Tips for Widgets On Your Blog's Sidebar and Footer

Saturday, September 10, 2016
My sidebar glimpse
A few weeks ago, I wrote about my quest to begin a new blog and have two websites--one for me as an author and single mom and one for my editing business. Believe it or not, I'm actually accomplishing this goal and almost finished setting up the personal blog/website. I have some posts! I have a theme! I have a sidebar with widgets. I'm taking my time with my big debut because I want to hopefully draw people to my blog when it is a complete package and can help me with my business as an author. So, I have thought carefully about what to put in my sidebar and footer. I thought you might want to read my strategy, which I'm sure will need to be reassessed and possibly revised (just like my online dating profiles--wink, wink); but for now, here's what I have:

  • Tag Cloud (or categories): I want people to know what I discuss on my blog as soon as they land on the home page. So I placed my tag cloud at the top of my sidebar, with the label: "What's on this blog." I want to discuss the different aspects of being a single mom, a writer, an online dater, a sandwich generation member, a sufferer of endometriosis, and more. I feel like because I don't currently have one narrow topic, I need this tag cloud.
  • Call to Sign Up for Emailed Posts: This widget comes next because I want people to get my posts emailed to them. I'm hoping that I can get a following. I'm playing with the idea of blogging a book and would like to write interesting posts that people want emailed to them, so I put this second on the sidebar. 
  • Recent Blog Posts: This is a list of the titles of my last 5 blog posts. I don't want two forms together on my sidebar (see below) because I think that would be confusing, and I also hope readers might be reading along on one post, see a title they find interesting, and click on it to read another post. 
  • Call to Sign Up for My Monthly Newsletter: So here's another form, but this one is to gather names for my monthly newsletter, where I hope to announce events, provide helpful tips about some interesting subject, promote other writers' books, and whatever else I decide. I would love people to sign up for both posts and the newsletter, but I put this one farther down on the sidebar. If I have to choose, I would rather have people receive emailed posts, and have contact with readers a couple times a week.
  • Recent Comments: I am hoping for discussion, discussion, discussion. Although currently that is lacking (go on, check it out, leave a comment--wink, wink). Anyway, showing people that others are commenting might encourage them to do the same.
  • Contact Me Form: Yes, one more form on the sidebar. Again, notice I didn't stack these forms, but I broke them up with other widgets. This form is for any contact someone wants to make with me from complaining to wanting to buy a book to making a private comment they don't want others to see. I feel this is important, but not as crucial as the previously mentioned forms.
That's it for the sidebar. Now the footer. On my particular template, I have three columns to my footer. I don't know how many people check the footers of websites and blogs, but when I'm looking for information, this is generally where I go--for a search bar, site map, or contact us form. On my footer (see photo for example), I placed: 

  • Subscribe via RSS Feed
  • My social media contact information
  • A dropdown menu of categories for blog posts
  • Archives
  • Search form
  • My location (if someone wants to hire me as a speaker)
Again, I might need to revise, but that's what I have for now.

What about you? What have you found to be helpful on your website's or blog's sidebar and footer? Share with us in the comments below! 

Margo L. Dill is an author, editor, and teacher, living in St. Louis, MO. Check out her author website at and her editing website at for more information! 


Angela Mackintosh said...

Looking good, Margo! That's what I love about WP - you can change and rearrange widgets to fit your current needs. I don't really have any suggestions, but one thing I've added is a streaming Instagram widget, which people really like because it brings life to the site. Or a streaming Twitter or Facebook, whichever you're most active on.

Unknown said...

Your site looks beautiful. After reading this post I was afraid that there would be a crowd of forms on your web page, but you've laid it out very well. Kudos! I did have a hard time finding your name, however—it is on the web site, and maybe I was just not looking in the right places at first, but it took me some time to track that down.

I really like all the tags you have up on top; I think that's very effective, both for telling us what your site is about, and navigating.

Margo Dill said...

Martha: the name thing--that is a very good point. And thank you for taking the time to check it out.

Margo Dill said...

Thanks, Ang, for the helpful tip!

Sheila Good said...

I like the layout of your blog; make me want to revisit my design. Thanks for sharing. @sheilamgood at Cow Pasture Chronicles

Margo Dill said...

I appreciate you checking it out. I used GoDaddy and Wordpress --most of the design is suggested by them, and then I've just been trying to be smart about how I want to build my audience. :)

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