Trust in yourself. Your perceptions are often far more accurate than you are willing to believe.”
Claudia Black

Welcome to the second post in the “just do it” series. This post concentrates on finding the right look (theme) for your blog. This post also purposely jumps over the hurdle of choosing a blogging platform and concentrates on the process of moving from concept to reality.

Becoming engaged in the act of creating not only ticks off another step towards your goal, it also kick-starts a mental process that helps build self-trust and boost confidence in your abilities.

Inspiration is for amateurs. The rest of us just show up and get to work.

Chuck Close

Choosing a theme

When professional designers term this process as the dreaded theme search, you know work is involved. Therefore, even if you are not going to use WordPress as your blogging platform I still suggest the following websites as a good an excellent place to start your search:

The links at both sites to customer blogs demonstrate the versatility of their themes.

Before rushing off to start your search, be clear in your own mind about your blog’s content, your budget, and your ability to customize a website.

For example, when I started my blog budget was zero. The reason for my blog, walking The Camino de Santiago and writing in France, was about to consume all my savings. I also knew my ability to learn new software was really good. However, without a blogging buddy I knew I was embarking on a steep learning curve.

Also, as my content wasn’t going to be confined to travel, I needed a theme which would allow for more than one category and which had options for a photo gallery.

By narrowing down my parameters, the search process was easier. I choose the WordPress Twenty Eleven theme.

Making a change

Six months down the track, the rotating photographic banner began to frustrate me. It appeared on all the categories, making it hard to have images relating to the subject matter of those pages.

This time I broadened my search parameters to include investigating how a theme links to other social media platforms and how it looks on a mobile device. I decided on a minimal magazine-style and to spend some money. I purchased the Watson theme.

Focus on your niche

If your blog occupies a niche such as food, then research blogs in your niche. I recently conducted a search of the top ten Australian food blogs, for my cousin.

Her blog will be focused on food (cooking, recipes, eating out and farmers markets) and kitchen-related objets d’art. My cousin’s aesthetic is evident in her Instagram photo: a chefs knife with skateboard deck handle (by Rowland Perry / @skate_shank), alongside fresh salmon steaks.

Like myself, my cousin is looking for a creative outlet and wants to build confidence before thinking about monetary gains. Given that all the food blogs I reviewed were custom built, I suggested focusing on photography and her urban-cool aesthetic. This led us to two free themes: the very urban and hip Suburbia theme, and the slightly retro and funky Fictive theme. The final decision on which theme to use is pending …

A final thought

One last piece of advice comes from Australian singer-songwriter Tim Bishop whom I met online while researching this post:

They [themes] all have limitations but the real skill is in making the best use of a theme’s capabilities, keeping it clean and simple.

Before you click the button to purchase a theme purchase or engage a website designer, ensure there is advise and support either at the end of the phone or on Google. In my first weeks of blogging I relied heavily on the WordPress forums for to educate myself and to help solve my problems.

Next in our series – filling the pages with content that’s worth reading.

Missed the first one in the series? Head on to Part 1.

Anthea Noonan Wade

Storyteller. Owner and Writer at The Artful

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