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Blogging 101: Dress Up Your Sidebar

Today’s assignment: add and/or customize two widgets. If you want to write a post, try something shorter-form.

Welcome to Blogging U! This course isn't currently active, but you can learn more about what we offer and register for upcoming courses on the BU home page.

You’ve done a lot so far — published a few posts, worked on your About widget and About page, and dabbled in personalizing your theme.

Widgets are another great way to tailor your site, while providing more info for your readers, so let’s add a few. If you’re already happy with your widgets, customize the ones you have. And if you’ve already done that, write a short-form post on the topic of your choosing.

Today’s assignment: add and/or customize two widgets, one text-based and one image-based.

Why do this?

  • Because you want to make it easy for your readers to find all your content, follow you, get engaged, and get the most out of your site, and widgets add features to help them do it.
  • Because widgets are another opportunity to add a personal touch and create a consistent look and personality.

Today you’ll add two widgets: one that adds a text-based feature, and one that adds something image-based. If one of those doesn’t fit with your bloggy vision, feel free to change that up.

Get started by browsing the full list of available widgets. Feeling overwhelmed? Here are some ideas. First, a few simple-yet-useful text-based widgets:

And some image-based widgets to try:

  • The Instagram Widget displays your latest photos.
  • The Gallery Widget creates a gallery or slideshow of images, so you can add a graphic element to your blog without any graphic design know-how.

Check out other quick and easy widgetswidgets to showcase your community-to-be, and more image-based widgets. Review our tutorial series — Widgets 101201, and 301 — or take a step back and think about your overall sidebar strategy.

You can spruce up widgets even more by personalizing the titles to match the theme or niche of your blog, so be sure to explore all the options each widget offers. You can also control which widgets appear on which pages of your site — keep your home page streamlined but add the Recent Posts Widget to post pages, for example, or add a Goodreads Widget to your page on favorite books.

If you’re still a bit confused on how to add widgets, this video tutorial will help.

To add a widget, go to Appearance → Widgets in your dashboard. Here, you can drag a widget from the ”Available Widgets” area on the left into a section on the right, called a sidebar and/or footer (depending on your theme, you might have multiple sections). When you see a dashed line appear, drop the widget into place. You can also re-arrange the order in which existing widgets appear on your site by dragging-and-dropping.

If you also want to publish a post today, we suggest a shorter-form post — a post of under 400 words; under 200 if you can.

Questions? Ask away! Head to The Commons to talk widget with your co-bloggers.

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Comments

      1. Thanks, Angie K! I was going for a magazine feel where viewers can decide which topics they’d like to read, but with a “front cover” that highlights certain posts. I’ll be following you back! 🙂

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  1. It’s possible I’ve gone a little widget crazy!

    I added the Twitter widget to my sidebar. (I’m new to tweeting, I find it all a bit fast and confusing, but getting there … I think!)

    I also moved some widgets to the footers – do you think there are too many now?

    abbiesbabble.wordpress.com

    Liked by 1 person

  2. Yay for the Books widget!

    I alreay can’t WAIT to take this class again. Plus I don’t know who or how it got fixed but now I can see my blog (dRidenourfreelance) and everything on it. (The other, orangeblorenge,I did accidentally delete, so it exists in ghost-form only). Thank you to the tech elves and certainly head elf, Michelle!

    Like

      1. Oh I see. Must be the theme. Will have to tinker through it to figure out but thanks for checking. I appreciate it 🙂 By the way, your cooking looks awesome! I wish I had half of your skill. Keep it up!

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  3. This is amazing. It’s really getting me used to using wordpress and using new tools. I’ve just added a categories widget, I’ve wanted something like that for ages just wasn’t sure how and a gallery widget which is currently on a slide show. Really liking these new changes. Ahh who knew you could get so excited over a widget haha. Let me know what you think guys…

    http://insidetherustickitchen.com

    P.s I’m still to do yday’s task but WILL do it! 🙂

    Like

  4. I’ve been looking for a reason to start up an instagram, and what works better than an instagram account that will compliment my blogging? I’m really excited for how well this is all coming together.

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      1. Late last night, when I was having my second wind, I had some brilliant ideas on how to make an instagram coincide with my blog posts. It would probably contain somewhat artsy photos that I found thought provoking and could write on at a later date. This morning though, my only thought is I could simply add the photo to the post. I might do more of a gallery widget instead; so that I can place photos that I like on the sidebar of my blog.

        Liked by 1 person

  5. Hi all, I have added all the widgets I want to my blog, and do hope it’s not too many of them. What I find annoying is that my entire posts show on the home page, though I’vr activated the setting to only show a summary. Is that to do with my theme, @MichelleWebber?

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  6. Last week I tied to create an about widget – but when I changed my theme I can’t find the widget to change it. There is a typo in it that is driving me crazy. Can anyone help? The About me in the side widget is typo-free, but not the one that appeared at the bottom of my post on Tuesday. deescribesblog.wordpress.com

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  7. Fantastic site you have here but I was curious about if you knew of any discussion boards that cover the same topics talked about here? I’d really love to be a part of community where I can get advice from other knowledgeable people that share the same interest. If you have any recommendations, please let me know. Cheers!

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  8. Let me preface this by saying I have absolutely no knowledge of HTML or coding in any form. When it came to personalising my widgets I was nervous and thought it would be really difficult. Not only was I wrong, but after reading about putting in pictures and the like I went onto picmonkey and had a play, then uploaded the image to imgur (both of which I was totally new to) and managed to create my very own pic in a text box – It may seem simple to you techy types, but this was a big deal for this particular idiot 🙂

    So, Thank you Blogging101 – my site is looking more and more how I want it to look and I am gaining confidence and followers (up to 423 now!) by the day.

    If any other baby bloggsters are as nervous about this as I was, I have only one thing to say – Go For It!

    Liked by 1 person

  9. Hello Admin

    I need you to change my credentials as I have given the wrong email to register for the blogging101 course. Could you please let me know with whom I can get in touch to have my email updated?

    Like