I recently wrote a review for these products on the Creative Whim site, but really, I wouldn’t be doing them justice if I didn’t post a tips article here, too. I’ve gotten many compliments on the layout of my blog, and while I would love to say I’m responsible, and “OMG yeah it was all me”, it wasn’t. Parajunkee is responsible for my kick-assly designed header and Ashley @ NoseGraze/Creative Whim is responsible for this layout and the review indexes and a lot of other cool things that happen under the hood that you may not know about.
Tweak Me Theme – $35 at Creative Whim
I’m a junkie for themes. I’ve spent a lot of money trying to find the perfect theme, in part because I buy one I think will work out perfectly, only to find that it didn’t do everything I want it to. I’ve purchased an annual subscription at elegantthemes.com and tried 4 or 5 of their themes, only to find that I need to know quite a bit about CSS to really get it how I want it to look. I’ve also purchased the Genesis Frameworks theme, and a child theme (Scribble) because I wanted something that would be easy to customize, but I found that it isn’t…unless I know code. I know a little code, but I am such a beginner, that it requires a ton of time, patience, aggravation and googling, to accomplish what I want. I’d rather be reading books.
And then I discovered the Tweak Me theme by Creative Whim. Actually, first I discovered and purchased Ashley’s theme template, Morph, which is also an awesome theme, but Tweak Me came out a couple of months after I purchased Morph and I was a sucker for all the options available on Tweak Me, of which, there are many.
What can I do with Tweak Me? I can:
- Change my background to whatever I want
- Changer my header background to whatever I want
- Have any kind or sized header I want
- Change my layout width
- Have a global announcement area (should I choose)
- Easily upload my own favicon, rather than using a plugin
- Choose to use Google Fonts – or not
- Change link colors, font colors
- Change the width and colors of blockquotes, as well as styling
- Use custom post dividers – automatically!
- Customize menu bars – yes, plural
- Customize post styling, like background, borders, etc
- Customize post display, like linear or archive display
- Add featured images to posts
- Automatically add signatures
- Customize widgets
- Customize comments
- Decide between two styles for image slider
- …And a place to add custom CSS
I didn’t even cover everything. When I bought it, I spent days getting to know it. Not because it’s easy to use, but because it has so many options, I suddenly didn’t know what I wanted anymore! I sometimes go out into the theme world and look around to see what’s out there, but I don’t have the urge to buy any because Tweak Me does exactly what I need it to do, and since I can change just about anything, I never get bored with it.
I’m not a coder, so Tweak Me is the perfect theme for me. I can do anything I want with it because of that wonderful toggle functionality Ashley has built in. It’s a purchase I was hesitant to make and wish I had made sooner.
For you visual junkies, I’ve attached a slide show for you.
The Ultimate Book Blogger Plugin – aka The UBB – $35
Before I purchased Morph or Tweak Me, I purchased the Ultimate Book Blogger Plugin. I’ll be honest: if you have $35 and you need to decide between the theme and the plugin, GET THE PLUGIN. It is the best blogging money you will ever spend and I swear to all the gods in all the books of this world, I ain’t even lying to you. I have blogger friends who switched from Blogger to WordPress JUST for this plugin, it makes your blogging life so easy.
See, I used to have a system, practically templated, for my reviews. I copied my last review, and inserted all the new information. I had it down to a science, including automatically updating my drop-down menus so they updated when I tagged a post with an author’s name, or the title of the book – and often both, along with genres and publishers. It was an okay system, and it got me by, but it was nowhere near perfect.
That’s when Steph at Cuddlebuggery told me about the Ultimate Book Blogger Plugin. So I headed over to Creative Whim (for the very first time!) and read about the UBB and everything it can do. And boy, it does a LOT:
With the UBB, you can:
- Automatically update your review indexes! Never go into your pages & update manually again!
- Check a box in your post creation page to display a content warning (for you smut readers <3)
- Check a box to automatically display your FTC notice – at the top of your post
- Enable automatic book info display on review posts
- Display a word or graphic rating on your reviews – or none at all!
- Display related content – goodbye LinkWithin
- Display an About the Author box at the end of posts, like reviews, or tours, or author interviews!
- Show social media follower counts!
- Customize your image slider!
And so many other things, it’s ridiculous. But the best thing is all this stuff links together, so you can create automatically updating information, like the review indexes, making your reviews searchable by author, year, genre, publisher, title, series, narrator… it feels endless. Curious how many books you read that were pubbed by Harper Collins? There’s a shortcode for that, too. Yep, you even get statistics with the plugin, if you want them.
But the absolute best BEST thing about the Ultimate Book Blogger plugin? IT SAVES TIME. Because all of your book information is added into fields in the post creation page, you really only have to write your review in the text box, and then stick the rest of the information in the custom fields before hitting publish or schedule. No more HTML or silly formatting nightmares! What used to take me 2 or 3 hours, I can now do in 30-45 minutes, depending on how in-depth my review is.
Screenshots for the picture-lovers:
It is the single best money I have ever spent on The Bawdy Book Blog and I would do it ten more times if I had to.
Don’t believe me? Ask these bloggers what they think:
- My Shelf Confessions
- Radiant Shadows
- Got Fiction?
- Geeky Bloggers Book Blog
- All Things Urban Fantasy
- 25 Hour Books
Ashley is the best developer I’ve ever worked with. I have the biggest idiot moments and she is there to hold my hand through it. I know she supports a ton of book bloggers so her response time is uber-impressive and you won’t find someone easier to work with or someone who will respond to your questions faster than she does. In short, Ashley rocks the house.
PS: I’m not affiliated with Ashley in any way. I just think she’s brillz.