Blogger 101: Add some Va-va Voom with your Theme Header Plus, Who Killed the Crickets? Five Vital Lessons I Learnt from ThemeHunting and Blogging Uni This Week

By Karen TaylorPainted Background 261 (1)

Audience Profile: Newborn Bloggers; Lifelong learners who don’t mind learning one more thing about WordPress, baby-boom bloggers determined to conquer what’s behind the shiny screen, travellers all on this Word Press roadtrip, you the Curious who wanted to find what all the excitement is about.

If you’ve visited my site and notice that things are changing before your eyes, it’s because it is. Apart from the fact that I’ve changed my theme which has done fantastic things for my blog page, I’ve discovered this totally insane feature in Customise/Header that allows me to use more than one image. It’s called Randomizing my Uploaded images. Click on it and yisitors to your site will be doing double takes and triple takes.

When Blogging 101 asked me to do this task, Love Your Theme, I rebelled and decided I wouldn’t. I had just changed the Rosegardens and Thorns blog Header a few days earlier, and I didn’t feel it was good sense to confuse my readers. After all, a blog’s header, based on the blogging pundits, is your identity, and you can’t mess with that or you’ll lose your readers, right? Anyhow, I relented. I had nothing to lose. I had just about 650 hits and about 115 followers on that blog anyway and had pretty much abandoned it, until Blogging 101.

The long and short of the the story: I started exploring themes. Earlier this week, I had visited a number of my classmates’ blogs during the Say Hi to Your Neighbour exercise, and was envious of some of those I saw: crisp, clean, uncluttered, beautiful themes at no cost to me and which made their sites look so professional.

I wanted that. I wanted a professional looking site that readers would take seriously, so I visited the WordPress theme plaza, shopped around and came back with a basket of free goodies.

Both blog sites that I actively use now have new facelifts. I’m glad I wasn’t stubborn. Proves those wily devils over there at Blogging University actually know what they are doing. 🙂

So, you want the Va-Va-Voom I promised in my Headline? Here goes:

First,  a Disclaimer: I’m using Twenty Fourteen and Remington Rewritten for each of the site examples I’ve cited. I’m not sure if this feature is available in all themes. But go check it out.

How To Get It

1. Go to Customise by clicking on your blog name in the top left hand corner of your page. The Customise slider bar will come up on the right.
2. Click on Header.
3. Click Add image. This will take you to Select Image, your Media Library page.
4. If you already have an image in your library you want to use, select it. If not, click on Upload Image and upload one from your computer.  I got watermark-free photos from MorgueFile, a free stock photo site which allows anyone rights to use their photos.
5. Check that the selected image is of the recommended size for your theme. For Twenty Fourteen the recommended pixel size is 1260 X 240 pixels. The pixel sizes of the MorgueFile photos are just right for my header and the quality excellent even without cropping. (If the size is wrong, the picture will look grainy. If that happens, just Hide Image and delete by clicking the X in the right hand corner of your picture).

6. After selecting your image, go to the bottom right hand corner of the page and click Select and Crop Image.
7. When the image appears, crop it to the required size. At the bottom of the page, click ‘Crop Image’, and it will jump into the header. I found that I didn’t have to crop my photos from Morguefile.
8. Save
9. Add more images by repeating the steps 3-8.

Look up now, and you’ll see that another of the rotating roses (there are five fantastic pictures of roses in all) has now appeared on screen. Click another a post, and you’ll see that the image has revolved. Beautiful, isn’t it? And the images all fit my theme title. Thanks for the honest feedback from my blogging peer, Janet Sunderland who reviewed my site and suggested  that the original TwentyFourteen image and my title were not in sync. Big up yuhself, Janet (a bit of Jamaican patois for you there. . . means ‘Big thanks and Hearty Commendations’)

10. Under the images in the header, look for the magic button marked, Randomize my Uploaded Images, and Va-va-Voom, your blog has got New York Fashion Week going on on the front page.

I love Twenty Fourteen. To see the personal touch and some local colour that I’ve added to that theme header, head over to my children ministry blog at http://karentaylorministries.wordpress.com/

(You can see what I and my daughter look like if you hang on while the picture rotates. Just read some of my posts while you are there; it will show a different header each time you click on a post– Wicked, right?)

5 Lessons Learnt 

So in conclusion, what have I learnt from this Love your Theme exercise?

1. Communicate your theme visually and verbally. The word ‘theme’ is a central topic or subject that a text treats, a unifying or dominant idea or concept in your work.  Your theme defines your blog’s identity for readers. If used strategically, it can communicate visually and quickly what your subject is. In the crowded Blogosphere, that will become very important for new bloggers if they want to be heard. It is true that a picture can convey a thousand words, so exploit your images on your site.

2. Knowing your niche and audience is important. Note to self: You are writing for an audience, not for yourself. Know or at least estimate their demographics, what they know, what they don’t know, their personal idiosyncrasies, beliefs and even educational backgrounds. If you’re gonna make a success of this blogging thing, get that 101 fact clear before you write a single word.

3. Be flexible. Be willing to try new things. Successful bloggers will have to create dynamic platforms so that they can be responsive to the changing needs of their readers and the world around them. Besides, it adds spice to your blog and will make you stand out from the crowd

4. Read other people’s blogs.  I also learnt that one of the best ways to generate ideas is to look at other people’s blogs. That way you can see what to do and what not to do with your blog. And don’t be shy to go after the big guns in the business: the Carol Tices, Jeff Goins, Sophia Lizards, Danny Inys and Jon Morrows are at the top of their game. Want to get there, read their blogs and learn.

5. Engage your blogging community. I no longer hear chirping crickets when I post. Why? I am not alone. I have a community. WordPress. I must confess I didn’t know the value of or paid much attention to this community until now. I guess I just didn’t know how to reach them.

When you’re new and struggling to find your voice, it helps to have others like you to hold your hand and tell you it’s okay, we’re all in this thing together, or to read your blog and give honest feedback and sometimes not always honest, (like that blog you read which has no rhyme or reason or my own academicish, essay-length epistles :)) but feedback, that aims to be kind because sometimes baby birds need some gentle coddling and prodding before you push them out of the nest.

The remarkable support I found through Blogging 101 this week was priceless. WordPress and my Blogging Community has killed the chirping crickets that has kept ,me company for far too long. The boost in page hits has helped me find back my passion to write.

I care again.

Thank you WordPress and my diverse blogging pals from all over the world.

Shabat Shalom. Happy Sabbath. Hope this post has helped the blogging chicks out there who are just launching into the Blogosphere and need some help from a Mama Hen. Drop me a line below if you’ve found or still finding your Vavavoom!!

Cheers,

Karen

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3 thoughts on “Blogger 101: Add some Va-va Voom with your Theme Header Plus, Who Killed the Crickets? Five Vital Lessons I Learnt from ThemeHunting and Blogging Uni This Week

  1. I have to agree … blogging 101 has opened my eyes to Reader and the world if other blogs. It is interesting, I always looked at my blog quite similar to any other web site. Eventually it will be found by Google and well, those that visit, visit.

    The world of our Blogging 101 community has opened my eyes – and in turn I have loved each word I have read by others.

    So that’s what those “tags” are for …..

    Like

  2. Thanks for sharing about your theme and header. I changed my header as well. I use Creative Commons for my images. When I first started my blog I did not realize that I needed to worry about copyrights. Good to have another resource in morgue file.

    Like

    • There are a number of similar site on the Web. I came across a list recently. As soon as I find it, I’ll share them with you. Yeah, I worry about copyrights too. MorgueFile comes in handy, although they do use images from some other stock photo companies, so you still have to read the license fineprint. But its a great resource and many bloggers use it.

      Liked by 1 person

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