As a result of a) having Virtually Paul tell me that he only finds out about cool blogging tools from me; b) realising that I haven’t actually written a Tech post in a long, long time and c) seeing that Darren Rowse’s ProBlogger Group Writing Project is up and happening, I thought it only fitting that I make a top 5 of my favourite tools for blogging with WordPress.
1. Akismet. That counter on my sidebar doesn’t lie: I really have had more than 5 and a half thousand spam comments blocked. In the time I’ve been running the blog, I’ve only had 3 or 4 comments incorrectly blocked (and Jaclyn, if you’re reading, you were one of them: Sorry!) and it’s remarkably rare that a comment spam will get through the spam blocking wonder that is Akismet. I love it
2. Mint. Sure it actually costs money (practically nothing), and it might not quite cover all my stats-nerd needs, but Mint is quickly becoming my tool of choice for statistical analysis. Mint specialises in giving a really nice quick look at how things are travelling – there’s a nice overview of everything I’m interested in all on the front page. It makes me happy. And any gaps in my statistical nerdy needs are met by my love of……
3. FeedBurner. FeedBurner are a perfect example of what is quickly becoming a Web 2.0 dictum: do one thing and do it the best. Feedburner look after RSS feeds. They do all sorts of cool things with it, optimising it for browsers, putting helpful links at the bottom of the feed, and importantly for my aforementioned statistic addiction – tracking subscribers and hits on the blog. FeedBurner is only really made useful because they have a ripper little plugin which automagically forwards all the hits to my regular feed addresses (http://www.geoffreport.com/wp/feed/ or a derivative of that) to my FeedBurner feed (http://feeds.feedburner.com/geoffreport ) without me needing to touch anything. Gotta love that!
4 . Google Reader. I’ve mentioned this in the past, but it really does make my blogging world a happier place. I’m currently monitoring 138 feeds, and that can only happen because it all goes in centrally to the Google Reader interface. It’s also a source for what I think is probably my most under-utilised feature: the starred post feed and sidebar widget where I link through to interesting things I’ve come across in the blogosphere. If I don’t find it in my Google Reader, it doesn’t go in there.
5. Google Analytics. I know, I know, I’ve now got three places that I’m listing statistic services, but it’s MY favourite top 5 after all, so you can all just put up with it. Analytics is cruddy at trying to pick up the here and now stuff, which Mint is much, much better at, but Google Analytics is an absolute wonder at looking over historical data – particularly now that I’ve almost got a year’s worth of data in there. So I can have a look at how the traffic spike for one Problogger writing project versus another, or how many people read the “going out” announcement versus how many read the “engagement” announcement. It gives a stats junkie way too much to do.
Others that came close to making the list are Adsense, but I haven’t made a penny off that yet (although it’s getting there), or ScribeFire except that I’m still getting used to using it, and not that sure that I love it as much as I’d hoped that I would.