ActiveRain - Sidebar Content

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Education & Training with Tech Training for You!
http://actvra.in/KB

In your ActiveRain blog, there are quite a few customizable elements that you have control over. It is like moving into a house though, there are so many things on your "to-do" list that you start with "first-things-first" and then eventually you get to the other things. So in AR, you probably start right away with your profile page. Perhaps you pick a background color or image for your blog. Eventually, you create a nice looking header graphic. Finally you start noticing "everyone else" has little widgets and gadgets and gizmos over there on the right hand side in what is called the sidebar. You say, hey! I want that too! This post is for you when you are ready for that step.

The sidebar starts at the top with your portrait and basic contact information. Underneath that is the all-important subscribe button. The next area of the sidebar (from the subscribe button down to the links area) is all yours to do as you please!

When you go to your "My Home" dashboard screen. On the left you will see the "Settings" menu. Go there and notice that there are four main boxes that you can fill in (Blog Title, Blog Description, Blog Description/Text Version, Signature). What you put into the "Blog Description" box is what shows up in your sidebar. You can simply type in some descriptive text (in plain text mode) about you and that is good thing to do for starters. However, in order to do badges, widgets, and gizmos you are going to have to paste in little snippets of HTML code.

Before I go into the HTML stuff, let me stop and mention the Blog Description (text version) box. What you want to write in there is what you want Google to know about your blog. This information is set in a backend meta tag "description" and so is not visible. However, take a little time and write a few lines of google-centric targeting about what your blog is about and keep in mind keywords for how you would like to be found.

OK - now lets move on to the visible part. The side bar gives you an effective area of 218 pixels. If you exceed that, it will overflow the edge and look not so nice. So when you go out and get code for widgets, try and pick the version that is that size or smaller (widgets usually give you options for size variations). In this post I'm not going to list all the widgets out there but some examples are Facebook, Twitter, Realbird, YouTube, etc, etc) As you browse others' blogs, you will get the idea of ones that are nice and you also want to get. The basic concept is... a widget is a preset block of HTML code that you copy/paste into your blog. You don't have to understand the code, just copy it and use it. If you have multiple widgets, you will have to understand just elementary HTML to see where one widget ends and the other starts. That way when you want to cleanup your sidebar (e.g. change the order of widgets or remove one) you will know where to start and end your editing at. You might at this point get the sense for this is not for the faint-hearted so if that is you, simply stick with this box as plain text - just write out the words that you want to describe you and your blog.

Finally, in this post, I want to share how to add to the sidebar a badge or graphic of some sort that is also a hyperlink to something. Let's take for example my twitter bird graphic that launches you to my twitter page.

You need to generate HTML code on your own that you can paste into the sidebar. This is one simple way to do that. Start a new TEST post in draft mode. In that post, upload and insert your graphic and attach a hyperlink just as you are familiar doing when you write blog articles. Save the post (in draft mode of course, otherwise people are going to say what is that??) Note: you need to save the post to switch between normal and HTML views without losing your edits. Also you want make sure that the graphic you uploaded becomes permanently saved on the AR servers.

Now go back and edit the post and click over into the HTML view. Highlight the HTML code that begins with the tag and everything between that and the ending tag -- you will see the tag reference in the middle of all that. Copy that code to your clipboard and then head over to your settings page and paste it in. Voila!

HTML code is not difficult when you understand a few basic principles. I'm going to save HTML instruction for other posts, but if you already know the basics you should be fine. I would recommend that when you are modifying your sidebar with new stuff, you may want to select all and save the text somewhere in case you get all tangled up and need to "restore previous" :)

My final recommendation for the sidebar is do not go overboard picking every widget known to mankind there. This is only distracting. Find a few select ones that are truly useful and ones that a consumer who finds your blog might appreciate!

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craig and his family

Hi! My name is Craig Daniels and I'm glad to have you visit me on my tech blog. I enjoy teaching technology and hope that you learned something new today! :) Be sure and check out my website where you can look up my posts by category. Be sure and also check out my new "Tech Tutor Video Series". It is a great way to learn as you get to watch as I explain AND demonstrate how to do various technologies that can help you. My material is not behind any paywall thanks to your voluntary support - learn more at my two in two patronage page.

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Re-Blogged 3 times:

Re-Blogged By Re-Blogged At
  1. Bill Burchard 04/10/2011 10:22 AM
  2. Joe Jackson 02/09/2012 03:15 AM
  3. Wallace S. Gibson, CPM 02/09/2012 06:28 AM
Topic:
ActiveRain Community
Groups:
Active Rain Newbies
Addicted to Active Rain
BananaTude
HELP/FAQ (Read 'Purpose Statement' Carefully!)
The Ninety-ninth Percentile
Tags:
activerain
sidebar
widgets
html

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Ambassador
237,107
Scott Leaf
Keller Williams Elite Realty, Port Coquitlam, BC - Port Coquitlam, BC
Scott Leaf & Associates Real Estate Team

Craig can you give me some insight into why this piece of code isnt working in my Blog Description:

<!-- Start of Zopim Live Chat Script -->
<script type="text/javascript">
document.write(unescape("%3Cscript src='" + document.location.protocol + "//zopim.com/?Cz2CjO1mSwUWoQ44TZQ5BJTa9Or4JpjW' charset='utf-8' type='text/javascript'%3E%3C/script%3E"));
</script>
<!-- End of Zopim Live Chat Script -->

It is a chat window from zopim which I use on my web site with success.  The only place I can make it work on AR is in the signature but then it sends the user about 12 responses, one for each blog article signature on the page being viewed. 

thanks, Scott

Mar 09, 2011 06:24 PM #96
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Craig Daniels
Tech Training for You! - Staten Island, NY
Technology Instructor/Project Consultant

Scott - your answer lies in what Jeremy noted in comment #71 - script widgets with few exceptions are not allowed in AR for security reasons - you may be able to host them on your own site and then iframe them into AR ... something to try if you have that level of expertise

Mar 10, 2011 09:50 AM #97
Rainer
47,885
Jim Courtney
OklaHomes Realty, Claremore Oklahoma - Claremore, OK
GRI, AHWD

I'm making my 10 posts today all in the FAQ files because I appreciate this help so much. Last night I set up my AR Blog with a header and background. Today I put together my outside blog and these pages were invaluable! Thank you for taking so much time for us! :)

Mar 11, 2011 12:09 AM #98
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Craig Daniels
Tech Training for You! - Staten Island, NY
Technology Instructor/Project Consultant

Jim - awesome - glad to hear - thanks for spending time on my blog :)

Mar 11, 2011 08:59 AM #99
Ambassador
237,107
Scott Leaf
Keller Williams Elite Realty, Port Coquitlam, BC - Port Coquitlam, BC
Scott Leaf & Associates Real Estate Team

thanks for the tip Craig

Mar 11, 2011 02:59 PM #100
Rainmaker
243,588
Michael Dagner
Brokers Guild Classic - Denver, CO
Your Denver Homes Realty Expert

Hi Craig,

You seem to be the resident expert about the sidebar items.  Do you know how to properly insert the code for a facebook widget?  I'm read a few other posts on this, but no luck.  I think its because my facebook url and ID is unusually long.  I'll give you my facebook url in the event you are still monitoring this post:  http://www.facebook.com/pages/Denver-Homes-Online/377888410072?ref=search&sid=100000690342591.824231571..1

Thanks much,

Mar 16, 2011 07:04 PM #101
Rainer
234,262
Doug Bullwinkel
Vitek Mortgage Group - Roseville, CA
NMLS #281609

As always, your post is both informative and very interesting. Thank you for sharing this post.

Mar 19, 2011 02:13 AM #102
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Craig Daniels
Tech Training for You! - Staten Island, NY
Technology Instructor/Project Consultant

Scott - you're welcome - thanks for visiting

Michael - I just recently changed my facebook widget - if you go to the social plugins page you can pick your widget and get the code which will be in iframe format which works in the AR sidebar. Once you have the code, you can refer to my post above about how to insert it. I hope that helps

Doug - very kind of you to say - thanks for coming to the classroom blog

Mar 19, 2011 08:56 AM #103
Rainer
18,209
Irene Lai-Chan
Rando Real Estate - Modesto, CA
M.S., REALTOR

Thanks it was very useful, especially the 'Draft' editing portion.  I am adding this comment so I can find this again in the future ;). 

Apr 08, 2011 09:05 PM #104
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Craig Daniels
Tech Training for You! - Staten Island, NY
Technology Instructor/Project Consultant

Irene - thanks for commenting, glad you learned somthing - don't overlook also at the bottom of each post is a "bookmark" icon where you can build a list of posts that you want to come back to in the future... just a thought -c-

Apr 08, 2011 09:11 PM #105
Rainer
12,881
Terri Orr
WEICHERT, REALTORS® Rebhan & Associates - Charlotte, NC
Broker/Realtor®

I think this is an older post... but, I just found it and I just want to thank you for being so clear and detailed!  There is SO MUCH info on active rain and it's nice to find something so helpful.

Apr 28, 2011 10:52 AM #106
Rainer
66,546
Mario Jannatpour
RE/MAX Alliance in Louisville, Colorado - Louisville, CO
Author of the Book, "The Honest Real Estate Agent"

Thanks so much!!  I just added the Twitter Follow button---

Mario

May 18, 2011 10:40 AM #107
Rainer
180,033
Tatyana Makarov
Coldwell Banker Residential Brokerage - South Windsor, CT
Your Greater Hartford Area Realtor

Craig, thanks again!

I am working on adding a SEARCH FOR HOMES buttons on my sidebar... I see on some profiles even listings shown on the side bar. Not sure if I can do it.

do you, by any chance, had a blog about that before?

Thank you.

May 24, 2011 08:13 AM #108
Rainer
51,524
Suzanne Martin
Beachstone Properties, Inc. - Dana Point, CA
Your Orange County Real Estate Broker!

Hi Craig.  I wish I found this sooner.  I spent too much time trying to figure it out yesterday. I'll be printing this out!

Jul 02, 2011 11:20 AM #109
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Michelle Carr-Crowe-Selling Silicon Valley Homes in Top Schools San Jose, Cupertino, Saratoga, Palo Alto-Just Call 408-252-8900
Just Call (408) 252-8900! - San Jose, CA
Family Helping Families Buy & Sell Homes 40+ Years

Thanks for the useful info, I am going to test it now.

Jul 09, 2011 12:22 AM #110
Ambassador
1,142,212
Michelle Carr-Crowe-Selling Silicon Valley Homes in Top Schools San Jose, Cupertino, Saratoga, Palo Alto-Just Call 408-252-8900
Just Call (408) 252-8900! - San Jose, CA
Family Helping Families Buy & Sell Homes 40+ Years

OK, I tried one and just lost all my archives, links and blog stats-can you help me?

Jul 09, 2011 12:39 AM #111
Rainer
15,891
Tina Marinelli
Hughes & J.C. Murphy Real Estate, LLP, http://www.vacationmarthasvineyard.net/ - Edgartown, MA

Thank you for sharing this, I just demystified the process.  A little trial and error and I can find useful

tools for my sidebar.  Thanks again

Jan 29, 2012 02:01 PM #112
Rainer
15,891
Tina Marinelli
Hughes & J.C. Murphy Real Estate, LLP, http://www.vacationmarthasvineyard.net/ - Edgartown, MA

Thank you this is very helpful, I find it easier to understand with the graphics explaining it,  I am also grateful to know about the bookmark tool at the end of each blog post.  I am going to continue working on this.  

Jan 29, 2012 08:51 PM #113
Rainmaker
246,491
Judith Ritter
Dirt Road Real Estate - Prescott, AZ
Rural Land & Homes Specialist

Thank you!  Tomorrow I will try to add a Facebook widget to my blog.  We will see. 

Feb 18, 2013 03:11 PM #114
Rainmaker
32,065
Venus Howard
Re/Max Momentum - Brighton, CO
CDPE, CIAS, SFR, GRI

Ok - I added my cut and paste html code from my website to add a 'search for homes widget - and it's not showing up?  HELP>  please.

Jul 19, 2013 08:21 AM #115
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