Welcome to Week 3 of Setting Up A WordPress Blog. If you missed the first two posts, here are the links.
In this post, I want to share four ways you can personalize your blog. Even if you are using a template, there are ways to make it Your Blog instead of just another template blog.
The number and types of customizing options varies from template to template. You might choose a template with a lot of options, or you might chose one with limited options. The theme I chose is called Hemingway and has about the median number of options. There aren’t as many options with a free blog as I’d have if I were self-hosting and using the same theme, but there are some.
Following are the most common options.
1. So Who Are You?
People like to know something about the people whose blogs they read. What are they like? What are their interests? Are they real people?
Your bio doesn’t have to be long or detailed. In fact, short and sweet is often much better.
If you’ve been published, you want to say something about that. The type of books you’ve published and your favorite genres.
If you haven’t been published, you can still talk about your favorite genres and maybe about your current projects. You can also mention other non-writing or writing-related things that are important parts of your life.
Here’s the bio I wrote for Carrie Lynn Lewis, Author. Take a look at the bios of some of your favorite authors or bloggers and see what they say about themselves. You don’t want to copy their bios, but you can get ideas about what should–and shouldn’t–be included.
2. Change the Header Image
The header image is the picture that appears at the top of your blog. Most themes come with a default header image that suits the overall design and/or the main purpose of the blog (business, photos, babies, wedding, etc.). Some blog templates come without a header image. If you chose a template like that, you can skip this part!
All of the blog templates I’ve ever tried allow you to remove the header image. Most of them also allow you to upload your own image. In many cases, you can upload several images and chose the “Random” option to show images on a rotating, random basis.
I almost always replace the default header image with one of my own pictures. On my art blog, Carrie L. Lewis, Horse Painter, the header features one of my favorite drawings. For Carrie Lynn Lewis, Author, I chose an image that matches the default color scheme for the template I’m using.
Click on the “Appearance” tab in the left sidebar of the dashboard, then select “header”.
You can upload images through this page, then crop them to fit the theme requirements, and see how they look on your template. If you like what you see, click publish. If you don’t, upload a new image. All the images you upload will be available for future use.
If you don’t like your new images, click on the “restore original header image” button shown near the bottom of the screen shot above and the default image will be restored.
When everything is the way you want it, click the Save Changes button at the bottom of the screen.
3. Change the Background Color
In most cases, you can change the color of the background.
Under the “Appearance” tab, select “background”.
Look for the “Background Color” option under “Display Options”.
The current color is shown. When you click on that box, a second box appears that shows a gray scale ranging from black to white.
By clicking on the color samples along the bottom, you can see the available color families and values in that color family. The vertical slider scale to the right of this box gives you even more choices.
You’ll quickly discover the options are endless. Find one that fits your personality and you’re all set.
I happened to like the background color on the theme I chose, so I didn’t change it.
When you’re finished, click the Save Changes button.
Widgets are those snippets that appear in the footer or sidebar of so many blogs. Even this one. Look to the right. You’ll see our MailChimp subscription link (subscriptions are free, by the way), a search box, a list of the top ten posts, and some other things. Each one of those things is in a widget.
You can make your own widgets. Click on the “Appearance” tab and select “widgets”.
You will land on a page titled Widgets and a list of available widgets will be shown.
Some standard options are archives, categories, tag cloud, and recent posts. Each widget comes with a brief description of its purpose. There are a lot of them, but you don’t want all of them. Choose three or four and make the most of them so you don’t end up with a cluttered side bar, footer, or blog.
To activate a widget, drag it to the side bar or footer panel where you want it to appear. It will automatically open and allow you to make changes to the default settings. Click “save” when you’re finished, then visit your blog page and refresh it to see the new widget.
The widgets I activated for Carrie Lynn Lewis, Author are, in order of importance, a subscription link, a search bar, a list of top posts and pages, my other blogs, and other blogs you might enjoy. I also added a few standard widgets, which you can see toward the bottom of the page.
These widgets are the most useful to me in monitoring blog stats from the home page and they also give readers a few easy-to-find links to content other than what appears on the front page.
You may find that the widgets I’m using are totally useless to you. Find the ones that suit your blog the best.
Your customizations can be as few or many as you like and as your theme allows. Just as you can change your theme whenever you like, you can change any of the customization settings whenever you like. So have some fun and see what you can do.