Blogging tools and tips

I’ve had some bloggers ask me about what kinds of tools I use to make blogging easier, more fun and less of a chore.  That being said, here are some of the tools and tips that I use:

Limit your topics on your posts. This is a biggie as it will help you to create content for your blog as well as keep you from encountering burnout and writer’s block.  There is no rule that says that every post must contain massive amounts of information.  Try to keep to one topic per post.  This will also help your readers as they will be able to locate useful information more easliy when searching through your posts.

Publish date controls.  In WordPress, and in many other blogging software applications, you can set the post date for an entry to anytime in the past or future.  If you find that you have many things you want to talk about, create more than one post.  Pick one of the topics to post right then and there, set the others to dates and times in the future.  That way, your blog will always be updated with new content and you can make more time for other things.

Use spam controls.  As you post more and your blog becomes more popular, you will become the target of spam.  This will drive you insane as you log into your blog and 96 of the 97 comments present are complete and total spam.  There are many plugins for WordPress and other blog applications to control spam.  I use WP-SpamFree (http://wordpress.org/extend/plugins/wp-spamfree).  It’s free, it works well.  I highly recommend it for all WordPress bloggers.

Blogroll management. If you look at the Links on my site, you will see that it’s a collaspable blogroll list.  I use a plugin called Enhanced Links (http://www.vincentprat.info/dev/wordpress-plugins/enhanced-links).  It makes it easy to present your blogroll as it sorts the links on your link categories.  Another nice tool.

Support PDA/iPhone devices.  It’s not very hard to get your blog formatted for viewing on PDA’s and iPhones.  There are many WordPress plugins for this.  I use WordPress PDA % iPhone (http://wordpress.org/extend/plugins/wp-pda),  It’s easy to setup, just upload it to your plugins directory and activate it.  All done.  It does everything for you.  It’s got to be the easiest way to add a whole segment of the techie audience to your blog.

Find a nice theme.  The built in theme in WordPress is good enogh to get you stated, but you should find a theme that fits your blog’s focus.  WordPress has many free themes that work for most people.  Of course, you can customize anything you find or make something from scratch.  Experiment, find that flavor that suits you.  It adds something to your site when you put your own touches on the design.

Share and share alike.  Many thanks to Mynxee (http://lifeinlowsec.blogspot.com) for this one.  It’s a social bookmarking service called AddThis (http://www.addthis.com).  If you look at the bottom left side of this post, you will see a button to bookmark and share this particular post with every social networking site on the net.  If you look at the top of my sidebar, there is another button to subscribe to the RSS feed for my site.  Both of these buttons came from AddThis.  They have a step by step wizard to create the buttons for your site and even tell you how to incorprate them into your blog with ease.  This I highly recommend.

Get Organized. Ever forget to do something important in a blog post?  Well, there is a really nice reminder tool plugin, Pre-Publish Reminders (http://wordpress.org/extend/plugins/pre-publish-reminders).  It allows you to setup a set list of reminders to do when posting an entry to your blog, things like check your spelling, check your publishing schedule, etc…

Another issue people run into is having a great idea and then forgetting it.  Wouldn’t it be nice if you had someplace to keep all those ideas in an organized fashion?  There is.  WP Project (http://wordpress.org/extend/plugins/wp-project) is a simple project management plug-in viewable from the admin dashboard.  From here, you can create projects, assign tasks to it.  So, create a project called entry ideas and assign tasks to that project for each idea you have.  You may find that this seems a bit formal, but it will help you to keep your thoughts and plans organized.

Protect your blog. This may sound like common sense, but you need to make sure that all your hard work is not lost.  Believe it or not, your hosting provider may not be able to recover your blog is something happens to the server.  Fortunately for WordPress users, there is a very nice plugin called BaclupWordpress (http://wordpress.org/extend/plugins/backupwordpress).  This makes backing up the SQL database that houses your blog very easy and automatic.  You can even have the backup files that it creates emailed to you.

Copyrights.  This can be a sensitive subject on the Internet as much of what exists on the net is considered public domain.  The reality is that you do have some say as how the content on your blog is used.  Creative Commons (http://creativecommons.org) has come up with a nice way to identify what kind of open license for your blog content you would like to use.  It may seem a bit much looking into this sort of thing, but honestly, it’s a good idea.  Who knows, your blog may have some content that could produce income for you.  You should do what you can to protect your interests.

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~ by J. Riley Castine on October 11, 2008.

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