8 ways to trick out your blog

Nonbloggers: A tip for you, too: we recommend that you sign up for a Google account (free) if you've been unable to leave comments, just to be sure you can play along on March 20th!

Bloggers! Our blogs are an expression of our creativity - as much as our cards are! It's not as hard as you'd think to add some personality to yours, so we're providing a few ideas for you here....they're not chrome wheels, but they're the bloggers' equivalent of them!

  1. Watermark your images. It's always a good idea to protect your work! Dawn produced a tutorial for us recently, and it's a FREE site, too!
  2. Decorate your header. The blog name in the url can't be changed once you start (unless you export the whole thing and re-upload!) - but if you're not pleased with that name, you can change that name and create whatever you'd like for your header! 
    1. There are free header images you can use - check out FWPHTheme Headers, or The Best Free Blog Headers. Be sure to use any art within the Creative Commons Licenses linked on the sites.
    2. Add text using the FotoFlexer site to add text to your selected photo, or experiment with your photo editing software. When following the tutorial Dawn produced for us, you can set one piece of type, click off the area, and click the text tool a second time—then you can put a header and subhead, or add your name or byline of some sort (like "I make cards for our heroes!" lol!) 
  3. Add gadgets. Play around with the available gadgets that are available through your blog software. You can have a list of visitor comments appear in the sidebar, a slideshow of your card pictures, a list of all your friends, or links to your favorite sites or charities.
  4. Add a background. There are so many free sites out there—check out your favorite bloggers and ask how they created their designs. Here's a tutorial showing how to add a background in Blogger. Consider donating a few dollars to the one you choose if they have a paypal link - these are a lot of work to create! Here are a few ideas:
    1. ShabbyBlogs - for the shabby chic crafter - backgrounds, blinkies, and accessories
    2. Hot Bliggity Blog - a nice range of patterned paper backgrounds
    3. Ivy's Inspirations - some really pretty gardening backgrounds and scrappy designs
    4. My Blog Makeover  - a few patriotic designs
    5. Free Blogger Backgrounds - a number of different styles
    6. That Blog Place - more patriotic backgrounds
  5. Turn down the sound. Many bloggers like to have music playing when visitors arrive; and while that's certainly an option, remember that if someone doesn't like your selection, they may decide to just skip to another blog. Music can also seriously slow down loading of your blog.  If you have an option to turn it down, or to invite the visitor to turn it on if they want to hear it, consider that as a courtesy. We ask that, during the hop, music be turned off to allow us to all get to as many blogs as we can during that day!
  6. Open up comments. It's a wise idea to open up your comments to anyone when there's a big event going on! For some blogs, if the comments are embedded below the post, there are some visitors who won't be able to comment on your blog. If you notice everyone else gets lots of comments and yours still just has a few, check your settings!
  7. Turn off CAPTCHA. We recommend turnining CAPTCHA off just for the day of the bloghop - just to make it extra-easy for the hundreds of visitors to leave you feedback as they stroll by! You can turn it back on after the hop and keep those spammers away.
  8. Sign your posts. Add a signature to each of your posts by using MyLiveSignature to use a simulated handwritten signature! To add the html to your blog, go to your Dashboard, click Layout, then Formatting, and place the html into the Post Template dialog box. On any new posts created, that image will automatically appear in the window! (The "Your turn" sig below was created using the MLS system...pretty cool!)

What ideas have we missed on the list? Do you have links to other sites for blog tricks that we'd all love to visit?

Rhonda Miller  – (March 8, 2010 at 8:51 AM)  

I know I would like to know how some have added an extra sidebar to their blogs. I have wanted to do this and just don't know how. Any hints?

Kate  – (March 8, 2010 at 8:52 AM)  

I'm so glad you said that about the auto-play music! I'm one of those people who automatically close the page if music starts playing by itself, unless it is easy to find how to turn it off.

Operation Write Home  – (March 8, 2010 at 1:45 PM)  

Rhonda, I think that's in the template set up for the blog itself - and I'm not sure if it's available in Blogger or not. But I would sure like to know too! Hmm I might have to go play round with templates and see....

Dawn  – (March 8, 2010 at 5:45 PM)  

I am not sure I understand how to do the header, but I think I'll give it a try!

Louise Fox  – (March 9, 2010 at 11:53 AM)  

I have wanted a signature for the longest time, but didn't know how to go about it. The entire post was very informational. Thanks and Blessings, Louise

Monica  – (March 10, 2010 at 4:36 PM)  

There are three column blog templates available at thecutestblogontheblock.com They also have easy to understand instructions on how to upload the template to blogger.

Ayana Posadas  – (March 11, 2010 at 3:32 PM)  

I just came across your blog today for the first time. I am very new to blogging and I just started a blog of my own. This post was veryyy informative and I appreciate all the useful links!

Another suggestion that I have would be to make sure that your pictures are clear and good pictures. I find that good pictures can make your blog look more "professional".

Thanks so much for all the tips!
You have a new follower to your great blog! I'll make sure to check back often! :)

~ Ayana

Karen Howard  – (March 13, 2010 at 3:52 AM)  

I love adding gadgets and stuff to my blog so here are a couple more ideas:

1. LinkWithin, adds the little icons with a photo of other cards you've posted.


2. Slide, like the ones we have here on the Stars and Stamps blog. A fun way to show case all your cards in one spot.


3. Site Meter or other counter tracking site, it is really fun to see how many visitors and the various locations they are from.


Really fun post, thanks for all the ideas!

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