My daughter entered eighth grade this September and for the week before classes began she enjoyed pimping out her school binder. All the cool girls do it. A standard plastic three-ring binder is transformed with photos, stickers, song lyrics, and other bits and bobs on the outside. She's even got a spot for a quote of the day which she updates each morning. Inside, the binder has page dividers she’s customized, and pocket folders with pens and protractors and whatnot.
I got to thinking that the same is true of good blogs. A pimped out blog shows the blogger's personality.
I've pimped out my blog with lots of cool stuff. On the top is a masthead that I had a designer friend create. In TypePad which I use for my Web Ink Now blog, you just have someone design something that's 770 pixels wide and drop it in. Presumably you can do the same with other blog software.
On the right and left columns, I've implemented TypePad widgets. For example, I have links from the cover images of my books to Amazon. Because it is part of my Amazon Associates program account, I'm even paid a small commission. It's not much money, but every quarter I can take my family out for a decent dinner on the proceeds.
I've got links to pages on my site and to my other content on the Web such as my Squidoo lens and a Technorati a list of blogs that link to mine. There’s a link to the articles I've written for EContent Magazine, a link to the Newstex Blogs On Demand network that syndicates my blog and links to the associations that I'm affiliated with. There are RSS subscription widgets from Feedburner and an email subscription option with FeedBlitz.
Pimping out your blog is easy with TypePad using widgets "bling for your blog." If you devote a few hours to it, you can make a very cool looking blog that even my teenage daughter would approve of.
Sure, the standard templates offered by the blog software providers are great to get started, but once you are into the blogging thing, it is important to make your blog personality shine through based on the links, images, masthead and other widgets.