Growing Your Blog: Blog Design Tips

Hi!  I’m Amy, aka One Artsy Mama, and I am beyond thrilled to have the opportunity to post here at Somewhat Simple once a month and share with you some of the things I’ve learned along the way in this blogging journey.  I began my blog in March of 2011  in the hopes of having my own little corner of the world where I could share and gain crafty inspiration.  At the time, I just hoped to someday reach 100 followers.  I had no idea that two years later, I’d have a community of several thousand followers and that I’d be able to use my hobby as an actual source of income for our family.   I don’t have all the answers, but I hope to share with you some of the things I wish someone had told me long ago when I was first starting my blog.  The first topic I want to tackle is blog design tips.

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Blogging is almost entirely visual.  When someone visits your blog, the first thing they notice is your design.  Before they read a word of any of your fabulous posts, they get a first impression based on the overall look of your little corner of the blogosphere.  Your background, your header, your text, and the overall appearance of your blog make a statement about you and readers will make a snap judgment, for better or worse.  If you’re like me, you just kind of stumbled onto your design as you were getting started and may or may not have had an idea of what you really wanted it to be.  Here are a few questions to ask yourself as you critique your current design.

1. Is it original?

When readers come to One Artsy Mama, I want them to know they’re on my blog and not one one of the other thousands of blogs out there.  There are a lot of color and style trends that get really popular in the blogopshere and then all of a sudden, everyone has a new blog design and they’re all the same colors and themes.  Are they attractive looking?  Absolutely.  But can you immediately tell what blog you’re visiting?  Not always.  I wanted to create a sort of “brand” idea at OAM so that when you visit, you know where you are.  And when you see me on Facebook, Twitter, and Etsy, you recognize me there too.  Each place, you’ll see the pink/orange combo and that familiar flower.
button2

Coming up with a color scheme and some kind of identifiable logo or graphic that sets your blog apart goes a long way.

So, ask yourself what it is that makes your blog look special and unique.

2. Is it “you?”

Most of us do this whole blogging thing at least partly for self-expression, so we have to make sure our design does just that.  Your “look” should say something about who you are or what your blog is about.  Mine is bright and fun because I do a lot of kiddo things, but also girly too, like me. Once, I tried following the current trend by making my header tone-on-tone chevron.  And I never loved it.

Because it’s just not “me.”  I like chevron just fine, but am I wild and crazy about it?  Nope.  I like it on other people’s blogs, but I’m not obsessed with it myself.  Instead, I based my current header on a color combination I really love {it’s actually inspired by a fun coffee cup cozy my friend made for me}.  It’s simple, but still colorful and just feels more like “me.”
One Artsy Mama

 

Does your design reflect things/colors/themes you like?

Does it jive with what you blog about?

 

3. Is it neat and attractive to the eye?

Part of the immediate judgment new readers make has to do with how “professional” your blog looks. 

Is your header an appropriate size for your blog and correctly centered? 
Is it easy to read your title? 
Is your blog text easy to read {both font and size}?
Is your blog too cluttered?
Does it appear to be organized, or does it just look like things were thrown up there any old way?

Trust me, I understand that there are a LOT of things to think about and learn when you’re putting your blog together.  I can’t count the hours I have spent on designing pieces of my blog, trying to size things correctly, and getting it all to look “just right.”  And there have been times when I just couldn’t figure out how to do some particular thing.  But I’ve also learned that there are plenty of other girls out there with lots of experience who can give you a hand and talk you through it.  If you’re not a designer yourself, there are plenty of folks who design buttons, headers, backgrounds, and entire blogs really reasonably.  If you like to play around with it yourself and you get stuck, I guarantee you can find someone {consider me volunteered} who is happy to help.

 

4. Is it cohesive?

Part of making your blog look professional and attractive is that the whole thing “goes together.”  Know what I mean?  Make sure your header matches or at least compliments your background and that your buttons, social media icons, and any other elements you design look like they belong together.  If you give your blog a facelift, make sure it’s a complete one so that you don’t have elements that look out of place.
As you play around with design, you’ll come up with some things you like, and some you don’t.  This is the very first button I ever tried to design.  It’s a far cry from what I ended up with, but I did find that I liked the font, and I liked that little flower.
A few edits later, and you have the first version, which I used for more than a year:
Eventually, I decided I wanted a more streamlined look, and I updated my button to reflect the rest of the design:
button2
Keep experimenting until you find the design that makes you say YES!
Something unique, something YOU.
It’s totally worth investing your time because it’s the first impression that every person who visits your blog will have: that means readers, potential followers, potential sponsors and affiliates too.
Happy Blogging!

Comments

  1. 1

    Great tips and ideas for blog posting. You did a great job on this!

  2. 3

    Love it! Thank you for sharing!

  3. 5

    This is such a great post, thank you, Amy! I must say, I do love the overall look of your blog. :-)

  4. 7

    So many great tips!! This is fantastic, pinning for sure.:)

  5. 9

    Thanks for the advice!

  6. 11

    What a fabulous post!

  7. 13
    Stephanie says:

    Amy, I am so happy to have you on my team! Your blog tips are just perfect!!!!

  8. 15

    I like all of your ideas and I have been trying to improve mine. My question is how do you get traffic once you have tried to make it appealing?

    • 16
      Amy Latta says:

      Thanks so much, Barb! There are lots of things you can do to drive traffic, many of which I’ll talk about in coming posts, but creating quality content and sharing it via Pinterest, submission sites like Craftgawker and Lookis, and link parties is a great place to start.

      • 17

        Thanks, I will look forward to more posts on the subject. I had never heard of craftgawker. I will check it out. Thanks again.

  9. 18

    These are amazing tips! Thank you! I was a little nervous reading because I just designed my background and header and was thinking I was going to read something I may have left out…thank God, I pretty much followed all your tips without even knowing it!
    Selene @ Restoration Beauty

  10. 20

    You have such great ideas and you are so helpful to others getting started. Keep up the great job. Love your blog.

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