What can widgets do for you?

In my RSS reader (Bloglines, by the way), I have saved a lot of articles on widgets. Widgets are supposed to be the next wave of online advertising. To the uninitiated, widgets are little pieces of code that bloggers place in their sidebar to do something useful. Blogger allows its writers to add these pretty painlessly.

All of the stuff to the right (if you're on the site, of course, as opposed to an RSS reader (bloglines, by the way, but I click-through a lot) is powered by a widget. The ones at the very top here aren't formatted properly at the moment, but they're put together by Feedburner (which Google owns now, by the way) as a way to boost traffic to individual entries. For me, they're convenient little tools which can at a moment's notice scroll through the latest offerings.

But, will they boost traffic for the various offerings of the Charlottesville Podcasting Network? Will they add more subscribers?

I'm writing to hopefully begin a conversation among those of us who are collected through cvilleblogs.com and other Charlottesville aggregators. I want to know what you all think about these widgets. Have you considered using them? Would you be opposed to seeing them in individual posts? Would you place a widget on your blog that links to others, similar to what you might see on the right if you click-through to here? Is there a blog that you like that you would like to highlight by placing a widget which displays the last five posts?


Marijean said...

I have considered it and actually use widgets on a Ning site I manage but prefer to keep my personal blog free and content-focused.

Waldo said...

Yeah, I want a Charlottesville Podcasting Network widget for cvillenews.com. But "widget" is such a broad word as to not be useful. What I really want is a little audio player with a drop-down menu that allows people to pick from the last 5-10 syndicated broadcasts.

Animated widgets make my head hurt. In fact, animated anythings on a webpage make my head hurt.

Sean Tubbs said...

Thanks for the responses.

I guess I am mostly interested in widgets for blogs that are specifically targeted to a Charlottesville audience. There are quite a few of them, and more are going to come into play. They will be grass-roots oriented, and I think it would be good to have serious mechanisms which can incorporate the material.

Waldo, you say you don't like the animated much, but I suspect some people do like it. I don't have any data to back that up, but I would like to come up with some visual way for people to flash through a series of items. In 30 seconds, they would see three cards that each would advertise a particular story.

Heck, and if they were designed well enough, you could convince one of the local theaters in town to run it. Heck number two, maybe you could even raise money to purchase such an ad buy.

There are some blockbuster blogs here in Charlottesville that could really benefit from wide exposure. I think we have something fairly unique here, in that our blogging community is not the result of one company coming in and putting in the infrastructure (a la Roanoke Times in their early days aggregating blogs).

But, I think a little marketing would go a long way. I think widgets would be one interesting tool to build up a local audience.

I think it is interesting, though, that the Hook missed up a perfect chance today in their Annual Manual to promote what we do have. They are in fact part of it by creating a blog in the last year that is the most open of any traditional media source. But, cvillenews.com and loper.org were the only websites mentioned.

Is local blogging such a marginal medium that it doesn't merit mention? Is there a way to market and promote cvilleblogs.com?

I feel that we've built this great infrastructure for content, but we lack the people to get us there.

Or maybe I've been reading too many master plans.

Sean Tubbs said...

I would like other bloggers to post headline links to the podcasts on CPN. I might even pay, or share revenue, in order to do that. There's not much money at this point for that, but one day maybe there would be. Can you build up a local advertising base that is actually going to bring money in? This has to be the goal, I think. I certainly want that to happen.