Welcome to the Book Blogger Organization Challenge!
If you haven’t heard of this challenge and are interested in finding out more, check out the intro post! But basically the concept is simple: Whether you want to dedicate a lot of time to this challenge or a little, I’m here to help you get organized and work on blog maintenance in 2015! Everything is broken down month-by-month so you only have to focus on ONE idea at a time. January seemed to kick us off GREAT! Let’s get ready for March!
APRIL 2015 ORGANIZATION CHALLENGE
Graphics, HTML, CSS
April is a SCARY month. Even more daunting than blog maintenance, I think… but it’s a good thing to work on! I make all of my graphics on my blog and have always done my own layout myself…… but it also usually takes me HOURS to do these things (maybe even days) since I’m not graphically inclined. Graphics and CSS are really, really hard work for me but it’s also very rewarding when things finally turn out the way I want them to! So take April to work on some of the scarier things and give yourself the whole month instead of a short time span.
- Pick a program to create your graphics: I bought Photoshop Elements a couple of years ago and it’s really my go-to for everything. I KNOW I do not use it to its full potential because I simply just don’t know how to do everything so I’m going to try to familiarize myself with a couple online tutorials to see if there’s any way I can improve! Photoshop Elements is also cheaper than the whole big package of Photoshop and (I think?) it’s a bit more newbie friendly. A lot of bloggers use PicMonkey to create images for their blogs and I actually use it here and there too! It’s a web-based design program so you don’t have to download anything and can visit it anywhere you can get onto a computer. There are some things that are only available in the Pro version which does cost money, but there’s a lot in the free version too! Another nice option is Gimp which is essentially designed to be like Photoshop but a free version. I used to use it for a while but it did get a bit tricky because I didn’t really understand how it worked BUT if it’s a free download and you don’t want to pay for Photoshop, it’s worth a shot!
- Grab some design inspiration: I’ve learned I don’t exactly have the kind of brain that can come up with design ideas out of nowhere so I’ve created Pinterest boards to help me come up with ideas. I’ll pin a logo I like, search for design inspiration, grab a nice color combination, etc. A lot of times we just need a kick start to an idea and you make the rest of it your own. Just don’t totally steal someone else’s artwork, of course. (Honestly, I couldn’t steal a design if I tried. I’m not that good with Photoshop either way haha!)
- Not a do-it-yourselfer? Research some blog designers! Bloggers like Stay Bookish, Hello, Chelly, and Parajunkie offer blog + graphic design if you’re not up to trying your hand at it. Other companies include Designer Blogs and Creative Whim — bloggers, what do you say? Any other design companies you’ve used or love?
- Make plans to update: If you want to update some of your blog graphics, try to figure out what kind of styles you want beforehand so you don’t start a graphic and totally switch the design five times because it turns out to be nothing (clearly speaking from experience). If you’re not doing it yourself, make sure you make a nice list for whoever’s doing it for you with desired color schemes + possible ideas (although I’m sure they’ll ask you for that anyway)!
Honestly, I can’t believe how much CSS I understand at this point in time. I really can’t do any major blog design but I have learned SO much from working on it myself and I’m so proud of what I’ve done with my blog on my own! You CAN learn how to code and navigate CSS if you put the effort into it!
And I apologize in advance that most of this stuff probably applies more to WordPress and WordPress self-hosted users since that is what I’m familiar with! If you use Blogger, you may need to consult the interwebs for a few more tips!
- If you’re a total newbie to CSS, try websites like w3schools.com, HTML Dog, and CSS Tricks. They can help you get an understanding of how CSS works and why things appear the way they do.
- If you’re going to modify ANYTHING in your Stylesheet on your blog, create a child theme first. WordPress has a tutorial on how to create a child theme and then you can start working on your CSS modifications from there. This is important for many reasons but one of which is that when your themes update as WordPress tweaks them, you WILL lose some of your CSS functionality. I modified on my parent theme and not my child theme and had to do a lot (all? I don’t remember) of my CSS coding allllll over again. It was not fun.
- Ashley from Nose Graze is an AWESOME resource. She uses her coding knowledge to create many, many helpful things for bloggers. She has:
- Let Me Help You With Your Blog: Ashley just started a feature offering FREE assistance on simple CSS questions!
- She has many, many, many awesome posts on blogging in general and it’s VERY much worth your time just hopping over to her blog and checking them out.
- She created the Ultimate Book Blogger Plug-In which is SO helpful for reviews, a review index, and SO much more. The plug-in currently costs $35 and I personally think it’s so worth the money.
- She also created the Tweak Me theme which allows you to purchase the main theme and customize it so you don’t have to do ALL of the coding yourself!
HELPFUL BLOGGER RESOURCES
Lots of bloggers like to share helpful posts with their own tips & trick on how to better your blog. Here are some that I’ve visited and ones that have helped me too!
- I’ve already mentioned Ashley at Nose Graze, but seriously. Go check out her many blog posts full of tips and advice!
- Caffeinated Book Review has a feature called “How the Heck Did You Do That” to share all kinds of tips and tricks.
- Monica at The Bibliophilic Book Blog created a whole page full of resources.
- Here There Be Books has a list full of links too!
- Parajunkie has some great features on Blogging Tips and Book Blogging 101
If you have any other resources for anything I’ve mentioned above, PLEASE share in the comments! Any bloggers who give great blogging tips? Any awesome blog designers? Let us know!
Don’t forget to share what you’re accomplishing this month with the hashtag #BlogOrganization!
Grab the button!
NEXT MONTH: Book clean-up + spring cleaning!
- Culling shelves, giveaways, donations, giving back borrowed books
- Reading books you were given as gifts, ARC catch up
- Rearranging shelves, updating Goodreads again, giving back borrowed books
- More cross-posting & cleaning up GR shelves