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Blogger Essentials

by Jennifer Barbour, posted to Tech & Blogging

I've been blogging since 2007. There are certain tools that I have found indispensable over the years in order to get actual humans to read my blog posts, wherever they may be. Here are my blogger essentials for a successful blog.


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Practice!

michellerafter.com

Registration and information for the 2012 WordCount Blogathon, where...more

Suggested by Glenn Smith

Here's a call to action: write a post each day for 31 days in a row.

Jennifer Barbour: Ah, yes. Practice is important! I was involved with NaBloPoMo in November and December of last year. Writing for 61 days straight was a really great experience, and I'm a better blogger for it.

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A Robust Publishing Platform

wordpress.org

WordPress is web software you can use to create a beautiful website or...more

If you're going to blog, you need a publishing platform. I've used Wordpress since the beginning. It's easy to use, offers good-looking customizable themes and has a ton of plugin options for added functionality. For the novice or expert, there's not much you can't do with Wordpress.

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Sharing Tools

sharethis.com

Ranked #1 by ComScore, ShareThis offers a suite of solutions for...more

If someone likes a blog post you write, you want them to share it with their social network. Sharing tools, like ShareThis, are essential for any blogger. Make it easy for your readers and provide them with a button at the end of your posts!

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A Smart Phone

apple.com

The faster dual-core A5 chip. The 8MP camera with all-new optics also...more

What would I do without my trusty iPhone? I blog on it, share posts, respond to comments, look at my stats, take notes and photos, research posts...The list goes on and on as I find more handy apps to use. A smart phone keeps a blogger going when she can't be next to her computer!

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A Popular Publishing Network

blogher.com

BlogHer.com is the Web's leading guide to the hottest news and trends...more

Ever feel like you're the only person reading your blog? Joining a publishing network can be a great way to share your blog with the world and meet other bloggers. My blog is part of the BlogHer Network. While it's invitation only to be a "network member," anyone can join BlogHer and create posts. I post on BlogHer and lead readers to my blog.

GreenWomanStore.com: I am new to blogging, Jennifer. Can I post and lead readers to my website. Is this common SEO practice, or is it rude? Thanks, Genny

Jennifer Barbour: Not at all. On BlogHer, you can post one of your blogs and then add a link at the end that says something like "read the rest of this post on my blog." They often feature blog posts and direct readers to the author's blog. It's a supportive environment for bloggers. I've also posted and noted at the end that the blog was cross-posted from anotherjennifer.com.

GreenWomanStore.com: So, it is okay to lead readers to my blog but not my website? My website has products. My Blogging is in regards to my website with woman made products, green women entrepreneurs, international sustainable development, etc. My product is not a blog. Can I lead readers of my blogs and blog posts to my website of products?

Jennifer Barbour: I would lead readers to the blog. You don't want to sell on your blog. But if the blog is relevant to the products you sell, then it is a great way to drive traffic to your website. You can have links to your website on the blog in a widget on your sidebar, for example, if the blog isn't part of the website.

GreenWomanStore.com: Okay, it is taking form for me. I am finding interesting blogs on subjects I have products to solve or contribute to the issue. Is it appropriate for me to comment/post and lead the readers to the specific product on my website? Thank you for your good guidance.

Jennifer Barbour: It's always great to comment on other blogs. Most blogs allow you to leave a url that people can visit when they click on your name. Just be sure to stay on topics with the blog post. Don't link too much to your website, or you might be labeled a spammer.

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StumbleUpon

stumbleupon.com

We help you easily discover new and interesting stuff on the Web. Tell...more

StumbleUpon provides a huge amount of referral traffic to my blog. While others can "stumble" your posts via a sharing tool, you can also stumble your own posts to make them available to other stumblers. I use StumbleUpon to keep track of articles I might want to reference later and to find inspiration for future posts.

Eden Godsoe: Jennifer - any tips on getting started with StumbleUpon? I use it for my personal blog as well as SkinnyScoop but haven't seen much traffic. Thanks!

Jennifer Barbour: If I remember correctly, it took me a while to see traffic. I think it all depends on the subject too. Having the right tags in StumbleUpon is important, since people stumble by topic. Niche topics do well. My left-handed focused posts get lots of traffic from StumbleUpon.

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Access to Experts

reporterconnection.com

Reporter Connection is a free daily email service that connects busy...more

Good blog posts often require some research and a knowledgeable voice that you might not be able to provide on certain topics. I use Reporter Connection (reporterconnection.com) and HARO (helpareporter.com) to connect with sources for blog posts and to offer myself as a source for reporters.

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Notetaking Tools

evernote.com

The Evernote family of products help you remember and act upon ideas,...more

When I get inspiration for a blog post, I jot notes down in Evernote. Then, I don't have to wrack my brain to remember the ideas when I actually have time to write. My notes are then available to me via my smart phone, laptop, desktop computer, iPad, or any device with internet access. A handy notebook works well too. :)

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Google Alerts

google.com

Google Alerts are email updates of the latest relevant Google results...more

I use Google Alerts to keep track of topics that I blog about on a regular basis. It's a great way to get relevant articles and blog posts emailed directly to you without having to search around for content. And, yes, I have an alert set up for "bacon."

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A Good Photo Editing Tool

photoshop.com

Every picture tells a story, but you want your pictures to tell epics....more

Images add a lot to blogs. They can help you tell your story and drive readers to your posts. Photoshop is a great program for photo editing and for creating your own images. If you can't afford the full program, they also have a more simple, free online version.

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A Flexible Photo App

campl.us

Whether you’re a seasoned photographer or someone who’s barely...more

While this list isn't about smart phone apps, I have to say I love Camera+ and use it a lot when I need a quick photo for a blog post. I don't always have my camera on me, but I usually have my iPhone. With Camera+, I can take a picture, edit it, add a border, and choose from a number of filters to make it look even cooler. Best of all, it's free!

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SkinnyScoop Lists

skinnyscoop.com

SkinnyScoop is your cheat sheet for everything – take advantage of...more

Blog readers often digest text easier when compiled in a list. SkinnyScoop makes it easy to curate lists on just about anything. Readers can follow your lists, comment on different items and add to your lists, making it an ongoing conversation. Bloggers can use SkinnyScoop to rehash old posts, embed a new list onto their blog, or find inspiration.

Eden Godsoe: I am biased but do think SkinnyScoop offers robust tools for bloggers to easily create and share lists. You did a beautiful job description us. Can we quote you in a testimonial?!

Jennifer Barbour: Absolutely, Eden! I'm loving the conversations that are coming from here. The fact that you can have discussions on each list item and/or vote on favorites is really cool.

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Facebook Fan Page

facebook.com

Suggested by Alyssa F.

Facebook is a great way to hold conversations with your readers, post photos in albums, and "reshare" content from other pages to your fans. Bloggers can also check demographic information on their readers or use the "insights" tab to track content posted the page.

Jennifer Barbour: Yes! Facebook is a great way to share blog posts and keep conversations going. Some of my blog readers (I believe) get my posts via FB instead of an RSS feed. Good point about using insights as well.

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