Amp Up Your Blog With These Add-OnsElance_Alex | Sep 14, 2009
The first step to creating a blog for personal or business use is the obvious: Get the thing up and running in one piece. However, it doesn’t (and shouldn’t) stop there, as there are tons of widgets, plug-ins, add-ons, and more that not only increase the functionality of your blog but can also help you retain users, bring new ones, and monetize more efficiently.
Here’s my shortlist of blog must-have elements:
Social Media Integration: If you take a look at the right side of the very blog you’re reading this post on, you’ll notice that we’ve incorporated the “Facebook Fan Box” widget as well as an aggregated Twitter feed. The benefits of integrating social media elements is two fold. First, you’ll be providing an easy way for readers to engage your online communities by joining your Facebook Fan Page as well as follow you on Twitter. Secondly, on the flipside, by posting your content on to various social media channels, you’ll be adding supplemental traffic to your site. Who would say no to that?
Most Viewed: Let’s say you published a link to your article on Twitter, and lo-and-behold, you nab yourself a visitor. Now, once your reader has finished digesting your article in its entirety (as they should), the absolute last thing you’d want them to do is simply leave and go off to Google land. The Most Viewed widget placed strategically on your page will give your visitors that have landed on your page additional dynamic content for them to click through to, thus retaining readers on the site and turning more page views. These widgets also surface your best content to readers with statistics to back them up. Since these types of widgets are usually automated, they’re very low maintenance but can make a huge impact in terms of page views.
Recent Comments: This is another fantastic feature. One of the fastest ways to increase your readership is to entice users with ways to voice their opinion and hold discussions with each other in your comments section. A Recent Comments section gives your readers a hint of the action with one quick glimpse – they’ll be able to quickly see what topics and posts are all the rage on your blog right now and will be enticed to jump in and share their opinion. Yahoo! Shine has great examples of both this and the "Most Viewed" module on their front page.
Forward To A Friend/ShareThis: Although email may be considered “old-school” for these new-aged internet whippersnappers, “Forward To A Friend” modules are still an extremely relevant and valid tool to implement on your blog. For the more tech-savvy/millennial generation, using a widget like ShareThis or AddThis will allow you to forward your material to more services and social media sites than you can shake a stick at. Facebook, Twitter, Myspace, Digg, SMS, Delicious, StumbleUpon, Reddit, Blogger, and more. Spread the digital word!
Tip The Editor/Contact Us: Yes, you know your blog and its content best. But who in the world knows your content second best? Your faithful readers. Giving them a place to contact you directly for story pitches, feature ideas, and corrections will not only give you some great feedback for you to noodle on but will also let your readership know that you’ve got your ear to the ground listening.
Related Posts: Again, more places for your visitor to click on. These modules usually appear immediately after the content and provide a few headlines and links to stories that are relevant to the current story, typically by tag definition. Remember, old content can still be good content, and this module can squeeze out a few extra page views that are still very valuable.
RSS Feeds: Crucial element here, folks. RSS, or “Really Simple Syndication”, gives your readers a way to follow your content closely as it publishes. But that’s just the beginning – RSS can be implemented in a number of websites, like Twitter and Facebook, allowing you to publish links to your content without having to do anything! Most blog platforms come with an RSS module built in, but if not, you definitely, definitely need to work on getting on.
Remember folks, this is just the beginning when it comes to building your blog out. However, if you’re feeling like this is a little over your head, don’t panic. Elance has thousands of blog experts and developers that can quickly develop any or all of these tools at the drop of a hat.
Got any favorite features that you love? Show us by dropping us a line in the comments below.
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