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Better Your Blogging With 12 Nifty Tools

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We research, write, edit, tweak, search for photos, download, upload, design, write code, align, adjust, and obsess. Blogging involves a lot of tasks, and it can easily suck away valuable hours.

It’s always great to find little sources online that speed up the process. Here are a few I use constantly:

1. Find basic HTML code – Just trying to find simple HTML for your everyday code issues? HTML Code Tutorial has a good quick reference sheet that has most HTML codes.

2. Find basic CSS code – The same thing for CSS (Cascading Style Sheets) is available with this reference guide and tutorial. Good basic stuff.

3. Tweak WordPress – If you use WordPress.org, like me, you’ll probably find this enormous list of WordPress help sheets as handy as I do. It has basic template files, PHP code for headers
and templates, and lots more. (Please note – these are for wordpress.org, not wordpress.com.)

4. Use the right keywords – Keywords are what people search in engines like Google, and if you want to get traffic from these sources, it’s good to use some of the more popular keywords in your blog’s niche. This keyword suggestion tool from SEO Tools is helpful – you can type in a basic word, and it will provide you with the top keywords researched on the major search engines.

5. Submit your stuff to a carnival – Carnivals are a good way to broaden your audience, but there are so many out there, it’s hard to know where to start. Blog Carnival is a database of all the major carnivals out there, and you can search by category.

6 .Test your site in IE – If you use Firefox (and you should!), Safari, or Opera, it’s important to know that your site could look quite different in Internet Explorer.

A follower of mine on Twitter led me to NetRenderer by Geotek, a handy tool that takes a quick screenshot of what your site looks like in IE. Very helpful for those frustrating evenings spent solving the problem of wonky sidebars in Internet Explorer, unfortunately the defaulted browser of so many people.

7. Show code in your published text – It’s quite difficult to display written code, because your blog platform wants to convert it to an actual command.

But it’s helpful to provide visible code every now and then, like when you want to provide code for your readers to copy and paste in their own blogs.

You have to tweak the code so that your software doesn’t interpret it, and instead, it just spells it out as is.

This nifty Encode/Decode HTML tool will provide the text you need – just copy and paste your HTML in the space provided. (If this is all clear as mud, here is Simple Mom’s page where readers can get HTML code for buttons.

I used this tool to correctly write the displayed code.

8. Get your random number – Are you having a giveaway, and don’t feel like asking your child to draw one of 372 numbers out of a hat? Use random.org, a free tool that will spit out an order of numbers that you provide that’s, well, random.

9. Ask your readers anonymous questions – Readers love to participate if it’s easy for them. Polls and surveys are a great way to do that – my favorite source is PollDaddy. It’s super easy to write your own polls and surveys, customize their style, and paste them into your blog.

10. Legally use photos – I refer to Skelliewag’s fabulous article all the time about how to use and find great Flickr images. She perfectly describes the process I use to find my photos in every article I write.

11. Liven up the photos you do use – With Big Huge Labs, you can have fun playing around with the Flickr photos that will enhance your blog post. You can create mosaics, frames, Andy Warhols, and more for free. You won’t want to do this with every photos you use, but it’s fun every now and then.

12. Brand your blog when you comment elsewhere –
 Not all blogs have avatars for their commenters, but when they do have them, it’s nice to have your photo or your blog’s logo, instead of a default head next to your comment. Set up your avatar at Gravatar, the internet’s default source for connecting avatar images to your email address. 99.9% of the time, your avatar will be your gravatar on sites that use this.

I found it difficult to not use too much bloggy jargon in this article, but I didn’t want it to be too long. Is this confusing for you at all? Please let me know if you have questions – although clicking on these links might clarify any muddle.

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