25th day

DAY 25: ADAPT A CUSTOM DETAIL FOR YOUR BLOG

Even if you love your house, you’ve probably admired a detail at a friends’ place — a paint color you love, an end table you’d never seen, an interesting way or organizing book. Blogs are the same. You may love your theme and have customized it just so, but you’ve probably visited someone else’s site and thought, “Ooh, I wish I’d though (or knew how) to use a widget like that!” or “I love their logo!”

Today’s assignment: Browse the blogs you follow and note a custom touch you love. Tell the blogger you love it, and interpret it for your own blog.

Why?

         Because there are thousands of bloggers doing millions of creative things with their sites — and there’s nothing wrong with being inspired by that.

         Because visiting others’ sites sparks ideas for how to customize your own. The bolt of inspiration is what counts, even if you end up with something that looks nothing like the original.

         Because inspiration deserves thanks. If you see something innovative, let the blogger know — you’d appreciate the same thanks. (And you might just get a new reader out of it.)

Even if you’ve been blogging for years, you’ve seen something eye-catching on another site and wondered about how you could improve your own. Today’s your chance to act on that.

You don’t — and shouldn’t — simply copy someone else’s header or widgets. You should take note of what you think is beautiful, or creative, or fun, and think about (1) why you’re drawn to it and (2) how you might adapt it for the blog you’ve already got going.  Maybe it’s the idea of a customized Twitter widget, or the concept of using the same photo from different angles for your header and background. Whatever it is, it should fit with you blog.

Not sure what to look for? Here’re are some creative custom touches we’ve seen in our daily meanderings:

 

Quelcy Kogel’s clever link to her Instagram account resides in a text widget in her sidebar.

Quelcy Kogel, resident food blogger over at With the Grains, uses funky custom line drawings displayed in text widgets to entice readers to visit her on various social networks.

She uses image widgets featuring unique drawing to represent her Facebook, Pinterest, Instagram, and Twitter accounts, as well as for some of her regular features, like as “Juice of the Week.” We particularly love the awesome waffle/Instagram mashup. (Mmm, waffles.)

Lucy, a travel blogger at On the Luce, uses a map-inspired custom header that reinforces her travel theme and complements her light blue background.

 

Lucy’s custom header looks great on her light blue background.

Vanessa, proprietress of A Weirder Fetish, uses a funky drawing of closely placed houses — light gray, so as not to distract — as her background:

“I chose a group of houses as my custom background, so that the tiled effect would display rows and rows of a closely-knit populated town,” says Vanessa. “It creates the sense that every single place in this world is connected to each other in one way or another — that we are not too different after all. It has always been my dream to travel — this background also serves as a constant reminder to achieve this dream!”

 

The tiny, close knit houses that form Vanessa’s background denote community.

Here’s some more inspiration to help spark your imagination.

         You might want to showcase your latest piece of art in a sidebar text widget, like Lisa does on her site Lisa Kairos :: Open Studio.

         You might want to spruce up your background with a complementary custom image, as Lindsay‘s done over at Designs by Lulu.

         You might consider pairing a custom header with a custom background, as Meg and Gigi have at their book review blog, Girls of Summer.

For even more, take a look at the “Customizing” series on the WordPress.com News Blog.

Once you add the touch to your blog, let your inspiration know. You can do this in a blog post if you’d like. If that doesn’t fit with your blog, feel free to simply leave them a comment, give them a shout-out on Twitter, or email them privately — that kind of one-on-one connection can be just as valuable as some public link love.

Be sure to take advantage of support documents and the forums to find the instructions and help you need in making this customization. You may need to stretch yourself and learn something new today.

If there’s absolutely nothing you want to change or add to your blog, that’s fine, too! You can consider this a free day, although we’d highly recommend spending a bit of time visiting others and leaving a few comments, or figuring how how to use some aspect of WordPress (or whatever platform you use) that’s been puzzling you.

To chat with other Zero to Hero participants, visit today’s forum thread.

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