Hello, traveler, and welcome into this new year!
2021 has finally started, and while it looks a lot like 2020, I am aiming for a new energy! At the end of December, the blog went private for a couple of days — enough for me to redesign it entirely. Because if you didn’t notice, Ursa Reads had a makeover! What better to start the year right than a fresh start and a shiny new look?
My little signature bear has disappeared and the new theme is more focused on the « space » part of my aesthetic. I love it! I chose lighter and warmer tones, and I think it makes the blog way more enjoyable to look at — less tiring, at least. And I really hope you like it as much as I do!
Speaking of aesthetics, I recently spoke with some bloggers, and they told me they struggled to come up with aesthetics, specific themes, for their blogs. So I thought that, since it’s a thing I pretty well manage (? I think at least — a space-traveling bear isn’t something you see everywhere!) I might give some tips to aspiring creators!
Create your aesthetic
An aesthetic, or blog theme, is the visual identity of your blog. The basics are a logo, a divider, a signature, blog post featured images, and in some cases, a header. You may want to create social media profile layout, and other things too. I mainly focus on these basics and then create from them whenever needed.
To make everything clearer, I’ll use some make-up example. As for my own example, Ursa Reads’ aesthetic is a space bear traveling galaxies made of books. Very specific, isn’t it? And yet, very simple too. Simplicity is what you should be aiming for. You don’t need a complicated, over-the-top theme: you’ll tire the eyes of your visitors and complicate your whole blogging experience. So, relax, Ursa is here to guide you through the creation of your own unique theme!
How to come up with your own aesthetic
When I decided I wanted to open my blog, the first thing I thought was: what do I want it to look like? Of course, you need a name and a (sort of) niche, but we are talking here about the visual identity of your blog. Its look.
You’ll want something unique, so when people on the internet come across your blog, your social media, or else, they immediately think of you. « Oh, the space bear? Yeah, that’s Ursa, let’s see what she wrote! » My best advice to create a unique aesthetic that resembles you is: what do you like? And I don’t mean what do you like in books, or anything relating to your niche, but in life? For me, it was bears and astronomy: Ursa was born. You like coffee? Watching TV? Koalas or sunsets? Use it for your theme. You can use one interest, or you can mix several that are nothing alike, as I did for Ursa. The less alike, the more unique the theme will be: what about a coffee-drinking koala blogging about books? You can then explore your aesthetic and play with it: rating books with coffee beans, creating monthly rendez-vous fictionally taking place in a coffee shop… The possibilities are limitless!
The color palette
Once you have a general idea of what your theme will be, you need to come up with colors. They play a huge role in your visual identity and help create a seamless theme. When it comes to creating color palettes, I usually come up with four colors. You don’t need more, but less than four might be a bit restrictive.
I use a really cool and easy website that soon will become your favorite too: coolors.co. You can create color palettes as you like with a very-simple-to-use generator.
Let’s go back to our coffee-addict koala. We’ll need four colors. Whenever I think of koalas, I think of grey (their fur) and green (eucalyptus). But when I think of coffee, I think of black, brown, and white (for the cups). So I think I’ll focus on those colors and let the generator do its magic. I usually go for a gradient palette, with a dark color on one side, a light one on the other, and two middle colors in between.
Here’s what I come up with! And that is what I’ll work with to create my fictional theme. Those colors will help you to coordinate your graphics, but you’ll also use them for your blog posts’ titles, background, colors in said posts…
Before assembling your theme, you’ll need fonts. They’re needed for your logo, your featured images, and everything you’ll create with text. I usually go for two fonts: you don’t need more, and one is not enough. I use one for titles, the other for subtitles. The main rule when it comes to font, and to match fonts, is to get two fonts that don’t look alike: you can’t choose two serif fonts or two handwritten fonts. It’ll just hurt the eyes, or don’t stand out enough. The best you can do is match two categories: a serif font with a sans serif one for a classic look, or a serif font with a handwritten font for an elegant look, for example. You can browse fonts on several websites such as dafont, fontsquirrel, fontspace, and even canva.
For our imaginary theme, I chose the Noto Serif Display ExtraCondensed font for titles, and the Jonathan font for subtitles. Here’s what it looks like:
Next, you’ll need to gather some graphic elements to illustrate your creations. In this case, it would be a koala, a cup or pot of coffee, maybe some books too… It’s the fun part, but also a very frustrating one because you have this perfect image in your head but can’t find the perfect elements to match it. But you’re almost there!
When it comes to graphic elements, I generally browse (for hours) free-stock websites such as Freepik or Canva. What I like about Canva is that, sometimes, you can change the colors of the elements you chose to match the ones from your color palettes (for that, use the HEX code — it’s that series of six numbers and/or letters after the hashtag symbol).
I’m working on Canva, because it’s really easy to use, and there is everything in the same place. Here’s what I gathered for our fake logo:
Assemble it all
You’re almost there! Now all you need to do is assemble all your elements together, and you’ll have your logo! It’s the first step toward your goal of creating an entire aesthetic, and it’s already so rewarding. So mix up your graphic elements, color them with your colors, add your fonts, and tada!
You now have your logo! It’s now up to you to create the rest of your basics and whatever else you need. What is important is the oneness of your creations: you want a uniform theme that will look pretty! But the most important is to have fun and be proud of what you create!
Bonus: your blogging voice
It doesn’t stop there. In fact, what I love the most about having a blog theme is that there are limitless possibilities for content creation. My Ursa is a space-traveling bear: there’s a whole universe to have fun with and decline in an infinite amount of blog post ideas.
Ursa is at the head of a spaceship? Well, let’s write a greeting pilot-like sentence at the beginning of each post. I created a guest post series where my bear travels through other galaxies: my guest’s bookshelves. If tomorrow I need another format of blog post, maybe Ursa will meet an alien and they will host this new kind of content. I really can do whatever I like, and I feel like I have more opportunities for (unique) creation than themeless bloggers. You can also have fun in a huge amount of way: rate books with coffee beans, name your categories accordingly to different kinds of coffee, … Your koala may be a sarcastic barista or a cheerful one, and you get to incorporate that into your posts too. It might be a bit cheesy, but the only limit is your imagination, and it’s wonderful!
I really hope this post has been helpful, and if you ever decide to try yourself at creating your theme, I’d love to see what you’ll do!
Do you prefer to have a theme, or not?
What would be your fictional theme?