In recent times, Blogger has improved drastically in terms of interactivity, customization and new features. Most recently, we have been able to search for and add Google gadgets to our blogs directly through the Blogger dashboard, a feature which has now been rolled out to all Blogger blogs across the system.
On Thursday, Blogger announced several updated for the Gadget API which enables developers to create more interactive gadgets for use with the Blogger platform:
In addition to leveraging social data, gadgets can now access a blog’s post and comment feed via new JSON APIs. For example, with this data you could easily build a map gadget that maps the geo-location of posts, or a “Most Commented On” gadget that ranks posts by the number of comments they’ve received.
What’s more, we can also add our own Gadgets to the directory using an online submission form; this enables our gadgets to be visible in the Gadget directory within 30 minutes of submission, ready for Blogger users to add to their blogs with just a few clicks.
How are Gadgets Constructed?
Google (and Blogger) Gadgets are constructed in XML format, but don’t be put off developing gadgets if you have little knowledge of XML – it is easily possible to create a simple gadget if you have only a little knowledge of HTML!
A very simple gadget can be created using only a few lines of code. Let’s take a look at the “Hello World” example which is explained in the Google Gadget – Getting Started page:
<?xml version="1.0" encoding="UTF-8" ?> <Module> <ModulePrefs title="hello world example" /> <Content type="html"> <![CDATA[ Hello, world! ]]> </Content> </Module>
This simple gadget will produce a message saying “Hello World” in the blog (or website) where it is installed.
This basic gadget includes the following components:
- In line 1, we can see the XML specification for the gadget.
- Line 2 includes the <Module> tag. This indicates that the XML file contains a gadget, and enables it to be processed as such.
- Line 3 includes the <ModulePrefs> tag, which includes information about the gadget. In the above example, this tag cites only the title (“hello world example”). We can also include information about the Gadget’s author, a description and other optional information in this section.
- Line 4 uses the <Content type> tag, which in this case defines the content of the gadget as HTML code.
- The closing </Content> tag defines the end of the content section, while </Module> signifies the end of the Gadget’s code.
Constructing interactive gadgets for Blogger Blogs
When developing Gadgets for use in Blogger, we can use the API to access public post and comment data for the blog which is hosting the gadget. In the most basic forms, this enables us to retrieve and write a list of recent posts or comments for the blog in which the gadget is installed.
We can also access the Friend Connect API to provide social widgets which are interconnected with data produced by the blog on which the gadget is installed, for example, a widget which displays recent comments and highlights those which have been made by a friend of the viewer (see this example).
To utilize the APIs for the services on which your gadget will be based, you will need to include these APIs as “required features” in the code of your gadget, like this:
<?xml version="1.0" encoding="UTF-8"?> <Module> <ModulePrefs height="300" title="BlogSocial"> <Require feature="opensocial-0.7"/> <Require feature="google.blog"/> <Require feature="skins"/> <Require feature="views"/> </ModulePrefs>
A full list of features which can be optionally required by Gadgets for Blogger can be found here.
Luckily, Blogger have provided a couple of examples using Blogger feeds, Friend Connect and Open Social features which you can browse through to see how these are constructed.
What new gadgets can we expect to see?
The Blogger Team recently asked Blogger users which gadgets they would most like to use for their blogs; this page details the most requested widgets, and now it is possible for developers to create many of these gadgets including:
- A recent activity widget, based on Google Friend Connect
- A popular posts widget based on the number of comments received for each post
- Recent posts and/or comments in the sidebar (which could even be coded with tabbed navigation!).
Essentially, the list of possibilities are endless!
The updated API and knowledgebase for developers is still rather new, but with these new options available we can expect to see a whole host of new and interesting gadgets available especially for those using Google Blogger.
Want to learn more?
As an avid Blogger user and developer, I’m certainly interested in using the updated API to create some useful and interesting widgets for use in our blogs.
For my post next week, I will explain how to develop a simple Gadget for Blogger using the API for Blogger post and comment data which you can use as a base on which to develop your own interactive gadgets.
How Do I Teach Bloggers if I Am a New Blogger?
I see that question popping around in your head.
The same question danced around in my head 10 years ago. How could I teach people how to blog if I did not know how to blog? Plus I had no connections. No skills either. Big time problem.
Here is how to solve your problem:
- learn how to blog from top pros
- write 500 words daily offline
- publish 1-2 posts weekly, turning around and teaching what you learned
- continue to learn both about blogging and your blogging niche
Learn then teach.
Or absorb then teach.
Jan Verhoeff published this post yesterday:
She led off the post explaining how she watched one of my Facebook Live Broadcasts recently and delved deeper into the topic I discussed, said topic being blogging overlap.
Jan is a seasoned veteran blogger but she and I both use this concept of learning or absorbing then immediately teaching the concept to our readers. Knowledge ain’t getting stale in our brain boxes.
Newbie bloggers; I get it. You may feel intimidated to learn, then to teach. But being a blogging student is hands down your most important role as a new blogger because learning and studying gives you confidence to turn around and teach your new found knowledge quickly.
Check out my guest post on Janice Wald’s Mostly Blogging:
Janice regularly shares this post and noted it still drives blog traffic.
New and seasoned blogging veterans alike know deep down we are all perpetual students. Plus we know that in order to teach we must first learn, being open and willing students.
Newbie bloggers; you better become a voracious reader of blogging tips and tips aligned with your niche. Learn to gain confidence and clarity. Then you better practice writing like crazy. Pen 500 words daily offline to become a confident writer.
Being armed with knowledge and improving writing skills sets the foundation to learn, then to teach.
10 years ago when I was a new blogger I read a post on Ray Higdon Dot Com.
This iconic network marketer introduced me to the simple concept of how you can teach folks how to succeed in your niche, even as a newbie. Learn. Teach.
Allow little time to elapse between learning and teaching. Teaching does not require 10,000 word blog posts or 45 minute long videos or eBooks or courses.
Practical Examples of Teaching
Peep these examples of how you can learn a concept and teach as a new blogger:
- record and upload a 1 minute long video on YouTube
- write and publish a 600 word post on your blog
- record and upload a 5 minute long podcast
The idea is to learn a concept and to be comfortable teaching the concept without being an expert. Fraud energies may arise guys. Fears attempt to shame you into remaining quiet. Don’t trust these fears. Don’t believe these lies.
If you want to become a blogger you better get comfortable with being a teacher because blogging is teaching. If you want to become a teacher you better be a hungry student, learning the in’s and out’s of blogging and your niche and practicing your writing to more easily convey your blogging message.
Hit the ground running as a new blogger.
Nobody begins blogging as an experienced blogger.
Nobody begins blogging with blogging skills.
We need to learn and practice persistently as a new blogger to become a successful blogger.
Just don’t hesitate to turn around and teach what you have learned immediately, to drive traffic to your blog.
Do I Look Lucky to You?
Many people believe me to be lucky.
Folks think I am so lucky to travel the world.
Like a magic fairy alighted on my shoulder, tapped me with a magic wand, and sent me to that location in Bali you see in the featured image.
As if I lucked out to circle around the globe for the past 7 years.
Not quite guys.
Luck does not exist.
Smart, generous work helped me retire to a life of island hopping through smart blogging.
Peep this link:
Does that sound lucky? Was I lucky to write and publish 583 guest posts on Blogging Tips alone? Am I lucky to have written and published thousands of blog posts during the past decade I spent online?
Have I been lucky to work hundreds of thousands of hours during my life, in order to retire to a life of island hopping through smart blogging?
Did luck make me a full time digital nomad? Have I been lucky to write and self-publish 126 eBooks?
Luck does not exist.
Smart, energized, years of work, this brings blogging success.
Convenience Store Luck
Back in New Jersey for a bit.
After spending a few moments at the local convenience store I saw no less than 5 people buy lottery tickets.
Folks spend money on a wing and a prayer, hoping, praying, begging to make money through a game of chance.
Forget building a sustainable online business. Forget rendering service to become successful with your blog. Don’t even bother investing money in solid vehicles.
Leave your life to chance. See if you get lucky.
Terrible mindset to have guys.
Luck does not exist. No magical fairy blesses some folks and curses other folks. Nobody suffers from bad luck. Chance does not exist.
Smart, intelligent service, persistently applied, exists. Learning and practicing the skill of blogging for 2-4 years of your life exists. Spending 10 years writing and publishing thousands of posts exists. Commenting on 50,000 blogs exists. Being generous exists. Helping folks for months before making a dime exists.
Luck does not exist.
Luck Is a Jailer
If you believe successful bloggers are lucky, that limiting belief jails you. Since you believe you are not lucky you naturally will always struggle and fail. Not a good belief to cling to guys.
Many bloggers think I am:
- a natural
but I am not. I just spent years of my life learning, practicing and mastering the skill of blogging. I wrote almost 600 guest posts on Blogging Tips alone. Does that sound like luck, or chance, or like a blessing? Smart, persistent work guys. I committed fully to blogging so blogging committed fully to me. Simple equation but goodness does this journey feel uncomfortable at times.
Early Friday evening, here I am writing this guest post as my 2 year old niece hangs all over me, bopping me on the head. Hardly a crazy challenge but still a bit of a challenge. Try thinking through a post and writing it while a hyper 2 year old does all in her power to grab your attention.
I am not writing this post because Lady Luck sent me the idea. I am writing this post because I have written 2 million plus words during the past decade of my life, so words flow easily for me.
- Creating, connecting and polishing my blogging skills by patiently writing and broadcasting live videos daily helped me craft a neat life for me and for my readers.
- Generously commenting on other blogs and promoting other bloggers helped me become a pro blogger.
- Persisting through thick and thin created my blogging success.
The next time you explain someone’s success as a simple matter of luck, think again.
Luck does not exist.
Why Use a VPN? Here Are 5 Reasons for Bloggers
As a blogger, the internet is your second home. Your blog is literally the house you built from scratch online. The stellar content you created and promoted enabled you to engage with your audience effectively. As a blogger, you also developed professional relationships with influential bloggers like yourself.
Despite your success, you should never put your guard down when meeting people online or engaging with other websites. I’m sure you have your anti-virus and malware protection software installed in your CPU to shield you from online threats. However, there’s nothing wrong in taking an extra measure to ensure your protection not only as a blogger but also your life outside it.
In this post, you will learn how a virtual private network is and why use a VPN to protect your online activity and engagement with other websites not just as a blogger but an online user.
Why use a VPN? Below are the ways
Before we get into the different reasons bloggers must use a VPN, we need to explain first how it works for you to understand it better.
In a nutshell, a virtual private network (VPN) enables you to encrypt your information behind its servers. Whenever you visit a website, it sees information provided by the server and not the ones found on your local computer. This simple process is very beneficial for bloggers for several reasons:
1. Keeps your website activity anonymous
The most immediate advantage of using a VPN is anonymity. Website won’t be able to trace your actual IP address and location, aside from the other encrypted data about your site.
The main benefit of online anonymity is better protection from online threats. Sometimes, your protection software won’t be enough to keep hackers at bay. They’ll get into your CPU without you knowing it. And God knows what they will do with your information once they gain it. They might sell it to third-party services that will send you spam or launch random attacks to your CPU via your internet connection.
Since a VPN withholds your actual information, hackers and malware can’t successfully penetrate through your online activity and intercept data from your browser. This way, you can perform research online or visit different websites without the looming threat of hackers hanging over your head all the time.
2. Makes your transactions more secure
If you make transactions online, then you need a VPN to beef up your security. Most websites nowadays have an SSL certificate installed to ensure customers it is safe to type sensitive information on the site. However, an as mentioned, additional protection to ensure your online safety is always welcome. This rings true if you enjoy purchasing tools and software to help boost your blogging efforts (hello, Appsumo).
By setting up a VPN, you can guarantee all your transactions are secure.
3. Prevents censorship
If you live in a country that controls the sites you can see and content you can access, then your work as a blogger is already cut out for you. You don’t need this encumbrance as a blogger – information needs to be free for all. It’s up to the person to decide what s/he wants to see online and which sites to visit. For bloggers, knowledge is power, and you cannot wield this responsibility if you don’t have the full information,
If you share these beliefs, then using a VPN will help you gain access to information that wasn’t available before. As a result, you can speak your message considering all the information there is about the subject. Doing so puts you in a position to become a credible and influential voice in your space.
4. Work in confidence
Some bloggers live a nomadic lifestyle. Because of its inherent nature where you don’t have a boss and you can work whenever or how long you want, bloggers can work anywhere. Whether it be coffee shops, co-working spaces, or even from different countries, bloggers will sustain their income as long as they get the job done.
However, they won’t be able to get it done if the WiFi connection doesn’t afford you the security and freedom to need for blogging. For example, WiFi connections in public spaces are open to everybody. As a result, anything can enter it and disrupt your online browsing, online threats included. If you’re not careful, your laptop can get infected and leave you with hundreds of dollars worth of repairs, on top of days not being able to blog due to the incident.
With a VPN, you can access the web securely so you continue with your nomadic lifestyle to full effect! Your information will be safe in public places and you can gain access to websites that might be blocked at the country you’re living in right now.
5. Unblock geo-restricted content
It’s normal to take time off as a blogger. You need time for yourself to sit back, relax, and live life a little. Part of living your life is watching TV shows and series from your favorite streaming sites. With so many good shows available for binging, you can lose yourself watching these shows for days if not weeks!
But it’s not fun to binge-watch if not all the shows and movies are available for viewing. For example, if you want access to the complete library of movies and shows on Netflix, then you need to be in the US to access the content. If not, there will be content unavailable in your region due to the licensing deals of these shows. If you have a running subscription on these streaming sites and you live outside the US, you don’t get to maximize the site due to incomplete content.
However, you can watch US Netflix with Smart DNS Proxy. Using this VPN services and setting it up on your devices gives you full access to Netflix shows you can take a break from blogging by watching the shows you want. Also, you unblock content from Hulu, HBO, and other streaming sites to make your binge-watching sessions more complete!
Are you convinced why you need a VPN as a blogger?
If you think VPN is just technical mumbo-jumbo, you’re dead wrong! It has practical applications for bloggers who want to continue providing their audience with content they love. Aside from living a more focused blogging lifestyle, a VPN allows people to live a life outside blogging if they’re into TV shows and movies. Keeping these reasons in mind, it’s time you should get a VPN service to take your blogging to the next level.
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