Blogging

Start your own blog for money Part 3

Start your own blog for money – Part 3

Finding the right theme and design elements.

In part one and two of this series we looked at domains names and general information along with setting up WordPress on your own server. You blogs look and feel is key to your site. You want to sell yourself and your blog to the readers. Flow and design elements are important when you are selecting a look.

If you are not a designer or do not have any experience with html, CSS, or graphic design that’s okay because there are tons of free themes for your blog already available or if they are not what you want you can hire a designer to customize it for you. I do believe that customizing the look of your theme is better than just using a theme as-is.

make-moneywordpress-vs-blogger-blogging

Why? It makes your blog look different that the other 100+ people using that same theme. If you are downloading a free theme you can try to customize it yourself, a little CSS and HTML/XHTML will go along ways, and like above if you do not feel you are able to do this you can find a good designer or design firm to help you out. I will start with some design elements for your blog then discuss a few tips later down the page that may help you in some way.


Let’s Look at Blog design Elements.

A blog, similar to any other website and have the same requirements and need the same attention to details and requires the same design elements this includes your graphics, color and layout, font and the inclusion of advertising. Though unlike a website blogging software usually provides the user with a variety of themes which makes designing and blog a lot simpler and highly customizable with a little design and development skills.

Layout and Color.

The layout and color of your blog is one of the most noticeable element that a blogger must consider when starting or modifying a blog. You must choose what layout and color represents your blog whether it is using solid colors, background colors or a photo/texture, gradients, font sizes and color, and other color elements.

A blogger should however consider using colors that are aesthetically appealing to most of there readers and visitors. This is important as you want your blog to be appealing, easy to read and not harsh on the eyes of your readers which can result in loss of traffic.

The layout of your blog should also be carefully considered. The blog should be arranged in way that is appealing to your readers and visitors, and to suit the niche of the blog and to present it in a logical manner which is user-friendly and easy for visitors to follow and navigate. You do not want your layout to be confusing and unappealing to your readers and not meeting these may also result in loss of traffic to your blog.

Font Use.

For is a big pet peeve of mine. There are tons of font options available to use and sometimes they do not flow correctly with a blog and are hard to read. Font options usually include the font type, size, and text color. You should consider choosing a font that works well with the overall design of your design and layout and suits the subject matter of your blog, but also a font that is common and EASY to read.

Most people do not have a lot of fancy fonts already installed on there computer so when you decide to use these fonts most likely half of your visitors are not going to see the results you wanted, so try to keep your font simple and choose something that is common among all of your readers.

When in doubt use Verdana, Arial, Helvetica, or sans-serif. Also the font size and color should be carefully considered as these elements are important for readability and should not threw off your site or strain your readers eyes. A simple way to avoid this is to make sure your font contrast with the background. Keep your readers in mind when choosing a font and the use of colors and choose something that will enhance readability and be appealing.

Your Blog and Themes

Where to find a theme?

There are a lot of nice WordPress theme site and theme site for other blogging software out there. They are most offered under a GLS license which means you will have to keep the original designers link on your footer. Free themes come in all shapes, sizes, colors and each has its own different design elements, so you should try to determine what elements you are looking for in your theme. If you find something close you can always try to modify it to your liking.

Some free sites you can take a look at:

WordPress.net
WPthemesfree.com
Topwpthemes.com
Themepoter
Solostrem
WPthemesplugin

How to Install a theme:

blogging-101

Simply ftp your theme folder into your wp-content/themes/ and go to your WordPress admin panel and go to the presentation tab and activate the theme of your choice that you have uploaded.

It’s better to modify:

I think if you are using a free theme it is always best to modify it to give it your own personal look. You want your site to stand out and be notices and using the same theme as 100 other websites doesn’t really stand out. There are a few things you can do to change up a free theme to make it different than the original. Most of these may require a little xhtml or CSS knowledge. If you are enable to do this you may find a designer to help you for a small cost.

Change the header image and/or logo – You can find a new image at almost any stock photography site (some are free some are paid) and edit the photo to fix the place of the old image.

Modify the header – Changing the layout of the header is also a good idea. Moving elements around like the navigation, logo, header image. This can be done with in the header.php file of the theme.

Sidebar – Changing the sidebar elements and layout thought the sidebar.php file in the theme.

Edit your CSS – You can usually change most of your color elements that are not graphics though your CSS file. This usually includes your background color, links, navigation, sidebar and other elements of your blog. The CSS usually controls graphic placement also like the header image, so if you would prefer your header image be a different size you can change that in your CSS.

Add new features and elements – Don’t limit yourself to the basic design add things that you like and have fun learning how to do so if you do not already know how.

Learning CSS and XHTML:

The best thing to do if you do not know anything about editing CSS or your xhtml is to grab a good book or read a few tutorials. Once you understand a little you can always experiment on a test theme and learn how the code works.

If you are looking to change a certain div with in your xhtml the quick thing to do is look at the code and look for the word “class” or “id”. Example <div class=”navigation”> then go to your css and look for .navigation this will be the CSS that controls the navigation size, text, links, ext. ID example <div id=”navigation”> in the CSS it may look like this #navigation. Here is a quick example.

I can not go over all the functions of CSS as it would take quite a while but there are some great sites out there to learn and read up on how everything works. The best way though it to practice and look at the examples in WordPress files.

A quick break down a CSS example:

The XHTML

<div id=”sidebar”> *Controled by the #sidebar
<div class=”rsidebar”> *Controled by the #sidebar
<h2>Title<h2> *Controled by the .rsidebar h2
<ul> *Controled by the .rsidebar ul
<il>list element<il> *Controled by the .rsidebar ul li
<il>list element<il>
<il>list element<il>
</ul>
</div>
</div>

The CSS

#sidebar{ width:275px; float:right; margin-bottom: 5px; margin-left: 3px; padding:0; }

.rsidebar{ width:275px; color:#666; height: 100%; margin-top: 0; margin-bottom: 0; padding-top: 10px; padding-bottom: 0; }

.rsidebar h2{ color: #fff; font-size:16px; background-color: #2365c3; text-align: left; text-indent: 10px; width: 267px; height: 18px; margin-top: 0; margin-bottom: 3px; padding: 5px 5px 5px 2px; }

.rsidebar ul{list-style-type:none;margin:0;padding:0;}

.rsidebar ul li{ list-style-type:none; margin:0 0 10px; padding-top: 0; padding-right: 0; padding-bottom: 0; }

Don’t have time for all of that?

If you do not have time to learn all the aspects of modification and design there are plenty of people out there that might can give you a hand or even give you advice if you are stuck and cannot figure something out. It never hurts to ask. The other option is hiring someone and you can usually find a WordPress designing around every corner.

Starting from the ground up:

So you already know most of the above information and most likely you will already know how to design your own theme. It can be time consuming. I have done a few but I do find that it takes alot less time to go in and modify and existing theme if I am looking fora quick fix for a blog.

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