How to change your background in blogger

This post was originally published at Songbird. If you like DIY inspiration of the home and decor kind, than please visit me there.



Well it’s about time, isn’t it! That I would write another episode in my DIY blog design series. I didn’t mean to keep you waiting this long, but yeah life happens.

Voor de Nederlandse dames. Voor het gemak (vooral dat van mij) schrijf ik mijn blog in het Engels en dus ook deze serie over hoe je zelf het een en ander aan je blog kunt veranderen. Dat wil  niet zeggen dat jullie mij geen vragen in het Nederlands kunnen stellen of niet om wat meer uitleg kunnen vragen. Aarzel dus niet om het mij te laten weten als je iets niet snapt of als je vragen hebt. Ik help jullie graag!

Ok then. I ended the last episode with a new header for my DIY Blog Design blog


That blue background really needs to change stat! Don’t you agree.  So let’s get on with that, shall we.

When you think about your background it is good to realize that it consists of two parts: the main blogging area (where you posts and sidebars are) and the outer shell around your blog. Here at Songbird the main blogging area is white and the outside area has this grey flowery pattern. If you have a small screen and you  have set your blog width pretty wide (I covered how to do that here) than that outer space can be quite narrow, but with the big screens some people have these days it can be a visible and integral part of your blog. Most of what I am going to cover today has to do with that outer space.

But first a little bit about you main blogging area. Just like the rest of your blog you can customize this too and add a background or color to it. I personally don’t like busy patterns here. Your blog is first and foremost about your posts, the writing and the pictures, and you want them to stand out as much as possible. So although your main posting area definitely doesn’t need to be white I’d go for light colors as your background. Make sure there is enough contrast between your text and the background. It is so much easier for your readers that way.

Ok then now how to change that background behind and around that posting area?

How to change the background of your blog

You have several options.

1. Use the blogger template designer and choose a single color for your background.

The template designer will give you some good options based on your color scheme. But that is a bit limiting. You might want to adjust your background color to the colors of your banner picture or font. Blogger allows you to choose your colors by the Hex code, so if you know the hex code of your desired background color you can be very precise. But how do you find the hex code? Well I always use my photo editing software. I open the picture I want to use as my color source (this can be a print screen too), get the color picker and choose the color.


Here I picked a color from my red mouse, got the code and pasted it in the outer background box. You can customize your colors that way on the backgrounds tap in the advanced menu. Already a lot better than that blue, blogger suggested for me isn’t it.

2. Use the blogger template designer and the background pictures blogger provides.

Although the red is already a lot better I think we could do even better. Maybe a nice picture will make it stand out - in a good way-  some more. How about this:

construction paper

I choose some construction paper that I found under the business options. Just go to backgrounds – click on the arrow next to the color box and choose something you like in the drop down menu.

There are a few issues I have with this option blogger gives us here.

  • First almost all of them are full size pictures, which means there is one picture that gets pasted behind your main area. Therefore most of the background image is not visible and what is visible becomes pretty meaningless. They are nice pictures to use as your desktop wallpaper but not for your blog background.
  • Second the options for the most part aren’t exactly feminine. For us Home Décor bloggers the choice options are limited.
    Which brings me to:
  • Number three: your background will hardly be original and that’s what this whole exercise is about.
  • Four this is a biggy! I have heard rumors that the background can make your blog hard to scroll and load. So that would be a big no-no.

3. Use your own picture for your background.

Right in that same screen where blogger shows you the options they have collected, you also have the option to upload your own picture.

upload picture

Any picture that is big enough and that you have stored on your computer can be uploaded here. So maybe you have a great cloud picture, or a field of flowers, or of the fur of your doggy baby. Or you could use scrapbook paper that you have scanned.

The Background Fairy wrote a full tutorial on how to upload your own background image.

4. Use a (free) background someone else made for you.

There are several kind and generous souls who have made it their mission to provide us all with beautiful free backgrounds. Sometimes they even throw in matching headers and buttons to create a cohesive blog look.

Pasting one of those backgrounds to your blog is easy. You just save the code they give you into a HTML/Java script gadget box and your done. (all the sites tell you exactly how to upload their backgrounds).

Let’s see what The Background Fairy can do for my DIY Blog Design blog shall we.

I found this linen look background that I liked, I copied it as a gadget to my blog and looksee:

linen background

When using a free background there are a few things to consider:

  1. Try them out on your test blog first, because not all of them work with the new template designer
  2. Check to see if they work with your settings, some of them are designed for blogs that haven’t adjusted the width of the main area
  3. You will have some advertising somewhere on your background. I guess that is only fair because you are getting the background for free.

You can find loads of background designers if you Google “free blogger backgrounds”, but I have selected a few favorites:   ~~~~~~~~~~                      lots of lovely vintage images here!  ~~~~~~~~~                      very romantic backgrounds ~~~~~                      backgrounds with a nice fancy twist  ~~~~~~~~~                      lovely selection of backgrounds with a cottage feel ~~~~~                     if you like graphics this is the site for you ~~~~~~~~~                      an amazing collection in all kinds of styles


5 Design your own background by using tileable wallpaper

Okay then these are not ‘unique’ enough for you yet, you want to fully customize your background. Find a design with a nice little pattern that fills up that screen. Maybe something like I have here on Songbird? Well that kind of background is made with tileable wallpaper, which basically means that I have uploaded a really tiny picture that repeats itself into infinity AND whose pattern runs fluently without any visible lines between the pictures.

You can search for tileable wallpaper and you will find hundreds and hundreds of different textures to choose from. Damask, toile, paper, sheetmusic, stripes, polka dots you name it and it is out there.

Here are just three links that will give you an amazing choice already:

Since I am looking for a background to fit my DIY Blog Design scheme how about a background consisting of nails?

I found that tile in link number 1.

This is how it looks:

nails 2

Not bad he. I think I like it. This is how I did it:

- remember try this on your testblog first -

1. Choose the background you want to use and save it to your computer.

2. Upload the picture to a picture host, this can be photobucket, picasa webalbums or even a post on your testblog. As long as you get a web address for that picture.

3. Copy this bit of code EXACTLY and paste it in your CSS style sheet (you’ll find it at the bottom of the list on the advanced tab). I explained what the CSS style sheet is in the post on How to Make a Blog Header.

body {
.body-fauxcolumn-outer div {
background: none !important;

4. Copy the link to your picture and replace the text in red with it.

5. Click apply to blog


This is fun you can test a whole bunch of different backgrounds this way.

metalsiding baby blue
Damask red plaid

I think I quite like that last one, so here it is a bit bigger

plaid 3

Or got to my DIY Blog Design blog  to see it live.

Ok and one more for the road. If all of those free downloadable tileable wallpapers are still not enough for you. I found a tutorial on how you can make one yourself using Photoshop:

How to make your own tileable wallpaper

Ok. This concludes this episode, I think I have given you enough options here.

Remember always fiddle with your testblog before you make any changes to your real blog, and save your blog and your template before you do anything. You can read all about the five safety precautions you should take before you fiddle with your blog design here.

Have fun designing a background for your blog! And remember just keep asking me questions, I will answer them either in the comments or in a next episode of my DIY Blog Design series.



How to make a blog header in Blogger

This post was originally published at Songbird. If you like DIY inspiration of the home and decor kind, than please visit me there.


Hello my friends, finally another episode in my DIY blog design series. A lot of you said they had questions about how to make a blog banner and how to get it up on your blog the way you want it.

So todays topic is HOW TO MAKE A BLOG HEADER.

Voor de Nederlandse dames. Voor het gemak (vooral dat van mij) schrijf ik mijn blog in het Engels en dus ook deze serie over hoe je zelf het een en ander aan je blog kunt veranderen. Dat wil  niet zeggen dat jullie mij geen vragen in het Nederlands kunnen stellen of niet om wat meer uitleg kunnen vragen. Aarzel dus niet om het mij te laten weten als je iets niet snapt of als je vragen hebt. Ik help jullie graag!

A good header or banner for your blog is very important. It’s like your business card for your blog, or your front door. It is the first thing people see, when they stumble unto your blog and it might be the one thing that determines whether they want to hang around or not.

That space on top of your blog is gold, and you should use it really well. It is the curb appeal that has to convince a casual passer-by that she is curious to see what’s inside.

So before you upload a new header to your blog, you should make sure that it is the best possible header for your blog. Here are five things I would want you to consider.

Five things to consider about your blog header

1. Let it be a reflection of you and what your blog is about

Dutch Sisters

I think this banner from Dutch Sisters is a beautiful example of ‘what you see is what you get’. Their banner fits their blog to a t.

That header should convey a clear message. This is my blog, this is who I am, and this is what this blog is about. There are about a million styles of blog headers out there. Choose the one YOU feel comfortable with. Don’t just follow a trend. If everyone is doing collage style picture banners, but you are more of a ‘one picture says it all’ kind of gal, than go with that.

2. Don’t automatically think the bigger the better

Heather Bullard

Style queen Heather Bullard shows this principal beautiful. Her header is quite small but has a lot of impact, and you can even see a part of a very intriguing first picture. I want to see more….

Don’t go too big. It might be tempting to make a really large header and put a lot of teasers and beautiful elements in it, but it might not work so well. You don’t want people to come and admire your blog banner, you want them to read your post. I am a strong fan of blog headers that allow me to see at least the title of the first post without having to scroll. Of course that only shows how important the title of a post is too, but that is a subject for a later date.

3. Do you want to change your banner often?


The Inspired Room does the changing of the seasons very elegantly, the basic banner stays the same and only some small decorative elements change (f.e. the little birdies and green bush in Spring)

It is popular to change your banner regularly and have it reflect the seasons (I try to do that for example). But before you decide to go that route please consider two things. 
1 it might be more work than you realize. I for one have cursed my banner on more than one occasion when I was frantically trying to come up with a new one half January because I still had a Christmas theme going on. Once you have made yourself a typically Spring banner you know you will have to change it again in a few weeks.
2 people might not recognize you straight away. With all the nest/cottage/junk/beach/bungalow blog names around, I sometimes get confused about whose house I am visiting. While bloghopping it might be easy to forget which cottage I am currently seeing and who is feathering their nest here. A clearly recognizable blog banner makes it much easier to recognize where I am in a split second. Let’s face it, with the hundreds of blogs out there, there is no way we are going to remember all of those blog names. Having a visual reminder as well, really helps. So sometimes NOT changing your blog banner is the way to go (unless you are one of the really big ones, but then you wouldn’t be reading this anyway).

4. Use your absolute best pictures. No Flash!!!!

I found my home
I think these pictures from I found my home, prove my point very well. Great shots, matching color tones, nice details with enough context to make me want to see more.

Sometimes I come across blogs with really big and might I say bad pictures in the blog header. I think that that is such a shame. We all can’t really say it enough: flash kills your pictures. You might get away with an occasional flash picture in a post, but please, pretty please, if you use a picture in your banner, let it be a great picture! Don’t try to show us your whole house, but choose a detail that represents you. But don’t zoom in too much either, I want to be able to catch the atmosphere. So if you are going to use photographs it better be great photographs.
Oh and if you are using more than one photograph, make sure the the colors kind of ‘match’. I don’t mean necessarily all of the same colors but not one picture with a yellowish undertone and the other with a blue-ish one. Thrust me it doesn’t look half as nice as it could look (most post processing programs allow you to match color tones).

5. If photographing isn’t your thing, graphics work wonderful too!


I think this cartoon-like header from Homemaking Joyfully, is a very inviting way to show us what her blog is about.

There is no law that says you have to use pictures in your header. If you are not confident about the quality of your photographs, or your blog isn’t about showing photographs, using some graphic header works really well too. Again choose your own style, don’t let the masses influence you. Technically even a graphic header is a photograph too, but there were no pictures harmed in the making of a graphic header.

Think that that doesn’t work in our DIY/ Home/ Craft bloggers niche? Ha think again….


You can’t get bigger than Nesting Place and not a picture in sight on her blog header. So if it is good enough for The Nester herself…….

How to make a blog banner

Now that you now what to do, go on and make a blog banner …..

The easiest way to make a header is by using a photo editing software like Picasa, Picnik, or Photoshop.

Make your title and (if you have it) your tagline part of that picture. Be creative with your colors and your fonts. But do remember that people should be able to read and recognize it in a split second. So don’t go too crazy.


I think Beth form Home Stories A2Z really has a knack for making banners. Her logo is part of it, her tagline makes it clear in an instant what her blog is about, the great pictures reinforce that, she uses a couple of repeating colors both in the graphics as in the pictures, creative use of different fonts without overdoing it, and even with that ad banner there, I can still see what her first post is about.
Her banner is a clear representation of her brand. That’s how you do it people!

Using more than one font, really is a great way to make your banner and title look interesting. You can Google for free fonts. But I get mine from Kevin and Amanda, they have a wonderful creative font collection. But again be careful. Readability is more important than the fun factor, and I wouldn’t suggest using more than three different fonts on your entire blog, unless you are a real pro with this design stuff and know what your are doing.


Great way of different fonts and coordinating colors from 30 days

How to install a blog header in blogger

Okay let’s get on with it and install us a blog header. First things first, set the width of your blog. I’d suggest go for the maximum width that blogger’s editor allows. Just about all monitors can handle that comfortably and it allows you to post really big pictures.

On your dashboard click on DESIGN
Move the slider for ENTIRE BLOG to maximum
Choose how wide you want your sidebars to be and move the slider
Make a note of your choices in your Blog Design Log

Adjust Width Blogger

You can even go wider than this (I did) but some people will have to use sliders to see your whole blog and it does require some HTML editing, so I’ll save that for a later date.

Now that you have your new header all ready you have to upload it to your blog. First make sure that it is the correct size. Using your photo editing software resize your picture. Resize it in pixels and as a maximum size it to your blog width. So the width of your picture must not be more than 1000 pix (if that is how wide you made your blog). Then upload the header picture:

On your dashboard click on DESIGN
click on EDIT HEADER
UPLOAD picture from pc
click SAVE

Configure Header Blogger
If you choose to make a slightly smaller header (which often looks better) than you might want to center it above your main posting area and your sidebar(s). This requires a tiny amount of html editing. Don’t be scared it is real easy.

How to center your header on your blog

On your dashboard click on DESIGN
Scroll down to ADD CSS
Copy and paste the following lines into the STYLE SHEET:

.Header {
text-align: center;


Center Blog Header Blogger

The CSS style sheet is basically a place where you can put all kinds of notes about customizations you made to your blog that the blogger machine must know when it loads your blog. Often when you make personal changes to your blog design you put them in this style sheet, but not always….

This is important: if you have never done this before (and even if you have) make the changes in your testblog first! That way you don’t mess up your blog.

Now your header should be nicely centered.

DIY Blog Design Blog screenshot 1

I have started a special DIY Blog Design blog so I can follow along with all the tips I give you and do not unintentionally forget some design issue I have applied a long time ago. This is how far my DIY design blog has come. I think next time we desperately need to work on the background behind my blog. That blue is awful.

Further reading:

How to design a blog header by Musings of a Housewife
How to create a free blog header with Photoscape by the Etsy Blog Team
How to create a cute text based blog header by Dawn by Design
Add a title to your blog header with Picnik by the Background Fairy
How to make a header with Picnik by All About Us

So did you learn something new? Was this helpful? Did I answer all of your questions? Let me know folks!!!



Five Safety Precautions before you start Fiddling with your Blog

This post was originally published at Songbird. If you like DIY inspiration of the home and decor kind, than please visit me there.


Howdie Lovelies, I am glad you all gathered here today for the next episode in my DIY Blog Design series. I know that you are all sitting at the edge of your seat to learn the real tricks, but before I even allow you to make any changes whatsoever I have to make sure you play safe.

Voor de Nederlandse dames. Voor het gemak (vooral dat van mij) schrijf ik mijn blog in het Engels en dus ook deze serie over hoe je zelf het een en ander aan je blog kunt veranderen. Dat wil  niet zeggen dat jullie mij geen vragen in het Nederlands kunnen stellen of niet om wat meer uitleg kunnen vragen. Aarzel dus niet om het mij te laten weten als je iets niet snapt of vragen hebt. Ik help jullie graag!



So today is all about taking the necessary precautions in order to make sure you never ever have to be sorry about messing with your blog.

I know it is boring, but I do assure you, if you follow my advice there will come a time when you will want to drop down on your knees to thank me for saving your …

And if you are foolish and do not listen to me, you will be sorry. I know, I have been there…..


Back up your blog and template!!


Yes I mean you too! Listen to me here, this is important!!!!

You can make a copy of all your posts. That way, when and if someone highjacks your Google account or something of the sort and you cannot access your blog anymore – and yes that does happen! more often then you want to know -, you can start all over and your precious posts will not be lost. So back up your blog regularly. I would recommend at least once a month.

And your template needs to be saved regularly too. Your template is all the code that is used to make your blog look the way it looks. Even if you have not yet changed anything yourself to the code, you still need to back it up because all those choices you made when you first started working with your blog have been registered in that code.

I could tell you how to do this but smarter women have gone before me and explained it all in great detail:



Make a Print Screen


Ok we are home and craft bloggers here. And you all should know by know you should never start a makeover without a good before photo. And believe me it is fun to go back later and see how your blog has evolved. Now I know MAC users have some sort of neat special feature to make print screens, I envy you. But for the PC users who do not know how to do it. This is how I do it.

  1. Close up as many tool bars in your browser as possible ( in IE you can uncheck the toolbars under the menu Extra). You want your blog to really fill up your screen.
  2. Look for the key on your keyboard that says “Prnt Scrn”, the letters might be tiny but there will be a key (usually somewhere on the top or bottom rows). Hit it.
  3. Type Control C (as in the shortcut for the copy command)
  4. Go to programs and look for the program paint. It is usually in your folder with office accessories (where you can find your calculator and your game of solitary too). Open the program and type Control V (as in the shortcut for paste).
  5. There it is! Now you can save this file as a jpeg in any folder you choose to save it in. Done!

You know have a proper before picture. And while your at it make sure that your followers count is included in your picture, or make a note of it. Keeping tabs on a couple of statistics for your blog is also fun and shows you how you grow.


Make a test blog


Ok now we are getting somewhere. This is the first step to some real fun. You will want to try and test out lots of cool new things for your blog. But you do NOT want to test and play with the real thing. Create a play ground first where you can’t mess up. You all know how to create a blog, and the beauty of blogger is, that it allows you to make as many blogs as you would like. So go to your dashboard, click “ create blog” and make yourself a testblog. Mine is called Songbirdtestblog how original!

You can start all fresh with this blog and give it a whole new design, or you can upload your previously saved template (remember Number 1!) and start to change that.

Having a testblog has saved me many times over. Not only when I was messing with my blog design, but also when I had ‘special’ gimmicks in a post. I always try new stuff out on my test blog, including posting blog posts to it if I am trying to do something new (like adding a YouTube video) just to see whether it works like planned. And if I have changed my blog banner I always post it to my testblog first, so I can see if it looks like I wanted it to.


Streamline your profile

Now that you have a new testblog, you do not want to whole world to see how you are messing it up. So streamline your profile. Do this too if you have more than one active blog, please!!!

Thrust me it is easy. Log in to your blogger dashboard and look under your profile pic for ‘edit profile’

Profile Pic copy

(My blogger settings are all in Dutch in this picture, sorry about that). So click on edit profile.

On the next page look for “ show my blogs” and then click on the blue link behind it “ Select blogs to display”. It will give you a list of your blogs, now unclick every blog that you don’t want people to find.

Edit Profile copy

Ok, btw while you are on this page. Put a check mark into the box ‘show my email address’ and you will never be a <noreply.blogger> commenter again.

Important message for all multiple blog owners!!

Please, pretty please, if you have created a lot of blogs, do us commenters a favor and do NOT show all of you inactive blogs in your profile. So often I want to visit someone’s blog by clicking on their profile link in my comment section and I run into this 10 blog long list. Figuring which blog is the ‘active’ blog or the home décor blog can be so bothersome. Sometimes when I am really busy (thus in fact always) I just won’t bother figuring it out and leave.

Edit Blog Title copy

And pretty pretty please, you can change the name of your blog. Make sure that the title you display distinguishes one blog from another. So if you have one active blog and one blog you have used for your links, or your awards or the photo’s of your dog, please let that be reflected in the title. It is completely safe to change that here in your settings, your blog address will not change!


Ok rant over.

Now people who visit you through your profile will not stumble upon your testblog. But the google robots still might and you don’t want that either. So from your dashboard go to ‘Settings’ – of your testblog - and right there on the first Basic tab change a few things.

Change the settings to NO for: “ Add your blog to our listings” , and to No for “ let search engines find your blog”.

Now you are safe. No one will find you. If you really want to make sure no one can read your testblog you could also go to the permissions tab and select “only blog authors can read this blog” .



Keep a log


Ok this last one isn’t necessarily a safety precaution, but just damn useful. Start keeping a log of your blog design work right away. Your log could be anything. A folder in which you safe all posts like this one, that taught you how to do something and maybe a word document in which you record some settings, or a simple notepad. But thrust me once you have carefully selected a color for your background, or chosen your favorite font for your sidebar titles, you want to remember it.

Somewhere down the line you will experiment and change something, and then when you want to change it back later, you can’t remember how you did it, or what the exact color code was. Your log will save your sanity many times over. Start one right away!

Ok that’s it for now. Next week I’ll work with you on a real design issue. Shall we start with your blog banner? I have already some questions about that in my file, but if you have any Blog Banner related questions let me know, and I’ll see if I can answer them.

Was this useful at all? Did I hash up a lot of things you already knew or was there a bit of new information for you! Please let me know I am open to all feedback. And if you have more safety precautions let us all know in the comments.



Five things to consider BEFORE you start to work on your blog design

This post was originally published at Songbird. If you like DIY inspiration of the home and decor kind, than please visit me there.



This post is an adaptation from a guest post that was posted on Beautiful Blog Designs in January 2010

Welcome to the first post in my new DIY Blog Design series. Thank you so much to everybody who left me a comment with a design question. They have all gone in my DIY Blog Design folder and I hope I’ll be able to answer most if not all of them. Keep the questions coming!

In January 2010 I did a guest post on Beautiful Blog Designs (that since has moved to a new address) outlining five things you have to think about before you start (re)designing your blog. I think that post is a good place to start my new DIY Blog Design series, so I’ll repost it here.

I am DIY when it comes to blog design and I would love to share some of my insights and experiences with homemade blog designing.

We home and craft loving gals are a visual bunch, aren’t we? We want our homes and creative products to be as beautiful as possible. And since our blog is our home on the web, most of us really want our blog to be as eye pleasing as possible too.

Love Shack

Of course there are many talented and gifted women out there who have specialized in giving your blog a makeover and making it really beautiful. But rightfully so, these women like to get paid for their creative talent and their hard work. If you are like me, a hobby blogger whose blog doesn’t really generate an income (yet), paying someone to work on your blog may not really be in your budget. So you are left to you own devices to make your blog more beautiful. And trust me, it can be done!

But before we dive into the world of blog templates, HTML coding and navigational bars, lets do some groundwork first.

Woman with drill

Just like when you are considering to give a thrift shop find a makeover: before you can get your paintbrush out and decide on the paint color you are going to use, you have to consider the way you are intending to use the piece, if it is needing repairs and how many layers of old chippy paint and dirt you have to remove first. The same principle applies to blog design. Before you start concentrating on the pictures you are going to use in your header and the color scheme of your blog there are five things you have to think about first:

1. Your blog is for your readers.

I know you are all tempted to say ‘no I blog just for me, because I like it’. But lets face it girls if we really only blogged for ourselves we wouldn’t make our blog public, we would keep it a private (online) journal. We all want other people to read our blog and admire and enjoy our hard work. So whenever you are considering doing anything to your blog, ask yourself first if that will make the blogging experience for your readers more pleasant. Your blog design should include all the elements that make your blog really useful and usable to your readers.

2. What does your blog mean?

The way we were

I think if you asked most women in our home and garden blog niche why they love blogging they would answer two things: because of the inspiration it gives them and second because of the community it makes them feel a part of. You and your blog are part of that community. So your blog design should be aimed at showcasing your projects and ideas, so that they provide maximum inspiration (lot’s of BIG pictures is one element of this) and at the same time give your visitor’s a sense that they are truly welcome and that it is fun visiting with you. And then before you know it your readers become friends.

3. Clutter is clutter, even when it is the online kind.


Ever wonder why those pictures in design magazines always look so beautiful, even when they do not resemble your style? It is because of the lack of clutter. You might see a carefully draped blanket somewhere, or a casually forgotten book on a chair (with a coordinating cover color of course!), but you will never see hundreds of knickknacks, leftover breakfast dishes or dirty socks in those pictures. If you consider the blog designs you like best, I bet that they are pretty clutter free too. There are so many gadgets, and widgets and funny buttons available to add to our blogs these days. It is really tempting to fill up your sidebars with all of them. But often they are just clutter. Clutter that is distracting your readers from your content and might even make your blog really slow to load. So when considering to add another cutesy button remember the first rule: your blog is for your readers, will adding it make you blog more useful or usable?.

4. Your blog is a reflection of you.

Woman looking in mirror

When I gave my blog a major makeover, I started the way I start any project. I looked at the way others had done it. So I started to make a list of blogs, whose design I liked and then I started to break it down. What kind of layout did I like best, which banner drew me in the most, when did the size of the font or the pictures feel too small, which elements did I find very useful (or annoying). And then I started to try and incorporate those elements in my blog (or in some cases remove them from my existing design). When I thought I was nearly finished I asked a friend for her opinion and her reply made me almost start over completely. She said, “I like it, it looks very good, but it doesn’t look like you anymore”. And she was right, I was making a blog design like all the others. It wasn’t ‘me’ anymore. So I worked on it a lot longer, making it less like a beautiful online ‘house’ and more like my personal online ‘home’.

5. Embrace the challenge, but keep it real.

Typing women

If you had unlimited time you could make your blog the most beautiful blog in the world. There is always another design element you could add, a functionality you could improve or an opportunity to add even more beauty to your design. But if you did that, you wouldn’t have any time to blog anymore. And no matter how beautiful the design of your blog is, people come to visit you for your content. Content comes first, design comes second. So do step into the world of HTML coding, it is not as difficult as you might think, but keep your expectations real. Fiddling with your blog design can be addictive (ask me how I know that) but if it starts to interfere with your actual blogging it is counterproductive.

Further Reading

So do you agree with my five principles of Blog Design? Got any to add? Have you considered these things when thinking about your own design?



All images in this post were found at the amazing photography site: Shorpy

DIY Blog Design ~ a New Series

This post was originally published at Songbird. If you like DIY inspiration of the home and decor kind, than please visit me there.


Hi friends, have you noticed I am always fiddling with my blog design? Do you consider it improvements (like the new categorie buttons in my sidebar, noticed them?)? Watch out because there is more to come…

As you all might know I am solely responsible for the way my blog looks, well with a little help of Blogger that is. Maybe one day I will invest in a proper blog design done by a professional, but right now if I want something done, I’ll have to figure it out myself.

And heck, I think being called a ‘DIY girl’  is a badge of honor.

DIY Blog Design 1

My blog design has grown/ is growing with leaps and bounds. I keep discovering new things, I say goodbye to other things and I have a wish list the size of a phonebook of things still to figure out. And while fiddling around in the ‘behind the scenes’ blog world, I picked up a few tricks.

Some simple and well known tips, others more complicated and daring, and a few things I figured out all on my own.

I thought I’d start a little blog series. Just some regular posts on the art of blogging and blog designing. Sharing what I have learned.

DIY Blog Design

Most of my knowledge comes from other people who have generously shared their wisdom on the internet. If you have an idea for your blog it is almost a 100% certainty that somebody else has thought of that too, and possibly figured out how to do it.

The problem is finding the information you need to do it yourself.

I have spent hours and hours searching for that bit of code that would allow me to install that one thing I was sure my blog or I couldn’t live without. But finding the right words to describe what I wanted, to formulate the proper search key words and to filter out the garbage from the gems, that is an art form.

In this DIY Blog Design series I want to offer you the benefit of my mad googling skills and my OCD and tenacity in searching for something until I find it.

DIY Blog Design 2

I’ll do my best to offer something for all of you. For beginning bloggers the fundamentals, for savvy DIY designers a neat trick or two, and hopefully for all of you the confidence that you can make your blog look the way you envision it. Oh and maybe some helpful tips on how to make the actual blogging and blog designing easier too.

I have a folder of questions I have been asked about my blog design and the way I blog. But maybe you have some questions too!

Let me know which topics you would be interested in, what bugs you about your blog (or mine), what cool thing have you always wanted to add but didn’t know how, which (blog related) riddle do you want me to solve.

DIY Blog Design 3

I can’t promise I have an answer to everything but I’ll do my best to come up with help or point you in the right direction.

So let’s hear it. Interested in this kind of DIY?



Taming the Internet

This post was originally published at Songbird. If you like DIY inspiration of the home and decor kind, than please visit me there.


Do you recognize this? You have some free time and the energy to start a new project. You are about to go get the paint, the glue gun or the fabric pile when you think ‘someone did this already, let’s look up that blog post where my inspiration came from’.

And then it all falls apart with the speed of light. You start searching blog after blog, reading post after post, frantically trying to remember where you saw that idea. Going through all of the files on your computer, in the desperate hope that you were smart enough to bookmark it. But in which folder?

Hair pulling Photo found on Flickr

I have spent so many hours looking all over the net trying to retrace my steps and find that one piece of information I had seen before and I really needed now.

But I have found a better way. Let me share my two favorite tools I use to organize my internet use. You might call them my external memory.

Let me start by introducing you to Delicious.

I use Delicious for all the sites I used to bookmark in My Favorites folder. Delicious has a couple of advances over bookmarking:

  • It is cloud based, which means the bookmarks are saved up there in the WWW. If your computer crashes your bookmarks will not be lost and you can get to them from everywhere were you have internet access.
  • Delicious uses tags. With every bookmark you save you can add as many tags as you like, and if other people have bookmarked this page also, Delicious will even suggest tags to you. This way you don’t have to guess later if you have filled that nice pattern for a bag under ‘tutorial’, or ‘sewing’ or ‘bag’. It will be under all three.
  • Delicious comes with a couple buttons you can put in your toolbar. Which makes adding a bookmark a matter of hitting a few keys.
  • You can choose to make your Delicious public or keep it completely private.

Delicious 1

Ok, but I am a visual person and often I only want to remember where I saw a certain picture and the content or subject of the post doesn’t really matter to me. I just want to save that picture. For these instances I use Tumblr.

Tumblr basically is a blog. Except it is designed in a way that makes it easy to reblog something, which means that if you have found a text, video or image you want to share with others, you reblog it on your own Tumblr blog.

Tumblr comes with its own toolbar button too, with one mouse click I can share something on my Tumblr blog. I usually only save photo’s and in that way Tumblr has become my own personal photo album or inspiration file with the added bonus that I will always have the link to the original post attached. Giving credit back to the owner of the photograph becomes much easier that way.

Tumblr 1

I will gladly share my sources of inspiration with you. You can find my Tumblr blog up there in my navigational bar under INSPIRATION.  Go on, check it out, you might even find one of your own photographs in there.

Setting up both a Delicious account and a Tumblr account is really easy. Just try it and use their help function, it really is quite self-explanatory. A good place to start with Delicious is their starter page. And for Tumblr I found this explanation post very helpful.

Good luck with taming the internet!



Make Your Blog More Beautiful

This post was originally published at Songbird. If you like DIY inspiration of the home and decor kind, than please visit me there.


My blog Songbird was featured at Beautiful Blog Designs

Beautiful Blog Designs is a highly informational blog that provides you with buck loads of inspiration, information, tutorials and references to make your blog look and work better.

I stumbled onto Amanda’s blog while bloghopping to other day. I wish I had found her a couple of months ago when I was knee deep trying to dig my way out of the HTML mess I had created while giving my blog a makeover. She could really have saved me a lot of time and headaches.

Printscreen blog 21 augustus 09My old blogdesign, handmade by yours truly too 

And just in case (although I really don’t know why you would be so maybe just skip this session) any of your are interested in making my blog experience on your blog more pleasurable, here are some of the things you can do to your blog to make me really happy:

  • Big Pictures! I want details, glorious details. If you are showing me something, then please really show it off to these old eyes of mine.~
  • Go to your google profile and mark the box ‘show my email’, that way you don’t show up as a ‘no reply blogger’ in my inbox when you comment on my blog and I can communicate with you so much easier. 
  • Turn of the automatic music on your blog, it always scares the hell out of me and makes your blog load very slowly (and I can sneak in a peak on your blog while ‘watching’ television or during my lunch break at work).
  • Add the subscribe button to your blog (blogger has it in the gadgets section), if I want to subscribe and can’t find the button I often forget (or don’t bother) to do it manually.
  • Keep blogging to you own hearts content! Don’t apologize if life gets in the way sometimes, it happens to all of us. But reading ‘I am so sorry I didn’t blog for so long’ a lot of times can get a bit tedious. 

21 vogeltjesboom_003 Totally unrelated picture but I wanted to break the text up a bit.

Ok stepping of my soap box now. And feel free to totally ignore or disagree with me, I just wanted to give you my totally unimportant opinion here.

There are many wise and knowledgeable women out there who can really help you with your blog and your blogging experience. If you know what to look for the internet can help you with anything.

Here are a couple of my favorite ‘go-to’ blogsters.

For help with photography or photoshop: Pioneer Woman is the absolute best.

For help with blogdesign or blog questions: Darcy (Life with My 3boybarians), Melanie (Blogging Basis 101), Karla (Modern Media Mom), Amanda (Blogger Buster).

For a good discussion about blog etiquette (read the comment section too!) go to Beth’s wonderful blog (The Stories of A to Z).
And Donna of Funky Junk Interiors asked for critique and got it! Part one is here and a summary of all the comments can be found in part two here .
And our very own queen of vignettes Jeannette shared how it feels to have your hard work and beautiful pictures ripped off, you can read her post here (in Dutch but if you don’t understand Dutch go there anyway and look at her amazing talent and use the translate widget).

So do you care at all about the design of a blog? Do you have things you particularly like, love or hate on blogs? Do you agree with me or do you think I have no idea what I am talking about? Please let me know I love to hear your opinion.

Always with Love,