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Beautify your Blog… Popular Post Pics for your Sidebar!

beautifyyourblog popular post

A great way to give potential readers a quick glimpse into your blog and all you’re about is sharing some popular posts on your sidebar.  This is a pretty easy and IMPORTANT way to really BEAUTIFY your Blog!

Starting from step one on a blog can be really overwhelming, but if you take baby steps and work on one little thing at a time, then gradually you’ll realize that you are on your way to making your blog beautiful… all by yourself.

Blogger and WordPress both have widgets that automatically add a list of your popular posts  to your sidebar based on number of pageviews or number of comments, but I like to be able to CHOOSE for myself what posts I’m showcasing.

Now I can go the easy route and just make a list of my posts as text links for my sidebar and call it done, but how much better to have each post labeled with a picture from the post to really draw attention to the great stuff you’ve got going on!

Step 1… Pick your Top Posts!  You can base it on number of comments or pageviews or number of pinterest pins or simply just what YOUR favorites are.  Don’t go overboard.  Narrow it down to your top five or so and try to keep a good variety.  You don’t want them ALL to be wreath projects or recipes or whatever.

popular posts

This is where you can showcase what YOU think are your BEST posts.  What five posts would you want visitors to read before deciding if they are going to click away or click subscribe?

Step 2… Visit those posts and choose the best picture.  Upload those pics to picmonkey.  {Sniff! Today is the first day without Picnik!}

Step 3… Crop pics. You want all your pics to be roughly the same shape and size which can be tricky especially when you sometimes only have portrait shaped pics on a post and you need landscaped ones.   You can make all yours pics square if you want or you can select 4×6 to make them rectangle shaped.

crop photo 2

I chose 4×6 and moved it in the general area I wanted.  Then I switched back to the “no constraints” choice and widened as I needed.

Step 4… Add Space for the Title.   Click on the frames button on the left. {If you want your pics with rounded corners, then add that first.}

rounded corners 2

Then choose “Simple Edge.”  Change your outer and inner colors to white and adjust the thickness to zero.  We don’t want any borders here.  We just need the room for the caption.

simple edge for caption 2

Drag the Caption Space button all the way over giving you lots of white space.  We can crop out what we don’t need.

Step 5… Add your Caption.  Click the “P” button on the left and type in your post title.  Change the color and font as needed and drag it down to the white caption space at the bottom.  Since this is going to be a smallish button on your sidebar, make the caption bigger than you think you’ll need so it will be readable by a normal person.

Add caption 2

Now we can crop any extra white space we ended up with under our caption.  Click Save and we’re done!

You can skip the caption step if you already have your post title ON your image like a lot of us do now for easy pinterest pinning!

Step 6… Host your pics and copy the html code.  On blogger or wordpress, open a new post and upload each pic.  {Or if you’re not worried about maxing out the limited number of pageviews allowed on the free option, you can use photobucket.com.}

upload pics to new post 2

Go to HTML view and copy all the code.

html 2

On blogger, add a html gadget and paste all the code there.  You may need to hit enter to separate them or add the code <br> in between for a line break.

On WordPress, go to widgets, add a text box and paste all the code there.  Depending on how it was uploaded you may have to press enter for your line breaks.

Step 7… Adjust the Pic size.  You may need to add this bit of code “width=”125″ height=”125″ right after your img src code like this…

<a href=”http://www.livinglaughingandloving.com/2011/05/from-then-to-now.html” target=”_blank”><img src=”http://www.livinglaughingandloving.com/images/journeythroughpain.png” “width=”125″ height=”125” /></a>

Or if that part of the code is already there, you may just need to adjust the number  based on how big your sidebar is.  You can also add <center> to the beginning and </center> to the end for them all to be centered on your sidebar.

Step 8… Link each Pic to its Post.  This is the most important step!  Right now the html code isn’t linking to all those awesome posts you picked to showcase, so we need to go to each of those posts one at a time and highlight and copy the post url so we can link it up.  {Make sure you are clicked on the post itself and then highlight and copy the url at the top of the page.}

highlight and copy url 2

After the <a href=” you need to paste the url of the post you’re linking to.  First highlight the url of the image that is already there, and then paste in each post url that you copied.

It should look similar to this.  The bolded section is where you should see each post url.

<a href=”http://www.livinglaughingandloving.com/2011/05/from-then-to-now.html” target=”_blank”><img src=”http://www.livinglaughingandloving.com/images/journeythroughpain.png” “width=”125″ height=”125” /></a>

It’s also a good idea to make sure you have this little bit of code too… target=”_blank” after the url so that each link will open up in a new window.  That way the reader won’t completely leave the original page they were on.

NOW, do that for each post/pic, and we are REALLY done!  Woot!! Check your sidebar, and hopefully you see some beautifully captioned favorite post pics!

 

If you are on blogger, and want an even quicker method… once you’ve picked your favorite posts and pics, just add them as a picture gadget to your sidebar and then paste in the the url in the gadget box to link it up to each post.  Then you can even skip the caption step and just type your post title in the gadget box.

 

Remember that I go OVERBOARD in sharing details of the process just in case something trips you up along the way.  Sometimes, though, that makes the tutorial seem CRAZY complicated and hard.  It’s REALLY NOT!  Trust me!!  :)

What are your thoughts?  Do you like seeing popular posts with pics on bloggers’ sidebars?  Do you use it to get a quick sample of what that blog is all about???

Stay tuned for lots more bloggy diy goodness coming down the pike.  Even without my beloved Picnik.  :)

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*Sometimes I link up at these parties… Weekend Bloggy Link up, Tatertots & Jello, House of Hepworths,Bowl Full of Lemons,Organize & Decorate Everything, Not Just a Housewife, Funky Junk Interiors, Shabby Creek Cottage, Skip to my Lou,Today’s Creative Blog, the 36th Avenue, Thrifty Décor Chick, Home Stories A-Z, Five Days Five Ways, How to Nest for Less, Positively Splendid, Six Sisters Stuff, and Someday Crafts. You should check ‘em out!!

15 Responses to Beautify your Blog… Popular Post Pics for your Sidebar!
  1. Shirley@motivatedmommyoftwo
    April 20, 2012 | 6:39 pm

    Renee I have a question, doing it this way it means that those post will always be up there right? See in blogger I have the option configure popular post but I see that they change based on most viewed in the last 7 days. I am thinking your way is better since these are the ones that are more popular and can get more readers interested. Thanks for the tips like always very helpful.

  2. Kristel
    April 20, 2012 | 9:56 pm

    Wow, so many great ways to make your blog so much better. I am ALWAYS on the look out to make mine look better, without having someone else do it for me, although, I have considered it, but I always try it out by myself, and always realize, that I can do it without help. a BIG thank you for posting all this great resources, I will be making some changes to my blog soon ;)

  3. Christina @ The Frugal Homemaker
    April 20, 2012 | 10:53 pm

    another great idea, Renee! adding to my blog “to-do list ” :)

  4. Sarah Carletti
    April 24, 2012 | 1:52 pm

    Best blog post ever, ever, ever! My blog and FB page are pretty thanks to you!!! You deserve an award!

  5. vicki
    April 24, 2012 | 8:26 pm

    Thanks for this series. I’m JUST getting started and have A LOT to learn!

  6. Ashley @ TheOneWhereSheDreams
    April 26, 2012 | 12:34 am

    Love this! I’m actually having problems with photos showing up with the Blogger “popular post” widget, so maybe this technique will work for me. I use code/HTML for web design and development every day for work, so hopefully this won’t be a hard addition.

  7. Jelli
    April 26, 2012 | 5:33 am

    Thanks for sharing. When we changed computers, I lost my bookmarks. So glad I found you again via 36th Ave. Thanks for the tutorial, Renee.

  8. Miss Kitty
    April 26, 2012 | 11:31 am

    Thank you SO MUCH for sharing how to do this great blog look. I have been noticing it more lately and I would love to have it on my blog also. I am amazed that people know how to do this stuff. I saw your post over at “Shabby Creek Cottage”.

  9. Melissa@TheHappierHomemaker
    April 27, 2012 | 9:48 pm

    Thanks for the detailed tutorial! Off the check out the rest, stopping in from TT&J!

  10. maria l rios
    April 28, 2012 | 11:03 pm

    Thanks for for these wonderful tutorials. I am a new blogger and still making changes here and there to beautify it.

  11. six sisters
    May 1, 2012 | 10:40 am

    Thanks for all the great tips! Thanks for coming to our “Strut Your Stuff Saturday.” We hope you’ll be back soon! -The Sisters

  12. Julie @ 70WPM
    March 10, 2013 | 1:08 pm

    Trying this now. Thank you!!

  13. Kara
    October 1, 2013 | 2:05 pm

    Thanks so much for this awesome tutorial! I just used it and it worked perfectly! I even discovered that in WP, you can enter the post url as you upload the photos, so I was able to skip step #8. Easy peasy!

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