Posted on January 31, 2015

How to keep your sidebar slick

blog tips

blog sidebarSidebars can be a space of temptation for some. It’s natural to want to get as much stuff in your side bar as possible when you first start your blog. You might feel the urge to have cool gadgets and widgets to show off your photos, favourite songs or your categories.

It’s no secret that having a clean, neat blog layout is a lot more pleasing to the eye than a loud, busy one.

This also applies to sidebars.

I’m creating this post based it on the mistakes I’ve made with my own blog, I’ve delved into the wayback machine (that archives old websites) to see what my sidebar has looked like over the last few years. It wasn’t pretty, to be honest. It was embarrassing (insert the monkey covering it’s eyes emoji here).

So here I am, sharing my shame with you so you can learn all this stuff pain free and quickly. Rather than it taking years, if you’re a little slow like me!

Or you could just fill your sidebar with crap if that’s what you want to do. That works too.

how to keep your sidebar slick

1. Social media buttons.

blog sidebar

Every social media site has buttons you can add to your sidebar to entice people to follow you. For the longest time I had each follow button separately on my blog. Not even all in one place either, just randomly spread out in no particular order. My twitter follow me bottom was somewhere further down the page – awkward.

It’s so much better to to have them all together in a neat row. Some blog themes have social media buttons already, or you can easily make your own using picmonkey!

If making your own is a little out of your comfort zone, you can always use nitfybuttons or socialbuttonmaker to create your own tidy set!

To have buttons in the centre of your side bar, like my Bloglovin button, use the following code:

Untitled

2. Categories.

blog sidebar

Categories are a fantastic way to organise your blog. But first, you need to understand one thing:

Tags or categories are a way for people to search similar topics within your blog.

I used to think that it was a way for people to search blog posts on blogger.com, not only within my blog, so would tag as many things as possible, such as blogger, uk blogger, dresses, fashion blog, dress, shoes, heels, OOTD etc etc.

Then I would also display all categories in my sidebar which took up LOADS of space and was full of irrelevant tags.

While tags and categories do hold some value in regards to SEO (search engine optimisation), you want to ensure you’re not over doing it.

Unless you only use 4-6 categories, don’t list them in your sidebar. You can always use a trop down menu, like I do.

I really want to spend some time going through all my tags at some point and sort them out into a smaller number to keep things much neater. Something like:

  • style
  • beauty
  • lifestyle
  • blogtips

Some bloggers do it WONDERFULLY. But you have to figure this lesson out pretty quick unless you want to spend hours going through old posts to sort them all out, which I’m slowly doing a few posts at a time!

3. Get rid of badges.

It’s exciting when you’ve been given a blog award by another blogger, or you join Nexts blogger platform, but you don’t need to display the badges on your sidebar!

I had the Next blogger network badge on my blog for the longest time. I have no idea why because I never got anything beneficial out of having the badge on my sidebar or did any blog assignments with them. They just got free advertising from me. Same with e-tailPR and a bunch of other badges.

Most have no value and though the website might make it seem like it’s some sort of badge of honour, they’re making your sidebar look sloppy and not giving you any benefit.

4. Your popular posts/recent posts/archives.

There are various ways to have your own blog posts highlighted in your sidebar. I’d say if you really wanted to do this, then stick to just one of the above.

I have my archives in a drop down menu so people can still navigate through my blog, but it only takes up a smidgen of space.

You can always add a related posts widget to the bottom of your blog posts, which gives the reader a chance to click through to other blog posts after they’ve read one.

This is another better thing to do than waste precious sidebar space.

5. Leave social widgets behind.

You can get various widgets that will display latest tweets, your latest instagram photos and other things right from your sidebar.

If you’ve already got your social media buttons up, you don’t need to add widgets like this too.

All it does is distract from your blog post and if it does catch the eye of your reader, it’s going to send them straight back to social media websites rather than staying on your blog!

We spend all day Tweeting and ‘gramming (I don’t know if that’s a word, just made it up :D) trying to get traffic from social media to our blogs, there’s no need to send it straight back!

How do you keep your sidebar tame?

Untitled

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47 Comments

  • Reply Anouk January 31, 2015 at 9:29 am

    I always like reading your blogging tips because they are useful and help us avoid things that don’t work which you’ve learned from your blogging experience. I’ve got rid of my sidebar alltogether and only keep a footer bar these days.

    http://www.LUXESSED.com
    Anouk recently posted…Seville Day 2My Profile

    • Reply Corinne February 1, 2015 at 11:58 pm

      I’ve read a lot about people doing that, it works well because you can make your photos bigger and they have a great impact, like your food photos are always stunning!

  • Reply vivi January 31, 2015 at 10:22 am

    Keeping it minimal is the best way to go. love this!

  • Reply Charline January 31, 2015 at 10:43 am

    You always write interesting and helpful posts, it’s a real pleasure to stop by here 🙂

    See you Corinne xx
    Charline recently posted…MANGO VS CELINEMy Profile

  • Reply Iwona January 31, 2015 at 1:02 pm

    Very interesting post! I greet:)

  • Reply Rachel Holliday January 31, 2015 at 1:05 pm

    Great post! My sidebar used to be awful too! I made my own huuuge social media buttons and they didnt look good haha

    Rachel xx
    http://www.thedailyluxe.net

    P.s. I’ve tagged you in the beauty scenario post on my blog if you wanna take part 🙂
    Rachel Holliday recently posted…Style Icons Of The Past and PresentMy Profile

    • Reply Corinne February 1, 2015 at 11:59 pm

      Haha, I made my own too and they looked really bad.

  • Reply Colleen January 31, 2015 at 1:39 pm

    Wow you make some really good points. First of all, nothing has ever come from having those blogger network buttons. And also, you’re totally right about having the social widgets! Why would I want people to go to my instagram when I already have them on my blog?!
    Colleen recently posted…JANUARY MUSIC PICKSMy Profile

    • Reply Corinne February 2, 2015 at 12:00 am

      Yeah – the instagram one is frustrating because if I click on, it takes you to snap widget and not the actually instagram account. Poo.

  • Reply enrica January 31, 2015 at 2:27 pm

    nice post darling!!

    http://www.fashi0n-m0de.blogspot.it
    enrica recently posted…MATERA LA CITTà DEI SASSI: CAPITALE EUROPEA DELLA CULTURA DEL 2019My Profile

  • Reply JaseyJade January 31, 2015 at 4:07 pm

    I couldn’t agree more! I used to have those widgets as well but I have changed it over the years. I find that I like a neat clean blog better rather then millions of widgets and stuff. Like you said.. your reader’s attention should be on your posts and not your sidebar.

    Jade x

  • Reply Elizabeth Rebecca January 31, 2015 at 5:02 pm

    Interesting point about Instagram – if I’m honest though, I have 65 blog followers and 0 IG followers so I’m trying to drive traffic that way.

    Lizzie Dripping
    Elizabeth Rebecca recently posted…Thursday 29th January 2015My Profile

  • Reply Shireen L. Platt January 31, 2015 at 5:47 pm

    I finally managed to make some changes to my sidebar’s header last night. Took me only a whole darn day to figure it out. LOL! I agree with getting rid of ‘awards’ image though, I have it on mine but will rid of it now. You’re right, it doesn’t do anything except a huge clutter.

    Shireen | Reflection of Sanity
    Shireen L. Platt recently posted…REVIEW: Strivectin Volumizing Hand TreatmentMy Profile

    • Reply Corinne February 2, 2015 at 12:01 am

      I think the sites they come from try to make it sound like you’re honoured to use it, but they usually accept everyone!

  • Reply Rowena @ rolala loves January 31, 2015 at 6:45 pm

    Less is really a good bet when it comes to sidebars. Thanks for reminding me to do an audit of mine.
    Rowena @ rolala loves recently posted…Eye Candy : Shin Min Ah for Harper’s BazaarMy Profile

  • Reply Hannah January 31, 2015 at 6:46 pm

    I love all of these tips, completely agree about the cleanness of blogs x

    http://heyitshannaah.blogspot.co.uk/
    Hannah recently posted…A Polyvore Collection #1My Profile

  • Reply christina January 31, 2015 at 7:43 pm

    Great tips as always, I need to start tagging my post into categories! x

    kimiandme.blogspot.co.uk
    christina recently posted…GiveawayMy Profile

  • Reply Mrs C January 31, 2015 at 7:54 pm

    You hit all the right buttons here! Well, I can say that with my new blog design I have deleted everything and keep only the MUST. I like my new look better than the previous one.. simplicity is best, that’s what they say 😉
    Mrs C recently posted…Travel :: VesuviusMy Profile

  • Reply ISABEL - EL SECRETO DE MISTER CLOSET January 31, 2015 at 8:04 pm

    Really interesting post!
    http://elsecretodemistercloset.com
    ISABEL – EL SECRETO DE MISTER CLOSET recently posted…VESTIDO DE PUNTO Y PONCHOMy Profile

  • Reply Catherine January 31, 2015 at 8:32 pm

    The one about social media widgets is so true, yet I have 2 sidebars and it’d look empty otherwise! I want to cut down to one sidebar but I don’t know how to make my pictures increase to fit the page 🙁
    Catherine recently posted…Repairing damaged and overprocessed hair | Product ReviewMy Profile

    • Reply Corinne February 2, 2015 at 12:05 am

      Ahhh! Have you googled? I increased my sidebar on my old blog by editing the HTML.

  • Reply Aimee January 31, 2015 at 8:33 pm

    Awesome tips as always! I cleaned up my sidebar a few months ago and it made all the difference 🙂 Thinking about getting rid of myTwitter widget now though!

    thebellenarrative.com xx

  • Reply Theboxqueen January 31, 2015 at 9:57 pm

    Catching up with your posts Corinne! I’ve always loved your blog for these informative, and well written posts. I think your blogging tips rock. It’s always a struggle to decide what to put on our sidebars. I try to keep it somewhere I feel comfortable while utilizing this prime space. Have a wonderful weekend! XOXO, Elif
    Theboxqueen recently posted…LITTLE LACE BOX REVIEW – JANUARY 2015My Profile

    • Reply Corinne February 2, 2015 at 12:06 am

      I’m glad you enjoy the posts 🙂

  • Reply Claire January 31, 2015 at 10:11 pm

    I have really got to get my sidebar sorted – it’s another thing to add to my blogging to-to list! Your sidebar is perfect, so thanks for the tips these will come in so handy!
    Claire recently posted…January FavouritesMy Profile

  • Reply Angelika January 31, 2015 at 10:23 pm

    Wow, I must confess that in every point you have right! You said about very important things to get your blog more simple and.. better <3
    dolcinella.blospot.com

  • Reply Rebeca January 31, 2015 at 11:59 pm

    This was a magnificent entrance, this year I would like to improve the look of my blog and this post has given me some ideas, thanks for sharing!
    Rebeca recently posted…Falda skater de verano / Polka dots skater skirtMy Profile

    • Reply Corinne February 2, 2015 at 12:07 am

      I’m glad you found it useful 🙂

  • Reply Alissa February 1, 2015 at 1:52 am

    I keep my instagram widget at the bottom. Not on my sidebar. It’s distracting the main post.lol
    Alissa recently posted…January FavoritesMy Profile

  • Reply Olivia February 1, 2015 at 3:26 am

    I totally agree with everyone that you said! I think a good thought to go with is “white space is good”. I try to keep my side bar as clean as possible to focus on my post. Great job as always!
    Olivia | Her Name Was Celebration

  • Reply Melanie February 1, 2015 at 5:04 am

    Great tips! I hate cluttered sidebars!
    Melanie @ meandmr.com
    Melanie recently posted…DukuhMy Profile

  • Reply cvetybaby February 1, 2015 at 8:10 am

    Amazing post, I have a problem with tags, i put too much… may be i must change that :))
    xx
    cvetybaby.com
    cvetybaby recently posted…Keep in ShapeMy Profile

  • Reply Lucy February 1, 2015 at 9:55 am

    I find it really difficult to know what to have on my site. I recently got rid of badges, totally right free advertising for nothing. I struggle with understanding tags, search descriptions and labels but I think I have finally figured it out or I hope I have Lucy x
    Lucy recently posted…GlamGlow Powermud DualCleanse TreatmentMy Profile

  • Reply Xuvious February 1, 2015 at 2:30 pm

    I love the tips you gave. I did a big redesign last year the biggest challenge for me was making sure all the content was there and how to balance it with ads to avoid overkill. At the moment it’s as clutter free it gets and I’m quite happy with it. 🙂
    Xuvious recently posted…Tarte Amazonian Clay 12-hour Blush in GlistenMy Profile

  • Reply Jenn February 1, 2015 at 2:31 pm

    I love reading your tips because they are definitely relevant and easy for a new blogger to understand. I actually just had my layout redone to include social media icons and I always try to keep my sidebar simple, although I did display all my tags, I’ve now condensed it down to a few small ones that I use regularly!

    Love,
    Jenn

    • Reply Corinne February 2, 2015 at 12:09 am

      I really want to condense all mine down when I have chance, I’ve started doing some but I have so many posts to go through!

  • Reply Victoria February 1, 2015 at 3:41 pm

    My blog doesn’t have a sidebar and I prefer it that way as I want people to focus on the posts. Some sidebars I’ve seen end up just repeating what’s elsewhere on the blog and that frustrates me. I quite like the social media ones though and I have my Instagram feed on mine as I liked it on other blogs. I think it’s useful if like me, you update that more often than your blog so people can see fresh content.
    Victoria xx
    thedaisyjaynes.com
    Victoria recently posted…Carden Park HotelMy Profile

    • Reply Corinne February 2, 2015 at 12:10 am

      I guess thats a good point. I don’t update insta as much as I wish I could!

  • Reply Caro* February 1, 2015 at 4:44 pm

    Very good tips Corinne, this post is very interesting.
    Kisses 🙂
    Caro* recently posted…Pegase.My Profile

  • Reply Jasmin Charlotte February 1, 2015 at 8:51 pm

    Ah this is really interesting! I was debating getting rid of my side bar social media widgets, I think I will get rid of the instagram one, as like you say – just taking up space! x

    Jasmin Charlotte | UK Lifestyle Blog
    Jasmin Charlotte recently posted…JC Reviews: StripTeas Teatox *My Profile

  • Reply Rea February 2, 2015 at 9:19 am

    I agree with everything you mentioned. I only place the necessary widgets on my sidebar. Some blogs have crazy long list of labels on their sidebar it’s making me dizzy! LOL.
    Rea recently posted…Yes, You’re On The Right Blog!My Profile

  • Reply Natalie February 2, 2015 at 9:46 am

    Great tips! There was a few things here my blog was guilty of so I have took your advice and changed!

    Petal Poppet Blogs ♥

  • Reply laura February 2, 2015 at 1:44 pm

    SUCH good points. I’ve just had a realisation moment. I have all my social sharing buttons, widgets and the like and I’ve been stressing at how messy my sidebar looks.

  • Reply Naomi February 2, 2015 at 5:47 pm

    YES! Love all of the things you’ve mentioned, very good advice! 🙂

    xo
    Naomi recently posted…To my heart I must be true: “Chanel N°5 Eau Première” perfume reviewMy Profile

  • Reply Emma February 3, 2015 at 2:42 am

    I just started a blog and your tips are really useful. I was tempted to clutter my sidebars with all of the cool gadgets (I mean, goldfish!), but I refrained.
    Emma recently posted…Turn Your Day AroundMy Profile

  • Reply Kel February 3, 2015 at 1:39 pm

    I had the next one up for AGES as well, and still have no idea why! I think my sidebar is due a clear out, cheers for the tips!
    Kel recently posted…New Year, New You – Dining Event at The Light, LeedsMy Profile

  • Reply Angela Kate Webster | Cosmic Kick July 15, 2016 at 4:55 pm

    😮 I can’t believe I’ve never thought about widgets that way! Off to delete mine.

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