Friday, September 2, 2011

4 Awesome Blog Add-Ons

Over the course of the last year, and in the process of creating my new blog yesterday, I've discovered a few tools to streamline my blog. I thought I would take a moment to share them with you, my fellow blogging friends. :)

1. Linkwithin - this is a great widget. You can install it on your blog to show between 3-5 related posts with thumbnail images from them at the bottom of each blog post. This widget has helped me keep traffic on my site longer as people jump from story to story. If they've never been to my blog before, it gives me a chance to make a more lasting impression because most of the time a new visitor only comes to visit for one specific post.

2. Intensedebate - this tool encourages more conversation! The look is more professional and easier to read when there are many comments than Blogger's current comment setup. You can reply directly to comments without have to @________ all the time. You can even give specific comments plus points without having to actually write something directed at them.

(UPDATE 11/2/11: For those of you who are visiting this post from blogher.com today - I just changed my comment system to Disqus, because even though I loved Intense Debate, there were too many people who were unable to comment on my site due to their browser usage. For now, you must be viewing an isolated post to see the comment box in Disqus - a kink I'm working to fix. All is a work in progress right? :) What's your favorite comment system?)

 3. Sharethis - I discovered these yesterday. I have incorporated them in to my new blog and plan to do the same for this one very soon. They are custom social media sharing buttons that are larger and include many more options (like numbers above the button indicating how many have shared the item on any given social media space) than the tiny little share buttons no one uses or notices on the standard blogger blog posts. You can include them with each blog post, and/or install them as a widget on the side of your blog so that people can share your blog much easier. It makes sharing easier and more noticeable - and therefore more likely to happen.

4. Rafflecopter - Right now, this tool is by invite only. But, you can sign up for them on the waiting list. I was able to snag an invite just last week when they had open enrollment for a few days. It is worth the wait though! I saw this tool on my friend Amy's blog - she does lots of giveaways. I was impressed by how simple the tool made giveaways on her blog so I decided to check it out for myself. I will be incorporating it when I go my first giveaway - hopefully next week!

I hope those are helpful to you all. (Especially those of you who have blogs through blogger.) I've shared my favorite blog add-ons with you, now tell me:

What are your favorite add-on tools?

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