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Welcome to Day 3 of the series How to Start a Blog. Today we are tackling how to customize your blog. Make it look how you want it to look.
We’re talking about widgets, plugins and everything in between.
I know how overwhelming it can be to get started, so I’m here to guide you step by step with all the tips that I have learned myself.
With a daily checklist to keep you on track.
There are 7 posts in this Start a Blog challenge, so here is what you can expect:
- DAY 1: What do I write about?
- DAY 2: How to set it up
- DAY 3: How to customize your blog
- DAY 4: How to brand your blog
- DAY 5: How to write your first blog post
- DAY 6: How to get blog traffic
- DAY 7: How to make money blogging
- Familiarize yourself with your theme
- Play around with widgets
- Get some basic plugins
- Create your social accounts
Widgets and plugins are like apps for your website that do different things to make your blog look the way you want it to or do things you need it to do. We will tackle each one of these categories today.
1. Familiarize yourself with the theme
Go into your dashboard (again, it is the following with no spaces: yourblogname .com/wp-admin).
In the left menu go to Appearance > Customise. It should open up a page like the one below.
The right part is a preview of your blog. The left bar contains all the settings you can add or change on your blog.
Now the options in the left bar might be a bit different for you depending on the theme you chose, but they will have very similar settings for the most part.
Here is how I went about this process.
Go through each one of the options on the left (like General Layouts, Main Navigation etc.). Change their settings and see on the preview what it does to your blog.
You will have settings for things like the typography of your blog (the text, the font, the link color etc.)
You might want featured pages (like the ones I have at the top: Blogging, Outfits, Motherhood).
You don’t need to figure out every single detail right away. You will learn in time what you want/need on your blog. You will also probably change your settings in time a lot. I do this all the time when I figure out I don’t like something or find a better way.
It’s all a learning process.
Make sure to hit Publish to save your settings when you are done adding something for your theme.
2. Play around with widgets
Widgets are parts of this customise page. They are basically little apps that make up the sidebar of your blog or the footer for example. So every little part of my sidebar is a widget that I have added.
You can add widgets like: About Me, Related Posts, Social Buttons etc.
Depending on your blog and what type of content you post, these widgets might be different for you.
Here are the ones that I currently have on my sidebar, if you’re wondering:
- About me widget with an image and text description
- Join my e-mail list widget. I got the form for this from my ConvertKit dashboard. It is an email subscription service where you can send out emails to anyone who subscribes to your list.
- Social icons widget. I activated the free Lightweight Social Icons plugin, which then allows you to add this widget.
- Follow on Bloglovin widget. I got this widget as an html code from my Bloglovin dashboard.
- Recent posts widget. My theme came with this widget included.
- Instagram widget. This is a free one I got from the Snapwidget website.
I myself have Googled how to get certain widgets that I couldn’t find in my theme. You will pretty much find how to do these things on the Internet – praise the Internet! 🙂
I am always an e-mail or comment away if you need any help though. Feel free to reach out and I will get back to you.
3. Get some basic plugins
Plugins are a bit different than widgets, in the sense that they are more behind-the-scenes apps to your website.
Go to your dashboard and you will find the Plugins tab there on the left.
Your blog will come with a few, but you can hit Add New and search in the huge free database that WordPress has.
You then install and activate your plugin for it to work.
You will learn in time what Plugins you need, so don’t stress too much about it.
Here are a few that I use:
- Yoast SEO. I highly recommend getting this one. I go more in depth on this one in a future e-mail.
- Lightweight Social Icons. Once you install this plugin, you can add the social buttons I have in the sidebar.
- Shareaholic. This is for the share buttons at the bottom of my blogposts, to encourage people to Pin them or share them on socials.
I have read that it is actually important to keep it simple with plugins and not add too many, as they can slow down your site.
From my research, you shouldn’t go above 20 plugins. So add what you find helpful, but don’t go overboard.
4. Create your social accounts
The best way to promote your new blog and get views over on your page is to use social media.
You can then add the links to all of your social accounts in your sidebar widgets. It is completely up to you how many you want to create and use.
You will most likely end up focusing on a couple anyway, because it is very time consuming to keep up with muliple platforms at a time.
My main traffic driver to my blog is Pinterest though. So if you choose only one, choose Pinterest. It is the best traffic source for bloggers. We will go more in depth into how to use it to grow your audience in future posts.
Well done on all the work you’ve put into your blog so far!