Amanda Luedeke is a literary agent with MacGregor Literary. Every Thursday, she posts about growing your author platform. You can follow her on Twitter @amandaluedeke or join her Facebook group to stay current with her wheelings and dealings as an agent.
One of the things I’ve noticed when going through your blogs is that many of you rely solely on pre-made templates for your blog design. You may type a few words as a header, but for the most part, you’ve done nothing to customize the space and make it your own. I’m guessing this is because many of you don’t know how easy creating your own masthead can be! I mean, I CREATED MINE USING MICROSOFT PAINT, FOR CRYING OUT LOUD!
Here’s my personal blog, Swedish Pankakes. (Remember! My blog is NOT a shining example of what to do. I’m not trying to grow a platform with it or gain attention, so I don’t implement many of my own tips). If you visit my blog, you’ll see that it looks very personalized and maybe even a smidge professional. But I use a free template with very little customization options. So what makes it look so unique? My masthead!
1. You must find a picture that not only fits your blog/website’s vibe, but one that is visually appealing, clean (you don’t want it too busy) and full of colors that you can build your site around. So, let’s say that I was going to create an agent blog. I’d select this picture I took that showcases the first four books I did as an agent:
3. You will have to cut the image down to fit the masthead space. Mastheads are rectangular, so I’m going to use a cropping tool to cut out what part of the picture I want to keep…and remember to leave plenty of room for your text! (The arrows in this image show you where I got the cropping tool and also what the box looked like after I’d dragged it across the image. The box denotes the part of the picture that I was cutting out).
4. Right click on the cut out image and copy it into a new Paint document.
5. Resize the image. For the template that I use on Blogger, it’s best if my masthead is 892×353 pixels. Otherwise, it’s off-center or skewed. So that means I need to adjust the size of my image. Now, I can’t just stretch it, otherwise it will get fuzzy. So I have to use the resizing tool. If I type in 353 as the vertical height, it will automatically adjust the entire image. But now I have an image that is the right vertical length, but not the right horizontal length.
6. Do what you need to do to get it sized right. For this photo, I’ll add some black to the sides until I end up with the correct-sized image. For your image, you may need to play around with the resizing tool until you figure out what will work. It’s going to be different for each picture. So you’ll need some patience. But here’s what it looks like to add a chunk of solid color:
A) First, you must stretch the white box. (That’s your working space).
B) Using the “Select” tool (which is the same tool we used to cut the image in step 3, drag the box around the image, then move the image to the top cent of your white space. Select the paint can button and select your color for the background. I chose black.C) Move the paint can to the white space and click. It will automatically color the space behind your image. Using the “Select” tool again, cut out your image, leaving plenty of space on both sides. Right click, cut, and paste the cut-out image into a new Paint document. Adjust the white space so that you can no longer see it.D) Cut the sides down until you’ve achieved the desired pixel count. (If you use the Select Tool and highlight the space, it will give you a pixel count). When you have
Would love to hear your feedback and thoughts! And if you have an easier way of doing this, please share.