Blog Tools

This Article appeared in Dawn today. Link good till Nov 24, 2005.

The Blog has redefined the Web in many ways. The Web has always been interactive and blogs help interactivity. And then there are new software and blog tools, making it easier and attractive for everyone to start a blog.

Let us assume that you have a blog on a platform (software) of your choice. You define your goals; your target is audience and the content you will be writing. Your next aim is to pick the right blogging tools that work for you.

In addition to the integration of blogging tools, and free and premium blogging software, new blogging tools and services are being released every day to help blog masters add new features to their blog. This becomes quite overwhelming to choose from and to choose the best from among a number of blog promotion tools and add-ons. It all depends on your goals, your expertise, and the time you are consuming for it. Here are a few common solutions for different situations.

Any serious blogger needs to read a lot of other blogs to know what is going on in the ever expanding blogsphere. Technorati alone in its October 2006 report claims to track 57 million blogs. One of the marvels of technology is that you can have new post from every blog. It is delivered directly to you via Really Simple Syndication (RSS). Bloglines is a good online choice to start feed reading. And there are so many others.

Similarly, you can make it easier for your readers to subscribe to your blog’s RSS feed. RSS is a protocol, an application of XML (Extensible Mark-up Language) that provides an open method of syndicating and aggregating Web content. By using RSS files, you can create a data feed that supplies headlines, links, and article summaries from your Website. Users can have a constant updated content from websites delivered to them via a news aggregator, a piece of software specifically tailored to receive these types of feeds, reads a Web definition. One of the ways to do this is to go to Feed Burner and burn your own RSS feed there and use the tools they provide to set up to automatic subscriber links so that even people who want to use Bloglines, Google Reader, My Yahoo or Pluck can subscribe to it. And it also can be figured out without the buttons but why not have a prominently visible button? It creates an option for people to subscribe by giving an email address so that they can receive your blog posts like an email message. Feed Burner offers this service for free.

Feed Burner also offers automatic pinging but in case you want to use a separate service for pinging, try Ping Goat and Ping O Matic. Most blog software these days ping each post automatically.

As readers search from blog to blog, they may find interesting sites that they want to point out to their readers. Online bookmark managers allow readers to collect bookmark and categorise blog pages and all other interesting stuff found on the Web. I use but Blink List does a fine job as well.

Then there are statistics produced by analysing the access logs for a blog which are very useful for the success of blogs, while boosting the webmaster. The number of hits also determines a click-through rate for those who have subscribed to Google AdSense or other similar affiliate programs. There are countless technologies, making it possible to track statistics in real-time to show what other web users may be visiting or still linking to you or posting about your blog.

In almost all blog software, you must go online and can post using a set of tools provided. Many bloggers like to use a desktop application like w.blogger, Performancing and Qumana to create and publish their posts as it gives them some extra help and allows them to integrate content and files more easily on their computer. Maybe it looks like they are far more tech-savvy folks but there is no harm in trying and learning in the process.

There is also a blog display, automatically changing daily quotes or cartoons on the sidebar of their blog for their own interest or for their readers. I am not counting different revenue-generating blog affiliates (Google AdSense, Amazon) that turn in content-related ads on any blog.

The choice is endless and users can have anything on their blogs from blogchat to blogmap; time, temperature and weather display of any area or a nifty new blogbar ( that allows them to search from 12 search engines from single search box. On one blog, I clicked on an array of symmetrically stacked colourful buttons and found email icon generator, official seal generator. The good thing about the blogger community is that they share anything new that is announced. Thus, it gets moving fast in the blogsphere.

Since 2003 when I started blogging, I have been using many blog tools. The fact is that whenever any new blog tool was announced, I would try it. But over time, I have settled for site metre (, analytical tools (Google Analytics), news aggregators, news sourcing tools (Technorati and Blogpulse), polls (, email subscription and newsletter service ( And there are some others like Pingoat, Audiobloger, Blogrolling and Flickr.

When my daily blogging time starts, I first go to my invisible site metre to find out who has been reading my blogs. Then I read my feeds and know what has been happening on blogs of my interest since I last went offline, bookmarking items. In the meantime, I plan to write and post entries and start pinging. In the end, I read the feedback and find some burning replies but it does not make any difference to me. In fact, it keeps me going.

What blog tolls you fine most useful?

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