So What’s a Widget Anyway?

Widgets are a handy, easy and simple way to add some flare to your blog. Whether you’d like to display the number of currently online visitors to your site or simply the weather report for Los Angeles, you can do it with widgets. And remember, the first rule of widgetizing your blog is – don’t overdo it!

So you’ve decided to to the blogging thing and see how it works. Great! I will go into a few ‘widgets’ that you should be putting on your blog to begin with, then you can delve further into fancier, more complex add-ins and plug-ins. Always use WordPress.org and Blogger.com as your first resources. There are people out there who are developing their own add-ins, but you don’t know who they are. Go with trusted sources first is my motto.

If you have a Blogger blog set up, they actually have far more widgets listed from within your blog’s main page, or dashboard. Click on the ‘Design’ tab and it will show you the current components in your blog. Blogger actually calls their add-ins ‘Gadgets’. There are pages and pages of things to add. You can always take them back out, so don’t be afraid to play around to see what they do. But remember, more is not always better. You want people to concentrate on what you have to say, not all of the stuff you have on your blog page.

If you have a WordPress blog, you go to your dashboard and click on ‘Appearance’ along the left side and you will see ‘Widgets’. When you click on that, you will see the components of your blog and the available widgets for you to add. You simply drag and drop them where you want them to be placed. WordPress also has a huge amount of what they call ‘plug-ins’, but I have yet to do more research on that subject, so look for an explanation in future blog posts!

What should I have on my blog page?

  • You should have a place for archived articles, so you can set your page to show only a few posts.  Nobody likes scrolling on forever and forever, so they will be able to click on archive and browse through past posts.
  • Definately have a way for readers to subscribe to your blog.  On Google’s Blogger you can ‘follow’ a blog, on WordPress you can put in a ‘subscribe to blog’ box.  This helps you see who is reading your blog and provides a way for you to contact them, if you wish.
  • Have a way for your readers to pass along your blog, if they wish to share it.  You can put social media buttons after each blog on both blogging platforms.  If you make it easy for them to tweet, facebook, or email your blog to friends, that greatly expands your blog’s reach.
  • Links of Interest – most definately!  This allows  you to lead your readers to your main website and any other places you would like them to find more information.  You can also use this area to list related website or links that you think they will find informative or useful.
  • Both platforms allow you to add html text, which is code, so you can add a badge for your Meetup Group, or an ad banner for an affiliate website.  You simply add the text/html gadget to your blog components and copy and paste the provided code into that area.  If you look at my blogs at www.helperbs.wordpress.com and www.helperb.blogspot.com you will see a banner at the bottom for a website company I use – ipage.  I have also added a couple of other badges that will take you directly to things like my networking group on Meetup.com.  Things like this are not necessary to start with, but add to the effectiveness of your blog, in directing people to places and information you would like them to see.

 

There are many other things to add in and play with, but you can do that gradually.  Just remember, you don’t want to distract people from your content.  On Blogger you can ‘monetize’ your blogs – Google will select ads to place within your blog posts and if someone clicks on an ad, and makes a purchase I believe, you receive a small amount of money.  WordPress can choose at any time to insert ads into your blog posts and you have to pay them not to do so.  Something to consider when choosing which platform you would like to use for your blog.

The wonderful thing about blogging is there is a delete button.! You can undo and change things to your hearts desire.  Have fun, play around and know you are not locked into stone.  Concentrate on the important thing – the content.  Make it valuable, consistent, understandable and useful to those who are reading your blog posts.

I hope that you have found this post useful and informative and I will continue to do research and pass along what I have found to be useful tips. 

You are invited to attend the Business Brainstormers Meetup Group on 9/21 at 11:00 where we will have our computers in tow and will be going through setting up a blog and getting started together.  Look the group up on www.meetup.com.  Until Monday – have a safe and enjoyable holiday weekend!

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