2836828090_67d4900ab3_oI’m no blog building expert. I’d be the first to admit that, by geek standards, I’m pretty much a newb when it comes to WordPress blog design. Which is why this blog is a perfect example of what can be done with a bit of research, application of said research, free blog themes and free plugins. Although I paid for hosting and domain registration so I have more control over what I can put on this blog and because I’m picky like that, there are resources that allow you to start your blog in less than a minute for free. There are also resources that help you customize said blog’s header, sidebars and graphics … also all for free.

That’s right. For considerably less than a dollar a day, you too can feed your ego by building your own blog. Here are some ways to get started.

  • Decide what you want your blog to be about and what you want to put on the site. Do you want to make your own blawg? Are you blogging about your fat cat who likes boxes? Do you want to sell a product/yourself (marketing wise, not that crazy Craigslist stuff)? The purpose of your site will not only give your writing direction, but it may also dictate the platform you use and the design you want to implement on the site. Do some research on the blogs you like, then sketch out ideally what you want your blog to look like: does it have a cool photo up top? are there multiple pages? are there thingies (widgets) on the side that have tons of cool functions? Once you decide on these things, it’ll be a lot easier to choose your platform and your design.
  • Pick your platform. There are several free blog hosting platforms to choose from: Tumblr, Blogger, WordPress. I’ve tried both Blogger and WordPress, but I personally prefer WordPress over the others to manage my content. I recommend you explore the different blogs that are hosted at the various sites just to see if there are blogs that have the same feel and features that you are looking for in your personal blog. Once you’ve signed up, you’re pretty much ready to get started. The end. Wait, you want more?
  • Pick your template. Once you’ve signed up for free blog hosting, you have access to tons of different designs for your blog. These are often called templates or themes, and each can give your blog its own personality. For many of them, you’ll notice that there’s a crazy, random picture at the top of the blog, the header, but don’t worry too much about this as we’ll talk about those options in the next step. What you should concern yourself with is that list and sketch you came up with in the first step. Think color, content, character, whether the theme you choose is the face you want to put forward.
  • Customize your header. If you don’t want those photos of a baseball field in the header of your blog about Canadian fashion, but you do like everything else about the blog theme you’ve picked, you can change that. I know that both Blogger and WordPress allow you to change the text and the image of the header. You can either choose an image from your computer, or go out into the Interwebz and find a photo or texture that you like. Try looking at Creative Commons for images that are OK to use, or at a site that provides image textures, like cgtextures.com. Once you have those images, you can edit them further at free, browser-based image editing sites like Sumo Paint or Picnik.
  • Add some bling. If your site still looks boring to you, you can add widgets to your blog. These are those little doodads in the blog sidebars that have things like “This day in history”, a nifty quiz, or a cat that follows your mouse around. You can pick these up at a variety of places on the Interwebz, but a good place to start is at Widgetbox.
  • Start blogging. Because, let’s face it, no matter how bling-tastic your blog is, the most important part, the soul of your blog, is your content. So, happy blogging!

The steps above are basically how The Blawgirl got started in the blog world. Since I started a couple of years ago, my preferences have evolved, and I eventually decided to register my own domain and start this site. You can find out more about this blog in particular at my “About” page. See y’all on Monday!

Photo: Kristina B / Flickr

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