Your blog sidebar appears on every page of your blog – unless you have chosen to use a full-width template.  The side bar is pretty important! Don’t ignore this important area of your blog – it can keep your readers engaged and get them to stay longer visiting your awesome posts! Today, I am going to share the Five+ Things You Need in Your Blog Sidebar – some might seem obvious, but even I struggle with what to put in that empty space!

Every couple of years, a new “design” recommendation comes out for bloggers – include this, don’t include that.  Sometimes it is hard to keep up and you start to second guess your layout. Remember when we were told to have “tag clouds”? Thank goodness that trend is over.

I am pretty confidant these five+ items will hold you for the long run – maybe with a little tweaking occasionally.  Don’t forget though – your blog is about you and what you can provide to your readers. Your posts are your content – but your sidebar is a way to engage your readers just a bit more with a way to get to know you, a way to follow you, and a way to get to other places on your blog.

About You

You definitely want a section that introduces yourself to your readers.  You also might want to include a couple lines about your blog. And, definitely add a picture!  Whether it is a picture of yourself, your kids, or your dog! If you have an About Page, include a link to that too!  Consider this your “elevator speech” for your blog.

Include anything to make you “real” to your visitors…that’s the whole point, right?  To make a connection with your readers.  It can be serious/professional or fun and playful. Just keep in mind the tone you use for your blog content, and write your About You section to be similar.

Social Media Buttons

This seems like a no-brainer, but maybe you haven’t considered including them.  If a new reader visits your blog, you want them to come back, right? What better way than having a way for them to follow you on social media – then they can see when you post new content in their social media feeds!  This has the added bonus of increasing your followers on social media, too! And, when your followers share, other’s like your content and visit your blog…. And, it just grows from there! Don’t know how to add social media buttons?  Click here!

Top Posts

Most of your visitors are new – so, they won’t know about the killer apple cobbler recipe you shared two months ago that has 100k likes on Pinterest!  The more you engage your readers, the longer they stay on your blog!

There are a couple of simple ways to do this… use a plugin or just add the links manually.  Personally, I like the Jetpack version of Top Posts because it automatically determines your top posts and shows them, either in a text list or with a thumbnail. Genesis also has a good built in widget called Featured Posts – this can be customized to show specific posts or categories/tags.  If you don’t like these two options, you can check out the plugin site for WordPress for another plugin or manually code the posts you would like – check out W3 Schools for how to do this easily.

Search Bar

Adding a search bar can be an amazingly simple way to keep people on your blog longer.  This allows a reader to type in exactly what they are looking for and navigate around your site easily.  Plus, you can see what they are searching for on the back end. HINT: Use this info to create new content similar to what they are searching!  Most themes have a search widget included in their package – simply add it to your sidebar and customize the wording.

Something You Are Promoting

This item keeps me up at night – well, not really.  But, I go back and forth on whether to include something I am promoting.  Now, this is not necessarily an ad. If you look at my blog, I have three image links taking my readers to my three most robust and visited areas – recipes, printables, and crafts. 

You need to take some time to think about what you want to promote about your blog (again, NOT an ad). This could be an award, a post published elsewhere, a milestone you’ve achieved, or something you are proud of.  Basically, it’s a big “Hey World, CHECK OUT WHAT I DID!” Toot your own horn – just don’t be annoying about it!

Bonus: Legal

So, here’s the deal.  You know you have to have all the legal mumble jumbo – especially your privacy policy.  Where do you add that? Personally, I have added a legal section to my top menu bar. It has all the various legal pages – copyright notice, disclaimer, disclosure, privacy policy, etc.  But, I have also included my privacy policy and disclosure in my footer at the bottom of each page. I feel of all the legal – dare I say crap – these two are the most important and more beneficial to my readers.  

Be daring and think outside the box – none of these ideas are set in stone. Have fun with the widgets in your sidebar and give your readers a way to get to know you and find interesting things to read on your blog.

Your blog is about you and what you can provide to your readers.  The posts are your content – but your sidebar is a quick way to engage your readers by letting them see the face behind the blog and making it easier for them to get to the content they want to see.

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