WordPress Plugins and Widgets – What For And How Are They different? It’s all part of achieving the WOW factor for your blog/s!!
WordPress (wordpress.org) is a very useful free site as you know, and is a source for you of free plugins and widgets, if you need them. The last time I looked there were about 2800 widgets and 2350 plugins.
Don’t go overboard with chasing any online free stuff as I’ve said before. Otherwise in 5 years’ time, you will have a great collection of mostly useless free stuff, but you won’t have advanced your knowledge and built up your Internet business so you’re making money. You will just have more Debt!
The name widget was created by the WordPress team but in itself doesn’t have any special meaning, because it can be just a space, and you’ll see words like “widget area”.
WordPress and WP are the same thing. If you have logged into your WP blog and you’re at your Dashboard on the left side, the section for widgets is located under Appearance. Themes also is under Appearance.
WP blogs usually have vertical columns called “sidebars”. The sidebar in the middle is normally sidebar 1 and the outside sidebar is sidebar 2. Sidebars usually appear on the right side because most people are right-handed.
Your chosen theme decides how many and where your widgets areas are, and how many sidebars you have available. There are mostly some options available to you at “theme options” or “theme settings” or some name like that. This includes changing colors.
The theme I use for most of my blogs is the Crystal Theme. There are 2 widget areas available at the bottom which I have never used. I can choose to have 2 sidebars on the left or right, or even 1 left and 1 right but this does shrink the available text width a little.
If you go to Widgets in Appearance, in your dashboard, there is a heading Available Widgets and underneath that, lots of default widgets which you can drag across to your chosen position and put them (drop them) where you want.
Suppose I am working with sidebar 2 on the right. The widget areas are numbered 1 to ? from the top.
In position 1 I might have RSS Feed, a Mailchimp optin form (no code needed) underneath that in position 2, then Recent Posts (you can set how many posts to show) in position 3. Some bloggers like to have a Tag Cloud in position 1 or 2.
Another common widget near the top is Meta which shows login/logout, admin, RSS and links. I’ve chosen not to use Meta because it makes it easier for hackers.
There is a default widget called Text you will use a lot. It’s for “arbitrary text or HTML”. This is where you will put your affiliate ads such as your banners. Also some of the affiliate networks offer free widgets eg PaySpree and PayDotCom.
If you use up a Text widget, another one will generate to take its place. You don’t have to have 1 banner to 1 Text. You can stack up several banners to 1 Text, like I’ve got. Likewise you can stack several Texts, like I’ve done.
Suppose you want to add Archives to this same sidebar, all you do is hold down your left mouse button and drag Archives across to where you want. If this is between Text and Text, a space will automatically open up for you.
So it’s all drag n drop and you can use your mouse now or later to change the order of your widgets. When I was using ProSense theme you could also change position, like 4 to 2.
*** Don’t forget to Save when you add or change or delete.
You only have to Save and Close when your widget is complete. You DON’T have to upload widgets to your web space!
HOWEVER, Plugins are more powerful than widgets and you DO have to upload your plugins to your web space. BUT these days it’s all automatic and you don’t have to use FTP eg Filezilla and do a manual upload.
The good news is that since WordPress Version 3.0, your plugin which is nearly always a ZIP file, will be auto uploaded. You just have to Install then tick the box for Activate after upload, or activate later when you’re ready.
*** WordPress have just released Version 3.6 which has new default theme and features such as improved security.
I will post a couple of articles soon about what plugins I use and why. Some plugins are for SEO, spam control, copyright, list building, Clickbank Marketplace, Amazon, Google, security, avatars, sliding message boxes, Facebook etc.
Some important potential problems!!
1. As in my last post…you have to know where folders/files are. In this case when you click on BROWSE to install your plugin, you must know already where to find it.
2. Once you have downloaded your plugin folder and you know where it is, don’t unzip the folder but click with your mouse and view the contents. Usually you will see a number of smaller zip folders and the plugin might actually be one of these.
3. What happens is, the seller has included with the plugin package..instruction videos, instruction MP3/audio, plus 2 bonuses. So if your plugin won’t install or you get a “can’t find” message, then you have to separate say 5 zip files to isolate and save the “real” plugin, then run the install again.
If this doesn’t work, you might have to contact the seller’s Support email or link.
4. After all this and your plugin is activated, you have to do the usual setting up by going to Settings.
5. WARNING: to protect their product, most sellers have introduced some form of security, which is called “Activation Code” or something similar. This is usually in your receipt or thank you email. Make sure you keep copies of these.
You may also need to tell the seller the URL or URL’s of your domain names, if there is a Licence involved for a certain number of sites/installations.
Hope all the above makes sense!
Your friend and mentor,
ps There is another story here and it’s about Themes. Getting a good Premium Theme and choosing the right one for your niche, is not hard and I will help you. Most new bloggers don’t realize the importance of all this, and how it connects later with widgets and plugins, so you get the result you really wanted.