While Blogger may not be seen as the most powerful blog management system, it certainly has a loyal following. Beginners and advanced users alike appreciate the simplicity of Blogger, the free hosting and ease of customization.
So for those of you who choose Blogger as your publishing platform, here is a selection of essential templates, tools and resources to help you build a better blog.
Free Blogger templates
There are two systems available for Blogger templates: the “Classic” HTML based templates, and the newer XML based “Layouts” templates.
Don’t know which style of template you are using? There’s a simple way to find out: if you have a layouts section in your Blogger dashboard where you can move widgets around, you’re using the XML based layouts templates. In cases where you have to edit the HTML to change the content of your sidebar, you’ll be using a “Classic” template.
For either template system, there are loads of great, free templates available to use. Here is a selection of some of the best resources, organized by template type:
- Blogger-Templates: A resource point for some of the best Blogger templates around, which also includes some tutorials for template modifications.
- Blog and Web: A great resource for decorative templates which have been converted from popular WordPress themes.
- SuckMyLolly: looking for some unique, feminine templates? The free selection from this site are as candy sweet as the name suggests!
- Better in Pink: A stylish selection of feminine designs.
- Final Sense: A huge selection of free templates available here, though these are often simpler and image based variations.
- Jackbook: Features a good selection of WordPress conversions. Jacky is also on a mission to showcase 365 templates from various authors over the next year.
- Zona Cerebral: this site features some of the most beautiful Blogger templates I have ever seen!
- Blogger Buster Designs: A selection of unique two and three column templates designed for Blogger.
Classic Blogger templates
- Isnaini: A huge selection of two column templates and unique designs
- BloggerTemplates.org: A small but great selection, including some which have ajax-powered menus
- Gecko and Fly: Original and highly functional templates with a professional appeal
- Blogger Templates by Caz: here you will find some useful and utterly beautiful templates!
- Templates for Blogger: Another useful selection of classic templates, featuring both professional layouts and zany designs.
- Pannasmontata Templates: Stylish and unique templates for free download.
- PsycHo: A free layout generator to create compliant classic templates with ease.
Looking for useful tools to enhance your blogging experience? Then look no further! Here is a selection of useful tools you could use for posting, publishing and customizing with Blogger:
- Blogger Mobile: Start a MoBlog, or post directly from your mobile phone
- Mail-to-Blogger: You can also post to your Blogger blog via email (great for iPhone users too)
- BlogThis! Bookmarklet: Have you ever found a post or site which you wanted to write about straight away? Install this nifty bookmarklet in your browser, and you can post with just one click.
- Blogger in Draft: Test the latest widgets and developments of Blogger before they are released to the public.
- Redirect your feeds through Feedburner: Now there’s no need to use auto-discovery tags to help visitors find your blog feeds. Simply redirect them through Feedburner with the one-click installation!
- Blog via Flickr: You can post your Flickr photos directly to your blog, and can even post directly from your camera phone (great for those whose mobile phone network is not covered by Blogger Mobile)
- Haloscan: By default, Blogger doesn’t allow you to send trackbacks when you post. By using the free service from Haloscan, you can send trackbacks to other blogs, and also display the trackbacks which have been sent to you. Other free features for Blogger users include external commenting and ratings systems for your blog posts.
- w.Bloggar: a free Windows based application which you can integrate with your Blogger blog to post remotely. One version allows you to install on a pen drive to post while you are away from home.
- Blogger for Word: Using this free download, you can publish to your blog, save drafts and edit posts from within Microsoft Word.
- Blogger Developers Network: Information for developers interested in creating applications, templates and widgets for the Blogger framework.
Useful widgets for Blogger layouts
Those who use the Blogger layouts system can now add widgets to their template with ease. Here are some of the most useful widgets for Blogger blogs:
- Recent comments: this widget is so easy to configure and install. Simply enter your the details for your blog, choose how many comments and the excerpt length to display, then click the button to add this widget to your blog!
- Recent posts: Display extracts of your most recent posts in your sidebar.
- Tag Cloud: now Blogger users can feature their categories in “Tag Cloud” form. Slightly more complicated than your average widget, but a great display once installed.
- Archive calendar widget: Fancy having a WordPress-style calendar in your sidebar which readers can click to read your post for the day? Phydeaux shows us how this is possible to achieve in Blogger too!
- Random post: Adds a link to your sidebar which, when clicked, will take your reader to a random post from your archives
- Table of contents: Use this widget to list all of your posts in an expandable widget above your content.
- Tab View widget: I love the widgets in some WordPress templates which allow you to view posts by category. Here Hoctro shows us a method which could be used to display your Blogger category posts in the same way.
- Simple search widget: add a search box to your sidebar for readers to easily find the content they need.
- Flickr Badge: Using this generator, you can easily create a photostream of your latest Flickr photos to display anywhere in your blog.
- Widgetbox: find a whole host of widgets here which can be quickly added to your blog layout.
- RockYou!: Social widgets, including noteboards, slideshows and talking avatars which can be used in Blogger blogs.
Yet more resources for Blogger!
For more general information about Blogger, you may want to take a look at some of these resources:
- Blogger Help: The official site for Blogger-related assistance
- Blogger Help Group: Ask questions and get help from other members of the Blogger community.
- Blogger Buzz: The official blog about Blogger, featuring news, recent features and noteworthy information for those using this platform.
- Blogger Status: Stay informed about developments, upgrades, outages and related issues.
- Known issues for Blogger: The latest news about Blogger problems, what’s getting fixed, and what’s been taken care of, direct from the Blogger team.
- Blogger Hacks Wiki: Want to find out if a particular hack is possible in Blogger? If it is, then most likely you’ll find it listed here.
7 Habits That Can Make You a More Efficient Blogger
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:
- 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.
- 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.
- 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.
- 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.
- 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.
- 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.
- 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.
Oh, Now I Get It! How to Explain Complex Topics to Your Audience
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.
IT Management Solutions: What is the Key to Improving Employee Efficiency?
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.
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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