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How To – Move From WordPress.com To WordPress.org

WordPress To WordPressMoving a Blog from WordPress.com to WordPress.org is something I’ve had a lot of questions about – today Jeff Chandler shares tips on how to do it.

Everyday it seems like I find a story or two from a cities local online newspaper which delves into the topic of blogging and what it’s all about. The story usually goes through a mini backlog of history surrounding the term, what blogging is and at the end of the article, there is usually a list of suggestions on how to get started with the most popular suggestion being WordPress.com. Using WordPress.com is a great way to introduce yourself to blogging but if you decide that you want to turn blogging into a full time job or just want more control over your work, you’ll need to move.

Thankfully, the move from WordPress.com to WordPress.org (WordPress.org being the self hosted version of WordPress) is painless thanks in large part to a great export tool.

Tools ImportTo start things off, login to your WordPress.com account and browse to your administration panel. From the menu on the left, click on TOOLS – EXPORT. At this point, you have the option to confine the export to a particular author or all authors. Using the export tool will compile your posts, pages, comments, custom fields, categories, and tags. This information is placed into a WXR file or, WordPress eXtended RSS file. Essentially, this file is just a normal XML RSS based file with a couple of custom fields added to it which makes it specific to WordPress. Once you’re finished, click on the Download Export File button and save it to your desktop.

Once you have that file on your desktop, you can breath a little easier considering your half way through the content migration process.

The second part of this guide refers to an installation of WordPress 2.7. Login to your self installed WordPress administration panel and from the menu on the left click on TOOLS – IMPORT. From the list of blogging systems click on WordPress. Next, click on the Browse button and locate the XML file you downloaded earlier. This will upload the XML file into your WordPress installation and will unpack all of the data the file contains. There is one caveat though regarding this entire technique.

Importing WordPressMost webhosts for whatever reason still have their PHP.ini configured in such a way where end users can only upload files with a maximum file size of 2MB or smaller. Although it takes quite a bit of content in an WXR file to go over 2MB, 2MB is not a lot of head room. If you find yourself in the position where your WXR file is larger than the maximum file size, I highly suggest submitting a trouble ticket to your webhost and asking them to increase the limit. If they choose not to, then ask them if they can import the file for you. If that doesn’t work, you can pull a trick from your sleeve by uploading a custom php.ini file to your webhosting accounts root folder. This is what my host did for me and afterwards, I took a look at the php.ini file and noticed it had this line in it:

; Maximum allowed size for uploaded files.
upload_max_filesize = 7M

Apparently, the php.ini file overwrote the settings on the original file and I was able to bump my limit up to 7 Megabytes. This trick is not guaranteed to work. As a last ditch effort, you can also try adding these lines to your .htaccess file. Just replace the pound sign with a number that is above the size of your WXR file.

#set max upload file size
php_value upload_max_filesize #M

#set max post size
php_value post_max_size #M

Once the WXR file is unpacked on your self installed version of WordPress, you’re ready to walk through the gates of freedom without skipping a beat!

P.S. This strategy also works for those wanting to go from WordPress.org to WordPress.com.

Save Time By Auto Filling Comment Forms

In this post Jeff Chandlerhighlights a cool tool for auto filling in comment forms on blogs.

Ok Problogger faithful, I’m going to keep it short and sweet this week by telling you about a cool FireFox extension which is sure to save you some time in the long run. Generally, every blog out on the web has a comment form. This form normally consists of Name, Email, Website, and Comment. Having to type in those first three fields time and time again can be annoying and cause you not to comment at all. That’s where easyComment comes into play.

EasyComment Configuration

Easycomment works by looking for the typical fields that are reserved for comment forms and filling them in with predetermined values. Essentially, after you install the extension, you’ll have to fill out the form with your credentials. These values are what will be placed in the blog comment form. After you type that in, filling those fields is as simple as clicking the easyComment button which should look a little something like this.

EasyComment Button

That’s all there is to it. One thing to keep in mind with this or any other extension that fills in forms. The extension will not work on sites that have third party commenting systems such as Disqus or IntenseDebate installed. This is because the form fields are inside a block of code and not in plain HTML which renders the form fields to be indiscoverable.

If you’re looking for an extension that does this and more, check out AutoFillForms. That extension is a bit more complicated to configure but it is used to auto complete entire forms such as user registration areas on forums or websites. However, I’ve written a guide for that extension as well.

Easily Create Watermarks With Watermarktool

WaterMarkTool Logo
Those who dabble in photography or digital art work know the importance of watermarks. Watermarks consist of visible marks that appear on top of an image that can be identified by the source of the work. They are used to deter others from copying and reusing the image. Watermarks can easily be created in a photo editor of choice such as Adobe Photoshop but why use a program when you can use an online solution which takes care of the hard work for you. Introducing Watermarktool.

Site Info:

No user registration is necessary to use Watermarktool. Also, the service is completely free. Since January 1, 2008, over 28,000 watermarks have been generated.

Creating Watermarks:

Using the service is fairly straight forward. On the home page, there are a number of different configuration options from which to choose from. These include:

Upload: Watermarktool supports the ability to upload an image but it must be 100KB or smaller in size.

Text: Configure the text that is displayed via your Watermark

Font: Choose between a select number of fonts

Text Size: The size of your Watermark text

Repeat: Decide whether your pattern should repeat or not

Position: Choose which direction the watermark should repeat

Text Color: The color of your watermark text

Text Transparency: The lower the transparency level, the harder it will be to see the watermark

Box Color: This is the color of the watermark box

Box Transparency: How transparent the watermark box appears

Results:

Using the Problogger header logo as an example, this is what I was able to come up with. The first image is the configuration I used. The second image showcases a before and after image.

watermarksettings.png

beforeandafter.png

The results shown on the Watermarktool website appear as thumb nailed images. To view the full sized image, you’ll need to click on the thumbnail and then right click the image to save it to your desktop. Images are routinely deleted from the site to prevent hotlinking as well as keeping the site accessible for free. If you’re not satisfied with the generated watermark, simply click your browsers back button and make the appropriate changes, then click on the generate button again until you have something you like.

Final Notes

As you can see, the watermark I generated is not complicated but I feel it has enough complexities to deter others from using the image. The most common mistake I see with regards to watermarks is that, the watermark sometimes overpowers the image. Watermarks are not an end all be all to protect against others using copyrighted images but they certainly help. Also, if you use a unique watermark that only you can identify, spotting frauds on the net becomes pretty easy. While this generator doesn’t provide the same customization options as Photoshop, I think it makes for an excellent addition in your online blogging toolbox.

The Future Of Blogging – As They See It

In this post Jeff Chandler takes a look at the future of blogging.

CrystalBallEvery Wednesday, I publish a new interview on BloggerTalks.com and as part of the interview process, there is one particular question which is asked to each individual that I interview which is “What Is The Future Of Blogging“? Well, for this weeks installment on Problogger, I thought I would compile the answers I’ve received thus far. At the end of the article, feel free to contribute by leaving a comment explaining what you think the future of blogging will be.

christina-warren.jpgChristina Warren:
Microblogging (Twitter, Friendfeed, Tumbler, et. al.) is already changing personal sites and blogs — I think that will continue. I also think that blogs will continue to become more interactive, more immediate and that video will continue to grow in importance. I think the hard part about video is that for anyone wanting to do anything other than the stare at the webcam in bad lighting YouTube confessional, there are skills and techniques that are necessary to its success.

Mobile blogging and mobile communication is also certainly going to continue to take off. The iPhone has played a huge role in that and Google’s Android platform will help push that as well.

steve-hodson.jpgSteven Hodson:
I think blogging is definitely here to stay. Hell it hasn’t even really hit the mainstream yet as far as readership so the marketplace is still to be developed. I also think that over the next few years we will see a real amalgamation of heritage media and new media – we can learn so much from each other if we’d just stop being so territorial. Yeah, I think the future for blogging is still very bright and I hopefully will still be doing for a very long time to come. I look forward to growing with it.

kev-pic.jpgKevin Muldoon:
I think blogging will be here with us in some shape or form for a long time. Over the next few years I believe the major growth will be in mobile blogging. Most smartphones are now coming with blogging type software pre-installed (eg. lifeblog) and most can use Twitter and other microblogging software too. Just a few months ago WordPress released a version for the iphone so that people could blog on the move.

Over the next few years I’m sure that we will see more and more blogs being launched as there are still many countries where Internet usage is increasing by a large amount every year.

David.jpg David Peralty:
I am not sure. Any guess would be pulling at straws. I see it continuing to take over more attention from mainstream media, enough so that those businesses continue to dump more money into the space to drag people back to their brands, but other than that, it really depends on the advancement of technology, and the sociological issues and changes.

john John Kolbert:
The future of blogging looks very bright. I believe that blogging to going to play a significantly bigger and better role in how the average person gets their daily information. Even major news sources understand the necessity of blogging (just look at CNN’s news blogs) and people reported news (iReport.com, anyone?). It is important to remember, though, that not everyone will be a big time, money making blogger. Blogging has basically no barriers to entry, economically meaning that there are lots of bloggers and low profit margins overall. But it’s not, and shouldn’t be, all about the money. Blogging is a healthy, enjoyable, lifestyle or hobby that’s here to stay.

JonathanJonathan Bailey:
I definitely see the future of blogging as being more multi-media. I know I personally have been dipping my toes more in audio and video over the past year and plan to increase those efforts after the beginning of the year in a major way. This is partly due to the YouTube revolution but, more importantly, due to the declining barriers of entry into these media, especially in terms of skill required.

Other than that, the future of blogging is going to be about growth in all directions. We’re going to see more of the ridiculous and silly, but also more of the serious. More and more great minds are going to get involved with blogging and more and more of the dialog about our society is going to take place on the Web, away from TV and newspapers.

I’m not one that thinks mainstream media is doomed, it will always have a place, but its role as an influencer of policy and of people will wane some as it moves more toward being a straightforward news source.

The real question though is will this idea of blogging as a profession become more common and that is a tough one. Most pro bloggers, like myself, do so indirectly from their activities, the advertising revenue simply is not there for 99% of bloggers unless you do something unethical.

I see nothing wrong with blogging as an amateur activity and most great bloggers are amateurs, but as with anything the more time and energy one can afford to put into their work, the better the product and, at some point, that is going to require funding.

If blogger business models can be hammered out, the sky is literally the limit for what blogging can do.

Lee.jpgLee Robertson:
The future of blogging is to help in creating community. To connect with those around us, whether they live across town or across the world. Blogging is about telling stories, whether the stories are for your business, your hobby or your family. Blogging makes it easy to tell those stories and connect with the people that want to hear them. I might be a bit of an idealist that sharing information can help us actually get to know each other and understand each other better. I have to wonder if the future for blogging is perhaps to take a step back from the professional blogging that we are seeing so much of and becoming a little more personal again.

Conclusion:

Magic 8 BallI have to admit, when I ask this question to each person I interview, the first response I get is similar to ‘WTF’. It’s a tough question to answer considering the mold of blogging can change rapidly into something none of us see coming

You’ve read their responses, now it’s time for you to give us your thoughts as to what you think the future of blogging will be. As far as I’m concerned, there can be no wrong answer as we won’t know until after the fact. At that point, hindsight becomes 20/20.

Is Your Blog Search Lijit [REVIEW]

Lijit Logo

Search on blogs is a relatively simple concept. You type in a few keywords related to a post and results are presented to you that are local to that blog. However, what if you could extend the functionality of the search function to go beyond your blog to cover the videos you have published on YouTube, your Twitter account, bookmarks, network of friends, and the blogs you read in your RSS reader? That’s exactly what  Lijit enables you to do.

Company Info:

Lijit is based out of Boulder, CO which is a surprise to many considering silicon valley is typically the home for most Internet based businesses. Using the power of people, their content, and their connections, Lijit aims to enhance the way your readers search for and discover information on the Internet. You serve as a filter for all of the results your readers could possibly receive, ensuring they only receive the most relevant results from the source they trust. That source being you.

Signing Up And Configuration:

Before we get things underway, be prepared to spend 15-30 minutes to not only create an account but also to configure the search widget. The first thing you’ll need to do is submit your blogs URL. Once you provide the URL, the next configuration page has a list of services that are grouped by purpose. For each site/service that you have an account with, you’ll need to tell Lijit what your user name is for that service. If you have an account with a site that is not listed, Lijit does provide an option for you to provide a link to a URL, RSS, or OPML feed which will be added into the search results.

Lijit Network

Once that is done, the next page is all about adding your network to your  account. This network consists of your MyBlogLog account, the blogs you read, your blogroll, del.icio.us, Lijit users etc. This extended network is also added to your Lijit search engine.

The third configuration page is where you get to create your user account. After you create your account, Lijit will take all of the information you provided and mash it all together into a personalized search engine. After your search engine is created, you’ll have a chance to configure the look and feel of the search widget so it looks good within your blog theme. Customization options include choosing widget styles, color palettes, logo colors, choosing what is displayed such as content icons or popular searches within a cloud and re-search.

Re-search is described by Lijit as:

When a search brings someone to your blog, Lijit’s Re-Search feature takes the query they used, re-performs that search through your Lijit search engine (hence the name “Re-Search”), and shows the top few results in a special display on your blog. You can pick the display location — either at the top of your blog or just above your Lijit Search Wijit.

On your stats page, Lijit shows the number of times Re-Search has been displayed in the “Number of Searches” bar graph and in the “Stats Summary” box. (Note that if you have Re-Search disabled, we’ll still show the data, but label it as “potential Re-Searches” so you can see what you missed!)

Installing The Widget:

Lijit supports TypePad and WordsPress out of the box. For sites such as Tumblr, LiveJournal, etc, there is a piece of javascript that can be used to install the widget on your blog. Considering my personal blog is WordPress based, you know which I one I chose. Lijit provides a WordPress plugin which is installed like any other plugin. Simply unzip the file, upload it to your WordPress plugin directory and activate it. Then guess what. You have to log into your WordPress administration panel and perform some more configuration options.

Lijit Plugin Settings

Thankfully, configuring the widget is a pretty simple process. One of the cool features of the plugin is that, you can choose to either use the standard Lijit Widget which appears in your blogs sidebar or you can substitute the WordPress search function with the Lijit search.

Service In Use:

After all is said and done, take a look at your blogs front page and perform a search via the Lijit search box. A Light-box style window should pop up which displays the results. It’s pretty easy to see how Lijit is monetizing the service as they have ads served by Google on the right hand side as well as above the search results.

Lijit Search

The search result window provides at least four different tabs from which to perform a search query. By default, the blog url is searched. However, users can choose to search via your content, network, or the web itself. Of course, if people were going to search the web, I’d think they would do that from the Google Homepage.

After performing a few test search queries, I found the search results to be pretty accurate. One of the cooler features found within the search results is that, there is a link underneath each result that is labeled “What’s The Connection“. Upon clicking on the link, you’ll see how the result is connected to the search engine. A great feature to have, especially when visitors are performing searches through the Content or Network tabs.

If you feel unsatisfied with the results that Lijit provides, there is a link at the bottom of the page which takes you to the their feedback page. The topic is automatically filled in with what you were searching for enabling the team to focus their efforts on that specific search query for your domain.

Stats:

One nice thing about Lijit that the default WordPress search bar doesn’t do is give you statistics. Lijit provides an entire area for statistics that is tied to your account. You can track how many searches are performed on your blog, the keywords that were searched, total searches, geographical location, page views, your exposure and much more.

Lijit Stats

In fact, the exposure tab actually notified me of people that were linking to me that I didn’t know about previous to using the service. Although in at least one case, Lijit picked up on some links that were old and when clicking on the pages that supposedly had a link to my blog, I received a 404 error.

Conclusion:

I’ve seen a number of big name blogs using Lijit for quite some time now, including this one. In my opinion, Lijit has two killer features wrapped in one. The first being control. End users are in control of what appears in their search engine which leads me to feature number two. The ability to create a personalized search engine that only taps into your blog content, but can be customized to search all of the content you have produced on other sites/services across the web. On top of that, you can then add blogs that you read and or trust to your search engine which is then used by your readers. Hopefully, other people have added your own blog to their personalized Lijit search as this all means there is a possibility of receiving traffic not only from Google, but from personalized Lijit search engines as well.

If there was one thing I don’t like about the service it would be the way in which search results are displayed. Instead of the search result shown in a window that seems like a popup, I would much rather have the results displayed as if they were natural to my blog. For instance, I’d love it if they provided a way for me to add a bit of code to my WordPress themes search result template page. Not sure how difficult that would be, but at least the results would look natural. Other than that, I can easily see why some of the biggest names in blogging are using Lijit.

Things To Look Forward To:

During the course of this review, I was able to get in touch with Micah Baldwin who is VP of Business Development and he gave me the lowdown on some things that Lijit is working on behind the scenes.

  • additional content sources (that can be added to a publisher’s results);
  • further control over look and feel of results (providing publishers more ways to integrate Lijit search results into their publications);
  • some new “bling” to the results themselves (meaning more information attached to individual results, like thumbnails, etc);
  • more ways for publishers to derive revenue from their search results;
  • greater opportunities for advertisers to create relationships with the right publishers;
  • continued measurement of the influence of publishers, and the ability to present that measurement to readers.

Basically, we are focused on: constantly making Lijit search results unique and representative of the publisher; increasing publisher pageviews and reader engagement; and optimizing the ability of publishers to generate revenue from a forgotten or under- monetized area of their publication.

The future looks bright for Lijit. Be sure to let me know in the comments if you currently use Lijit on your own blog and if you prefer it over the default search engine that comes with your publishing software of choice.

Tell A Friend Through A Widget

In this guest post Jeff Chandler reviews the TellaFriend Widget.

TellAFriendLogoIn the ever increasing socialness of the web, everything from news to photos to videos are being shared. Outside of  ShareThis, I’m not to familiar with other sites or services that are exclusively centered around sharing items across the web. During the past week, I was tipped off to a new service that has launched called Tell A Friend. Tell A Friend is a widget that is displayed on a page that enables visitors to essentially, tell a friend about a particular item.

Company Info:

Tell A Friend was created by SocialTwist. SocialTwist is a company that specializes in building widgets to the point where they almost become applications. Tell A Friend is the first widget application from the company with Widget Applications soon to be developed for internal corporate use. The company has two offices, one in the U.S. (Sunnyvale, CA) and India ( Begumpet Hyderabad, AP)

The Signup Process:

In order to use the widget, you’ll have to sign up first. The sign up process contains the typical email and password fields with an additional field to configure your Site URL and then confirm whether you operate a website or a blog. The difference between the two is that if you choose the blog option, you’ll be able to select from a list of popular blogging platforms to make installation of the widget easier. For this review, I selected blog and from the dropdown menu, I selected the WordPress Engine Plugin.

TheSignUpProcess

After signing up, you’ll be sent an activation email. Once you agree to their terms of service, you’ll be able to login to the site.

Using Tell A Friend:

Once logged in, you’ll gain access to your Widget Code which is the same thing as your account id number. Installation instructions for using the widget with TypePad, WordPress, Blogger, and Textpattern can also be found in this location.  If you’re using a self installed version of WordPress, download and install the Tell A Friend plugin. I can’t link to the plugin because it is dynamically generated with your user account ID number. Once the plugin is activated on your blog, the widget will automatically be placed at the end of your content. For example:

TellAFriendWidget

Configuring The Widget:

If you’re worried about the Widget not blending in with your blog design, don’t be. Tell A Friend provides options to change the widgets design. You can even configure the design of the button to be a large, small, or medium sized graphic. There is sure to be an option that looks good with your design.

Widget Design

When configuring the widget, you’ll come across something called Channels. These channels are labeled as email, IM, blog, and social. When a visitor hovers their mouse cursor over one of these particular channels on the widget, a row of services will popup enabling visitors to share a particular piece of content with their friends which of course is the basis behind the entire service. If you’re looking for even more customization, you can customize the message that is displayed when someone shares content through a particular channel.

Customize Channel Message

Keeping tabs on who is using the widget is made simple since Tell A Friend provides a usage stats page that is tied to your account. The stats showcase channel usage, widget views, widget uses, and more.

Conclusion:

All in all, Tell A Friend enables exactly that. The ability for visitors to tell their friends about something cool they’ve found. However, it is difficult for me to recommend using this widget versus something like ShareThis which is established and performs exactly the same functions as Tell A Friend. However, competition is a good thing and if ShareThis doesn’t suit your fancy, Tell A Friend makes a nice alternative.

Sphere – Show Your Readers Related Content [REVIEW]

Sphere LogoOne of the tips that is often given by bloggers is that you should use some sort of service or plugin that shows related posts on your blog. Not only does this give readers something else to look at, it provides another way to make your blog sticky.

This will help to decrease bounce rates and increase average visitor browsing times. However, what if you took the idea of related posts on your own blog and extended it out to those who used a particular service across the web? That is the idea behind Sphere. In this post Jeff Chandler reviews Sphere to see how it works.

Company Info:

Sphere was founded in 2005 by four individuals and is based in San Francisco. Martin Remy; Steve Nieker; Tony Conrad; and Toni Schneider. If the name of that last person sounds familiar to you, it’s because he is also the CEO of Automattic, the folks who bring you WordPress.com. What was originally a search engine for blogs has turned into a site that makes connections across a wide variety of content.

Using Sphere:

There are two ways in which to use Sphere. The first is by submitting your blog to the Sphere network. The second is to use the Sphere widget. Once your blog url is approved and added into the Sphere network, links to your blog posts will be distributed throughout the Sphere userbase. It does take some time before your blog URL is either approved or disapproved but until you receive that notice, you can use the Sphere Related Content Widget.

As with the site submission process, you’ll have to pony up some information to Sphere before you can actually use the widget. Pay special attention to the Blog Content selection box as this will determine the type of related posts that are displayed within the widget. If you are using a self hosted version of WordPress, you’ll be able to use the Sphere Related Content plugin. Once you have that plugin installed and activated, you’ll need to configure it.

Sphere Plugin Configuration

 This plugin currently supports the following content display types:

  • The CLASSIC plug-in — shows related blog posts and news from a wide variety of sources, not category specific. If in doubt, stick with this one. (You’re done here, nothing to change.)
  • The NEWS VIDEO plug-in for news bloggers — shows related video from Sphere Partners, as well as related news articles and blog posts.
  • The POLITICS plug-in for Democrats — shows related blog posts from Democratic and other left-leaning blogs, as well as from a variety of news sources.
  • The POLITICS plug-in for Republicans — shows related blog posts from Rebublican and other right-leaning blogs, as well as from a variety of news sources..
  • The POLITICS plug-in with Balance — shows related blog posts from both sides of the political divide, as well as from a variety of news sources.

At some point in the future, more specific content types will be available to choose from. However, for most people, Classic should be just fine. Once the plugin is configured, you should see a small Sphere icon with the text “Sphere: Related Content” appear below each blog post.

Sphere In Action

Clicking this link will open up the related content widget which displays five posts from other bloggers talking about the same subject, two related videos, and two to three related articles from across the Sphere network.

My User Experience:

When testing out the service on my own blog, I discovered that for the most part, the bloggers talking about the same topic were generally more related than the related articles section. The related videos were hit and miss. Overall, not a bad experience and I’ve found myself clicking on a few of the related articles myself. Personally, I’d like to see the option of configuring the widget to display a certain number of related posts on the blog page rather than having to click on the widget. In a later revision of this plugin that can be configured to display a specific category of posts will be a welcomed addition.

From The Blogs

Conclusion:

Using a related post service such as Sphere has its benefits. For starters, The Wall Street Journal, The New York Times, CNN, TechCrunch, All Things D and Real Clear Politics that generate over 1 billion monthly article page-views are already on board. If a link to your blog post appears within the widget or related post area on any of these sites, you are sure to benefit from the follow through traffic. Although from browsing around CNN, I did see a good mixture of related blog post links. However, the tech category appeared to be dominated by the big name blogs/sites such as TechCrunch, CNET, and Zdnet.

In the end, just being part of the service, displaying your widget, and allowing Sphere to use your content to showcase related articles is a simple way to increase exposure as well as traffic levels for your own blog.

Sound Off:

Here is what I’d like to know from you. First, do you use Sphere or a related service? Pardon the pun. Also, have you been able to measure any amount of success from having your articles display on the various widgets within the Sphere network? Last but not least, have you ever had a blog post show up in the widget on a site like TechCrunch or CNN?

This Review of Sphere was written by Jeff Chandler who is currently a writer for Performancing, BloggerTalks and is the host of two podcasts, WordPress Weekly and Perfcast.

Turn FireFox 3 Into A Blogging Toolbox

FireFox3 LogoToday Jeff Chandler shares with us how FireFox 3 can be a great tool for bloggers.

If there is one thing that sets FireFox apart from any other web browser, it would have to be the third party support in the form of themes and extensions. There are so many extensions available for the browser, you can virtually do just about anything. As I become more entrenched as a blogger online, I’ve started to transform FireFox into more than just a browser,  it has become my ultimate blogging toolbox. The following twelve FireFox extensions will give you a head start on turning FireFox into your own personal blogging toolbox.

GbuttsMany Google Services In One – These days, it seems as though Google has a bazillion services. Having individual buttons for each service in FireFox would not only be cumbersome but it would also take up valuable screen real estate. Thankfully, there is an extension which enables access to all of the Google Services from one button called Gbutts. After installing this extension, you can configure which Google Services show up in the drop down menu, allowing you to only see the ones you actively use.

In Browser Feed Reader – I use FeedDemon as my stand-alone FeedReader of choice, but I also use one within FireFox called SageToo. I use this extension primarily to keep tabs on forums I am a member of. Since I need to have the browser open to reply to a forum post or start a new thread, having quick access to new posts/threads within the browser is a time saver versus reading the feeds in a stand alone feed reader.

ScribefirePublish Content Right From The BrowserScribeFire should be of no surprise for longtime readers of Problogger. ScribeFire enables me to have quick access to a blog editor. If the publishing system you use has XML-RPC support, you can configure ScribeFire to connect directly to your blog. I use ScribeFire to quickly publish drafts or full blown posts to my own blog, right from the browser.

See Ranks Without Researching – With the SearchStatus extension, you can easily see a particular URL’s Alexa Ranking as well as its Google Page Rank. Finding this information used to require researching the site by putting the URL through a Page Rank service.

SnagItTake Snapshots From The Browser – People are continuously surprised to find out that TechSmith has a FireFox extension (SnagIt Extension) available particularly for those who use their SnagIt software. This software makes it easy as pie to take screen captures. The extension takes things one step further by enabling access to the software through the browser. In my arsenal of tools, this extension is probably used the most as publishing how-to articles or reviews requires an abundant amount of screenshots.

Built In FTP Client – One of the reasons why I used Internet Explorer long after FireFox was released was because of the built in FTP client. Convenience of the client kept me from using alternatives. Once I discovered the FireFTP extension however, I really began to fall in love with FireFox. FireFTP adds an FTP client right into the browser which I have found to work better than any stand alone software alternative I have tried.

TinyURL CreatorEasy to Digest URLs – Thanks to services like Twitter which limits messages to 140 characters or less, we now have a myriad of services online which aims to shrink that mile long URL into something more manageable. Despite the other services that are available, I am been a big fan of TinyURL. So it should be no surprise then that I am recommending the TinyURL Creator. This extension can create tiny URLs from links, page links, and the text that is displayed in the address bar of the browser. On top of that, the TinyURLs that are created are automatically copied to your clipboard leaving you with the only step of pasting the link.

Tweeting From The Browser – Although Twhirl makes for an excellent stand alone application to handle your Twitter needs, having access to Twitter from within FireFox adds a convenience factor not to mention it is one less program running on your machine. When accessing Twitter from the browser, I recommend the  TwitKit extension. When activated, Twitter will load in a sidebar within FireFox with a list of the 10 latest tweets. I typically use TwitKit to publish quick thoughts or links without the distraction of being sucked into the endless stream of information that Twhirl provides. As an alternative, you can use TwitterBar.

Auto Fill FormsAuto Fill Forms -  Most blogs have a commenting section made up of four fields. Name, URL, Email and a text area for your comment. Instead of typing in your Name, URL, and Email over and over again, you can use the AutoFill Forms extension and configure it so that when you press a keyboard shortcut, these fields will automatically be filled in with the configured values. This extension has saved me a ton of time as well as keystrokes. One caveat though, this extension does not work on blogs who use a third party commenting system such as Disqus or CoComment.

Copy Only The Text – Ever copy a section of text from a website and then paste it into a Word Document or into a WYSIWYG Text editor? Generally, not only is the text pasted but so is the formatting. I know at times, this has driven me insane. Thankfully, there is an extension which prevents this from happening called Copy Plain Text. This extension adds an option to your right click context menu that will say, “Copy Plain Text” which does exactly what it advertises.

ShareaholicSharing Across Multiple Services With One Button – While I tend to stick with using the Delicious Bookmarks extension as that is the only bookmarking service I use, I figured that limiting the bookmarking services to just delicious would be premature. So, introducing Shareaholic. Shareaholic is similar to the GButts extension in that, users have access to multiple social bookmarking/networking sites from one icon.  After configuring the sites for which you have accounts with, sharing a site is as simple as a few clicks of the mouse. At least seventeen different services are supported which should be enough to get you started.

Relevancy In The Browser -  When you’re writing that next blog post, don’t bother spending time using Google to look up related posts, images, etc. Instead, use the Zemanta FireFox Extension. Zemanta presents images, links, articles, tags in a simple interface. It encourages re-use and linking to other content with as little effort as possible. In the world of blogging, being related is usually a good thing.

Conclusion:

These extensions are what make up my own toolbox, but why stop there? Perhaps you use an alternate extension to get a chore done versus the one I suggested. This is your chance to tell me which extensions you use to make you a more productive or efficient blogger. Based on your responses, there may be a follow up post filled with reader suggestions.

This guest post was written by Jeff Chandler who is currently a writer for Performancing, BloggerTalks and is the host of two podcasts, WordPress Weekly and Perfcast.