Tweaks: Give your blog a theme to remember

A blog with its own visual style and accent color stands out to readers. Only if not overdone.

Internet writers have been increasingly switching to, or getting started with, standardized blogging platforms like Substack and Medium instead of WordPress, Wix, Weebly, Tumblr, Blogger and the like. And for good reasons.

Most writers just want to hit that publish button. They don’t want to be bothered about elaborate site setups, complex dashboard navigation or writing in cumbersome editors. So Substack and Medium flipped the equation by making all blogs standardized i.e any blog created there has the same design, navigation and posts structure. Apart from simplifying publishing for writers, this brings the focus on the thing connecting the writer and the reader––content. It’s the king after all.

But there is a downside. If your blog looks exactly like everyone else’s, it won’t stand out to readers. They’ll be less likely to remember it. This is why I got excited when Substack announced theming options. As did Medium. I tweaked all my Substack blogs to give them their own identity. Here is an example of the theme for my Moon exploration newsletter.

All my blogs now look distinct despite being able to change just the background and accent colors, and choose from a handful of font types. As you may have noticed, Substack even takes care of the font colors automatically i.e. if you opt for a dark background, it’ll auto-choose a light font color set.

This simple theming sufficiently differentiates blogs without having to fiddle with elaborate design tools that could risk making content less readable and/or break the blog layout. A visual distinction makes your blog stand out, yes. But if that distinction is an ugly one, your blog will stand out for all the wrong reasons.

Beyond a certain point, complex blog designs have dimisnishing returns, and are just difficult to maintain. I know because my main website, jatan.space, runs on WordPress and is a chore to keep up and running. Every time I get a theme update, I have to read the changelog and carefully think about what it might break before I update it. Even after that, I need to browse the site to be sure it hasn’t broken anything.

With great power comes great responsibility. A writer’s responsibility is towards their readers, not maintaining their blog designs. Substack’s simple theming options can differentiate your blog without any fuss or maintenance required. And that’s how it should be.

Head over to your Substack blog’s dashboard to personalize your blog in five minutes. And then get back to writing.


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