Blogger Tips and Tweaks for Maintaining Inexpensive Artist Websites

This is the first post of this type (the technical variety) I have ever written on my blog, so I am going to do my best to make it understandable and all-computer-user friendly. I have spent the last year trying to find a web designer for my own official site and I have learned a lot in the process. The main thing I have learned is that the wonderful artists that are web designers will require an investment that is beyond me working as an emerging artist in a slow economy! Really to do it all, in so much of managing my images and maintaining a site, some of it really is a job for one person, and it is great to be able to hire a person to do that for you! In the mean time, I am working with what I have. Thankfully with the help of many blogging platform choices and creative information sharing online, I have been able to make my website serve my needs so far, and present my information in a fairly professional way without spending more than about $10 a year for the domain. I have even read about a company that specializes in Blogger-based web design- but the sites shown are very nice! If you are starting out on a tight budget making your website, here are a few resources I have found over the last few months that have helped me enormously to build my site....

*note: I should disclaim none of these are affiliate sites for me and everything used here except my domain (which I bought from Google) is free! so I am sharing the information sharing-love- yay for freebies! :)
now what does this funny thing do? ;)
Blogger and HTML - I have been suggested countless times to craft my website with Wordpress. I actually used to have a Wordpress site. It was fine and I liked it. The reason I chose it was the ability to have separate pages. Blogger allows this now too, as well as HTML and CSS editing, which is something that Wordpress offers for an additional fee. Just this one little difference will allow Blogger to take on many themes designed by others and licensed to share and modify that are similar to portfolio-based layout designs (you can Google these) or here is one of my favorite places to find these kind of themes- Dzignine- many of their designs feature image sliders and extra goodies and some are Wordpress-style themes converted to Blogger's xml. (Read the comments and readme files if you get one- they will often answer any questions about making changes to their shared codes and templates!) Don't forget to back up your previous template or try out the new one on a test blog before you go live!

Image Galleries - This was the hardest thing for me to put together. I had very strict specifics over my images because I have a lot to manage and they require either uploading or linking, and I have still settled for something a little different, but still visually appealing. There are quite a few image gallery styles floating around that can be added to a blog-style website without a lot of technical knowledge (just copy and paste). If you plan on adding or removing images one that links to a hosting site like Flickr or Picasa may be ideal. I had been using pictobrowser which allows a slideshow that can be turned on/off and custom height/width and color settings. The best part is it keeps my captions for each image intact so the details can be seen when a viewer hovers over them. Are you worried about protecting your images from right-clicking or pinning to Pinterest but don't like watermarks? There are codes available on the web for that, too.
some of the images on my main page are cropped so I had to adjust those files accordingly...

Tweaks and Hacks - the best place I found for tweaks to blogger specifically is here. The author has written a few ebooks and has several posts on turning blogs into storefront webpages, and also remove a few of the tell-tale signs that the site is a blog-hosted site. It even explains how to purchase a domain if you are unfamiliar with this part of the process. Maybe I'm just partial because this blogger guru's name is Amanda too.... This is another one where some of the material is a little dated since Blogger/Google has updated so reading the comments may provide new information. Most posts are organized by specific action, like "removing the sidebar" or "changing your blog width"...

I have shared these sites and tidbits because the entire process for me was a tedious one, and I am glad I took the time to learn it, because I have been able to brush up on my HTML and sit in quiet contemplation reading error messages because I put a ">" symbol in the wrong place many early weekend mornings. (Okay, contemplation may have been a little less than quiet and more curse-filled.) I have a great appreciation for the art of web design and I cannot wait to reach a point where I can make the investment for all of my online management- there are some beautifully designed artist sites out there. If you want to check out mine it can be found here- where I've used stuff from all these tips mentioned above. I'd also love to hear what little appearance tweaks have worked for you to make your blog shine!  or you can follow the blog here or sign up (in the sidebar) to get it in your email!

I hope this post helps you on your journey with creating or shaping your website or blog!


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