How to Get Started on Making Your Blog Look Pretty: A Mini Blog Design Guide by Me, a Somewhat Okay Designer

Hi, I’m May, and I love pretty things!!

A lot of compliments I get about my blog is that it’s pretty / gorgeous / nice to look at / some variation of those words. And while it DOES take a Good Eye to determine what looks nice or not (let’s just say my Eye has improved a lot from since I first started blogging), pretty much anyone can make a great blog design!

But I feel like when you’re a beginner blogger, you definitely have less of an idea of what you should do, and I personally feel like a little guide to it all might have been really helpful for me, so today, I made that for you guys!

I really hope you like this post or find it helpful! I tried my best to give good tips but it’s hard to tell you specifically how to make nice-looking graphics. But feel free to reach out and ask for my opinion/feedback on any designs you have if you want!!

fae divider (2)

1. DECIDING YOUR LOOK

This is the first step, because it is the Most Important. When I was re-designing my blog, I had to decide what I wanted my “look” to be. And by look, I mean:

  • colors and how it adds to your “vibe”: do you want light colors that make your blog seem more cheery or darker colors that make your blog feel more sophisticated?
    • I knew I wanted to make my blog pink and bright, so I found graphics based on that!
      .
  • Shut up, Shealea | She is sunflowers & thunderstormsobjects that can be a part of your “brand”: surprisingly, mangoes is not what I’m talking about here; I mean actual objects in your design that could lead people to remember you
    • mine are obviously the beautiful pink flowers, and another great example from the top of my head is Shealea @ Shut Up Shealea’s sunflowers!
      .
  • your vibe!!: this is very important because you want to attract viewers to your blog and keep them there. do you want your viewers to feel happy when they see your blog? do you want to seem more sophisticated and professional? do you want it classy and simple or busy and bright?
    • light = cheery, dark = sad is not always the case!! CW @ The Quiet Pond has a darker blue color scheme and combined with the whole idea of her blog, that color makes her blog feel all the more magical

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2. FINDING GRAPHICS

Most blog designs I know are full of different visual things or objects, and if you can’t make them yourselves (god knows I can’t), there are a lot of different resources online where you can download them for free!!

One super common starter freebie site is Angie Makes. My personal advice is to stay away from it, because so many people use them that it’s become easily recognizable, but if you currently use these or want to, do it! Don’t let its popularity stop you—it must be popular for a reason!!

For some floral freebie graphics, there’s Gold and Berry and The Smell of Roses. For free graphics in general (as in not just floral), there’s FreepikCreative Market, and Creative Booster, which have a selection of things you have to pay for, but also a selection of freebies!

Note: These are certainly not ALL the graphic resources out there! I can just name these off the top of my head, and I don’t have enough of a memory to conjure up other good sites—but they’re a great place to start at! (And sorry I don’t know more non-floral graphics sites; I love flowers a lot okay???)

THE most important thing about using graphics from online is how it is licensed. All graphics/websites will tell you whether or not it can be used for commercial use (in which you somehow profit off of the use of it) or personal use (in which you just use it for yourself, such as a blog). It will also tell you whether or not the creator needs to be attributed (credited). This is so important because you could face legal consequences if you do not obey these!!

If it says free for commercial use, it’s also free for personal use. And if it says attribution is required, make sure to link to the place you got the graphic from somewhere “stationary” on your blog, like in your footer (instead of in just one blog post, unless you use that graphic only in that blog post).

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3. FONTS!

(When I say fonts, I mean fonts for use in different blog graphics, such as my header and “shall we chat?” graphic.)

Honestly, there isn’t much to say here. Pretty much the only thing I’ll say before linking to my favorite font resources is that whatever font you choose absolutely MUST be readable. It also should be pretty!!! And not an eyesore!!!! And I know what’s ugly or not is very subjective, but just make sure it’s not anything that makes your eyes HURT looking at them.

Examples of the types of fonts you want to stay away from (yes these are unrealistic and you would probably never consider using them for your blog but I have points to make):

(this is just… so glaringly BIG)

(I don’t even know what this is??? are you trying to do some geometry????)

(let’s play a guessing game!!! guess what tf this is supposed to say)

(I wanted to show this one because it’s something more along the lines of a lot of the brush fonts you would find used in blog headers: when using brush calligraphy fonts, it is SO important to make sure it’s easily readable. you want your viewer to see your blog title and instantly be able to read it; this font takes some time for you to discern the letters)

Here are some of my favorite fonts sites!! One of the things that I had to learn was how to actually access the font file after I’d downloaded it, and I legitimately could not tell you how I did it because I haven’t downloaded a font in so long?? (On PC I know it’s something with like unzipping a file… But I got my answers from Google, so you can too!)

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4. THE ACTUAL DESIGNING OF THINGS

This is where the magic happens: the place where you put all of it together!!

There are SO many different designing tips that I could give you, especially the tricks I learned by myself. But there are just too many, and many of them are small little things that you can find on your own by just playing around!

In general, I feel like giving tips and advice on the actual putting-everything-together part is super hard, because I can’t really to tell you how to make something look visually appealing?? But I will just give a few basic overall tips!!

  • Keep it simple! Especially for blog headers, and especially if this is new to you. My blog header is literally just a few flowers/leaves with text on top! And it looks super pretty!! (And I can say that because it wasn’t designed by me.)
    • examples of my favorite clean and simple but beautiful blog headers:

  • Make sure any text you use is READABLE. Not the font (since I already talked about that!), but the colors and the size. Make it stand out, ESPECIALLY if it’s a blog header.
    .
  • Balance things out! If you have both text and images/objects, you want to make sure it looks balanced. Don’t make your images too big, and don’t make your text too big. Don’t put too many images, and if you have a lot of text, add more images. If you have any white space, make sure it doesn’t look too empty. And symmetry is really great when it comes to balance!
    .
  • Experiment!! Move things around and play with the look of things! Don’t be afraid to try new things—you might end up with something you love!
    • I went through several variations of my divider before I stumbled upon my current one, and I’m super glad I kept playing around. These weren’t horrible (they’re just so very RED), but I love the one I have right now a lot more:

 

And here are some designing sites I recommend using for putting everything together, though there are many others!

  • Canva (the only reason Canva is somewhat limiting to me is because you can’t use your own fonts, but I have used it a lot!)
  • BeFunky (great resource but sometimes designs come out blurry)
  • iPiccy (a bit hard to navigate but really great once you get it!)

Honestly, if you have some kind of design you’re making and want my opinion on it, feel free to just shoot me an email with an image of it attached! I love seeing others’ works of art, and helping to improve them, and I don’t mind offering feedback at all. (Definitely NOT going to design it for you, though!! I have No Time.)

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5. BLOG LOOK!

Here’s where you incorporate everything above into your actual blog. Insert your blog headers! Use those sign-off graphics and beautiful dividers! Choose a theme you love—keep it clean, simple, and navigable. In my opinion, patterned backgrounds can be pulled off in only a few circumstances (such as a light-colored pattern), so stick to a solid color to play safe! A white background is my personal recommendation, and you’ll see it in a lot of blogs for good reason!

Some important things to your overall blog aesthetic:

  • Clean! Simple! Readable! Those are probably the biggest things I look for in a blog design? Keep it simple and clean enough so I know what I’m looking at, and keep everything readable so I can actually read things on your blog! Make sure there’s nothing overwhelming or confusing going on.
    .
  • Make sure it’s easily navigable. A pretty design isn’t going to do much if you have no idea how to navigate the blog. Draw me in with your beautiful blog, and then make sure I can find my way around it!!
    .
  • Good sizing is important! In my opinion, the only reason you should make anything big is to see detailing, such as on headers that you (somehow) managed to draw yourself. Anything really big is going to feel really blown up in your viewers’ face. But also, don’t make it small to the point that you can’t see it! Find that perfect middle ground.

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GENERAL TIPS

Here are a few bits of overall advice when designing your blog!

  • COLOR SCHEMES. If your blog theme offers a purple text color, but your graphics are in orange, it’s going to clash and not look good at all. My color scheme is pink and pink!! It goes Very well together.
    .
  • The font of your post’s text is also super important to the look of your blog. Don’t choose an ugly one!! Please!!! If I hate the how the words of your post look, I’m NOT going to read them. And yes, “ugly” is subjective, but in general, stay away from fonts that are hard to read and keep it simple.
    .
  • Keep a theme. If you have some kind of food shown in your blog header, but then every other graphic you make includes animals and not food, it’s not going to be very cohesive. (And I definitely would be wondering why you didn’t include food in your other graphics??? Food deserves better than that.)
    .
  • Be original. You can be inspired by so many other bloggers’ beautiful designs, but it’s so important to be creative and come up with your own things. 1) You should not steal and plagiarize and copy from anyone, for moral and legal and just basic human decency reasons, and 2) you want to be unique and stand out from other bloggers! Have a design that makes people remember you.

shall we chat

how do you design your blog? do you do the same steps as me? what kind of resources do you like to use? what are Your biggest tips for blog aesthetic??

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64 thoughts on “How to Get Started on Making Your Blog Look Pretty: A Mini Blog Design Guide by Me, a Somewhat Okay Designer

  1. Ok first of all how dare you say that you are an okay designer? Fr, I adore you, your blog and your blog’s aesthetic/graphics sm 😩🤧 This was such a helpful and insightful post, and having very bad graphic designing skills myself, this is gonna be my new bible with graphic design because i highkey am meh with my blog aesthetic and i always give myself a lot of crap about it? there are so many amazing resources that i need to check out, and the blogs you linked are so amazing sksksksk 😍 have an amazing day 💗

    Liked by 2 people

    1. Ahh Taasia thank you!!! Most of my graphics were made by someone else but I am particularly proud of my divider since those took forever 😎😅 Aw I am so glad I could help you out! Don’t feel horrible about your design, it’s so pretty, and I will bet you it looks 100% better than it did originally!

      Liked by 1 person

  2. literally, agree with everything in this post, this is such a cohesive guide. I think newbie May would have ADORED this post don’t ya think? (i mean, we ALL went through that awkward graphics phase at first. TBH I still think I’m going through it with my featured images rip) also hello you put MY header as one of our favourites??? i mean, even though you had a major influence on how it looks, still means a lot lmao.

    1. how do you design your blog? –> idk, i just send some ugly graphics to all my friends and force them to make it look nice!
    2.do you do the same steps as me? –> yeah pretty much! I don’t mind not always sticking to my theme perfectly. like, my dividers are little ice cream things (still in the colour scheme though) and even though there’s ice cream no where else i still think it looks cute and doesn’t clash with anything??
    3.what kind of resources do you like to use? –> i really like miss mandee’s designs. she has a whole page of freebies, and she’s much lesser known than angie makes so i use her graphics A LOT.
    4. what are Your biggest tips for blog aesthetic?? –> oh there’s this really nice post by someone called May. They have a blog called forever and everly and they recently posted loads of tips for blog aesthetic!! you should check it out.

    Liked by 1 person

    1. aaahhh THANK YOU I love you and oh god this would have helped me so much (maybe I wouldn’t have had such an ugly ass design) and literally all of your headers past and present are/were gorgeous

      oh yeah, the theme thing is definitely not like a MUST or anything. I just feel like it was a good suggestion for cohesiveness for beginners lmao. but it works well for you especially since ice cream is Your Brand

      I just looked at Miss Mandee’s graphics and they are so cute!!! and hmmm I wonder what post you’re talking about??

      Like

  3. AHHH MAY. I love this post SO much, filled with fantastic advice and all (also you mentioned my blog header and ahh this is so sweet thank you!!) I agree that it’s so important to keep things simple and yes, readable, because sometimes there are just so many things going on everywhere and… well, my eyes aren’t happy :/
    I recently rebranded everything for everything to be coherent and in the same color scheme always and I’m so much happier with it all and I feel like it all looks better and more aesthetic somehow just like I’ve always seen on other blogs and it’s so satisfying haha, even though I probably have more progress to make, it’s a start!. I love all of your advice, thank you for sharing!! ❤

    Liked by 1 person

  4. Love this. I like that it’s detailed but super entertaining! I’m not sure I ever followed a process designing my blog. I do know that for the first years of blogging it was more of a reflection of the blogs I liked than of myself. That’s why I was constantly changing everything. I went through the watercolor phase, the doodles, the vector graphics (think Marie’s). I never stuck with anything because I would look at a blog that was so busy and colorful and I’d be like GORGEOUS, I WANT THAT. And then I’d look at something so breathtakingly minimalistic and go: Oh well, who needs color?

    I’d like to think I’ve finally found my style, and even finally, after so long, started using my own photos instead of just stock ones. Book photography makes me lazy XD I like the gold and yellow tones in my blog, and keep it simple relying on the colors and the typography (even though I still HIGH KEY love watercolor floral elements)

    Ultimately I think all that experimentation is so important, because the best look for your blog is the one that feels like you, and makes you most comfortable in that space. The one that makes you excited to post.

    Liked by 1 person

    1. Aahh Pamela, thank you so much!! And I think I was pretty much the opposite of you haha! I’ve been blogging for two years now and I’ve had like 3 different designs total lmao. But it’s so great that you were able to experiment so much and come across a design you love! (Your blog is absolutely GORGEOUS and your beautiful photos complement it so well!)

      Liked by 1 person

    1. I’m so happy you found it helpful, Bibi! I’m using the theme Toujours ☺💗 (Handy trick: if you click on the three dots of the pop-up in the bottom right-hand corner of all WordPress.com blogs, you can see which theme the blog is using!)

      Like

  5. Ahh, this is an amazing post! YOUR BLOG IS SO PRETTY OH MY GOSH.😭💓I really love all of the tips, I can still use them now and I know that this is a post I would have loved to read as a newbie blogger, haha. (My first blog still exists and whenever I look at it I kind of want to cry at the design??) I’m so excited to look at the resources you shared- I’m not planning to redesign right now but knowing me I’ll do it at some point, and I haven’t heard of some of the websites you mentioned.

    HAHA, I laughed at loud at “are you trying to do geometry” because that’s literally what I thought of when I saw it. I took geometry last year and have since tried to block it out of my mind but reminds me of using the compass-thing to draw the bisects or something along those lines??

    Thank you for all the tips, and great post!

    Liked by 1 person

    1. AAHH OLIVIA THANK YOU SO MUCH!!! And haha, I definitely could have used this post or some variation of it when I started blogging as well! Luckily I don’t have screenshots of what my blog used too look like but I still have the graphics and old posts… 🙈😭 And I hope you find the resources helpful if you ever use them! ❤

      Yes, I'm taking geometry right now and we're doing circle-related things, so as soon as I saw that font I was like… this is literally just geometry 😂

      Liked by 1 person

  6. This is such a great post! I love finding new design tips and am constantly perfecting “my look” One thing to know, is you’re never done! To me, every new post is a work of art and I love finding new ways to make it pretty!

    Liked by 1 person

  7. This is such a wonderful and cohesive guide, May! You kept it simple and to the point, which is honestly all you really need… I’m overly verbose at times so you are definitely Guide Goals!

    I love the design and look of your blog too, and I think that Shealea’s branding is one of the best I’ve seen.

    Liked by 1 person

  8. This is a GREAT post May! Really comprehensive! I use Canva quite a lot for graphics, but I hadn’t heard of some of the other sites you talked about so I’m glad to get some new recommendations. I also think you’re definitely right that it’s important to have a simple but memorable blog header – that’s why I’m getting mine redesigned at the moment. 🙂 Thanks for sharing such a fab post!

    Liked by 1 person

    1. Aahh, Kate, thank you so much!! Haha, yep, I do love Canva, but other sites I love since I can use my own fonts without having to pay! And oh, I love your current blog header — it’s so cute!! — but I’m excited to see the new look! ❤

      Like

  9. This is a brilliant post May, and definitely one I will bookmark for the next time I’m re-designing my blog (and speaking of my blog thank you so much for featuring my header. It really put a smile on my face to see it there with the others you chose).
    I try and think of the things I do when re-designing my blog and the main thing for me is that everything looks pretty, but I always make sure the text of everything stands out. It’s definitely one of the most important parts making sure people can read what you’re writing, and read your blog header because that’s the thing you want people to take notice of. (I even tried to guess what that third font said and I literally have no clue, what even is it?)
    Great post May, and this is all really good advice as well. 🙂 ❤

    Liked by 1 person

    1. Ah, Beth! Thank you so much! And of course, your previous blog design was gorgeous but I just fell SO in love with your current one when I first saw it! ❤

      Yes, I definitely agree! I think it's a very common mistake for bloggers to make to use fancy fonts too much, and sometimes it's just better to keep it simple and readable than elaborate and unreadable! (And haha, honestly I don't even know what it's supposed to say? I think it was something like Fat Wat____ but you truly can't make the words out 😂)

      Liked by 1 person

      1. That’s all right, and thanks so much May. This is definitely my favourite blog design of all the ones I’ve had so far. 🙂
        Sometimes you want something fancy, but when it comes to designs I’ve found it’s best to have a fancy image and a simple text. You don’t want it all fancy.
        Yeah I thought the first part was ‘fat’ but I didn’t get anything beyond those three letters! 😀

        Like

  10. Ahh yess this post is amazing!! (Does that font say Fat Davina or what I really cannot tell,) anyway I mostly use unsplash and I haven’t really done all that much with design on my new blog but I should and will do at some point. This is super helpful!

    Liked by 1 person

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