Most blogs have a main column down the middle that houses your chronologically organized posts. But there is usually at least one other column that has information such as links, calendars, recent posts, or hit counters. That column is often referred to as the sidebar. While you can change the sidebar on most blogs, blogs such as Blogger historically haven’t made it easy to edit this sidebar. This is the main reason that I encourage the use of the WordPress blog engine. Today’s post is all about changing the sidebar and making it work for you.

Every WordPress blog comes with a default set of items, or widgets, in it’s sidebar. Take a good look at the items in your sidebar. In a minute, we are going to make them all go away, so if you like what you see, write down the headers that you see. “Recent Posts, Categories, Links, Archives, etc.”

Enter your blog’s dashboard. (You will have to login to see the Dashboard menu.) From the Dashboard menu, click the Presentation menu and then the Widgets tab under that.
Widget Screenshot

Your sidebar will contain the Default Sidebar set. Below that, there is a large box called Available Widgets. Any of those widgets can be dragged up to your sidebar and dropped. (The first drop will remove the Default set.) Drag as many widgets as you want and rearrange them inside the sidebar by clicking and dragging them up or down the list.

Some widgets need more information. If you have a classroom Flickr account, you will need to select the icon on the right of the Flickr widget and add your account information. (Flickr is a great online free photo-sharing resource.) If you want a personal message somewhere on the sidebar, use a text widget. Click the icon on that widget and add any text. The Links widget is for adding links to other websites. These links are called your Blogroll and you can add to that using the Blogroll menu on your Dashboard.

The best way to learn about your widgets is to just drag some up to your sidebar, save changes, and then view your page. You can always remove a widget you don’t like.