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Making the most of ecto

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At first sight, ecto seems to be a simple desktop client that allows you to author content for your blog. There are a couple of advantages desktop blog tools offer over control panels…

You can write entries while offline, keep a local searchable cache of published entries and drafts, use spell-check, manipulate images and movies before uploading, to name just a few.

But ecto for MacOSX (and soon also the Windows version) does even more than that, it can help you to raise your blog’s visibility in the blogosphere and even make a bit of profit. This blog entry will show you how to make the most of ecto.

Benefit from Amazon’s affiliate scheme
If you haven’t done so already, register yourself as an Amazon associate. Once you are registered you can get credit for anyone clicking on Amazon links from your blog. Even more so if they purchase the linked item. Plain links to a particular Amazon product page will not work, though, as you need specially formatted URLs that have your associate ID embedded. Amazon offers an online form for building such links, but it is very tedious to use. Here’s how you can do it on-the-fly in ecto: While editing an entry, you may refer to a product or use a specific keyword. Click on the “Amazon” icon in the toolbar (highlight a word or phrase first if you want it inserted in the search field) and search for a suitable product. When you have found the right product, click on “Create Link” and you’re done. ecto inserts the URL to the Amazon product page inside your entry, optionally with image. Here’s an example (note that the display format is completely customizable):

“Who Let the Blogs Out?” (Biz Stone)

Please make sure you have entered your associate ID or you will miss out on credits. In the Amazon Tool window, click on “Options” in the toolbar and fill in the “Associate ID” field.

To find out how well your Amazon links work, log in to the Amazon associates page and look for the Link-Type Reports page. The number of clicks reported on your links are listed under “REST” (in the “Web Services Links” section), which points to the Amazon API that ecto uses to generate links. Obviously, the more visitors your blog has, the higher your click-ratio, so let’s see how you can get more visitors.

Get indexed
The easiest way get some publicity for your blog is to get indexed. There are a few services that track which blogs were recently updated. One such service is blo.gs, which was recently purchased by Yahoo so expect this service to be even better in the nearby future. There are also services that index blogs and track incoming and outgoing links. A prominent blog indexer and search engine is Technorati, which has just upgraded its services significantly and has given its website a thorough makeover.

The first thing to do is to let blo.gs and Technorati know when you have updated your blog. Go to Weblog ▸ Edit Settings and reveal the “Pings” tab. Click on the “+” button to add a new URL (if there are no addresses listed, ecto automatically inserts a default list). Enter the following URLs:

http://ping.blo.gs/

http://rpc.technorati.com/rpc/ping

Next, open a new draft window. In the Options sidebar, make sure that the “Ping” checkbox is checked (to make this setting persistent, click on the “Make Default” button).

You should also tell Technorati that your blog is yours, which requires that you create an account on Technorati. This is free and gives you some extra options. Once signed in, proceed to claim your blog.

One of the best features of Technorati is that it can show you your blog’s so-called cosmos, i.e. who is linking to your blog. It is an excellent barometer for your blog’s visibility and it can also show which blog entries are the most popular.

Use tags
In addition to pinging Technorati so that it indexes your blog, I highly recommend to append tags to your blog entries. Tags are like categories that you use to classify your blog entry, but are wrapped in a specific URL so that services like Technorati can detect them. Once your tags are indexed, people who search for specific tags may be able to find your blog (for example, “”). It not only gives your blog additional exposure, but it also helps to organize the contents of your blog.

Adding tags to your entry is very easy with ecto. Open a new draft window in ecto and click on the “Tags” tab in the Options drawer. There are two ways to add tags: You can do it the conventional way using the “+” button or you can do it the quick way by making the tag list the active field and just type the desired tag name. ecto tries to match what you typed with tags in the list and if no tag is found it will create a new one. You can use the return key to toggle a tag’s checkbox. Selected tags are automatically appended to your entry once you decide to publish it.

Share and share alike
Tags are not restricted to Technorati only. The online photo-sharing service, Flickr, and the social bookmarking site, del.icio.us, both use tags to organize their contents. Since all these web services use tags, it means that you can link between them. Your “puppy” tag could include Flickr photos, bookmarked URLs and . Finding information could not be easier thanks to tags.

Of course, ecto also has support for Flickr and del.icio.us. You can insert your del.icio.us bookmarks in a draft or add new bookmarks to del.icio.us using ecto’s URL Assistant, which is accessible via the Edit ▸ Create Link ▸ URL Assistant menu item (or just press the command-U key combo).

Support for Flickr occurs via another application, 1001. With 1001 you can upload images to Flickr or browse Flickr streams. Blogging about an image on Flickr requires just one click on the “Blog This” toolbar button in 1001 and it will provide ecto with the necessary data to start a new blog entry.

In addition, ecto also lists the tags you have used with del.icio.us and Flickr, so that you can reuse them for your blog entries.

Guest Writer adriaan

Reader Comments

Darren Rowse is the founder of ProBlogger.net, a blog about the many ways of adding an income stream to blogs.

Darren owns and writes a variety of blogs including Digital Photography Blog and Camera Phone
Zone
. He is also a co-founder of the Breaking News Blog Collective.

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