January 29, 2009

Google Blogger For Dummies to be released in February!

If you're familiar with the "Dummies" series of books, you'll understand how helpful and insightful these textbooks can be in dealing with any subject.

That being said, I'm happy to announce that Google Blogger for Dummies is due to hit bookshops on February 3rd. It's available to pre-order now from Amazon.com
 (priced at $16.49) and will be available in Barnes and Noble, Waterstones and other bookshops, and also directly from Wiley.

The author, Susan Gunelius, has been kind enough to send me a 60 page preview of this book, complete with a full and detailed table of contents and two sample chapters for my preliminary review. Also, when the book is released early next month, Susan has graciously offered me a copy of the book so that I can review it in it's entirety and offer Blogger Buster readers my insights.

What Google Blogger for Dummies will cover

Being a "Dummies" guide, Google Blogger for Dummies will cover both the basics of using Blogger (creating and setting up a first blog) and also some advanced techniques and insights which even experienced bloggers will find both useful and insightful.

There are 16 chapters in all (plus the "Parts of Tens"): the first five chapters explain how to set up and manage a blog with Blogger, while the remaining chapters offer insight into building a successful blog including advice about social networks, publishing blog posts and managing your template. All of this is written with particular reference to Blogger.

Here is the "At a Glance" Table of Contents of Google Blogger Dummies:

Part I: Introducing Google Blogger
  • Chapter 1: Choosing Blogger as Your Blogging Software 
  • Chapter 2: Welcome to the Blogosphere
  • Chapter 3: Blogging Basics and Buzzwords
Part II: Using Google Blogger
  • Chapter 4: Getting Started with Blogger 
  • Chapter 5: Setting Up Your Blog 
  • Chapter 6: Writing and Publishing Blog Posts 
  • Chapter 7: Enhancing Your Blog with Templates 
  • Chapter 8: Adding Features and Functionality with Elements and Gadgets 
  • Chapter 9: Managing Your Blog 
Part III: Making Money with Blogger 
  • Chapter 10: The Business of Blogging
  • Chapter 11: Maximizing Revenue with Google AdSense
Part IV: Growing Your Audience
  • Chapter 12: The Power of Networking and Relationship Building
  • Chapter 13: Boosting Your Search Engine Ranking 
Part V: Extending Your Blog 
  • Chapter 14: Growing or Downsizing Your Blog.
  • Chapter 15: Blogging from Different Media
  • Chapter 16: Moving Beyond Blogger
Part VI: The Part of Tens
  • Chapter 17: Ten Useful Social Networking and Social Bookmarking Sites
  • Chapter 18: Ten Common Blogger Problems and Possible Solutions
  • Chapter 19: Ten Places to Find Free Blogger Themes and Templates
Furthermore, each chapter is further divided into useful sections which succinctly explain each aspect in detail, accompanied by tips and hints to help you get the most from your blogging experience.

My thoughts so far

After reading through the sample chapters, I can honestly say I'm looking forward to reviewing the full text. Susan's writing is pleasant and easy to read, while her advices on the "etiquette" of blogging ensure Google Blogger for Dummies explains as much about the experience of effective blogging as it does about using the Blogger platform.

Once I've received my copy and have read this in it's entirety, I will review Google Blogger for Dummies in detail here on Blogger Buster. In the meantime, keep an eye out for this title as it's sure to be landing on the shelves of a bookstore near you.

January 10, 2009

The Top 20+ Free Blogger Templates of 2008

In 2008 we saw a surge in the quantity and sheer quality of free Blogger templates made available for us to download. Now that designers are turning their attention towards designing for this free blogging system, we can only expect this trend for increased quality to extend far into the new year.

Over the past twelve months I've published several posts offering collections of free Blogger templates for you to download. However, there are certain templates which are simply outstanding: the cream of the crop, which have proved their worth as the best Blogger templates of 2008.

Here is my personal selection of the 20 best Blogger templates from 2008 (in no particular order or preference!) with previews and links to their download sites. I hope you will enjoy browsing through these templates if you are searching for an ideal template for your blogging project or simply to be inspired by great design.

The Daily Inspired by Woork

Antonio Lupetti's fabulous design is exclusively available for use with Blogger templates. Featuring a magazine style layout with many useful features, this clean and professional design provides the perfect canvas for business, design and magazine style blogs.

I must point out that this template is an advanced layout, and you will need to be familiar with the Blogger and HTML code if you intend to use this as much editing is required for this template to function properly. In any case, this is one of my favorite templates ever created for Blogger, and I'm sure most of you will love this design as much as I do too!

View this template in action | Download The Daily Inspired Blogger template

Dreamwork Redux (Converted by JackBook)

This stunning template is a conversion of the Wordpress template by Vinh Le and includes many useful customizations. The footer section is fully widgetized while the sidebar contains integrated widgets for recent posts and comments.

I loved the original striking style of the original Wordpress theme so I personally was thrilled to see this template ported over to Blogger!

View this template in action | Download Dreamwork Redux template for Blogger

Notepad Chaos (Converted by GosuBlogger)

Here is a truly stunning, grunge style design which was converted from the Wordpress theme distributed through Smashing Magazine.

Besides the stunning header section, this design offers styling of appropriate widgets in the sidebar; tabs for the date headings, and an informational section in the footer.

GosuBlogger has done a great job of this conversion to ensure no functions have been lost in the conversion and that new widgets can be added with just a few clicks.

View this template in action | Download the Notepad Chaos Blogger Template

Color Paper (Converted by Falcon Hive)

This dark grunge style template is made to appear printed on colored paper. It features a fully widgetized sidebar, integrated search function and tabs for the date headings.

I've only recently discovered Alvaris Falcon's beautiful selection of Blogger templates but I'm sure his talents will spread his fame as a Blogger template designer throughout this next year!

View this template in action | Download Color Paper Blogger Template

Creative Art (Converted by GosuBlogger)

Here is another stunning Blogger template by GosuBlogger which is converted from the Wordpress theme by DT Website Templates.

This template uses a striking background image for the header section, tabs for navigation, an integrated Flickr photostream and fully widgetized sidebar.

Preview this template | Download the Creative Art Blogger template

Revolution Theme for Blogger (Converted by Aborregate)

Brian Gardner's themes for Wordpress are among the most popular available and virtually revolutionized the WP theme market. Aborregate's conversion of the classic Revolution theme for Blogger provices a highly useful, functional and customizable layout with an air of professionalism which makes it ideal for the business minded blogger.

This theme includes tabbed navigation in the sidebar, a three column layout and stylized icons for post meta data.

Aborregate's site seems to be down at the moment, so instead I have provided links to the demo and download locations on BTemplates.com (the premier collaboration site for free Blogger templates).

Preview this theme | Download Revolution for Blogger

WP Polaroid (Converted by eBlog Templates)

Since it's release in January last year, the WP Polaroid conversion of Adii's Wordpress theme has proved one of the most used Blogger templates ever - and for good reasons! This wide two column template is the ideal solution for a portfolio or showcase site, with space in the header section for information about the site, integrated ads above the sidebar and a sllit widgetised sidebar section with custom images for each heading.

View live demo | Download WP Polaoid for Blogger

Zinmag Remedy (Converted by Falcoln Hive)

This is a truly stunning template when seen live in action. Converted from the template designed by Jinsona Design, this layout features a fantastic slideshow below the header (great for showcasing feature posts), a truly magazine-style layout and even a video section on the home page.

Please do take a look at this template in action as I personally am awed at the excellent job Alvaris has made with this conversion for Blogger! This screenshot does not give justice to the excellent functions included in this design!

View live demo | Download Zinmag Remedy template for Blogger

Angel (Converted by Hajunik)

This beautifully simple theme was converted from the Wordpress template by Blog Oh Blog and offers a clean yet professional layout with tabbed navigation in the sidebar, icons for lists and stylish icons throughout.

View live demo | Download this template

Wordpress Fun (Converted by GosuBlogger)

Here is another template offering a definite "WoW" effect! Origanally created by Malleika Attawel for Smashing Magazine, this template features a stunning header image and colorful layout with plenty of room for all your favorite widgets.

View live demo | Download this template

Butterfly (Converted by Blogger Tricks)

This beautiful template features a stunning vector style header and two column sidebar for your widgets and advertisements and was converted from the original theme by Templates4All.

Although this theme offers simple functions, the beauty fo the design has ensured this template is a popular choice for Blogger users.

View live demo | Download Butterfly template for Blogger

Masinop (Converted by Falcon Hive)

Here is another amazing template conversion by Alvaris of Falcom Hive.  Featuring a colorful bar set against a dark grey background, this template offers a professional yet wholly useful approach for Blogger template design.

The sidebar is fully widgetised with an integrated search bar and a section for important blog links, while the footer offers space for advertising or an "About this site" paragraph.

View live demo | Download Masinop for Blogger

Wordpress Admin (Converted by ThemeLib)

Here is an unusual and wholly elegant theme conversion from ThemeLib. This Wordpress Admin styled template is designed to mimic the Wordpress dashboard while offering a fully useful approach to the Blogger layout. I love the simplicity and professional style of this theme, and those icons for comment counts of each post are the perfect finishing touch.

View live demo | Download Wordpress Admin Blogger template

Squick Design (Converted by Blog and Web)

This elegant design was converted from the original template by Web Page Design and offers a clean, vector style layout with space beneath the header for your company motto or introduction.

View live demo | Download Squick Design Blogger template

Japanese Fleur (Converted by ThemeLib)

This beautiful template features a two column layout, integrated RSS feed icon and search functions. It was converted from the Wordpress.org theme by Lorelie and offers a beautiful template for those wanting a feminine approach to their design.

View live demo | Download Japanese Fleur Blogger template

Japan Style (Converted by Falcon Hive)

Here is another stunning design which has been converted by Alvaris Falcon. This stunning layout offers a Japanese theme with a wonderful background image for both the header and footer sections.

It offers integrated navigation buttons, feed subscription link and search in the sidebar. I'm sure you will agree this is a truly beautiful Blogger template!

View live demo | Download Japan Style Blogger Template

Emo Blue by ZixPk

This original Blogger template is a dark and sleek design which features a subtle grunge design. It is a three column layout with integrated feed links and search function and is fully widgetized.

View live demo | Download

Welcome Autumn by Gisele Jaquenod

Gisele's templates are always beautifully designed (just take a look at her blog to see the best examples). This autumn themed template features the familiar "Birdy" character above the sidebar and it's neutral color scheme enables this template to be used for a whole variety of blog niches.

Read more and download the Welcome Autumn template for Blogger

Made in Spain (via BTemplates)

According to the statistics from BTemplates.com - the leading resource site for free Blogger template downloads - the Made in Spain template is among the most popular Blogger templates of all time, boasting almost 20,000 downloads from BTemplates alone at the time of writing.

This two column template offers a notebook style appearance, tabbed navigation to the left of the main section (made to appear like post-it notes) and a fully widgetized sidebar.

View live demo | Download the Made in Spain template for Blogger

DfMarine (Converted by TemplatesNovoBlogger)

Here is a sleek and professional template which was converted from the original theme by Deziner Folio.

It features a stylish three column section for links/bookmark icons below the header, a fully widgetized sidebar, calendar icons and much more.

View live demo | Download DfMarine Blogger Template


Here is another AMAZING template which I'd forgotten to add to this list (thank you Daniel for reminding me!)

Cellar Heat (Converted by MagzNetwork)

This fabulous template displays posts in rows of three, side by side on the home page, while on item pages the posts are expanded to fill the main area. It includes a single sidebar to the right of the posts column and three widgetized sections in the footer area.

Originally created by Evan Eckard for Smashing Magazine, I am awed by the wonderful conversion made by Magznetwork and truly recommend this template for those who desire an edgy, grunge style theme.

View live demo | Download Cellar Heat Blogger Template


While some of these templates may be familiar from my previous Blogger template articles, I've only recently discovered most of these templates and feel it only fair to share the best of my discoveries with you.

There are dozens more beautiful Blogger designs I have encountered over the past year and this is my personal selection of favorites. So if you feel I've left out an outstanding design or would simply like to share your own favorite designs, please feel free to discuss this in the comments below.

Import blogs from another service to Blogger with the Google Blog Converters Project

A few months back, Blogger announced the ability to import and export Blogger hosted blogs. At the time, it was not possible to import blogs from any other service to Blogger, which left many of us a little disappointed though wondering when this service could be made available.

Well it seems there is hope that Blogger can make such a service available through our Blogger dashboards soon enough! Today the Google Code blog announced the Google Blog Converters project: an open source project which aims to make available the ability to import/export feeds from many different blog platforms:

This new Open Source project provides the ability to easily move blog posts and comments from service to service. This initial release provides Python libraries and runnable scripts that convert between the export formats of Blogger, LiveJournal, MovableType, and WordPress.

In addition, the source code includes templates for hosting these conversions on Google App Engine. Future additions to the project will include support for BlogML and synchronization tools between various services that do not provide a import/export feature but do provide APIs for accessing and modifying blog contents.

At present, the scripts provided by the Blog Converters Project are not so user friendly for those unfamiliar with scripting languages (though I hope those of you fluent in Python or familiar with the Google App engine may be able to make significantly more progress than I have!).

Instead, you may be better advised to check out these existing online projects if you need to convert a blog from another host over to your Blogger blog:

I look forward to seeing how this progresses and hope we can expect to see an official Blogger application in the near future enabling us to import directly from our Blogger dashboards!

Please feel free to leave any comments or suggestions about this project below.

Get the latest Blogger updates via Twitter!

The Blogger team have (finally) decided to embrace Twitter as a means of publishing updates for Blogger users. By following the official Blogger feed on Twitter, you can now receive news of status updates, blogs of note, service interruptions and fabulous new features even sooner than before.

If you already use Twitter, be sure to follow these official Blogger tweets.

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Browse through the Archives

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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