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How to make a good widget

A widget is a piece of code that your fans can stick in their web pages.  You see them all over blogs, Facebook, and MySpace. 

You want to get good at making widgets.  If you can make good ones, your fans advertise for you, for free. Instead of paying for a one-time banner ad, you get permanent placement on their page.

The secrets to making great widgets that people will proudly display:

  1. It isn't an ad for you — it's free content for them. It has to make their site more interesting.
  2. It has to look good. Nobody is putting something homemade in their site.
  3. It has to fit.  They aren't going to re-design their website to fit your widget.  Offer it in lots of sizes.
  4. It has to be easy.  No code, just cut and paste.

Hulu.com does a great job of this.  If you want to put one of their shows on your site, you can make a widget in all sizes.  They let you make it vertical or horizontal, big or small – with just a few clicks. (Go here and click on "widgets" to see it.)

Here's a Hulu widget for a great documentary about the U.S.S. Nimitz, where I recently visited.

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