Monday, April 8, 2013

Building Your Blog: Choosing Your Name, Layout, and Theme

When setting up your blog, it's important to consider your purpose. In other words, if you're setting up a family blog, your blog goals are going to be different than if you're creating a business type blog. I'll mainly be discussing the latter, particularly in the direction of writers.

What's In A Name?
I learned, from several writing conferences, that writers need to have a blog for networking purposes.

Okay, I thought. So I set up my blog on Blogger and created my account. My first speed bump came in the form of the name.

What do you call your blog? I wanted something catchy, but later learned that, as a writer, one choice is preferential to all the others.

Your name.

You are your brand and promoting 'you' is what your blog is about. You have to get your name out there as you network with other writers. Don't believe me? Well, I learned this naming convention from writer Shalee McArthur. Shalee had a lot of the same experiences I had when she began blogging, which is why her blog was first titles Life, The Universe, and Writing. After she learned to promote herself, her blog title changed to: Shalee McArthur: Life, The Universe, and Writing.

Why is that such a big deal?

Because since her blog bore her name (, when I heard her name mentioned at a writing conference, I was able to stop and tell her how much I appreciated her blog. Boom! A quick networking moment. That might not have happened if she became known as: Life, The Universe, And Writing.

Fortunately, when I set up my blog, I had the sense to use my name as the blog's address:
So, even though I went with a catchy name (Paper Petroglyphs), I could still add my name to the top.

Choosing A Theme And Layout
Your theme and layout is a personal choice. Do you want to go with a forest theme or high tech? I recommend you pick a theme and color scheme based on your writing style.

As I said earlier, I chose petroglyphs--or simple communication--as my theme. Simple and primitive. I made this choice because I like writing in a wide variety of genres. If I liked mainly fantasy, I probably could have gone with a forest theme. Sci-fi? Glossy metal and techie banners. But I wanted a wider palette that I could grow into.

Whatever you choose, don't be afraid that you'll be stuck with it forever. You can and will change your mind until you settle into your blog.

Once you've got a theme, you'll need to pick your layout. You can play with several as you build your blog, but this is a personal choice too. However, my recommendation is to have your menus on the right and bottom of your blog with your blog content on the left. Why? Because western readers typically read left to right and your content is the first thing they'll see.

Everyone has menu options on their blogs, but if a reader makes it to your blog, you want to give them something immediately. They can navigate around later.

A Note On Readability
Readability is the ease in which text can be read and understood. Various factors to measure readability have been used, such as "speed of perception," "perceptibility at a distance," "perceptibility in peripheral vision," "visibility," "the reflex blink technique," "rate of work" (e.g., speed of reading), "eye movements," and "fatigue in reading." (From Wikipedia)
As a writer--and really anyone--you want your blog to be readable. This means a LOT more than just checking your grammar. Anything that slows your reader's reading (say that three times fast) down, must be avoided.
  • If you use ten different fonts on your page, you're hurting readability. Less is more.
  • If you use twenty colors on your blog, you're hurting readability. Less is more.
  • If you use an 8 and 24 point fonts interchangeably, you're hurting readability. Less is more.
  • If you use multiple graphics in your blog posts, you're hurting readability. Less is more.
  • If you have menus on the left, right, and bottom, you're hurting readability. Less is more.
  • If you use catchy or phonetic spelling, you're hurting readability. Less is more.
Seeing a trend yet? 'Keep it simple, stupid' (KISS) is something we all have to constantly maintain. The last thing you want to do, is turn off a potential reader because your blog is 'cluttered.'

Sound Off
What were issues you discovered when creating a blog? Have you found techniques you wish you had known sooner? If you could give one piece of advice to a new blogger, what would it be?


  1. Good points, all. My blog kind of has may name in it--a play on my name anyway. Right now my website links to my blog, so either will take you there.

  2. All helpful tips, Anthony. Even though my blog has the name Penning Praises, my web address contains my name. From my experience, it's better to have your name instead of the blog's name or your brand in the web address. People may not remember the brand.

  3. Good post. Most of us already have blogs so hopefully we made good choices like these. Thanks.

  4. Check, and check. A blog name is a selling pitch, in and of itself. It shouldn't be just a mere expression or an empty saying. Bloggers tend to take this for granted, since access can be had in less than a second. So do companies who use said blogs. There is an art in all of this, and lots of planning and construction involved. This is stuff for professionals.

    Layla @ Sacramento Marketing Labs


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