My Blogger Blog Tip List

Tuesday, February 09, 2010

Alright... this post is functioning as a DOUBLE post! Wooowho! I'd been working on it for awhile so I hope that it makes sense. I believe that I did have more brain cells when I started this post because it was started BEFORE all my contractions started this week. Hehe... Here's hoping!

I'm listing this post with BOTH:
 - Top Ten Tuesday by Oh Amanda
 - Works for Me Wednesday by We Are That Family

It has become amazingly clear to me that I love to mess with my blog. I am also noticing that more and more people are not using Blogger because it's "not easy to customize" or "doesn't look as professional as WP" or "doesn't have all the features". I am a rebel because I don't accept that. I can accept that a self-hosted blog/website is always a great way to go and allows a LOT (LOT LOT LOT) more customizing. For those of us who cannot afford that plunge, don't feel the need to go that way or whatever other reason I have compiled a list of my FAVORITE Blogger Blog helps, hints and tips. Some of these things may possibly work for Wordpress users too, but I wouldn't know. I'm still with my Blogger blog because it Works for Me with these great tutorials and things below.

I did not write any of the tutorials listed below, but I love them and have found them to work... countless times. I have been editing and playing with this little blog of mine since 2005 and have found these tips below (in no particular order) to be my favorites:

1. Create a TEST Blog
I can't stress this enough. Before I make ANY changes to this blog, I will test them on my "dumby" blog. My "dumby" blog is only visible to authors (me!), cannot be searched and really doesn't have any posts in it. It's there to show me what a template/design might look like and a place for me to test out code. This test blog has saved me lots of headaches because I can stop code mid-stream, save it and not have to worry about the mess I just left. Plus, if anything gives me an error I can just start all over again. Or the more likely thing to happen is that I get so frustrated that it's not working that I can easily pull the plug and delete the whole mess to start over. Hehee...

2. Nice and Neat
I love nice and neat code! I will look all over for a great template, but when it comes down to it, it's all about the code. What does this mean? It's means I will download the template, install it on my test blog and I will look over the code. I am no coding expert by any means, but I can surely look it over and see if it's lined up, has notations or labels (so important to have a template with odd changes labeled) telling me what or where certain settings are, has the incredibly easy to use variable definitions that make text, link and background color changes easy and more! If I do not see these things, I will usually NOT choose that template, no matter how cool it might have been. Without easy to read code it's going to be a VERY difficult template to edit or add to!

3. I Love Pocket! is absolutely FANTASTIC in explaining simple steps of how to customize your Blogger Blog. Not to mention the numerous FREE templates on the site too. I will add that the templates made by Pocket are so super easy to customize because my #1 rule was applied when the templates were created! Yay! So smart of Pocket! If you look under the How To section you will find how to adjust margins, change the background, move things around on your blog and so much more.

4. LinkWithin
This will gather up related posts from your blog and automatically list them at the bottom of the posts! YAY! The pictures are even included! There's a few catches with it to keep in mind though:
- Only pictures directly loaded in the post on your Blogger Blog will show up in the thumbnails. Pictures linked to a post or stored on another site and linked up generally do not show up. (I'm finding this to not be entirely true though. Maybe there's been an upgrade?)
- The LinkWithin Gadget MUST be moved over underneath your posts on the Layout - Page Elements screen or it is bound to mess up your blog layout later. Do not leave this Gadget in a sidebar after it's been installed.

5. Blogger in Draft
It's sorta a new improved, updated version of Blogger. There's no real changes to your templates or anything like that. You aren't required to change anything on your blog if you don't want to. Basically Blogger in Draft offers some newer features or advantages that you didn't have before. The biggest add so far seems to be that you can setup static pages (not a post) to link a menu up to! You can either create the menu on your own with code or use the menu options the new Blogger in Draft offer to use. Go check it out! It won't bite. :)

Note: To find "Blogger in Draft" sign in to your Dashboard and scroll way to the bottom. In the middle column on the footer is a link. You will have the option to KEEP Blogger in Draft as your Dashboard or switch back to the regular one.

6. Tweet Your Own Horn!
Twitter is a major blogging movement and a great thing to add to your blog. Here's a listing from Blogger Busters on 16 Useful Twitter tools for Blogger! I think I am going to have change my way of tweeting on my blog with one of these other cool gadgets.

7. Background Patterns
The Pattern Cooler is a REALLY neat place to visit and find an awesome background pattern. There are tons to choose from in various styles, colors and sizes. They are very easy to code into your site, if you have a site that you can edit easily and know how to add a tiny bit of code. I highly recommend dropping off a little donation if you download some of these beauties to help out the site too.

PS-The backgrounds available at the Pattern Cooler are also great for your Twitter Pages!

8. Add a Column (Using Minima Template)
The new big thing is having 2 Columns in your sidebar these days. Well, the easiest template to add the column to is Minima. You could be using a free template from another site that was edited from the Minima template too, which can still be edited. Here is a step by step tutorial on how to add a column from Blogging Tutorial, Free Templates and Sites Info!

Notice: There are TONS of tutorials out there covering this topic. This is just one that I've looked at before. Please, please, PLEASE make a backup of your blog before trying something like this to it. I cannot be held responsible for something that goes wrong on your blog because you tried a tutorial.

9. Mobile Blogger Blogging
Blogger wraps mobile blogging right into everything else! It's a lot of fun and a quick way to update your site. Simply follow the directions on Blogger Mobile. After you confirm your phone you can either open a brand new blog or attach your phone to one of your current Blogger blogs.

10. Feed Site to Twitter
I love this handy little feature from Feedburner and because I already use Feedburner with my Blogger blog it's easy to just add this in there. (Now, I don't have any idea what all the Feedburner stats mean just yet but I am still learning. And getting lost. And trying to learn more. Hehe...) After setting up an account with Feedburner and attaching it to your blog though hop over to Google Adsense for Feeds - Tutorial for Socializing your Feed with Twitter and try it out. Good luck with this one though! I'd rather deal with code than try and work around in Feedburner still. HAHHA

Let me know if any of these tips helped you out too. I hope that they do!

(Notice: I was not asked or compensated by ANY of the sites listed below to recommend them. I have used them though.)


Anonymous said...

This is a GREAT list! I'm trying to branch out a little so these sights and hints are going to help a lot! Thanks for posting!

Blondie said...

oooo- I like sources of info! Thanks - bookmarked!

Amanda said...

Nice list of tips! I've been learning a lot about updating and personalizing my blog too. :D

suzannah @ so much shouting/laughter said...

i just discovered blogger in draft this week. i'd love to add a third column, but i don't know if i'm that savvy. thanks for the tips.

Anonymous said...

A dummy blog never would have occurred to me, but what a great idea! Thanks for sharing.

Julie said...

Hi there,
I saw that you are looking for a cartoon-like header. I can definitely help you out. There is a fee attached but I can work with you to make it what you want. Email me if you're interested!

Kristi said...

Thanks so much for the tips! I am totally going to go check some of these sites out. I do have a "test" blog and it does help out a lot!!

oh amanda said...

Awesome tips! I know so many people who don't want to switch to WP and I never hear about any cool tools for Blogger, so THANKS!

(and thanks for linking up!)

Amy @ Raising Arrows said...

Very well done!
From another Blogger rebel! ;)

Jenny said...

Heh great list. Doesn't make me wanna drop my WP blog though even if I did lose my domain and hosting. WP.Com FTW!! xD

Dee said...

Hahaha, Jenny! I am glad you don't wanna change back. This list was more for those of us who can't break outta the grind yet.

I'm glad so many others have been able to find/use something from this post and add something more to their already great blogs!

Take care everyone and have fun editing!!

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