Three Quick Customization Ideas For Your Blog

From using a Text Widget in a new way to experimenting with tools to introduce new fonts onto your site, here’s a quick list of customization ideas.

Looking to add a few custom tweaks to your blog? Interested in simple ways to personalize your site? Read on.

Display a Text Widget for updates

In the first Declutter Your Prose post, we suggested avoiding phrases like “Sorry for my absence, but I’ve been…” Readers reiterated this suggestion in the second post of the series, saying you don’t have to apologize for not posting, or explain to readers where you’ve been.

Instead of diluting a post introduction with this information, consider adding a Text Widget to the top of your sidebar for updates, like a “Where am I?” blurb for travel writers or a “What I’m reading now” message for book bloggers. You can use this space for general news or specific details about a project, upcoming event, and more. Screen Shot 2014-09-04 at 5.37.42 PM

Get started: Go to Appearance → Widgets, drag the Text Widget to the area where you’d like it to appear, and write your note. It can be a simple, text-only widget, but remember that Text Widgets can do much more: you can display text, links, images, HTML, or a mix of these.

Add popular categories to your menu

You can promote specific content with a Custom Menu: many bloggers create menu tabs to other pages (About, Contact) and custom links (to an Etsy shop, Instagram account, or another blog, for example). Be sure to experiment with category pages, too, especially if you already have existing categories in which you group similar posts together (“book reviews,” “street photography,” “vegetarian recipes”).

Depending on what you’ve set up, you might add multiple categories to your menu (“fiction,” “nonfiction,” “poetry”) if you’d like to feature them with equal prominence. Or, you may prefer to display one category to establish yourself within a niche or promote a particular project within your body of work.

Screen Shot 2014-09-11 at 8.45.57 PM

Get started: Go to Appearance → Menus, where you can add categories to a menu (in addition to pages and links). Please note that if you don’t see this option, you don’t have a menu-supported theme.

Unify your site with a font, sans upgrade

You don’t need uber-design skills to visually spice up your site, nor do you need the Custom Design upgrade to achieve a certain look. Consider WhatFont, a browser extension that identifies fonts on webpages. Once installed, you can identify a font by hovering over the text:

WhatFont used on the Bloggy theme, which identifies the Special Elite font.

We used WhatFont on the Bloggy theme, which features the Special Elite font.

If you see a font you like somewhere on the web, use a tool like WhatFont to identify it, then check if it’s free-for-use on a site like Font Squirrel. If available, use this font for your blog title in a Custom Header or for text in a Image Widget, which you can create in Photoshop or a free image editing alternative (like the built-in Preview tool on a Mac).

Want bonus points? Use the same font in a few areas of your blog (header and footer, header and sidebar, for example) to further unify your design.

Get Started: Identify the fonts on your site, and other blogs and websites you love. See if you can mix and match free, open source fonts on sites like Font Squirrel and Google Fonts. As an alternative, experiment with the fonts in PicMonkey, where you might find the perfect font to use somewhere on your site.

We’ll share more quick ways to personalize your blog in a later installment. For now, do you have any other ideas to share with fellow bloggers?

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