Friday, August 8, 2014

Blogging Basics--Part 4---Customizing & Accessorizing Your Blog Home Page

Blogging Basics Part 4--Customizing & Accessorizing 
Your Blog Home Page 

Aug. 8, 2014

Dana Koogler 

 Once you've gotten your blog started you may want to customize it. 
Lots of possibilities exist.  I like my blog to look pretty and try to customize to my style.
I change it around according to the seasons or what is current with me or at least I try to.
Blogger makes it relatively simple to do. I don't like getting into the more complicated aspects of it and I try to change only a few elements in such a way that I KNOW it will work and suit me.
I change my background color or pattern.  I change my header.  I may add a few links or change my profile details or narrative.   Beyond that I don't change the template. The Template is the frame work for your blog structure.   Changing it around can alter the entire look and function of your blog. I experimented and found what worked and I don't change that part.
I only know how to customize Blogger  so that is what I will address. 

Picking your TEMPLATE is where to begin.

  Go to the top right on the home page of your blog.  Find the DESIGN button. 
Click DESIGN. It will bring you to a page called your Dashboard. It has a series of tabs
down the left side. Select TEMPLATE.   Once that is highlighted.. go to the right side of the page
and click on CUSTOMIZE.  It will give you a series of selections across the top part of the page. 
I use the Ethereal template with customizations to it because that is my personal preference. There are lots of others you can use. It will depend on your personal preference, what kind of blog you are writing, and what you want to include on the front page.  You'll just have to experiment with it and see which one suits you best.   Once you pick from the choices you can CUSTOMIZE the template by changing the background colors or make you a custom header. 

              Customizing the Template

     The only way I alter my template from the point where I've chosen it is by tweaking the background
and the text and link colors.  Lots of other possibilities exist for folks who want to get really creative.
I will share what I know and what I do and you can make your blog your own by experimenting with it.
I will provide some tips and links and that's about the best I can do. I like customization, but lots of past
experiments have caused me to not like trifling with this stuff too much.   
    Using the instruction set above for finding and selecting a TEMPLATE... go to the next phase.
BACKGROUND.  If you like your background to be different click on that tab. Blogger will give you 
lots of choices of background patterns you can use. It will give you options on how it is displayed also.
It will give you the option of tiling the background which will cover the entire surface. Pick SCROLL 
WITH THE PAGE if you want the blog background to be a continuous loop.   
      If you don't care for any of the blog background choices they give you you can search free ones on the web, save them to your computer and upload them to use.   I do this by picking Royalty free images or patterns.   Lots of free stuff out there.  Blogger will limit your size of what it will upload so I try to watch the file size.  I like to find free, good looking SEAMLESS Background patterns.   
Here is a link to one you can experiment with.  Vlad Studio Free Desktop Wallpapers

You can go to the ADVANCED section of your template design.. the bottom tab.. and edit 
the colors of your font, the links, headers, borders.  They give you color suggestions according to what
template you use, but you can pick anything.  You can pick PREVIEW to try it out, but not keep the change unless you like what you see!  Then once you get any change you want permanent and are DONE click SAVE ARRANGEMENT.    or APPLY CHANGES.  Then click VIEW BLOG to see the front page.

 Here is a color changer tool you may want to try.  Sometimes you won't like what colors blogger gives you.

Custom Style Sheets--Free CSS Templates

 Another way to edit and customize your blog on blogger and other blog sites is through using CSS.
Custom Style Sheets are HTML scripts you can copy and paste into your blog to make a template you 
prefer if blogger doesn't have one that suits you.    I don't do this. I have tried it and did not care for it
at the time. Not saying I'll never do it again, but I don't find it necessary right now. It can be fun to
experiment with.  You can find lots of free blog CSS here that are compatible with blogger.

Free CSS for Blogger

   Using CSS scripts goes like this.  Pick one you like the look of. Either download the file and copy and paste the script into the HTML editor on blogger... or find the script on the page and copy and paste it in.

Go back to COMPOSE or Visual mode and see if it looks how you want it?

If not try try again.  

        Since I am not the most familiar with the use of CSS I am including a How To Tutorial link I found
that is pretty simple. I will play around with it myself to see if I can get better at it!?

YOUR Presence on Blogger

  Some folks don't mind telling about their adventures on blogs, but they are shy about the details regarding themselves on the internet even if its on their own blog.    Nothing wrong with using discretion on the internet.   I generally prefer to know a little bit about the person who is composing the blog.  Knowing a few details about the blog owner/author can make for a more interesting read and keep things in context.

    Fill out your PROFILE on blogger and include as much or as little detail as you feel is appropriate.
Here are some good and relatively benign things you might include:
  • First name or online handle
  • Gender
  • Age group
  • General geographic location
  • Interests
  • a thumbnail photo of yourself
Custom Blog Headers

 The header is the top part of the blog that contains the title and often the description what your blog is
about.  You don't have to get fancy with it, but you can!  To start off with just words do this.

Go to the DESIGN button up top right corner of your blog's title page.
click that.  Go to LAYOUT.
On Layout page there will be blocked out areas. The first long, rectangular area down from the top is your HEADER area.  Click edit.  Once you do that you can simply type in what you want to say.

      I made up one to practice with because it has been so long.
My title is Tutorial Blog and my description is Teaching People to Blog

 Another thing you can do that is simple is to go online and do a BING IMAGE SEARCH for
Free Blog Headers or Graphics .  Save the image of them to your computer.  Pick out which ones you like.
Below are three free ones I found in a few seconds.

      Go to DESIGN and then LAYOUT... go to HEADER.  Click upload image from my computer.
Pick which header you want to use.  Upload it. In the boxes below the image you are uploading select
Image BEHIND Title.  It will put your words OVER the free header art.

Try it! Its fun to experiment with.

       Another thing I do is go create my own photo headers with photo editing software and my own images.
Then upload the images to my blog INSTEAD OF TITLE under the selections.  I am including a link that I use to create art and graphics from my own photos.  You can play around with it and see what you come up with.  It is not hard, but it takes patience and time.  Foto Flexer

        Other Interesting Accessories

  Last of all play around with the LAYOUT feature of blogger.   You can add lots of things to it.
Hit counters that let you know how many visitors to your page.  Playlists for music. Video lists.
Links.  Google presence.   I try not to clutter my blog up with too much distracting stuff, but
add enough to make it useful and fun to me and visitors.    

  Examples of things you might want to add?  

Links to other websites you use and enjoy.  Useful links like maps.  
My blog includes lots of hiking and waterfalls so I included a link to Waterfall Rich Stevenson's NC     I also am working on completing the Carolina Mountain Club's Waterfall 100 Challenge.
I added that website to the side of my blog. It pertains to me. I use it now and then.  It is there for anyone to check out. It may inspire someone to try it themselves.  Should you grow tired of any of it you can remove it simply by going to that section on LAYOUT and click edit and then REMOVE. 

      Last of all.. Part 5 will address tips and tricks for writing advanced HTML code. How to post entire blog scripts elsewhere like on Go Smokies.  Checking to see if your intellectual property is being used elsewhere?! 



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