Blogger: A blogging option for novices and pros

958 Users read it.
by Linda Goin

"A new look at Google's Blogger"

In this article, Linda takes a new look at Google’s Blogger as an option for eliminating self-hosting.

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Monetization

Many bloggers like to use a little sidebar for Adsense or Amazon. Blogger allows both monetization elements without qualms.


Note in the image shown above that you have options for Adsense, Adsense for Feeds and for Amazon. They are fairly self-explanatory, and you can view your income in the drop-down menu below "View Payment History" by today, yesterday, last 7 days, this month, last month and all time. The various layout options – depending upon the template you choose – provide for side columns, banners and more for your monetization efforts. You must, however, have accounts at Adsense and at Amazon Associates to take advantage of these opportunities.

Google Affiliate Network and AdSense have integrated their payment systems to provide you with even more options to monetize your blog. To place Google Affiliate Network links on your blog, follow the instructions at Google Affiliate Network (you must already have an Adsense account).

Custom Domain

If you already have a domain name, you can use it with Blogger. If you don't have a domain name, you can apply for one through Blogger and they'll handle the DNS. If you're comfortable handling the DNS yourself, create a CNAME record for your blog's address.

To create a CNAME record for your domain with the DNS, associating your domain with:  ghs.google.com. The exact procedure for doing this varies depending on your domain registrar, but you can find instructions for many common registrars here. If your domain registrar is not listed, or if you run into other difficulties, you can contact your registrar directly and they may be able to help you out.

From this point, you can follow the directions at Blogger, where they show you how to alter four separate A records and make the necessary changes on your Blogger account.

Other Highlights

  • Video: You can embed videos into Blogger from Google Video, LiveVideo or YouTube. The only issue is that the maximum width for Blogger is 320px, which means you need to change height along with width if you need to alter the width. You can use a variety of tools to calculate the image proportions.
  • Group Blogging: As administrator for your blog, you can add team members for a group blog. Those extra team members can be administrators or not. Administrators can edit all posts (not just their own), add and remove team members (and grant admin access), and modify the blog's settings and template. Non-admins can only create and edit their own posts.
  • FTP Support: As of this year, there is no FTP support. If you want to learn more about this shut-down, visit the Blogger FTP Info blog.
  • Blogging on the Go: There are three ways to blog to your Blogger blog. 1) BlogThis! is a link you add to your browser's toolbar. If you use Windows and Internet Explorer, you can use BlogThis! from the SendTo feature of the Google Toolbar. If you're on another browser, just drag the link on this page to your browser's Link bar; 2) To post to your blog via email, you need to configure your Mail-to-Blogger email address in "Settings > Email" as shown on this page; Finally, you can blog by mobile device, and Blogger lists the countries and available listed carriers for each country on this page. If you're unsure what alias your carrier uses, simply send a MMS to yourself at an email address and observe the From: field of the email.
  • Gadgets: Think of "gadgets" as the same as "widgets," and you'll be set to go. At Google, gadgets are simple HTML and JavaScript applications that can be embedded in web pages and other apps, including Blogger. And, there's a bonus – every blog is an OpenSocial gadget container powered by Friend Connect. That means as a gadget developer, you can leverage social APIs to build engaging tools for bloggers and their audiences. When you build a gadget for Blogger, it becomes available to millions of active bloggers. Just submit your gadget, and it will immediately surface in Blogger.com where users can easily browse, configure, and add your gadget to their blog's sidebar. Find out how to build gadgets for Blogger.
  • Stats: If you're familiar with Google Analytics, then this portion of the Blogger dashboard may seem very familiar to you. You'll see from the image shown below that you can get an overview (including the option to opt out of counting your own visits), post overview, traffic source and audience breakdown all from the dashboard of your Blogger account. Pretty nifty and very convenient, as you don't need a widget, a plugin or a visit to another site to gain insight on your traffic.


Conclusion

As mentioned in the previous article that showcased various blogs on independent servers, you have limits to free use. But, it appears that Blogger overcomes many of those obstacles – especially the concern about monetization. If you browse through Blogger's help files, you can learn that Blogger has other features that may interest you.

For instance, if you're signed up through Google Voice (previously known as GrandStation), you can add a Google Voice button directly on your blog, if all rings true.

But, don't take my word for all this – give Blogger a whirl and learn that this Google option may be what you need. Take that word, Google, to heart – you may realize that anything "Google" could be anything "Blogger" as well – the changes may still keep coming...

Linda Goin

Linda GoinLinda Goin carries a B.F.A. in visual communications with a minor in business and marketing, and an M.A. in American History with a minor in the Reformation. While the latter degree doesn't seem to fit with the first two educational experiences, Linda used her 25-year design expertise on site at archaeological digs and in the study of material culture. Now she uses her education and experiences in creating social media environments.

Accolades for her work include fifteen first-place Colorado Press Association awards, numerous fine art and graphic design awards, and interviews about content development with The Wall St. Journal, Chicago Tribune, Psychology Today, and L.A. Times.

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