Currently, at the start of my dog niche authority site build, and for this blog too, I need an author bio solution.
I want two author bios on all my authority blogs
- on my sidebar (if I use one)
- below my blog posts.
*I’m using the same gravatar image on all my authority blogs.
Author bios are important for bloggers.
Author Bios add a human element.
They add credibility.
They help make first-time visitors come back because they know you now.
If you don’t already have oneI’d most definitely get an author bio plugin or widget or any other method on your authority or niche blogs.
Many blogs come with it already there, but others, like this sites’ GeneratePress theme, do not. For this reason, when I first started looking for solutions for the author widget stuff, I instinctively went straight for plugins.
But I quickly second-guessed that strategy and afterward looked for non-plugin solutions.
In the end, I found both good plugin and non-plugin options to get this author bio stuff done perfectly. And that’s what this blog post is about.
Are Author Bios Necessary For Authority or Niche Blogs?
They’re not necessary. Many successful bloggers get away without one. But I feel success will come much, much easier and faster for my niche blogs, both in the short and long term, if I’m not afraid to at least share a bit about me on these author bio/about me opportunities to share who the person behind the blog really is.
If you have that author bio widget prominently on your site, you get a pass for including yourself in other parts of your blog. There are many areas to include yourself in case you don’t want to do it on the sidebar, or if you don’t use sidebars.
Most of these author bio widgets and plugins connect to Gravatar via the email you use to log into Gravatar.
Gravatar is WordPress’s way of connecting owners of blogs with their audience. When you sign up to gravatar, you change your image to whatever you want and then when you register that email within your WordPress user profile, that Gravatar hosted image will then be pulled from that page and used in your WordPress blog.
So I tried out a bunch of plugins…
For the plugins, I looked for it to be lightweight and synchronizable with Gravatar.
- Simple Author Box (fastest one – doesn’t affect page speed whatsoever, but no sidebar widget)
- Author Bio Box (no widget available for sidebar)
- Meks Smart Author Widget (Lightweight and has sidebar widget)
- Sexy Author Bio
- Ultimate Author Box Lite (for mmulti-author blogs) – A huuuuge file. I cancelled it halfway through the upload and moved on to the next plugin. It seemed way to heavy from the start, 19Mb, compared to Simple Author Box which was just 530kB.
- Starbox (nice premium plugin) – The free version is very nice as well, but it has a watermark and link back to Starbox.
I tested all of them out except for Sexy Author Bio. I guess I wasn’t feeling sexy this day.
I ended up going with the Meks author bio plugin because they have the sidebar widget option. It’s recently updated, not too many reviews, but it has over 20k downloads. Judging purely from a Pingdom site speed check, Meks had zero effect on page speed and load, so that’s good.
Here’s the before and after Pingdom after installing the Meks Author Bio Plugin:
You can see that the load time was actually faster after I added the widget.
I can see that it’s not adding an initial load time.
Later that night I did another Pingdom because the first comparison I had done just 10 minutes after I added the author bio widget plugin. The image didn’t even show on my homepage sidebar yet (which is a good thing because the Meks author bio sidebar widget is not great looking).
A later-in-the-day Pingdom speed check after adding the Meks author bio widget that day.
Around 7kb added and 2 more requests.
Load time is faster, but I’m sure there are many variables and the performance might fluctuate.
Interesting to see though. I think I will do this back and forth with every plugin. Like an elimination diet, but for WordPress plugins.
Meks’ main downside is that it’s fuuuugly. For this reason alone, I continued searching for a better About Me or Author Bio sidebar option.
I decided not to use an author bio plugin
My initial thoughts on these author bio needs were that I needed a plugin.
I figured I would try to find the cleanest, lightest most Schema friendly author bio plugin out there.
But the fact is, plugins are not necessary. Simple Author Box plugin was the lightest, fastest solution that looked good, and Meks was good too, but I didn’t use them.
Simple Author Box uses Font Awesome. They do allow you to disable it, so that’s good. However, I was a bit afraid of injecting my site with a double dose of it regardless of the fact that they allow it to be disabled. That can happen if you enable those fonts I’ve heard.
After checking out these author bio plugins, I searched for other options.
That’s when I then found the best 2 solutions for sidebar author bios
These best solutions are NOT plugins.
One is an easy-to-create HTML snippet,
The other is an easy-to-make linkable image.
You place either of these in your sidebar or footer text widget, then you’re good to go.
Let me show you how each is done real quick. I’ll use a stock image instead of my own for this example.
Non-Plugin Author Bio Sidebar Widget Tactic #1:
If your theme doesn’t come with it, and you don’t want to use a plugin, just use a blog post.
- Use a blog post to create an About Me or Author Bio sidebar widget.
I learned this one from WPBob.
If you don’t know HTML, this is such a cool hack to make you an instant coder. Check this out.
If you create a quick blog post draft with your image centered above, and then a quick description below with a hyperlinked Read more” text, you can then go to the TEXT tab within the TinyMCE WordPress editor, and copy the HTML. Then place this little HTML you just made whether you knew it or not, and just use that to place within a text widget in your sidebar.
It’s already hyperlinked and everything, and it looks good.
Let me show you what I mean in 3 steps.
1. Create a blog post (don’t publish!):
Type in your bio info and place an centered-image above it. I like how it looks when the image spans the width of the sidebar (at least 300px). And make sure you center the image.
I had a few images in my fresh theme from downloading a landing page template from Dave Hoy – here is one
I ended up not using Elementor for this GeneratePress blog, however, so I’m not using his awesome Elementor GeneratePress tutorials, yet.
2. Copy the HTML:
3. Delete that blog draft then place its HTML code in your sidebar text widget:
You can just skip this process and copy the code below (just replace the image, text, and links)
<img class="aligncenter size-full wp-image-88" src="https://authoritygrowth.com/wp-content/uploads/2017/12/mike-barker.jpg" alt="" width="300" height="300" />John is a really cool guy. He loves Jack Russell Terriers, bmx bikes and pickup basketball games. John cannot sing very well, but he can shoot a 3 pointer and show you how to build a super stuff. <a href="https://authoritygrowth.com/about">Read more about me</a>.
This is what it looks like.
It looks great.
So now I have my own picture on the sidebar via this method.
Non-Plugin Author Bio Sidebar Widget Tactic #2:
I learned this one from the Angie Makes blog. She shows how to create an awesome About Me image for your sidebar.
This and the HTML method we just did are the real solutions I sought. Not plugins.
It took a whole day to figure that out.
the Angie Makes post linked to some nice About Me image examples.
If you’re a dude, just use the design part for inspiration. These examples are on the feminine side, because that’s who this article is talking to. But this image creation stuff for the About Me sidebar Text widget is awesome. It’s most definitely doable for all.
I will end up doing that once I’m looking into branding for this site.
That does it.
The author-bio drama is settled.
But what if you want to change your sidebars on different posts and pages?
Genesis Simple Sidebars if you’re on Genesis. Use this if you don’t want the about widget on every page you have a sidebar.
If you’re not using Genesis, Woo Sidebars (allows you to use specific categories or tags) works in the same way.
There are other options as well.
Display Widgets (works inside the widget 9 “Show widget for everyone, hide and show on checked pages) is another option.
It’s a cool plugin!
My Author-Bio Conclusion…
What I learned after all this was that you don’t need a plugin for author bios. I guess I was used to always having a plugin before. I assumed that I needed one for GeneratePress too. Divi has an About widget built in I think. Genesis Framework does too.
But the truth is, you don’t need an author bio plugin.
There are other, better, ways to have your About Me or Author Bio on your sidebar.
When it comes to the below-the-post author bio, you don’t need a plugin for that either! Here’s a bit more on that before I wrap up this blog post.
Tip: You don’t need a plugin for the below-the-post Author Bio, either
When it comes to the below-the-post author bio, this blog article from TechNumero.com gives some great answers and solutions.
This TechNumero blog post is titled:
How to Add Author Box in WordPress (with or without plugin) Schema Optimized.
I love this headline.
Not for its schnazziness, but for its usefulness.
It reeled me right in.
The headline peaked my interest by presenting how-to info that covers what I’m searching for, plugin and non-plugin solutions to this author-bio quandary I’m in.
And then he sealed the deal by saying “Schema Optimized.”
Enough about this headline…
I promptly clicked on this article to see what was inside.
I followed his tutorial on creating a super nice, minimal and sleek looking below the post author bio WITHOUT a plugin.
My other bios are now in place, both under the post, and in the sidebar.
- They look great,
- They’re linked to where they need to be linked
- And they’re lightweight – they’re not plugins
I'm curious of what your author bio stack might look like. Do you even think about it? Maybe you're on Genesis or Thrive Themes and don't have to. So tell me, what's your author bio stack consist of? I'd like to know what works best for you!
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