Monday, August 4, 2008

Use Widgets to Promote Your Site's Content

When Sheryl Azaroff launched her website two years ago she made a lot of mistakes. She started out on a different direction than where is is today and hired the wrong developer. But in the last year things have come together. "You have an idea in your head about how you want things but what you set out to do and what you actually do end up being different. However, you find out the information you need along the way," says the web entrepreneur.

I met Sheryl recently at a NYSIA event and was intrigued by what was doing with her website,, which offers information and resources to both fitness professionals and fitness-minded individuals, mostly in the form of video.

"We have a video library of nearly 900 video clips. Most of them are exercise demos and some are answers to frequently asked fitness questions. We also have workouts for individual exercises. The exercises clips are about 10-15 seconds - very short - to give you an idea of what the exercise is. The FAQs are a little longer, one to one and a half minutes," explains the former personal trainer.

Fitness videos on the internet are a great source for people interested in staying in shape, but Sheryl has taken them one step further. She's making the videos available for syndication, or RSS feeds, which is very handy for fitness bloggers or gyms that have websites and may be looking for fresh, relevant, multimedia content for their sites but don't have the time to make it themselves. Now they can offer their visitors an "exercise of the day", or a "workout of the week" by just plugging in Sheryl's professionally generated videos. The videos are free to either watch directly from her site or syndicate.

Sheryl's Widget Strategy
To makes things really easy, Sheryl has created widgets, like the one you see above, so that once you put the videos on your site they will be updated automatically. That means you will have fresh content every day without having to do anything yourself!

I wrote a post about widgets recently (What's Your Widget Strategy), but to review, they are little pieces of code that you can embed into your site to allow users to do certain things. The "search this site" widget on the top of my sidebar is an example of this. These mini-applications are great ways to promote your business and drive traffic to your site. In Sheryl's case, she's using widgets to showcase her videos and to create awareness for her brand. She offers the widgets on her site and is also using other platforms, such as WidgetBox and Google Gadgets to distribute them. And she's looking for ways to offer it as a Facebook app as well.

She currently offers four types of widgets - one for an exercise of the day, one for a workout of the week, one for a Fitness Q&A for the Day and another one for Exercises by Body Part. All these will automatically be updated for you.

Sites can easily customize the videos they want to syndicate, which is how a blog called Diets in Review is using them. They are focused on the nutrition side but they wanted to start offering content on fitness because it's a topic that's closely related to dieting. Sheryl's videos make their posts more interactive and interesting. In this entry on combination exercises they added 5 of Sheryl's videos to go along with the topic of the post. Once you click on the image, a window will pop up with the video. To monetize it further Sheryl is using Google Adsense to display ads inside the pop-ups. In the future, once she increases her distribution, she hopes to strike deals directly with advertisers.

"Originally when we started I was only going to have content on my site and make money through ads. Now we're thinking of ways to distribute our content as well as sell ads. And there's more ideas related to this to get other people to look at our content. The production and creation are done - now we're leveraging the work that's already completed," explains Sheryl.

What "new media" tools have you used on your site? We'd love to hear about it!

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