Not everyone has the means or desire to purchase a custom blog design. They can be expensive! Not having a professionally designed blog doesn’t mean it can’t still look great! When I started blogging almost five years ago Blogger didn’t have nearly as many options as it does now. It was good for me because it made me have to figure things out. I’ve learned a lot in five years, but it’s nice to not have to work so hard!
I have put together this little tutorial to show you how easy it can be to give your blog a little personal touch and make it look like you actually put some effort into it! If you are trying to get companies to notice you, you need to have a blog design that is pleasing to the eye. It doesn’t mean you can’t show off your personality, but try to incorporate your personality into a design that won’t drive potential readers away.
When you start from scratch your blog might look something like this. To change the background go to Template>Customize.
Experiment with the different templates so see what you like. Visit blogs you enjoy and see what kind of template you prefer. After that move to the backgrounds. There are dozens to choose from. Don’t go too bright, too busy, or too dark as it can distract readers from your content. Again, try to merge your tastes with something that will appeal to the masses.
Skip Adjust Widths for a moment and choose your layout first. You can then decide what widths you like best. One way to use a bright, busy, or dark background successfully is to use the Simple template and make the width fairly wide. It will hide a lot of the background making it less distracting, but showing enough let your taste shine through. You can also have a conservative background and make your header bold.
To make a custom header turn to Paint. I use dafont.com regularly to find fonts that I like. Just type out what you want your title to be and save it. It will automatically save as a picture.
PicMonkey.com is a great free photo editing website. Play around with it because there are so many options. I have not purchased a subscription, but I hear it’s awesome. You can either Edit a Photo or Create a Collage. For this header I created a collage to add some personality to my header. These are just sample photos provided by PicMonkey. If you just want the text you can Edit a Photo and use the different effects to make it pop. When you’re satisfied you need to make it the right width so it is centered. At the bottom you just type in the width and the length will automatically adjust. Make the width whatever the width of your blog is.
Social media icons. There’s a website that does all the work for you. I’m sure there are several websites you can use, but for this blog I used niftybuttons.com. You choose what buttons you want, add your links, and then it gives you the HTML. Add the HTML as a gadget in the Layout section and arrange it where you want it to show up.
You can add another gadget that shows the menu bar for standalone pages under the header. Having a menu bar is VERY important for readers to be able to find your content. After you’ve been blogging for a couple of years the Archives just aren’t going to cut it. No one wants to sift through every post to find just one. They will most likely give up. If you want to keep them coming back you need a user-friendly blog. Doesn’t this look better than what we started out with? All the tools used are completely free. It just takes a little bit of time.
A few more tidbits:
If you want to use a fun font on your blog, save it for the post title. Use an easy to read font for the post body. Wacky fonts will chase away readers because who wants to have to decipher a blog post? It’s a good idea to keep the font color in the post body black. Play around with fonts and colors elsewhere.
Take the time to create pages in the menu bar for each topic you blog about. The idea is to make it as easy as possible for your readers to find your content. While you’re at it, create an About Me page with a photo. Readers like to see the person behind the blog. Make sure they have a way to contact you. Don’t make it a scavenger hunt.
Take the time to take amazing pictures. If you search Pinterest you will find pin after pin of photography pointers. Food is tasted with the eyes first. Blog posts are judged by the photos first. Taking great photos shows your readers that you cared enough to take the time to give it your best. Blogging takes work, but it’s fun work!
I don’t claim to be a blogging expert, there are plenty of those, but I hope this shows how easy it can be to make you and your blog shine!