The following are social bookmarking sites organized around
shopping. You can pick products from anywhere on the web and create
widgets that link to pages where the item can be purchased. This is
potentially a great way to market your work, but it also has the
advantage of being an easy way to create catalogs of items to embed on
your blog. Each site handles links a bit differently, but all the sites
or both to help you add items fairly quickly and painlessly. In
addition, each has some form of community building or networking built
in to allow you to connect with other members of the community who may
share your interests and goals.
ThisNext shopcasting badges can be generated in Flash, HTML or by adding the TypePad Widget
(Basic Template blogs only). Badges can be customized to display as
much or as little information as you like. Choose from the following
Maximum number of items to show
Show one item at a time (with scroll arrows) or all items in vertical list
Show or hide header (user/list information at top of badge)
Show or hide images
Show or hide stickers on images
Show or hide recommendation text (review)
Limit how many lines of recommendation are displayed
Link images and item names to vendor sites (yes or no)
Show or hide "Shop for this" link
Show or hide ThisNext logo
I love having line item control over which elements are displayed and multiple options as to how they are displayed. More bonus points get awarded for a live preview of the widget (you do have to click the update button). Another nice feature is live help info that displays as you mouse over each item on the page, although after a bit it gets a little distracting. This widget can be set up to automatically insert your user code for Amazon and Commission Junction affiliate links. Big points for making their logo display optional! (I don't mind providing credit where credit is due, but it annoys me when the branding occupies 50% or more of the widget space! Sidebars are valuable real estate.)
One downside to ThisNext is that you can't limit the items in your badge to specific categories or lists. You can create more than one badge with different settings (for instance a stripped down version for the sidebar and a more robust version for a blog post or page). The badges will display the most recent items you've bookmarked/reviewed, which is useful if you only want to feature your newest stuff, but works less well for creating permanent catalogs. I suppose the obvious workaround to this is to create multiple accounts and limit the items bookmarked in each to the ones you wish to display permanently.
Shopcast powered by
Wists creates a variety of cool Flash-based widgets that you can embed pretty much anywhere. There are six animated slideshows and two thumbnail gallery designs to choose from. Simply go to "my widgets" and click the link below the example to get your code. The widgets are well-designed and eye-catching, but there's no control over what is displayed. On the other hand, it's an easy, cut + paste solution. Here are a few examples of what you can do:
Similar to StyleHive in some ways, StyleFeeder has a pretty sophisticated widget editor coupled with a simple and straightforward bookmarking service. Items in your feed have an image, an optional description and a link. Using the bookmarklet, all you need to do is select an image and then optionally write a caption/review which is much quicker than some of the other bookmarking services listed here. I was able to set up an account, join a half dozen groups and post a bunch of items to both my feed and the feeds for the groups (optional on a group by group basis) in just moments.
Widgets are provided in HTML, Flash or can be added to Basic Template TypePad blogs using the StyleFeeder Typepad Widget. The default widget style is practical and attractive, but if you'd like more control over its appearance, try the beta tools for customization. A live preview updates as you make changes with no need to reload the page or click a submit button. Options include the follow: Widget name (for identification if you have multiple widgets), Type of site where the widget will be displayed, choice of which feeds will be displayed (your entire feed, watchlist and/or feeds for groups you've joined), which tags to display (allowing you to create different collections of items by category. You can choose all, several tags or just one), where to place the StyleFeeder logo (top or bottom), an option to add your avatar and up to three lines of text to your widget (includes choices for placement, colors and font), controls for color, border, size and spacing of thumbnails etc.
Once you publish a widget, you lose the ability to edit it's appearance… on the surface, that seems like a potential drawback but actually it should make it possible to create one-time, purpose-driven widgets to use as catalogs, or for illustrating a post that specifically talks about a certain kind of goods. If you wanted to be sure that items in the widget would remain the same as a post ages, you could limit the widget to a specific tag used once for items to display in that widget.
Kaboodle provides a pretty sophisticated flash widget that displays your items as a slideshow, but it's much too large to be practical for a sidebar, header or footer. There are no configuration controls, just cut and paste code. Probably not practical for building a catalog, but it might be useful for embedding a collection of photos that show different views of an item and link to further information.