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Maybe you just blog for fun, or you hope to create a business with your blog. Regardless of the reason, if you are serious about blogging, you want your blog to be a reflection of wonderful you. Here are some ideas for how to give your blog a makeover.
Picking a header for your blog
Last summer I worked with designer Katrina Moody to re-imagine my blog and create a whole new look in the process. One of the most important aspects to tackle was the header, the banner that readers will see at the top of your blog’s home page. The header is a visual representation of who you are. It announces the name of your blog, often has a catchy tagline, and contains some compelling visuals. Many blog banners tend to look alike, so this is a place where you can really shine.
In terms of placement and size of the header, consider whether you will be working with sponsors for banner advertising, who often have requirements about the ad being “above the fold.” Hilary Weisman Graham’s cool header provided inspiration for me. I love the way she incorporated a real photo of herself, plus unique items representing her interests on the desk in her header.
For my header, it was important to me to be able to reflect my interest in movies and family life.
Determine the main focus of your blog, then brainstorm visual elements that fire your imagination for a really groovy header.
Selecting a theme
Selecting a theme, the template for the overall look of your blog, is one of the most important decisions you can make. For WordPress, Studio Press and Headway are two favorite sites of bloggers for finding themes than can be adapted for really interesting looks.
For my blog we used Headway, and I chose the magazine theme. My blog is photo heavy, so we decided to adapt the theme with a slideshow at the left-hand side of my blog to pull the reader in. Keep in mind that adding photos can increase loading times (check out a WordPress plugin called Smush It to help with this problem.)
Rule number one for selecting a theme is to keep it simple. Too much clutter on your home page distracts your readers. This is especially important for the side bar. Be prepared to make some tough decisions when it comes to what you feature in the side bar, so that you really are highlighting what is most important to you.
Kat’s Café and Sarah’s Cucina Bella and are great examples of blogs that reflect professional, elegant themes that get straight to the point of their blogs. Readers love this. Meghan Cooper at Ja Monkey has chosen a simple color combo and a theme that engages the reader. Her blog leads her reader’s eye down the page and presents her blog’s main categories while still reflecting her fun personality.
Picking a name for your blog
What’s in a name? I had selected a name for my blog prior to my blog’s makeover: Reel Mama, because I wanted it to reflect my interest in both movies and parenting in a clever, catchy way. Selecting your blog’s name is perhaps the most important decision you can make about your blog. Many bloggers I’ve met have renamed their blogs because they feel they have evolved, and the old name no longer reflected who they were in their blogging journey.
One of my favorite blogs is Jenn’s Blah Blah Blog. It’s a great name because it’s memorable, and with the thousands of blogs out there this is really important. I also love that Jenn injected a healthy dose of humor into the name. The reader knows she’s going to be in for some fun on Jenn’s blog.
Allowing your blog to reflect who you are is critical, and it’s great when you can get creative at the same time. TerriAnn has done just that with her blog Cookies and Clogs. Who can forget that name? I love the alliteration and the fact that the name is a reflection of her family life: TerriAnn is Chinese and her husband is Dutch, so the name seemed the perfect combination. The clogs icon sprinkled throughout the blog is cute and very memorable, something very important to consider when designing your blog’s button.
Writing a tagline for your blog
Choosing your blog’s tagline is one of the most fun parts of making over your blog. If you don’t have a tagline, a motto that follows your blog’s name in the header, buttons, or for use in social media and more, now is a great time to invent one. I have to credit my designer Katrina Moody for helping me come up with mine: “The creative side of movies, parenting, and life.” This tagline summarizes everything I hope to accomplish with blogging and helped me focus where I wanted to go after my blog’s makeover.
What should you blog about?
Write about what you love! If blogging isn’t fun for you, then maybe you’re not blogging enough about the topics you really care about. One of my favorite blogs is Mommy’s Busy by Andrew Kardon, who is clearly blogging about his passions in life, which happen to include his kids, video games, and sushi. Making over your blog may be as simple as rethinking your topics.
The most important thing to remember for blogging success is to BE YOU!
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