By default, Blogger offers several options to encourage reader discussion of our blogs including: star ratings; reactions; polls (as sidebar widgets); comments and “Links to this post” (trackbacks). Despite this array of discussion options, you may find that certain needs for your individual blog are not addressed by these forms of blog discussion.
In this post, I’ll offer insight into several highly useful third party applications which can enhance reader discussion through your Blogger powered blog, along with links to useful tutorials and basic installation advice to help you add these options to your template.
Enhanced Commenting Systems
Although Blogger has improved the default commenting system by adding the ability to display a comment form beneath posts, many still feel enhancements to comments are helpful to readers and assist in increasing post discussion.
Here are some third party services compatible with Blogger which offer enhanced commenting:
By signing up with Disqus, you can add threaded comments to your Blogger blog, and display avatars beside the comments left by others. This service also enables you to track your own comments left on other blogs, and those left by your favorite authors.
Adding Disqus functionality to your Blogger blog is fairly simple. If you use a default template, you can simply upload your XML file and this will be returned containing the correct code required to function. Alternatively, you can add the required scripts manually by editing your template’s HTML code.
Learn more about Disqus
This commenting system is similar to Disqus in that comment threading and avatars are supported. However, the real beauty of this service is that you can import and export comments, meaning that all existing Blogger based comments may be integrated into your new comment system, while any comments added can be backed up, ready for export should you choose to change blog host or your blog URL.
Google Friend Connect offers a remarkable level of service allowing you to add widgets and other useful functions to enable greater and deeper interactions between you and your blog readers.
Of the services available, one of the most useful for Blogger users is the “Wall widget”, which allows readers to comment, reply to others’ comments and even upload media in ressponse to blog postings.
Rather than simply add this functionality to a sidebar widget, Antonio Lupetti of Woork has written an excellent tutorial explaining how to integrate the Wall Widget with Blogger’s commenting system, offering a much richer environment for post discussion.
As Antonio explains, the process only takes a few minutes and the resulting effect will appear like this:
Learn more about Google Friend Connect or read the tutorial to add the Wall Widget on Woork.
Ratings systems for Blogger
Blogger’s default “Star Ratings” and “Reactions” widgets are still (sadly) lacking in functionality. While blog readers may be able to see the responses and ratings for a single post, there is yet no way to ascertain which posts acquired the most ratings or have proved the most popular on our blogs.
So if you are seeking an alternative system for readers to rate and react to your blog posts, here are some interesting third party solutions:
Outbrain offers a unique star ratings system which is accompanied by recommended reading links. This allows readers to find similar content which they may like to read, based on the recommendations of others.
The widget is built to blend into your blog’s design, so there’s no need to be concerned about adding CSS to accompany the integration.
Outbrain ratings are also compatible with Feedburner’s Feedflare, so you can add this function in the footer section of your blog feeds, allowing readers by RSS the ability to rate your posts.
This third party system offers a more elaborate method of rating and recommending posts. Using Spotback enables readers to rate your posts using a star rating system, tag and email your posts (great for future reference and to assist discussion away from your blog), and also recommends posts from your own and other blogs:
JS-Kit offer highly useful widgets which can be used to add star-ratings, polls, popular content and much more besides. There is no need to sign up or create an account in order to use JS-Kit’s services (unless you prefer to use some premium services) and integration is added by simply copying and pasting code.
Trackbacks and Tweetbacks
While Blogger’s default “Links to this post” section can be useful to see a few of the sites which discuss your posts elsewhere, many bloggers find this function lacking and prefer to use a more enhanced service instead.
Haloscan is the oldest and probably most well-known third party service to offer trackback functionality. After being recently acquired by JS-Kit, the services offered seem to have greatly improved: we can now integrate ratings, comments and recommended posts along with trackbacks when using this free service.
Learn more about Haloscan Trackbacks
Learn more about Trackbackr
This highly useful function enables you to show how your blog posts have been discussed using Twitter. Created by Dan Zarella, this excellent script displays the “Tweets” and Twitter avatars of those who discuss your posts on Twitter’s social network.
How to add Tweetbacks to your Blogger template
If you would prefer to add Tweetbacks beneath the comments section of your posts, you will need to edit your blog’s HTML code.
Simply go to Layout>Edit HTML and check the “Expand widget templates” box. Then search for the following line of code:
<b:include data='post' name='comments'/>
Immediately after this line, paste the following line of code:
Then save your template.
Now when you view a post page of your blog, look beneath the comments section to see who has Tweeted about your blog posts!
Learn more about Dan Zarella’d Tweetbacks script
While many criticize Blogger’s lack of functionality regarding options for discussion and commenting, I doubt there is any blogging service capable of including everything we could desire! Instead, the potential for adding functionaluty through third party scripts enables us to add those functions we require as and when we need them, rather than be confused by a variety of functions we may never use nor have any reason to add.
I hope this article has provided you with some useful ideas for enhancing discussion of your own blogs and blog posts when using Google Blogger for your publishing needs.
Please feel free to leave your comments and suggestions below.
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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