We’ve done a fair bit of personalizing on our blogs so far, and today we’re going to talk about a little bit more, specifically with regard to our “sidebar”. Depending on the theme you chose for your blog, your “sidebar” could be in a number of places, but a rather large number of themes involve said “bar” being either the far right or the far left of your blog. It is a spot where your posts do not reach, an empty slate that you can fill as you so choose. So today’s assignment is to add and/or customize two widgets, one text-based and one image-based.
Now, as with many of these assignments, this is something that I’ve already done since I’ve already been around the block a few times. Therefore, instead of adding or changing anything, I’m going to explain why I chose the widgets that I chose.
The very first widget on my sidebar is a simple photo. I chose that widget because, as a writer, I want people to be able to instantly recognize me. Eventually (based on my own cursed willpower) I will have published books, and those books will have a photo of me inside their covers. If the people who read my books choose to seek out my blog I want them to be able to immediately know that they’ve got the right place. Additionally, a photo is a nice thing to have on a professional blog (not that I think my blog is professional…haha) because it gives visitors that instant feeling of having made your acquaintance, which might help them decide to stick around.
The second widget on my sidebar is an invitation to “Like” my Facebook Author Page. This is a newer addition, as it took me a while to finally decide to actually make a Facebook Author Page. In the end I decided that it was an important step, and the widget reflects that. Facebook is a big deal these days, and while not everyone who stumbles onto my blog may be the kind of person who follows blogs, there are plenty of people out there who might click the “Like” button and thereafter return to my blog as Facebook lets them know what I’ve posted recently.
Thirdly, we have a Twitter widget. I’m not a huge Twitter user myself, but it’s another one of those “important” sites that can be very useful for networking. I chose to add the type of widget that shows the last few things I’ve “tweeted” along with the ability for visitors to tweet directly to me without having to open a whole different browser page to go directly to Twitter.com. Though it is not used as often as I thought it might, I think that it’s nice to give people the ability to speak to me without having to comment on a particular blog post.
The fourth and fifth widgets are organizational in purpose. They simply give visitors the option to browse my blog posts via the full archives, or the categories that I place my posts under.
The sixth widget is a simple “Follow Via Email” button, important for visitors who are neither members of WordPress, nor choose to use the Facebook link.
And the final widget is your basic search which, while not necessarily very useful to visitors, is important for helping me to go back and find things that I wrote about in the past.
Do you see a pattern? Most of my widgets are based around the idea of gathering a following and networking various aspects of my “author platform” together. The widgets I chose are the kinds of widgets that a writer should have in order to effectively use social media to her advantage. However, each individual blogger has to decide for themselves what will work well for their blog. If you’re a private person who wants to talk anonymously you’re probably not going to want to use things like Facebook and Twitter, but if networking is a major part of your platform you might want to add even more social site widgets to your sidebar. If you’re a member of any clubs, challenges, blogging circles, etc, you might want to post your badges on your sidebar. If you’re into any kind of marketing, there are “blog stats” widgets that would help let potential buyers know how popular your blog is. If you hold events via your blog, there are widgets to help you organize and display them. Take a look through all the available widgets and determine what would work best for you. 🙂