Blogging can be a great way for your company to add some online spice about your business, increase your expertise and highlight the products and services you have to offer. As an individual, blogging can be a great way to gain some exposure and even earn some extra cash.

But just because everyone in the world seems to be blogging, doesn’t mean that everyone is finding success. There are certain things that you absolutely must do in order for your blog to be successful, including the following.

1. Stick to a niche.
Know the niche of your blog and stick to it. Are you going to start a mommy blog, a financial blog, a marketing blog, a photography blog? You have the option of choosing the niche for your blog, so make sure you do and then stick to it. If the focus of your blog is confusing, it’s going to confuse your audience.

2. Start with multiple posts.
Before you launch your blog to the rest of the world, make sure you put a few posts on your site and let it marinate. Not only will this help the search engines start to crawl through your site and rank you appropriately, but it will also provide your audience with more than one post to read when they land on your site.

3. Have a schedule.
If you’re going to blog, the most successful way to do so is to have a schedule. Know how many posts you want to write per week and stick with it. Your audience will soon start to notice your patterns, and this will help them learn when to come back to your site for new content.

4. Enable comments.
Some bloggers are afraid to allow comments on their site because they’re afraid that someone will post something bad about their content. While nobody wants to anger a reader or be told that their blog isn’t worth reading, enabling contents also allows people to post good comments about your work. Not only will you enjoy the praise, but you can also use these comments to engage with your audience and learn more about their interests.

5. Give your audience what they want.
When you listen to the comments of your audience, you can determine what topics they want to learn more about. This can help ensure you’re constantly giving your audience valuable information, forcing them to return back to your site. If you don’t give your audience what they want, they’ll eventually start following a blog that does.

6. Use share buttons.
Help your audience spread the word about your blog by enabling share buttons. Allow your audience to easily email a link to your post or provide a link to your site through their social media channels. When you make sharing easier for your audience, they’ll be more willing to actually do so.

7. Proofread.
Even if you do all of these tips, constantly pushing out content that has grammatical and punctuation mistakes will force your audience to go elsewhere. Having content with multiple mistakes takes away from your credibility, which will inevitably hurt your blog.

Darby Little is a reputation manager and avid blogger from Austin. She is currently using Review Trackers to manage online business reviews.

WordPress makes your blogging experience even better with the release of Version 3.6. The latest version includes a beautiful new default theme, improved auto-save, post-locking and revisions browser. Audio and video embeds are now natively supported, and integrations with Spotify, Rdio, and SoundCloud have been improved. The release was named “Oscar” in honor of jazz pianist Oscar Peterson.

Twenty Thirteen, The Future is Fantastic

Twenty Thirteen theme
Inspired by modern art, Twenty Thirteen features quirky details, beautiful typography, and high-contrast colors with a flexible layout that looks great on any device, big or small. The new default theme puts focus on your content with a colorful, single-column design made for media-rich blogging.

Revisions Browser

Explore Revisions

From the first word you write, WordPress saves every change. Each revision is always at your fingertips. Text is highlighted as you scroll through revisions at lightning speed, so you can see what changes have been made along the way.

Improved Autosaves

Never lose a word you’ve written. Autosaving is now even better; whether your power goes out, your browser crashes, or you lose your internet connection, your content is safe.

Better Post Locking

Always know who’s editing with live updates that appear in the list of posts. And if someone leaves for lunch with a post open, you can take over where they left off.

New Media Player

Share your audio and video with the new built-in HTML5 media player. Upload files using the media manager and embed them in your posts.

Embed Music from Spotify, Rdio, and SoundCloud

Embed songs and albums from your favorite artists, or playlists you’ve mixed yourself. It’s as simple as pasting a URL into a post on its own line.

Audio/Video API

The new audio/video APIs give developers access to powerful media metadata, like ID3 tags.

Semantic Markup

Themes can now choose improved HTML5 markup for comment forms, search forms, and comment lists.

JavaScript Utilities

Handy JavaScript utilities ease common tasks like Ajax requests, templating, and Backbone view management.

Shortcode Improvements

Search content for shortcodes with has_shortcode() and adjust shortcode attributes with a new filter.

Revision Control

Fine-grained revision controls allow you to keep a different number of revisions for each post type.

External Libraries

New and updated libraries: MediaElement.js, jQuery 1.10.2, jQuery UI 1.10.3, jQuery Migrate, Backbone 1.0.

Noviture Template
Noviture is based on the WP theme by CamelGraph. It’s a modern looking grey/white design with a top menu, rounded corners, a stunning slideshow, thumbnails and post summaries on the homepage and a four column footer. Some other features include a Facebook share button, a retweet button, Email subscriptions and a Feed Counter.
Demo | Download

ResponsiveT Template
ResponsiveT is a free premium blogger template with a responsive design, bootstrap effect, 3 columns, left and right sidebars, a minimalist and fresh look.

Demo | Download

Google Chrome Template
Google Chrome Template is a free premium blogger layout adapted from the WordPress theme, with 2 columns, right sidebar, rounded corners and minimalist design. An excellent template for blogs about internet or software.

Demo | Download

Transparency Template
Transparency is a template with 2 columns, right sidebar and neutral blue colors with a white font. Featured content on the homepage.

Demo | Download

sIMPRESS Template
sIMPRESS 2.0 template for Blogger is now available. It’s got tabs across the top you can customize as you please. The template is designed with a fluid width layout which stretches when you expand your browser. It also has a nice date function that shows the day and month for each post.

Demo | Download

Revolution Church Template
Revolution Church is a magazine-styled template with 3 columns. This template was originally designed for wordpress by Brian Gardner and later adapted for use in Blogger.

Demo | Download

Andreas02 Template
Andreas02 is another wordpress theme booted to blogger. The original design is by Andreas Viklund. It’s an aesthetically appealing two column layout with the sidebar on the right, grey and white background colors. Some elements of the design have been altered for benefits of Blogger Beta templates.

Demo | Download

Connexion Template
Connexion is another blogger template converted from a theme originally designed for wordpress by Jinsona. This is a typical modern template with a dark-grey background and a picture of a bridge and skyline on the header.

Demo | Download

Pyrmont Template
Pyrmont is a dark and minimalist blogger template with the color orange used as highlights. It was designed with simplicity and readability in mind. A custom google search bar will allow your readers to search your blog. This blogger template has been converted from Pyrmont V2 for wordpress.

Demo | Download

Zinmag Remedy Template
Zinmag Remedy is a dark magazine template with blue color used as highlight. It has a slideshow, featured content, and a right sidebar. Remedy was originally a wordpress theme from web2feel.

Demo | Download

I recently switched my default browser from Firefox to Chrome, and tested various blogging productivity tools. In the Chrome Webstore many apps and extensions are available to add more functionality to this wonderful web browser. I created a list of tools that help to increase your productivity as a blogger.

WordPress Stats. For bloggers who are addicted to statistics. Gets daily traffic stats of all your WordPress blogs right in your Chrome browser. Works in combination with WordPress.com Stats plugin for self-hosted wordpress blogs.

Scribefire for Chrome. A full-featured weblog client that integrates with Chrome and lets you easily manage multiple blogs. Supported platforms are WordPress, Blogger, MovableType, TypePad, Tumblr, Posterous, Xanga, LiveJournal, and others. Improves productivity for bloggers who run blogs on different platforms, and bloggers with a large number of blogs.

Blog This. An extension that allows quick posting to all your Blogger blogs. Makes it easy to blog about sites you’re currently browsing. Simply highlight some text and click the blogger icon. A new application window will open with a pre-populated post that has the same title as the webpage you’re on, as well as the highlighted text and a link to the page. From there you can edit the post as you please, and select the blog you want to post on from a dropdownmenu.

Multipress. An extension that allows quick access to the Press This interface of your favorite WordPress blogs, in a similar way to Blog This. Allows quick posting to five different blogs.

WordPress Checker. This extension checks your WordPress blogs for pending comments and spam. Shows approved, pending, spam and total comments for one or more blogs from your Chrome browser.

WordPress Comment Notifier. Notifies when comments are posted on your wordpress blogs.

Tumblr Dashboard. This extension allows access to your tumblelog, and creates new content directly from Chrome.

Share on Tumblr. A Chrome extension that adds one-click submission to your Tumblr blog functionality.

Zemanta. Expands your blogging dashboard by presenting content suggestions based on your blog articles. Supports many blog platforms, Gmail and Yahoo! Mail.

Blog Security. Not a really a productivity tool, but a rather important app that scans your self-hosted WordPress installations, and fixes possible security vulnerabilities accordingly. It also monitors your WordPress blogs for any changes, and patches new threats automatically.

I must say that I’m quite pleased with my new default browser. And with these blogging productivity tools it certainly has become a lot easier, and faster, to manage all my blogs.

1. Free tool to optimize, clean and compress CSS stylesheets
CSS (cascading style sheet) deals with the look and formatting of your blog by specifying the style of a range of HTML elements, which are selected by ID, Class, type or relationship. In wordpress blog themes the main stylesheet file is named “style.css” and typically has a filesize of anywhere between 20 and 60 kilobytes.

Using the tool at cleancss.com (which is based on the tidycss script), does not only optimize and reduce the filesize of your stylesheet with an average 25%, it also allows you to compress the code layout. When you set the compression rate to High (moderate readability, smaller size), all your rules will be formatted on one line each. Personally I strongly prefer this code layout over the standard layout, as I find it easier to ‘scan’ my code.

Furthermore, cleancss optimizes selectors and their properties, merges shorthand properties, compresses colors and font-weight, removes unnecessary backslashes, converts the !important hack and removes the last dot-comma ; from each line of code.

2. Validate HTML and CSS markup tool
The CSS optimizer tool is not a code validator. To validate your HTML and CSS code, the nr.1 resource is at the site of W3C, the World Wide Web Consortium, who are the main international standards organization. There you can find both the HTML and XHTML Markup Validator, and the CSS Validation Service.

3. Pixie color picker
Pixie is a nifty tool specifically made for webmasters and designers. Simply point your cursor to any color on your screen, and pixie will tell you the hex, RGB, HTML, CMYK and HSV values. You can also use the keyboard shortcuts CTRL+ALT+C to copy the HTML color value directly, CTRL+ALT+X to open color mixer and CTRL+ALT+Z to open the magnifier. The portable application file of this little tool is only 11Kb.

4. Live Editing, Debugging, Tweaking and Monitoring of HTML elements.
Firebug is an open source web development tool that integrates with the Firefox browser and puts a wealth of utilities at your fingertips. It allows you to edit, debug, tweak and monitor HTML, CSS and JavaScript, while you’re browsing web pages. Firebug also comes with a DOM (Document Object Model) console to help you see how HTML elements relates to each other.

5. jQuery User Interface
jQuery UI is a library of interface components that provides abstractions for interaction, animation and other advanced effects. These are built on top of the jQuery JavaScript library, and the themeable widgets make it easy for web developers to build interactive web applications.

Google Webmaster Tools invites webmasters and bloggers to submit an XML compliant sitemap so that all posts, pages, categories and other sections of your blog are fully and quickly indexed by the googlebot crawlers.

With your Google account, you can sign up for webmaster tools and use those tools to improve your site’s accessibility. Submitting a sitemap is one of those tools, this will ensure that all your pages are crawled. The ‘Top Search Queries’ feature will help you to get a better insight of how, when and how often your blog posts are displayed and clicked in Google’s search results. The Diagnostics tool will notify you about crawl errors, pages of your site that generate errors such as 404, HTTP errors and more. There is even a tool you can utilize to see which other sites on the web are linking to your blog and particular articles.

Reason enough to use Google’s Webmaster Tools if you are a smart blogger, but how to go about making an XML compliant sitemap and submit it to Google? As always there is a plugin that can do all the work for us. I have been using Google Sitemap generator for wordpress since a long time. It is the perfect plugin to do the job.

Download the plugin here, upload the files to your wp-content/plugins folder and activate the plugin through the administration interface. Before you can use the plugin, the sitemap needs to be build for the first time. You might want to go through the settings for advanced customization first.

After the sitemap is generated it will be located at yoursite.com/sitemap.xml and each time your write a new post or page, the plugin will automatically rebuild the sitemap and notify Google about the new entries in the sitemap.

If you want to benefit and learn from the diagnostics that Webmaster Tools has to offer you will need to signup and verify your site by adding a meta tag with verification code within in the HEAD tag of your header.php template.

Update: Today I discovered a Crawl Error in Google Webmaster tools diagnostics. Google encountered the following issue when crawling my site:

http://www.bloggertools.org/wp-app.php/service 401 error Jul 14, 2011

Turns out it was caused by a setting of the XML sitemap generator plugin, which was in conflict with the real robots.txt file which exists in the blog directory.

Magazine themes with grid layouts are perfect for your news based blogs, as they give more room to showcase your content. I collected and present here ten of the most flexible and innovative FREE WordPress Magazine themes and templates.

Some of these magazine themes may have been inspired by Blueprint CSS, a framework that offers a foundation to build websites with a grid layout.

All themes come with a range of options to showcase your content on the homepage. The idea of a magazine theme is to present content on your homepage in a way similar to how newspapers showcase their news.

Update 2011: When I posted these magazine themes in 2009, most browsers didn’t (fully) support CSS3. Now that Internet Explorer finally offers support for CSS3 in IE9, many new themes use this new version of CSS to add fancy effects to their design without the need of using background images, such as rounded borders, text shadow, border shadow and gradient backgrounds.

Zinmag Tribune
zinmag tribune wordpress theme by web2feel.com
Zinemag Tribune is the ultimate free WordPress theme with newspaper layout. It is bundled with many extra features, and a custom administration panel to enable its different modules. This white professional looking magazine style theme was designed by Jinsona creations, and released under the popular Zinmag series.
LIVE DEMO | FREE DOWNLOAD

Scarlett
Free scarlett theme by web2feel.com
The Scarlett theme is another stylish creation by web2feel.com. It features some nice custom dynamic content elements that are built into it. Multi-level dropdown navigation menu, Tabbed content area, Custom sliding elements with images, and so much more!
LIVE DEMO | FREE DOWNLOAD

The Morning After
The Morning After Magazine Theme by themasterplan.in
The Morning After is an original and professional looking magazine theme, created by Arun Kale. After a brief survey about what features bloggers would want to see in a unique magazine theme on the WordPress forums, Arun created The Morning After theme, considering the user feedback on this question. The Morning After theme is now released under a Creative Commons license.
LIVE DEMO | FREE DOWNLOAD

Magasin Cuatro
Magasin Cuatro - free wordpress theme by paddsolutions.com
Magasin Cuatro is a WordPress Magazine theme with Featured Post, Twitter Account integration, Flickr Thumbnails, Feedburner Email Subscription. This theme is adsense ready and optimized, compatible with the latest version of wordpress, and it has an integrated automatic thumbnail resize feature. It requires a number of free wp plugins to be installed for extra functionality.
LIVE DEMO | FREE DOWNLOAD

Grungezine
Grungezine WordPress Magazine Theme by wspark.com
Grungezine is a nice fixed width, 3 column layout, Magazine-style WordPress theme, created by wpspark. It has some important widgets and features build into it. License: Free to use, must keep the footer intact as is.
LIVE DEMO | FREE DOWNLOAD

WP Magazine
WP Magazine theme for wordpress by gabfire.com
WP Magazine is a flexible newspaper/magazine styled WordPress theme released by gabfire.com. It has 3 columns and a fixed width. Featured content is enabled, and advertising space is available. The theme has been tested with 6 different browsers. Users have contributed to make the theme available in different languages.
LIVE DEMO | FREE DOWNLOAD

Arthemia
Wordpress Arthemia theme by michaelhutagalung.com
Athemia is an innovative creation by Michael Jubel Hutagalung. The theme features paged plugin support, automated navigation page listing, headlines and a pictorial presentation.
LIVE DEMO | FREE DOWNLOAD

Branford Magazine
Branford Magazine free wordpress theme by der-prinz.com
Branford Magazine is a popular theme with some neat features, created by Michael Oeser. It’s an amazing theme combining the very best of two other great magazine layouts; inspiration came from “Revolution theme” by Brian Gardner and the “Mimbo theme” created by Darren Hoyt. This theme is ready for localization, and a language pack is available.
LIVE DEMO | FREE DOWNLOAD

FakeBlog
fakeblog wordpress theme by fakeblog.de
Fakeblog, aka Overstand Theme, is a fresh black/white/orange 3 column Magazine style template for wordpress powered weblogs. It is available in both the English and German language. See the theme live in action on fakeblog.de
LIVE DEMO | FREE DOWNLOAD

Magazeen
Free WordPress Magazeen Theme by smashingmagazine.com
The free wordpress Magazeen theme, created by the talented WeFunction Design Agency, is an advanced magazine look design which includes all the popular features. With the main focus being on typography, grids and magazine style, this theme suits all the needs for your news based blog.
LIVE DEMO | FREE DOWNLOAD

Creating a blog on blogger is free and fairly easy to do. Your webaddress will be assigned on a blogger.com subdomain, and your blog will be hosted on a Google server, thus you avoid paying for the costs of webhosting and a domainname.

When you have a Blogger blog, I suggest you utilize these 12 best and most popular free blogger tools, used by professional bloggers, to get the most out of your new blog.

  1. FeedBurner is a tool that will generate a smart feed, compatible with all the free feed readers out there. Using the “Burned feed” generated by feedburner is a great way to distribute your content over the internet. Feedburner, recently acquired by Google, also allows you to put +Add buttons for XML, Yahoo, MSN etc. on your site. Monitor the health of your feed by subscribing to FeedBulletin. Get a cool feed count button to show how many readers have subscripted to your blog feed.
  2. Js-Kit is a tool that integrates trackbacks into your blogger blog. It provides other bloggers with a seamless way to add trackbacks to your blog and also imports existing comments and provides live synchronization of new comments with Blogger.
  3. Avantblog is free software that allows you to post articles on your blog using a Palm or Windows CE device.
  4. My Blog Log tracks outgoing links to let you know where your traffic is going. Discover who’s visiting your site, and connect with your readers.
  5. w.bloggar is an application that acts as an interface between the user and one or more blogs. It is a Post and Template editor, with several features and resources that the browser based blog editors do not offer.

Turn your WordPress powered site into a Youtube Video Blog.

Most bloggers already know that it’s possible to easily embed flash video’s in blog posts. What’s not as well known is that YouTube creates a thumbnail for each video that we can also embed. This makes it possible to create a video blog with an index of clickable thumbnails.

The free Videographer theme works best with the two different plugins: WP Youtube and WP Postratings.

Once everything is installed you can post video’s, simply by including the unique Youtube video ID’s in a custom field in your wordpress posts. With this brilliant theme you an easily turn your wordpress blog into a video blog.

When I first created this blog, it was my intention to work on my own wordpress themes and release them on this site. However, with so many other opportunities and activities I have online, I couldn’t find the time to start working on a wordpress design. Now we are nine months later, a new year has arrived, and one of my resolutions was to bring new life into some of my neglected websites.

At the moment I find myself almost finished with my very first wordpress theme. This one is not going to be released, as I intend to use it on my own weblog when it’s done, and keep it unique. My 2nd wordpress theme will be released though, and it’s going to be a clean, lite Web2.0 theme.

In the meantime I wanted to share with you some of the themes from other designers that I found when searching for Web2.0 themes. I noticed that many people frequently use the term web2.0 to describe their designs, however, most of them don’t actually have much 2.0 style to be named as such.

Some of the themes that I found to be Web 2.0 Worthy are listed below. These five pretty wordpress themes all feature their own unique characteristics with detail for web 2.0 graphic design elements.

Sodelicious Theme
This first theme is called Sodelicious and was created by Rui Castro of web2themes.com. It has a web 2.0 style design with 3 nice features; a Slideshow screen on the left where you can place an animation or featured content, a big sidebar on the right that includes 3 widget sidebars, and 4 social bookmarks buttons that are automatically placed in your posts.

Curved Theme
The 2nd theme, made by Aditi Tuteja, was named Curved because of the nice rounded blue corners. This theme supports widgets, and has a nice striped header along with tabbed navigation.

Gossipcity Theme
Gossip City is a web2.0 wordpress theme, created by DesignDisease, and is the perfect theme for your gossip and celebrity weblogs. It has a stylish 3-column, widget ready with sweet color palette theme, and was released under the Creative Commons Attribution-Share Alike 3.0 License.

Glossy Blue Theme
The next theme comes from Ndesign Studio and has a High-tech, glossy Mac style with web 2.0 mini icons. Validated XHTML and CSS, Web 2.0 colors, the perfect WordPress theme for your technology-related blog.

Webby Blue Theme
And finally the last theme is the rather simple looking Webby Blue Design from Justskins.com. This is a 2-column, widgets ready Web2.0 style wordpress theme, with light blue colors. Theme was tested with WordPress 2.2.x.

I hope that this post was useful to you. Make sure to visit this site again anytime next month, hopefully I have released my own 2.0 theme by then.