How to Upload a Custom Template on Google's 'Blogger'

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Yes, Google's Blogger platform is still around, and it's still one of the easiest ways to host a blog for free with no ads and no restrictions on bandwidth. You can still use Blogger to host podcasts or videos. There are also still plenty of free and "freemium" templates you can use to customize the look and feel of your blog without having to rely on the default templates that come with Blogger.

This tutorial assumes that you've already started a blog on Blogger, you already have some content, and you're already slightly familiar with Blogger's tools and settings. 

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Unzip Your Template

Find the correct .xml file for your template
Find the correct .xml file for your template.

To upload a custom template, you'll first need a template. There are countless sites with both free and premium Blogger themes.

Make sure the theme you download is for Blogger/Blogspot only. It's also a good idea to check to make sure the template has either been created or updated within the last year or two. Although much older themes will often still work, they may miss features or require more fiddling to function properly. 

Frequently themes are packaged as .zip files, so you'll need to unzip the file after you download it to your desktop. The only file you need is the theme's .xml file. Usually, it will be called something straightforward like "name-of-template.xml" or something similar. e "name-of-template.xml" or something similar. 

In this example, the template is called "Colored" and comes as a .zip file. The only file you need to worry about in this collection is the colored.xml file. 

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Go to Backup/Remove

How to upload a new Blogger template.

Now that you've found and unzipped your template, you're ready to start uploading. 

  1. Log in to Blogger. 
  2. Select your blog. 
  3. Select Templates (shown). 
  4. Now select the Backup/Restore button. 

Yes, we know. That's the last place you'd search when you were looking for an "upload the template" button, but there it is. Maybe in future updates, they'll get around to fixing this user interface issue. For now, it is our secret handshake into template uploading. 

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Template Backup/Restore page

Now that we're in the Backup/Restore area, you should consider the "Download full template" option. Did you do anything to your previous template? Did you modify it in any way? Do you want to use it as a starting point for your own template hacking action? If you answered "yes" to any of that, go ahead and download the full template.

If you've pretty much got an out of the box default template that you never want to see again, ignore it. You don't actually need to download it at all. 

Now we get to the upload button. Go ahead and select it to browse for your file. Remember, we're just uploading the .xml file we unzipped in Step 1. 

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Finishing touches

Finish up the template by fixing the layout options
Finish up the template by fixing the layout options.

If all went well, you should be the proud owner of a blog with a new template.

You're not done. You'll want to preview your template and make sure it is displaying as you expect it to display.

Most templates also leave you with a lot of items that need to be cleaned up. They come with dummy fields pre-populated with menus and text you didn't create or don't want. 

Go to the layout area and adjust all your widgets. Depending on the age and the template design, you may not be able to do any customization through Blogger's Template Designer area. I've found very few custom themes that support Template Designer. 

Be sure to check the terms of the license you used to download your template. In many cases, you cannot remove the template author credits and stay in compliance when you get the template for free. It may be worth the $15 or so to purchase a premium theme with better support and custom features. 

The good news is that if the first theme doesn't work out — you now know how to upload new themes. Keep trying and keep exploring.