Blogging 101: Start Personalizing

Today’s assignment: create and upload a simple header, background, or both. Already done? Try a custom widget.

Welcome to Blogging U! This course isn't currently active, but you can learn more about what we offer and register for upcoming courses on the BU home page.

Picking a theme you love is the first step. Next, make that theme your own; start with the basics, like a header and/or background. Lots of you have already begun — keep it up. If you’re happy with your header and background, try your hand at a custom widget.

Today’s assignment: create and upload a simple header, background, or both. Already done? Try a custom widget.

Why do this?

  • These are free, simple ways to add instant personality to your site.
  • Photos, images, and colors work with your title and tagline to tell new visitors about your blog, helping to draw readers in.

To verify that your theme supports custom headers: check this list or hover over you blog’s name on the left of the bar across the top of your screen and open the Customizer. If you see “Headers” as an option, you’re ready to go.

Not sure what we mean by “header”? It’s the image or text across the top of your blog. Check out this example — on the left is the standard homepage for the Oxygen theme, and on the right is a magazine site that’s added its own header:


Don’t worry if you’re not sure what you want. Start simple, and pick an image that represents what you want your blog to be. If you’d like to tweak it a bit — change up the colors, add some text — we love the free and simple image editor PicMonkey. (In fact, we like it so much we published a tutorial on using it to make a custom header.) Your background can be an image, color, or pattern. Choose a color that complements your header, upload a photo, or browse our suggested patterns.

Need inspiration? Here are a few other headers we love:







mobile views

See this at the bottom of your blog when you’re viewing the Customizer? You can click the different device icons to see how your blog looks on a computer, tablet, and phone.

You can preview headers and backgrounds without committing to any, so feel free to play. Be sure to preview them on your phone or tablet, too; a header that looks perfect on a 19-inch monitor might not translate to a 4-inch iPhone.

You may ultimately decide to stick with a simpler look, or have a header already. Preview a few headers and backgrounds anyway, to see how different images and colors transform the feel of your blog. You can change headers and backgrounds at any time, so you’re not locked in to anything.

When you’re ready, review the instructions for uploading and previewing headers and backgrounds, which also have some great examples. If you need more of a boost, we’ve also got advice on picking visuals for your blog.

If you’re ready to start customizing some widgets, start with the ideas in Widgets 101. Already too simple for you, you overacheiver you? Head to Widgets 201. Take the words and visuals in your header, and start puling them into your sidebar.

Not sure what visuals will work best for your blog? Your co-bloggers in The Commons will be happy to help!


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  1. I have been spending quite a bit of time looking through other themes, now there are headers to add into that, and I just feel confused and overwhelmed. I love to cook and bake, but I am not big on presentation…..when I watch Food Network I am always blown away by all the time and thought it takes to make the food look like a work of art. I don’t want my food to look bad, but I am more concerned about it tasting good and being good for you, and after that I don’t have much time or energy for the fancy stuff. That’s kind of how I feel about my blog. It would be great for it to look really WOW, but after babysitting all day, it takes about all the energy I have left to just write something, and I’m behind on all of that already as well. Now that I’ve unloaded my frustration, I’d be glad for any help offered.

    Liked by 2 people

    1. Well, then I guess you should play on this. If you take the tagline like “food the busiest mother can cook” and very simple design with just photos of dishes – I think it will work perfectly. Honestly sometimes I am so uploaded with work, that I come late, and care just about finding a recipe. Trust me, there are a lot of busy people who don’t even look at design. If I can give you advice, I would say it can be great to add some pictures in the blog, and (please don’t be offended!) to change colour of the title (I have some personal issues with grey, but maybe other’s like it, listen to somebody’s else opinion)

      Liked by 2 people

      1. I, too, like the personality shining through your posts, and totally can relate to your frustration. I think you just need time to get your head round it all. I found it really difficult to choose a theme and customise my blog in the first month, so don’t let this put you off. As I like your posts, I follow your blog now. I hope you’ll follow me back!

        Liked by 1 person

      2. Thanks for your helpful reply and advice! I hadn’t realized that weekends were “free” in these courses, so I think I will use some of my weekend time to play around with all these ideas.


      1. I really appreciate the encouragement; I will definitely work on my About page this weekend, and I am now following you. It’s fun, like having oodles of pen pals!


  2. Done with this one! I customized my ‘About the Author’ widget and made the buttons for my social media. Plus the labels of the categories that I write of. I had fun doing it, but Im kind of OC on my blog, that’s why it took some time (like a week). =)

    I just need to get going. I needed this blogging 101. I’m really loving this!

    Liked by 1 person

    1. Hmmmm, that’s an interesting theme! I am not sure I would use it, as it is a bit overcrowded to me, but it is easy to find stuff, so it is indeed well organised, as @tantoverde is saying. 🙂 I now follow your blog, and I do hope you will decide to follow me back!


      1. Oh, and I forgot – Thanks for commenting on my theme. I like yours too…the ones with the set designs look great as well.

        Liked by 1 person

    1. I clicked the upper portion of your blog that says “follow” and it immediately changed into the word “following”. It’s that black panel above WordPress blogs.

      Do let me know if you never see a notification of a follow from me. I’ll gladly do the follow again (the next time probably would be inside your blog).

      That black panel is great, by the way…it enabled people to follow my blog in the past when I did not have a “follow” widget inside my blog.


    1. Oh, Audrey, I think that you are doing great – really, it looks stylish and at first abstract, so the first second you don’t get what is on the picture, but then you understand it. And it makes you smile 🙂 It is very stylish, perfect for a blog about make-up and beauty 🙂


    1. I like your blog (not too sure about the header, to be honest, as I struggle with working out what it says, but maybe it’s just me). I can’t seem to find the buttons to like or comment on a post, is this intentional? Anyway, I like the contents and your style, so will hit ‘follow’. I hope you’ll do the same with me, as long as you don’t find my blog too boring. 🙂

      Liked by 1 person

    1. Don’t hate me (please), I love everything but the green colour on the star sky. Again, it is just my opinion, but if you could change it to the coffee color or something more towards orange or red I feel it would match the sky more. But I love your picture btw 🙂


    1. Wow, wow, wow, this is my theme, too! Yes, it doesn’t seem to support the custom header, but I love my theme and wouldn’t change it just for this reason. Now you just HAVE to see what I’ve made of it. 🙂 I will therefore make sure you follow you, and hope you’ll do the same!


      1. I think it would be cool to highlight the title, but if the theme doesn’t allow – maybe you can customize something else? I guess the background is changeable. It would be so great in you case to have it with something music-related, like guitars 🙂

        Liked by 1 person

    2. Hey, thanks for the follow AND for noticing we can change our background. Will have a look later when I am on my PC. I must say I like it as it is, as it has got some special personality to me. 🙂


  3. These were the first things I did when i first started blogging. however, i have made a few changes to my blog’s appearance… so, you can check it out here and feel free to give any feedback

    Liked by 1 person

  4. I’ve already done this before, too! Heh. 😉 Since I’ve always preferred a minimalist feel, I’ll just keep using what I have right now.


      1. sorry, pressed ‘post comment’ too soon. So, I did stick to it for quite some time. It does suit your blog, too. I will make sure I follow it and hope you’ll decide to follow mine!


  5. I have my theme, Giselle because it reminds me of the simple newspaper from long ago and there is so much to be able to do with the background and colors etc…though the menu bar is limiting. Always allows for something to change and adjust.


  6. I was using a theme that didn’t have the feature to allow users to comment on the blog posts. Glad I found this one. I like this much better.
    I’d love to get feedback on your experience when you visit
    Do leave in a comment there and let me know what you think. I’m a new blogger and feedback on the theme, content, and writing will be much appreciated!