How to Start a Blog #7: Logo, Theme and Design

How to Start a Blog #7: Logo, Theme and Design
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Once you created a few pages and a sitemap, it’s time to do some basic graphic design.

This part of the series will be split into 2 main sections.

  • First, you’ll get a logo for your website.
  • Second part is about customizing a WordPress theme. In this case, OceanWP theme.

This is fun and exciting part, because getting a logo to brand your site means to create a logo that identifies your brand, gets you more excited about the project and makes your site look legitimate for visitors.

And OceanWP is one of the best Free WordPress themes out there. It’s also one of the most customizable, and gives you the freedom to make it look the way you want to.

If you’re looking to start your own blog, check out part 1: Choosing Profitable Niches. This will get your started and hopefully help you how to choose a good industry for your blog, and a good place to start.

Please note that some of the links below are affiliate links, and I may recieve a small compensation, at no cost to you. Know that I also recommend only the best products that I’ve personally used and tested.

Logo is a graphic mark, a symbol of your personal identification in the public.

How to Start a Blog, Google Logo

How much time you should spend on design depends on how much you want to differentiate yourself through better and unique design.

You could just use a free logo maker such as Canva and do a few tweaks on OceanWP and be on your way to part 8.

Or, you could spend a little more time and put your logo for a contest, pay a freelancer on Fiverrr, or design it yourself completely, and spend some quality time customizing a theme to reflect your own brand, and personality.

Both approaches have benefits and drawbacks.

I suggest to keep it simple, clean and choose design that reflects your brand.

Get a Logo to Brand Your Website

Get a Logo for Your Website - WordPress Logo

Logo is a unique identifier, a graphic mark, a symbol of a recognition.

It should reflect what you do, and you should like the way it looks.

When you “create a blog” and start creating a logo, keep mind that your logo should always reflect your own brand personality and identitiy.

Many hosting websites offer their own free logo design services.

You could create a logo in many ways: make it yourself in Photoshop or Gimp, use a free logo maker, put a contest on 48 Hours Logo, or pay a professional freelancer or graphic designer to do it.

I’m going to show you some of the best ways to make a logo.

Best Free Logo Maker

Best Free Logo Maker

These are the best tools that offer free online logo making services.

Most of them will give you a free simple way of creating a logo to download (enough for a simple blog), but any higher quality versions, or social logo versions will be unavailable unless you get a paid plan.

But, once you’ve tried them you’ll see how good they are.

Canva

Canva Free Logo Maker

Canva is a free and paid logo maker that is super easy to learn.

Canva offers tons of great features and many templates for logos, social media posts, business cards, invitations, Instagram posts, Facebook posts, headers etc.

On these templates and layouts you can quickly change the main elements for your own personal brand. It’s very easy to use, and the end results looks really nice.

It’s also very flexible as well because of many shapes, images and icons that are available.

Unfortunately, most of the good stuff require a paid subscription.

Squarespace Free Logo Maker

Squarespace Free Logo Maker

Now this, might be the easiest free logo maker.

Squarespace Logo Maker is not bad at all. The moment you open the link you can immediately see clean, minimalistic design, actionable and simple, asks you to enter you brand name.

On the next page you get to choose from many of the free symbols available. Just enter something like “internet” or “business” or “computer” and you’ll get some nice looking free shapes to use.

Once you’re done just click Save and Download. Then, select the version you want and the resolution.

Squarespace Free Logo Maker_2

Drawbacks here are that it doesn’t offer too many fonts, and is not very flexible.

On the positive side, it offers many symbols, high resolution download and is very quick in usage. Offers a few nice looking basic logos.

Adobe Spark

Adobe Spark Free Logo Maker

Developed by Adobe, Spark offers a full suite of media creation applications. Since it’s Adobe, the quality of the fonts is usually slightly better than the rest.

Their templates are really good, and you can even download transparent PNGs for free.

Adobe Spark free versions has a limit of one set of logos and color guides, which can be used by a beginner entrepreneur unless you’re an agency that have to manage multiple brands.

An Adobe watermark can be removed, but only once, and for other of your projects it remains, unless you upgrade.

Logaster

Logaster Free Logo Maker

Logaster is a free logo maker has one of the better looking designs but is also very limiting in a free version. The paid version offers more freedom.

In a free version, you get a bunch of free templates but there isn’t too much variation.

However, you have the option to edit the logo, add any symbol you like, change the name, font, colors and signature as well, and download a lower resolution of a logo in a free plan, but still nice looking one.

Logaster Free Logo Maker Edit

It’s easy to use, logos look aesthetically pleasing, but the free version offers you only one download of a lower resolution logo (300x300px – still ok for a simple blog). Any other types of media creations aren’t available unless you upgrade.

PixTeller

PixTeller Free Logo Maker

PixTeller is a nice and easy to use logo creation tool, with some cool animation features.

They have a bunch of free templates for animations, social media posts, marketing, events, banner designs, covers and headers, animated ads, etc.

The free version is quite limited in the number of shapes you get, and doesn’t give you a transparent logo feature, but you can still make a decent and basic logo with it.

DesignEvo

DesignEvo Free Logo Maker

DesignEvo offers a free logo design, with an especially good editor.

Their design tool is filled with lots of shapes, lines, font and icons which you can reshape, edit and combine to make some really cool logos.

The free plan offers you a free download of a limited resolution logo, and the requirement that you need to share their website wherever you use this logo. Not especially attractive, but not a bad deal either since you can make some nice free logos here.

Ucraft

Ucraft Free Logo Maker

Ucraft is a simple and easy to use free logo maker and a website builder.

You can create a nice looking free logo or a website, and the Pro plans offer you a way to build a full ecommerce site.

The big drawback with this site is the availability of symbols, objects and fonts. The editor is too basic, and the customization lacks in features.

That’s why Ucraft is best used for website building. The Pro plans offer you full ecommerce website building tools with no Ucraft branding, more elements, more fonts, more products and other stuff.

Their Pro and BigCommerce plans offer the creation of a fully designed professional website, with an ecommerce store.

There are many other logo makers out there, but I haven’t encountered any that are as good these, or that they have something that the mentioned ones don’t have.

If you’ve find a better one, please leave a comment below.

Here are some of the others.

Other Free Logo Makers

  • Wix Logo Maker
  • Logomakr
  • freelogodesign.org
  • plainlogomaker.com

Best Cheap Logo Maker

These are the best online logo makers that offer great value for a subscription.

Even though they offer free logo creation services, their paid plans are where all the amazing value is.

Looka

Looka Cheap Logo Maker

Looka offers a simple way to creating excellent logos with just a few clicks.

Their AI-powered platform is really nice and sleek, and the end result will surprise you.

Looka may not be free, but the logos their logo maker creates do stand up in their design compared to other automatic online logo makers, and they offer all kinds of addons, including social media kits.

Looka Cheap Logo Maker

They offer a one-time purchase, or a monthly subscription.

If you’re a small business owner, or if you represent an already established business and are looking for a professionally designed logo, you can try it too, but it may be best to hire a professional graphic designer instead of getting a basic and generic logo for a business that has a budget for graphic design.

Canva Pro

Canva Cheap Logo Maker

The difference between the free and paid version is huge.

As I mentioned above, Canva is super easy to learn with tons of great features.

Paid version offers a huge number of layouts and templates which you can use and then quickly change the main elements for your own personal brand.

But, most of their good stuff is for Pro users.

If you have the budget, and are looking a great looking logo design, consider Canva Pro version.

Logaster (Premim)

Logaster Cheap Logo Maker

I really like the Logaster designs that their logo maker gives you.

All the designs may look limited in variations, but they can be edited with a much more than they show you first time if you click the editing button. They have all kinds of fonts to use, and their paid plans offer much more color variations and layouts.

If you go for their higher plans you get a social media kit, such as logo for Facebook, Instagram Youtube, Twitter and Linkedin logos, and a business card design, and their most expensive tier offer favicons, profile picture and different brand patterns, email signature, book logos and designs, and other stuff.

PixTeller (Pro or Diamond Plan)

PixTeller Cheap Logo Maker

The free version lacks most of the great features, such as custom fonts and transparent PNGs.

PixTeller is a nice and easy to use logo creation tool, with some nice animation features, but the free version is limited in the number of shapes you get, and doesn’t give you a transparent logo feature, hence why you may want to consider their paid plans.

Their Diamond plan offers an animation tool and animation editor.


Best Cheap Professional Logo Design Services

How to get a professionally designed logo for cheap?

You may have configured your blog under the hood, but your front look needs a nice logo (and theme) that shows who you are and/or what you do.

You can get a decent logo design just for $5-10 on Fiverr, or create a contest and pay a bit more.

For up to $40, you can get a really nice professional looking logo for your brand. To get the best logo you need to hire a professional graphic artist.

When you pay to an accredited graphic designer to do a logo for you, then you can usually expect phenomenal work and satisfaction guaranteed.

Even if you give it to a graphic design freelancer on Fiverr or Upwork, or give it for a contest, you’ll usually get much better looking logo than if you just used a free logo maker.

Where to get best cheap professional logo design?

48 Hours Logo

48 Hours Logo Design Contest

48 Hours Logo is the best place for creating a logo through a contest.

You just follow their steps to set up a logo design competition. Various designers will create their own logo, and then you just pick the best one. Then you just pay the graphic designer and you get your own logo.

Make sure to be specific in your guidance and requests. If you want your name on it, a specific pattern, symbol, image or color let them know that.

Mark “not interested” in logos that you don’t want so that other designers will be motivated to try it themselves. If you leave all the submissions, then designers will see how many submissions there are and if there are too much they won’t try to compete.

It takes 48 hours to get your logo here, hence the name 48 hours logo.

Fiverr

Fiverr Cheap Professional Logo Design

Fiverr is an online marketplace for freelance services.

You can get a very cheap logo here, sometimes even $5, and you can buy a 100 or more of them. Designers here will create all sorts of variations of logos, you can upgrade to create social network logos, and more.

On Fiverr, you can ask the designer to do some revisions until you’re completely satisfied with the finished product.

Subreddit HungryArtists

Reddit HungryArtists Professional Logo Design

A good designer understands not only the aesthetics, but also the brand identity, typography, brand familiarity and works intimately with you to create the best possible logo that you will be pleased with.

On the biggest forum on the net – Reddit, there is a subreddit called HungryArtists. Here you can post that you’re looking for a logo design, state your budget, and wait for responses.

You’ll get graphic designers commenting soon after which you can contact and pick one of them to work with.

They’re usually professional graphic designers, with portfolios and the work they are widely recommended for any graphic design work.

You don’t need to spend too much, for up to $50 you can get a decent logo here.

On top of that, this is a great subreddit, on a forum filled with the most amazing, interesting and funny people you’ll ever have a chance to talk to. Reddit is simply great, but not only for chatting with great individuals, but also for finding useful information for pretty much anything.

Pick the Best WordPress Theme

Pick the Best WordPress Theme

Now that you’ve got your Logo, it’s time to set up a nice looking theme. But, how do you pick the best WordPress theme?

All those titles and keywords that you’ve go prepared need to look nice and engaging to your audience.

If you see something on another site that you’d want, it’s either a part of a theme or the theme has been customized with those elements.

When picking a WordPress theme keep this in mind:

  • Your WordPress Theme sould be simple and responsive
    Some themes are coded in a clunky way that will make your site slow. You don’t want bloated theme, and choosing a responsive theme is a must. The cleaner it is the faster your site will be, and the higher you’ll rank on Google.
  • Your theme should look on “default” close to what you imagined it
    If the default look of the theme (excluding special heavy customizer themes like OceanWP) is not like the way you wanted it, try a different one. If you liked it – keep it.
  • Theme should have many good reviews and ratings
    The more tested the theme is the better. If it has a long history of good 5-star ratings then it’ll probably be good for you too in terms of performance and functionality.
  • Theme is SEO friendly on WordPress
    WordPress SEO is important for a Theme, and if it’s coded poorly it will affect your SEO results. It’s difficult to check this, especially if you’re not proficient in coding and HTML. If you’re unsure, go with the ratings, and read some of the reviews.
  • Test the WordPress theme to see if everything works.
    Test the theme in different browsers and on mobile. Your readers will be using different browsers, Chrome, Firefox, Safari, and half of them will be on mobile. You should make sure the theme looks good on any browser.
  • Consider buying a Premium WordPress theme such as Divi
    Most good premium themes give you many things out of the box, such as page builders and SEO optimized code. If you’re not sure if your FREE WordPress theme of choice is good, either stick with the best free theme out there, or choose a Premium theme.

How to Customize a WordPress Theme

To customize the OceanWP theme we’ll be using the great WordPress Customizer, by going into Appearance > Customize.

In this article, we’ll be customizing the OceanWP Theme.

There is a free and paid version OceanWP.

AlekMitch.com also uses OceanWP, and I couldn’t be happier with it. The free version is excellent, and the paid features add much more functionality and freedom.

Customize an OceanWP WordPress Theme

OceanWP Best Free WordPress Theme

We’re going to cover the most important parts of customizing an OceanWP WordPress theme, one by one.

Site Identity

Now that you’ve got the logo, you need to create (or download) a very similar favicon (also called Site Icon). Site icon is the tiny image on the browser tabs. It should look like your logo.

  1. Go to “Site Identity”
  2. Here you can just copy/pasta the tagline from the General WordPress Settings in your WordPress Dashboard
  3. Click Add or Change image on “Site Icon”
  4. Select and upload your image (theme requires at least 512x512px size). Quite big I know, but it’s very easy to do in GIMP/Photoshop or just download from one of your logo makers.

DONE.

Menus

Here you can create your menu items in header, and in footer.

These are the menu links that you see on the top of screens, and they usually link to static pages.

So, to get the menu set up, you need to have some static pages created. We created these pages in the last part #6, so now we can create the menu items, both in the header and in the footer.

Let’s create a menu for the header and the footer:

  1. Go to “Menus” and “Create new Menu”
  2. Name it “header” and add the pages you want to be your menu links
  3. Select “MAIN (CURRENT: HEADER)” in “Menu Locations”
  4. Go back and “Create New menu” again
  5. Name it “footer”
  6. Add a few  pages for the footer – usually Privacy Policy, Terms of Service, etc.
  7. Select FOOTER (CURRENT:SITE LINKS) in “Menu Locations”

DONE.

Widgets

Widgets are elements on the site that have other elements in them.

You’ll probably want a side widget at least, to have your latest posts, or ads, categories, or mailchimp sign up form, affiliate links, or anything else you’d like.

It’s called “Default Sidebar” and you can customize it in the “Sidebar” options in the main menu of OceanWP settings.

Homepage Settings

This is just the settings from your WP Dashboard for home page. Should be the same as in WordPress Dashboard Settings.

If you have a static page for a home page, it should say the name of your home page as “Homepage”, and the name of your “Post page” (usually Blog).

General Options

Here you can set the colors of your theme, the main look of your website and the general design.

I suggest picking a set of colors, and doing analogous or complementary colors to your main color.

You can use Adobe Color for that, or simply google “complementary colors” to your color, or colors that are a variation of your main color. Then:

  1. Go to “General Styling” and set your main colors
  2. Go to “General Settings” and choose your preferred design (try Wide) and experiment with the size and layout of the page. Go to other blogs and use right click “Inspect” (in Chrome), click the pointer and check the sizes of div elements in CSS view of the Developer Tools. You can then use similar design for your own site.
  3. Choose your layout here. Add padding if you want to.
  4. Set Heading tag to H1. You will probably want to remove that page header: Set Style to “Hidden” (unless you want to keep it). Add padding if you want to.
  5. The rest of the settings here has minimal impact on design, and you can experiment to see if you wanted to change from default.

Typography

Typography WordPress Theme Font

This part configures your font design.

The most important elements are font family, font size and line height.

It’s a bit tedious to click through all of it, and you don’t really need to set everything, but those that you need to is very easy to set up.

Let’s go through the main parts only:

  1. Body” – select your preferred font. There are lots of them. Google “best fonts for blogs” or if you like a particular font on some website, install WhatFont Extension for Chrome to see which fonts are those. Just click on the extension button, hover over the page and see the font. Later, press Esc to exit. I suggest using “em” for font size.

  2. You could try a different line height to make it easier to read.

  3. The rest of the settings for other elements, is pretty much identical to these. You just set the font family (if you want a different one), font size and the rest. You don’t need to change everything. If you’re unsure if the font is actually configured on your website, just use the What Font extension on your pages to see.

Top Bar

It’s up to you if you want the Top Bar.

Might be best to disable if you don’t have any social links at the start.

Header

Once you’ve got the logo you want, it’s time to insert it into theme.

  1. Go to Header > Logo and click to add or change the logo
  2. Select to “Upload Files” and upload your logo
  3. Set the maximum width anywhere from 150-250px.
  4. Click to see how it looks on Tablet and Mobile

You’ve got yourself a logo. Hooray!

Let’s move on.

The rest of the stuff in “Header” can be set to your liking. It’s easy to figure out what controls what, and you should try it out, set it up, and move on.

Blog

Here you have two parts: Blog Entries is for the page where your blogs are presented, such as “Blog” page. Single Post is obvious – it’s for a specific post – once you click on a post you can see the changes you made here.

Again it comes down to personal preference.

  1. Blog Entries – use H2 heading tag, try “Grid”, 2-3 columns
  2. Single Post – use H1 tag,
    Page Header Title: Post Title
    and meta title the way you want it. To hide some of the meta stuff just click on the “eye”. To change the position of the meta elements just drag it above or below other elements. The rest of configuration here is on you, try it out and see what looks good to you.

Sidebar

This is the stuff “on the side” of your post content.

If you’ve already set your Default Sidebar in Widgets, here you can customize it.

There’s not much to do here, so do as you wish: add some padding, change a color, but do it quickly and move on.

Footer Widgets

You want to enable this, and select “Show on All Devices”.

You will want to enable “Footer Bottom” and add your own Copyright description.

Custom CSS/JS

The last thing that’s left is custom CSS or JavaScript.

If you don’t know what you’re doing, you’re probably better off leaving it empty, or giving this to a friend of yours or hiring a Web developer to add a few lines here if you want to customize the theme some more, especially for CSS.

This usually slows the site down the more lines you add, but if you have a proper CDN and caching plugin it’s barely noticeable. I have around 40 lines of custom CSS here. I’m also looking into reducing this.

I needed to change a few small design choices, and that’s why I added some more CSS.

I also modified the look of my Mailchimp sign up form in a few places.

If you need any help with custom CSS let me know at alek@alekmitch.com, or leave a comment below.

That’s pretty much it as far as customizing OceanWP theme goes.

If you find all this tiring, I suggest that you try a premium WordPress theme.


Best Premium WordPress Themes

Most hosting websites offer their own themes.

If you want to skip most of this customization, which can be tedious and tiring, I suggest you go for a premium WordPress theme.

There are thousands of themes out there, both free and premium.

The free ones require a bit more work, and the premium ones require less work to set up, and they usually look better for your content right from the start.

That doesn’t mean all premium themes are better than free ones, just that they’re set up, have fancy stuff, usually have much more functionality, and require less configuration.

The Best Premium WordPress theme is the one that fits your business nicely, that you personally like, that has the necessary functionality, that’s responsive and SEO friendly.

You should always test the themes that you’re using.

Take a look at some of these excellent WordPress themes:

Divi

Best WordPress Theme Divi

X | The Theme

Best WordPress Themes - X Theme

Schema

Schema Best WordPress Themes

Other Great Premium WordPress Themes

Once you’ve picked the theme, you could do some customizing.

Try to make it the way you feel it best represents your brand, and what you do – your business.

Be sure to follow those suggestions I’ve mentioned above when picking up a WordPress theme, such as being responsive, and SEO friendly.

Next, we move on to part 8 of “How to Start a Blog” series: How to Write Great Blog Posts, in which I’ll share some of the best ways to create engaging, and helpful content, and how to get Google to send you organic traffic and rank your content high.

See you there!


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