Blogging is one of the most popular activities people do on the Internet today. According to Technorati, there currently are seventy-five thousand (75,000) new blogs everyday and about 1.2 million new blog updates everyday. As the activity of blogging gets more popular, there will be more and more tools that will be created to specifically address the needs of the blogging population of the Internet users. This article will attempt to catalog some of the best ever blogging tools created for users. To help users find the tools that they need, these blog tools are classified here into four main categories – blog publishing, blog reading, blog searching and the blog toolbox – a collection of tools important to the serious blogger.
Blog publishing tools can be further categorized into three sub-categories: Online blogging services, do-it-yourself blog publishing platforms, and accessory blog-publishing tools. Blogging services provide the blog engine that you need to get yourself started in blogging as well as the hosting. Though most of the services offer this for free, some of them require that you become paying members in order to fully enjoy all the benefits.
Blogger – Google’s Blogger is one of the earliest blogging services and it helped popularize blogging. It is one of the easiest ways to get started blogging because of the focus on usability and easy blog creation. The Blog this feature, which is integrated in many Google tools, makes posting to Blogger possible in many different situations. It is also integrated with Google’s Adsense advertising program that makes monetization of your blog quick and easy.
TypePad – Typepad is the largest paid-blogging service around. As mentioned, a paid subscription is required to create a blog using the service. It uses the Movable Type blogging technology but it caters more to the non-technical users.
WordPress.com – one of the newcomers in the online blogging services, WordPress gets its credibility from the success and popularity of the blogging engine that it uses -Wordpress.
Xanga – Xanga is one of the largest blog-networks, boasting a user base of 27 million users worldwide. It edges over its competitors by offering excellent community features such as blog rings, metros, and a social networking profile system.
MSN Spaces – Although it is relatively a newcomer in the blogging services space, MSN Spaces boasts of a huge user base, because of the ease at which existing MSN services users were able to start blogging. The integration with the rest of MSN’s services (hotmail, messenger) makes Spaces a very good blogging option for the existing users.
Do-it-yourself blogging platforms on the other hand, only provide the blogging engine. Although you have to find your own hosting service, DIY blogging platforms give you more control in configuring your blog. Below are some of the best DIY Blogging platforms.
Movable Type – Movable Type powers TypePad and it adds the usual advantages of a server-side blogging platform: flexibility, more advanced configuration, and total control over your blog.
WordPress – WordPress is an increasingly popular open-source blogging platform that is written in PHP and backed by a MySQL database.
Radio Userland – Radio Userland, one of the earliest content management systems used by the pioneering bloggers, is still a good blogging platform choice. It has solid RSS features that include a built-in aggregator. Configuration is done in a desktop web server then it is upstreamed or sync to the web server. This gives the blogger a cached copy of the whole blog.
Blog posting tools are third-party applications that are used to compose and publish blog posts. These tools usually support multiple blogging services and are ideal for those without a persistent Internet connection.
W. Bloggar and BlogJet – these are two of the best blog-posting tools in the market, and both are available for free. They support almost all of the blogging platforms. They do what most web-based posting apps does, including rich text editing, with the added feature of being able to save your drafts offline.
Performancing for Firefox – a Mozilla Firefox extension that allows you to immediately compose a blog post while using the Firefox browser. It is Ideal for active bloggers who use Firefox as their web browser. It automatically saves your unpublished posts.
RSS/Atom aggregators and other RSS tools belong to this category.
My Yahoo – My Yahoo tried to bring the concept of RSS subscription to the Internet masses. Though it lacks the more advanced features, it serves well as a good aggregator.
Google Reader – Google’s web-based RSS aggregator that features an AJAX-driven user interface. It has a good support for tags or labels, and features a very nice reading interface. One of its best features is its labels-sharing feature that allows you to put aggregated content to your blog.
Bloglines – Bloglines is one of the most widely-used web-based RSS Reader. It uses the traditional two-frame reading interface, and subscriptions are grouped into folders. It has a good blog-suggest feature, that uses linking analysis to suggest which blogs might be of interest to you based on your existing subscription set. You can also share your subscriptions using Bloglines.
Tools used to search information and blogs, and to watch the blogosphere for topics or issues being actively discussed.
Technorati – Technorati is one of the best blog search engine, feature wise, and is indexing over 49.4 million web blogs. It serves as a one-stop shop for those who want to know the current happenings in the blogosphere, including features such as blog ranking based on linking, personal aggregator (for those who login) and many other nifty tools.
Sphere – one of the newcomers in blog search that came even after many other engines have folded down already. It promised to deliver more relevant blog search results, and it rightfully did so, as attested by its early beta testers. It features a “sphere it” feature that allows you automatically query http://sphere.com to see topics that might be related to what you’re currently reading.
A collection of other tools essential to the serious blogger
Mint / Measure Map /Google Analytics – these are three different tools used to analyze your blog statistics. Mint specializes in giving you a big-picture snapshot of your traffic, somewhat lacking in the providing specific details, something that Google Analytics is good at. Analytics can provide detailed information on what’s happening on your blog, which contents are popular, what keywords used in searches that bring you readers, and many others. It features a calendar to specify the time range of the analysis that you want to see. Measure Map, like Analytics is a fresh acquisition of Google, but still in early stages. It somewhat sits in the middle of Mint and Google Map in terms of what information is provided.
Akismet – Akismet is a highly-acclaimed anti-comment spam plugin for WordPress blogs. It is free for personal use.
Feedburner – Feedburner is a tool that “burns” your RSS feeds in order to add tracking and analysis features. This way you can see statistics regarding your RSS subscribers.
The tools listed above are just a few of the many others that can help users; from those who are just starting to blog to those who want to become even better bloggers. It also includes some tools for searching and aggregating blogs, because a good blogger must learn to watch the blogosphere closely if it wants to be able to make more effective blog contents.