When I was in high school, our math texts had a number of word problems involving a widget factory. We all joked with the students who were naive enough to think that there really was such a thing as a widget.
Well, now there is...
A widget is a little bit of pre-written code that you can add to your blog. Almost all the items on the right hand side of my blog are widgets.
What can you put there? There are many choices, and a lot of it depends on the focus of your blog. Some of the things I've chosen to include are:
When I first started reading blogs, I was a little shy about commenting and following other bloggers. But this is a great way to network and "meet" people online--people with similar interests. Following other bloggers and allowing others to follow you is really networking. And networking takes time.
I have to admit, I haven't taken full advantage of this feature. The advice I've heard is to complete your profile exhaustively. People search the profiles, and use them to find other bloggers of similar interest. Mine is rather sparse, so that is my homework for tonight.
I like this widget. This allows people who find your blog see what you're up to on twitter, and follow you on there as well. Nicely interconnected.
Links and Blog Updates.
I'll let you in on a little secret. I didn't add these widgets for anyone else. I added them for me. There are a lot of blogs that I read on a daily or every-so-often basis. And I used to have them all bookmarked. But these widgets are great because now every blog I read is listed, and I can also see when it has been updated and what the title of the post is. I love it. And visitors to my blog with interests similar to mine can access them too.
Some bloggers place links only based on reciprocity. I don't. If I find a blog helpful, and I'll read it again, I'll place it in the widget. I am the principle beneficiary. (Of course I'm always flattered when people link to my blog!)
The other widgets I added were a matter of personal preference. I like the word or the day and the verse of the day features.
How to add a widget through Blogger:
When you are signed into your blog, choose "Customize" on the blue navigation bar. On the "layout" tab, choose "page elements." Depending on which template you've chosen, you'll see "add a gadget" somewhere (mine is on the right hand side). When you click on that, you'll get a list of available gadgets or widgets. You can choose the ones that interest you, and then arrange them in an order that makes sense.
Third Party Widgets
Sitemeter is a third party program. It keeps track of blog visitors, and I can get a better handle on who is visiting my blog, how they are hearing about it, and where readers are. It is also encouraging to see that yes, people are visiting my blog, even when they choose not to comment. You can click on the little sitemeter graph (on the bottom right) to go to their site, and sign up there. There you will find the code, and instructions for placing it on your blog.
And the "Cutest Blog on the Block" background is also a third-party widget. There are many of them to choose from. And you can click on the upper left hand corner to go to their site and see what is available.
Now, this can take quite a while to set up, but you can build a blog a little at a time. And widgets are one way to add value to your blog--value that you benefit from and don't need to take time to create.