Going back to improving things in your blog, we’ve talked about color palettes last Saturday and now I want to talk about sidebaaars! (Yep, I’ve got a thing with sidebars hehe)
For us free plan users, the sidebar customization is probably something we have plenty of freedom with after posts and pages. But like everything else, it’s also limited. For one thing, you can’t install widgets outside what’s available in WordPress.com.
But just because we have limited options and tools, doesn’t mean we couldn’t make use of them creatively, right?
And so I’ll share with you some things you can put in your sidebar. Most of these are pretty basic and maybe you’ve got them in yours already but it’s also good to have a refresher, is it not? 😉
But first. Allow me to introduce to you my all-time favorite widget.
The Text Widget.
Yeahhh I know, it’s kinda…boring? But this ordinary widget is pretty useful and versatile. I actually use it in most sections of my sidebar as well as in my footer. And that’s because I get to have at least a little control on how I want certain sections to look. I’ll explain each section further below.
An about snippet is usually short (because snippet, of course) and its purpose is to briefly tell your visitors, especially the first-timers, who you are and what your blog is all about. You can insert a link to your about page at the end for those who want to know more like I did there.
There’s actually an About.Me widget available and there’s honestly nothing wrong with using it, really. But a personal reason why I don’t use it is because customizing it is kinda difficult. Using a text widget, I get to insert a sourced image and have the “Hello, awesome person!” part in a font of my choice.
Don’t we all want to interact with bloggers we like outside the blogosphere, too? That’s when social media comes in. They give fellow bloggers and your readers other ways to get in touch with you.
Some themes like Adele allow you to automatically add your social media accounts and they’ll put ‘em with their respective logo on your sidebar. Other themes like Sela and Nucleare make use of what they call Social Menu. With this, your social icons get their own place in your site.
But since my theme, Gateway, makes use of neither, I had to make do. Though, it’s okay for me since I wanted to put social icons on both my sidebar and footer anyway.
The plus side in using text widget for your social icons is that you get to create your own. Which is great for lil’ ol’ DIY-loving me and people who are the same.
There are two ways to create a categories section on your sidebar. There’s a categories widget available, where you can either have your categories in a dropdown menu or as a list of links. And there’s also creating images linked to your categories. For the latter, you can use either an image widget or a text widget to create your own graphics.
I use a text widget for this. (Surprise surprise, amirite?)
Recent and Popular Posts
Like the Categories, Recent and Popular Posts each have their own widgets provided by WordPress.com. These can be used to lead your visitors to more of your awesome posts. While I currently don’t use both, I plan on using one someday when I get to create a custom graphics for it.
Email Signup Form for Your Newsletter (if you have one)
Sending special newsletters to your email-list subscribers is a more intimate way to connect with them. It’s preeetty hard to create signup forms since WordPress.com does not support Java. But that doesn’t mean you can’t make one, now does it?
A little tweaking in a photo-editing software or app like Photoshop or Canva will help you create a simple signup graphic that you can link to your signup url.
Speaking of which! I’m officially opening my newsletter. Tadaaa!The first issue will be out at the end of January and ohmigosh it still feels so unreal calling it an issue. Excuse me while I blush…
Welp, that’s that with this tiny self-promotion. This is different from the WordPress Follow by Email widget since you get an email whenever I post something new (like with this one, if you read this through your email.) The monthly newsletter will have content and stories that I haven’t posted in the blog. And you know, if I create freebies, I’ll send it thataway, too.
Speaking of the Follow by Email Widget, here is a quick breezing-through of other things you can put in your sidebar that doesn’t make use of the text widget.
Follow by Email Widget
You have to acknowledge the fact that there are non-WordPress readers who may stumble upon your blog. And what if they love your awesome content sooo much (because I’m sure they would ;)) that they want to be updated if you have a new post up?
But then, cue scratching noise, they see you offer none. Have one, yo!
I know what you’re thinking: “Oh psssh, isn’t this an obvious one, Kate?” Yeah, I thought so too. But I was surprised to find there are still blogs that have been around for months (and some years) that don’t have a search bar anywhere in their site.
So, a friendly reminder, fellow bloggers. A search bar is only one of the several ways to make navigation in your site easy for its visitors.
My best suggestion? Put it on or near the top.
Wherever Else You Want to Bring Your Visitors
Do you perhaps have an ongoing project on your blog? Maybe you’re accepting guest posts or collabs? Or you want to lead people to one social media account where you’re doing something or you want to grow?
The sidebar can be the perfect place to give it a shoutout to whoever’s visiting your blog. It’s like when someone enters your shop and you’re like, “Oh hey! We’re also organizing this-and-that this weekend. It’ll be awesome if you could come.” Same ideas really.
At the end of the day, there really is no Sidebar Law or something equally ridiculous. You can include some of these or no; it’s totally your call. Just one last tip when you’re considering what you will and will not add on your sidebar: don’t cram it with #AllTheThings.
Remember that you should let your awesome (yes yes, I know it’s awesome; I have faith in you <3) content stand out. Which is why you wouldn’t want to distract readers with a really crowded sidebar. Besides, it’s also not aesthetically pleasing. Blogs with crowded sidebars kinda remind me of clickbait sites, to be honest.
I mean, dude, it’s honestly cool that you want to monetize your site but… don’t overdo it, okay? Else, 2000s will call; they want their old site design back.
Yo guys! I have no questions for you today. But if you have reached the end of this incredibly long post, thank you so much! I’ve currently ran out of virtual cookies to give 😛 but I’m having the comment section below be a chance for you all to share one awesome content you’ve recently posted. And check out some of the others who shared theirs too, okay? Okay! Let’s spread the love! ❤