Your blog content is the star of the show, right? Those beautiful photos, helpful tips, quick tutorials... They are the things you want to draw readers in to and hook them on. So why are you overshadowing your content with a messy sidebar?
Your sidebar should align with your blogs goals and priorities. It should look simple and clean instead of cluttered and confusing!
This morning, I was feeling pretty lazy so I sat in bed with my tablet and whipped up 10 culprits of messy-sidebar-syndrome. Have a read and see if you can remove any of these from your sidebar. It'll result in instant neatness, I promise!
10 things you don't need in your sidebar
1. A list of blogs you love. It's nice to support bloggers you love by linking to them, but the hard truth is that readers will click those links, leave your site, and most likely forget to return because they're totally transfixed by the blog you've pointed them to.
2. A section on 'things you love', like t-shirts from Target and sunnies from Modcloth. Unless you're a fashion blogger who is being paid to promote these items in your sidebar, you have to ask yourself if it's really necessary.
3. A mini slideshow of your Instagram feed. I totally get why people add this and it does add personality and realness to your blog, to some degree. But if you don't use Instagram much, then please remove it from your sidebar. It distracts readers from more important things, like signing up for your newsletter or following you in a reader!
4. A never-ending list of categories. Keep it simple and stick to 5 or 6.
5. A never-ending list of archive links. If you've been blogging for a long time, then have a drop down archive option to keep your sidebar looking simpler (and a lot shorter!)
6. Counters. How many people visit your site is of no concern to your readers, so think about removing counters from your sidebar and keeping up with stats through Google Analytic instead.
7. A disclaimer. I personally prefer to put disclaimers in the blog footer and keep the extra sidebar space for more useful things, like follow buttons or social media buttons!
8. A social media plugin to a social media site you barely ever use. If you don't use Twitter but you have a Twitter feed in your sidebar, remove it to avoid wasting your reader's time. Find a social media site that you use regularly and steer your readers in that direction. It'll benefit them a ton more!
9. Embedded media. Embedding too many things (like YouTube videos) in your sidebar can really slow down your blog. And what do people do when you site takes longer than 10 seconds to load? They leave, sadly enough.
10. Blog awards that no one has heard of. Remove anything like this from your blog because it gives a 'naive and amateur' impression. It's nice to have and give blog awards, but most people will sadly not pay any attention to them. Unless you were awarded by Teen Vogue or ProBlogger or something. Then maybe you can keep those up there. ;)
What sidebar widgets and plugins annoy you the most when you visit someone's blog? What is 1 sidebar section you don't think is necessary to bloggers these days?