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How to Add a Sidebar to Your Squarespace Blog (and Why You'd Want To)

Hello to all my fellow bloggers out there! We're helping to keep this medium alive in a world full of Facebooks, Twitters, and whatever else is hip these days. I think that deserves a pat on the back.

Sean Anderson
Sean Anderson

Hello to all my fellow bloggers out there! We're helping to keep this medium alive in a world full of Facebooks, Twitters, and whatever else is hip these days. I think that deserves a pat on the back.

The demands can be pretty great, both for those with many thousands of regular readers and those with a smaller handful of dedicated fans. Like with anything online, regularity is the key to any sort of success. You've got to keep that posting schedule consistent no matter what. When you set up an expectation in others, it's important to stay true to your promise.

It's one of those things in life that can be both invigorating and tiring.

But I believe it's all worth it. Knowing there are people out there who are browsing through your posts, soaking in your words, and applying your knowledge to their own life and work makes all that effort worth it. You know what one of the coolest feelings in the world is? Interaction with people who have read your posts. Hearing their thoughts and striking up a conversation with them makes me want to throw on some music and have a party.

A ridiculous dance party! 🥳

Engagement is a powerful motivator. It can inspire you to keep writing. It can encourage you to interact even more. It can help you grow your business.

Growing your online business is something I want for everyone. If you’ve got a good thing going online, then I want to help you make it a gosh darn AMAZING thing! There are many ways to do that, but one of the easiest is by encouraging your readers to explore more of your website. And one of the best ways to do that?

A sidebar, that’s how!

What’s a sidebar and why do I need one?

As always, my lovely reader, a great and pertinent question. A sidebar is what its name suggests: it’s a vertical column of extra information that we’re going to add to the side of every one of our blog posts (and perhaps even our main blog page).

You may have seen them already if you’ve read any blog in the last couple decades. It’s been a standard thing to include on blog posts for a long time. If something’s been around for that long, then it’s obvious there’s a clear benefit to including them on your blog posts.

Like I was going on about earlier—it’s all about engaging with your visitors.

That's hard for anyone to resist.

Before we delve further into how to add a sidebar to your Squarespace blog, it's important to note that some template families already include the ability to add a sidebar. If you're running an Avenue, Bedford, Five, Forte, Galapagos, Ishimoto, Montauk, Skye, Wells, or Wexley template, then you're covered. You can read more about those templates here.

Adding a sidebar by spending money

Probably the easiest and most elegant way to add a sidebar to your blog is by purchasing the amazing and powerful plugin made by SQSP Themes: Squarespace Sidebar Plugin.

Screenshot of the SQSP Themes website, featuring their Squarespace Sidebar Plugin

They've taken care of the hard behind the scenes work of automatically adding a sidebar to your blog for you. Which is a good thing because the way they're doing it requires some in depth knowledge of coding and how Squarespace works.

All you have to do is create the content you want to feature in your sidebar on a separate sidebar page, copy and paste some code they give you, and marvel over how easy it all was to do.

They've gone the extra mile by giving you helpful video tutorials describing how to get everything going. If this option is the one you want, then you couldn't go wrong.

Adding a sidebar the free way

The free way could also be called "the hacky way," but it still works well and will get you that sidebar your blog deserves. To do this, we're going to leverage the power of a separate blog page and the all powerful Summary Block, which I wrote about extensively in another post:

Summary Block: The Feature of Features
It’s time for an easy tip that’ll be so helpful you’ll wonder how you ever got through your days without it.

Our first step in creating the sidebar is assembling the elements we want to include in it. Some options you may consider are:

  • An nice image of your good looking face
  • A quick bio
  • Blog categories
  • Products you want to feature
  • One of your mailing list opt-in gifts
  • A search bar
  • Links to your social media pages

There are many things you can put in there, but it's important to remember that your sidebar isn't supposed to be jam-packed with everything you can possibly offer. Think of the sidebar as your "greatest hits”—the information and items you really want to your visitors to notice.

While we'll want all of our items grouped together in our sidebar, we're going to be making separate posts for each of them in the "Sidebar" blog page we'll be making in the next step.

Which is going to be right now.

Adding your sidebar content

We're making a separate blog for our sidebar for two reasons:

  1. It gives our content a convenient place to live and be edited.
  2. The Summary Block pulls information from blog and product pages, so making a separate blog page is actually the easiest way to accomplish this.

In the "Not Linked" section of the Pages menu, add a new Blog page. If you're running a 7.1 template site, then choose any of the styles that Squarespace presents; we're not going to be doing anything with the actual blog page.

To simplify things, we'll add our content from the bottom up. In other words, what you want to appear on the bottom of the sidebar is what we're going to make a post for first. Weird, I know. Let's add an image as a link to our Instagram page.

  1. On our "Sidebar" blog page, click the plus button to make a new post.
  2. In the Content tab, give the post an appropriate title, maybe "Check Us Out on Instagram!”
  3. In the Options tab, upload your chosen image as the Thumbnail Image.
  4. Also in the Options tab, put the URL for your Instagram profile in the Source URL box and select Post Title should link to Source URL.
  5. Click Save & Publish.

Pow! We've already got this sidebar rolling. We're going to follow this same pattern for the rest of our content and it's going to be a piece of cake.

Whenever you don't want text featured with an image, leave the post title field empty. If you've been blogging for any length of time, this may sound crazy, but you can trust me on this one.

Let's add some blog post categories. We're going to make a separate post for each category.

  1. Make a new post and don’t give it a title.
  2. Upload the category image you’ve created (I suggest making it a small colored banner with text on top of the color) as a Thumbnail Image in the Content tab.
  3. In the Source URL box, enter "/blog/business". You'll need to change this URL to reflect the blog category you want to link to in any additional category images you include, e.g. "/blog/squarespace" or "/blog/design".
  4. Click Save & Publish.
  5. Repeat the steps above for the additional blog categories you want to feature.

We'll also add our main image and a short bio for ourselves.

  1. Make a new post.
  2. Give it a catchy title, perhaps "Hiya! I'm Sean."
  3. In the Options tab, upload the image of your good looking face as the Thumbnail Image.
  4. Include a link to your "About" page in the Source URL box, probably "/about".
  5. In the Excerpt box, write a short bit of text about yourself or your business.
  6. Click Save & Publish.

Once you've got all your content in separate posts, the hard part is pretty much finished. Onto the easier, adding Summary Blocks bit!

Add a sidebar to your posts

We'll be putting Summary Blocks into each of the blog posts we want a sidebar to live in. Ideally, this would be every post. The great thing about this method is once your Summary Blocks are set, you won't have to mess with them again. They're all pulling info from your "Sidebar" blog, so that's all you'll need to update. Score!

  1. Open up one of your blog posts.
  2. At the top of the post, click the Insertion Point icon and select Wall under the Summary section.
  3. In the Content tab, select our "Sidebar" blog.
  4. In the Layout tab, drop the Gutter Width number down to 0 (or close to it).
  5. In the Display tab, ensure that Show Title, Show Thumbnail, and Show Excerpt are selected. Also, choose None in the Primary Metadata dropdown field.
  6. Click Apply.
  7. To top it all off, we'll drag the Summary Block all the way to the right side of the post. We want to make sure it moves all of your written content over to the left, so make sure the black dividing line that pops up spans the whole page.
  8. Click Save and celebrate!

If the excerpt text underneath your main image looks a bit smaller than you'd prefer, throw this bit of code into your Custom CSS in the Design page:

.summary-excerpt p {
  font-size: 18px;
  line-height: 1.5em;
  margin: 0 0 10px 0;
  font-weight: 400;
  text-align: center;
}

Adjust the font-size number to your liking.


Phew! That was a lot of steps to get this sidebar going. But anything good that's worth doing for ourselves is probably going to take a bit of our time. In the end, I think you'll agree that all your effort was worth it.

Some may argue that adding a sidebar to your blog is out of fashion these days. I think that all depends on how you want your blog to appear to your visitors. Frankly, I think you shouldn't listen to any detractors. If you want to add a sidebar to your blog posts, then you go ahead and rock that sidebar!

Screw what anyone else says or thinks! You'll be the one knowing that your visitors are feeling more engaged and connected with you. Everyone else will still just be grumpy.

Sounds like a win to me.

Do what you feel like, cats.

On Pinterest? Be sure to pin these images.

Website

Sean Anderson

Lover of productivity tips, Apple devices, and vegan ice cream. Mostly, I'm busy petting cats 🐱 and dogs 🐶


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