What to include in your blog sidebar

Blogging is one of the most rewarding forms of content creation. I’ve read my share of blogs and I’ve seen the ones that gave me nightmares but also the ones that I fell so much in love with that I found myself either going back to read more or even spend an hour just going through different articles and features. Some of the blogs have even been so effective that I started following them on other social media platforms just to know what they were up to. 

A few of the things I found that these blogs had in common was a well laid out sidebar. And no, just because you have an image of yourself on the side and saying that you love pet alligators does not cut it.

I’m going to share with you some of the most useful things you can add to your blog sidebar in order to keep your audience not only much longer but also lead them to following you on other social media platforms.

What to Include in Your Blog Sidebar_Pinterest.png

1.    About link and short bio

Make sure you have a dedicated area where you talk more about you, your services and your blog. Instead of writing all this on your blogs sidebar, you only need to include a short bio with the most relevant information about you and add a link that directs the reader to a more in-depth post. I suggest anywhere between 4 to 6 sentences to cover everything that you’d need someone to know about you in a few seconds. I know it may seem daunting but think of the famous elevator pitch that you’d need to do if you needed to land a new job. Here’s an article written by mindtools that explains in-depth what an elevator pitch is all about.


2.    Image

Having an image of yourself or something that represents you is crucial for the sidebar. People want to know and put a face to who is writing or giving out all this fabulous content. Show yourself on the side bar. You can be as quirky and creative when it comes to the final outcome. Maybe the image portrays you doing the hobby you like the most or show you within your element. Whichever way you take it, make the image speak for you.


3.    Contact info

One thing that is always missing in sidebars is your contact info. Make it easy for people to get in-touch with you. Include your email address for direct contact or a link to a form if you’d like the option of customising how you receive your emails. Another important aspect is to include is the ‘official’ work hours and when they can expect to hear back from you if it’s work related.


4.    Categories

I love the option of viewing blogposts based on categories. Sometimes I know exactly the content that I’m searching for and when a blogger makes it easy for me to find that content then they are definitely bookmarked for later use. Besides making things easier for your readers, you also come out as someone who is organised and an expert in what they are talking about.


5.    Archives

If you’ve been on the blogging scene for a while, then a section where you can link to past articles by the year and month is also great. This can also once again put your expertise stamp on your blog because readers can see just how far back your content goes.


6.    Popular posts

Being connected to google analytics or using the analytics feature for Squarespace users means that you have access to an abundance of information regarding your audiences’ demographics but also which type of content they like the best. You should make this a regular habit in order to point new audience to your most popular posts in order to boost their popularity even more. These popular posts can be highlighted on your sidebar so that they are front and centre and within your audiences reach.


7.    RSS

RSS stands for ‘Really Simple Syndication’. Think of this feature as a magazine subscription that gets delivered to you whenever a new publication is out. The great thing about people subscribed to your RSS feed is that whenever you put out new content on your blog, they will be automatically notified without you having to send out emails in order to notify your audience.

Here are a few articles to get you started:

8.    Search box

Sometimes a search box can come in handy when your audience can’t recall the exact title of the blog but only remember what was about. The trick here is to make sure that the search option is available only for the blog posts and not the whole website.


9.    Social media links

Whether you’re super active on social media or not, it’s great to have a presence on other platforms other than your blog. You can not only share your content to a wider audience but also build deeper relationships by sharing more personal content about yourself. Having social media links on your blog sidebar also shows your audience that they can find you even on their own preferred platforms in order to receive the content that you have to offer.


10. Social media feeds

This is different from your social media links. Including social media feeds on your blog sidebar means that you give your audience a preview of what they can expect to see once they click on the social media links because sometimes pictures speak a thousand words.


11. Option to subscribe to the blog/ newsletter

On important thing to always have is the option to subscribe to your blog or newsletter. Capturing emails is one of the things that you can have total control over because as all thing’s social media, there’s no security or assurance that your profile will always remain active. Many people have lost their accounts due to hacking or just the fact that the platform decided to delete their accounts for some reason.

By making sure that you capture emails through your sidebar can give you the peace of mind that no matter what, you still have access to all the people who love and follow your blog.

12. Call to actions

You need to tell people what you’d like them to do. If it’s to follow you on social media or signup to the newsletter then tell them clearly. But also, one thing to keep in mind is mostly everyone has the ‘WIIFM’ mentality. This means ‘What’s in it for me’ if I follow this person on social media or sign up to their newsletter? Maybe you offer weekly live chats or freebies. Maybe they can expect to gain something exclusive. Whatever it is, make sure that it’s right there next to the call to action in order to entice them into following you or signing up.


You don’t need to have all of this on your blog sidebar but make sure to at least have half of the options I’ve highlighted here. Some of these features can be combined together in order to save space on your blog sidebar.

Let me know if there’s anything that I’ve not mentioned!


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