Sunday, September 6, 2015

Discussion Post: Blogging 101 - Using Widgets on Your Blog



My Discussion Topic This Week - Blogging 101 - Using Widgets on Your Blog.

Not everyone likes to use widgets on their blog, but sometimes I think they can be pretty useful, depending upon which ones you go for.  And let me state at the outset that when I use the word widget, I'm including any type of code that results in moving parts on your blog... like a moving carousel, or even just ones that self-update like the Goodreads What I'm Currently Reading widget. So I'll stick to those for the purposes of this post.


I use three widgets on my blog:


  • An Amazon.com carousel widget
  • The Goodreads What I'm Currently Reading widget
  • Countdowns

First, if you see a widget you really like on another blog, the widget usually has a "Get Widget" link on it somewhere.  That's half the battle.  Clicking on that should take you straight to the page where that widget is created and you can tailor one for yourself.  That's how I found the Amazon carousel.  Let's take a look:

Amazon.com Widgets

I use three Amazon widgets on my blog.  First, I use an Amazon Search by Category widget where people can actually search a book they want to buy directly from my blog.  If they click on it and buy it, I get a tiny little incentive.  I also use the Best Deals widget, which will display the best book buy deals of the day in my chosen category which, of course, is Young Adult.   Then finally, I use the Carousel widget.

I love using this one because even though I do the weekly Tempting New Tales post where I list the books I got that week, people visiting your blog tomorrow may not see the books you just got.  So I use this widget for that purpose and I update it weekly at the same time I put up my Tempting New Tales post.  You can find a plethora of different widgets at: https://widgets.amazon.com/

It's really simply to sign in, find the widget you want in the list and click on Add To Your Web Page. Creating it for the first time is pretty much the same as updating it.  You sign in, and under widgets, you'd click My Widgets:



This will take you to a new page where you can click Edit next to your widgets:






Each week, I'l remove all the books I have in the list and then add new ones.




After I've removed all of last week's books, I use the search feature on the left side to add all my new books.  Once everything has been added, you click Next Step and it takes you to a new page where you click on whichever layout you want and choose how you want the widget to behave, such as fading in, fading out, or a slideshow.  I stick with the small sized one so I can put the widget on my left sidebar of my blog.  But you can use whatever size or layout you want, and you can put it anywhere you want on your blog.  After you've completed your selections, you click Add to My Web Page if you're adding it for the first time (and it will give you the code), or if you're just updating an existing widget, you'd just click Save and it will automatically update the widget on your blog with your new selections.


Goodreads Currently Reading Widget

The next one I like is the Goodreads widget to display what I'm currently reading.  First, you have to have something in your Currently Reading bookshelf on Goodreads and then you would go to your Goodreads profile and click Edit Profile.  Once there, you'd choose the Widgets tab.  Goodreads has several widgets you can use, including the yearly reading challenge.  





You select the "currently-reading" shelf and then customize it by choosing if you want it to display cover, author, etc...  I select a title that says "The TaleTemptress is Currently Reading" to appear at the top of the widget.  You can then select "Customize Widget" and tell how big you want the covers to appear, whether you want them centered, and how wide, tall, etc... that you want the widget to be.  I chose a thin design so it can go easily into my left sidebar.  The great thing about this widget?  When you're on your phone or tablet and visit the Goodreads app, you can go to your currently reading and update it, and it automatically updates to your blog.  So once you put it up on your blog for the first time, you don't have to keep adding it.  As long as you're updating your "currently reading" shelf on Goodreads, it automatically updates to the widget on your blog.  Neat!


Countdowns

Countdowns are something that I love!  Don't ask me why because I couldn't really say.  I just love having a countdown to certain book releases on books I'm really crazy about and waiting for.  There's a couple things you can do for countdowns.  You can either:

  • Find a blog that creates them and use theirs.  Safari Poet is a great site for finding countdowns. They make them and provide you with the code on their site.
  • You can ask me to make you one
  • You can try to create one yourself

If you want to go the route of creating one yourself, it takes some patience at first to learn how to do it correctly, and the process is a lot more involved, so I'm afraid I'm not going to go into it here.  I like to make mine on this site: http://www.counto.com/index.php

As long as you have a cover image and a little bit of patience, you can create one yourself.  Just bear in mind that widgets slow your load speed, so don't go overboard with tons of widgets.

So that's it for this week.  Was this post helpful to you?  Do you like to see widgets on websites?  How many is too many for you?  Have you see any cool ones you want to tell us about? 

Let's discuss...
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