Friday, October 25, 2013

BBBB, What Exactly is a Gadget?

Welcome back to another episode of Building a Better Beauty Blog. This collaboration with Laurie from the The Makeup Squid is aimed at helping beauty bloggers build a better blog. Laurie has been publishing some excellent articles on how to write and organize blog posts. I found that I was helping a few of my blogger friends create elements specific to their blog. So we decided to team together to create the BBBB (Building a Better Beauty Blog) series.

NOTE: Beauty bloggers come from all walks of life and have varying degrees of computer knowledge. There is no way to write a single post for all of the different levels of knowledge. In order to provide everyone with the most detailed explanation possible, this post is written as if I am instructing a brand new blogger about this element of blog design. After all, if a blogger is seeking information this post would be of no benefit to them if I left them with more questions than answers. If you have some knowledge of blog design feel free to skim this post and use it as pictorial instructions as it is possible that I could cover an aspect of design that you had not considered before. If you are extremely familiar with this topic please feel free to leave me a comment so that I may learn from your experience. 

Today we will be discussing the necessary gadgets for your blog. More specifically, we will be discussing the premade gadgets offered by Blogger. While these gadget are less personal and more cookie cutter, they can still be very helpful in providing your readers important information about your blog. These can be extremely helpful in providing your readers with information while providing you with some time to develop a more personalized gadget. Bare with me as this post will be long; but I didn't want to split it up into two parts. I wanted to keep all the gadgets together so that you can refer back to them as needed. I will define these gadgets by using the following four categories.

Necessary - Provides great information to keep your readers engaged and informed
Helpful - Can be of assistance to yourself or your readers
Interesting - Not necessary but can be fun or of interest to your readers
Pointless - Don't bother with these they just take up space in your blog

If you are looking at your blog from the internet, not from Blogger, you will notice tools in the bottom right corner of each widget. This provides you with an easy method with which to alter or change your gadget.

1. +1 Button - POINTLESS -  This allows readers to publicly recommend your blog. I don't have this gadget active on my blog for two reasons. I think it looks silly on the sidebar and because I would rather my readers recommend particular posts rather than my entire blog. Plus if your NAVBAR has not been removed from the top of your blog then the button remains at the top of your blog. No need to be repetitive. 

+1 Button

+1 Button on Navbar

2. Google+ Followers -  NECESSARY - This allows readers to follow you on Google+ which makes it easy for them to see when you make new posts or even when you comment on other's blogs.  Google+ is now the third most popular social media behind Facebook and Twitter. This is good news for bloggers because Google+ makes commenting and sharing blogs so easy. Do not confuse Google+ Followers with Google Friend Connect (GFC), which is no longer available as a Blogger gadget. New blogs will not have access to add the GFC gadget. GFC made it easy to follow blogs with Google Reader which is now defunct. While the gadget will still work if you have it installed it is less than stellar as Google Reader is now gone. I will devote a future post to readers which will further address this situation. 

Google+ Followers

3. Google+ Badge - POINTLESS - This gadget allows readers to follow your blog on Google+ simply by clicking this button. However, if you have the Google + Followers gadget, which you should have, then this gadget is redundant as the same button exists there too. You can clearly see the same button exists in the photo above. 

Google+ Badge
4. Translate - HELPFUL - If your blog is written in a language other than English or is read by readers all over the world who do not read English this gadget will allow your reader to translate your blog into their native language. 

5. Follow by email - NECESSARY - This is a very useful tool for those who wish to follow your blog without the need for using Google+ or a feed reader. Every time a new post is published on your blog the subscriber will receive an email alerting them about the post. This is particularly helpful for readers, like your family or personal friends, who don't read a lot of blogs as a whole but they want to read yours because it is written by you. 

Follow By Email

6. Popular Posts - NECESSARY - This is a cool gadget that allows you to highlight a set number of most popular posts from the past 7 days, 30 days or all time. It's a great way to show your readers which posts your other readers are enjoying. There are some really amazing external widgets, not available through Blogger, that require a little more effort to install. I will cover those external widgets in a future blog post. In the meantime, you'll want to include the standard Blogger Popular Posts gadget on your blog.

Popular Posts

7. Blog Stats - INTERESTING - This handy little gadget will alert your readers as to the total number of views your blog has received.  Of course the higher the number of total page views the more popular your blog. If you are just starting your blog you probably do not want to utilize this gadget. I personally have never and will never use this gadget. I utilize another gadget that provides more pertinent information. I will also discuss this in a future blog post. 

Blog Stats

8. Pages - HELPFUL - Pages can be used to provide your readers with additional information. Sometimes you need a space larger than a small box in the sidebar to give readers a better picture of whatever you would like to convey to them. I have pages highlighting my photography, my illness and my poetry. Pages can either be placed on the tabs between the header and the body, in the sidebar or below the bottom post. I will go into further detail about tabs, pages, and labels in a future post. 

Pages Listed on Blog Tabs

Pages Listed Below the Bottom Post
9. Adsense - PERSONAL CHOICE - This is a way to monetize (make money) from your blog by adding ads with Google Adsense. I recently chose to monetize my blog mostly because I was curious how it works rather than expecting to make a large salary from it. I have yet to see any results but I will keep you updated on the situation. There are other ways to monetize your blog and I will discuss those in a future blog post as well. 

Blog Adsense

10. Search Box - NECESSARY - The search box gadget is an incredibly useful tool for both your readers and for you as it allows you to quickly find a specific post, determine if a blog writer has posted on a specific topic, or determine if the blog writer has been given a specific award. I use my own search gadget quite often and I frequently use other blogger's search gadget as well particularly if I am nominating them for a tag or an award. It's a must have for any blog. 

Search Box
11. HTML/Java Script - HELPFUL - This gadget allows you to add external gadgets written by sources other than Blogger. For instance the 'Grab My Button' gadget on my sidebar is a third party gadget. In a future post I will delve into some necessary items you need to add using the HTML/Java Script gadget.

12. Text - HELPFUL - A text box can be used for anything you would like to say to your readers. If you would like to permanently place a quote, poetry or other text on your sidebar this is the easiest way to add it. 

13. Image - HELPFUL - This is a handy gadget that allows you to add a photo to your sidebar. This is the gadget I used for my about me image that I use in lieu of the profile box. I will cover creating a more personalized profile image in a future blog post. 

Blog Image

14. Slideshow - INTERESTING -  I have used this gadget in the past and I truly enjoyed it as it simply scrolls through the photos you choose to include. It's a fun gadget that adds a personal touch to your blog. However, I find it a bit distracting as the pictures scroll through I find myself wanting to watch the pictures rather than reading the posts. The images do not link to previous blog posts so they serve a useful purpose. 

Blog Slideshow

15. Video Bar - HELPFUL - This is a necessary tool for those that have a YouTube channel that correlates to their blog. It's a great way of highlighting your videos in the sidebar. With one easy click your readers can easily move to your YouTube channel.  

Video Bar

16. Poll - INTERESTING - A poll can be used to ask your readers a multiple choice question. Adding a poll can help you find out readers' preferences on a specific topic. This could be a useful tool if you are trying to determine what your readers would like to see in future posts. 

17. Blog List - NECESSARY - A blog list can be used to show your readers what blogs you enjoy reading and it provides them an easy way to visit those blogs. It's also a great way to show your support to your fellow bloggers. In addition to listing the blogs you are reading it also shows the title of their last post. I prefer to use a blogger's custom 'Grab My Button' rather than a blog list as I find it's more interesting and personal. I will show you how to create your own 'Grab My Button' as well as how to standardize other's buttons in a future blog post. 

Blog List

18. Link List - HELPFUL - A link list can be used to provide your readers with links to websites that are pertinent to your blog. It can help them easily navigate to these websites directly from your blog. Personally, I don't mind my readers leaving to go to other blogs but I don't want them to leave my blog to go to a commercial website. Therefore, I choose not to utilize this gadget. 

Link List

19. List - INTERESTING - A list can be used to list any thing you would like to list. A blog list and a link list both contain clickable links whereas a list is not clickable. It is strictly for information purposes only. You can list anything you would like however I would highly recommend it be pertinent to your blog. For this list I have chosen to list my top five products under $5.00, if I were actually including this list on my blog I would create an image rather than just a written list.  


20. Feed - POINTLESS - This provides your reader with the titles and links to the last 5, or any number of your choosing, posts published to your blog. I prefer utilizing the blog archive and popular posts widgets over the feed gadget. I will cover feed and feed readers in a future post. 


21. Newsreel - INTERESTING - This widget allows you and your readers to keep abreast of current news about topics of your choosing. As you can see, you can choose topics that are relevant to your blog which could be of interest to you and your readers. Personally, I choose not to use this widget as I don't find it useful enough to take up space on my sidebar. 


22. Labels - INTERESTING/POINTLESS - Labels are tags that we can use to organize our posts by specific topics. I love using labels as it helps Google locate and recommend your blog among the sea of other blogs when someone goes searching for something specific; but I don't find the labels gadget useful as I have too many labels. In a future post I can show you a tool to help you see what key words readers search for when Google recommends your blog. I don't like showing my labels in a widget because I tend to use very specific labels which means I use a lot of labels. The list below only covers labels that begin with A and B; you can imagine how long my label list is. 


23. Subscription Links -  No longer valid. This gadget allowed readers to subscribe to your posts or your comments. Avid blog readers now use a feed reader to follow their favorite blogs.

24. Logo - POINTLESS - Why? Just, why?  Don't waste your sidebar space. 


25. Profile - NECESSARY - You want your readers to be able to quickly identify with you and your blog's brand. Having the 'Profile' gadget gives readers a quick and easy way to learn about you. If you are using the profile gadget make sure your profile speaks truthfully to who you are and what your blog is about. In lieu of the this gadget I have chosen to use a custom made image that provides information about my blog. Use this widget until you are able to create a custom profile image. I will cover creating a custom profile image in a post in the near future. 


26. Blog Archive - HELPFUL - This gadget shows readers a clickable list of all the post titles from the current month. It also lists all the previous months and years since the creation of your blog. In my opinion this is extremely helpful as it shows your readers how frequently you blog and it allows them an easy way to see your most recent blog titles. It also allows your readers a way to quickly determine what you were blogging about in the past. 
Blog Archive

27. Blog Header - NECESSARY - This widget allows you to utilize an image rather than generic text. It's a necessity for helping your blog stand out from other blogs. I will show you in a future post how to create a header image that speaks clearly to the title of your blog. 

Header Image

Header Text

28. Attribution - POINTLESS - This widget explains that your blog is 'Powered by Blogger.' In a future blog post I will show you how you can remove this widget from your blog. 

Thank you so much for sticking with me in this very long post. If you are interested my previous post on Building a Better Beauty Blog, The Basics can be found here. 

Please go check out Laurie's posts for the Building a Better Beauty Blog series:

She also has a fantastic post about Starting a YouTube Channel, Things You Should Know.

  • We're Talking about: My doctor's appointment today. I had to meet my new doctor and get my massive supply of drugs refilled. My condition is rare enough that I had to explain it to my doctor. I will need to go back next week for blood draws. ´_`)
  • We're Praying about: A few friends that need surgery. Know that we are praying for you.    _;)
  • We're Laughing about: Boyet's favorite video. -^〇^-
  • Keep following us here, on FacebookTwitter, and Instagram

  • No comments:

    Post a Comment

    I'd love to hear from you.