Last month we released two new stats gadgets to the Blogger in Draft testing ground; after hearing your feedback and making a few tweaks, we’re happy to announce that they are both now ready for the main stage. The new-and-improved Popular Posts and Blog’s Stats gadgets can be added to your blog right now from the Gadget Directory by clicking Add a gadget from the Design | Page Elements tab.

Both of these gadgets take advantage of the traffic data that is being collected by Blogger Stats and provide an easy way for you to pass that info on to the readers of your blog.

The Popular Posts gadget will automatically find and display your blog’s posts that have the most pageviews. You can choose whether to display image thumbnails or post snippets in addition to the post title. You can also choose the time window to be used for calculating pageviews and the number of posts you’d like to display.

The Blog’s Stats gadget lets you show off pageview data for your blog, with a handful of configuration options that are easily controlled. You can choose from a variety of styles and display options to suit your blog. We also provide an option to let you select the time window to be used for calculating pageviews.

We hope you enjoy these new gadgets and want to thank you again for your feedback as we fine-tuned them to their current state.

Guest post by Rick Calvert, CEO of BlogWorld & New Media Expo

When the Google Blogger team asked me to write a guest post for the Blogger Blog, I really didn’t know where to start. Today it occurred to me that the story of how I found Blogger might be a good place.

I have been reading and commenting on blogs since the year 2000. I am a news and political junkie so most of the blogs I read were political. Tons of them were hosted right here on Blogger. I was amazed at the original news being reported; the insightful commentary and opinion; the incredibly moving personal stories from Milbloggers and their families and yes the crazy conspiracy theories. This Blogging thing was really incredible. Who were all these smart people?

So many times I wished I could be a blogger, but I wasn’t a techie or a geek and it just seemed like it would be too difficult. Fast forward to 2005; I was in the middle of my two-hour daily commute home on the 91 freeway out of Los Angeles and listening to center right talk radio guy Hugh Hewitt. He said something that got me worked up so I called in. I don’t remember what we talked about but at the end of the conversation he said “you should start a blog.” So that night I went home and Googled “how to start a blog.” Blogger was the first result. So I clicked through and found the message you have all seen and the message that changed my life forever “Create Your Blog Now.” I had no idea how easy it was to start a blog! It only took me five minutes to do something I had been longing to do for nearly five years!

Things started moving very quickly from there—someone actually read my blog. How the heck did they find me? I wondered. Top political bloggers from both sides of the aisle were linking to me. TO ME! Every political pundit I asked to interview said yes! Other bloggers were selling books on their site through Amazon. I thought to myself, I read a lot of books; I should sell the books I like on my blog. A friend helped me sign up as an Amazon Associate and I was off to the races. Then one day an Ad Network contacted me and wanted to sell ads on my blog.

I had so many questions. How much money could I make blogging? How do I add things like widgets and blog rolls to my blog? Can I do audio and video posts? So I started looking for the “Blogging Tradeshow.” Being a tradeshow and conference organizer for the last 15 years I knew there was a tradeshow for every industry. I was stunned when I realized no such conference existed. I asked my blogger friends if they would ever attend the “Blogging Tradeshow.” They all said yes. I asked my tradeshow friends if they thought it was a good idea. They all said yes.

And so BlogWorld & New Media Expo was born in November of 2006. We held our first event in November of 2007 with 1,600 attendees! This October 14-16 at Mandalay Bay in Las Vegas we will host the fourth annual BlogWorld & New Media Expo. Over 4,000 bloggers, podcasters, YouTubers, internet radio, and TV broadcasters will be attending and things have come full circle.

We are thrilled that for the first time the blog platform that changed my life, Blogger, will be exhibiting at BlogWorld. We have had folks from Blogger speak at the conference every year, and this year Product Manager Chang Kim will be speaking on “The Future of Blogging Platforms.” And now for the first time all of you can visit the Blogger booth (# 308) and ask your own questions. Or just stop by to say hi and meet the Blogger team, or like me stop by and give them a huge THANK YOU for changing your life.

By the way if you still need to register for the show, as a member of the Blogger community you can use this special code for 20% off of any registration package at BlogWorld 2010: BLOGGER20

When it comes to design, sometimes less can be more. This is the mantra behind our newest variant Super Simple, freshly-released to the Template Designer this week. We’ve taken the original Simple variant and stripped it down to the bare essentials, putting your actual blog content front and center on the page.

As with all of our variants, you are free to tweak all of the individual elements and styles to your liking. And if you are looking to design a fancy blog template from scratch, the Super Simple variant is also a great frame to build upon.

You can check out the new variant right now in the Template Designer, under the Simple category. As always, our ears are open to your feedback, so please feel free to let us know what you think.

Posted by Wongoo Lee, Software Engineer

We know that personalizing your blog is important. Although you can adjust templates, layouts, backgrounds and more with our Template Designer, you wanted more ways to make your blog completely unique.

Now you can use your own image as your blog background. Go to Design | Template Designer | Background, click on Background Image, and you’ll see the new “Upload image” option, which allows you to select and upload your image. There are a variety of options such as alignment, repeat, and scroll for how to display your new image. This feature is another graduate from Blogger in Draft. You can find more information in our original announcement.

Tips from the Blogger team: If you want a full-screen background, we recommend using an image that's 1800 pixels wide and 1600 pixels high, so that the background image can fill the entire screen even for the readers with large monitors. To make sure your blog loads quickly, background images must be small in file size. As the maximum file size you can upload is 300KB, you may need to reduce your photo’s file size using Photoshop, Mac OS X Preview, or one of many free online tools. You can also tile a smaller image, but keep in mind that patterns work better than photographs, which can make your blog look cluttered.

(The good)
(The bad)

This feature is now available on all Blogger blogs and we welcome your suggestions and comments on our Help Forum.

Posted by Seth Shamban, Blogger Consumer Operations

Last week we hosted Blogger’s 11th bday celebration, and a huge thanks goes out to everyone who helped us celebrate! Since we were only able to attend a few parties in person (which was awesome!), we enjoyed watching tweets, videos, and photos stream in at #bloggerfiesta. From the four hour conference for 90 people in Manila, Philippines to the three person casual rendezvous at a restaurant in Duluth, Georgia, we heard great stories from around the world about bloggers meeting each other face-to-face.

Even though we’re an internet company, we know the importance of meeting in-person. It provides a great opportunity to learn from others, meet new folks and share tips. We loved that one Fiesta attendee even learned how to set up a custom domain.

While we had some fun of our own last week (particularly in our Sydney office), our favorite stories are the ones you’ve shared. We’ve linked to some of our favorites below. If you have a story from your Blogger Fiesta that you would like to share with us, please send it along to

Blogger Fiesta Sydney in Google's Sydney office