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How to keep your sidebar slick

Sidebars 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…

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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

  1. 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.

    1. 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!

  2. 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 🙂

  3. 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?!

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

  4. 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

  5. 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.

  6. 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

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

  7. Less is really a good bet when it comes to sidebars. Thanks for reminding me to do an audit of mine.

  8. 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 😉

  9. 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 🙁

  10. 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!

  11. 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

  12. 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!

  13. 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

  14. 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!

  15. 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 |

  16. 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

  17. 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. 🙂

  18. 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

    1. 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!

  19. 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

  20. 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

  21. 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.

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

    Petal Poppet Blogs ♥

  23. 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.

  24. 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.

  25. 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!

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

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