Blogger default templates: Which one is the best?

Last week, I published my latest book, I wanted to show small business owners how to cheaply and quickly build an informational website for their businesses using Google’s Blogger service. In the course of researching the book, I did a lot of experimentation with Blogger’s default templates. Which ones are the best?

Awesome, Inc. Template: This is one of the template types that I used to build a sample website in the book. It has a bold look in terms of the colors, fonts, and box styles used. Here’s what the sample website looks like, using the basic gray Awesome, Inc. template, as well as an orange Awesome, Inc. template:

Blogger Default Template Awesome Inc.Blogger Template Awesome Inc Orange

Simple Template: Blogger has a range of styles based on the “Simple” template. The colors and shapes are generally muted, but there are a few distinct types as well. Here are the Simple white and orange templates:

Blogger Template Simple White

Watermark Template: Finally, there are some playful templates that might fit certain types of businesses or business blogs. Here’s the “Candy Stripe” version of the Watermark template:

Blogger Watermark tempalte

What about the other Blogger default templates? Picture Window, Travel, and Dynamic Views are more oriented toward photographs. This is not a good fit more most small businesses, except for those which have lots of photographs to show. In addition, the Dynamic Views template is based on heavy use of javascript, which causes problems for some users.

Lastly, the Ethereal template is too gentle for most small businesses. I believe that most businesses need to make a strong impression, and Ethereal is just too emo.

What’s inside the book

My book explains how to choose different templates and customize them for static websites (that is, an informational website that seldom changes) or a small business blog. For people who are just starting a business, or don’t want to spend the time or money on an expensive website, this book will teach you what you need to know to get a small business website with its own .com domain for just $10 per year. You can see what’s inside the book here.

Of course, businesses with sophisticated design needs should go for a more advanced template. It’s possible to download custom templates for Blogger (I will write a post about this someday) but many businesses opt for WordPress. That’s fine, but note that WordPress comes with a much steeper learning curve, as well as additional financial and time management costs. I’ll be sticking with Blogger …

Writing an ebook for Dropbox newbies

A few days ago, I published my first ebook, “Dropbox In 30 Minutes“. The product website answers the question “What is Dropbox“, and includes an overview of the contents of the book, plus links to a few locations where it can be bought. What I briefly wanted to mention in this post were some of the requirements to publish a 10,000-word e-book on a technical topic (Dropbox, an online storage service). Technical production was a DIY effort, which I suspect is rare in this business — most authors are good at writing, but need help with production.

About Dropbox
Dropbox is an online storage service for computer files

I knew almost nothing about ebook publishing before I started, and had never authored a print book. However, I quickly discovered that I had very strong skills in other areas that are required for publishing an ebook. They include:

  • Writing: Besides writing magazine features, newspaper articles, a business case, and a graduate school thesis, I’ve been a blogger for more than 10 years and have published more than 1,000 posts in various locations. I have a strong voice, and cranking out 10,000 words is no longer a big deal.
  • Editing: I have worn many editorial hats over the years, from copy editor all the way up to managing editor for The Industry Standard. This helped with catching errors, organizing the text, and coordinating the various elements required for the ebook (for instance, screenshots, text, and front matter). Note that I did ask two other experienced editors and a technical expert to review early drafts before I published, however.
  • Design/Layout: I’ve worked on print layout as a “paginator” for a technology magazine, and have been working with Web layout through blogs and other online work for more than 15 years. I was able to apply this knowledge to the design of the cover as well as the arrangement of text, headings, and images in the body of the document.
  • HTML: I didn’t know this until I looked at the publishing guide for the Kindle, but HTML is actually an important part of some ebook publishing standards. I first learned to code HTML in 1995, so it was not a problem for me to fix some HTML code that Microsoft Word had generated for my Kindle edition.

An ebook for Dropbox users becomes a template for other books?

I could keep on going with this list. Experience with business setup, marketing, even photography all have played a role in getting my first ebook for Dropbox newbies off the ground. It gives me a lot of leeway to experiment, but also made me realize that for future books I may want to outsource certain elements (especially cover design and copy editing).


What do people sell on Craigslist?

I have compiled a large dataset of what people are selling on Craigslist. This is for my mobile classifieds startup (UPDATE: the app is no longer available). The small release is from Boston Craigslist only, and it’s only raw percentages. One interesting finding is how vehicle-related classifieds dominate Craigslist. Another is the huge swings among some categories, depending on what time of the day/week/year the sample is taken. Read the Invantory blog post to learn more.

Craigslist -- online communityI have other Craigslist data as well, including estimates of market size, average price, and data from other times and from other areas. I’ll probably release some of it in the weeks or months to come, but really want to focus on our new software platform for local classifieds.

One interesting fact about the dataset is the connection to my Extension School studies. My ALM thesis was based on a computer content analysis of a news database to discern various policy trends. For many months, I spent my nights and weekends sitting in front of a computer screen, copying and pasting results from the LexisNexis Academic to a gigantic Excel spreadsheet, and then taking sample news articles and subjecting them to a computer content analysis using a software program called Yoshikoder. The Craigslist data was compiled in a similar way. While I didn’t use Yoshikoder this time around, I did perform a manual coding process on the Craigslist Boston data which I used to create market sizing estimates. To learn more about my ALM thesis at the Extension School, google “Harvard Extended” and read the first entry.