The wonderful thing about having a blog is that you can play with all the bits in its backend (*giggle*). That may not excite all blog owners out there but for me all this playing just hits my … umm … G-spot.
No, not that one, people. My Geek-spot.
For someone who is so *mature* that I didn’t so much as see a computer screen until my senior year of high school, I’ve somehow developed a brain that is wired to understand the (il)logical workings of all things techie.
Translating that techie obsession to my WordPress blog is all about me searching for and trying out new plugins. And by searching and trying, I mean obsessing.
For the uninitiated, plugins are for your blog like apps are for your smartphone. They can enhance your blog and add to your readers’ experience of your blog.
Now, you know I’m pro-WordPress? Well, that doesn’t mean I’m anti-Blogger. Some of my favourite bloggers blog on Blogger. And they’ve even let me play around their backends too! On Blogger blogs, you may have the equivalent plug-in functionality as a gadget or you may need to load the specific HTML code in your blog’s design. If in doubt, Google it. If really in doubt, contact and engage an expert.
Here is what have I added to my blog this month to enhance the opportunities for reader interaction on my blog:
1. Pinterest. I’m a visual person and I’ve latched on to Pinterest like a mad-woman possessed. No beautiful photo is left un-pinned. Pinterest is also a social media network, so adding a Pinterest button to my blog is now as valid as my other social buttons. Bree, The Blog Stylist, has written a detailed post about what Pinterest is, how you can use it and how to add it to your blog. To date, a WordPress plug-in hasn’t been developed to make adding the Pin it button to your site automatic but you can add it manually (same on Blogger). I’m doing it on posts where I’ve created graphics I think others may be interested in pinning, like the Wear Red for Daniel mosaic I created this week.
2. Instagram. Are you getting that I’m into images? I’ve blogged about Instagram before but now I’ve taken it one step further, really utilising it as a visual, micro-blogging platform. I’ve done this by first adding the Instapress WordPress plug-in so you’ll always see the four latest Instagram photos I’ve taken, providing an ever-changing snapshot of my life as a fashion and beauty blogger and a mum. You can choose the size of the images and how many you want to show up on your blog, adding another dimension to what your readers find when they land on your site. On Blogger, use BadgePlz to achieve something similar.
I’ve also got myself an Instagram vanity URL and a Follow button for my site from Followgram, making it easier for other Instagram users to see I’m on there and follow me. This can also be done for Blogger blogs.
3. nrelate. Are you using a plug-in or gadget at the bottom of your blog posts to give your readers suggestions on previous blog posts they might be interested in reading? Have you noticed that
sometimes often the posts suggested are in no way related to the one on that page? Yep, me too. Then I came across nrelate. And yes, it’s available for WordPress, Blogger and even Tumblr platforms. You can modify the way you want the related content buttons to look and it actually does find … well … related content. Win.
4. Reply Me. I have a thing about blog comments: just like Twitter and Facebook mentions I’ll always reply. Yes, this takes some time but the WordPress app on my phone does make that a little easier when I’m out and about during the day. And I believe that if someone is taking the time to *talk* to me on my blog then I should talk back. Some of the WordPress blogs I follow have this plug-in so that the person leaving a comment gets an email when the blogger has replied to that comment on the blog. I like this. I may not have subscribed to the comment feed on a post but it’s nice to know that the blogger has replied to me. So, yes, that’s why you’re now receiving an email from me if you leave a comment. If your blog has the Discus comment system, then your commenters can also receive emails from you.
5. Digg Digg. I owe this one to the genius of a girl, Bree The Blog Stylist, mentioned above. I was a little bit envious of her neat social media share buttons on her blog posts so I just came out and asked her straight what she used to get them. So, she shared. She’s good like that. You can choose which ones you want to include, where you want to postion them and how you want them to look. I’ve added the +1 and StumbleUpon as well as Facebook and Twitter button. The result: interaction via these channels has skyrocketed. It’s not perfect – the StumbleUpon button only appears on my home page not on the posts (I’m sure their tech support will get back to me soon on that one 😉 ) – but it does make it easier for a reader to share your post. For blogger blogs, you can load individual share buttons via editing your template or use the standard share buttons that can be activated from the dashboard.
Whatever platform you’re on, share buttons are a must. It’s frustrating reading a great blog post and then not being able to share it easily. Always make things easy for your readers. They’re more likely to share, comment and importantly, come back!
There you have it, my inner blogging geek download for the week. Do you use any of the above blog add-ons? What have you learned about or added to your blog this week that’s made you feel a little bit geeky?