Fidgeting with my widgets

All the opinions in this post are mine and mine alone. They reflect my prejudices and personal tastes. You may do things very differently and this should be in no way seen as any kind of comment on or criticism of your approach.

Hugh at Hugh’s Views and News has posted about awards and the ‘to accept or not’ conundrum. This prompted me to recall my journey to an award free blog. As with Hugh the first award caused me a real boost. Someone cared enough. I was at the time and remain very grateful to anyone who nominates me. That they think of me at all is a boost.

But… After a short while I knew I wasn’t enjoying them as they are meant to be enjoyed. I’m not a great one for answering the questions – my answers swing wildly between the rude and the surreal. But mostly I do not like the nominations one is expected to make. To me, and this is my weakness everyone, it feels too much like a chain letter. So I stopped nominating and answering and that left saying thank you (which of course I did and do) and displaying the badge.

And there was another problem. The look of my blog.

Everyone needs to decide what their blog looks like. For me I do not like a cluttered blog with lots of information competing. And the truth? After a while that glittery butterfly and the adjective heavy pieces of bling grated. They weren’t me.

Which made me ponder – what do I want my blog to look like? And in particular what goes in my widget bar?

At that time I had just published my first book. That had to go somewhere and I didn’t particularly want my header to be an extract from the cover because more book were going to follow and then what? So I decided my books could appear as widgets. That may change but for now, with two out there that works for me.

But what else would I allow to appear? As I say, I don’t like cluster so to stay there had to be a compelling reason.

A lot of bloggers have a selection of the blogs they follow in amongst their widgets. You can have up to 50. Once I reached more than 50 blogs I was following it became a ‘last in’ list which was unfair to my early follows. I could have chopped and changed it but what was it really doing? Maybe it’s my problematic ego but when I see other’s lists I look for my picture. Dreadful, huh? And so far I have never clicked through from a name or picture to find another blog. So if I didn’t what did others do?  If everyone (anyone) else was like me, then I wasn’t going to encourage such weaknesses. I and they could do without.

I do want people to follow so I left in the follow button. Initially this came with a number showing how many WordPress followers I had. There was a separate number showing all followers across WordPress, Twitter, Facebook etc. When I started out, seeing others with a significantly higher number of followers was, frankly rather intimidating and I had qualms about following people with 1000s of followers. I’m not sure why but they had to be really good for me to follow. So I removed the numbers.  If you want to know how many WordPress followers I have, it appears in your reader, whenever you look at any of my posts in the reader. If that matters to you. You see I assume people may be like me and make assumptions about things like numbers – it’s why I don’t tell you how many public toilets I might fill with my annual viewer numbers, or whatever people depositary is used to measure these things. I want you to read my blog for the words and pictures and not be influenced in any way by a random set of statistics.

You can have links to Facebook, you can have a line of your latest tweets in your widgets. Maybe other social media can appear too. I don’t yet do any others. For me, and this really is a personal matter of taste, if I see a Twitter feed of a ‘like me’ button I pass swiftly on. That’s because I’m still struggling to come to terms with how best to use social media. I don’t have an author page on Facebook. I pretty much only post my blog posts on Twitter. So it would seem to be redundant or repetitive and thus risk boring readers. Maybe one day but not yet.

I’ve  kept a search facility. You can search by word or look for a category. I’m not sure how helpful they are but I use them from time to time so that’s why they stay.

And that’s it. When my next book comes out I may have rethink how I publicise them on the blog. Until then I will continue with my minimalist approach.

Did any of you notice any of this? Am I missing some major trick here? I’m a novice so any words of wisdom, better still if you’ve learnt a painful lesson I might avoid but some sage advice then I’m happy  to be helped! How many widgets do you look at? And is it that first visit only? Like the about me page, do you look ab initio and never again? Or are you an assiduous reader of the widget bar? Do you check out the awards and do they make any differed to your attitude to that blog? Is this all a bit post post modern, IKEA-ish flat pack blogging?

 

 

About TanGental

My name is Geoff Le Pard. Once I was a lawyer; now I am a writer. I've published three books - Dead Flies and Sherry Trifle, My Father and Other Liars and Salisbury Square. In addition I published an anthology of short stories, Life, in a Grain of Sand this summer. A fourth book will be out soon. This started life as a novel in a week on this blog and will follow later this year. I blog about all sorts at geofflepard.com and welcome all comments. These are my thoughts and no one else is to blame. If you want to nab anything I post, please acknowledge where it came from.
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67 Responses to Fidgeting with my widgets

  1. Fiona says:

    Geoff, I get you. I’ve been nominated once for an award and I thanked the person concerned and because I was so new to WP, I figured a nomination was just that – a nomination. I didn’t realise it WAS the award, so I didn’t do anything about it. And perhaps because I did nothing about it there’ve been no subsequent nominations. I am not complaining because I, like you, don’t want to clutter my blog (not to mention waste time on those inane posts) and also, unless it is a serious (i.e. not from bloggers about blogging) award, and at the risk of sounding arrogant, I”m not interested. My blog is not about blogging, so my readers are not interested in the blogging technicalities or issues. In my head, award free is a no-brainer.

    Here endeth the rant. With apologies to those who have an opposite view. They’re welcome to it.

    Liked by 1 person

    • TanGental says:

      I think I realised they weren’t for me when I found myself answering a question about which animal I’d be. No they mean well but just not my bag. Thanks for commenting Fiona

      Like

  2. Judy Martin says:

    I like your minimalist look Geoff. You have everything a visitor needs to know on there. I like the little ‘About me’ bit that comes up so we get an idea of who you are and what you are about. You have your books there too. I have put my awards on a different page to acknowledge them, but like you and Hugh, I do not participate in them any more. I have got all the social media icons and feeds on mine, but I still need to learn more about them! You have got all the sharing ones on yours too which is great, so that those who know how to use them well can share your posts! I am still a newbie at all this really so can’t give you any useful tips, but from a visitor’s perspective to your blog, it looks pretty good to me! 🙂

    Liked by 1 person

  3. Annecdotist says:

    The fun thing though, is that we can keep changing and playing around with the look, for our own and others’ entertainment. I have quite a lot in my sidebar and a lot more on my website than my blog, but I don’t think people stray very much beyond their landing point. Stick with what works for you, Geoff.

    Liked by 1 person

    • TanGental says:

      Thanks Anne. Very sage advice. I really only wrote this after reading some comments on Hugh’s. There seems to be a degree of obligation assumed which I fail to see so if this frees up others to blog as they want job done

      Like

  4. I read your posts as they come in, so have never gone the round about way via your home page. Looks fine to me. The posts are clear which is all you want really. I’m with you about awards. You’re not supposed to accept if you’re not prepared to ‘pass it on’ so I’d rather just say thank you for the kind thought and do no more about it.

    Liked by 1 person

  5. colinandray says:

    Well said! I pretty much agree with everything you said! Yes, I too like be recognized, but to follow the general “rules” of awards takes time away from my own agenda; generally obligates me to continue the “chain” (I really don’t like “chains”); obligates me to promote the originator (is that any more than taking advantage of my Blog to promote their Blog?); clutters my page (If I let it) with information that detracts from my Blog.

    It makes sense (to me) for Bloggers who not have a particular agenda/direction; who will take every advantage to promote themselves; who are running the Blog as a business etc. In fact, if I wanted to generate an income from my Blog, I would seriously consider doing all those things including “classic search” subject lines (i.e. Sex, Erotica etc).

    But I am not making any money here. I simply started off telling Ray stories because he is a very special dog; expanded to include some nostalgia; and later pushed my “poetic boat” out into the waters to see if it would float.

    Yes, I love all my Followers and appreciate the thought behind an award. I will even link to their Blog occasionally, or promote their book, but it will be in the context of my Posts, and not as result of an award.

    Now I will wait and see if my Blog activity increases (open and honest is valued); if it decreases (I’m not a game player obviously); or stays the same (nobody really takes the awards seriously anyway!).

    Liked by 1 person

  6. I think I have similar widgets, no wait, I have more, but they are at the bottom of my blog. So, no distraction there. I hate distraction. Yours is fine, and, clearly authors should publicise their books using widgets. Why not?
    I do like the recent comments one. I don’t follow blogs or posts by email, so this is a useful one for me as a reader to see who has added something to debates. Mostly, my widgets are for my benefit eg archives, search, recent comments (in case I forgot to reply).
    Blogger’s one good feature was when you added a blogroll new posts were publicly updated. I did have lists of recommended blogs at one point but I ditched it. People will visit via comments if someone piques their interest.
    Numbers. Pretty meaningless. I think I’m over a thousand and fill Sydney Opera House a few times. I mean, really, who is interested in that? I’m not, so why would my readers be?

    Less is more 🙂

    Liked by 1 person

  7. zdunno03 says:

    I like and agree with much of what you’ve said here and with a lot of what others have said in their comments. But personally I’m such a novice when it comes to technology that I still only make changes on my blog when someone suggests something that makes sense to me and I have a friend help me make that change. I recently, at the request of my publisher for my latest book, had a friend change the book cover on my blog and add a link to the publisher but that’s the first change I’ve had made in over a year. I will have a computer literate friend do some redesigning of my blog after I return to the US this year, mainly in archiving things by category. But I’m one of those people who have the same cover photo on my Facebook since I started it and only use twitter, like you, to tweet what I post on my blog. And my problem with awards is I think they take me in a different direction than I intend to go with my blog.

    Liked by 1 person

  8. I went award free this year, but I never really played by the rules. I agree on the chain-letter nature of passing them along. It was flattering in the beginning, but I never wanted my blog to grow too fast anyway. You’re so right about the widgets…I can honestly say I’ve never clicked on any of them to find an older post or a follower on another blog.

    You’re blog is clean, and I respect that lack of clutter. I’m just looking at the words. ☺

    Liked by 1 person

  9. Jools says:

    When my blog started to gain traction, I did a couple of awards, but since then I’ve politely refused, and I think that’s what most people tend to do. Awards tend to have very onerous and time-consuming ‘conditions’ attached and whilst there’s a novelty value at first, it fades.

    As for widgets – I’ve always liked how clean and simple your blog looks.

    Liked by 1 person

  10. Lisa Reiter says:

    I’m with you on this one. Those early awards felt exciting. I thought I’d arrived properly in Blogland until you realise they do the rounds of new bloggers until they also get bored of them. I genuinely enjoyed the first couple which gave me an opportunity to sincerely thank a few people but that done, they soon became a chore to be honest and I suspected a terrible bore to my majority of silent readers!
    I also can’t stand the whole competitive element of numbers of followers etc as I know that can simply be the quid pro quo ratio to how many you follow back. Much like Twitter. Followers not being the same as precious readers! I sincerely follow a select few blogs and I hope my own followers reflect those genuinely interested either in seeing me still kicking and screaming through a second chance at life or actually enjoying something in some of my posts.
    The whole purpose of me blogging was for cyber company, not to get hooked up in another rat-race!
    Lxx

    Liked by 1 person

  11. I second all of the above – awards are ultimately an imposition & widgets are best for personal use – I like the recent comments one only because I sometimes miss them as they come in

    I would also suggest ignoring blog stats – like Skinner’s pigeons can have a tendency to train one’s thoughts/output in popularly rewarded/ego massaged directions

    Liked by 1 person

  12. Anabel Marsh says:

    Generally with you, though I quite like awards and challenges IF they fit in with my theme and allow me to say something I want to say anyway, but maybe in a slightly different format. I never pass them on though – too embarrassing apart from anything else. I rarely click on info in sidebars which suggests no-one probably clicks on mine. I know I have clutter and should have a tidy up. I don’t like the look of the tag cloud – but I’m a librarian, I can’t help it! I like everything properly classified and indexed so it goes against my fundamental being to get rid of it. Some day, maybe when I change themes. Now another thing that puzzles me, Likes. Some people Like and Comment together. I do one or the other – Like means I’ve read and enjoyed but don’t have anything specific to add beyond “good post” which seems a bit pointless. Obviously, this is not one of those days. I’m sure there’s a PhD thesis in WordPress etiquette to be done 😉

    Liked by 1 person

    • TanGental says:

      That’s a good point. I admit to being a serial, not to say promiscuous liker. I need to show I care. But then if I feel a comment. I add that. And then there’s the whole issue whether you tweet their blog and share it in Facebook etc.

      Like

      • Anabel Marsh says:

        Hmm, that’s a step too far for me. I’m not very integrated: my Twitter, FB and WordPress accounts are very separate communities and probably wouldn’t be interested in each other. These things are what you make them (as I keep telling those who think Twitter is just about what people have for breakfast) so the best rule is use them in whatever works best for you! Which I think is basically the consensus on your post and comments. You’ve certainly provoked discussion!

        Liked by 1 person

      • TanGental says:

        I did. Always interesting where these things go!

        Like

  13. jennypellett says:

    I don’t like clutter so agree with you. After toiling to produce a post I want people to read what I’ve written not be distracted by unnecessary bling! And I can’t be doing with these award things – it’s reward enough when folk take the time to comment. Building a like minded community has been an interesting journey in itself – the support one feels from regular readers obviates the need for decoration!

    Liked by 2 people

  14. Oh dear – you want a coherent answer before second coffee? But such a good post – it will make me go and take a look at my own blog when I’m a bit more compos mentis and review the things I stuck on the side bar in the early days of blogging when I cared about the ‘look’ and thought some things were important that have since maybe turned out not to be…….

    The award thing has always bamboozled me – well since the time I was given the first and second arrived hot on it’s heels. I had to nominate fifteen other bloggers – fifteen! I wasn’t even following fifteen back then! I quickly realised it was a rather silly thing and had no real purpose that I could see and took me away from my blog reading and writing time. Nowadays I thank any nominators for the compliment and leave it at that. [It’s always a compliment to get any kind of a like or interaction in blogging don’t you think?]

    I have a Twitter account that won’t let me access it. I’ve never tweeted anything except the automatic chirp that goes out when I publish a post. I’m a lost little birdie I’m afraid.

    I do have a facebook page that I now and again remember to put up a shout out on – but I am a random and irregular facebook user too so most unreliable as a ‘friend’. Do you suppose it is an age thing or is it just that there is a real life to be lived?

    And just in case this early morning – pre-second-coffee-comment reads somewhat incoherently – apologies 🙂 Have a good night Geoff!

    Liked by 2 people

    • TanGental says:

      You are always compos mentis Pauline. Yes you are right about saying thank you or any compliment. Twitter is a struggle to grasp but I will one day. I want someone to explain why Pinterest is a newish rave but I’m not losing sleep over my lack of work there. Facebook is often where I gain a lot of traffic though I’m very caution who I friend and it’s a more personal space for me. Thanks again for such a thoughtful comment. Now have a coffee. Hope it’s sunny. Cold here (-3) but a lovely crisp day.

      Like

      • Pinterest is very handy if you want to learn a new skill or gather a pile of pictures of quotes on a certain subject…. otherwise it’s another of those wonderful timewasters that the www delivers up to us so readily. 🙂

        Today was beautiful – a bit on the slightly too hot side until midday. When the heat met with some precipitation – now it is muggy and grey and I am painting my bedroom!!
        Have a great weekend Geoff.

        Liked by 1 person

      • TanGental says:

        You too Pauline

        Like

  15. jan says:

    I know what you mean. I’m reconsidering the follower’s widget – primarily because it’s not showing some of my oldest and dearest supporters and I can’t figure out how to configure it properly. Don’t have time to keep up with all the contests and rewards.

    Liked by 1 person

  16. Geoff, thank you for this! I recently changed my theme to have a cleaner look, and really have been stumped by the whole widget thing. After reading your post and the comments, I now have a better understanding of “widget dynamics” and am reconsidering which ones to keep and which ones to dump. Thanks again to you and your readers for the mini-tutorial! 🙂

    Liked by 1 person

  17. Sacha Black says:

    I believe (if my scratchy memory serves me right) I didn’t actually follow you because of u! I actually followed you for your fathers poetry. So I have spent a year rather disappointed! 😋😂

    I do look at widgets but don’t pay a huge mind to them. I would say it’s a good idea to have follow (the email subscription) bar as well as follow by WordPress as then you collect followers who aren’t on WP.

    I do have Facebook and Twitter and I use them, so they are on my widget. I also have the odd picture like rough writers and the bash count down.

    I think it really is personal taste. It’s your blog put what u want up. I shall continue to chop and change mine as I see fit, and I also will like you put my books on there when I EVENTUALLY get there!!

    Liked by 1 person

  18. Sacha Black says:

    Ps. I don’t do awards either I don’t have time – except the ABBAS but then they are voted for by bloggers so that makes me feel different about them!

    Liked by 1 person

  19. If any more new social media shiny thingie come out, I’m going to go into hiding.
    I stopped accepting awards because I was so far behind, it took forever to confirm and than the person sending it out. Life has become complicated and it’s hard to balance everything. There are not enough hours in a day. I say this and I AM r.e.t.i.r.e.d. for years. I’m putting in more hours than when I was in the workforce. Something has to give. 🙂 Can’t do it all.

    Liked by 1 person

  20. First of all thanks very much for the mention, Goeff.

    I’d say to go with whatever suits you. I have followed other blogs from clicking on the widget bar on other blogs and I do use Twitter a lot so it’s also on my widget bar. In fact it brings in a lot of traffic to my blog. I also have a number of widgets that show my most recent posts, what’s being read right now, and my top posts. I rather like them and think they brighten up my blog. Whether anybody takes any notice of them I’ve no idea, but they make me feel good about my blog. I think having picture widgets (like your books) help, especially when bloggers don’t tend to use any photos or images in their posts. I tend to say clear of blogs that just have words and nothing else.

    So, do what is best for you and what you feel happy with. That way you can’t complain about your own blog. 😀

    Liked by 1 person

  21. trifflepudling says:

    This is all news to me. I thought that blogging was just for the pleasure of the writers and readers! The awards thing sounds insanely trying. I like this blog as it is. It looks clear and things are easy to find, although I can no longer see a search by month facility but that may be WordPress.

    Liked by 1 person

  22. rogershipp says:

    Thanks for sharing. Many of these same thoughts were on my mind!

    Liked by 1 person

  23. Charli Mills says:

    I’ll take a look at your flat when I’m on my computer and not my phone! I was recently contemplating the removal of prior awards as I developed my own widget buttons. Glad you spoke up on this, as I’ve felt awkward about it. It’s good to assess what works for you toward furthering your own goals. I think many bloggers have built up their own communities through awards, but many have used other means. Rough Writers was my response to awards…I wanted to create something meaningful and develop not only a community, but also a platform to get readers for that community. That’s why I keep it small and for the core participants at the ranch…sigh…forgive any typos…this phone is trying to auto correct every other word.

    Liked by 1 person

  24. My approach is pretty much the same as yours, Geoff. Having read your Hypocrisy post first, I was intrigued by your title

    Liked by 1 person

  25. As I’ve never been nominated for an award, I didn’t really understand what they were, so thanks for clarifying that. Not that I felt disappointed before, but I actually feel quite relieved now!
    You’ve already made the point about personal taste, and I’d always go along with that, but from the responses you’ve had here and certainly how I feel, it seems that you are not alone in your views. Besides, if we were all the same…

    Liked by 1 person

    • TanGental says:

      I took a time to realise it didn’t upset people if you said thanks and left it at that. In fact the ‘obligation’ to nominate is perhaps the thing that annoys most. That and the often ridiculous questions. And the badges…

      Liked by 1 person

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