Blogging Basics | Starting a Blog on Blogger

So you want to start a blog, eh?  Fantastic!  You want it to look super cool and not like a pre-made template?  Well, good choice my friend.  But you aren’t quite ready to commit to a professionally designed layout?  I hear ya.

Ok, so after numerous requests from friends and family, I relented and decided to post a few blogging tutorials.

Let’s begin at the very beginning.  You signed up for a blog with blogger, now you need to make it look cool, original and fun.  Here’s how to customize a template in Blogger.

* Once your signed into Blogger, click on the Template link on the left hand side of your dashboard.

* Now click on Customize which will be just beneath the image of what’s live on your blog

* Pick a Template

     Pretty much every template in blogger is really easily customizable, but for your first time, may I suggest using the Simple Template and the option furtherest to the right.

* At this point you could go to the next tab which is Backgrounds and select a pre-made background if one takes your fancy.  I actually don’t recommend this though, because it will take away from the uniqueness of your blog.  But of course, it’s your call.

*Now skip over Adjust Widths (we’ll go back to that) and select Layout

    It’s at this point that you can decide if you want a 2 column, 3 column, left sidebar, right sidebar – The choice is up to you and really, blogger has made it incredibly easy to make any option.

* Make your selection and then go back to Adjust Widths

* Use the sliders to determine how wide you want each column of your blog to be.  Keep in mind that the average screen size is 1300 pixels wide, so you don’t want to exceed that for your overall width.  For your sidebars, decide how wide you want them and make a note so that you can resize any images, widgets, buttons or whatever to fit that size.  Uniformity goes a long way.

* Click on Advanced and get ready for the meat and potatoes portion of your blog design.

    This is the part when you pick fonts, color, font sizes, and all that fun stuff for you blog.  Just work your way down the list and make your selections.  The best advice I can give is to just play around with different options.  Blogger should display a preview below.  Keep in mind that none of your changes will take effect until you hit the Apply to Blog button in the upper right hand corner, so feel free to play and experiment.

But here are a few tips for selecting colors and fonts…

– Make sure it’s easy to read

– Decide on a color scheme and stick to it.  Pick 3 to 5 complimentary colors and try not to deviate.  Again, Uniformity is important (essentially you are “branding” your blog right now.)

– Take note of the pantone codes of the colors you use – the 6 digit code of letters and numbers that follows a # sign – you will want to keep that consistency if you ever use colored graphics in your posts. Remember #FFFFFF is pure white and #000000 is pure black.

– Don’t be afraid to select “transparent” or your background color on things like the background or accents.  Things may look better if you don’t show them.

* Once you’re happy with your choices hit Apply to Blog.  Once it saves it the button that says Back to Blogger.  

* Now click on the Layout tab and you’ll see the skeleton of your blog.  This is the place where you can add “gadgets” like an archives list, a 3rd party HTML code (which is fabulous and I’ll be sure to talk about this in future tutorials) or any of the gadgets they got these days.

 – Word to the Wise: Do not install the “Puppy of the Day” gadget.  Just don’t do it.

* Finally, the last and most important step in setting up your new blog is the header.  This is the image that you need to create with your color scheme and it’s crucial that it present a cogent first impression of the style and esthetic of your blog.

* Use your Overall blog width as a guide for the width of your header, but be careful not to make it too long.

* KISS – Keep It Simple Silly – When it comes to blog design, clean and simple always reads better than cluttered.  Even if you’re a novice, you can make a beautiful header in photoshop, keynote, even powerpoint with nothing more than a cool font and color.  This is the time to experiment with different fonts and styles, but air on the side of simplicity.  It’s a good rule of thumb!

*Loading your Header – When you do upload your finished Header image, be sure to check the box that says  “instead of title and description to ensure that your header is the sole focus at the top of your blog.

I do hope you’ve found this tutorial helpful and good luck to all you new bloggers out there!


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