Perfect Your Blog’s Sidebar: Free Checklist for Your Blog Design

When it comes to your blog’s sidebar, have you included all of the elements you need to? Or are you guessing as to what information or widgets to add?

The truth is that there are no absolutes when it comes to how arrange your sidebar. BUT, there are elements that you want to be sure are front and center, especially if you are interested in landing sponsored post opportunities for your blog.

Read on to get more details and be sure to download the free checklist at the bottom of this post!

sidebar

How to Set Up Your Blog’s Sidebar

Organizing your sidebar can be broken up into a two-step process. First, answer the below questions and figure out what your priorities are. Second, download our FREE checklist and ensure that you are not missing any of the most important elements.

Evaluate Your Content

Arranging and updating your sidebar can be a good idea because it keeps your content fresh and it keeps readers interested in what they are going to see next. However, arranging your sidebar can also be a blogger’s Achilles heel because it can seem to be a never ending project.

What is your blog’s purpose?
Think about the purpose of your blog. What is the message that you want to get across to your readers? Maybe you want to share your life story, maybe you want to work your way through a life event and blog about your daily progress, maybe you want to share your personal knowledge in a niche or maybe you want to bring people together for a good cause.

When you have a purpose for your blog you can decide what your priorities are and how you want to organize your sidebar.

What is your main priority?
After your blog is created and you have a purpose with a clear focus, then you can set your priorities. Ask yourself – what is the first thing that you want readers to see when they visit your blog?

If your priority is to make money with your blog then maybe an ad will be at the top of your sidebar. Similarly, if your blog’s priority is to bring people together for a good cause, then the first item in your side bar could be a button for donations or a sign up list for charity volunteers.

The more important an action or item is, the higher it should be on your sidebar to make sure that readers see it and encourage them to take action. The main body of a blog is information and content and the sidebar should be filled with action items for readers to take the next step.

Work Through the Checklist

Once you’ve completed the self-evaluation, it’s time to get down to the nitty gritty. Here’s our rundown on what you need in your sidebar.

sidebar

  • Profile picture: Show us that pretty face! People (and potential sponsors) are much more likely to be able to make a connection to you if they see a bright, happy, professional-looking image of the person behind the blog right away.
  • About blurb: Introduce yourself with a few sentences. Tell your readers who you are, what your blog is about, and link to your About page where they can get more details.
  • Closest metro area: This is something regularly discussed at Bloggy Boot Camp. If you are especially interested in paid opportunities, let us know what the closest metropolitan area is to where you live. This does not mean that you need to provide your home address. Quite the contrary. If we are looking to invite you to a live event or home party, then we need to understand whether you are within driving distance.
  • Links to social media accounts: Put your best foot forward! Show us the accounts where you are the most active. In particular, people are looking for Facebook, Twitter, Pinterest, Instagram, and Google+.
  • Email address: Let’s say that again for effect… be sure to include your email address. This can be done as a social media icon, typing out your address as text (sitsgirls {at} gmail {dot} com), etc. What we are looking for is a way to get in touch with you quickly and without having to use a contact form.
  • Newsletter subscription: Remember that self-evaluation above? What is your most important call to action on your blog? For us, it is sign up for our newsletter. For others, this might be download an eBook, subscribe via RSS, or a number of other different options. Highlight your most important call to action in your sidebar.
  • Search bar: Help people to navigate your site quickly and easily by including a search bar.
  • Links to popular posts: Highlight your best content by creating a link list or, better yet, putting together a column of post images that link to your top 5-8 posts.

Download Free Sidebar Checklist

Did you find the above info helpful? Then download our free checklist below and save it for another day!

Free Sidebar Checklist

Your Turn

Let’s keep the conversation going either in the comments below or over on our Facebook fanpage.

What questions do you have about your sidebar? Will you be making any changes? And would you add anything onto our checklist?

Keep Reading

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About TahnyaKristina

Tahnya Kristina is a personal finance expert and the creator of My Diary Entry . She is all about loving life and learning to love herself. She enjoys helping people land their dream job, achieve financial success and find personal happiness. You can read all about her personal journey and make a plan to find your own happiness in her sassy new book – A Better You - now available on Amazon Kindle. Drop her a line and say hello on Twitter @TahnyaKristina.

Comments

  1. Thanks for these tips. I just edited my about me paragraph, moved my social icons higher on the sidebar and added my email address. All good tips that will hopefully help me as I try to start working with brands.

  2. Can you recommend a good WordPress plugin that does a profile picture/about me blurb?

  3. It’s important to have a contact page, there have been times I’ve wanted to contact bloggers who didn’t have an email or contact form, so frustrating!

  4. Thanks for the tips! Blogging takes a lot more thought than you may first imagine! The design, layout, and for me, the hardest: sidebar! No clue! Ahh!

  5. I’m getting ready to move my blogspot.com blog over to this new website and I’m trying to gather
    as much info. and tips as possible to make this page just right (without another person putting
    together my website!) Thank you for the tips!

  6. I would love to do all the above–I’m just having a heck of a time figuring out how to do it. I tried putting the Pinterest button on my posts–couldn’t find the links that a tutorial said would be there. I’m one of those types of learners that if someone SHOWS me how to do something, I get it and can then replicate the action anytime I need to.

    Don’t suppose any of ya’ll live close enough to come show me? I’ll make lunch! lol

    Other than that–great post, thanks.

  7. Nice list, but are you sure that email list and closest metro area is a good choice. An email that’s just standing there is a sidebar can be a good invite for spammers and I don’t think that closest metro area is really important to our readers ( ok maybe you can add this details somewhere in about section). You can mention where you live when someone sends you an offer maybe. And, I think that contact form is a good feature to have on the blog, instead plain email text. Everything else is great. Pinterest widget is pretty popular these days too. Nice post. Thanks.

  8. Thank you for this, my sidebar is a mess and I am trying to get it organized. Will use this as my guideline. :)

  9. Thanks for this information. I’m going to evaluate my side bar asap. Stacie

  10. I would love to have some help getting a side bar on my web page at marciescaringhands.weebly.com.

  11. Perfect timing! My blog is getting a major makeover before the end of the month. This will be a good review list as I work to make sure I’m up to speed before I re-launch.

  12. topic is very beautiful and interesting ….”Weight Loss: 7 Simple Ways to Eat Better” ——–> http://fitness-code.blogspot.com/2013/09/weight-loss-7-simple-ways-to-eat-better.html.

  13. topic is very beautiful and interesting ….”Weight Loss: 7 Simple Ways to Eat Better” ——> http://fitness-code.blogspot.com/2013/09/weight-loss-7-simple-ways-to-eat-better.html.

  14. You really provide the best help for bloggers. I’ve been thinking of ways to make my sidebar better. I have most of the things you listed. I’ve been looking for a way to do popular posts with thumbnails but I can’t figure it out in WP (just moved from blogger to WP less than a month ago). Thanks for the information on the key elements of a great sidebar!

  15. Great information! Lots of blogs have too much or the wrong info on the sidebar. It’s like they want to cram way too much information in the sidebar, especially when they are trying to over-SEO the blog.

  16. I recently participated in Marie Forleo’s B School. She teaches a website module and encourages students to choose 3 options for their sidebar. That may be a helpful to tip for some readers!

    • I wanted to take her course. Is it worth it?

      • Hi Britney! Yes, her training is very good. You’ll learn a ton and make some great connections. Just be ready to commit to spending time on implementation to see the results you want.

  17. It’s amazing that I’ve gone so long without my email address on my main page! DUH! I have eventually gotten most of this up except for the newsletter sub & rss feed sub widgets. I can’t seem to figure out which ones work… but great info! Thanks :)

  18. I am working on these at this moment. SITS Girls, you provide the best help for us bloggers. I really want to thank you! I couldn’t do this without you!

  19. I am working on these at this moment. SITS Girls, you provide the best help for us bloggers. I really want to thank you! I couldn’t do this without you!

  20. Yes! Just finished my new blog. I was thinking about that all along – what needs to be above the fold? Of course, I feel that it all does. :)

  21. I was just thinking that I needed to clean up my sidebar so thank you for the motivation. I like having only one sidebar (personally feels cluttered with two and I like have bigger photos in my posts) but then I feel like my sidebar goes on forever! Alas, working on this now :-)

  22. My sidebar is perfection :P

  23. Great list. Wish I had this when I was setting up my sidebar, probably would have saved me a lot of time.

  24. This is all really great to read. I am glad that everyone is getting their side bar in order.

    @Sarah – I agree. I used to have a contact page with my email address but ever since I added a contact forum I get 3 times the feedback from readers. it’s been one of the best decisions I’ve made with my blog.

    I have a question for everyone – Do any of you use double side bars? One on the left and one on the right?

  25. I’d also add…make sure a blog has a good contact form. I am always surprised how many blogs don’t have an easy to find contact page!

  26. Love it! Went over mine and added in my location and realized I had never added a “hottest posts” widget. Done.

  27. Thanks for the list. Looks like I will be doing some more updates on my blog.

  28. Oops! also you forgot to add the SITS badge! hahahah!

  29. I feel so cool as i have all of these on the list! yay me :)

  30. Great list! I have most of these items, but use a “contact me” form. I’ll have to add my email address.

  31. Thanks! My sidebar needs some work, It’ll be nice to apply a checklist to it.

  32. Great list! I think email is huge! There have been times people have commented with typos in their email or logged in with twitter and I can’t response. I will look on their blog but if I can’t find it easy I will just post the response on the blog and not by email!

  33. I will definitely be adding our cities, Nashville and Knoxville TN. I have them on Facebook but never thought of it for the blog. I have buttons for our 3 home tours. I think it helps get more traffic to those pages however I’ve had a nasty comment about me throwing my big house in people’s faces. Look ya’ll I’ve lived in all types of homes including a barn lol. I just want to know how to get people to sign up for ads on the sidebar. I have it set up so easy through Passion Fruit. Any suggestions?

    • I know that a lot of bloggers LOVE Passion Fruit because it’s so easy. Don’t you mind what people say about your house, your photos or you. Blogging is all about you so don’t be sorry for what you have – you worked for it so enjoy it.

  34. Thanks for a great set of tips!

  35. Thanks so much for the tips. I’m trying to figure it all out and I’m still a little lost but with these check lists, it certainly helps even for the experienced blogger who no one ever knew about.. haha

  36. My right sidebar is fine and I’ve been working on that, but my left sidebar (about my family and me) is outdated. My mom even complained about it the other day! LOL! I need to get to work on that one soon.

  37. Great post Tahnya Kristina! The sidebar is such important blog real estate, we need to use it wisely. I need to add my closest metro area. I have a few other tweaks I want to do too, like linking my social media in my about me page. Also one more thing to add, your SITS button!

    • Thanks Stevie, I’m glad you like the post. Send on over your page link when the sidebar is done. Getting opinions from bloggers is how I made a lot of improvements to My Diary Entry.

  38. These are very good insights and useful tip! Thanks so much for providing us all with this post :)

  39. Great list! Its incredible how many bloggers forget some of these important elements of our blogs!

  40. Very good information.
    I think I have those covered on my page. I was to readust some things though.

  41. Oooooo… Thanks for this!

  42. Great checklist! I think I have some work to do!

  43. Great post! Looks like I have everything on the checklist except the closest metro area. Hadn’t thought of that one, but I’ll be adding it soon.

    Thanks for sharing!

Trackbacks

  1. […] The sidebar matters. Blog sidebars are prime spaces for all the things that matter for bloggers – it’s an opportunity to provide your readers with a quick snapshot of who you are, and what your blog is about. The important thing is, keep it as clutter-free as possible. Do not overwhelm your design (and readers) with buttons, ads and widgets. You can download our free sidebar checklist printable here. […]

  2. […] The SITS Girls – Perfect Your Blog’s Sidebar […]

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