When I first started designing my blog I knew absolutely nothing about anything. All I can say is thank goodness I had a friend that was able to teach me the basics. But even with the help of that friend there are a lot of finicky details I wish I'd known before starting because, I'll tell you, I made a lot of irritating mistakes that I had to rectify later on. So in the hopes of having you avoid falling into the same traps that I did, I'm going to warn you about some of these mistakes. For reference I use Blogger. While some of these tips may also apply to Wordpress, some are specifically Blogger related.

1. Consider your blogging platform carefully:
This is a big of a regret of mine. When I first started my blog I briefly looked into Wordpress, decided it was too challenging and moved straight onto Blogger. Not that there aren't some good things about Blogger, but I wish I had been better informed before making the decision. Elaine has a great post on Xomisse that gives you a rundown of each option.

In general I'd say if saving money is a concern Blogger is probably a decent bet, however if you're willing to spend a little and you want a more freedom, then self-hosting with Wordpress is probably a good choice. Alternatively, Squarespace is another easy to use, beautiful platform.

2. Pick an easy to read domain name that you can live with:
Want an example of a terrible domain name? My own. When you tell people that your blog is called Bloomin' Rouge you know what they go out and search for? Blooming Rouge. I really recommend making sure your domain name is easy to remember and spell.

3. Adjust the widths of your blog to be wider:
This is completely up to you, but before you get started on posts and adding widgets and what not it's a good idea to take a look at the width of your entire blog and of the sidebar. You can do this in the “Adjust Widths” section of the Template Designer. I set my sidebar width quite wide because I didn't want all my sidebar widgets to feel narrow and crammed into a small space. Adjusting the widths of you blog later in the game, once you have added various widgets, is a lot more challenging. It means having to re-align a lot of things.

4. Utilize text transform uppercase and letter spacing:
This might seem super obvious to anyone that knows some coding, but like I said, when I first started my blog I knew literally nothing. I remember looking for fonts and thinking “none of these are what I want.” Then I realized that firstly, you can use CSS to transform any font into uppercase and secondly, you can add spacing between the letters of your titles that will completely change the way the font looks. I've explained how to apply these changes in my 5 More Ways to Clean Up Your Blogger Template post.

5. Google Fonts exists... know about it:
Google Fonts is a great resource. It grants you access to countless free fonts that you can install on your blog. Instructions on how to do so can be found in the “quick use” section of each font, however I remember still finding it quite confusing as a beginner. I'm thinking about putting up a detailed walk through on this for anyone that's interested.

6. Always add comments when adding CSS:
When I first started adding things to my CSS box, I regretfully never added any comments to them. By that I mean I never added anything that would help me find my CSS adjustments again in my code (because they annoyingly don't always stay in your CSS box).

What you want to do it leave a note for yourself, but “comment it out.” Comment it out means that anything you write in between certain symbols (/* */) won't make a difference to the code. That way, in the future you can just search for your note in your HTML, even if you don't remember what the specific piece of code looked like.

For example if you wanted to transform your sidebar titles to uppercase this is what you would paste into your CSS box:

/* custom – transform sidebar titles to uppercase start */
.sidebar h2 {
text-transform: uppercase;
/* custom – transform sidebar titles to uppercase end */

7. Set your image widths in your CSS box:

You've probably noticed that it's most aesthetically pleasing when all your post images have the same width. You can set the widths in each post or you can use a little trick that I learned from my good friend Brittany. You can add this little ditty to your CSS box and it will automatically set all your photos to be the same decided upon width so that you never have to worry about it again:

/* custom – set post image size start */
.post-body img {
width: 640px;
height: auto;
/* custom – set post image size end */

Change the width to whatever aligns nicely with you text. Additionally, remember that your photos need to be high enough resolution to use this code. If you have a small photo, trying to scale up in size will cause it to look pixelated.

8. Set all font preferences through your CSS box and not in the post:
Here's one that I absolutely killed myself with when I first started. I set font my preferences (size, font family) in the post, rather than through the template designer. Don't do this. Just don't. What happens is if you change your mind about your font you can't override all your posts at once, you have to go through each post and change them one by one. So my advice is don't set any font styling in your actual post, instead paste this into your CSS box:

/* custom – set post font size and family start */
.post {
font-family: arial;
font-size: 12px;}
/* custom – set post font size and family end */

Then adjust the font family, size and whatever other styling attributes to look however you want.

9. Set text alignment through your CSS box and not in the post:
You're probably picking up on a theme here... if you want consistency don't set things through each post. Same goes for text alignment. Say if you first decide you want to center your text and you set that all through your posts, then later on you decide you want to justify the text instead, you're again going to have to go through each post and change it one by one. Instead, I recommend setting your text alignment by pasting this into your CSS box:

/* custom – set post text alignment start */
.post {
text-align: justify;
/* custom – set post text alignment end */

10. Consider carefully if you want to host your photos on Blogger of Flickr:
The disadvantage of hosting your photos on Blogger is that the quality is diminished. Flickr then seems like the obvious choice. However, there is also a downside to Flickr. If you host on Flickr you won't be able to use thumbnails for your popular posts widget (that is if you want to use that widget). Blogger can't generate thumbnails from images hosted on external sites. So it's worth weighing the pros and cons of each.


  1. You are an angel for posting this! Thank you so much :)

    Emily | www.itsembur.blogspot.com

  2. I definitely wish I had known about setting my font preferences through the CSS box. I've been wanting to change my post font but I'd have to do it the painful way O_o

    Rowena @ rolala loves

  3. A the very beginning my blog was called "beauty, fashion and advice", I don't even know what possessed me to have chosen that name...
    I recently did that CSS trick to resize blog photos and everything looked so much neater afterwards!

    Yet Another Makeup Blog.

  4. Fabulous as per - and yes please to a Google Fonts blog post! ;)

  5. Now I look back at my old posts, where small photos are blown up and pixelated because of automatic resizing haha. Oh well, at least my newer posts look better. And I regret not making the width of my blog wider too, now all my photos won't match up so I'm stuck with my width (too lazy to adjust everything). These are great tips Holly!

    Sheri | Behind The Frames

  6. thank you so much for this! that photo alligning tip is going to save me from so much stress about messy posts! xo


  7. This is SO helpful!! Thank you for sharing!


  8. I absolutely love these posts you do, they're so helpful :)

    Emma | ohflowerchild.blogspot.com

  9. Great Post Holly! Never thought about adding note in my CSS thanks for the tip ;)


  10. Figuring out CSS was one of the best things for me, and saved me a mountain of time. Excellent post!

    Annabel ♥
    Mascara & Maltesers

  11. Great post, I love blog design posts.


  12. Very informative my friend! I really need to get better at leaving comments on my code myself. I also love reading Elaine's post about Blogger vs. Wordpress. I will likely move onto Wordpress, though not anytime soon ;) xx

  13. google fonts def a plus! wished i'd implemented sooner.

  14. I definitely agree with you about choosing an easy to spell blog name! I regret choosing Ahem, It's Emme as my blog name because I pronounce "Emme" as "Em" since it rhymes with ahem, but not everyone gets that... This was such an informative post and definitely a great read for anyone interested in giving their blog a tiny makeover :)

    Emily | ahemitsemme.blogspot.com

  15. Elaine is amazing. She blows me mind. She is like a shining beacon of light after wading through so much junk, trying to find answers. Can't believe I didn't know about her sooner.
    Also, it bugs me to no end that the one link I forgot to add in today's post was the one to your blog. Fixed that.

  16. I'll be honest. I completely don't even notice the quality difference... I just know that it's there.
    And yeah, now that I know how much support that there is for Wordpress and how little there is for Blogger I'm slightly bummed about my choice.

  17. Points to Google for that one for sure. They do have some excellent resources - that and Google analytics for example.

  18. Me too. Though I wish I had figured it out *better* right away, but I created somewhat of a mess for myself to wade through when I first started.

  19. It's so handy! So many of my old CSS snippets I'm like "what the heck was I doing there?"

  20. I'm glad someone's getting some use out of them! Thanks.

  21. Awesome! No problem. I love doing these kinds of posts.

  22. You should be able to fix some of the stretched ones by adding the:
    height: auto;

    Also I think you have a min-width set on your post photos. If you remove that it should stop the pictures from being oversized and pixelated.

    Hard to tell what's going on in your code though.

  23. Haha I know, when people ask me why I called in Bloomin' Rouge I'm always like "I... I don't know. I just did."

  24. Such great tips! I'm using blogger to host my images now but I can definitely notice a difference in quality!


  25. such an amazing post ! I hadn't thought about adding comments to my CSS codes, I feel so stupid. also thanks for the post image width code, super handy ! x

    CLUB AVENUE / http://club-avenue.blogspot.com / instagram

  26. I'm so annoyed I chose Blogger also. It's kind of a stale platform. They never change it or update it. It's just very basic. After using Wordpress and Squarespace for my job, I see how limited it is now.

    Plus blog domain. Yesh! Mine is prob too long and is kind of confusing too.

  27. There definitely are good things about Blogger. I like how they make it really easy to change your layout and move widgets around, but trying to find good widgets for it is a massive pain.
    And I love Squarespace blogs too. They always look so clean and nice.

  28. No problem. I've got Brittany to thank for the post image code though. I hadn't even thought about it until she mentioned it.

  29. It's funny. I know that it's there, but I don't even see it. I'm just terrible at noticing those things. Maybe if I noticed it more I would have switched to Flickr by now.

  30. Hahaha, it's okay, I know you love me!

  31. Ahh, I relate to so much of this post! If only we knew these things when creating a blog :( I'm with Blogger too, and while I don't *hate* it, it definitely has its limitations which can be quite frustrating!

    Tessa at Bramble & Thorn

  32. Yeah there are definitely things I like about it, but then when you google how to do something and there's 10 answers for wordpress and none for blogger... man that's frustrating.

  33. Very nice advice right there! I researched before creating my blog and deciding on self hosted Wordpress, but now I'm wondering if SquareSpace might have been better. Sometimes I'm just never happy, lol.

  34. Haha I know. When I saw the inner workings of Squarespace I was just like "what in the heyyy, this is amazing." But I think self hosting with Wordpress is a pretty solid choice too.

  35. Amazing tips, I have the same thing about my blog name! I have to tell people it's 'Beautie' instead of beauty! But these tips were really useful and such a great post! Xx

    Beauty Girl