February 10, 2008

Weekly Review #6

Well, today is Sunday again so it's time for my weekly review. By now, I expect many of you will be wondering why I've begun to write this regular post, so let me begin by explaining my motivations for this.

Weekends can be a busy time for most bloggers. In fact many of the blogs I read on a regular basis refrain from posting on Sundays as fewer people seem to be reading! I like to use this day to reflect on the week's activities, in relation to Blogger in general, and also the activities here at Blogger Buster. I feel this is a lighter read than the tutorials I post here, and something which is easier to digest.

Also, as I'm researching, Stumbling and generally browsing the web, I come across some great news, posts and links which I love to share with my readers. Posting these in a weekly article seems to be the best way of telling you all about this, rather than posting haphazardly in a manner I'm sure would be detrimental to the other content posted here.

So if you are new to Blogger Buster, or simply looking for a light read on your Sunday afternoon, stop by here a while, have a quick read and let me know if this review has been useful to you.

Blogger Buster news

Many of you will have noticed that I haven't posted much about the Blogger Template Design series this week. These posts really do take ages to write, so I apologize to all of you that I just haven't had the time to write one this week. You can be assured that two posts will arrive in Tuesday and Thursday to make up for my lack of posting, in which I'll guide you through the process of making a great, interactive header section for your blogs!

Blog template resources

My major (and most popular) post of the week was 101 excellent Blogger XML templates, in which I showcased some of the best templates I have discovered for free download.

In a way, this is tied in with the theme of Blogger template design, as I always look to other designs for inspiration, and encourage others to do the same.

Some of these templates really push the boundaries of what can be reproduced in a Blogger design, so if you haven't already read this, please do take a look and be inspired by what others have created. This is also an excellent resource list for those seeking a new image for their Blogger blog, since these templates require little (if any) intervention from the user to make them work!

Another new feature you will soon see here on Blogger Buster is a round-up of the week's Blogger templates. In researching the 101 templates post, I came across some great template designers, and feel it would benefit the Blogger community to post about any new templates as they become available, with a screenshot and links to their download pages.

So if you are a template designer, or know of some great Blogger templates which have been released recently, please drop me a line to tell me about this, and I will be sure to include your template releases in my regular round ups!

Amanda is getting social!

Although I'm quite active with MyBlogLog, I haven't explored other social networking sites that much. However, there seems to be a recent trend among bloggers in using services such as Stumbleupon, Digg and Twitter, both to assist in publicizing their blogs, and also to interact much more with blogging communities.

So this week, I've made a point of becoming more involved myself too! And I have to say, I've really been enjoying myself with this: not only have I discovered some great sites which I may otherwise have overlooked, I've also met some great people and discovered loads about blogging in general which I hadn't learned before.

I tend to bookmark and network about the subjects which interest me most (blogging, social media and web design), so if any of these subjects also interest you, take a look at my bookmarks or feel free to just drop me a line. Here are my usernames for the networks I'm most active in at the moment:

Blogger News

New widgets available to Blogger in Draft

There are some new widgets available when you use Blogger in Draft (this version of your Blogger dashboard allows you to test new features before they become mainstream). These widgets are:

  • Gadget: add a Google gadget to your blog (choose from any available gadget you like!)
  • Subscription Links: help readers subscribe to your feed by adding subscription buttons to your favorite feed readers
  • Search: for me this will be the most useful widget of the new features added. You can now easily add a search box which readers can use to search your blog, blogs you have linked to, or the whole web in general (you choose the search options within the widget itself).

To use any of these new widgets, simply log in to Blogger in Draft, and click to add a new page element in the Template>Page Elements section of your dashboard.

This week's links

Here are links to some of the best posts ans sites I've discovered during the course of the week:

  • Dealing with negative criticisms of your blog: this is a really great read about Matthew's experience of a negative review of his blog, and is a great read for anyone considering paying for a review.
  • The Cool Bloggers: over at Epiblogger, Rhett writes that we don't need to be popular to be a "cool" blogger!
  • Spring clean your blog: over at Blogging Tips, Deborah explores methods you could try to give your blog a spring makeover.
  • What does your design say about you? Ben Barden explores the nature of blog branding with this well-written post.
  • Use these ten tips to write your most popular post ever: This is a truly great read by Skellie guest posting over at Daily Blog Tips. And as usual, the standard of her content lives up to the expectations of the title. Well worth a long read!
  • The Blog Readability Test: just for fun, this service gives your blog a rating of how educated a reader should be to understand your posts. Blogger Buster has a "High School" reading level. What does your blog rate as?

I hope you have enjoyed this week's review. Please feel free to let me know if you find any great posts which you'd like me to link to in next week's review, and especially if you have any great Blogger template releases as I will soon be publishing the first round-up of free Blogger templates!

As always, your comments and opinions are always appreciated.

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All existing posts are still available to view while I'm working on the site, albeit seen in a much simpler interface. Feel free to browse through the archives to find tutorials, templates and articles to help you build a better blog:

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