8 Things You Should Include In Your Blog’s Sidebar

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We all love our blog’s sidebar (hopefully!). It’s a place to stick additional information about ourselves, our content, our social media information, and more. Today’s post is all about those items we must include in our sidebar. I think I can say I’m guilty of throwing things into my sidebar that my readers really don’t need. Have you done the same?

I blog with WordPress, so I have access to thousands of really cool plugins and widgets. It can be very tempting to throw every widget under the sun into your blog’s sidebar, but that’s the last thing you should do.

So, in an effort to keep your blog’s sidebar looking snazzy and clean at the same time, here are some items you really should include. Do you have any of these? All of these? None….of….these?

8 Things You Should Include In Your Blog's Sidebar

1. Short Bio

Put a short bio at the very top of your sidebar. Make it a brief overview of who you are, what your blog is about, and how you can help them.  A nicely cropped image of yourself (professional) is also a nice addition to help your readers put a face to a name.

2. Subscribe Form

A must-have item in your sidebar is a form for your readers to subscribe to your newsletter. There are several WordPress widgets, but I opted to use MailChimp. With MailChimp, you can customize the look and feel of the form, and it’s easy to maintain your mailing list with a few clicks.

3. Social Media Links

Make it easy for your readers to connect with you on your social media accounts. Take a look to your right in my sidebar and you’ll see a good example of how this should look. I am not a supporter of including social media posts inside the sidebar. Personally, if I wanted to read your social media posts, I’d follow you on your social media account and go there to read it. I’m not visiting your blog so that I can see your Instagram or Facebook posts. My suggestion – only include links to the social media accounts you are present on and post to daily.

4. Popular Posts

There are several good WordPress widgets that allow you to share your most popular posts. I like having this in my sidebar because my readers can find the posts that are being read the most and check them out. I use a widget called Top Posts & Pages. It allows you share up to 10 posts that have received the most traffic in the last 48 hours. Take a look in my sidebar and check out how this widget works. It’s very simple to use. You can choose to display it as text links, or as image links as I have chosen to do.

5. Recent Posts

Aside from popular posts, you also should share your recent posts. I use WordPress’s default widget for this as it’s simple enough and does the job. I chose to share the last 5, but you can customize this to your liking. If you don’t already have your recent post list in your sidebar, consider adding this today. Readers who frequent your site don’t want to miss anything, so a recent post widget is perfect!

6. Categories

Another great widget to have in your sidebar is a Categories widget. It makes it easy for your readers to sort your blog’s content by the categories they want to see. For example, if you select “Blogging” in my Categories widget, you’ll be shown every blog post I’ve ever written about blogging.

One word of caution when using categories is to not go crazy with them. Try to use existing categories if you can, but if you write something you’ve never written about before, chances are you will need to create a new category.  Make sure to apply the usage of categories consistently across your blog. Doing so makes it so much easier for your readers to find what they are interested in.

7. Archives

Using an archives widget is a great idea because it groups all of your posts by month and year. While not completely necessary, it’s another easy way to point your readers to a certain group of posts. Remember, the goal of every widget in your sidebar is to make it easier for your readers to find information.

8. Search Box

A search box is another must-have item in your sidebar. Make it easy for your readers to find any content they may be searching for on your site. Many times, I want to find a post myself and I can’t remember when I posted it. By searching for the subject, 9 times out of 10 I find it. Make your search box simple and easy to find.

Let’s See YOUR Sidebar!

I would love to see how you have designed your sidebar! Drop your blog’s URL in the comments section and I’ll check it out (and comment on it as well!).

5 Critical Steps to Follow Before Writing Your First Blog Post

All of my blog posts may contain affiliate links, which means if you click on them and make a purchase, I will earn commission. 

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If you are reading today’s post, you’re probably one of many pondering whether or not starting a blog is a good idea for you. There are many reasons for starting a blog, but I won’t go into those details today. Today, I’m going to talk about 5 critical steps you need to do, and do right, before hitting publish on that first post. It’s tempting to get started right away, and you should, but bear these 5 tips in mind before sharing your content with the world.

5 Critical Steps to Follow Before Writing Your First Blog Post

1. Find your niche and stick with it

Before you start a blog, make sure you have identified a niche that will drive interest and traffic regularly. One mistake some bloggers make is they start writing their blog posts before they have done this step, and they end up writing about anything under the sun. I guess this is ok if you aren’t looking to build a solid audience. If you’re starting a casual blog where you write about whatever you want, that’s fine and dandy, but if you are like most bloggers, earning income and building traffic is critical. Here’s where identifying your niche immediately is important in driving traffic to your blog.

How do you find your niche?

Research other blogs. What makes them tick? How are they soliciting feedback? How are they drawing in readers? I’m definitely NOT saying plagiarize! Researching other blogs can give you good ideas on how you can structure your own blog’s content.

Write about what you know? Do you know a lot about cooking or education? Chances are, you’ll have a lot to say about something you are good at versus writing about cars if you know NOTHING about cars. Write about what you know. Write about your personal experiences. Find ways to make your content and expertise valuable to your readers. Remember, you are writing for your readers first…then yourself.

Do Google searches for topics and keywords that rank high. I know, I know, everyone says keyword research and SEO are both important in driving traffic. This is a true statement. Before you decide on your niche, do research on what other people are searching for in your niche, and cater your blog’s content to addressing those topics.

My rule of thumb: If you have to scratch your head day in and day out to find a suitable post topic, you’ve picked the wrong niche. I can think of tons of topics on blogging I can write about, and I feel like the sky’s the limit for new topics. Another piece of advice is don’t pick a niche that everyone and their mothers write about. If you do, you’ll just be posting into a flooded market. If you want to start a parenting blog, pick topics few parents write about. Make them unique, valuable, and even controversial (whether to or not to vaccinate a child is a great controversial topic, for example, if you are a parenting blogger). If you’re making someone’s skin boil just reading your post title, chances are, they’ll read your post (and probably comment too!)

2. Build a list of potential blog post titles/topics

Hey, when I first started my blog, I had no idea where to start writing. What I found very helpful was to start (and then add to) a list of potential titles and topics I want to write about in future blog posts. Since I regularly have writer’s blog, a list helps me to not have to dig up new titles every time I’m ready to write. The list is readily available for me and I can pick and choose from it to write my next masterpiece of a blog post. Since I write about blogging, I actually published a list of 100 blog post ideas. Every time I write a post from that list, I add the link to the list, which helps keep readers on my site longer. Pretty cool, huh?

3. Plan your blog’s design ahead of time

Ugh, this was a long and painful process for me. I already have OCD, so having to make sure every inch of my blog was perfectly designed really set my OCD into high gear….but….take my advice and plan ahead. I didn’t, the first few times, and it was a long process to get things where I wanted them.

Blog theme advice: I hope you are using WordPress because it is the best. WordPress can be customized to just about any blogger’s liking.  There are thousands of themes for just about any blog type imaginable. A great place to get a solid theme for your WordPress blog is ThemeIsle.

Keep the sidebar neat: Have you ever visited a blog where the entire sidebar was so cluttered you couldn’t find anything? Heck, it doesn’t have to be just blogs that have this problem, but any website for that matter. Keep your sidebar clean, and by clean I don’t mean blank. Put worthwhile information in the sidebar (short bio, social media follow links, blog subscribe button, popular posts, etc) and leave out non-essential information. I know it’s tempting to fill up the sidebar with every widget imaginable, but just remember that the more you add to the sidebar, the slower loading time your site will have. If you are curious as to how fast your site is running right now, WP Engine has a free speed test.

Make it unique: Make your blog’s design unique to you and your blog’s niche. Definitely don’t use the default theme! Just because the template is popular, doesn’t mean it’ll set you apart from other bloggers. Remember, your content is what’s driving readers to your site. So, don’t let them down when they get there. Give them a piece of who you are and what they are getting when they come visit your site. Make subscribing to your blog irresistible.

Your homepage should show your most recent blog posts. There are several ways to organize your homepage. You can either have a static page and direct your traffic to your blog using your site’s menu, or you can have your content be the first thing readers see when they come to your page. My suggestion is to put your content on display right away and to not make your readers hunt for it. Your great content is the reason they’re here, so why hide it? I make it a rule to always put my most recent content on the homepage – no matter what options my theme may give me. Keep in mind this may not be the best option if you run a business (and your blog is one piece of your entire website).

4. Choose the right title and domain name

Nothing was more difficult for me starting my blog than choosing my blog’s title and domain name.  Go Ask Your Daddy wasn’t the first title, nor was it my first niche. When I started blogging at the end of 2015, my blog’s title was The Buzzer Beater Blog. I had originally decided to start a sports blog, but quickly found I didn’t have enough to talk about on a regular basis. So, I changed to Go Ask Your Daddy. It fits because I’m a daddy of 4, it suggests I have the answer, and I liked it!

Domain names are cheap most of the time, but you’ll want to make sure you pick the right one the first time. The best domain names are the same as your blog’s title. Do searches on what’s available (at any web host’s site) before deciding on a title. You want to make sure the domain name you want is available before committing to a title. I highly recommend Namecheap.com for domain name purchase. You can register your domain for as little as $.88.

5. Join Blogging Groups

Oh, how I love all of my Facebook blogging groups!  I have learned so much about blogging and met so many fantastic bloggers. Just as with any profession, networking is key to gaining opportunities. The great thing about blogging groups is that they are full of like-minded bloggers looking to share content, boost traffic, meet others, and learn new techniques. I currently manage my own group, Blogger Share and Promo Group, but am a member in other groups, such as: Grow Your Blog, Bloggers for Bloggers, Bloggers Supporting Each Other, and Bloggers Finally Getting Noticed, among others.

Ready to start your blog? I can help!

Not only do I love blogging, but I love helping people like you start a blog too. Although blogging is a ton of work, it can be fun, rewarding, and fulfilling. I have certainly learned tons about it in my short 2 years of blogging. I have tons more to learn, but that’s okay. Learning is how we improve in anything and blogging isn’t any different.

I’ve written many posts about how to start a blog. My favorite one is How to Start a Money Making Blog.  You can also subscribe to my free 7-day email course, “How to Create a Profitable Blog

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All of my blog posts may contain affiliate links, and I will be compensated for any purchases you make through those links. Thank you for supporting Go Ask Your Daddy!

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In order to take full advantage of everything WordPress has to offer, you have to self-host your blog. This means you have to sign up with a web hosting company with your own domain. The hosting company you pick must be able to support WordPress. Sure, you could stay with the free WordPress option, but you are severely limited in the amount of income you can bring in through your site, and it looks awful not having a professional domain.

If you are looking for a company that specializes in WordPress hosting, look no further than WP Engine. WP Engine provides best-in-class customer service on top of innovation-driven technology. They have more than 70,000 customers worldwide, and provide over 800 hours of around-the-clock WordPress expertise and support every day.

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How I Made $125.69 With My Blog in September 2017 [Income Report]

All of my blog posts may contain affiliate links. This means that if you click on them and make a purchase, I’ll receive a small commission. Thank you for supporting Go Ask Your Daddy!


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How I Made $125.69 With My Blog in September 2017 [Income Report]

I’ve been sharing my blog income reports for the last several months. While blogging has its up and downs just like any other business, over the long haul of the year, I’ve already earned nearly twice as much as I did in all of 2016. Still, earnings for September were down.

I wrote 8 new blog posts in September:

Income for September 2017

Fat Joe Publishing: $165.29

Total: $165.29


Expenses for September 2017

Siteground Web Hosting: $39.60

Total: $39.60


My top 5 viewed blog posts for September:


Site Stats

  • Total unique visitors: 1,213 (+139 from August)
  • Total page views: 2,007 (+288 from August)
  • Total comments: 12 (-15 from August)

Referral Stats


Social Media Stats

 

My Thoughts on Las Vegas

When I woke up to the news of the terrible massacre in Las Vegas yesterday morning, I thought about all of the innocent people that lost their lives because of an evil coward. How many men, women, boys and girls will never see another moment on this earth because of one man’s cowardly act? I can’t fathom the pain and suffering that’s happening because of this.

Naturally, the first place many people go is to question or challenge the existence of God. Wouldn’t God protect his own from danger or from suffering? It’s true God allows us to suffer. Sometimes we suffer for the greater good in our lives. Other times there is no apparent reason for suffering, but this doesn’t mean that there isn’t one. While we may think we know what’s best for us, God allows us to suffer so that he can reveal what he says is the best for us.

So, how do you comfort someone who lost a loved one in such a horrific manner? Many say there aren’t any words that will heal a wounded heart from such a loss. It’s true that nothing I could say to someone will totally heal them from such a tragedy. The one thing I can say is that we have to keep trusting God, even in the midst of suffering. God hasn’t left us, he hasn’t failed us, he hasn’t forsaken us. He is with us all the time. Jesus died on the cross for us not to save us from the suffering of this world, but to prevent us from losing eternal life. He never said that we would be without suffering while on earth.

So after the worst massacre in modern American history, I am heartbroken, I am speechless, and I am angry. I spent most of the day yesterday so mad at the murderer for taking so many innocent lives. I remain angry and upset today. I’m sure more debates about gun control will spawn from this incident. That’s ok. At least we are talking about it, raising awareness, and taking action to protect the lives of millions of people.  It’s a joint effort we must all take part in – regardless of our stance on gun control. In the end, no level of gun control can completely protect us, but we can take steps in the right direction to prevent very dangerous people from getting their hands on guns.

If you are a parent like I am, the most important piece of advice I can give you is to never take one single moment with your family for granted. Spend time with your spouse and your kids. Love every moment you have as if it were your last. The families involved in this shooting never got the chance to say goodbye. There are kids that said goodbye to their moms or dads before the concert and will never see them again. Life is short. Don’t miss out on every single wonderful opportunity with your loved ones.

Please join me in offering up prayers for the 50+ souls that were lost yesterday, and for the grieving families that must face rough roads ahead. Please also pray for law enforcement, our government, and those that work with the families involved in this tragedy. May God bring them peace, comfort and hope even in the midst of such a tragic event.  I ask our Blessed Mother to intercede for us and lift our prayers up to her Son.

Eternal rest grant unto them , O Lord, and let perpetual light shine upon them. May the souls of all the faithful departed, through the mercy of God, rest in peace.

 

 

My First Trip to Rally House  – Dayton, Ohio

All of my blog posts may contain affiliate links. This means that if you click on them and make a purchase, I’ll receive a small commission. Thank you for supporting Go Ask Your Daddy!


2 for $40 canvas chair

As you can probably guess, I’m a huge sports fan. There aren’t very many places to buy quality sports gear here in the Dayton area unless you are willing to pay an arm and a leg for it. Dick’s Sporting Goods is one of the most expensive sporting goods stores on the market, and Walmart doesn’t usually have a good selection – or – the quality of the merchandise is crappy. I was in a bind, and needed a gift really quickly.

My oldest son turns 11 today (tears….) so I wanted to get him a new Cincinnati Bengals hoodie since we are going to the Bengals/Browns game Thanksgiving weekend. Late November in Cincinnati means cool temps and perfect football weather. What better gift to give my son that a hoodie he can wear with pride every day!

My son and I love to watch sports together – especially the Cincinnati Bengals. We spend just about every afternoon throwing the football outside when the weather is nice.  Last year, I got to take him to a free practice the Bengals were holding at a local high school. It was a great afternoon of watching our favorite Bengals players practice. Unfortunately, we weren’t able to get autographs because of the massive line waiting for the team to wrap up practice.

We’re going to our first regular season game on November 26th when the Bengals face the Browns in the Battle of Ohio. It’s going to be a great afternoon of football, fun, and fall weather!

Because we share our love of sports, I wanted to get him something he’d love. The first place I went was Target. Normally, Target has an ok selection of sports gear, but I was completely out of luck today. Although they had tons of University of Dayton gear, they had one Bengals shirt. I really found that annoying since college basketball hasn’t even started yet, and we are still at the beginning of the NFL season. So, I had a wasted trip in Target. I immediately left and went to Rally House just up the road.

I had never heard of Rally House before today, but as soon as I found their website, I found a lot of cool merchandise for local college and professional teams. The great thing about their website is that you can order online and pick up in store. I opted not to do that for my first purchase. As a sports fanatic, I just had to get in the car and make the 5 minute drive to their brick and mortar store (across from the Dayton Mall).

Rally House is a specialty sports store that offers an expansive selection of NCAA, NFL, MLB, NBA, NHL & MLS apparel, t-shirts, hats, jerseys, jackets, gifts, gear & more. At Rally House you’ll find unique college & pro merchandise for every fan.

Rally House Dayton, Ohio
Photo Credit: RallyHouse.com

I love how Rally House has organized their merchandise. As soon as you walk in, you can quickly find the sport and the team you are looking for without having to walk around the whole store. The Bengals gear was in the front. Much like hardware stores, I have to really restrain myself in sports stores, or I’ll buy everything under the sun.

I found my son’s orange Bengals hoodie within a few minutes and within 5 minutes I had paid for it and was on my way home. My cool little 3 year old dude was with me to help!

If you are one to buy sports gear a lot, you’ll want to join Rally House Rewards to get access to promotions, special offers, ticket giveaways and more. I signed up before I went to the store and gave the clerk my email address. Before I even left the store, I had an email receipt waiting for me.

The one thing I was hoping for with my visit to Rally House was to find my favorite college team, the Georgia Bulldogs, but Georgia gear is very hard to find in stores here in Ohio because there’s not much of a market for the team’s gear. 99% of my gear I have to buy online or have my mom ship it to me from Georgia.

I also am very happy to have been accepted as an affiliate for Rally House today! Like I always promise, I only sign up for affiliate programs that provide a valuable product or service. In this case, you can’t go wrong with quality sports gear at affordable prices.  My first Rally House experience was awesome, and I’m sure I’ll be back for more over and over again.

Rally House has a great free shipping deal right now on orders $50 and over. It’s a great time to start gathering holiday gifts – and with free shipping – why not now?


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