Monday, January 30, 2012

How to Add Gadgets/Widgets to Blogger

The latest tutorial video.  I've included instructions on how to add html gadgets.  It sounds more complex than it is!

Monday, January 23, 2012

Blog Footer

The blog footer is way down at the bottom of your blog and should not be confused with the area below each blog post.  The blog footer is below your main text column.  So if you're on the home page, you have to scroll all the way down through all the latest blog posts to see the footer.

The footer can be customized.  How much it can be customized depends on what type of blogging platform you are using.  Essentially, you can put anything in the footer that you can put in the sidebars or header.

I have several blogs and I almost never use my footer area.  The primary reason being visibility.  Not many people are going to scroll all the way down and then take a peek at whatever widget you have down there.  So any important widget (following the blog, blog stats, etc...) should go in the bar if you actually want people to see it.

The second reason why I don't use the footer area is because I find it distracting.  Depending on how long the post is, the footer may be somewhat visible if the reader has clicked on an individual post title to read.  In other words, they are not looking at a single post and not your entire text column.  To me, it's overwhelming to have lots of content in the header, lots of content in the sidebar and lots of content in the footer.  I want the focus to always be on the blog post itself.

I'm not saying you shouldn't use the blog footer.  I'm just listing off reasons for why I don't use that space.  Depending on the type of blog you are writing, you have have a really good need for using that lower area.  Just remember to keep things clean and focused. 

Monday, January 16, 2012

Kindle Publishing for Blogs

Amazon has a little heard of feature called Kindle Publishing for Blogs.  You can check out the site here.  When you first click on the site it says that you can only view it using certain internet browsers.  It's a lie.  I have used several "non-supported" browsers to access it and it works perfectly.

Here's how it works in a nutshell:

You upload your blog's RSS feed to Amazon.  People can then subscribe to your blog through Amazon by paying a monthly fee decided by Amazon (usually between $.99-2.99).  The idea is that they could read your blog on their Kindle device rather than on the computer.  You get a percentage of the monthly fee paid.

The reality?  This idea sounds nice on paper.  But why pay money for something you can read for free?  3 of my 5 blogs are "published" on Amazon and I've only ever had one subscriber that lasted for a few months.  With most Kindle devices having internet connections and most blogs offering an email option, there's really no reason to be paying money for a blog subscription.

I keep my three blogs up on Amazon just for the heck of it.  I figure it can't hurt and if nothing else it could maybe redirect a potential new reader to my actual blog site.

Monday, January 9, 2012

What is an RSS Feed?

RSS feed is a term you will come across constantly as a blogger.  It's an extremely important concept to understand if you wish to expand your blog's audience.

RSS stands for Real Simple Syndication.  Don't ask why it's the term used.  What's important is what it's used for.  Basically, your blog generates a feed when you publish your content.  Think of it like a magazine.  One blog post is a single issue of a magazine.

The RSS feed is how people can subscribe to your blog.  By subscribing to your blog's feed, they are telling the blog to send posts ("issues") to them on a regular basis.  The most common methods of receiving a subscription are through email (the blog sends the post as an email) or through an RSS reader (a program that can read RSS feeds).

So why is this useful?

First of all, it's very convenient for readers.  Ideally, you want 100% of your readers to read 100% of your blog posts.  Unless a blog is part of a person's usual internet browsing routine, it's easy to forget to check back on a regular basis.  Having a blog post sent to an email increases the likelihood that it will be read.

The other big reason is that it helps you, the blog author, to expand your audience potential.  Many places such as (but certainly not limited to) Facebook allow you to upload your blog's RSS feed.  This means that people could view your posts on Facebook.  You use the more popular site's broader appeal to help attract attention to your blog.

But before you go upload your blog everywhere do keep something in mind:

If you upload your RSS feed to every site you come across it means that people are reading the post on the third party site and not your blog.  The number of people you actually have visiting your blog greatly affects your SEO.

So to sum up: find the careful balance between attracting new readers but at the same time keeping people on your blog.

Monday, January 2, 2012