How to Customize Your Blog’s Theme - dummies

By Shiv Singh, Stephanie Diamond

In addition to outstanding content, a standout design or customized theme will set your blog apart from the rest of the social marketing world. There’s a reason most serious bloggers pay extra money for a custom theme: branding.

Mind you, there’s nothing wrong with a stock theme layout. In fact, many are free or inexpensive. However, if you go that route, realize that many other bloggers may have that same theme. You want to stand out in a good way, and that won’t necessarily happen if your blog is confused with other similarly designed blogs because you all share the same template.

Custom theme must-haves

In the long run, it pays to have someone else implement a custom theme because important components are on the line:

  • Logo: Your logo should be original and reflective of you, the type of business you run, and your brand. You want people to look at your blog and think of you. Not all stock themes allow you to easily change your logo.

  • Design: An original design says that you’re unique and are willing to invest in your business.

  • Personality: When you customize your own theme, you’re able to inject a little of your personality into it, which you can’t always do with a stock theme.

  • Reliability: Most blogs with a custom theme are more reliable and have a faster loading time.

  • Better search engine optimization: The framework behind many of today’s custom themes allows for better search engine optimization.

Must-have’s on both stock and custom themes

Whether you decide to have a stock theme or a custom theme, all blogs should have certain components, especially if you want people to find out more about you and your brand, and you want them to share your content.

Don’t overlook the following items when choosing a theme and design for your blog:

  • Share buttons: Allow others to share your content.

  • Follow Me buttons: If you have a presence on the different social networking platforms, be sure to include buttons in your blog’s sidebar so that your readers can also follow you on Twitter, LinkedIn, Google+, and Facebook.

  • About Me page: Your About Me page tells everyone about your background or information about the brand.

  • Contact details: How will people get in touch with you if you don’t leave them your contact information? At the very least, provide an e-mail address. Bigger brands also post addresses and a customer service line for the corporate office.

  • Product or service details: What good is bringing people to your blog or website if they’re not going to be directed to a sales page eventually? If you’re an author, have a tab on your blog featuring your books and where to buy them. If you sell jewelry, post images of your best pieces. If you sell gourmet food, make sure people can go somewhere to view pricing info.

  • Subscribe buttons: If you want folks to keep coming back, be sure to have subscribe buttons at eye level or above the fold. Offer several options, such as RSS, Facebook, or e-mail subscriptions. Many times, when people land on blogs, it’s a one-off gig because they don’t always know how to find you again. If you offer ways to subscribe, you’ll find many people returning on a regular basis.