How to Design a Gallery for your Sidebar using Picmonkey
I've received a lot of questions recently about the two sidebar post galleries I added last month:
I thought it would be fun to do a tutorial post on these galleries and tell you why a sidebar gallery is a great element to add to your blog! Using my two favorite DIY sites, Picmonkey.com and Image-Maps.com, these are a breeze to put together. Seriously– and you'll be so glad you did!
Adding a gallery to your sidebar preforms FOUR very important functions for your blog:
1) It's an opportunity for you to control your reader's experience on your blog, because it allows you to point them to the posts that you (or other readers) find most valuable. If a reader is visiting your blog for the very first time, you want their first experience to be the BEST so they'll want to come back. Naturally, you want to direct them to your best posts right away.
2) Piggybacking off of #1, keeping your best/most viewed posts in your sidebar will boost your traffic. If you have a post that went viral on Pinterest, you want to keep that post on your front page so that every visitor sees it!! If it went viral once, it's likely new viewers will want to pin it/save it/share it as well. Just remember: out of sight, out of mind. Even your most popular post can be forgotten if it's buried in your archives– despite all those well-meaning pins. Keeping it in plain sight in your sidebar will keep it resurfacing on social media sites, thus bringing in more traffic.
3) It makes your site easier to navigate, and your readers will appreciate that. Let's face it, blogs really aren't always the most convenient resources. Typically, a visitor will see roughly 5-10 posts at a time on your home page, and that's it! Not all blogs have a great search engine, and even those that do can still provide a challenge in weeding through old posts finding what your looking for. Find a specific post on a blog can very much be like searching for a needle in a haystack. By providing galleries in your sidebar (either by categories, most viewed, your favorites, etc…), you're making your blog much easier to navigate.
4) It looks nice. Plain and simple. Adding a little polish to your sidebar– which is likely your dumping grounds for ads, social media icons, and blog buttons– can make a huge difference in the overall appearance of your blog.
Ok. Now that you know WHY you should consider a sidebar gallery, let's get into how…
Step 1: Create a Collage in Picmonkey
This is the format I liked:
Square Deal >>
4×4 Collage >>
delete all the cells in the right column >>
unlock proportions for the size dimensions >>
size collage to approximately 300 x 400 pixels (depending on the width of your sidebar– I like this size for mine).
Upload and add the photos you'd like to include in your gallery:
Save the collage to your desktop. Upload it into your favorite photo hosting service, so that you can create an Image URL for the collage. I like to simply post the image in a dummy blog I use for design purposes:
Copy the image location of your gallery collage and head over to Image-maps.com to map your photos to their appropriate post links and get an HTML for the whole thing…
If you're unfamiliar with Image-Maps.com, check out my tutorial here. It covers all the basics. Once you've mapped your image, be sure to uncheck the “show text links” box and then click on “get code.” Navigate to the HTML Code tab up top, and copy the entire HTML provided.
At an HTML widget/gadget to your sidebar area in your dashboard and paste the new code inside! All done!
If you want to learn how to design a cute title for your galleries, you can reference this earlier tutorial.
Also– since I'm pretty sure someone's going to ask: you can find that super cute Chalkboard background clip art over at Big Red Clifford.
I love Picmonkey.com. They are a Something Swanky sponsor and I have been compensated for reviews and tutorials like this one through that sponsorship. However, they are my #1 image editing site recommendation with or without that sponsorship! My preference is authentic.