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5 apps to help you run your blog

Wednesday, 10 September 2008 — by

Running a blog is no simple task. Aside from the process of actually writing, there’s the management aspects, too. So using the right software and tools is essential

I did once say that all that could be said about blogging had been said. Well, I’ve thought of something else to say. Maybe someone else has said the same thing? But me being me, I’ve usually got a slightly different take of things.

Here’s a quick run-down of how I do things here at the Blah, Blah! Technology blog. If there’s something you’re no sure about, feel free to ask and I’ll do all I can to help!

Better yet, if you’ve got your own suggestions, feel free to share with everyone.

Writing for your blog

There’s no blog without articles. OK, you could just have a blog and nothing else, but that would just be daft, right?

MacJournal 5

I’m a Mac user of some eighteen years, which sounds almost too improbable to consider. As a Mac user, I look for the best-of-breed software. As such, MacJournal is my writing tool of choice for my blog.

You can create your own Journals, which are collections of articles. You can even place Journals within other Journals, to create nested hierarchies. MacJournal supports tabs, so you can have lots of articles open at once.

There are a few quirks & creases, but on the whole, MacJournal is a very powerful writing tool, which I’ve been using for a few years, now.

Blogging software

Choosing the right blogging software is the most critical decision you’re going to make as a blogger. Moving to a different blogging platform after a year or so can be a major problem, so it pays to choose wisely.

WordPress 2.6

There was a time when Blah ran on Google Blogger, but those days are long gone. There are a number of things wrong with Google Blogger, which may or may not have been addressed since my departure. The fact of the matter is, WordPress is pretty much the standard when it comes to blogging.

It’s even possible to use WordPress as a CMS (Content Management System) for a regular website, which some people use as an alternative to developing a website from scratch.

For the curious, WordPress also allows you to add different features via what are called Plugins. Fortunately, I’ve got a list of the Plugins running right here on Blah.

» WordPress feature list

Analytics

So you’re writing great content, you’ve chosen your blogging platform of choice, now what? Now, you want to keep track of where your visitors are coming from, when, how long they stayed, what articles they looked at and where they went afterwards.

Google Analytics

Google Analytics has come a long way since incorporating Urchin into their stable of bought-in software packages. In recent months, the pace of new features has been dizzying.

Unless your needs are out there at the very high end, Google Analytics will suite your needs perfectly, allowing you to track your visitors, their habits and their activities.

» Google Analytics feature list

Clicky

Clicky is to Google Analytics what iMovie is to Final Cut Pro — slimmed-down, yet still powerful enough to keep you going. I’ve been using Clicky for some time now and it’s an excellent adjunct to Google Analytics.

In my original review of Clicky, I was impressed, but not totally won over. Well that’s changed. I’m a fully paid-up subscriber. So if you like Clicky and you want to sign up, be kind enough to do so from my affiliate Clicky account.

Clicky offers live web statistics, which you don’t get with Google Analytics. You can watch the traffic rolling through in real time with Clicky’s Spy feature, which is excellent for those times when you get a good run on Digg or StumbleUpon.

What you get with Clicky is wealth of at-a-glance web statistics that are easy to understand and great for fighting off client marketing teams with!

» Clicky feature list

Google Webmaster Tools

Aside from tracking the people visiting your website, if you’re serious about keeping tabs on the number of links to your blog, or the keywords and key phrases your blog’s being discovered for on Google, then Google Webmaster Tools is right for you.

There’s a lot to Google Webmaster Tools, but the effort is rewarded many times over if you persist. Additionally, there are SEO benefits to Webmaster Tools, too.

» Google Webmaster Tools guided tour

Blogging is like anything else, if you’re going to do it, you need the right tools. Hopefully, I’ve nudged you in the right direction…

Recommended reading

Recommended blogging reading

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Andy DeSoto → Wednesday, 10 September 2008 @ 16:37 BDT

Great recommendations, Wayne! I wholeheartedly agree; I still have you to thank for getting me hooked on Clicky in the first place. I have a Pro account as well and the service is just a joy to use.

Kelly → Saturday, 20 September 2008 @ 4:24 BDT

Enjoy reading your blog entries. Most were informative and offer good insight. MANY THANKS, BOWS and APPLAUSE!! :)

How about “Lifestreaming”? What do you think of it as part of the blogosphere?

Lifestreaming lets you add feeds and pic from Flickr, etc to any blog, including wordpress. A sample lifestreaming blog is here — yongfook.com I have some coding errors though – you may have better luck with it (sweetcron). All in all, I am switching BACK to wordpress!

Also, I would be very interested to know/read your review of uCoz.com (seem to be run by Russians). I tried it out recently and was pleased to find a module that replaces GUESTBOOK with LEAVE ME A MESSAGE on all my web pages with just a single click.

Best regards from your new fan,
kelly

Wayne Smallman → Saturday, 20 September 2008 @ 18:00 BDT

Andy — always happy to oblige!

Kelly — I’ve not written about Lifestreams much recently, but it’s something I have mostly positive feelings towards.

They offer very simple and effective ways of keeping in touch with people, without having to dig around.

Facebook is sort of like an interactive Lifestream, while Plurk and Twitter are common tools people use to build and maintain Lifestreams as well as Workstreams, too…

Sorry Comments are close. Quite possibly for a good reason. Share your thoughts on some of my other posts or contact me directly.

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