Thursday 11 August 2016

How I built my own blog on Blogger

Today's topic is a little different from the usual food-related posts. :)
Ever since I created this blog, I cannot stop fiddling with my HTML and have changed quite a lot of layout and design over time - I've been messing around with coding more than actually writing posts. Oops! When I started this blog, I didn't know much about SEO, HTML or CSS. But out of my curiosity, I began customising and building my own blog, which ended up becoming one of my hobbies. :) I am still working on the design and it's not perfect, but today I would like to share with you my 3 basic tips for building a blog from scratch. All you need is your creativity, persistence, strong web research skills, and free tips from amazing web developers and coders. :)

n.b. I am not going into details about coding, but if you do have any questions, please feel free ask. :)

Blogger or Wordpress

Before I begin, there is this ultimate question: which blog hosting site do you choose, Blogger or Wordpress? I've got to build websites on both hosting sites. In terms of customisation, Blogger can still be customised quite a lot with coding, but I personally think Wordpress is easier and gives you more freedom. There are also various plugins and templates you can choose from (using X theme and working on cornerstone was absolutely amazing - easy and stylish). But building a blog on Wordpress can be expensive if you want more than basic features. I didn't think about these differences when started this blog, but I just wanted a simple blog page where I could share my words from my head, so Blogger was just perfect for me. :) Blogger gives you a good-old look of a blog, but if you fancy a more professional looking website with new features, plugins, and sliders, go for Wordpress! ;)

Tip 1: Purchase a custom domain

This allows you to have your own special URL, which does not end with "" or "". In order to get it, you have to pay an annual fee to providers. Having a custom domain is like renting a big detached house for yourself otherwise living in a free communal apartment block. And choosing a hosting site (i.e. Blogger or Wordpress) is like deciding where to locate your house. For me, creating my own domain name increased my attachment to my blog. It made me feel like I got to own my big park to play at. Plus, shorter and neater the better, isn't it? ;)

Another great thing about getting a custom domain is that you can keep it as long as you pay for renewals. This means that every time you change your hosting site, you don't have to change your website address. This will prevent your readers from getting lost looking for you with a wrong URL. Additionally, you can build up your SEO (Search Engine Optimisation) and keep it going as long as you are an active blogger on your domain, which Blogger, powered by Google is also amazing at helping. ;) Basically, the longer you keep your domain name, the stronger your SEO gets, and more people will get to read your posts as your blog is more likely to appear higher in the result on search engines.

Out of many domain providers, I bought my one from GoDaddy - their customer service is very prompt and friendly, and the price is reasonable as well. So far, it's cost me £2.97/per year for the first year, and £18.49/per year for the following year with a security feature.

* After purchasing the domain, you need to set it up with your blog.
How to:

Tip 2: Choose a theme

Earlier design
After choosing a blogger template and adding some gadgets (e.g. Instagram widget, social media icons, etc.), it's time for your creativity to shine! :) 

You can pretty much customise whatever you like by going to Layout, and then Template > Customise > Advanced, or Template > Edit HTML. (e.g. colours, fonts, size, position, padding, margin, decoration, hover effects, etc.) Here, choosing a overall theme is very important, otherwise your blog can look rather cluttered..(Example: 'Earlier design 1' :D) My choice of font colour in my earlier design made it very difficult to read, and there were way too many colours that it was all conflicting. There are so many choices when it comes to choosing the colour for your blog. Preferably choose your main theme colour, then try to find what colour goes well with the theme.

Here is a helpful website which suggests various 5 different colour matches. :)

For me, I eventually decided to make my blog appear just like my diary that I write with my pencils, and to get rid of all the unnecessary widgets and effects to made it very simple. This led me to use slightly lighter grey (#66666) and white (#FFFFFF) as a theme colour.

Tip 3: Learn from Google/Websites

Be specific when searching - if not working, try out different key words.

When you have a question or problem about styling or design in general, Google can help you answer most of the times. Don't just give up your search - if you have a problem, there are someone else out there who's got the same problem and there will be those who can help to solve it! 

The most difficult part for me was to customise mobile template, which you cannot on Blogger unless you work on with HTML and CSS, a lot. I won't go for a detail here now, but if anyone has any questions about how I did this or that after checking my mobile view, please feel free to leave a comment or message me to . :)

The following is a list of very very very...helpful websites that I have been learning a lot from:
  • XOMISSE - SEO tips and various pretty effects & styles,
  • Crawlist - how to make sticky widgets,
  • Carrie Loves - how to increase the size of Blogger thumbnails on mobile templates,
  • AddThis - great collection of social media icons and share buttons.

I hope you enjoy building your blog too! :)



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