Wednesday, January 7, 2009

Fav Tools For A Richer Blogging Experience

[Note: If you're having problems viewing the pictures, just point your mouse at the pic and click. If you're still having problems, leave a note and I'll check it out]

I've been using this Web 2.0ish online journal called Daily Mile to log my running and fitness regimen. Very nifty tool. First saw reference to it from runningdatc's blog. I thought I'd also share some of blogging tools I find indispensable or at least those I couldn't live without. It's always good to share something that other people might find useful, good karma points. So here it is boys and girls, 'hope you find it as useful as I do.
  1. Web Analytics
  2. News Aggregator
  3. Google Alert
1. Web Analytics. These are tools that allows you to collate, measure and analyze data or 'hits' on your web pages. There's plenty of them around but I use Google's own analytic tool since it plays well with other Google apps. Here's snapshot:

Wordpress have a built-in but limited web analytics tools but for a richer set of data that you can slice and dice, go with a real web analytic tools. I had 3,589 page view for the last 7 months, using web analytics it allows me to mine my stats for some really interesting tidbits.

Example: One-third of my visitors came from outside Philippines (ie. US, UK, Singapore, Germany) and these are repeat visitors! (I didn't bore them to tears :-)) Of course I have to quantify that by saying that most of these visits abroad was source from other blogs, so a lot of it was referral. So for instance, half of readers from US were initially reading SFrunner's blog before heading to my site. Mucho gracias Wayne! Now for readers outside US, it's been mostly organic (via Google/Blogspot/direct). They somehow came upon my blog and came back for more (aw shucks). Now here is an interesting part, based from their network location/Internet gateway a lot of them are reading my blog at work! Hehe, how cool is that? :-)

Web analytics is good tool, use it track your traffic and get some really interesting perspective.

2. News Aggregators/RSS Readers. This topic came up briefly at the last Christmas dinner with runner bloggers/friends. From the looks of it, hardly anyone uses these tools (except for one or two guys), everyone either manually check blog updates or go to sites or blogs that have this small newsreel app that display brief headlines/updates of other blogs that the author follows. This is where news aggregrators comes in, it enables you to follow news sites, blogs and other RSS/Atom-enabled websites without using your web browser to check for updates.

Let me put it in perspective: When I started blogging I only keep track a small number of bloggers. Must read in my list are the rock stars (The Bull, The Bald, and Bards) plus a few other blogs, so that's a total of 7 or 8 blogs that I manually visit a week. Not bad. Fast forward a few months, a running boom and parallel jump in the number of people blogging their running experience. So now I keep track of close to 30 blogs. Now imagine keeping track this number of blogs manually... yeah not good. And that's where aggregators shines. It aggregates blog updates and pull them to your news reader to be read at your convenience. Really, this is more of a productivity tool than anything else although I'd hardly call keeping track of various blogs productive :-)

(Hmm... I'm starting to feel like I'm pontificating or something) Now, in case it hasn't sunk in how incredibly useful this tool is. Check this snap shot carefully.

Notice anything special? Yep, a single repository for all your favorite blogs. Blue means number of unread articles. Red means new post based on chronological order. How's that for productivity? :-) I use Akregator from KDE. For Windows check here. For Mac check here. Or just use Google Reader. Bonus points: you also avoid those bling-bling that bloggers are so fond of.

3. Google Alerts. These are alerts sent to you based on the search items that you've defined. Technically, this is not really a blogging tool, mostly just one of those tool you keep handy for some nefarious end (kidding :-)). So let's say you want to keep track of particular topic or update from any of the web sites, news, blogs or mailing lists (even video sites), this tool will track it for you. If any of these sites posted your "search items" an email notification is sent to you. I use it as personal tracker for any mentioned of my name in the web, you'd be surprise the things it can track and come up with. The little tool that could. So... wanna track your High School principal? Yep, this tool is badass.


runningdatcom said...

Thanks for this. I've been looking for a better way to track all the blogs I read. I sometimes discover belatedly that I missed a good read by a few days. RSS reader is the way to go!

run unltd. said...

Great find Gene, now I can adopt the excerpts from our discussion last time at itallianis. If I may ask, how can we add a recent comment tracker in our sidebar, wordpress had this feature in them. I find it difficult to go over and over my posting to determine who commented on my blog, do you have any idea, tetchie man? Thanks in advance.

sundaywarrior said...

This is a nice tool for bloggers, thanks!

Gene Ordanza said...

Hey Datc and SundayWarrior, 'm glad you find it useful. Have fun!

Hey Vener, tried to find the widget for it but couldn't find it as well :-(