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Display More Than 5 Recent Posts in Blogger Sidebar

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One method of helping new readers read more content from your blog is to add a “recent posts” widget to the sidebar. Blogger users can do this easily by adding a “feed widget” using the default feed URL (eg: http://yourblog.blogspot.com/feeds/posts/default). However, this will only return the 5 most recent posts at most; Blogger doesn’t (yet) support the ability to display a greater number of entries.

Many Blogger users would prefer to display more than 5 recent posts in their sidebar, and indeed there have been requests for an article explaining how to do this on Blogging Tips and my own Blogger site.

So in this post I’ll outline three different methods you could use to display more than 5 recent posts in your Blogger sidebar, so you can choose the method which seems most suitable for you.

Use Feedburner’s BuzzBoost

If you burn your blog feeds through Feedburner, you can easily republish entries from your blog feed as HTML which can be displayed in a widget in your sidebar, like this:

Feedburner Buzzboost

Using BuzzBoost, you can choose to add any number of recent posts to your widget, include the favicon of your blog, a snippet of each post (a post summary), and also alter the date format.

To use BuzzBoost to add a recent posts widget to your Blogger sidebar, you must already use Feedburner to syndicate your Blogger feeds (here are four great reasons why Blogger users should do this). Then log into your Feedburner dashboard and select the blog for which you would like to activate BuzzBoost.

On this page, click on the “Publicize” tab which is near the top of the page, then look in the left sidebar to find the BuzzBoost link:

BuzzBoost Screenshot

On the BuzzBoost page, you will see the many options you can use to configure your recent posts widget. These options are pretty self-explanatory, but the most important thing for you to do is activate your BuzzBoost widget by clicking on the appropriate button at the bottom of the page.

Once you have activated (or saved) the settings for your widget, you will notice a new code box appears which contains the JavaScript code used to display your recent posts; to use this, simply copy the code and paste this into an HTML/JavaScript widget in your Blogger layout page.

You could also choose to add this as a new widget in Blogger, which generates a simple widget installer and adds this automatically to your Blogger layout. This is by far the simplest method: simply choose Blogger from the options in the drop-down menu, and follow the prompts to add this to your layout.

In either case, the widget will display your recent posts widget to match any other list elements in your sidebar.

For example, if you use a dark background and pale text, your BuzzBoost widget will be styled accordingly.

Use Beautiful Beta’s Recent Posts Widget

Hans of Beautiful Beta has developed “recent posts” widget which is easy to both configure and set-up.

Using this method, you can add a recent posts widget which features a short summary of your post, and can choose how many entries you would like to display.

To install the Beautiful Beta recent posts widget, head over to the widget installation page and click on the “Add Recent Posts” button.

Beautiful Beta Recent Posts Widget

A pop-up page will appear which includes all of the options you can choose to configure for your widget.

Alter the widget title and add your blog URL in the appropriate boxes. Then choose of you would prefer to display a summary of your posts (if so, the length in characters of the summary you wish to display).

Once you have finished setting your options, click on the “Customize” button (which saves your settings) then the “Add to my blog” button will be highlighted, which takes you to the widget installation page for your Blogger blog.

From here it’s simply a matter of following the prompts, which will install this widget to your Blogger sidebar in literally seconds!

Make a Widgetbox Blidget

While “Blidget” may seem a rather silly name for a blog feature, this is actually a very useful tool!

A “Blidget” is similar to the above two methods as it republishes your Blogger feed as HTML and allows you to display recent entries within a sidebar widget, like this:

Of course, not many of you will choose to use a funky leopard-print background for your Blidget, but you can choose to add your blog’s logo, customize the appearance and also include a summary of you choose…

To create your free Blidget, simply visit the Blidget creation page over at Widgetbox and enter your blog’s URL (this doesn’t need to be your feed URL). Then press “continue”.

On the following page, Widgetbox will have parsed your blog page to discover the feed URL automatically. Then you can choose how you would like your widget to display, including the size, number of posts, and even whether to display the first image of each post inside the entry (which is craftily scaled to fit the width of your Blidget).

Once all the settings are to your preference, click on the Continue link near the bottom of the page. If you are already a member of Widgetbox, you will be prompted for your username and password. If you are not a member, here you can sign up for a free account there and then.

Once you’re signed in, you will be able to click on the “Get Widget” link in the left sidebar. This will open up a pop-up page which contains JavaScript code you could add to an HTML/JavaScript widget in your Blogger layout.

Even simpler, you could simply click on the Blogger button on this page, which will take you through Blogger’s simple widget installation system to add your Blidget automatically to your sidebar:

Install Blidget

Using any of these three different methods you can add more than 5 recent posts to your Blogger sidebar, which may encourage new readers to read other articles you have written.

There are many other methods you could use to add a list of recent posts to your Blogger sidebar, but for me these are the most useful three. Do you use a different service to display a list of your most recent posts? If so, please let us know about this by leaving your comments below.

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Amanda is a freelance blogger and web/blog designer. She writes about Blogger at www.BloggerBuster.com and maintains several other blogs on various subjects.

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7 Habits That Can Make You a More Efficient Blogger

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Starting a blog is exciting, whether you’re using it as an extension to promote your current business or you’re just trying to maintain the blog as a personal endeavor. In any case, part of your success will depend on your ability to write new blog posts at an efficient rate; if you aren’t producing new blog posts fast enough, your audience could lose interest in your content. Similarly, if it takes you too long to write a new blog post, your profitability is going to decrease.

The solution is to focus on improving your efficiency as a blogger, so you can accomplish more in less time and end up with more raw content as a result.  

The Best Habits to Improve Your Efficiency

These are some of the best habits to improve your efficiency as a blogger:

  1. Dress professionally. If you’re working from home or blogging in your free time, you’ll be tempted to wear the most comfortable clothes and lounge in the living room while writing. But if you want to be successful and work efficiently, it’s much better to dress professionally and establish a professional work area. The idea is to treat your blog work like it’s your job. You’ll take your work more seriously, and you’ll be less inclined to follow distractions. It may also change how you think about your work and how you approach problem-solving.
  2. Practice good hygiene. While you’re at it, make sure to practice good hygiene—especially if blogging is your full-time job. The most obvious habit here is to shower regularly, but you’ll also want to keep your clothes clean, take good care of your environment, or as 14K Gold Teeth suggests, clean accessories like custom gold grillz. You’ll feel more professional in your environment and will have less clutter to distract you.
  3. Stick to a routine. Routines are vital for improving your efficiency. They help you establish consistent processes, which you can follow to save time and refine your habits. They give you something predictable to work with, so you aren’t scrambling to figure out what to work on next. They also reinforce your most productive habits, so you can continue working without thinking too much about it—in other words, they’re procrastination-busters.
  4. Set a strict schedule. While you’re developing your routine, try to create and stick to a strict schedule. For example, you might set a timer for one hour to read the latest news, a half hour designated to preparing an outline, and another hour to finish your full first draft. These temporal limitations help you avoid Parkinson’s law, which states that the amount of time it takes to do a task will swell to fill whatever amount of time is allotted to it; in other words, the tighter you set your timetables, the more efficiently you’ll be motivated to work.
  5. Keep an editorial calendar. Create a high-level editorial calendar as early as possible, and stick to it the best you can. This will help you ensure your high-level goals and priorities never fall out of your sight, and make sure you never run out of work. Set target dates for drafting and publication, so you’re always working toward something, and jot down your new topic ideas whenever you get them.
  6. Stay organized. This should go without saying, but the vast majority of new bloggers suffer from not being organized. They read new material that could serve as inspiration for a new post, but lose the original article. They set goals for themselves, but forget them or change them too frequently for them to take effect. Create a system for taking notes and keeping track of your high-level priorities, and stick to it.
  7. Keep reading on a regular basis. Reading is one of the best ways to consistently and reliably improve your writing, so make time for it in your schedule. Reading work like yours can help you generate new ideas, improve your vocabulary, and increase your fluency, so you can write faster.

Learning and Improving

It’s a good idea to track your time while working on blog-related tasks. It will allow you to gather data on your productivity habits, and ideally, see how they improve over time. If there’s a particular task that takes up a disproportionate amount of your time, you can drop it or focus specifically on improving it. If you notice a strategy is making you more efficient in one or more areas, you can use it more frequently or apply it to different areas.

In any case, the real secret to becoming a more efficient blogger is committing to improve over time. Pay attention to how your habits develop, and continually refine your approach.

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Oh, Now I Get It! How to Explain Complex Topics to Your Audience

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Technical writers have a great number of skills, but perhaps the most important is the ability to adapt your language to the level of comprehension your audience has. A highly technical and complex article can overwhelm readers or even bore them.

“But it’s impossible to delight my readers and keep them engaged when I’m talking about the

IEEE 802.11ac principle of broadband technology,” We hear you cry. And, we get it. Turning a technical article into a sexy piece of content can feel like a daunting task, but it’s not mission impossible.

Here are a few content creation tips that will help you explain complex topics to your audience in a delightful manner.

Imagine That You Are Explaining the Subject to a Non-Tech-Savvy Friend

One of the most important things when creating technical content for a more broad audience is consistency. So, as much as possible try to use the same tone, level of knowledge, complexity of vocabulary, and so on. The easiest way to calibrate your writing style is to imagine that you are writing for a friend or a relative that has nothing to do with your area of expertise.

Imagine you are trying to explain a particularly complex topic to them, in a friendly and light discussion. How would you approach the subject? What elements you think would bore or frustrate them?

What helps you in the real world is adapting your style and vocabulary to the other person’s knowledge. You know that you don’t have to explain what an Internet browser does, but you might have to tell them more about the coding behind it when discussing responsive web design, for instance. Use common words and keep them engaged with a lighter, friendly style.

Adapt Your Vocabulary and Structure

Let’s take a look at how you can flip your technical writing to be more approachable. First of all: use concepts that your audience is familiar with or at least has a general idea about them.

A good start is to check what search words visitors use when browsing your website. You will identify commonly used terms that are related to the technology that interests them. Use those keywords yourself to keep visitors on your page.

Also, be careful about the structure of the text when writing online, especially when you are trying to explain something complex. Make sure to split your text into readable chunks. You can also help the reader understand the subject better by using titles and subtitles to separate the main ideas of your article.

Build up the Knowledge of Your Audience, from General to Detailed

Once you have established a common language and vocabulary between you and your target audience, start methodically presenting your topic, from general level information to more detailed aspects. Applying this rule will help you readers understand the topic better without wasting too much time. Online readers tend to ignore content that is, irrelevant or hard to understand.

While it is important to get the basics straight before getting deeper into your subject, make sure to summarize the purpose of your article at the very beginning, as it will let your audience know what they will learn about after going through it.

Use Style Tools That Help Your Audience Relate to the Topic

The fun part of writing about technical topics for a general audience is getting creative with it. Because you can’t use the “boring,” “stiff” technical jargon, you must come up with expressive comparisons, examples, and analogies. You can even evoke anecdotal evidence to support the facts since they are highly relevant for many of the users.

Helping them relate to the topic you are writing about is the key to grabbing their attention. Use day to day examples for the systems and processes you are describing, or mention the best-known similar thing. Give them examples of possible situations when they can come across the topic you are writing about and enable them to talk about it themselves.

Ultimately, is all about correctly identifying the level of knowledge your audience has. Encourage them to comment and ask any questions and keep the conversations alive.

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IT Management Solutions: What is the Key to Improving Employee Efficiency?

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There are many ways you can improve your employees’ efficiency. From decluttering the workspace to encouraging a stress-free environment, there is a whole range of things you can do to make your work life run smoother. One such technique you need to adopt for your company is an IT management solution.

What Does It Do?

An IT management solution such as SysAid takes all of the day-to-day programs that a business will use and consolidates them into one easy-to-use package. Every employee should be able to log on and complete all their work without having to leave the initial program.

It can contain such subsections as project management, customer relationship management, billing and invoicing, and a whole host of other features.

Why Should Employers Implement Such a Solution?

A system such as this allows managers to have better visibility over the company as a whole. They will be able to tell if an employee is completing their daily tasks to the best of their ability and will also allow them to see where they are lacking.

The data from the completion of these daily tasks can easily be tracked and analyzed to see where employees are struggling with efficiency. With some adjustments, efficiency can then be improved in these areas.

Project Management

One of the key reasons to install an IT management solution is for the project management aspects. A good project management program lets all employees know where they are with their projects at all times. Whether you are just working on the project or a project manager, you will be able to see the stage that the project is at and all the steps and processes that still need to be completed.

This collaborative nature helps improve speed and efficiency and stops the project becoming grounded in a lack of communication. If you are not yet using a project management system, you will notice that many small but important problems like misuse of resources will be greatly reduced.

Customer Relationship Management

By having your customer service staff use one portal for all their needs, you will see a great improvement in efficiency when it comes to handling customer enquiries. An IT management solution can contain a database with all your customer’s information. This means that if a case needs to be passed from one team member to another, there is little to no chance of any relevant information being lost in the transfer. Everything should be in place in the one database.

Invoicing and Billing

Keeping your various accounts and invoices in different places can lead to items being forgotten or double-charged. By using an IT management software, your managers and accountants will be able to successfully keep track of all costs and reduce unnecessary spending. This will improve efficiency as multiple enquires are not being made to complete invoices and other reports.

There are just some of the ways an IT management solution can improve your business. If you feel you need to improve your company’s efficiency, consider implementing one today.

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