* PicMonkey affiliate links used in this post. See full note below.
I've got wonderful news for beginner bloggers or fellow bloggers with a tight budget:
You can design your own blog with PicMonkey!
Isn't that great news? It was to me, because as much as I drool over great blog designs, I'm just not in a place where I can or need to pay for one. And I don't believe that means my blog needs to look terrible while I wait for the right time to spend money on an upgrade.
The easy place to start is with a header, but there are also social media icons, profile/welcome images, page link buttons, and so much more. Once you figure out the basics of designing and uploading, you'll catch on to all the options available for personalizing (or "designing") your site just the way you want it. Well, the way you want it for free ;)
Design instructions are for PicMonkey, and directions on uploading new design elements are specific to Blogger.
1. Gather Inspiration
Browse blog designs and get inspired! Search Blogger templates on Etsy. Browse designers' portfolios (like The Kinch Life Designs + Danielle Burkleo). Your favorite blogs (either inspiration from their design, or look at the bottom to see if they have a link to who designed it). Really, the ideas are endless.
This is one of those areas where Pinterest and Blogging are a perfect match. Start a blog board to gather your inspiration. So glad Pinterest finally added private boards, so now you don't have to worry about anyone snatching your design ;)
Be inspired by them, but don't copy. What is it exactly that you love? A scripty or scribbly font? The colors? Polka dots or stripes? Find the commonality of what you love from your favorite designs, then find your own way to incorporate those elements.
Also keep in mind your skill level and the options available in PicMonkey. Some of your more fancy and difficult designs might need to wait until you have more experience, have design software, or can pay someone to create it for you. I intentionally searched for and saved blog designs with a white background and simple header, etc. that I thought I could do myself.
2. Get Started with PicMonkey
If you're new to PicMonkey then you might want to check out Photo Editing for Beginners, Creating a Blank Image or How to Make a Watermark. These posts will help familiarize you with the basics. If you're already a PicMonkey pro, then jump right in and get it to workin' for your blog!
3. Create Transparent + Solid Blank Images
The number 1 thing I see over and over in PicMonkey tutorials is people not having blank images saved, and having to create a blank image out of a photo. There's an easier way! I saved a transparent image and a solid image, and I use both all the time. Here's >> how to create solid and transparent blank images in PicMonkey. Do this now, and it will be so handy for creating word art, watermarks, and blog design elements. Just simply upload, resize and design away.
UPDATE: You only need to create a blank image if you want a transparent background. PicMonkey now has a "Design" option that lets you enter your desired dimensions and gets you started on a blank white image.
4. Set Up Blog Template
If you're just starting out, it's a good idea to start in your Blogger template. I use the Simple Template (shown in middle image above), and have customized it. With the simple template, it's pretty easy to add your own background, header, etc. You aren't only limited to a white background--that's just what I've preferred.
It's helpful to get an idea of the size the images need to be before jumping in to the designing. You can get an idea of this by going to "Adjust widths" in your Blogger template (bottom photo). You can move these around and see what size you like better for each of your columns.
Through some trial-and-error (designing images, uploading them, having to redesign and re-upload until they finally fit right), I've found it's better for me to make my images a little smaller than the widths shown. For instance: My entire blog is 1280px wide, and I make my header 1100px wide; my left sidebar is 190px wide, and I make my page link images 135px; my right sidebar is 340px wide, and I make my images 270px (my social media icons are 67px each or 268px together).
Posts for the Beginner BloggerBeginner Blog Design part 2 | part 3
Encouragement for Beginner Bloggers
Dear Beginner Blogger
Following Our God-Given Purpose with Passion
*Note: PicMonkey affiliate links used in this post. That means any purchases made through these links may earn me a small commission at no extra cost to you. If you find these tutorials helpful and choose to upgrade to Royale, please consider doing so through one of the PicMonkey links above. Thank you for your support!