Keeping the sidebar visible in WordPress

One of the default settings in WordPress is for sidebar on the right-hand side only to be visible when you enter the site from the start page, but not if you are on an individual post.

This makes it rather difficult to add a newsletter registration box there, if you want it to appear on every page, and also means that other important items such as the Feedburner icon are not always visible.

So I will be going through my blogs and making sure that the sidebar is visible at all times.

To do this, I need to edit the file single.php in the theme.  I then turn the content part from a widecolumn into a narrowcolumn.   Finally, at the end of the file I need to add the get_sidebar() function.

I know that some of my blog themes are already set to do this, but I will be going through them all to make sure.  I’ve made a start with this one, so you should definitely see the newsletter box on the right-hand side.  Have you signed up yet?

Should I add a newsletter?

I’ve heard so many different views on having newsletters on blogs.  It is not as if I don’t like newsletters as such.  Indeed, I have my own and have been running them for different companies over the past 10 years.

But I often wonder why a blog needs a newsletter, and am particularly careful if a client asks me to create one for them.

I have two reasons for caution.  The first one is that in Germany there are very strict laws on sending newsletters by e-mail, and I want to make sure that someone doesn’t just want to send out a mailing to a set of e-mail addresses who have not agreed to it.

The other one is content.  If you are putting all of you effort into a blog and having the articles delivered automatically by Feedburner, then then why do you need a newsletter as well?

However I have heard a different view so often now, that you should start your newsletter on a blog as soon as possible, because that way you are collecting e-mail addresses that you can write to later.  You might want to send out some information that isn’t in the blog, or launch a new product and tell everyone about it by e-mail rather than waiting for them to read about it online.

So for a while I’ve been trying out different newsletter registration styles and also different bits of software.  I shall return to the software at a later date, today I shall concentrate on the newsletter registrations.

Some blogs have the registration field on the right-hand side.  Others (like this one) have footer ads and a few have dedicated pages.

I want to make sure that you can sign up to my newsletter from all of my blogs, and will try and make sure that the space to do so is always on the right-hand sidebar.

I’ve made a start with this blog, so please, if you are reading this, enter your e-mail address in the field and click on “submit”.

You’ll notice that I only ask for you e-mail address.  I don’t even ask for your name, so although I won’t be writing to you with your first name as many bloggers do, it also means that I am storing as little personal information as possible.

Changing 2009 to 2010

I have a regular task to perform each year – New Year’s Day, which is only slightly connected to the fact that I want to get our blogs up to date.  It is the Copyright date.

You see, German-based websites are required to have something called an “Impressum“, often called an “Imprint” in English.  In this, I have to make my name, address and contact methods publicly available.  The page is linked to by all other pages and posts on the site – usually from the footer.

So this special page is the obvious place to put copyright information, and that includes the current year.

And it is, that at the beginning of January each year I update all of my sites to reflect the new year.  Not the most exciting thing to do on New Year’s Day, but it has to be done!

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