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Having a unique theme and adding personal touches to your blog is by no means a necessity, but it can really enhance and enable your site to stand out more among the blogosphere’s branded band of bloggers. Just like with any aspect of your brand, you want people to immediately make that association with you and your blog. This can easily be done with a custom design and the subtle injections of the person or persons that are behind the blog. If you are not in a position where you can create your own custom theme, do not fret, customizing a free or premium theme can work for your blog as well.

These attentions to detail tend to attract readers more than the impersonal feel that can be imparted by using a standard theme that lacks the personality and flavor of a customized one. So in this post, I have assembled 10 ways that you can easily adjust and tweak these details to give your site that distinctive edge that will help establish your blog’s presence. Start making your mark today to effectively strengthen your blog’s prominence, by working through the steps below.

Tutorials, Tools & Resources

  • Customize Your Own WordPress Theme
  • How to Create a WordPress Theme from Scratch
  • Thematic – A free, open-source, highly extensible, search-engine optimized WordPress Theme Framework featuring 13 widget-ready areas, grid-based layout samples, styling for popular plugins, and a whole community behind it.
  • Sandbox – A powerful tool available for WordPress theme designers and developers. The Sandbox can be easily designed just with CSS, so beginners will feel comfortable not bothering with PHP.

Examples

Mattmatt

Jay Haflingjayhafling

Kulturbanause
kulturbanause

1. Have a Custom Default Gravatar

The first item up for discussion, is the use of a custom gravatar instead of the default wordpress mystery man. Not that there is anything wrong with remaining a little mysterious, by all means, be enigmatic if you want. However, by using a custom gravatar, you are helping to further establish and solidify your branding. Once you have this gravatar in place, the more faceless interactions that take place throughout your blog, the more it will build brand consistency for your site. Not to mention, there are those among the online audience who will take you and your site a bit more seriously if you have this gravatar reflecting your brand instead of its bland predecessor.

Tutorials, Tools & Resources

Examples

My Ink Blogmyinkblog

Build Internetbuildinternet

10 Steps10steps

2. Style Author Comments

Styling author’s comments differently than the rest of them left by your readers, can really help the author’s replies stand out to those who are specifically looking for more input from them. Even with threaded comments (now that WP is offering this style), you can still get lost looking for the author’s two cents more if the blog gets a lot of commenters replying back and forth. Setting these specifically apart from the rest will also show that you want your authors to stand out and be heard, so it can also be interpreted as a reflection on the respect you have for the people who write for your site.

Tutorials, Tools & Resources

Examples

Brian Yerkesbrianyerks

Noupenoupe

Think Designthinkdesign

3. Put Extra Time Into Your About Page

Since readers tend to respond to the personalization aspects of a design, that is indicative of their desire to connect on a more personal level with whomever runs the site. Give them a large leg up in this search for more about you with an awesome, detailed About Page. Most sites have this bit of insight offered anyway, so why not step up to the plate and really give the people an out of the park grand slam. Let your readers know more about you, your journey to this place, your background, etc…the key is, don’ be shy. And if you feel so inclined, the inclusion of a picture on the About Page, does a lot for making that personal connection a little more solid. Let your readers know who you are, and it will pay off for your blog, because, also, people tend to want to know who they are listening to.

Tutorials, Tools & Resources

Examples

Fudge Graphicsfudgegraphics

Intuitive Designsintuitivedesigns

Matt Brettmattbrett

4. Use your Footer Space Effectively

There are a number blogs that have a boring footer which is not at all interactive. It simply rests there at the bottom of the page as a mere placeholder for copyright info and announcements about which CMS powers the site. But this space can be used so much more effectively to further engage the readers by containing elements such as a Flickr showcase, or a highlight of popular posts from your archives, and so on. Bottom line, the bottom of your site needs as much of a personal touch and attention as the rest of the site. A regular footer will just act as a send off from your site. But tweak the footer and make it more engaging, and your footer will simply send them deeper into your blog!

Tutorials, Tools & Resources

Examples

bcandullobcandullo

Blog Spoon Graphicsspoon

Assault Blogassaultblog

5. Have a Unique & Useful 404 Page

There are times when people discover your blog for the first time via a broken link, and you want this interrupted introduction to impart to them a good sense of what kind of blog you have and what they can expect from your site. After all, their first impression may already be a bit marred by the link they were looking for not being there when they arrive, so you want to repair this breach with some courteous assistance. Provide them with links to new or popular posts, a site map, and more. This way, while they may not have found the link they were looking for, they may still take the time to look around your site, and not just frustratedly flee forgetting about your site as it has disappointed them and interrupted the flow of their surf. Use this chance to re-route this first impression into a more positive and memorable one.

Tutorials, Tools & Resources

Examples

Inspiration Bitinspirationbit

Probloggerproblogger

Veerle’s Blogveerle

6. Incorporate Social Media

Social media is a major source for reaching out to your online audience and further connecting with them. By incorporating your social media activities and accounts into your blog, you are opening up more avenues for that insight and interactiveness with your readers. Lifestreaming is a popular way of making these media outlet inclusions, but you can even achieve this in a more simple manner as well. Using social media icons to link to your accounts, or for that matter just having links will work too. As long as you are showing your readers that you are open to engaging them further, then your site will be seen as more personal and accessible.

Tutorials, Tools & Resources

Examples

Loon Designloon

Lee Munroeleemunroe

I love Colorsilovecolor

7. Highlight Your Authors Well

Just like having a great about page which highlights you, if you have guest authors who regularly contribute to your site, you want to give your readers a good idea of who they are as well. This gives you another great opportunity to demonstrate your appreciation to all of those people who work hard to make your site all that it is. Not only will this keep showing those people whom you have come to rely on for quality content how much you value them, but it will entice others to contribute as well. For you have shown that their work and role will always be respected and recognized.

Tutorials, Tools & Resources

Examples

Tutorial 9tutorial9

Fuel Your Codingfycoding

Line 25line25

8. Engage Your Readers

I have mentioned doing this at various times, but it is such a valuable way of personalizing your site that it had to have its own place in the list as well. People want to feel like they can share and discuss in the topics you have raised and the sites that engage them effectively, are the ones they will return to. Engaging your readers shows that you are active and listening to them, and it lets them know that you value their input as much as they value yours. This is easy to achieve beyond the ways I have already mentioned. Have a share section at the bottom of each post so they can share it easily with their other online friends. End each post with questions to your readers to prompt them to comment, and make sure you stay on top of replying to comments so readers do not feel ignored.

Tutorials, Tools & Resources

Examples

Well Medicatedwellmedicated

Colorburnedcolorburned

The Design O’blogdesignoblog

9. Have Useful & Comprehensive Archives

You have heard it before and you will definitely hear it again, content is king. So highlighting the content on your blog is one of the most important things you can do to help your readers connect to it. And by displaying it readily and so comprehensively, it further reflects a pride that you have for the work that has been put into your blog. Why go through all the work and toil to come up with the content for your site, if you are simply going to let it become buried as time passes. Make sure that your readers have easy access to your content through customization and they will spend more time on your blog for sure.

Tutorials, Tools & Resources

Examples

Six Revisionssixrevisions

Snazzy Archivessnazzy

Janko at Warp Speedjanko

10. Personalize Your Login Page

Personalizing your login page is a must have if you allow readers to create accounts on your blog. Once again, the personal attention to detail will set you apart from the sites who have taken the less initiative driven route. Furthermore, this takes steps to strengthen your branding, and each step in that direction is one worth taking as it will help to build brand trust. Though even if you don’t allow readers to create accounts, this is still a great way to enhance branding as all of your guest authors will have to use this page to gain access to post. And if you are a lone wolf in this blog game, this can also provide a nice looking, personal login page just for you since it is something you are likely to look at virtually every day.

Tutorials, Tools & Resources

Examples

login1

login2

login3

Wrap Up

That about does it on this end. Follow these 10 steps and your blog will be on its way to making a permanent mark on the blogosphere. Is there anything I left out, that you would add for personalizing and customizing your blog?

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