Let's talk widgets! What's a widget, you may ask? A widget is a tool that allows you to add a variety of features to your sidebar. There are many widgets available via WordPress. If you have a WordPress.com site, all widgets are included. With a self hosted site, there are a few basic ones included, and many others are bundled within Plugins. (See Ashley's recent post about Plugins here.)
To get to your widgets, choose the 'Appearance' menu from your dashboard, and then click on 'Widgets'. To activate a widget, just drag the corresponding box of the one you want to use to the sidebar panel.
Below are a few of the widgets I use and recommend:
1. Text Widget: This one lets you add text, photos, or video to your sidebar via plain text or HTML. I use the text widget for my social media buttons and my 'About Me' section.
2. Follow Blog (WordPress.com) or Blog Subscriptions (via Jetpack Plugin): This widget allows readers to sign up to receive an email each time you publish a new blog post.
3. Search: This widget adds a search bar to your sidebar area. This is a very important widget to have on your blog. I use it all the time on other blogs that I read, and I have been disappointed before when I couldn't find a specific post that I was looking for because the blogger didn't have a search bar. Without a search bar, your readers may not be able to read that special post that they set out to find.
4. Archives: This one also helps readers find more of your posts. It displays the posts based on the month and year they were published. With the archive menu, there is potential for your blog to receive more page views because it is one more way readers can browse through your posts.
5. Instagram: This is my new favorite widget that I just activated on my blog. I am a little obsessed with Instagram. It's by far my favorite social media platform, and now my photos can be shared on my blog too. This widget is included on WordPress.com sites. For self-hosted sites, it is a downloadable plugin called 'Instagram for WordPress'.
Do you currently use any widgets on your blog? What are some of your favorites? Leave a comment below and let me know. I'd love to hear from you!