How to Use a Kenyan Domain (.KE) with your Blogger Blog

With Blogger's custom domain you can use your own top level domain (TLD) for your blog instead of the default blogspot subdomain (yourblogname.blogspot.com).

Setting up Blogger to use a TLD such as .COM, .NET or .ORG tend to be easy as most of international registrars (e.g. GoDaddy, Namecheap etc.) provide instructions on how to do this on your user dashboards.

With a country-specific TLDs such as the Kenyan assigned .KE, CO.KE, OR.KE or INFO.KE you're restricted to local registrars who often may not provide resources on how to do this.

If you're inexperienced, you may even end up buying a hosting package that you may never get to use since Blogger does the hosting for you on Google servers.

In this case, the only thing you need from the registrar after buying the domain through them is DNS Hosting (Management). This will allow you to edit the necessary DNS records that will point Blogger to use your custom domain.

This guide will show you how to do this.



Choosing the Right Registrar

It's essential you buy your local domain from a registrar that will give you access to DNS Hosting without extra costs. Most do include it with domain registration but to be safe just confirm with them before making the purchase.

If you've already bought the domain and they offer no such service, you can always transfer your domain to another local registrar usually with no added costs.

On the other hand, if you're completely new to this and don't know which registrar to go with I recommend going with either Truehost Kenya or Kenya Website Experts. I'm sure some other local registrars do support DNS Hosting so I'm merely vouching for these two as I use or I've used them before.

Truehost however does stands out from other local registrars as it offers a free hosting (Bronze package) with domain registration. While this package is quite limited it does give you an email address and 1 subdomain (e.g. blog.example.co.ke) that you may opt to use with Blogger while using your top level domain  (e.g. example.co.ke) with their hosting (or vice-versa if you wish).



Step 1: Get DNS Records from Blogger

Assuming you've already bought your .KE domain, we'll first have to obtain DNS records from Blogger that will allow it to connect to our domain and to verify our ownership of it. To do that:

1. Go to Blogger Settings > Publishing > Blog Address and just below your current address click to open the Set up a third-party URL for your blog link.

2. Enter the domain or subdomain you want to use then click the Save button.

3. You'll get an error that We have not been able to verify your authority to this domain.
cnames
Note the Two CNAMEs

Ignore it for now and instead note carefully the two CNAME records provided.



Step 2: Edit the CNAME Records

Now we need to access the DNS Manager provided by your registrar. The DNS Manager may be built into your dashboard or will be available through cPanel (e.g on Truehost). We'll however look at both, though note the former will look very different across different registrars.

NOTE:
  • To use cPanel on Truehost after buying a domain from them you'll have to first buy (for Ksh. 0) the free Bronze Package and then wait until its activated before you can edit the records.

Using DNS Manager in Dashboard

1. First delete any records that exist for the host name we're adding as this will cause a conflict and will not be accepted. These include:
  • CNAME Records that point to WWW
  • A Records for the domain/subdomain you're setting up
  • URL Redirect Records (Unmasked, Masked or Permanent Redirect)

If none of these exist just move on to the next step.

2. Next create a new CNAME record using the host name and address in the first CNAME provided in blogger. Enter www in the Host Name field and ghs.google.com in the Address/Value field.

NOTE:
The host name will differ if you're setting up a domain or a subdomain however the ghs.google.com is the same for everyone. For example:
  • The domain www.example.co.ke will have the host name as www
  • The subdomain blog.example.co.ke will have the host name as blog

2. Create another CNAME record and enter the second CNAME provided in blogger. This is unique for everyone.

3. If you want to your root (naked) domain (e.g. example.co.ke) to redirect to the WWW version (e.g. www.example.co.ke) you'll have to add the following 4 A records which point to the following Google IP Addresses:
  • 216.239.32.21
  • 216.239.34.21
  • 216.239.36.21
  • 216.239.38.21

To do that create 4 new A records, leave the host name blank or input @ or as instructed by your registrar then insert each of the above IP addresses as the addresses/value. 

NOTE:
  • If you're setting up a subdomain (e.g. blog.example.co.ke) skip this step not unless you want your subdomain to redirect to your root domain (e.g. example.co.ke).

So at the end of it your DNS records should look something like this:
cname and a records
CNAME and optional A Records


Using cPanel's DNS Zone Editor

1. Log into your domains cPanel using the credentials provided by your registrar.
cpanel login
Log into cPanel

2. Under Domains open Zone Editor/Advanced DNS Zone Editor .
zone editor
Open Zone Editor

3 Inside the Zone Editor go to your domain and click the Manage button.
manage domain
Manage Domain DNS Records

4. Start by deleting any conflicting CNAME and A Records for your domain or subdomain that exist. If there are none move on to the next step.

NOTE:
  • Only delete the CNAME records for the WWW host. So if for example you're setting up example.co.ke you'll delete the CNAME that has the name www.example.co.ke
  • Likewise, only delete the A records for the domain or subdomain you're setting up. So for our example you'll have to delete the A records that have the name example.co.ke or blog.example.co.ke if it’s a subdomain you're setting up.
conflicting CNAME record
Example of a conflicting CNAME record

5. Next click the Add Record button and choose Add CNAME record.
add cname record
Add CNAME Record
In the name field add the first CNAME record provided by Blogger by typing www then in the record field enter the address ghs.google.com. then click the Save Record button.

NOTE:
  • The zone editor will autocomplete the full address of your domain for you, otherwise just enter the full domain (www.example.co.ke.).
  • If you're setting up a subdomain use the name of your subdomain instead of www. For example, we would enter blog for the blog.example.co.ke.

6. Now add the second CNAME record that's unique for everyone and save it.

7. Next add and save the four A records that point to the following Addresses:
  • 216.239.32.21
  • 216.239.34.21
  • 216.239.36.21
  • 216.239.38.21

If you don't want your root domain to redirect to the WWW version or are setting up a subdomain skip this step.



Step 4: Save the Settings in Blogger

Before moving back to Blogger wait for an hour or so for the records to be applied. You can then go back to Blogger Settings > Publishing > Blog Address and click the Save button.

The error should disappear and your domain/subdomain should be displayed as the blog address now. If the changes are not saved wait for another hour or so before attempting to save the changes again.

If you set up the A records that are needed to redirect your root domain mark the checkbox that says Redirect example.co.ke to www.example.co.ke then Save your settings.


Just below the Blog Address settings I'd recommend you activate HTTPS so that your blog is accessed securely by your visitors. After the request is processed you can activate the HTTPS redirect so that your blog is accessed securely only via HTTPS.

So that's it. If you still encounter difficulties setting up your domain leave a comment below. You can also save yourself the trouble and just pay me to do all these for you :-)

How to Redirect Blogger Custom Domain using Cloudflare

Using your own domain with Blogger has its benefits but has one major drawback: if you decide to change the domain name, redirecting it to the new domain address will present a challenge since Blogger doesn't support external redirects.

Fortunately, we can still redirect the domain by setting up a URL Redirect record in the DNS Manager provided by your domain registrar. If done correctly this will redirect all pages including the home page, static pages and post pages.

This will preserve the internal and external links saving you the trouble of updating them manually. The URL redirect is also a 301-redirect meaning search engines such as Google will get the signal that the pages its linking to have moved permanently to that domain, and hence retain your current ranking.

But there's a catch: this will only work on HTTP. Why?



Redirecting HTTPS Custom Domain to HTTPS

Well, this is because the URL redirect record available in your DNS Manager will only accept your domain in HTTP since you most likely haven't bought an SSL certificate for it from your registrar.

Blogger already provides free HTTPS through Let's Encrypt so buying an SSL Certificate for this task is rather unnecessary.

I know this all too well after recently running into this exact situation while trying to redirect a blog of mine that's using a domain hosted on Namecheap to a new domain I had bought with a local registrar.


Nevertheless, if your internal links are in HTTPS and Google search is set to use the HTTPS as the preferred version in Search Console as it was my case, this will prove unavoidable.

I couldn't even get Search Console's Change of Address tool to accept my new address since the secure version couldn't redirect to the new domain. As a workaround I submitted the change using the HTTP version and it accepted but all my indexed links were in HTTPS so this proved unhelpful.



Redirect Domain Using Cloudflare's Page Rules

Now here's where Cloudflare comes in. Cloudlfare not only provides a free SSL certificate but also allows you to set up a forwading URL page rule that will allow you to redirect your secure domain to another domain.

And it gets better: you can do all this using their free account which restricts you to one domain. Here's how to go about it.


Step 1: Add Your Domain to Cloudflare

1. Go to Cloudflare and sign up for a new account.

2. Add your site or rather the domain you'll be redirecting e.g. journeybytes.com.

3. Cloudflare will then check your current DNS Records so that it can import them for you. Click Next to continue.

4. Select the Free Plan then click the confirm button to proceed.

5. Next confirm that Cloudflare has imported your DNS records correctly. If any records are missing (CNAME or A Records) add them manually. In my case I had to add the CNAME records for some of my subdomains manually.
dns records
Imported DNS Records

The records you need to make sure are added are those Blogger generated for you while setting up your custom domain. They included two CNAMEs and optionally the 4 A Records needed to redirect your naked domain to the WWW version:
  • CNAME: www (or subdomain) pointing to ghs.google.com
  • CNAME: unique record pointing to x.googlehosted.com   
  • A Record: 216.239.32.21
  • A Record: 216.239.34.21
  • A Record: 216.239.36.21
  • A Record: 216.239.38.21

Click the Continue when you're done.

6. In the next page Cloudflare will provide you with two Nameservers. You'll have to change the Nameservers provided by your Domain Registrar in your Dashboard.
Cloudflare's Nameservers
Update to Cloudflare's Nameservers

If you don't know how select the I need help changing my nameservers link to get step by step instructions for specific registrars. Click Continue when you're done updating the nameservers.

7. You'll now have to wait a couple of hours or up to 24 hours for the DNS change to take effect. Once the DNS is active your domain will be listed as Active when you log into your account.
domain active
Domain Active on Cloudflare

Otherwise you can use the Recheck now button available in the Overview page to query the status manually every hour.


Step 2: Activate SSL

1. Go to the Crypto tab and check your SSL Status.

If you were already using HTTPS on Blogger, which I assume is the case, you'll find the status set at Full and the status reading: Universal SSL Status - Active Certificate
ssl status
SSL Status for Domain

Leave as it is a go to the next step.



Step 3: Redirect Your Domain Using URL Forwading Page Rule

1. In your Cloudflare dashboard select the Page Rules tab and click the Create Page Rule button
page rules
Page Rules tab

2. In the URL box enter your blog's address e.g. www.yourdomain.com/. However since we need to redirect all pages and not just the we'll have to use a wildcard that will catch all URLs from our blog.

To do this just add an asterisk at the end of your address so you've something like this:
  • For a domain: www.yourdomain.com/*
  • For a naked domain: yourdomain.com/*
  • For a subdomain: blog.yourdomain.com/*

3. Below Click Add a Setting and select Forwarding URL.
Forwading URL Rule
Select Forwading URL Rule

4. In the Status code select 301 - Permanent Address and in the destination URL enter the full address to the domain you're redirecting your blog to. e.g. https://www.newdomain.com/

Since we need the new address to land to all pages and not just the homepage we'll also have to use a wildcard here. To do that add $1 to the end of the URL so that you’ve something like this:
https://www.newdomain.com/$1

4. Click the Save and Deploy button and that's it.


Your redirect should work immediately after doing this. The only other thing you might want to do after this is to add your new domain in Search Console then submit a Change of Address for your old domain so that Google can index and retain your current ranking.

How to Convert Animated GIFs to Videos in Windows

Animated GIFs are often nowadays used across the web as a video format despite being an image format designed for short animations. This is thanks to their ability to play on almost all browsers without the need for plugins as its the case with videos.

A downside however to using GIFs this way is that their compression is not meant for videos and thus results in large GIF sizes for few seconds of runtime. Add to this GIFs with large dimensions (resolution) and the size is further ballooned.

Fortunately, it's possible to convert animated GIFs to video. This way you can post a video of the GIF in sites such as Instagram which don't have native support for GIF.

Most video converters out there however don't support GIF as an input format and will often throw an error if you try loading them. In their place we instead have a handful of online GIF to video converters.

If you have reservations using these online converters I've got a neat offline solution for you: it's called VirtualDub.



Convert Animated GIF to Video using VirtualDub

virtualdub with a gif
GIF Opened in VirtualDub

VirtualDub is a free open source video editor that has the ability to load and edit GIFs. While this feature is more geared to exporting videos to animated GIFs it handles the reverse equally competently. Here's how to:

1. Download the latest VirtualDub. Extract the package and open the program by running VirtualDub.exe.

TIP:
  • VirtualDub is only available for Windows but you can get it to run on Linux using Wine.

2. Open your GIF by dragging and dropping it inside VirtualDub's window or by going to File > Open Video file...

3. Now just press F7 or go to File > Save as AVI...

TIP:
  • If you only need a section of the GIF, edit the GIF using the mark in and mark out button to indicate the beginning and end of the video respectively before saving to video.
Mark in out buttons
Mark In & Mark Out Buttons

4. That will open the Save dialog window. Give your video a file name and click on the Save button. VirtualDub should convert your GIF to AVI in a matter of seconds.



Convert Animated GIF to MP4, MKV or Other Video Formats

AVI is not exactly a common video format nowadays so I take some of you may prefer to save the GIFs in a different format like MP4 or MKV. VirtualDub however only supports saving videos in AVI format.

Nevertheless, there's a couple of things you can do to get past this limitation:


Option 1: Convert Saved AVI

This is the most obvious choice: just use a video converter such as Handbrake to convert the exported AVI to any other format. If you want to avoid this additional conversion check option 2 below.


Option 2: Use VirtualDub2

VirtualDub2 (formerly VirtualDub FilterMod) is an offshoot of the original VirtualDub but with extra features built in. It's also being updated unlike VirtualDub that hasn't gotten any updates in the past few years.

One such extra feature is the ability to decode and encode videos in x264/H264, x265, VP8/VP9 and other formats. You can use these codecs to save your GIF in MP4, MKV, MOV and WebM formats as follows:

1. Run VirtualDub2 and follow the steps for VirtualDub above (the interface are similar) then save the file by going to File > Save as... or pressing F7.

2. In the save dialog select the video format to use in the save as type drop down list e.g. MP4 (MPEG-4 part 14)
select video format
Select Video Format

3. Just below in the Video compression section click the Change button then select a compatible codec for the format chosen.
change video codec
Change Video Codec

For example:
  • MP4 - use any of the x264/H264 or x265 codecs
  • MKV - you can use any codec
  • WebM - use the FFMPEG/VP8 or FFMPEG/VP9 codecs
  • MOV - use the x264 or FFMPEG/Apple ProRes (codec pro)

4. Click OK then the Save button to start the conversion.


Option 3: Use External Encoders

You can get the original VirtualDub to save to MP4 and some other formats by configuring it to use external decoders. The process may however prove a bit complicated for some of you in which case I recommend you just stick to VirtualDub2.

To do this, first follow the instructions provided in this post to set up FFMpeg.exe as an external decoder: you'll need to load the script provided, download FFMpeg for Windows then point VirtualDub to its location.
ffmpeg encoder
Save to MP4 using FFMpeg Encoder

After doing this you should be able to save to MP4 or MOV by going to File > Export > Using external encoder... and choosing one of the three encoders as shown above.

How to Make Animated GIFs from Videos Using VirtualDub

VirtualDub is a free and open source video editing/processing utility for Windows that has stood the test of time thanks to its versatility.

One of the lesser known functions of VirtualDub is that it can quickly make animated GIFs from videos and even convert GIFs back to videos. This coupled with its editing functions not only gives you more control but also opens the door for some creative possibilities through the use of filters.

A known limitation of VDub however is that it supports videos in AVI format only. Fortunately, we can get around this limitation by using a plugin. This way you can create your GIFs form a variety of video formats including MP4, MKV and WebM without having to worry about converting them to AVI first.

On the other hand if you fancy the idea of using a video player to quickly make your GIFs you can using PotPlayer or GOM Player.



Exporting Videos to Animated GIF using VirtualDub

First download and install the latest version of VirtualDub for Windows. If you're using a Linux distribution you may be able to run VDub using Wine.

After installing, follow the steps below:


Step 1: Install Virtualdub FFMpeg Input Plugin

This plugin will enable you to open different types of video formats in VirtualDub including the most common of all: MP4.

Download the plugin from SourceForge and install. During installation you'll be prompted choose the folder where VirtualDub is installed. Choose the folder where you extracted VirtualDub (it doesn't have to be inside Program Files).


Step 2: Create the GIF from Entire Video

1. Launch the program by running VirtualDub.exe.

2. Press Ctrl+O or go to File > Open video file... and select the video you wish to make the GIF from. You can also open a video by dragging and dropping the video inside VirtualDub’s window.

3. If you're making the GIF from the entire video just go to File > Export and select Animated GIF...
Otherwise check Step 3 below on how to cut the video first.

4. You'll next be prompted to select the Output folder and the GIF's loop behaviour. You can choose amongst:
  • Play Once - will loop only once
  • Infinite Loop - will loop endlessly until file is closed
  • Loop Count - allows you can define the number of loops e.g. 3

5. Click OK once you're done then give VirtualDub some few seconds to generate the GIF.



Step 3: Create the GIF from a Segment of the Video

If you need to make the GIF from a specific section of the video do the following:

1. Once you've loaded the video, drag the seek bar using your mouse to where you want the GIF to start then click the Mark in button to indicate that as the beginning.
Mark in out buttons
Mark In & Mark Out Buttons

TIPS
  • You can also seek using the left/right arrow keys
  • To jump to key frames, hold down the SHIFT key then use the left/right arrow keys

2. Seek to where the GIF will end then click the Mark out button.

3. Now just go to File > Export and select Animated GIF... and select the Output folder and the GIF's loop settings.


Resizing the GIF's Output Dimensions

By default, VirtualDub will use the resolution of the input video for the exported GIF. So if you input video has a resolution of 1280x720 or higher so will be your GIF!

That's clearly not practical as it will result in a large GIF for what amounts to a few seconds of playtime. To avoid this, we can resize the video using VirtualDub before exporting to GIF. Here's how to:

1. After loading the video press Ctrl+F or on go to Video > Filters

2. Click the Add... button then select the Resize filter from the list and select OK
resize filter
Select Resize filter

3. In the Resize filter window enter the new dimensions for the GIF in the Absolute pixels boxes and click OK.

You can also define the new size as percentage of the current size by resizing using the Relative (%) option. For instance, inputting 50% will resize a 1280x720 video to 640x360
resize by pixels or percentage
Resize by Pixels or Percentage

4. Click OK to close the Filters window then export your Animated GIF as explained above.



I Want To Make A Perfectly Square GIF

Most videos generally have longer widths than heights so if you need to make a Square GIF you'll have to letterbox the video during the resizing explained above.

This will allow you to put the GIF inside a square box which will preserve the video's image without distortion. e.g. to resize a 1280x720 video to a 400x400 GIF you may do the following:

1. In the Absolute pixels set the width to 400

2. Under Framing Options, enable the Letterbox/crop to size option and set its dimensions to 400x400
square gif
Square GIF Settings

3. You can then optionally choose to use a different color from Black for the letterbox by clicking the Pick color... button

4. Click OK then export your Animated GIF as explained above.


More Filters You Can Use

VirtualDub has many more internal and external filters that you can further use to customize your GIF to your liking.

Since I can't cover all of them here, try using the Resize filter as a guide to test some other simple filters like:
  • rotate - rotates video around 90° or 180°
  • rotate2 - rotates video using user defined angles
  • logo - adds an image overlay on the video
  • grayscale - converts video to grayscale
  • threshold - converts video to black & white
  • invert - inverts video's colors
  • HSV Adjust - tweaks the videos colors, saturation and brightness

There are also plenty of tutorials online should you wish to use some external filters or carry out more advanced tasks. Cheers!

How to Make Animated GIFs from Videos Using GOM Player

Making animated GIFs from videos shouldn't be neither stressful nor take a lot of your time. In my previous article we saw how to do just this using PotPlayer's GIF recording feature.

While not as feature rich as PotPlayer, GOM player does likewise include an option to create animated GIFs from videos its playing. This way you don't have to worry about using video editors or image editing software to create the GIF.



Capture Playing Video to Animated GIF using GOM Player


1. Download and install GOM Player for Windows if you're yet to.

2. Open the video you wish to create a GIF from using GOM Player. The player supports all popular video formats including MP4, WebM, AVI, MKV, MOV, WMV etc.

3. Seek the video to the position you wish the animated GIF to begin and pause.

4. Press CTRL+SHIFT+C to start recording the GIF. Press the same key combination to stop the recording.

5. Now just check the GOM Player Capture folder that's located inside: My Documents\GOMPlayer\Capture You should find the recorded GIF saved there.



Configuring the Animated GIF Output

If you're not in a hurry, you can fine tune the animated GIF output settings before starting the capture. To do that:

1. Open the Advanced Screen Capture window by pressing CTRL+G or by right-clicking inside GOM player and selecting Video > Advanced Screen Capture
Advanced Screen Capture
Advanced Screen Capture Window

2. Start by configuring the Output Ratio which is basically the resolution size of the animated GIF.

Selecting Original resolution will use the playing video's resolution while selecting Video Aspect ratio/ Playback resolution will use the resolution from the adjusted playback window size.

Take note when using Original resolution with high resolution videos (HD e.g. 720p, 1080p) as they will output large GIFs for few seconds of animation time.

Use instead the Video Aspect ratio then adjust the playback window to a size below 640x480 (GOM player indicates the size while resizing)


3. Next configure the frames per second, the size in Megabytes (MB) and animation time (length) in seconds to limit the GIF output.

4. Once you're done, move this window out of view and seek the video to the position you wish to start the recording.

5. Play the video and immediately click the Animation GIF Starts button to start the recording. The video will automatically stop recording once the configured limits are reached.
capturing gif
Capturing GIF in Progress

NOTE:
  • The Size Limit setting overrides the Animation Time. That is to mean if the size limit is reached the recording will be stopped even if the configured animation time hasn't been completed.
  • The recording is likewise stopped if the Animation time is completed before the size limit is reached.
  • As such use a larger output size limit when recording longer durations or videos with high resolutions.

6. Click the Open Directory... button to view your recorded GIF.


Quality of the Animated GIF

The quality of the animated GIF produced by GOM player is not the best looking. It's however comparable to that produced by PotPlayer.

For better results you could try using VirtualDub's Export to GIF option which for some reason makes far better looking animated GIFs from the same video.

Being a video editor, it will also allow you to acccurately define the length of your GIFs by trimming not to mention it include a variety of filters that can customize how your GIF looks.

How to Make Animated GIFs from Videos Using PotPlayer

Animated GIFs offer a flexible and convenient way to share short clips on the web. Unlike videos, GIFs are compatible with most browsers and are comparatively much lighter on system resources.

While it's easy to get GIFs to play on whichever device you may be on, making them is a completely different story. Depending on your source media, you may be required to use a complex image editing software like Photoshop or a video editor should you be dealing with video.

In the case of video, you can save yourself the trouble of cutting clips and converting to animated GIFs by using PotPlayer. This versatile video player can automatically generate a GIF from the video source it's playing in one simple step hence saving you plenty of time. Here's how to go about it.



Record a Playing Video to a GIF using PotPlayer

1. Download and install PotPlayer for Windows if you're yet to.

2. Open the video you wish to extract a GIF from using PotPlayer. The player supports virtually all video formats and codecs out of the box including MP4, WebM, AVI, MKV, MOV, WMV, OGV, MPEG, DVD etc.

3. Seek the video to the position you wish the animated GIF to begin and pause.

TIP:
  • For finer seeking, you can jump by seconds or key frames using the left and right arrow keys. To adjust the jump duration, go to Settings (F5) > Playback > Time Jump

4. Next press ALT+C to launch the Video Recorder window.

5. Under File Format settings click the drop down box and set the output format to GIF.
gif settings
Output to GIF

The only other things you may want to adjust is the output Size (resolution) of the GIF. By default, PotPlayer uses the Original size meaning the GIF resolution will be similar to that of the playing video.

This may not be practical for high resolution videos (e.g. 720p, 1080p) as the GIF will be very large in size for a few seconds of playtime. Set it to something below 640x480.

6. Click the Start button then on the playing window resume your video by pressing the play button.

NOTE:
  • You may get an Unable to capture audio! error if the playing video has no audio stream. Ignore this error; GIFs don't carry an audio stream.
no audio error
Ignore Audio Capture Error


7. Let it record for the duration you want the GIF to last then press Stop in the Video Recorder window.
stop recording
Stop Recording GIF

8. Now just click the Open Storage Folder button to view the recorded GIF.



Quality of the Animated GIF

You may notice the quality of the animated GIF is not that really good and actually appears somewhat pixelated. Increasing the bitrate in the video recorder settings will have no effect on the quality. This is however not because of the video player per se but is merely a limitation of the GIF format.

The GIF format wasn't designed for videos but short animations. It's also limited to only 256 colors explaining the rather "washed out" quality of the GIFs.

A remedy to these shortcomings is the relatively new "format" called GIFV that was introduced by Imgur. The site even by converts by default all uploaded GIFs weighing above 2MB to GIFV.

GIFV is however neither a GIF nor a new format and is merely a video file (MP4 or WebM) with a different extension that is made to appear as an animated GIF by looping, removing video controls and removing the audio.

You should therefore not expect the quality of your animated GIFs to be comparable to that of GIFVs.

With that said, I've gotten far much better looking GIFs when making the same animated GIFs using VirtualDub while GOM Player produces animated GIFs with a quality no diffferent to that PotPlayer.

I haven't quite figured out what VirtualDub is doing differently as the GIF size is comparable to those produced by the players so should you not be pleased with their results I highly recommend giving it a try.

Besides the improved quality, it has a video editor and filters enabling you to trim and customize the look of your GIFs.