Blogging Series- Setting up an Appearance

In a prior post in my Blogging Series, I outlined where to start, how to get a name for your blog, signing up for a blog, and have explained WordPress’ Dashboard and comment control for you.

In this post, we will be going over how to set up a blog’s appearance online.

A blog’s appearance is one of the draw cards to your blog. However, it depends on what the blog is for, personal preferences, and what you can afford which makes it all unique.

To set up the appearance, go to your dashboard and click on the appearance choice on the left side of the screen.

Notice the red circle - this is the appearances section.

Notice the red circle – this is the appearances section.

This activates everything which deals with the appearance of your blog.

Here’s a video where I show you how to get into different screens with appearances or you can read about it below.


There will be a menu which drops down and gives you more options for appearance changes. These are:

Themes – This is where someone has made a template to get you started. You can pick from Free and Paid templates. It’s up to you and how much you want to spend!

Customize – This is how you make the templates yours. Remember, the more you want to customize things the more its likely that its going to cost you money.

Custom Design – If you want to change things in a big way you might need the premium plan which means you pay money.

Site Title and Tagline – You’ve given your blog a name, maybe a tagline or even a picture – make sure it’s on the blog so people know what you blog name is!

Colors & Backgrounds – It’s exactly what it says – changing colors and backgrounds. It’s very basic and if you want a specific color chances are you are going to want to spend some money.

Fonts – Again it’s exactly what it says – fonts. The basic ones are free but if you are trying to use a certain type of font, again it’s probably going to cost you.

Header Image – Do you have an image you want people to know you as? Then use it here – think of Nike and other famous companies with logos.

Widgets – Want to put something that’s completely outside of WordPress? Chances are there’s a widget for it – sometimes these depend on the theme you’ve chosen, so choose wisely young Palawan as Yoda would say.

Static Front Page – this means if you want your front page which doesn’t change then turn it on, but if you want the most recent posts to appear, then turn it off. It’s up to you…

Widgets – These are the widgets which are available to you. From displaying spam, to about me, to blogs follow, blog stats, RSS links, Twitter – they are all here for you to use. Click on Add and add them you go…

The Widgets section

The Widgets section

Menus – Do you want a menu on your site? If so, this is where you put the menu structure in place.

Header – Again this is where you can customize your Header image, tagline, etc.

Background – Again, this is another way you can customize the background.

Mobile – This is to make your site accessible by cell/mobile or tablet friendly. Remember, Google has made the rankings when people search for things dependent if your site is accessible via these devices as of April 2015.

You might need to make a change and then preview the page and go back and forth until you get the site how you want it. This is where I can tell you where things are located, but its personal preference as to how you set things up.

One thing I do recommend, is from time to time refresh or freshen up your blog – in other words, go in and make some changes to make it look new and exciting. Add new or delete old features as features change or new ones happen.

Did I cover what you wanted to know? If not, let me know!

 Your next step for the blog will be talking more in-depth about Widgets. This will be done on the next post in the Blogging Series.


Blogging Series-Is it difficult to set up your own blog? Are they very technical? Colors/theme?

Now we come to some of the questions I’ve been getting asked. These even get asked in one of the classes I teach which is part of a Social Media course.

Is it difficult to set up your own blog?

Actually it isn’t difficult at all.

Step 1:

Sit down and make a list of topics you want on your blog.

Before you do any of the setting up, sit down and list all the topics you want to talk about on your blog. How long will they be? Maybe put subtopics down and list ideas from there. What’s the overall, general topic of everything? Then sit down and think up a name for your blog using the general topic within the title. An example would be this blog. I talk about a range of IT or computer and internet problems, questions, and concerns. Then I’ve listed things like social media, viruses, software (operating systems), tablets and computers…and then named it an IT Blog with my name.

Step 2:

Choosing a site to host your blog. Back when I first started to blog, the most used blog site was Google’s Blogger. Keep in mind, back then a blog was basically a chat about what you did in a day, which is why after a while I stopped writing it because my life is just NOT that eventful – usually. After that, I was researching something else, and found the concept of blogging had changed. Its more topic driven rather than tell me what you’ve done today type of thing. This is when I started to get back into it.

Which do I choose? Other?                           Taken from


Then I found the hosting for blogs had changed from mainly Google’s Blogger to WordPress. I researched and found for social or hobbies people use Blogger but for “professional” or more business oriented feel people use WordPress. Which is why I have a blog listed on WordPress and 2 blogs (a personal views blog and a family history blog) on Blogger.

Are there more sites to host blogs out there? Yes, there are, but people are using Blogger and WordPress more often than not. Tumbler is a type of service which has been getting more popular, but still not as popular as the other 2 listed above.

Further, if you are more tech savvy, sometimes people put their blog on their websites using one of the services that are online. As this can be complicated, I won’t get into this here. In fact, I don’t use this at all, but I do have a link on my website to here so people can still find it.

Step 3:

Another question that is asked about quite a bit is cost. The blog, for me, has cost me nothing but my time and energy to set up and write. Well, except for the internet connection to have access. You can buy themes and such, but that is strictly up to you.

Step 4:

So far the setting up of the blog hasn’t been technical at all – am I right? Now we’re going to start getting into setting it up. This requires you to choose one of the blogging sites out there. For our purposes, I will show you how to set up a blog here on WordPress. You will need to sign up for the service on a blogging site. Below is what the website looks like. If you look at the address bar you would see you need to go to

WordPress' sign up page at

WordPress’ sign up page at

As you can see, its pretty much right there in the middle of the page for you to click on. Then there will be some information to fill out. One of these is to choose a URL or address for your blog. A Tip? Keep it connected to the name of your blog so people will remember it easily.

Can you change the blog address after you’ve named it?

Yes, you can BUT if you do this then the people who were following you before will probably be lost – either through not going back in and following the new address or not being told of the address.

Within the main dashboard (think of your car – this is what control the blog) you can click on My Blogs option and then run your mouse over the blog name and select choose. I’ve found full instructions on the WordPress site.

This is the page I would get if I go in to change the address of THIS blog.

This is the page I would get if I go in to change the address of THIS blog.

Step 5:

Once you sign up, then upon signing in, the first thing you will see is the dashboard. As I’ve mentioned above, think of it like the dashboard of your car. If you want lights on, know how fast you’re going, and on and on it will tell you and the same goes for the blog.

I’ve done a video explaining the Dashboard to you.

Also, here’s a video on how to protect your blog from getting unwanted or rude comments.

Is this answering any questions you were having about blogging? Are there things I’m missing? Please let me know!

 Your next step for the blog will be setting up an appearance. This will be done on the next post in the Blogging Series.

Social Media – My View on – Blogging

This week’s blog is about blogging. People use this term quite a bit since it was made popular back in the mid 2000’s, but did it exist before that? Depending on how you term it, I was blogging back in the mid 1990’s when I was using Bulletin Board and Usenet Systems. Of course, back then it wasn’t known as blogging – it was termed just catching up with friends and people online and that’s how blogging back in the late 1990’s was defined.

However, blogging was first used in the late 1990’s. However, no one I knew was using them. The first term I knew of blogging was in 2005. In 2005, a blog went into a diary form – where you would write about the going on in your personal life. And that’s exactly what it was like. You would list on what you would be doing that day, and then commenting the next day how the day before actually went. I then went from every day tKept Blog 2006o once a week because I was back working full-time and could not post as often. Then I realized that my life is really pretty boring because it was mainly just the same things day and week in and out.  I finally stopped because I found I was just writing the same thing and it was boring to me, so I could only imagine what it was doing to any readers I had!

Then I stepped away from most of the IT scene for a bit and report and government policies took over my life. However, about 16 months ago, I started to get the IT itch again and where I was working acknowledged my skills with letting me join working parties for social media, running the social media at a regional conference and letting me run the social media for our department in our regional office. Further, I went back for my Teaching and Assessment, so I could actually use my Associate in Applied Science Degree in Computer Information Systems and teach people. Thankfully, I took those steps as I was retrenched (was let go due to needed to reduce staff) nearly 7 months ago. Since then, I’ve started up this professional IT blog and “cleaned” out and restarted my personal blog. Further, I’ve been teaching and advising educational centres in Victoria Australia, and am almost done with my Certificate IV in Web Based Technologies. Hopefully then, I can get back into the IT sector.

I feel that today’s blogs are all about subject matter rather than what goes on in a person’s everyday life. Subject matter is something I can comment on as long as I know what tPen & Paperhe subject is. In fact, when have you ever known a person from New York not to have a comment on something? However, there are blogs out there for just about anything you can think of. I read ones about IT, genealogy, crafts, cooking, baking, politics and writing… the list is endless! As long as you have experience and know what the subject is about, you can comment on it. In fact, my personal blog I talk about things that go on in my life, so the main content is my life and views and not a type of subject. However, that being said, I have less followers and so far no one comments on that blog. However, it is there and it makes me feel better as a person.

Where do you get blogs?

I actually did a web search for blogs back in 2005 when I wanted to start one.  I wasn’t sure who would have them and what was involved in having one. After some searching around I found the one that was highly visible was Blogger.


Since I starteBloggerd to use Blogger in 2005, I know there have been a few others to come about. Further Blogger was sold and then bought by Google. This had me highly concerned as I’ve never had a good experience with Google when I was using the many different search engines in my past.

I use Blogger for my personal blog. It’s easier to use and it gives you great analytical stats for easy to use and it helps that they are free. I happily type in my weekly blog into a word processor and then all I have to do is copy and paste it from there into Blogger and with a few inserts of pictures and graphs the job is done. Nice, easy and simple!


HowevWordPresser, taking my Certificate IV in Web Based Technologies, the practitioner wanted us to use both WordPress and Google+ for communications. That meant using getting to know and use WordPress. As it’s the business norm and gets the higher traffic than the other blogs that are around – including Blogger.

I have to say that it’s been a real love and hate relationship between WordPress and I. I’ve tried to write-up my content in a word processor and do what I do for Blogger, but WordPress did some funky stuff with that. Then I tried to type into WordPress but as I typing the content the system decided it was going to go to sleep  (and yet the rest of the web was acting fine, so WordPress was upset) and then I lost my entire content. Yep, not a happy blogger here at that point and if you don’t believe me, you should ask my husband because some words were being said and it was not good going WordPress!

I find WordPress is very strict – it’s my way or the highway so get over it type of use. As I’m stubborn to a fault and persistent, it bothers me but I am determined to win at all costs and so the battle between me and WordPress continues.

Today there are many different types of blogging services out there. Recently Blog Services Review looked into the top Blog Services for 2013. These are WordPress, TypePad, Squarespace, Blogger, MySpace, AOL Journals, Windows Live Spaces, Xanga, and LifeJournal. I am sure that there are many other types of services out there as well.

What should I look for in the Services of them?

To me, there are a few things I take a look at when I chose the blogs I have.

Cost. I admit it I’m cheap. I took a look what was available and I choose a free service – because nothing beats getting something for free.

Traffic to the blogging service. Traffic is important for exposure and to get readers in. After all, that’s why we blog isn’t it?

Ease of use. This is very important because if you have a hard time using the product, how often are you really going to put yourself through posting? The easier it is to use the more you’re going to post.

Terms and conditions. Make sure that you read the terms and conditions to make sure that what’s set out in them equals what you would be fine with in sharing for your content and images.

Tracking & Analytical info. What are you talking about you are probably saying unless you’re an IT & business person. This is the information we get from you, the readers. I get different stats from Blogger and WordPress. I have to say that I get moreblog audience out of Blogger’s stats capture than I do from WordPress. In WordPress, I get to see how many people and revisits I get. Also, it’s great that it lets people follow me through many kinds of social media. However, Blogger actually breaks it down into what countries people view the page from and how many people have viewed the page. The Blogger information lets me know what is more enjoyable and people find informative and from what countries so I can even compare certain points of view from one country to another. Whereas I can tell you how many people follow me in WordPress, but not how many people have actually visited the page.

Anyhow, it’s up to you – the blogger – in which format you want to use.  Further to the Blogging Services for 2013 Review, they have also put a list of what to look for in a Blog Service, so please feel free to visit their page as well.

What other things should I consider before setting up a blog?

Jo Thinking about next blog

Thinking about the next Blog post

Please make sure that you set aside enough time to actually do a proper blog. You will feel proud of it and will want to show it off rather than just posting something up that’s just thrown together. In fact, I found

a great place on the web which gives you some information on blogs and it’s free.

The design you choose for your layout of your blog has to be considered carefully because this will either attract or repel users like a bad smell.  Depending on what the blog is for, depends on what you can do to boost your blog. My first tip would be to write catchy title phrases and use the tagging feature. I have to admit, I don’t do well with the overall title phrases, but the tagging I’m getting used to. This will attract more users to your blog – just don’t mislead anyone by using the wrong terms. To find out more about this, please read this article that I found in Mashable.

In ending of my wisdom for this topic, I can use the use for it. It’s a much better and useful format for people to read and comment on compared to what blogging was used for back when it first started. However, we all do have to keep moving forward and that means using what is commonly used out in the business world. I recently read an article that says that even now bigger companies are using blogs (and in particular WordPress) to get their content, marketing and products in the blogosphere.

Further, once you get a blog, make sure you check for all comments (comments and comments marked as Spam as I found that some comments are put into the Spam filter that were not spam) and respond to them – don’t become a blogsnob. If you do all or even most of these things, you should have a successful blog.

Happy blogging!