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5 Tools & Services I Recommend to Every Blog Owner

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Straight out of the box WordPress covers all the features you could want for your blog, which is probably the reason why it’s the most popular blogging platform. However there are some extra resources and services I always rely on to add that extra level of functionality to my sites. Here’s a quick overview of five services, both free and paid, that I always recommend to the owner of any blog.

Feedburner

Feedburner

Feedburner, which is now owned by Google, is a handy tool that allows you to manage your RSS feeds. By ‘burning’ your feed through Feedburner, you gain access to a whole bunch of extra features. Most importantly you can see and track your feed statistics such as your subscriber count. Feedburner also gives you the opportunity to offer your RSS feeds as email updates, opening up new options to your subscribers.

Cost: Free!

Google Analytics

Google Analytics

Google Analytics is a powerful stats tool that collections useful traffic data on your site. By simply adding a tracking code to your website code, you’ll be able to keep an eye on all kinds of handy data. See which posts generate the largest response, see where your traffic is coming from and gather useful information on the browser usage and computer setup of your visitors.

Cost: Free!

Wufoo

Wufoo

Wufoo is an online HTML form builder that makes it easy to accept email message via your website. Sure, there’s plenty of PHP scripts and plugins out there that can quickly generate a contact form, but none of them are as spam free and as easily customisable as Wufoo. What’s more, your emails arrive all nicely formatted and easy on the eye. I use Wufoo not only for contact forms, but also for questionnaires and surveys.

Cost: Free (or premium from $14.95)

Bookmarking buttons

Social Bookmarking buttons

Every popular social bookmarking website now has a button that you can place on your website. These buttons help users promote and share your content, which grow your blog with more and more exposure. Popular buttons I use are those from Tweetmeme, Facebook, Digg and DesignBump, but there’s plenty more out there to choose from, including StumbleUpon, Delicious, DZone and Reddit.

Cost: Free!

BuySellAds

BuySellAds

If your blog has reached a stage where you can begin bringing in some revenue to cover the time your put into your blog, the BuySellAds is an indispensable resource. Managing your advertisers and ad spaces manually is an exhaustive task. BuySellAds not only take the strain out of ad management, but they also exposure your site to a huge marketplace of potential advertisers.

Cost: 25% commission on ad sales

What about you?

Which resources, other than plugins do you use on your blog? Are there any that are so good you don’t mind paying for the service? Let me know in the comments!

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Written by Chris Spooner

Chris Spooner is a designer who loves experimenting with new web design techniques collating creative website designs. Check out Chris' design tutorials and articles at Blog.SpoonGraphics or follow his daily findings on Twitter.

38 Comments

  1. Dulce says:

    You forgot to include that they should create a Twitter and Facebook profile as well.

    • Twitter and Facebook profiles are definitely important. Giving access to the person behind a blog can really help boost connections between author and reader.

  2. Great post Chris. I use all of these apart from Wufoo although I may try it out when I have some time to make my forms more easy on the eye! :D

  3. Great post!
    I didn't know about Wufoo, I'll give it a try. Thanks.

  4. Sagi says:

    I think that another tool that is great for blogs (and for the sake of typography on the web in general) is FLIR. I use it to embed fonts to my blog. There are also 2 more useful tools for that purpose which are Cufon and Sifr. Here is an article I found that compares the 3: http://thinkclay.com/technology/cufon-sifr-flir

    I think that each one of them has their own wordpress plugin for simple integration.

  5. While I agree with you on most of these things, I don't agree with you on Wufoo. While it's a great service I've never seen the point in it. I'd rather just create my own forms. That's just my opinion though.

    • I have used manually created PHP scripts, as well as plugins in the past, but here's the main things I love about Wufoo in particular:
      – No spam. No script or plugin I've used otherwise has been spam free, without any complicated capture feature.
      – Easy. I'm no PHP whizz, so it does make creating forms, surveys and other complicated forms a breeze.
      – Nicely formatted. It's always nice to open up a pretty email, as opposed to a bunch of plain text!

  6. Zoe Feast says:

    I am definitely with you on Feedburner and Google Analytics. Did you know that you can set Feedburner to send new posts directly to your twitter account.?

    Also how about an automatic ping tool?
    http://www.pingoat.com/index.php is a good one.

    • Thanks Zoe. I often wondered how users did that.
      I've thought about it for my blogs in the past, but I do like to add a personal message with my links.

  7. todd garland says:

    thanks for including BSA on the list Chris :)

  8. Tom Walters says:

    I think Mint is a better alternative to Google Analytics because it offers more precise results, looks better and offers more customization.

    Also Are My Sites Up is a great service to ensure that your blog's downtime can be addresses really quickly.

    • Is Mint the app that gives you real-time stats? I might have to check that out.

      Are My Sites Up is definitely a handy resource, too. I've just renewed my premium subscription. Coupled with the AMSU iPhone app I can see when there's a server problem within minutes, even at 3am! (Been there!)

      • Tom Walters says:

        Yeah AMSU is great. Mint is really useful because of Peppermill – it's add on system. It certainly looks nicer than Analytics and I offers a number of views on just one page.

  9. Zach Walsh says:

    Great tools here! I like to keep 2 sets of analytics just to have a second opinion of sorts. A nice free tracking site I use is http://www.getclicky.com. It is free and has very time-accurate stats.

  10. Zach Walsh says:

    Great tools here. I like to keep to sets of analytics. I use Google and another free service called http://www.getclicky.com. It is free and offers close to real time stats.

  11. Geetly says:

    Are any of these available for Blogspot?

  12. Nishant says:

    Very nice post. I think analytics is best tool.

  13. Web Guru says:

    How about the spam blockers like askismet? They are also quite important, saves a lot of time to delete those spams.

  14. TechyMinds says:

    Google analytics is just wonderful… it provide elaborate details of visitors in our site.. & so many other features

  15. idagency says:

    Cufon is nice but there is a short loading time when browsing with IE (even IE 8). I like also UpTimeRobot to monitor my websites : ping each 5 minuts and up to 50 websites and totally free. But i don't agree with Wuffo, sorry ;)

  16. Stephan says:

    I love the Plugin wpSEO for WordPress.
    The installation is very fast and simple, and it's very customizable. The Plugin automatically generates the Meta-description, keywords and such "SEO-Things".

    I think Google analytics is very useful, too. So much detailed data about the visitors, i just can't run my blog without it.

    Greetings from Germany,
    Stephan

  17. I hadn't heard of Wufoo but intend to give it a try on the client blog I'm creating.

  18. Tyrone says:

    I use most of these already but haven't heard of Wufoo before, will look in to that one.
    Not to keen on buysellads, to snobby for my liking. They only want to know, if you can them money. We all have to start at the bottom and build our blog/sites up. Don't know if it's just me but i think that's a bad attitude to have towards new bloggers. Just my honest option.

  19. Herman says:

    I would like to add the WordPress plugins that display your latest Tweets on your blog… for example http://wordpress.org/extend/plugins/twitter-for-wordpress/

  20. I'm a big fan of Wufoo. I think most web designers code well enough for HTML/CSS, but are a little stumped when it comes to PHP forms. Wufoo is soooo easy to use, especially for complicated sign-up forms.

  21. Ross LUnd says:

    Some great web design ideas in here – thaks for posting them

  22. WebBanshee says:

    I have tried Wufoo as well…. not for me as I do not have complex surveys.And i like to do the layout and the Grafix on my own.

    This is a great Blog

  23. Dan Northern says:

    Great list of resources Chris! Wufoo is really great for contact forms, as well as surveys, like you said. I use it to run polls occasionally as well, ant it works like a charm.

  24. Artisani says:

    The wufoo was new for me.
    Should check it out. Thanks

  25. artisani says:

    Wufoo was new for me.
    I should check it out.

    Thanks

  26. Paul says:

    Great list Chris, though I slightly disagree on Wufoo. It is a great service specially for those that have trouble with server side programming, but I still find that custom making them is more my kind of thing.

  27. lirik says:

    nice post.. thanks for the list

  28. lirik says:

    great list.. thanks for sharing

  29. Brilliant mate, thanks for this post, going right for that Wufoo to see what it's capable of. :)

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