Sunday, March 7, 2010

Starting or Improving a Blog

Every year we're inundated with statistics from sources like Technorati, Forrester and others that the number of blogs continues to grow. Whether you are an administrator of multiple blogs or looking to create your first one we can all rally around the idea that we want to make a blog the best it can be. There are a number of factors that go into making a blog great:
  • Content
  • Personality
  • Engagement with the community
  • Interaction points
  • Design
Before getting into all of this, the creation of the blog has to take place. The vast majority of people create their blogs on platforms that center around blogs, which include Blogger, Word Press, TypePad and others. Other people create their blogs on platforms that may not necessarily be 100% blog-centric, like Weebly or Wix. Still others, who are more experienced will code their blogs from scratch and use a separate hosting service.

Since this blog is hosted on Google's Blogger platform, as are millions of others, I will be talking about some of my favorite Blogger templates, widgets and plug-ins.

Google offers some basic templates for a blog upon its creation. These are standard templates that can get the job done, but can easily be replaced if you are looking for something a little more unique or aesthetically pleasing.

There are a number of fantastic resources out there that have pre-made Blogger templates and directions in how to apply them to your blog:
To help narrow down the the amount of templates you will be browsing through, you should first think about how many columns you would like on your blog. The post section of the blog counts as one column, each column after that is a side bar. Having only two columns will give you more room for larger widgets in the sidebar and potentially a cleaner look, but if you want to incorporate a number of widgets it means that most will be below the scroll. Three and four column widgets allow for more widgets to be above the scroll, but can limit the width of any widget you would want to include. You will have to weigh these factors and others when deciding what layout you want.

Keep in mind that you can try a template out and if you don't like it after uploading the code to your blog can always change to another.

The conversation about columns brings us to widgets, gadgets and plug-ins. Blogger offers some standard widgets that can be applied to your blog with a single click. These might include:
  • Post archive
  • Tags/Labels
  • Basic Text
  • HTML box
  • Slideshow
  • RSS feed
  • Followers
These are all very important to the success of a blog, but you should look beyond the Blogger offerings to find other extremely helpful options. Maybe you want a tag cloud instead of a list, or a video slide show, or box displaying your LinkedIn updates, or a stream of headlines from the New York Times. Without question, you should add "share" icons to your blog so readers can proliferate the posts on their social networks, as well as through e-mail and bookmarking tools.

Again, there are great sites and posts dedicated to showing you the best widgets and plug-ins for your blog:
Hopefully this will help provide some links to resources that can help you create or improve your blog. If you're having trouble installing a theme, widget, plug-in or anything else just shoot me a note and I'll see if I can help. I know there is a tremendous amount more we could talk about with regards to improving a blog so if you have notes that you would like to share with everybody please leave a comment.
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Who? Why?

Social media often becomes a rat race. Who has the newest technology? Who has the most friends or followers? This blog is designed to slow it down a little and remind people that at its core, social media is about relationships and conversations.

Jake Rosen
Managing Supervisor, Fleishman-Hillard

The content on this site reflects my own opinions and not necessarily those of my employer.


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