Friday, June 27, 2008

Horseless Friday: Blogging tools

I'm doing a horseless post every Friday. This Friday I'll be covering some free tools that can make blogging easier.

Blogging software

There are two main blogging hosts, as well as numerous other ones.

Blogger by Google
This is the host I use. Blogs hosted on Blogger have a web address that reads "". So some times you'll also see Blogger called "BlogSpot". (However, if you have another website, your Blogger blog can be hosted there instead.) For me, the primary advantage of Blogger is it integrates with my other Google Services (more on those later). I've found it's fast to start up and easy to use. Posts can be manually edited in HTML or word processed. The chief disadvantage I've found is that ease-of-use and streamlined process comes at the expense of customization.

Blogs hosted on WordPress have a web address that reads "". Since I don't use this service, I cannot speak with authority about it. You can visit their website to check out their features which include tagging, integrated stats, and regular pages.

Here is a helpful comparison between Blogger and WordPress.

A few other hosts are: TypePad, LiveJournal

Google Services

I was already using Google Services before I started my blog, which influenced my decision to use Blogger. All of Google's products are accessed through one account, including Blogger. So you only need to log in one time.

Here are a few of the services I use while blogging.
GMail - email
Documents - I work on posts and save progress here. It works a lot like Microsoft Office, and you can import documents from your computer.
Reader - I use this to keep up on other blogs. It keeps track of what I've read and alerts me to new posts. It does this via RSS/Atom feeds. If you've never used those before, it's not hard to get started.
Picasa - Images I upload to Blogger are automatically hosted here.
Analytics - I could probably devote an entire post to this service. Google Analytics tracks visitors to your blog; how they found you and what they read. It does require setup, but it's not challenging if you've got some basic computer skills. I've found helpful the features that track how people found your blog. It will reveal new links to your posts, for one thing.

Image Editing
IrfanView is a really easy to use program. You can view your images and re-size and rotate them. It does not have the advanced editing capabilities that Adobe Photoshop has (which I have as well, but it costs $$). But IrfanView loads quickly and is simple, and it's free, so I use it most frequently.

Web Browser
FireFox is the web browser I use. You've probably heard of it unless you've been living in a cave (or the barn). But if you haven't, it's free and easy to use. It's safer and more secure than Internet Explorer.

Writing HTML
HyperText Markup Language is the language most webpages use. Primarily it controls fonts, colors, images, and links. Most blog software supports HTML to some extent. Here is a beginner tutorial on HTML. It's very hard to find guides for a complete beginner. Nerds tend to assume they are writing for a fellow nerd. I write my blog posts in HTML, rather than in word processing, because it allows for greater control. But you certainly can do either.

Getting your blog out there
Submit your blog to Google. Google's spider will probably find your blog eventually anyway. But you can hurry it up by submitting it yourself. No it's not a real spider, it's ok!
HorseBloggers is a directory of horse-related blogs. It's free to add a link to your blog. If you do, I'll be reading yours too!

1 comment:

Pony Girl said...

Hey, this was interesting stuff. I always I always wondered what the difference between blogger and wordpress were. Looks like WP has more photo storage which would be nice, since I use a lot of pics in my posts. But I think I like Blogger better, I think it's easy to use. One thing I would love to do is find a way to add another sidebar. I have read how to do it but editing html scares me to death! ;)