When I first started blogging I was so concentrated on having enough writing content for my blog that I did not think about what else was important to gain a professional touch for my site. It wasn’t till my third month into blogging that I started thinking about the format of my blog and the importance of having a professional look.
After much research of formatting a blog, I learned so much about what is pleasing to the eye. Once I implemented the changes to the blog I began to feel more comfortable looking at my own blog site.
The biggest immediate change I made was my sidebar.
Setting up a sidebar to your blog is essential because the sidebar is the most looked at area. This is where your readers will look for information about you and what your blog is about.
The sidebar is to be clean and in good order. You will want it to be easy to look at and easy to navigate on.
There are many benefits to having a well set up sidebar. If done correctly you can also use your blog sidebar to monetize and to lead new readers to sign up for your mailing list.
The biggest tip I have found to be useful for any blogger is to research within your niche. Look at a few blogs that you like. What do you like about their blog? The format, the color scheme, what they offer? Do you like how their sidebar is set up? If so, why? Would you continue to visit them?
This tip is not to encourage copying others. Our blogs are of our own creativity and should never be the same as anyone else but researching other blogs that you like can bring inspiration to your creativity and help you in building a well thought out blog.
As a new blogger, we forget that other bloggers have so much more experience than us. Their experience shows in their work. Just like in any other situation in life, be willing to take advice from the experienced ones.
Here is a outline I have found to be helpful for my own blog.
5 Things Your Blog’s Sidebar Should Have:
Search Bar: First, the sidebar should have a search bar. A search bar is important to have because it helps your readers to specifically look for what they would like. Having the search bar also gives your blog a professional touch.
Professional Profile Picture: Secondly, the sidebar should have a professional profile picture of yourself with an ‘About Me’ section below. The ‘About Me’ on the sidebar is usually between 3-4 sentences long. If your ‘About Me’ is longer than 3-4 sentences, check if your blog’s theme will allow you to add a ‘Read More’ button so the reader can continue to read more about you on a different page. My design did not allow it so I placed four sentences on my sidebar and created an ‘About Me’ page tab on top of my blog’s main page.
Social Media: Thirdly, place a section that will allow your readers to follow you on social media. Adding social media buttons is important because when your readers follow you, you have the opportunity to update them about your blog and new postings through social media. Take advantage of this type of marketing for your blog. You can add social media buttons to your sidebar when you customize through your theme template or by adding a plugin to your blog.
Subscriber Opt In Forms: Fourth, you should have a opt in subscriber box. It should state what your opt in freebie is and why they should sign up for your newsletter. To entice your readers to sign up as a subscriber, provide a detailed graphic of what your freebie is.
Ad Space: The last thing you should add to your sidebar is affiliate links and/or Ads. It is recommended to not add more than two Ads or affiliate links on your sidebar. If you do more than this it can begin to look spammy and you do not to rub your readers that way as soon as they get onto your site. Ads can be placed in between the placements we just went over but it is best to not add any ads or affiliate links till after your About Me section.
To start customizing your sidebar, you will need to go through your theme. Depending on the theme you have, you should be able to customize on the sidebar tab in your theme template.
To learn more about Blogging and setting up a Blog, you can read more in the Blogging Tips/Resources category.