Posted:
Guest post by David Kutcher

Editor’s note: We invited David Kutcher, an innovative web developer from Northampton MA, to write a guest blog post to share how he uses Blogger to create robust, beautiful and easy to use websites for his clients.

Hi, my name is David Kutcher. I own Confluent Forms LLC, a graphic design and custom web-based software development firm in Northampton, MA. We specialize in creating gorgeous and engaging websites with custom content management systems. As curious as it made sound, we’ve found that Blogger can be a great platform for web development when a custom CMS isn’t needed. Blogger provides a ton of functionality and design freedom for our clients, and not just for blogs!

You’re probably thinking: “what? using blog software for a website?”. I know - it sounds a bit unconventional, but it’s true.


I think that most users do not realize the value and flexibility that Blogger offers, including free hosting, complete customization, personalized domain options, WYSIWYG editor and more. Because Blogger is a Google product, you can also easily integrate with other Google services such as: Google Analytics, Google Docs, AdSense, Picasa and more. All of this is available free of charge while providing a simple, easy authoring environment for the small business owner.

As a web development firm, Blogger provides us with a different value proposition. When we pitch a Blogger-based solution to a client we can provide services at a lower price point while still maintaining full creative freedom. I don’t need to set up a paid hosting account for my client, worry about security patches or upgrades, or be concerned about system uptime and availability. Finally, I can easily transfer ownership and management of the site to my client, or, continue to keep us both as co-administrators.

It can be hard to envision a platform’s potential from a list of features so here are a few examples of what we’ve achieved with Blogger.

I hope the examples above have opened your eyes to some of the possibilities of what you can do with your Blogger site, or maybe encourage you to give Blogger a try for your website solution. A longer, more in-depth version of this post is available on our blog. My company is lucky to have an exceptionally talented designer that isn’t afraid to push us, but even if you don’t have the ability to create an entirely new site template, perhaps this will encourage you to explore the underlying code of your site and to customize some of the small details to match your vision for your site.

Happy designing and coding!

David

Posted:
Posted by Brett Wiltshire, Product Operations

In keeping with Google’s public commitment to make copyright work better online, our team has been working on improving the copyright environment for bloggers and copyright owners alike. As access to the web grows, bringing new content and services online, it becomes even more important to ensure the rights of everyone involved are protected and understood. To that end, we’re happy today to announce the release of two significant improvements to Blogger’s copyright handling toolkit:

1.)  Streamlined submission tools for rightsholders. 
Working alongside industry representatives, we’ve built a better submission and handling system for our high-volume DMCA takedown submitters that simplifies the reporting process and reduces our average response time to less than 24 hours.

2.)  Streamlined counter-notice tools for users. 
Built right into the dashboard, Blogger now offers a simple way to counter-notify incoming DMCA takedown notices to blog authors who believe their content was improperly targeted for removal. This will initially be available for users receiving notices from our high-volume submitters, though we have plans to expand this to other notices down the road.

In addition, to ensure transparency around the entire system, we’ll continue to forward all DMCA notices (as well as counter-notices) to the Chilling Effects cease & desist clearinghouse where they’ll be available for public searching.

As a refresher, here is a recap of how our DMCA removals procedure works today, factoring in these two updates we’ve just announced:
  1. A blogger (let’s call him Joe Blogger) decides to post a link on his blog to a downloadable copy of Album X.
  2. The rightsholder believes the link leads to an unauthorized, infringing copy of Album X and submits a takedown notice for that specific post.
  3. The DMCA takedown notice is processed by the Blogger Team, and if determined to be a valid complaint, the post in question is reverted to draft, Joe Blogger is notified, and a copy of the complaint is sent to Chilling Effects.
  4. At this point, Joe Blogger has the right to file a counter-notice and request the post be restored if he believes the takedown was improper. He may also edit the post to remove the allegedly infringing content himself.
  5. If Joe Blogger files a counter-notice, notification will be sent to the rightsholder as well as to Chilling Effects, and after ten business days the post will be restored if the rightsholder decides not to pursue further action.
  6. Rightsholders may pursue further legal action if they deem the counter-notice sent by the user to be invalid or erroneous.
These updates are the most recent among the copyright-related improvements our team has implemented over the last two years, all intended to strike a responsible balance between the needs of copyright owners and bloggers.

Posted:
Post by Lisa Ding, Community Manager

Of the blogs that I read every day, more than half are blogs that link me to news articles, websites, or other blog posts on the web. It used to be that bloggers were expected to write original content. While original content remains highly valued by many readers, it's no longer taboo to simply share things that you find elsewhere on the Internet. Followers will read your blog to see the great content that you surface. Essentially, every blog can be a small gallery of a blogger’s interests and taste.

One of my go-to blogs for Internet trends is Brandflakes for Breakfast, which states its mission is to “read the internet, so you don’t have to.” The posts are short and quippy, and the contributors work for a digital creative agency, so I trust the content that they’re surfacing will be relevant to the Internet, marketing, and branding -- some topics that interest me.


While I’m a fervent reader of blogs, I’ve struggled to post original content on a regular basis. Fortunately, I’ve discovered a couple of sharing tools on Blogger that will help me post more often. As long as I keep finding interesting things on the web, I’ll be able to use these two shortcuts to help me generate quick blog posts:
  1. Blog This! tool for Chrome: If you're using Chrome as your browser, simply install this extension and you'll be ready to write a blog post with a prepopulated link.
  2. If you want to share a post from another Blogger blog, select the ‘B’ sharing button at the end of the post. A link and blurb of the post will pre-populate, so simply type an intro, and voila! you have a new post. (Note: If you don't see the sharing buttons on your own blog, you can enable them by going into the Design tab and editing the Blog Post page element.)
A question for our bloggers: do you consider yourself primarily a creator or a curator?

Posted:
Posted by Inci Atrek, User Education Specialist

Hi Bloggers,

At the beginning, life can seem a bit lonely in the blogosphere, so kudos to you for taking that first step and starting a blog. Whether your purpose has evolved over the years or you’ve stuck around for the same reasons that got you started, we truly enjoyed reading your responses to our #bloggerasks tweet on why you blog.

@CprincessUK broke it down in list form, music blogger @LinerNotes crafted a mission statement, and @fortnow blogged about blogging for Blogger’s 10th anniversary. Others of you kept your raison d’être under 140 characters. Here are a few of them, short and sweet:

“I started blogging because I loved my wedding and talking about weddings and my fiancé didn't - I needed a community” (@CMatlick)

“Main reason: creative writing outlet. Aux reasons: counteract stereotypes/preconceived ideas abt Pakistan, Pakistanis, & Islam :)” (@desigurrl)

“I started blogging after a near death experience to create a legacy for my three young children” (@FrillyHills)

“Started blogging to write about food and Flavor of Italy's culinary tourism business” (@FlavorofItaly)

Whether it’s your love of magic, to share tips on shaving, to chronicle life with the kids, or for reasons you still haven’t figured out, we want to know -- why do you blog?

Cheers,
Inci

Posted:
Posted by Brett Wiltshire, Product Operations

Our team has been thinking a lot recently about browser support, and wanted to make you aware of our new plan moving forward. For web applications like Blogger to continue to evolve at a rapid pace, our engineering team needs to make use of new capabilities available in modern browsers. For example, Dynamic Views, which we previewed in March, and Web Fonts both require advanced browsers that support HTML5. Older browsers just aren’t able to provide you with the same high-quality experience.

For this reason, starting next month Blogger.com will only support modern browsers. Beginning August 1st, we’ll support the current and prior major release of Chrome, Firefox, Internet Explorer and Safari on a rolling basis. Each time a new version is released, we’ll begin supporting the update and stop supporting the third-oldest version.

As of August 1st, we will discontinue support for the following browsers and their predecessors: Firefox 3.5, Internet Explorer 7, and Safari 3. In these older browsers you may have trouble using certain features in Blogger as well as many other Google Apps such as Gmail, Google Calendar, Google Talk, Google Docs and Google Sites.

So if it’s been a while since your last update, we encourage you to take advantage of the improved performance and security these modern browsers have to offer by installing the latest version of your preferred browser. There are many to choose from:
As the world moves more to the web, these new browsers are more than just a modern convenience, they are a necessity for what the future holds.

Posted:
Posted by Lisa Ding, Community Manager

I wouldn’t consider myself a “fashionista,” but I do follow a good fashion blog or two.

Aside from The Sartorialist, which is one of the most frequently-viewed blogs on Blogger, I’m an avid follower of The Man Repeller. The blog is filled with photos of beautiful clothes, and I love the sassy attitude of Miss Man Repeller herself. This lady really seems to embrace the phrase “dressing for other girls.” Men, don’t worry about it.


There are quite a few popular fashion blogs on Blogger, but one thing that I’ve noticed many have in common is the use of a simple template with a customized header image. The simple template allows you to highlight the most important part of a fashion blog -- the images. And instead of have just text for a title header, you can draw readers in with a splashy colorful image that leaves a strong impression.

What are some of your favorite fashion blogs on Blogger? I’ll take some of your suggestions via comments and feature them in a future post. 

Note: Please only submit fashion blogs -- other types will be featured later. I'll be crediting the nominator, so please leave your Twitter name or blog URL. Looking forward to your suggestions!

Posted:
Posted by Bruce Polderman, Product Manager

Hello Bloggers!

I’m relatively new to the Blogger team, but have been a Product Manager on Google’s “Geo” team since 2006, specifically for the Google 3D Warehouse. Product Managers work closely with software engineers, designers, and marketing to establish product requirements and define product features.

What initially attracted me to Blogger was the impact that it has on people’s lives. Blogs, by their very nature, enable people to express themselves. Some blogs attract our readership from an intellectual perspective, some for their entertainment value, and still others stir our emotions. That’s powerful stuff.

On the Blogger team I hear frequent use of the term “bloggers.” While it’s natural to generalize sometimes, what’s fascinating about Blogger isn’t the entity of a blog, but instead the interests and motivations of the real people who are behind each and every one. As human beings, we enjoy listening to and sharing stories. This is what Blogger facilitates at a fundamental level.

What I hope to gain from Lisa’s focus on Community Management is greater insight into how you are using Blogger. The deeper the understanding we have for how you use the product, the more informed we are when deciding where to take Blogger in the future.

Happy blogging!

Bruce

http://poldermanblp.blogspot.com/
http://twitter.com/#!/PoldermanBLP

Posted:
Posted by: Inci Atrek, User Education Specialist

Hi Bloggers,

We've set out to learn more about blogging from the people who know it best -- our users. I’ve really enjoyed your responses to our #bloggerasks tweets over the past two weeks, and spent a good amount of time reading through the blogs and posts that you’ve sent us.

Something that always astounds me about blogging is how the core experience of sharing stories pulls together an incredibly diverse group of people. The emphasis you all put on connecting with each other really speaks to the power of community among bloggers.

Here are some of my favorite responses to the question, What’s the best blogging advice you’ve ever received?
  • “Write to build community; link to others and participate in the conversation” (@LisaSpangenberg)
  • “To blog consistently, respond to comments, and to read and comment on other people's blogs (especially those who read mine).” (@kelblogg)
  • “To not only be active within your own blog but on others' as well - leave comments, but don't spam!” (@OnceBittenBlog)

Although it’s important to keep your readers in mind, most of you tweeted about staying true to yourself, and writing about what you love. @Mistylovesvamps said it best: “don't be a slave to stats & followers.”

The balance between writing for yourself and becoming part of a community can be difficult at first - even a little scary - but it’s worth it. And if you’re still on the fence, consider the best blogging advice @Shakestweetz received: “Hey, you should start a blog.”

Missed our #bloggerasks? Keep an eye out for future tweets, and for my posts on your responses. Have even more blogging advice? Let us know - leave a comment!

Cheers,
Inci