While Blogger may not be seen as the most powerful blog management system, it certainly has a loyal following. Beginners and advanced users alike appreciate the simplicity of Blogger, the free hosting and ease of customization.
So for those of you who choose Blogger as your publishing platform, here is a selection of essential templates, tools and resources to help you build a better blog.
Free Blogger templates
There are two systems available for Blogger templates: the “Classic” HTML based templates, and the newer XML based “Layouts” templates.
Don’t know which style of template you are using? There’s a simple way to find out: if you have a layouts section in your Blogger dashboard where you can move widgets around, you’re using the XML based layouts templates. In cases where you have to edit the HTML to change the content of your sidebar, you’ll be using a “Classic” template.
For either template system, there are loads of great, free templates available to use. Here is a selection of some of the best resources, organized by template type:
- Blogger-Templates: A resource point for some of the best Blogger templates around, which also includes some tutorials for template modifications.
- Blog and Web: A great resource for decorative templates which have been converted from popular WordPress themes.
- SuckMyLolly: looking for some unique, feminine templates? The free selection from this site are as candy sweet as the name suggests!
- Better in Pink: A stylish selection of feminine designs.
- Final Sense: A huge selection of free templates available here, though these are often simpler and image based variations.
- Jackbook: Features a good selection of WordPress conversions. Jacky is also on a mission to showcase 365 templates from various authors over the next year.
- Zona Cerebral: this site features some of the most beautiful Blogger templates I have ever seen!
- Blogger Buster Designs: A selection of unique two and three column templates designed for Blogger.
Classic Blogger templates
- Isnaini: A huge selection of two column templates and unique designs
- BloggerTemplates.org: A small but great selection, including some which have ajax-powered menus
- Gecko and Fly: Original and highly functional templates with a professional appeal
- Blogger Templates by Caz: here you will find some useful and utterly beautiful templates!
- Templates for Blogger: Another useful selection of classic templates, featuring both professional layouts and zany designs.
- Pannasmontata Templates: Stylish and unique templates for free download.
- PsycHo: A free layout generator to create compliant classic templates with ease.
Looking for useful tools to enhance your blogging experience? Then look no further! Here is a selection of useful tools you could use for posting, publishing and customizing with Blogger:
- Blogger Mobile: Start a MoBlog, or post directly from your mobile phone
- Mail-to-Blogger: You can also post to your Blogger blog via email (great for iPhone users too)
- BlogThis! Bookmarklet: Have you ever found a post or site which you wanted to write about straight away? Install this nifty bookmarklet in your browser, and you can post with just one click.
- Blogger in Draft: Test the latest widgets and developments of Blogger before they are released to the public.
- Redirect your feeds through Feedburner: Now there’s no need to use auto-discovery tags to help visitors find your blog feeds. Simply redirect them through Feedburner with the one-click installation!
- Blog via Flickr: You can post your Flickr photos directly to your blog, and can even post directly from your camera phone (great for those whose mobile phone network is not covered by Blogger Mobile)
- Haloscan: By default, Blogger doesn’t allow you to send trackbacks when you post. By using the free service from Haloscan, you can send trackbacks to other blogs, and also display the trackbacks which have been sent to you. Other free features for Blogger users include external commenting and ratings systems for your blog posts.
- w.Bloggar: a free Windows based application which you can integrate with your Blogger blog to post remotely. One version allows you to install on a pen drive to post while you are away from home.
- Blogger for Word: Using this free download, you can publish to your blog, save drafts and edit posts from within Microsoft Word.
- Blogger Developers Network: Information for developers interested in creating applications, templates and widgets for the Blogger framework.
Useful widgets for Blogger layouts
Those who use the Blogger layouts system can now add widgets to their template with ease. Here are some of the most useful widgets for Blogger blogs:
- Recent comments: this widget is so easy to configure and install. Simply enter your the details for your blog, choose how many comments and the excerpt length to display, then click the button to add this widget to your blog!
- Recent posts: Display extracts of your most recent posts in your sidebar.
- Tag Cloud: now Blogger users can feature their categories in “Tag Cloud” form. Slightly more complicated than your average widget, but a great display once installed.
- Archive calendar widget: Fancy having a WordPress-style calendar in your sidebar which readers can click to read your post for the day? Phydeaux shows us how this is possible to achieve in Blogger too!
- Random post: Adds a link to your sidebar which, when clicked, will take your reader to a random post from your archives
- Table of contents: Use this widget to list all of your posts in an expandable widget above your content.
- Tab View widget: I love the widgets in some WordPress templates which allow you to view posts by category. Here Hoctro shows us a method which could be used to display your Blogger category posts in the same way.
- Simple search widget: add a search box to your sidebar for readers to easily find the content they need.
- Flickr Badge: Using this generator, you can easily create a photostream of your latest Flickr photos to display anywhere in your blog.
- Widgetbox: find a whole host of widgets here which can be quickly added to your blog layout.
- RockYou!: Social widgets, including noteboards, slideshows and talking avatars which can be used in Blogger blogs.
Yet more resources for Blogger!
For more general information about Blogger, you may want to take a look at some of these resources:
- Blogger Help: The official site for Blogger-related assistance
- Blogger Help Group: Ask questions and get help from other members of the Blogger community.
- Blogger Buzz: The official blog about Blogger, featuring news, recent features and noteworthy information for those using this platform.
- Blogger Status: Stay informed about developments, upgrades, outages and related issues.
- Known issues for Blogger: The latest news about Blogger problems, what’s getting fixed, and what’s been taken care of, direct from the Blogger team.
- Blogger Hacks Wiki: Want to find out if a particular hack is possible in Blogger? If it is, then most likely you’ll find it listed here.