Goodies and Gadgets

Depending on the blogging software or service you are using, you can use what is referred to as a plugin. Plugins, also known as add-ons, are modules of software that add features or services to the main blogging system. They can help you enhance your blogging experience by adding special functions to the original installation. Plugins can make the reader experience smoother or provide detailed information about varying topics, like visitors, comments, and traffic. Checking out the website of your blog software can usually direct you to a master list of goodies that you can download and customize.

Plugins and add-ons can range from practical to downright ridiculous. Practical: you can use some plugins to monitor comment statistics and turn URLs into links automatically in your posts and comments, or you may find a plugin that allows you to pull RSS feeds from other blogs you own or participate in into your blog. Ridiculous: there are plugins that display the birthdays of your readers, list your Netflix rentals... etc.

Third-Party Services

MyBlogLog: This service allows you to build mini-communities. After you register, you can place a badge on your blog that displays the most recent MyBlogLog members who have visited your site. It is a great feature for finding new blogs and for connecting with other bloggers who may be lurking on your blog.

Twitter: "What are you doing?" is the question over at Twitter. Twitter is a service that let you tell people what you are doing every moment of the day. It lets you blog in short burst, from your PC, from your mobile phone, or right from your Instant Messenger. Twitter is completely free and highly addictive. The service provides handy badges for your site with a quick copy and paste, and your every move is there for public consumption.

Amazon Associates: Amazon has an associate program that allows you to earn a little by promoting items it sells on your site. You can use it as a money-generating tool, but you can also use it to display what you bought recently or show the items on your wish list. And you make a couple of bucks from it.