Blogging has become very popular among artists on the internet. Typically, artists choose one of two blogging platforms – Blogger or Wordpress. A free blog can be created at both of these sites. I have two main blogs myself, both hosted by Blogger. In my time online, I have discovered several ways to make these blogs appear more professional, even though they are freely hosted by Google.
The advantages of using Blogger are many.
- In minutes anyone with little technical knowledge can have a free blog of their own.
- Blogger is also known for its high security. Your blog is as secure as your Google password.
- Blogger has 100% uptime. Hosted websites sometimes experience periods of downtime. You can feel confident that people will always find your blog.
- Plenty of free widgets, tutorials and codes are available on the web to optimize the blog.
For those who have a blog hosted by Google Blogger, here are some steps you can take it make it appear more professional.
How to Make a Professional Looking Blog at Google Blogger
Search for a free premium templateYou have the option of choosing one of the free templates which Blogger provides. But, there are certain advantages of finding a premium Blogger template.
Uniqueness – Much less people using it than the free templates from Blogger.
Optimized for SEO – Many of the premium templates are created by web designers and are optimized for search engines.
Search at Google for free Blogger portfolio template (search under images to see some very good free templates) or free Blogger magazine template, depending on the type you want.
To add your new template, click Template in your Blogger dashboard menu. Hit Backup/Restore at the top right. Backup your current template first by clicking Download full template, in case you are not satisfied with the look of the new one. Then, click the Choose File button to upload your new Blogger template.
Remove the Blogger navbar at the topThe blogger navigation bar has several functions, including search, next blog, flag blog, and a signin for your Dashboard. But, the main disadvantage is that it makes a blog look like millions of blogs out there. So, in the interest of having a professional looking and unique blog, I recommend removing this navbar.
Login to your Blogger dashboard. Select Layout in the main menu. Click the edit link next to Navbar at the top to get a Navbar configure menu. At the bottom, of this menu, check the Off option. Hit Save and you are done. Your blog will now display a blank space where the navbar once was.
If you don’t like this blank space, there is a more complicated way of removing the code by editing your template. Tutorials can be found for this by searching for remove blogger navbar at Google. Remember though, before editing your Blogger template, always back it up!
Get a unique custom domainIf your goal is to receive visitors via search engines, you will be fighting an uphill battle without a custom domain for your blog. The normal domain for blogger normally looks like this: grahammatthewsart.blogspot.com. With recent changes, these domains actually redirect to country specific domains such as .ca, depending on where a visitor lives. Technically, your visitors will be going to different blogs, since the domains are different.
Of course this presents several problems if you are hoping to get your blog ranked in search engines. Blogger traffic is spread out across several country specific domains!
There is a very simple solution to this… but it is surprising how often it is overlooked – a Custom Domain. Buying and setting up a custom domain is very easy. Blogger has their own service for just $10 a year. Godaddy also has an easy setup page for Blogger.
We have a tutorial for redirecting a custom domain to Blogger – Redirect Godaddy Domain to Blogger If you need help setting up a domain, please mention it below.
Blogger FaviconThe favicon is the tiny icon seen near the name of your website, at the address bar in your browser. They make a blog appear more professional and are one of the ways to brand yourself on the web.
A favicon is typically 16 X 16 px in size. To create one, search online for free favicon creator or go to the free tool at Dynamic Drive. Use a logo, or even use a photo of yourself or a painting.
Refer to this tutorial for creating a logo: Make a Logo
When your favicon is created, go to Layout in your Blogger dashboard. Near the Favicon section at the top, click edit. Find the favicon file on your computer, upload it, Save, and you are all done.
Create an attractive banner for the top.A banner can include your logo, your name, and even image(s) of your artwork. The size will depend on the size which your template allows. If you have knowledge of Photoshop or other image editing software, I recommend creating one there. There are also numerous free online banner makers which may be found by searching using that phrase.
If you want a tutorial for creating a banner using Photoshop or other software, please let me know.
These are just a few things which can be done to make a Blogger blog appear more professional. After these are done, take additional steps, such as adding a label cloud, a form for your contact page, and exploring the many free widgets available online. I have completed these steps for my own blog at Graham Matthews Art.