Templates and Tools

This looks like the most comprehensive list of Blogger template sources I’ve ever seen. I’d heard of some of them, but there are a whole lot I hadn’t, so I’ll want to check them out. Do I need a new template? Well, I don’t think so, but that doesn’t mean I can’t look!

If you’re looking for a new template, I’d say this is the place to start.

More Free Blogger Templates

I’ve noticed that a lot of people who visit this blog are looking for new Blogger backgrounds and layouts. I’m always on the lookout, too – even when I find one I really like, you never know if an even better one is out there somewhere waiting for me.

I just recently found a new site full of great looking Blogger templates, so of course I had to share. It’s called Simply Fabulous Blogger Templates, and I haven’t looked at all of them, but the templates I’ve seen are really nice. There are also some nice tutorials to help you change your template, add and configure your widgets, and add custom text to your header.

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Add a Favicon to Your Site

Are you tired of that bright orange B (if you’re using a Blogger blog) in the address bar and on the tab? You can display your own icon on the browser address bar when visitors view or bookmark your web page instead. It’s really simple, too.

  • Choose an image you like – ideally it will be very simple because a favicon (short for favorites icon) is pretty small, and complicated pictures don’t translate well. It should be an image you want people to associate with your blog.
  • Upload your image to this Free Favicon Generator, and it will create your favicon for you.
  • Then you can either download it so you can upload it somewhere else, or just host it there. They even give you the code to copy.
  • Once you’ve copied the code simply go to your Blogger Dashboard, select Layout, and edit HTML. Paste the code into the head of your page, right before the tag and save it.
  • Now, you should have your very own, personal favicon.

I actually used this Favicons from Pics generator to make the favicon for this blog. If you use this one, you will have to download and unzip the file and then find somewhere to upload it so that you can link to it and use it. Since you can’t directly upload the favicon to Blogger, and many photo hosting sites don’t accept .ico files, it’s a little more complicated.

Here’s a great tutorial on adding a favicon to your Blogger blog.

How’d They Do That?

I haven’t checked out this entire list of 50 Amazing Blogger Tricks and Hacks, but it looks like there are some very useful links here. If you’ve ever seen something on a blog and wondered, “How’d they do that?” you just might find the answer somewhere on this list. I love it when people know how to do something, and they share with the rest of us.

So far I started with #51 (on a list of 50, I know) – make your blog dofollow.

Free Blogger Templates

Once again I am talking about free blog templates. I can’t help myself – when I see a blog layout I like, I want to know who designed it, where they found that layout. So, I click. This time I found Our Blogger Templates. They have over 100 free templates available and the instructions for installing them on your blog and adding your own header image. There is even a tutorial for designing your own template. With all these great, easy to customize templates available, I don’t know that I will ever need to design my own, but I would love to learn how.

I installed one of the free templates from Our Blogger Templates, created and added my own header image, and customized all my colors. I actually found another template I thought would go with my new header better than the one I originally installed, but I was having some troubles getting Blogger to cooperate with me, so I just changed the colors of the one I had already installed. I wasn’t sure I was going to like the ‘New’ Blogger, but it does make changing colors easy. Most of these free templates say that 99% of the colors can easily be changed, and I have to believe them, because I changed an awful lot of the colors.

I grabbed my header image from Pixdaus. I hadn’t heard of it before, but Our Blogger Templates used some images from there for their blog headers, so I clicked and found all kinds of interesting images. I liked the frogs, 1) because I like frogs, and 2) because they look like they’re so excited about something that they just can’t keep their mouths shut and they ‘just gotta share this’ – or am I stretching things a bit? Anyway, lots of images on Pixdaus.

When you click template installation guides and instructions on the Our Blogger Templates site, there’s a link to more sources for header images. I figure, with enough sources, you’re bound to find the right image or template, right?

More Free Blog Designs

Finding that perfect design for your blog is important. After all, you want your blog to represent you, and you don’t want it to look like anyone else’s blog. That’s why I’m always on the lookout for blog designs and layouts, and especially FREE designs.

Smitten Blog Designs has an entire gallery of free blog designs, easy to understand instructions for downloading and installing them, and a very helpful tutorial on saving your sidebar elements when changing your template. I really need that, because I just switched to the ‘New’ Blogger, and I thought the point was that you could easily switch things up without losing everything. Not true. I changed my template, and it wanted to delete my widgets. Huh? Then I had to rebuild them and add them back. If I don’t have to do that next time, I’ll be very happy.

Cute Blog Backgrounds

I found this site today – The Cutest Blog on the Block. There are lots of really cute free blog backgrounds as well as some tutorials on creating your own backgrounds and headers.

I followed the instructions and installed one of the backgrounds on a blog I hope to get going soon. It’s not really something new. I just want to update my recipe website and blog, and I think I can use this new blog for that. The background was easy to install following instructions on the site. I’m thinking I might look for something new for this blog – either use one already there or follow the instructions to make my own.

Either way, I want to be able to find this site again.

Free Blogger Templates

I’m always looking for cute Blogger templates, because I just might see one I just have to use. So, when I see a blog design I like, I look for the little link telling me who designed it or where the design came from. Tonight I clicked a link for suck my lolly and found some really cute ones. There’s quite an extensive design gallery, templates for both the New Blogger XML and Classic Blogger, as well as information on how to use the templates

Backing Up Your Blog

I’ve been blogging with Blogger for quite a while. I’ve never had any problems with it, but there is always that possibility. I hate to admit that I had never backed my blog up until very recently. I had more than a year’s worth of posts and comments that I would hate to lose. I saved each archive page to my computer, which will give me the posts but not the comments.

Recently I found out about another option. I can import all my Blogger posts and comments to my WordPress.com blog. I had signed up for a free account and created a blog a while ago, but I’m not really using it, so tonight I imported all of the posts from this blog. It was really simple and quick – of course, I don’t have nearly as many posts on this blog as on my other one, so that one will probably take a bit longer. I will also have to change it to the New Blogger, at least long enough to get it backed up.

To back up your own blog – first, if you haven’t already done so, sign up for a free account at WordPress.com. Go ahead and create a blog there. You can have as many as you want – all for FREE. (I love free stuff!) Once you have a WordPress.com blog, select your blog from the “My Dashboards” drop-down menu. Once on the blog dashboard, select “Manage” and there will be an option called “Import” – choose that. There are several options, for our purposes, and because that’s what I did, choose “Blogger” and it will ask you for permission.

Howdy! This importer allows you to import posts and comments from your Blogger account into your WordPress blog.

To use this importer, you must have a Google account, an upgraded (New, was Beta) blog, and it must be on blogspot or a custom domain (not FTP).

The first thing you need to do is tell Blogger to let WordPress access your account. You will be sent back here after providing authorization.

Hit the “Authorize” button and grant access when Google asks. Once you authorize it, you will be taken back to WordPress.com where you will see a list of your Blogger blogs. Select the blog you wish to import, and hit the “Import” button. Magically, all the posts and comments from that blog will be imported to your WordPress.com blog! In the future, when you want to do a back-up, any posts and comments that have already been imported will be skipped.

How cool is that? Now, since it’s a back-up, I will probably eventually set my WordPress blog to private, because I don’t really need duplicate content out there. What I do need is the peace of mind I get from knowing everything is backed up – just in case.

Blogger and OpenID

The comments on Blogger have changed recently, making it harder for bloggers without a Google/Blogger account to leave a link to their blog. Before they could select the ‘Other’ option and leave their name and link. Now, there’s just a ‘Nickname’ option with nowhere to put the link in. Yesterday, I read on LadyBanana that there is a fix for this:

I have just set up the facility on this blog for commenters to sign in using not only their Google/Blogger account but also their own sign in from WordPress, Aol/Aim, LiveJournal, Typekey or any OpenID.

This option is currently only possible to set up through Blogger in Draft

I’m not sure exactly what Blogger in Draft is, and that’s a question for another day, but I went in and set it up. It looks just like your regular Dashboard. Go to Settings – Comments, and you have these options, allow comments from:

  • Anyone – includes Anonymous Users
  • Registered Users – includes OpenID
  • Users with Google Accounts
  • Only members of this blog

Select ‘Anyone’ and save your settings. Now, you should have a drop-down box for comments that lets people sign in with a Blogger/Google ID, or WordPress, Aol/Aim, LiveJournal, Typekey or any OpenID. Please note that, if you edit your comment settings in your regular Dashboard after doing this, the drop-down box will go away and you will have to edit again in Blogger Draft.

I thought that would solve things and let people go back to commenting and linking back to their blogs all in one step. That works fine for people with blogs on those services, but what about the ones with their own domains and their blogs hosted elsewhere? What exactly is this OpenID, and can that solve the problem? I started looking and found this list that says, if you use one of these services, then you already have an OpenID. Some of them are already on the drop-down list for comments, so it looks like Blogger has taken some of them and made it easier to sign in with that ID. For instance, instead of typing in: username.livejournal.com, a LiveJournal user can simply select ‘LiveJournal’ in the comment drop-down and type in their username. Once their comment is submitted, the username will link to their LiveJournal blog.

My question is still – what about those who have blogs hosted elsewhere? If they’re not on the list? One option, if they have a Technorati account, is to choose ‘any OpenID’ and type in: technorati.com/people/technorati/username – This will leave a link to their Technorati profile, which isn’t bad. From there, anyone who is interested can find all of their blogs.

Still, I’m not sure that’s the best answer, either. I ended up signing up for ClaimID – a free, easy way to manage your online identity with OpenID. There I found an option for setting up your blog or website as an OpenID. I’m not sure if you can view this page without having an account and being signed in, so I’m going to quote it here:

How do I delegate my OpenID…

With OpenID, you can easily set your webpage or blog up as an identity URL using delegation. For example, say your blog is “myblog.com”, and you’d like to use this URL as your OpenID rather than your claimID URL (we promise not to be too offended). By inserting a little bit of code into your blog or website, you can easily make this blog or website your OpenID.

Rather than logging in with http://claimID.com/username, you’d log in with http://myblog.com. Of course, claimID will still be providing the backend (no need for you to install your own OpenID server!) so you’ll be asked for your password by claimID. However, when you show up as a commenter on a Livejournal thread, for example, your blog or website will be your OpenID url.

To set your blog or website up as a delegate, simply add this snippet of code into the of your page. It will need to go between the and elements on the page.

Brilliant! And now you can log into all of the great OpenID sites with your blog or webpage.

Of course, your code will have your username. ClaimID generates it for you. I had to add some extra spaces in the code for Blogger to accept it in a post, but you get the idea.

Hopefully this has given you a few options for commenting on Blogger and being able to link back to your blog. Let me know if you have any questions, and I’ll see if I can find the answers.