10 Tips For Getting A Custom Blog Design On A Budget

Nov 14th, 2012 | By | Category: Articles & Other Information

Hi folks, my name is Louise Franks, and I’m an experienced blogger and blog designer and today I’d like to tell you how you can achieve a great looking custom blog design on a budget.

That’s me…*waves*

I think it’s fair to say that getting a custom blog designs can cost an arm and a leg, but did you know that it’s possible to save money and have a custom blog design? True, it takes some work on your part, but often of it’s just a case of being savvy and knowing what to ask for!

Before I explain where you can save money, it might help if I explain a little about how blog designers set their charges.

How blog designers set their fees

Most blog designers charge a basic package price; this typically covers:

  • Their labour charge -  charges are usually based on an estimated number of hours to complete an “average” project
  • Business overheads – this includes things like software costs, hardware costs, form hosting fees, commercial use fees, training, web hosting costs, advertising and other general business costs (running an online blog design business is far more expensive than you might think!)
  • Installation
  • General background work – sourcing files, fonts, colour palettes, reading up on your blog niche/business in order to know what is expected from your readers etc

That said, some charges are very difficult (or impossible) for your designer to predict, so these cannot be built into the package price. These are  generally charged on top of the blog design guide or package price and include:

  • Premium fonts – if your designer needs to buy a font just for you, you will usually be charged for this
  • Premium plugins – if you’re on WordPress and you want to purchase a premium plugin, such as Media Grid etc, then you can expect a charge to be added to your final bill
  • Additional edits – most blog designers limit the number of edits/drafts on your blog design (even ones who don’t publicise a limit, will usually have a “sensible” limit). You won’t find many designers who don’t charge for additional edits, except for those charging an arm and a leg in the first place!
  • Image stock – if your designer needs to purchase an image for your project, you will also be billed for this.
  • Anything out of the scope of a blog design – such as a logo for example (note, a logo is not a blog header, it’s a stand-alone graphic which is the face of your brand/business)

How to save money on a custom blog design

Ok, so now you have an awareness of how blog designers charge, you might have spotted some ways in which you can save money. Here are some tips on how you can save a few pennies on your blog design.

1. Find free, or premade graphics

Doodle/illustration packs are usually inexpensive and are good value for money.

Image stock can cost a fortune if you buy from somewhere like I-Stock, but you can find cheap and even free image stock on the web. Here are a few places you could try:

One point to note is that, if your blog is commercial, be extra careful to check the illustrator’s terms of use before you buy or download because most free graphics cannot be used commercially.

2. Choose a photography style design

You can save money on the purchase of image stock by having your own photographs used in your blog design. So long as the images “match”, your design will still work and they will add an extra-friendly and personal touch to your blog. To get the most out of this, I suggest doing a family photo shoot, making sure that you’re all wearing matching clothing.

A point to remember, however, is that professional photographer’s images cannot be used without their permission.

3. Provide your own graphics

If you’re good with a paintbrush, why not have some of your own artwork included in a blog design? It should be said that not all art translates well into a blog design, but you could ask the designer for some advice if you’re uncertain.

Be mindful that, whatever images and fonts you supply to your designer, s/he will check the terms of use and licencing to make sure that it can (legally) be used in your design. You can help by having your designer purchase on your behalf (always preferable as the licence belongs to the designer are absolutely resolves any licence issues) or by including the terms of use or other permission from the designer.

4. If you want to specify fonts, find free ones

Most blog designers are happy to use your choice of font (although an experienced designer will tell you if it won’t match your design!) and, luckily, there are lots of websites which offer free fonts.  However, as you’ve probably guessed, not all free fonts can be used free commercially. Have a look at the following sites:

5.  Be clear what you want BEFORE you select a blog designer

Knowing what you want up front is good for 2 reasons; one, you can select a designer based on whether they can actually deliver what you want and two, you can save money in additional edits. Designers come across many clients who change their mind and, clearly, this is not a situation that any designer wants to be involved in. Even designers who say they do “unlimited revisions” will likely tell that you’re being unreasonable after a few changes of mind. Being clear about what you want, or even just what you like or don’t like, can really reduce the risk of any extra charges being added to your bill…and the added bonus is that your blog design will probably be completed quicker too.

6. Offer to install the design yourself, in exchange for a reduction in fees

It may not be advertised, but some designers will offer a pretty generous discount if you offer to install the design yourself. Therefore, it’s always worth asking if this is an option. Note that, if you get a discount for installing your own blog, your designer will most likely charge you an hourly rate if you then get stuck and need their help.

7. Find a less experienced designer

So, the above has told you how you can avoid getting slapped with additional charges, and how you can eek a little more off the guide price. But what if you’re still not happy? If the above fails, you could try finding a less experienced blog designer as many newer ones will charge less for their services.  Many of the more expensive blog designers are charging you for their experience, specialist skills or access to specialist software and tools. It goes without saying that there are some risks in selecting a new or inexperienced designer, so tread carefully.

8. Select the right blogging platform

If you haven’t yet created your blog, you might want to think about which blogging platform you select. Some, such as Blogger are truly free, but others such as WordPress.com have hidden charges in the form of a $30 a year charge for having custom code on your blog (a blog designer WILL need to add custom code, so that’s instantly $30 a year you have to find). Self hosted blogs obviously incur charges.

9. Tell the designer what your budget is

Your designer will likely be able to pull something together for even the tightest of budgets, if you tell them what your budget is. You could send a note to them along the lines of, “I really can’t afford your super-duper package right now, but I have $50, what can you do for that”? Most designers will be able to do something with a low budget, but you will, most likely, have to compromise.

10. Do it yourself

There are a TON of tutorials on the internet for anyone feeling a little adventurous. I have a whole bunch of tutorials on my blog, but a quick Google search will yield a good selection. And if you need any help, remember that I have a (sparkly and new) support forum where you can ask your questions.


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About The Author

Louise Franks has 20+ years experience with digital design, 10 years experience blogging and has been creating custom blog designs (Blogger & Wordpress) since 2005. Despite being an established blog designer with a characteristic style, she is a strong advocate for designing your own blog and provides many tools to do this. Check out her blog at Louise Franks Blog Designs; you'll find a ton of tutorials, articles and resources for blogging and promoting your brand and blog online. Got a blogging problem? Or want feedback on your blog? Check out the Louise Franks Designs Support Forum.

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  1. Great post with links to some fabulous resources. Thank you for showing how designers set their fees and why they’re often quite high. Knowledge and skill does come at a price but while the initial cost can be high in the long term it is often worth the extra cost.

    Love the graphics packs that you create for people to use to create their own blog designs. Cute;)
    Amanda´s last [type] ..Welcome!

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