Must Have Blog Widgets

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. We’ve assembled a list of 50 useful or simply cool widgets for your pleasure. And remember, the first rule of widgetizing your blog is – don’t overdo it!

MyBlogLog’s Recent Readers – this widget can easily be called a hit amongst blog owners; its popularity even managed to convince Yahoo into buying MyBlogLog. The widget lets you see the avatars of recent visitors to your blog, provided they’re also members of MyBlogLog.

Mashable – get the latest social networking news from this very site.

Flickr Flash Photo Stream Badge – display images from your Flickr profile with a handy Flash photo stream.

Preview Anywhere – see a live preview of outgoing links in a small popup which activates on mouseover. Some find this annoying, while others might find it useful.

Twitter Badge – if your life is so interesting that everyone must know what you’re up to all the time, then aTwitterTwitter badge is the ideal counterpart to your blog. It’ll proudly displays your recent tweets.

Digg News – display the latest Digg links on your blog. Themeable and fully customizable.

FEEDJIT – real time traffic data directly in your blog’s sidebar.

LineBuzz – inline comments for your blog. Very handy for blogs with frequent lively discussions.

Flixn – display a stream directly from your webcam, so your blog visitors can always see what you’re up to.

    Flixn

3Jam – lets your visitors send messages to your mobile phone, without them knowing your phone number.

Jaxtr – with Jaxtr, your visitors can actually call you to your mobile phone; again, your number stays private.

LinkedInABox – show off your LinkedIn profile. Perfect for personal blogs.

Box Widget – enable visitors to use box.net’s online storage directly on your web site.

Price of gas – displaying gas prices on your blog might seem unnecessary to some, but it’s cool if you have a traffic/travel related blog.

iBegin Weather Widget – Display weather information in your sidebar. Just like with Price of Gas, works great with travel-related blogs.

ClockLink – display time in various time zones with these nifty Flash clocks.

Film Loops – display the latest loops from your FilmLoops account.

Daily Painters – display paintings from famous painters on your blog.

WhoLinked – show your visitors which sites have recently linked to your web site. Works with all major blog platforms.

Criteo AutoRoll – displays links to blogs similar to your blog.

Bitty Browser – embed a cute, fully functional mini web browser to your blog.

Leafletter – create a mini website and embed it into your blog.

WikiSeek – search Wikipedia with this simple widget.

FeedCount – show off the number of visitors to your blog with this handy little button.

Technorati Link Count – display the number of links your website has from one of the biggest blog authorities – Technorati.

MyPageRank – another good way to show how “big” your blog is is to show off your Google PageRank.

CheckPageRank – in addition to showing your PageRank, this widget also shows your Alexa ranking.

BlinkxIt – embed a link to related videos directly into your website.

Skype button – display your Skype online/offline status on your blog.

RockYou Horoscope – not something I would personally use, but some people are into horoscope. Hell, most people are into horoscope. Anyway, this widget shows horoscope (doh!) and does it in a nicely designed colorful box.

    Horoscope

del.icio.us Tagometer – display how many times have del.icio.us users saved your page.

del.icio.us Linkrolls – this badge shows your latest bookmarks from del.icio.us.

Timelines – need to create a timeline? Seek no further. This widget makes it really easy.

PollDaddy – PollDaddy lets you create beautiful polls in no time, and display them at your blog.

Vizu – another poll-making widget, compatible with all major blog platforms.

AnswerTips – display definitions from Answers.com for various terms on your blog. The definitions are shown in bubbles which are activated on doubleclick.

AnswerBoxes – give your visitors a chance to enter a term themselves, and get a definition from Answers.com

Now Playing – if you got to share your current playlist contents with the world, Sigamp will do the trick. Works with most popular music players, including Foobar, Winamp, iTunes and others.

BuzzBoost – display headlines from your RSS feed on any website.

LibraryThing – show off the latest books you’ve been reading.

Plaxo Address Book – let your most faithful visitors access their address books direclty from your site.

    Plaxo

AuctionAds – a widget that displays auctioned items on eBay, and gives you a percentage of the price paid when sometimes buys an item.

aStore – similar to AuctionAds, only for Amazon. Create a mini-store on your site and receive profit when someone buys an item through your store.

Plazes – show your current location on a Plazes map.

Stockalicious – track your portfolio with this widget, and share it with others. Let everyone know how much money you’ve lost.

Yahoo! For Good – create a charity badge and ask for donations for a worthy cause.

Giftspace – your friends never know what to buy you for birthday? Let them know what you really want with this nifty widget.

MixMap – see where are the visitors to your MySpace profile from on a map.

    MixMap

Google Map Widget – display a searchable Google Map on your website.

Google Video Search – add a video search form and selected videos to your web site.

Odeo player – display an Odeo player for and podcast right there in your sidebar.

10 Tips for Beginner Bloggers

Starting a blog can seem overwhelming, but in truth, it’s one of the simplest ways to join the online community. Follow these tips to ensure your blog is positioned for success.

1. Define Your Goals

Before you start a new blog, it’s essential that you define your goals for it. Your blog has a greater chance of success if you know from the beginning what you hope to accomplish with it. Are you trying to establish yourself as an expert in your field? Are you trying to promote your business? Are you simply blogging for fun and to share your ideas and opinions? Your short and long term goals for your blog are dependent on the reason why you’re starting your blog. Think ahead to what you’d like to gain from your blog in six months, one year and three years. Then design, write and market your blog to meet those goals.

2. Know Your Audience

Your blog’s design and content should reflect the expectations of your audience. For example, if your intended audience is teenagers, the design and content would be quite different than a blog targeted to corporate professionals. Your audience will have inherent expectations for your blog. Don’t confuse them but rather meet and exceed those expectations to gain reader loyalty.

3. Be Consistent

Your blog is a brand. Just like popular brands such as Coke or Nike, your blog represents a specific message and image to your audience, which is your brand. Your blog’s design and content should consistently communicate your blog’s overall brand image and message. Being consistent allows you to meet your audience’s expectations and create a secure place for them to visit again and again. That consistency will be rewarded with reader loyalty.

4. Be Persistent

A busy blog is a useful blog. Blogs that are not updated frequently are perceived by their audiences as static web pages. The usefulness of blogs comes from their timeliness. While it’s important not to publish meaningless posts else you may bore your audience, it’s essential that you update your blog frequently. The best way to keep readers coming back is to always have something new (and meaningful) for them to see.

5. Be Inviting

One of the most unique aspects of blogging is its social impact. Therefore, it’s essential that your blog welcomes readers and invites them to join a two-way conversation. Ask your readers to leave comments by posing questions than respond to comments from your readers. Doing so will show your readers that you value them, and it will keep the conversation going. Continue the conversation by leaving comments on other blogs inviting new readers to visit your blog for more lively discussions. Your blog’s success is partially dependent on your readers’ loyalties to it. Make sure they understand how much you appreciate them by involving them and recognizing them through meaningful two-way conversation.

6. Be Visible

Much of your blog’s success relies on your efforts outside your blog. Those efforts include finding like-minded bloggers and commenting on their blogs, participating in social bookmarking through sites such as Digg and StumbleUpon, and joining social networking sites such as Facebook,Twitter and LinkedIn. Blogging is not a demonstration of, “if you build it, they will come.” Instead, developing a successful blog requires hard work by creating compelling content on your blog as well as working outside of your blog to promote it and develop a community around it.

7. Take Risks

Beginner bloggers are often afraid of the new blogging tools and features available to them. Don’t be afraid to take risks and try new things on your blog. From adding a new plug-in to holding your first blog contest, it’s important that you keep your blog fresh by implementing changes that will enhance your blog. Alternatively, don’t fall prey to every new bell and whistle that becomes available for your blog. Instead, review each potential enhancement in terms of how it will help you reach your goals for your blog and how your audience will respond to it.

8. Ask for Help

Even the most experienced bloggers understand the blogosphere is an ever-changing place and no one knows everything there is to know about blogging. Most importantly, bloggers are part of a close-knit community, and the majority of bloggers understand that everyone is a beginner at some point. In fact, bloggers are some of the most approachable and helpful people you can find. Don’t be afraid to reach out to fellow bloggers for help. Remember, the success of the blogosphere relies on networking, and most bloggers are always willing to expand their networks regardless of whether you’re a beginner blogger or seasoned pro.

9. Keep Learning

It seems like everyday there are new tools available to bloggers. The Internet changes quickly, and the blogosphere is not an exception to that rule. As you develop your blog, take the time to research new tools and features, and keep an eye on the latest news from the blogosphere. You never know when a new tool will roll out that can make your life easier or enhance your readers’ experiences on your blog.

10. Be Yourself

Remember, your blog is an extension of you and your brand, and your loyal readers will keep coming back to hear what you have to say. Inject your personality into your blog and adapt a consistent tone for your posts. Determine whether your blog and brand will be more effective with a corporate tone, a youthful tone or a snarky tone. Then stay consistent with that tone in all your blog communications. People don’t read blogs simply to get the news. They could read a newspaper for news reports. Instead, people read blogs to get bloggers’ opinions on the news, the world, life and more. Don’t blog like a reporter. Blog like you’re having a conversation with each of your readers. Blog from your heart.

Tips to Monetize Your Blog and Make Money Blogging

1. Advertising

Including advertisements on your blog is the most obvious way to derive an income from your blogging efforts. Ads can come in the form of text links or banner ads, and advertising options are available that you can easily tap into through pay-per-click, pay-per-post and affiliate programs online. Google AdSense, Amazon Associates, eBay Affiliates and Pay-Per-Post are just a few of the most common advertising programs available to bloggers.

2. Merchandise

Another simple way to monetize your blog is by selling merchandise through a service such asCafePress who will work with you to create custom items for you to sell through your blog.

3. Reviews

Bloggers can make money by reviewing products, events, businesses and more through blog posts.

4. Ebooks

A great way to bring in some revenue on your blog is by writing an ebook and offering it for sale through your blog. Ebooks are particularly successful for bloggers who have positioned themselves as experts in their fields and advertise their ebooks as additional or exclusive information just for readers of their blogs.

5. Donations

Many bloggers add a donation button to their blogs asking readers to make a monetary donation to keep the blog alive. Donations are also solicited with clever taglines such as, “If you like this blog, why not buy me a cup of coffee?” The donation link leads the reader to another website such as PayPal where the individual can easily make their donation.

Top Reason to Start a Blog

1. Express Your Thoughts and Opinions

You have something to say, and blogs provide a place to say it and be heard.

2. To Market or Promote Something

Blogging is a great way to help market or promote yourself or your business, product or service.

3. To Help People

Many blogs are written to help people who may be going through similar situations that the blogger has experienced. Many parenting and health-related blogs are written for this purpose.

4. To Establish Yourself as an Expert

Blogs are wonderful tools to help bloggers establish themselves as experts in a field or topic. For example, if you’re trying to get a job in a specific field or hoping to publish a book on a specific topic, blogging can help legitimize your expertise and expand your online presence and platform.

5. To Connect with People Like You

Blogging brings like-minded people together. Starting a blog can help you find those people and share your opinions and thoughts.

6. To Make a Difference

Many blogs are issue-based meaning the blogger is trying to provide information to sway people’s thinking in a certain direction. Many political blogs and social issues blogs are written by bloggers who are trying to make a difference in their own ways.

7. To Stay Active or Knowledgeable in a Field or Topic

Since successful blogging is partially dependent on posting frequency and providing updated, fresh information, it’s a perfect way to help a blogger stay abreast of the events in a specific field or topic.

8. To Stay Connected with Friends and Family

The world has shrunk since the Internet has become more accessible. Blogs provide a simple way for family and friends to stay connected from different parts of the world by sharing stories, photos, videos and more.

9. To Make Money

It’s important to point out that most bloggers don’t make a lot of money blogging, but the potential does exist to generate revenue from your blog with hard work and commitment. There are many bloggers who bring in big bucks. With patience and practice, you can make money through advertising and other income-generating activities on your blog.

10. To Have Fun and Be Creative

Many people start a blog simply for fun. Perhaps a blogger is a fan of a particular actor or loves knitting and wants to share that passion through a blog. One of the most important keys to successful blogging is having a passion about your blog’s topic, so you can write prolifically about it. Some of the best and most interesting blogs started out as blogs that were written just for fun and to give the blogger a creative outlet.

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