This is an ongoing series of easy tech tips for writers. To view all tech tips, click here.
Google “WordPress plugins for writers” and you’ll find several lists of goodies for your WordPress site. The problem is, most of these articles feature plugins to help you build a stronger platform long-term: editorial calendars, Google Analytics, spam filters, byline managers…
Head spinning yet? What if you’re short on time — or your helpful, tech-savvy friend is short on time — and you want high-profile improvements your visitors will notice right away?
You need to look for widgets.
Widgets, a type of WordPress plugin, appear in website sidebars: lists of recent or popular posts, search boxes, Twitter feeds, e-newsletter sign-up forms, etc.
As a recovering PR and social media professional, I’ve maintained five very different WordPress sites at some time or another. A lot of widgets have crossed my path, and I ask something very simple of all of them: perform a useful function while integrating seamlessly with the rest of the site.
Here are four keys to a successful author website and the widgets to make it happen:
Social Media Widget
Your website provides a hub for your writer platform: a directory visitors can use to follow you across the web. Social Media Widget supports over 50 social media services and provides a space for custom entries if you belong to a site that isn’t listed. You can adjust the size of the icons to fit the size of your sidebar and the number of sites you have listed.
Offer several ways to read your content.
Feedburner Email Widget
Think no one wants to receive your blog posts via email? Think again. People are in their email inbox several times a day looking for new content. If you don’t offer a way for visitors to your site to receive email updates, you’re losing readers. The Feedburner Email Widget connects to Google’s popular Feedburner service and allows you to offer a simple signup form on every page of your site.
Automate whenever possible.
Kebo Twitter Feed
If you’re investing time in Twitter, why not let that work for you and create a stream of fresh content on the front page of your site? I’ve tried several Twitter widgets, and Kebo Twitter Feed is my all-time favorite. Many widgets have their own look or try to bring in Twitter’s aesthetic via buttons, icons, etc. Kebo conforms to your website’s appearance so it doesn’t look out of place.
Make it easy to share your content.
Share Buttons by AddToAny
Okay, this isn’t a widget. It shows up in your blog posts instead of your site’s sidebar. However, if I read a great article and there’s no button inviting me to share it with my social networks, I’m unlikely to go to the trouble. Don’t miss this opportunity. Make it easy for readers to spread the word for you.
Do you use WordPress plugins or widgets to enhance your author website? Which ones? Share in the comments so we can find some new favorites.