Software goodies for bloggers
By Jay Dougherty Jun 17, 2006, 3:27 GMT
Washington - Blogs are everywhere these days. At last count, over 44 million blogs populated the Internet, with the number doubling every five months, according to Technorati, a U.S.-based blog-tracking site.
It's easy to see why blogs are growing exponentially. Thanks to sites like Google's Blogger.com (http://www.blogger.com), MSN Spaces (http://spaces.msn.com), and Yahoo 360 (http://360.yahoo.com), starting your own blog takes just a few clicks and about five minutes of your time.
Some people are using their blogs in traditional ways - to share thoughts, pictures, review movies, talk politics, or rant about whatever is bugging them. But the fact is that a blog is an instant personal website, ready for just about anything you'd like to use it for.
Join the blogging universe, though, and soon you'll find yourself wanting software tools that you've never needed before - programs that make updating your blog easier, for example, or applications that make finding other blogs and using information from sites around the Internet a breeze. Here are a few.
- Blogger for Word
There's good reason to start your blogging career with a service such as Google's Blogger (http://www.blogger.com/start). It's free and easy and removes most of the technical hurdles that might prevent you from getting your blog up and running in a hurry.
But there's one problem with Blogger: to create additional blog entries, you normally need to visit the site.
But there's hope. The relatively new Blogger for Word (http://buzz.blogger.com/bloggerforword.html) is a Microsoft Word add-in that lets you update your blog without ever leaving the comfort of the most popular word processor.
With Blogger for Word installed, you don't even need to open a browser to publish an entry into your blog. Just click a toolbar button, and you're done. The downside? Blooger for Word works only with blogs set up with the Blogger service.
When you sign up for a free blog space with Blogger or MSN Spaces, you get a variety of layout templates to choose from. If you want to move beyond the canned look of those pre-defined choices, however, it may be time to investigate the more powerful creation abilities of a tool such as WordPress.
WordPress (http://wordpress.org) is a full-fledged, open source (free) blog creation tool and editor. You can use the product on your own Web site and domain, following the detailed installation and usage instructions provided by the product's creator.
There are many reasons you might gravitate toward WordPress over the site creation tools provided by the major blogging sites. WordPress caters to the needs of serious bloggers, and therefore it has features that allow your blog to contain automatically-updated information from other sites, more easily attract readers, feature advertising, blog by e-mail, be creative with formatting, and much more.
Getting started with WordPress can be a bit too technical for some, however. That's why Blogsome (http://www.blogsome.com) was created. This website makes creating a blog as easy as it is with Blogger, but your blog hosted by Blogsome comes with a pre-installed version of the powerful WordPress. By default, ads appear on your Blogsome blog, but you can turn them off. Unfortunately, you can't collect any of the revenue from the ads if you leave them on - that's how Blogsome makes its money.
- Google's Adsense
If your blog ends up with a loyal following, why not make some money from your efforts? Google's popular Adsense (http://www.google.com/intl/en/ads) program allows you to do just that. Anyone can enroll in the Adsense program. Once enrolled, you follow instructions on how to copy code into your blog. The popular Blogger site make it especially easy to incorporate Adsense ads.
The beauty of Adsense is that the ads that Google feeds to your site are customised to its content. If in one blog entry you're talking about the latest blockbuster movie, the Adsense ads that appear on the page will likely be about movies - things your readers may be interested in knowing more about. When someone clicks on an ad, you make money. It's that simple. At the end of each month, Google sends you a cheque for the proceeds from your ads.
There's no better way to learn how to create a great blog than by viewing reading successful blogs. To keep up with the latest changes of all the blogs in your bookmark list, though, is a challenge. That's where Blogarithm (http://www.blogarithm.com) can help.
Blogarithm help you track changes made to blogs that your read. Whenever one of those blogs changes, you're alerted. You can also set up Blogarithm to alert you to changes on regular websites.
- Lots more blog tools
Tools to help you with blogging are mushrooming almost as quickly as blogs themselves. While there are several compilations of good blogging tools around, the Weblogs Compendium of Blog Tools (http://www.lights.com/Weblogs/tools.html), an alphabetized list of software tools and resources of use to bloggers, has to be one of the finest.
- Blogs on M&C
Monsters and Critics will shortly launch a blog section where we will carry a number of blogs associated with the various topics we cover. This is partly to enable some our staff little more freedom of expression and partly to provide an outlet for the many users who contact us wishing to contribute to the site. We hope this will enable us to provide readers with a wider range of opinions and cover some niche topics in more detail.
If you are interested in running your own blog within M&C please drop us a line (submissions dept and include "Blogs" in the subject) with details of your proposed topic, a little about yourself and a sample entry. There will be a financial incentive for bloggers, either based on revenue share, flat payment or an advert slot to do with as you wish...details will be announced shortly.© 2006 dpa - Deutsche Presse-Agentur