Personalizing Your WordPress.com Blog

Three options

themes
themes

There are three options for personalizing your wordpress blog.

If your blog is free hosted by wordpress.com you can choose to use one of the themes made available at wordpress.com through your admin section, many of which allow for a customized header -> Dashboard -> Appearance -> Themes>

Alternatively, you can choose to undertake css customizing a wordpress.com theme or making one of your own.

Or, you can choose move to self hosting by downloading and altering a free wordpress.org template to suit.

WordPress Options

If your blog is free hosted by wordpress.com, you can edit your theme’s style sheet or create one of your own to personalize the appearance of your blog, only if you purchase an upgrade and undertake css customization yourself. (For more detailed information see CSS Customization Upgrade below. )

If you don’t purchase the upgrade, you can choose a theme from the admin area of your blog -> Dashboard -> Appearance -> Many themes provide for a customized a header and, sidebar widgets allow for posting of unique images, etc. to personalize your blog.

Note that if you do not opt for the css upgrade then take note that we are not allowed to use javascript, iframes, forms, some media embeds and styles, etc. for for security reasons.

Although some themes at wordpress.org and wordpress.com may appear to be the same they are not; the software is different. The  sticky post at the head of the wp support forum outlines the differences between blogs hosted by wordpress at wordpress.com and self-hosted wordpress.org software.

CSS Customization Upgrade

The 15$ you pay to purchase a CSS upgrade for a wordpress.com blog enables you to to alter the appearance of your theme and but you cannot edit the underlying php code in the template. Purchasing the upgrade entitles you to customize css on one blog for one year.

The upgrade is not recommended to bloggers who do not have css customization experience. Although there is a forum and other bloggers may volunteer to help you if needs be, there is no staff support provided for learning css customization. If you are learning CSS here are helpful links.

CSS customization can be used to improve on any existing theme; you can define your own classes for use in posts; you can select the Sandbox theme and build on one of the Minimalist layouts or, opt for no stylesheet and do it all yourself.

Happy Blogging!

Related posts found in this blog:
Changing your blog? start with the colors
Blog Design: Which colors do you use and why
Why having a well designed blog is important
Swing into Summer: New Themes and Headers

How and why to get your own domain

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29 thoughts on “Personalizing Your WordPress.com Blog

  1. Hi TimeThief,
    I am very sorry, because I already know this is probably the wrong place to ask you a question, but I really couldn’t find the appropriate place. (Is there a place where your readers can ask for specific help?)
    I have been playing around with my http://findingpassionforlife.wordpress.COM and I cannot for the life of me seem to change the columns in the “Inuit Types” theme from two to three? I know if can be done, because I had this theme for a while with three columns. I was just experimenting with other themes, to brighten my blog for summer but now I can’t get it back to what it looked like before. Do you know where the option to change it from two columns to three is??
    Your help would be sooooo greatly appreciated. I am so frustratingly annoyed by this hour long struggle to do something I am sure is simple!! Erg!
    Thanks for taking the time to read!
    Best,
    S.

  2. Thank you for all of your great information!!! This may be a little off topic, but you mentioned not being able to use Javascript unless you have opted for the CSS upgrade it reminded me of the trouble I have been having finding html code that would create a button that says “Add to Favorites” so that it would serve as a reminder to people. Do you know of or have such html code?

    Thanks so much!

    Calra

    1. @carlapacher
      No that is it NOT what I said to you on the forum. What happened there is that you are new and inappropriately posted into a thread on a completely different topic. The thread was on the topic of CSS editing and your post into it was on the topic of using a mybloglog javascript widget. These two are unrelated topics.

      The code restrictions apply to ALL of those who have blogs being free hosted by wordpress.COM, whether or not they have purchased a CSS upgrade, domain mapping upgrade or any other upgrade. We cannot use javscript and other restricted codes period. If we do then the software will strip them out to preserve security. http://en.support.wordpress.com/code/

      There are mybloglog badges you can use but you cannot use the mybloglog widgets because they are javascript widgets, and there is no upgrade you can purchase for a free hosted wordpress.com blog that will allow you to use javascript or any other restricted code.

      We cannot add themes to our wordpress.COM blogs as there is no FTP access. We are limited to the themes found in the dashboard under Appearance > Themes. Themes found on the internet are coded for self-hosted wordpress blogs using the software from wordpress.ORG and wordpress.COM runs on different software.
      http://en.support.wordpress.com/themes/adding-new-themes/
      http://en.support.wordpress.com/com-vs-org/

      If you have CSS editing experience, you can get the paid custom CSS upgrade and renew it annually. It will allow you to stylize the appearance of themes you find here > Appearance > Themes. The Custom CSS Upgrade, however, does NOT grant you the ability to edit the core PHP and HTML template files of any theme. This functionality is only applicable to privately-hosted blogs and sites using the WordPress.org software. If you require this functionality then consider the WordPress.ORG alternative. wordpress.COM and wordpress.ORG the differences > http://support.wordpress.com/com-vs-org/

      The Custom CSS Upgrade does NOT enable the permission to use advertising, any kind of prohibited code,or upload additional themes and plugins. With the upgrade, your blog will still be hosted here at WordPress.com, which means that you will not have FTP access to your files and must still abide by the Terms of Service accordingly. Also note that CSS is theme specific, so you cannot use the CSS stylesheets from other themes with the themes here at wordpress.COM.

      Since there is no official support for the CSS upgrade, and precious little volunteer support I recommend that you don’t buy the upgrade unless you have at least moderate understanding of HTML and CSS because you must be prepared to do the work on your own.

      If you are considering purchasing the upgrade, you can go to Appearance > Edit CSS. There wordpress has provided a preview function where you can try before you buy.
      http://en.support.wordpress.com/custom-css/
      http://en.support.wordpress.com/editing-css/

      Lastly wordpress.COM does not provide followers or add to favorites widgets. If you wish you can post either a blog subscription widget in your sidebar http://en.support.wordpress.com/widgets/blog-subscription-widget/ or a RSS Links Widget http://en.support.wordpress.com/widgets/rss-links-widget/

      I hope this clears up your confusion.

      1. Thank you very much and sorry for posting in the wrong place. I had a couple of windows opened with your posts.

        I already have the follow widgets in my side bar and wanted something that says “Add to favorites” in my side bar. If you ever run across any html for this please let me know.

        Thanks,
        Carla

        1. @Carla
          You’re welcome. As you have a AddThis widget in your sidebar you can simply change the tittle for the text widget it’s in to “Add to Favorites”.

  3. Hi

    Just thought I’d let you know, when I subscribed by email to your blog, the feedburner wouldn’t let me back here. So you disappeared. I had to go to my email find the name of your site and activate it – still didn’t reappear. Then I used google to find you.

    Bit of a pain – but hey, your worth it. x

    1. Welcome to onecoolsitebloggingtips.com I’m so sorry it was such a pain to sign up. I use firefox browser. I just checked the feedburner subscription form and it seems to be working for me. I hope it’s not a pain to others as well.

  4. Timethief, any theme suggestions for a tech blog like mine? I want something orange (a la your colors post), but it doesn’t have to start out that way. I can always rework the CSS colors, but the basic blog structure has to be there from the theme. It needs to be compact, fast, and compliant. Thoughts?

    1. @JP
      I like the theme you have now and I’m hard pressed to begin recommending any themes I haven’t actually worked with. Why are you considering changing the one you have?

      1. Bored I guess. To me it looks like a text blob inside orange-bordered boxes. i.e. no organization. I’m never satisfied with the way my site looks. Any suggestions?

        I’m not happy with the load time either, but WP-Cache breaks my site. Maybe I should re-install the theme and start over, that might fix it.

  5. I’m always so impressed by your knowledge and your willingness to share it with others. You are a very generous woman. And a great writer, I might add!

    1. @alantru
      Wow! You just made my day. I was feeling very low and when I saw this comment it made me smile. Thanks so much for the compliments. :)

    1. @spamwarrior
      No I did not purchase a CSS upgrade. This is the Vigilance theme that you will find in your Appearance -> Themes selector here at wordpress.com. This theme provides some built-in customization options. All I added was a header and I changed the colors of the fonts and backgraound edge and border.

    1. @devilnoangel
      That’s a good link for CSS tutorials. I have used them myself but there’s no way that I’m into CSS editing. I like this theme the way it is. :)

  6. I don’t even want to try to mess with the WordPress.com CSS editor…I fear it. I try to stick with a solid pic at the top and organize the sidebar in a somewhat unique manner.

    1. @gearsofrock
      Hello there. So CSS editing is not on your agenda. Your sidebar images are attractive but unfortunately the theme you chose is the most challenging black one at wordpress.com when it comes to being readable by visually challenged people. There’s just not enough contrast between the fonts and background to make reading easy.

    1. @asek
      I don’t know if you mean that you like the theme I’m using or the one you have … lol :D If you mean that you like this one then scroll down to the bottom left and click “Vigilance”. It’s a free GPL wordpress theme.

  7. I just started a WordPress blog so these tips are really helpful. I kind of wish WordPress would be more like Weebly.com where you can just do everything on the site. It would make life easier. You should check out this blog ranking site I am sure alot of people can benefit from it. It’s part of the startup company I am currently interning for.

    1. Hello there,
      I’m happy to hear that you find my posts to be helpful. I don’t know what you mean about doing everything on site. Can you clarify please?

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