What Should Be On Your Sidebar?

Posted March 19, 2017 in Blogging, Tips & Tricks / Leave a comment!

Hello lovelies! Have you ever been working on your blog and ever wonder “should I put this on my sidebar?” I know I’ve asked myself that question a lot. Even Google doesn’t really give you the answers you need. So for today only, I’m becoming your magical sidebar fairy who is here to help with all your questions!

What should be on your sidebar?

There’s a few “must haves” that I think everyone should have on their sidebars.

One thing that I think is really important (though not everyone chooses to have one) is the about me section. It’s an easy way for your readers to get to know you! You don’t always need a picture but I think they’re nice to have. The short bio is the more important part of that section. I know I’m always reading them to see is the blogger shares any hobbies with me or if they live somewhere close to me! It’s probably not a great idea to be specific here though. I only give an approximate age and a general location in mine. Don’t want to give too many details! It’s also fun to put a couple of your hobbies in there because that’s something your readers can relate to.

Now there are plugins that will put in a nice about me section in your sidebar. I don’t like to use plugins for things that I can easily build myself. If you want something quick and easy then I’ve got a little code snippet for you. In WordPress you can drag in a Text widget that will render code on your blog. I know Blogger has something similar though I don’t know what it’s called. That’s something you can easily Google though. Here’s the code I use:

<div style=”text-align:center;”>
<img src=”Link to your beautiful self portrait” alt=”Picture of me” style=”width:250px;”>
<p>This is where you write a short blurb about yourself!</p>
</div>

Nice and easy! I use a photo editor to cut my picture into a circle but you can keep yours any size you want. Give it a try!

Must have #2 is your social media icons! This isn’t something you should skip over! It’s important to have an easy way for people to follow you and having social media icons or links at the top of your sidebar are an easy way to make sure readers see them right away. I made my icons myself but you can find tons of free packs online, just take a look!

Here are some free sets I found, grab what you want!

Next up is your newsletter sign up (if you have one). The sidebar is the easiest and most common place to put it so that’s where your readers will look!

This one is optional but I like to have it and that’s a search bar. If you don’t have one at the top of your blog somewhere then your sidebar is a great place for it. It’s nice to be able to search for a certain post easily without having to scroll through all the pages. Going along with this is also nice to have your archives or categories on your sidebar though I don’t think that one is 100% necessary. You should at least have either a search or your archives list.

That’s it for the things that I think are mandatory in a sidebar. Here’s a few examples of some great sidebars! Click on the images to see the source.

Now for a few extra tips:

  • Keep everything the same width! Nothing drives me crazier when people have ads or images in their sidebar and they’re all different widths. It’s a super easy way to make your blog seem more professional.
  • Don’t pack everything into your sidebar! I see a lot of people who shove tons of badges and buttons on their sidebar and it only makes them look messy. If you really want to show off your badges then I suggest putting them somewhere else. For example, blog award badges you could put on your about me page. Challenge badges you could put on a challenges page. you get the idea! There are better and less messy places to put them!
  • Keep your blog roll short and simple. Your blog is about you after all and as nice as it is to feature lots of other blogs, it’s not necessary and it only adds clutter to your sidebar.
  • Things to avoid: clutter, too many widgets, keeping only the default widgets, filling your sidebar with ads, irrelevant links, a huge blog roll, no ways to follow on social media.

Your turn!

If you’re reading this then I challenge you! I challenge you to look over your sidebar and really determine if it’s working for you. Google “examples of nice blog sidebars” if you need some inspiration. Are your social media icons easy to find? Are you, as the author, featured prominently where everyone can see you? Is it easy for readers to find other blog posts if they want to? Your sidebar is a mixture of you and things to make your blog easy to navigate for your reader. Messy sidebars don’t do any good and only make your blog have a lower chance for people to come back. Rethink your sidebar and make sure it’s working not only for you, but for your readers too!

If you took any of my advice I’d love to see! Post links in the comments and I’ll go check them out! If anyone has any questions don’t hesitate to ask!

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17 responses to “What Should Be On Your Sidebar?

  1. Nice advice! I think one of the hardest things I did as a new blogger was thinking less about what *I* want in the sidebar and more about what readers would need in the sidebar. I think about what I use on other people’s websites: the search bar, the follow button, the social media icons. If it’s not easy for me to follow your blog or find your Twitter, then I’m probably not going to follow your blog or your Twitter.
    Briana @ Pages Unbound recently posted…Lord of the Rings Bookmark Set GiveawayMy Profile

    • bftreviews

      That’s exactly it! You want to make things easy for your reader so if you’re on a different blog and think oh wow that’s convenient then chances are it would be useful to others too!

  2. This is such an excellent bit of advice. I have a theme that comes with its own author section to be added. I also have multiple writers and I’m using the fantastic NS Author Widget Plugin which will automatically change the authorship on each post on my sidebar to feature that author.

    I like the social media image suggestions. That would have came in handy with other themes I’ve used in the past.

    I’m still working on making my site look more fabulous, but that will come in time.

    It’s so good to be doing the Bloggiesta event with you again.

  3. I always struggle with my sidebars – how much is too much?? I really dislike cluttered sidebars personally, but I also look to them for a bunch of things. It’s a tough balancing act, but I think your suggestions are spot-on!

    • bftreviews

      Thank you! I’m glad I could help! Just think how you would feel going on someone else’s blog. What do you want to see on their sidebar?

  4. This was so helpful! Thanks!
    I just added social media icons to my sidebar, which I didn’t even realize I hadn’t had. The set I found that I liked didn’t include an icon for Tumblr, but at least it’s a start. Maybe someday when I have more time, I’ll make my own icons.
    I also really need to clean up my “Categories” section, but that is definitely a project for another day.
    I’ve been struggling with fitting Bloggiesta into my busy schedule, but this was a perfect quick, easy challenge that still made me feel really productive!

    • bftreviews

      I’m glad I could help! I’ve also been trying to organize my categories in an easier way and I think I’m finally almost done. It was a tough one but it makes so much more sense now!

  5. Awesome post and terrific suggestions. Beautiful blog.

    My sidebar is pretty organized. I will check to make sure it isn’t too cluttered.

    Going to check out the social media icons you suggested. That may be something to change for me. THANKS.

    Have fun during The Bloggiesta, and see you on the Twitter Chats.

    Elizabeth
    Silver’s Reviews
    SPRING BLOGGIESTA

    • bftreviews

      I’m glad you liked it! If you need more social media icon suggestions let me know because I’ve got lots haha

  6. My sidebar has become much too cluttered and it was a goal, before bloggiesta started, to clean it up. I worked on that a lot today and it looks MUCH better. I know it’s still more cluttered than I’d like it to be, but I’m rather happy with how much better it is. I still need to clean up my categories, but that’s going to take a lot of hours that I don’t have right now. Anyway, thanks for sharing your tips!

    • bftreviews

      You’re welcome! I’m glad I could help! Categories is something I’m still trying to work on too. I don’t think I’ll ever be done cleaning them up but it’s much better now 😂

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