If you've ever read up on how to be successful with online marketing, you've undoubtedly come across the subject of branding. The basic idea is that your marketing will be more effective if you establish a cohesive, unified brand: i.e. your logo, banner, color scheme, and more should all portray your intended message. A really clear explanation of what branding means can be found at this page: http://indiepreneur.org/2009/08/branding-youre-already-doing-it/.
I definitely don't claim to be an expert on great branding. I'm still looking for someone who can create a custom banner and avatar for both my Etsy and Artfire studios as well as help me figure out what on earth is going on at my homepage. What I do know is that an artisan's blog is a part of their branding. The appearance and content of your blog give important information about you as an artisan including your creative style and business style. Making sure that your blog accurately reflects the sense of style and personality you want for your brand is very important for drawing in potential customers.
I've noticed that quite a few artisans choose to maintain their blogs on Blogger. I don't know if everyone is reading the same business success guides or if people just happen to like this site, but regardless of the reasons it has become very popular. If you're like me, you may not have a ton of capital to invest in a unique blog layout nor the graphics know-how to design an impressive look yourself. There are a few sites that I think are among the best when it comes to free layouts, backgrounds, and features for Blogger:
This website also has a wide array of colorful and seasonal backgrounds for both two and three column Blogger layouts. The only drawback I've seen with them is the relative inability to contact the "2 Moms" that run the site. Their blog hasn't been updated in almost a month and when I tried to contact them on Twitter, I was unable to get a response. That essentially means everything is offered As-Is! They do add new layouts on schedule though, so they are absolutely worth a look.
Of course, what sites you choose to use for graphics will entirely depend on the look you're trying to achieve. I recommend checking out this post for more suggestions: http://buzz.blogger.com/2009/06/spruce-up-your-blog.html. Do you know of a great free site for Blogger templates, backgrounds, or other web elements? Be sure to share it in the comments!
Until next time,