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 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.
1. Social media buttons.
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:
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:
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?