Tuesday, November 23, 2010

Bloggy Bling: Blogger Plug-ins to be Thankful For!

Since I came back to blog world, I’ve been trying to figure out my place in it. You might have noticed quite a few changes around here lately. I’ve been doing a lot of things that are meant to both increase traffic and make it easier for you to get around once you’re here. Right now, I’m using Our Someday Family as a testbed for a lot of the new techno-stuff I’d like to incorporate in my new blog (which, by the way, the lovely Alison of Giggly Girl Blog Designs will be designing for me). Once the new blog is up and running, OSF will be my more personal, private corner of the blogosphere, while the new blog (naming still in progress) will be a more public face with reviews, giveaways and the like.

I’m struggling a bit right now because I’m straddling the fence between too communities, ALI (Adoption, Loss, Infertilty) and mom blogs. When I started this blog, it was just an outlet for me to vent about our struggles with infertility. I found Stirrup Queens when I was researching male factor infertility and was immediately welcomed by the ALI community. I honestly think I would have gone insane last year if it wasn’t for these lovely women. I hold my breath and cross my fingers each month as many of them wait to hear if their new journey is just beginning, or if they’re gearing up for another month on the roller coaster that is infertility

Meanwhile, I’ve been lucky enough to find my way off that ride, if only for now. I’m half in the land of ALI blogs with a toe in the world of mommy blogs. It’s been eye opening. Given the nature of ALI blogging, your goal isn’t exactly for the whole blogosphere to find you. A small group of loyal followers was more than enough…it is a close-knit sisterhood.

In the mom blog world, though, it’s all about visitors and pageviews, and that’s especially true if you’re trying to monetize or work with PR at all. Increasing pageviews and visitors means I need to learn lots about plug-ins, widgets, gadgets and blog organization, SEO (search engine optimization) and so much more! I thought some of you might be interested to learn about all this new fun stuff, because (regardless of which community your blog sits in) these add-ons make your blog more enjoyable for the reader. And, I don’t know about you, but when my readers enjoy my blog, I enjoy it more in return.

So, here are some of the fun things I’ve learned about spiffying up a Blogger blog, plus a few other things about blog networking:
1) Intense Debate (ID). I have always preferred how commenting worked in Wordpress…the way bloggers could reply to their commenters with comment threading, rather than just replying to their own post. ID allows you to login for commenting via Wordpress, OpenId, Twitter, ID's own profiles, or Facebook (though I haven’t installed that feature yet). If comment moderation is something you’re interested in, ID also provides lots of great options to make that easier. ID also sends me an e-mail each time someone comments on my blog with a link to their blog.  So far, I really like it!  I'm curious how you feel about it as a reader/commenter, though...please let me know! 

But, the best part about ID is that it includes…

2) CommentLUV! I LOVE CommentLuv! I started noticing that on lots of mommy blogs, when I commented on on their blog, it would show a link to my most recent post under my comment. Not only does that help other visitors find my commenters' blogs, but it makes it even easier for me to head over to my commenters blog to share to spread the bloggy love! I think of CommentLuv as a way to give back to my readers, because it will hopefully increase their readers, too!  (Note: You don't have to install Intense Debate to get the CommLuv plug-in.  You can get it separately at the link above.)

3) LinkedWithin. Ever notice how, on some blogs, at the end of their post, there are links to a few other posts you might be interested in? They’re using LinkedWithin. It’s an awesome way to expose your readers to posts they may not otherwise have seen. As a blogger, I like that people are more likely to click to another post if I make it easier for them to do so…kind of like how stores place gum right at the checkout line. But, from a reader’s perspective, I also think it’s fun to click around and see what I can find out about my fellow blogger. Plus, LinkedWithin makes it easier for me to find out more faster than if I searched around their site.

Intense Debate, CommentLuv, and Linked Within require a wee bit of coding to add them to your site.  However, all of the sites offer very user friendly instructions, or there are tons of sites to help you through the install with a quick Google search. 

I’ve been learning so much lately that I’ve got much more to say, so look for posts on awesome blog networks, why I'm sticking with Blogger, Twitter (did you see notice my new "Follow Me on Twitter" button?), and more soon…

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