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A blogs sidebar can be used for many things, personally, I like to think of it as “real estate” and a gateway to more of my sites content. The “area above the fold” (this means before you scroll on the page) is one of the first eye catching areas and as “Google” will tell you prime ad space.
I have over the last 7 months tweaked Powerful Mothering‘s sidebars a lot!
Today I would like to share with you some things I have read, learned and realized about the sidebar on my blog.
In no particular order:
Determine the average length of your posts and adjust your sidebar to the size. Having an extremely lengthy sidebar that only 2 or 3 people will see is kind of pointless if it drags the load time of your page up. For my blog I determined that on average I post 4-6 pictures per post with text and that is how long my sidebar is.
Having an About Me is one of those things that I feel should not be left out. Readers like to connect with people, hear what and who they are reading about. Try including a picture of yourself as well, us humans are very visual. You will want to have this very close to the top of your side bar.
Prime above the fold advertising can bring in some nice revenue if you place the correct types of advertising. Try to place things your readers will be interested in, these usually get the highest clicks. Use affiliate ad networks, sell the ad space on passion fruit or set up a google related content ad. Scattering ads lower in your sidebar can also bring in revenue.
Having your social links and buttons easily accessible is important for gaining followers for your blog. Check out our DIY social icons set up if you need some help.
Offering a Newsletter or new post notification EMAIL sign up connects you to readers who follow your blog. Check out places like feedburner, mail chimp (we have a how to for multiple blogs here), mad mini and my favorite that I personally use, a plugin for wordpress called Wysija.
Proudly display products you offer near the top of your sidebar.
Doing button swaps with bloggers in your niche can also bring in new readerships.
I love nothing more than readers reading MORE of my posts! I set up a selected few featured posts in my sidebar to bring more interest to other posts on my blog. This is also a great way to bring attention to older posts.
Display your most popular posts, after all they are popular for a reason!
Have things that you are passionate about that you think your readers will associate with.
Get rid of out dated stuff! No one wants to see things from 2011 in 2013, it makes your blog look stale and neglected.
Keep your blogs sidebar neat and visually appealing, do your best to align and scale things you include in it. Try to keep flashing ads and graphics to a minimum. If you are on wordpress search for widgets to help you manage things.
I have also recently included links to my categorys in my sidebar so that readers don’t have to scroll back to the top, I find that most people do not know about the “to top” arrow in the lower right corner.
Here is a screenshot of some of the current sidebar. Pop over to view it live here.
Here is a list of the plugins I use for my sidebar:
Ads by datafeedr.com – Randomly display any type of advertisement anywhere on your site. Add rotating banner ads, Google Adsense, videos, text links and more to your sidebar, widget areas, posts and pages.
Popularity Posts Widget – Allows you to show your most viewed posts as a widget on your blog.
Wysija Newsletters – Create and send newsletters. Import and manage your lists. Add subscription forms in widgets, articles and pages. Wysija is a freemium plugin updated regularly with new features.
WP MashSocial Wigdet – A beautiful widget inspired by Mashable to be used in sidebar, it allows you to add your Pinterest, G+ , Twitter , Facebook and Feeds Subscription in it.
PassionFruitAds.com – I paste the ad scripts provided by them into text widgets. No ads lined up no ads are displayed.
My theme for my blog allows me to have 2 separate sidebars, one just for the home page and one for posts.
I hope you found this run down about my sidebar helpful and that you are better able to keep your readers on your site or have them click on value added products and services you offer.