Five Plug-ins Every Blog Should Have

Five Plug-ins Every Blog Must Have

Every blogger wants his blog’s potential to be fully maximized. Whether you’ve been blogging for five days, five months, or five years, I’m sure you’d want the best for your blog.

Plug-ins are one of the best ways to tap into the potential of your blog. A plug-in is a third-party application that you install into your blog and activate to achieve a given purpose. There are thousands of plug-ins available, and there are at least five that I think every blog must have to maximize its fullest potential.

1. Social Media-enabled Comments. A Comments facility allows your readers to leave their thoughts on your blog entry, along with their name and email or website address.

Back in ye olden days, it was really just that, but now, a savvy Comments facility allows the commenter to track his comment activity on several blogs, leave updates on his social networks, and even earn points in the community of commenters. Get a plug-in like Disqus that allows you to empower your commenters to promote your blog through their own discussion activity.

2. Related Posts. Related Posts plug-ins allow your blog to feature other blog entries on a particular page, enabling you to share more of your content with a reader that he may find of interest.

This will keep the reader on your website longer, which is great, but more importantly, if your content is great, it will increase your website’s relevance to the reader, ensuring he comes back for more. Get a plug-in like WordPress Related Posts.

3. Social Share. WordPress and Blogger now come with a Social Share function that allows the reader to Like or Share your blog posts on Facebook, or Tweet about it on Twitter.

This is adequate, but if you’d like to go on plug-in steroids, you may want a plug-in like 1-Click, which allows the reader to share on even more social networks, which you get to customize, as well as other sharing websites, like ReddIt or Digg.

4. RSS Feed. A lot of readers don’t have the time to check your website out daily. A Really Simple Syndication (RSS) feed can come in handy for this purpose; it allows people to subscribe to your website and read it on a reader of choice. Activate an RSS feed on FeedBurner to fully maximize this option.

5. Email subscription. The same type of reader I mentioned earlier may not have an RSS reader, but he definitely will have email. Get your content into his mailbox with an email subscription plug-in that ensures he never misses another blog entry. FeedBurner also has this option. (Consider FeedBurner for a lot of things; now that Google owns it, its analytics potential has jumped through the roof.

And these are just a spattering of plug-ins available! You can get image plug-ins, video plug-ins, podcast plug-ins, whatever suits your needs. Maximize your blog’s potential and get plugged-in today!

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Image taken from here. No copyright infringement intended. The views expressed in this blog are my own, and do not necessarily reflect that of Victory.

Is your blog a “Jekyll and Hyde” blog?

Many of us are familiar with the novella Dr. Jekyll and Mr. Hyde by Robert Louis Stevenson. A lawyer, Gabrielle John Utterson, investigates the unusual case of his friend, Dr. Henry Jekyll, who seems to harbor a split personality with an evil persona, Edward Hyde. Mr. Hyde is responsible for the death of an important man – Sir Danvers Carew – and basically strews mayhem all over London.

Believe it or not, we Christians may be doing that very same thing to our blogs.

Are you intentionally trying to market your blog as a Christian blog? If so, ask yourselves: is the content of my blog the kind of content expected of a blogger who professes Christ?

So do an audit. Is the content God-glorifying? Is the language appropriate? Are your blog entries doctrinally sound and scripturally accurate? And if not, are you comfortable with how others may perceive your blog vis-a-vis other Christian blogs?

(Of course, this is not to say that we should be legalistic with how we manage our blogs. After all, there are many gray areas in life, the Filipino-Christian blogosphere being one of them. But if you are strategically trying to use your blog as a megaphone for God’s goodness in your life, there are some clear-cut topics, images, and subjects that we would probably do best to stay away from, if we aren’t ready to defend ourselves and our faith.)

In my case, I write about Christian music, but I also write about K-Pop, and there are some pretty risque videos out there that I’ve linked to because I’m a fan of the group. *eherm Secret eherm*Is my blog Jekyll and Hyde in that sense? Maybe. Something for me to think about. What about you guys?

Jekyll and Hyde image taken from here; no copyright infringement intended.

Communicate on your blog the way you want to

Yesterday, I had a conversation with a brilliant man who started his (long overdue) blog. When I asked him why he was so hesitant about blogging, his reply was as straight to the point as he was:

“I’m not a writer.”

I laughed. “Big deal!” I said. I then shared with him a very important lesson I learned in my now fifteen years of blogging:

“Communicate the way you want to.”

Too many people with a powerful message don’t get that message out because they’re so afraid they can’t communicate it the way they imagine the world wants them to communicate it.

I’m here to tell you that’s a waste of your message. There are many ways to communicate on your blog! Determine how you most enjoy telling a good story, and that’ll guide your way!

  1. Do a podcast. Some people can’t write to save their lives, but, boy, can they narrate a story! If you have the gift to communicate verbally, maybe you should just pack up the keyboard and start recording a three- to five-minute  audio message that you can make available on podcast. In my opinion, sometimes, it’s even easier and more convenient to listen to a podcast then read a story.
  2. Make a video. Maybe you have some visual presentation skills, or have a clear, compelling vision of how to present your points in a visual manner. Maybe you can consider doing videocasting!
  3. Artwork, or comics! In my line of work, it’s a little dangerous to be irreverent, but folks who’ve read ShenaniGanns Comics will readily testify that it’s a great way to let some of my creative juices flow without necessarily offending or endangering the ministry. If you have a natural talent for artwork, maybe instead of doing a straightforward blog, maybe you can do comics?
  4. Images and pictures! In the age of Pinterest and Tumblr, it makes sense for more visually adept individuals to just let their creativity out in a stunning visual display.
  5. Go ahead and tell the dang story. Anyone can tell a story. Anyone can discuss something they’re passionate about. Yes, whether the story is told in a compelling manner, or whether the argument is powerful enough to convince someone else of the strength of the position, is dependent on skill, but a powerful story will sell itself. Sometimes, all you have to do is write.

These are just a few suggestions, but the point is still solid: don’t let anyone force you into communicating on your blog in any way other than what makes you comfortable. Authenticity is one great way to provide value, and like-minded individuals will find their way to your blog because you’ve given them value in a way that was true to who you are.

Communicate on your blog the way you want to. You may not become an Internet superstar, but you’ll have remained true to yourself, and you can’t put a price on that kind of integrity.

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Image taken from here. No copyright infringement intended. The views expressed in this blog are my own, and do not necessarily reflect that of Victory.

Making an emotional connection with your blog

I have three tattoos. One is of a tiger clawing its way out of my skin. Another is of an ankh, the Egyptian symbol of life. The third and my favorite, is of Calvin and Hobbes, the lead characters of the brilliant comic created by now retired cartoonist Bill Watterson. I love Calvin and Hobbes. My connection is deep, personal, and long lasting; it made such an impact on me that, in my sophomore year, I chose to immortalize it on my skin.

Wouldn’t you want to create the kind of impact your blog has on your readers, the way Calvin and Hobbes did on me?

According to Emotion Marketing by Scott Robinette and Claire Brand, emotion matters. At the end of the day, people will connect with your blog if it offers them value. What does your blog offer that no other blog does?

So let’s say you have a good blog that offers terrific content. That’s not enough. There are three other things you need to offer to ensure your connection is more than typical. According to Robinette and Brand, you can make an emotional connection (with your blog) if you can offer three things: A Good Experience, Easy Accessibility (written in the book as “Energy”), and Trust (written in the book as “Equity”). Here are my quick thoughts on the three:

1. Create a good experience. Spend time to make sure your blog is ready for quick interaction with you. Is your comment system easy to use? Are there links to the major social networks so people can share or tweet your blog entry if they find it valuable? Is the design appealing and an accurate representation of the online persona you wish to create for yourself?

2. Ensure Accessibility. Is your blog mobile-ready? More and more people are accessing the Internet using their mobile phones and tablets. Does your blog load easily? Are the images sized correctly?

3. Trust. Satisfaction plus consistency equals trust. Trust over a period of time transforms into loyalty. When someone is fiercely loyal to you, they become your champions, endorsing your blog to others and defending you against naysayers. So when you create your blog, you must offer value. Consistently.

How does that work with my blog, for example? My blog offers its readers updates to new Christian music. Every weekend, they will get the latest installment of Billboard’s Christian Songs chart, complete with links to the videos. At least three times a week, they’ll get updates to the newest Christian radio singles, alongside links to their official music videos or lyric videos. I’ve promised my readers that, and they get it, week after week.

What value do you offer your readers, consistently, excellently, week after week?

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Got any thoughts or questions about how to make an emotional connection to your blog? Leave a comment in the Disqus comments section.