Thursday, April 3, 2008

Free tools and resources for Bloggers 2

Here are a few more free blogging tools and resources that I've come across since starting my blog. Enjoy :)

Free Blogging Tools

What the heck is a Blidget, anyhow?

Blidget Screenshot

Well, it's a Blog in a Widget. Ok.... Why would I want one? So your friends can put YOUR blog on THEIR blog in a widget. And vice-versa. And if you have more than one blog, you could put the Blidget for blog #1 on blog #2, and vice versa.
What you see above is a screen shot of the blidget for this blog. You can see it live on the No Cost Software test site - just look over on the left-hand side of the blog.

You can get one for your blog over at Widgetbox.com.  Sign up for a free account, create a Blidget for your blog and publish it - They'll put it in their Blidget directory, and your friends (and maybe even some people you don't know) can pick up the Blidget for their site. You can fully customize the look and feel of your Blidget, and when others pick up the code to add it to their site, they can customize the layout and color theme to match their blog.

AddThis! bookmark button

AddThis! Screenshot

You've probably seen one of these neat little bookmark buttons on other blogs. What's neat about it is that it pops up a window (or drops down a list, depending on which style button you choose) of all the major bookmark sites. (Their's a live button at the bottom of this post). Your readers can choose their favorite bookmark site from the list, and are taken to that site to finish adding their bookmark. That way you don't have to go all over the net getting little bookmark buttons from each of the bookmarking sites. To say nothing about having to add the code for each one :)

You can sign up for a free account at the AddThis! web site, and get your button code. You don't have to sign up, but if you do they will track the number of times that someone bookmarks your posts. They track total number of bookmarks, plus a breakdown of the number for each bookmarking service. You can customize the button code to include only the services you want and the order they appear in the list.

The AddThis! site also offers the same type of button for your RSS (or Atom) feed. Your readers can choose to subscribe to your feed using several different feed readers, such as Google Reader, Yahoo, etc.


Free blogging resources

Templates on Jackbook.com

Jackbook Screenshot

Bored with the meager selection of default templates available from Blogger? You can pick up some cool 3-column Blogger templates that work with the Blogger Layout over at Jackbook.com. Be sure and look for the links to see each template on the demo site - they've set up test sites on Blogspot for each of the templates, so you can see them live. A couple of notes about using these templates:

1. If you use ANY custom template on Blogger that uses images, be AWARE that the links to images contained in these templates in many cases point to image hosts that are maintained elsewhere on the web - they could DISAPPEAR at any time. At the very least, copy these images to your hard drive, so if they disappear, you'll still be able to reconstruct your template using another image host.

2. Some of the custom templates were originally written in another language - I downloaded one from Jackbook.com that was written in Spanish to begin with. You may have to convert some of the text to English. In addition, when you are choosing options (such as fonts and colors) in Blogger Layout, some of the descriptions may be in another language.

3.  Be sure and back up your old template before uploading a new one: use Layout > Edit HTML > Download full template. Be sure to check the box for "expand widget code" before downloading the template. Then after you've uploaded the new template and made any necessary changes to it, be sure and back it up to your harddrive as well.

Widgetbox.com

Widgetbox Screenshot


I mentioned this site earlier when talking about Blidgets. Actually, you can get all kinds of cool widgets at Widgetbox.com. They have flash game widgets, hit-counter widgets, rss-feed widgets, tag-cloud widgets, you name it - they have a widget for it. If you are into making widgets, you can do it here and they will publish it for you. Many of the widgets they have work with Blogger,Wordpress, MySpace, Facebook, etc. and they make it easy to customize the widget for your site. Definitely worth a visit.

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