriving community, crafting quality content, and ultimately, unleashing the various monetization strategies that will turn your blog into a source of sustainable income. Let’s dive into the world of blogging with purpose and profit, where the possibilities are as boundless as your creativity.

Latest Posts…

Section 1: Getting Started with Blogging

1.1 Choosing Your Niche

When it comes to blogging, passion is your best ally. Your chosen niche should be a reflection of your interests, something you could write about endlessly. This not only ensures a consistent flow of content but also keeps you motivated during the inevitable ups and downs of your blogging journey.

To identify a profitable niche, consider the following tips:
  • Passion Alignment: Choose a niche that aligns with your interests. Your enthusiasm will naturally shine through your writing, capturing the attention of like-minded readers.
  • Market Demand: Research the demand for your chosen niche. Tools like Google Trends can provide insights into the popularity and potential growth of specific topics.
  • Expertise: Opt for a niche where you possess a level of expertise. Your in-depth knowledge will set you apart and establish credibility within your chosen field.

1.2 Setting Up Your Blog

Once you’ve pinpointed your niche, it’s time to bring your blog to life. Follow these steps to set up your blogging platform:

  • Domain and Hosting: Choose a domain name that reflects your blog’s identity and register it. Select a reliable hosting provider to ensure seamless performance.
  • Platform Selection: Platforms like WordPress offer user-friendly interfaces and a multitude of customizable themes. They are ideal for both beginners and experienced bloggers.
  • Design Considerations: Your blog’s design plays a crucial role in user experience. Opt for a clean and intuitive layout that complements your content.

With your blog now set up, you’ve laid the foundation for your online presence. The next step is to foster a community around your niche, a vital aspect of blogging success. Let’s explore how to achieve this in the following section.

Section 2: Building a Blogging Community

2.1 Engaging on Social Media

Blogging isn’t just about creating content; it’s also about building connections. Social media platforms serve as dynamic spaces to share your blog, connect with fellow bloggers, and engage with your audience.

Here’s how to leverage social media effectively:
  • Platform Selection:
    • Identify the platforms where your target audience is most active. Whether it’s Facebook, Instagram, Twitter, or others, focus on building a strong presence on the platforms that align with your niche.
  • Consistent Posting:
    • Regularly share snippets of your blog posts, and engaging visuals, and participate in relevant discussions. Consistency is key to staying on your audience’s radar.
  • Networking:
    • Connect with other bloggers and influencers in your niche. Networking opens doors to collaborations, guest posts, and shared promotions, amplifying your blog’s reach.

2.2 Participating in Online Forums

Forums remain invaluable hubs for knowledge exchange and community building. Joining forums related to your niche provides an opportunity to learn, share, and connect with like-minded individuals.

Consider the following steps:
  • Choose Relevant Forums:
    • Identify forums that align with your blog’s niche. Whether it’s industry-specific forums, Reddit communities, or specialized discussion boards, active participation can significantly boost your blog’s visibility.
  • Contribute Meaningfully:
    • Avoid overt self-promotion; instead, contribute thoughtfully to discussions. Answer questions, share insights, and establish yourself as a valuable member of the community.
  • Signature Links:
    • Many forums allow you to include a link to your blog in your forum signature. Ensure your signature is appealing and encourage fellow forum members to check out your blog.

Section 3: Crafting Quality Content

3.1 Writing Engaging Blog Posts

Your blog’s success hinges on the quality of your content. Crafting engaging blog posts involves a blend of storytelling, information dissemination, and a touch of your unique personality. Here’s how to create content that captivates your audience:

  • Know Your Audience: Understand the preferences and pain points of your target audience. Tailor your content to address their needs and interests.
  • Compelling Headlines: Craft headlines that grab attention. Your headline is the first impression – make it intriguing and relevant.
  • Storytelling Techniques: Weave stories into your posts. Personal anecdotes, case studies, or relatable narratives create a connection with your readers.
  • Visual Appeal: Incorporate images, infographics, and videos to break up text and enhance visual appeal. A well-designed post is more likely to be shared.

3.2 SEO Best Practices

Search Engine Optimization (SEO) is crucial for improving your blog’s visibility. Implement these SEO best practices to ensure your content reaches a broader audience:

  • Keyword Research: Identify relevant keywords for your niche using tools like Google Keyword Planner. Integrate these keywords naturally into your content.
  • Meta Descriptions: Write compelling meta descriptions that provide a concise summary of your content. This snippet appears in search engine results and influences click-through rates.
  • Internal and External Links: Include internal links to other relevant posts on your blog and external links to reputable sources. This improves the credibility and SEO ranking of your blog.

Section 4: Monetization Strategies

4.1 Google AdSense

One of the most accessible entry points for blog monetization is through Google AdSense. This advertising platform allows you to earn revenue by displaying targeted ads on your blog. Here’s how to get started:

  • Create an AdSense Account: Sign up for a Google AdSense account. Once approved, you can generate ad codes.
  • Ad Placement: Strategically place ads within your content, considering the natural flow of your blog. Experiment with ad formats and positions to optimize click-through rates.
  • Audience Growth: As your blog’s audience grows, so does your AdSense revenue. Focus on increasing your blog’s visibility and engaging your audience.

4.2 Affiliate Marketing

Affiliate marketing involves promoting products or services and earning a commission for every sale made through your unique referral link. Consider these steps for effective affiliate marketing:

  • Choose Relevant Products: Select products or services aligned with your blog’s niche. Authenticity is key to gaining your audience’s trust.
  • Create Compelling Content: Craft content around the affiliate products, highlighting their benefits and addressing potential concerns your audience may have.
  • Disclose Affiliations: Maintain transparency by disclosing your affiliate relationships in your blog posts. Honesty fosters trust among your readers.

4.3 Sponsored Content

Brands may pay you to create content around their products or services, reaching your audience in a more organic way. To attract sponsored opportunities:

  • Build a Strong Online Presence: Cultivate an engaged audience and establish your authority within your niche.
  • Pitch to Brands: Proactively reach out to brands or register on platforms that connect bloggers with potential sponsors.
  • Negotiate Fairly: Determine fair compensation based on your reach, engagement, and the effort required to create sponsored content.

4.4 Offering Services or Products

Leverage your skills and expertise to offer services or products directly through your blog:

  • Freelancing Services: If you’re a writer, designer, or consultant, advertise your services on your blog.
  • Create Digital Products: Develop and sell e-books, online courses, or other digital products relevant to your niche.

4.5 Private Advertising

As your blog gains traction, private advertisers may approach you to feature their products or services. Here’s how to attract private advertisers:

  • Create an Engaging Blog: Build a community around your blog, fostering active engagement and discussion.
  • Offer Ad Spaces: Clearly outline available ad spaces on your blog and specify advertising rates.
  • Maintain Relevance: Ensure that advertised products align with your blog’s niche to maintain authenticity.

Section 5: Common Mistakes to Avoid

5.1 Lack of Planning

Success in blogging begins with a well-thought-out plan. Avoid the mistake of diving into the blogosphere without a clear strategy. Consider the following:

  • Define Your Goals: Clearly outline your short-term and long-term goals. Whether it’s growing your audience, increasing revenue, or expanding your niche, a defined roadmap is crucial.
  • Consistent Planning: Stick to your plan and avoid frequent changes. Consistency in your approach helps build trust with your audience.

5.2 Impatience and Unrealistic Expectations

Blogging is a journey that requires time and dedication. Avoid the pitfall of expecting immediate results. Understand that success in the blogosphere takes time:

  • Set Realistic Milestones: Define realistic milestones and celebrate small victories. Acknowledge that significant success is an accumulation of consistent efforts over time.
  • Focus on Growth: Instead of fixating on immediate monetary gains, focus on growing your blog’s reach and engagement. A well-established blog naturally attracts opportunities for monetization.

5.3 Neglecting Audience Engagement

Your audience is the lifeblood of your blog. Neglecting their needs and preferences can hinder your blog’s growth. Consider these engagement strategies:

  • Respond to Comments: Actively engage with your audience by responding to comments on your blog and social media platforms. Encourage discussions and foster a sense of community.
  • Regular Updates: Maintain a consistent posting schedule. If readers expect weekly or bi-weekly content, ensure you deliver. A lapse in updates may result in a decline in readership.

Section 6: The Key to Long-Term Success

6.1 Avoiding Common Pitfalls

In the dynamic world of blogging, steering clear of common mistakes is pivotal for long-term success. Let’s explore some key pitfalls to avoid:

  • Lack of Research: Before diving into blogging, thorough research is essential. Learn from the mistakes of others, and don’t assume that a few blog posts and expert opinions are enough. Conduct in-depth research about your chosen niche and the blogging landscape.
  • Impatience: Success in blogging is not an instant outcome. Impatience can lead to frustration and hasty decisions. Understand that building a successful blog takes time, dedication, and consistent effort.
  • Neglecting Audience Needs: Your audience is the backbone of your blog. Neglecting their needs, preferences, and feedback can lead to a decline in readership. Stay engaged with your audience and adapt your content based on their interests.

6.2 The Power of Consistency

Consistency is the glue that holds a successful blog together. Here’s why it matters:

  • Building Trust: Consistent posting builds trust with your audience. Readers appreciate reliability, and a consistent schedule creates expectations.
  • Search Engine Favor: Search engines favor regularly updated content. Consistency in posting improves your blog’s visibility on search engine result pages.
  • Audience Expectations: If your audience expects weekly or bi-weekly content, strive to meet those expectations. Inconsistency may result in a decline in readership.

6.3 Patience and Persistence

Patience and persistence are non-negotiable in the blogging journey. Here’s why they’re crucial:

  • Growth Takes Time: Building traffic, establishing authority, and generating income all take time. Don’t be disheartened by slow progress; each effort contributes to your blog’s success.
  • Quality Over Quantity: Focus on maintaining the quality of your content rather than rushing to produce quantity. A well-thought-out, high-quality post has a more significant impact than multiple mediocre ones.
  • Adapting to Challenges: Challenges will arise, but a patient and persistent approach allows you to adapt and overcome them. Learn from setbacks and continue refining your strategy.

6.4 Following Your Plan

Creating a comprehensive plan is the first step, but following it is equally crucial. Here’s why:

  • Avoiding Distractions: With the myriad of possibilities in the blogging world, it’s easy to get distracted. A well-defined plan keeps you focused on your goals and prevents aimless pursuits.
  • Measuring Progress: A plan serves as a roadmap to success. Regularly assess your progress against your initial goals and make adjustments as needed.
  • Consistency in Approach: Frequent changes to your plan can confuse your strategy. Stick to your plan unless there’s a compelling reason to modify it.

Section 7: Adapting Your Blog for Success

7.1 Evolving with Trends

The blogosphere is dynamic, with trends and preferences constantly evolving. Adapting to these changes is key to staying relevant and successful:

  • Stay Informed: Keep yourself updated on industry trends, algorithm changes, and emerging topics within your niche. Subscribe to newsletters, follow industry leaders, and participate in relevant forums.
  • Content Diversity: Experiment with different types of content, such as videos, podcasts, or interactive elements. Diversifying your content keeps your audience engaged and attracts new followers.

7.2 Leveraging Social Media

Social media is a powerful tool for expanding your blog’s reach and engaging with your audience. Here’s how to leverage social platforms effectively:

  • Choose the Right Platforms: Identify the social media platforms most popular among your target audience. Focus on building a strong presence on those platforms.
  • Consistent Branding: Maintain consistent branding across your blog and social media channels. Use the same profile picture, handle, and bio to create a cohesive online identity.
  • Engage Actively: Respond to comments, share relevant content, and participate in discussions. Actively engaging on social media enhances your blog’s visibility and fosters a sense of community.

7.3 Diversifying Income Streams

Relying on a single income stream can be risky. Explore additional avenues to diversify your blog’s revenue:

  • Explore New Monetization Methods: Keep an eye on emerging monetization methods. From sponsored content to online courses, diversifying your income streams reduces dependence on a single source.
  • Affiliate Marketing Expansion: Explore new affiliate partnerships and products. As your blog grows, you can collaborate with a broader range of brands and services.

7.4 Prioritizing Reader Experience

A positive user experience is vital for retaining and growing your audience. Enhance reader experience with these strategies:

  • Optimized Website: Ensure your website is mobile-friendly, easy to navigate, and has fast loading times. A well-optimized site improves user satisfaction and search engine rankings.
  • Interactive Elements: Incorporate interactive elements such as polls, quizzes, or comment sections to encourage reader participation. This fosters a sense of community around your blog.

7.5 Analyzing and Adapting

Regularly analyzing your blog’s performance metrics allows you to make informed decisions and adapt to changing circumstances:

  • Use Analytics Tools: Utilize tools like Google Analytics to track key metrics such as traffic, user demographics, and popular content. Analyzing this data provides insights into audience behavior.
  • Adapt Content Strategy: Based on analytics, adapt your content strategy. Focus on producing more of what resonates with your audience and consider tweaking topics that may not perform as well.

7.6 Building Long-Term Relationships

Building lasting relationships with your audience and fellow bloggers contributes to sustained success:

  • Engage with Your Audience: Actively respond to comments, emails, and social media messages. Building a personal connection with your audience fosters loyalty.
  • Collaborate with Peers: Collaborate with other bloggers in your niche. Guest posting, joint projects, or collaborations can introduce your blog to new audiences and strengthen your presence.

Show Time: Adapt your blog with these easy tips!

The excitement begins when you see money flowing from the efforts you have put in. Generating income from your blogs can happen in various ways. Now that you’ve entered the realm of blogging, let’s start with one of the easiest methods – Google AdSense. This tool is user-friendly and can be a great starting point for beginners. Here’s how it works:

Let the Ads Run!

The simplest way to make money from blogging is by running ads on your blog pages. Every time someone clicks on your ad, you earn a certain amount. This is where Google AdSense comes in. Follow these steps to get started:

  1. Create a Google AdSense Account: It’s free and straightforward to set up. Just visit the Google AdSense website and follow the instructions to create your account.
  2. Choose an Ad: Once your account is set up, you can choose the type of ad units you want to display on your website. Google AdSense provides various ad formats to suit your preferences.
  3. Let the Ads Work: Place the ad codes on your blog pages. The more audience you have, the more clicks you’re likely to get. If you’re worried about payments, relax! Google sends your earnings either via a check in your mailbox or directly to your bank account at the end of the month.

Remember, the number of clicks depends on your audience size. Grow your audience, and the clicks will follow. Google AdSense is a numbers game, paying between $0.02 to $0.05 per click, which can go up to $30 depending on the product and other factors.

Affiliate Marketing is Another Game Player!

Cheers to bloggers with a limited budget! If you’re starting with minimal resources, affiliate marketing is a fantastic option. Here’s how you can dive into it:

  1. Select a Relevant Product or Service: Your blog’s niche should align with the product or service you choose. Spend some quality time researching and choosing wisely.
  2. Invest Your Time: If you have a website, invest some time. You don’t need a hefty budget. Pick a product, review it, and make it part of your blog content.
  3. There’s No Limit to Earnings: There’s no cap on how much you can make with affiliate marketing. Some bloggers have become millionaires through it, while others are still struggling with blogging. Their doubt about leaving their 9-5 jobs stems from not recognizing what others have achieved.

Sponsored Content – Get Paid for It!

Sponsored posts involve writing about someone or their products, and earning money from advertisers. You can earn anywhere from $50 to $500 per post, depending on the advertiser and the product.

  1. Build a Strong Online Presence: Cultivate an engaged audience and establish your authority within your niche. Advertisers look for bloggers with a solid online presence.
  2. Pitch to Brands: Take the initiative to approach brands or register on platforms connecting bloggers with potential sponsors. Showcase your blog’s strengths and what you can offer.
  3. Negotiate Fairly: Determine fair compensation based on your blog’s reach, engagement, and the effort required to create sponsored content. Don’t undersell your value.

Sell Something – Your Services or Products

If you have a skill, why not offer it for a price? Your time is valuable, and unlike a product, it’s something you can sell repeatedly. Here are a few examples:

  1. Blogging Services: If you’re a versatile blogger, promote your services by showcasing them on your website. Let potential clients know how your writing can benefit them.
  2. Designing: Do you love designing? Offer your services to others. You can earn through freelancing while using other monetization methods.
  3. Online Training: If you have a skill that can be taught online, like math or any other subject, consider selling video lectures. You create them once and earn them repeatedly.

Private Advertising – Let Your Blog Shine!

Once your blog gains traction, private advertisers may reach out to you to feature their products or services. Here’s how to make your blog an attractive space for private advertisers:

  1. Create an Engaging Blog: Build a community around your blog, fostering active engagement and discussion. Make your blog an inviting space for advertisers.
  2. Ad Spaces Availability: Clearly outline the available ad spaces on your blog and specify advertising rates. Make it easy for potential advertisers to understand your offerings.
  3. Maintain Relevance: Ensure that advertised products align with your blog’s niche to maintain authenticity. Private advertisers seek blogs where their products will resonate with the audience.

Most Asked Question

One of the most commonly asked questions in the realm of blogging, especially among beginners, is:

Q: How Long Does It Take to Make Money from Blogging?

The timeline for making money from blogging varies widely and depends on several factors. Here are key considerations:

  • Niche and Competition: The competitiveness of your chosen niche plays a crucial role. In highly competitive niches, it might take longer to stand out and attract a significant audience.
  • Content Quality and Consistency: Creating high-quality, valuable content consistently is essential. Blogs that consistently produce engaging content tend to attract and retain readers, contributing to monetization opportunities.
  • SEO and Traffic Building: Building organic traffic through effective Search Engine Optimization (SEO) practices takes time. The more traffic your blog receives, the greater the potential for income through various monetization methods.
  • Monetization Strategies: The methods you choose to monetize your blog also impact the timeline. For instance, Google AdSense and affiliate marketing can bring in revenue relatively quickly, while other methods like selling products or services may take longer.
  • Building Trust and Authority: Establishing trust and authority within your niche takes time but is crucial for long-term success. Readers are more likely to engage with and support a blog that they trust.

In essence, making money from blogging is not a get-rich-quick endeavor. It’s a gradual process that requires dedication, patience, and strategic planning. While some bloggers may see results within a few months, for others, it might take a year or more. The key is to stay focused on providing value to your audience and consistently refining your approach as you learn and grow.

Frequently Asked Questions (FAQ)

Q1: How do I choose the right niche for my blog?
  • Consider your interests and expertise.
  • Research market demand using tools like Google Trends.
  • Assess the competition in potential niches.
Q2: What is the best platform for blogging?
  • WordPress is widely regarded as one of the best platforms.
  • Blogger and Medium are user-friendly alternatives for beginners.
Q3: How often should I publish new blog posts?

Consistency is key. Aim for a schedule that you can realistically maintain.
Whether it’s weekly or bi-weekly, set a regular posting frequency.

Q4: How can I increase traffic to my blog?
  • Focus on SEO to improve visibility on search engines.
  • Promote your content on social media.
  • Engage with other blogs through comments and collaborations.
Q5: What are effective monetization strategies for beginners?
  • Start with Google AdSense for ad revenue.
  • Explore affiliate marketing by promoting relevant products.
  • Offer sponsored content to brands related to your niche.
Q6: How long does it take to make money from blogging?
  • The timeline varies. It can range from a few months to a year or more.
  • Factors include niche competitiveness, content quality, and chosen monetization methods.
Q7: Do I need to be a skilled writer to start a blog?
  • While good writing helps, you can improve over time.
  • Focus on conveying your message clearly and engaging your audience.
Q8: What is SEO, and why is it important for my blog?
  • SEO (Search Engine Optimization) is the practice of optimizing your content to rank higher on search engine results.
  • It’s crucial for increasing organic (non-paid) traffic to your blog.
Q9: Can I start a blog without any technical skills?
  • Yes, many platforms, like WordPress, offer user-friendly interfaces.
  • You can start a blog with minimal technical knowledge and learn as you go.
Q10: How can I stay motivated as a blogger?
  • Set realistic goals and celebrate small victories.
  • Connect with other bloggers for support and inspiration.
  • Remember that success in blogging is a journey, not an overnight achievement.

Additional Resources

Expanding your knowledge as a blogger involves continuous learning and staying updated on industry trends. Here are some top additional resources to enhance your blogging skills:

Blogging Platforms:
  • The official site for self-hosted WordPress, with extensive documentation and forums.
  • Blogger: Google’s blogging platform with a user-friendly interface.
SEO Learning:
  • Moz: Offers in-depth SEO guides and tools.
  • Ahrefs Blog: Ahrefs provides excellent SEO insights and tutorials.
Content Creation and Writing:
  • Grammarly Blog: Improving your writing skills with Grammarly’s tips.
  • Copyblogger: Offers valuable insights into content marketing and copywriting.
Social Media Marketing:
  • Social Media Examiner: Stay updated on the latest social media trends and strategies.
  • Buffer Blog: Buffer provides insights into social media and digital marketing.
Monetization Strategies:
  • Neil Patel’s Blog: Neil Patel covers various aspects of online marketing and blogging.
  • Smart Blogger: Jon Morrow’s blog offers advice on writing, blogging, and making a living online.
Online Learning Platforms:
  • Udemy: Offers numerous courses on blogging, SEO, and digital marketing.
  • Skillshare: Provides classes on writing, content creation, and blogging.
Podcasts for Bloggers:
Communities and Forums:
Email Marketing:
YouTube Channels:
  • Project Life Mastery: Stefan James, the creator of Project Life Mastery, provides valuable content on self-development, online business, and passive income.
  • Backlinko: Brian provides SEO tips and strategies.

Remember, the blogging landscape is vast, and these resources offer a mix of foundational knowledge and the latest industry updates. Explore these platforms based on your specific interests and goals.

Top 10 Blogger Websites in India

Blogger Niche Website Estimated Monthly Visitors Social Media Followers (Combined)

BloggerNicheWebsite Traffic (source: similarweb)
Harsh AgarwalMarketingshoutmeloud.com155K+ {Monthly Visitors}
Shradha SharmaEntrepreneurshipyourstory.com3.9M+ {Monthly Visitors}
Faisal FarooquiSocial Networkingmouthshut.com1.3M+ {Monthly Visitors}
Anil AgarwalBloggingbloggerspassion.com330K+ {Monthly Visitors}
Nandini ShenoyPersonal Financeindianwomenblog.org30K+ {Monthly Visitors}
Varun KrishnanTechnologyfonearena.com2.6M+ {Monthly Visitors}
Jitendra VaswaniDigital Marketingbloggersideas.com450K+ {Monthly Visitors}
Malini AgarwalEntertainmentmissmalini.com310K+ {Monthly Visitors}
Archana DoshiFoodarchanaskitchen.com1M+ {Monthly Visitors}

Remember to verify the current statistics through reliable sources or tools for the most accurate and up-to-date information.

Related Articles


In the dynamic world of blogging, success is not an overnight phenomenon. It’s a gradual journey that requires passion, dedication, and a commitment to continuous improvement. As you embark on your blogging venture, remember these key principles:

  • Adhere to Your Plan: Consistency is crucial. Stick to your blogging plan and adjust it only when necessary.
  • Productivity Requires Patience: Building a successful blog takes time. Maintain quality in your content, and productivity will follow.
  • Traffic Doesn’t Come Overnight: Rome wasn’t built in a day, and a thriving blog isn’t either. Be patient in attracting traffic and focus on delivering value to your audience.
  • Maintain Consistency: Whether it’s your posting schedule, content quality, or engagement efforts, consistency is vital. Your audience relies on predictability.

Blogging is not just a creative outlet; it’s a journey of self-discovery and financial empowerment. With the right strategies, perseverance, and a commitment to excellence, you can transform your blog into a source of sustainable income. Here’s to your blogging success!

That’s it.

Thanks, for reading…
If you Liked it plz do share!

Stay, tuned for New Updates. ☺ 

Learn | Tools | Backlinks | Top 10 | SEO

Share your love

Wrriten by Sonu K - I am Expert Tech Reviewer with over 5 years of experience! My Expertise: Content, SEO, Blogging, Marketing, and proficiency in platforms like WordPress and Shopify. Visit my website by clicking: here!

Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *