For most of us, our blogs are our babies. We want to nurture it and make sure they’re the best they can be. Of course, we do! We put a lot of effort into these darn things. Something I’ve noticed since I started blogging is this idea that you have to spend money in order for anything to look good. Well, that’s wrong.
A lot of people ask me how I design my blog and expect me to say “I paid for this and this and this and this”. Believe it or not, most of what you’ve seen on my blog since I started was free. However, there are a few things that I have invested some money into that I thought was totally worth it.
So, today, I want to talk about some areas of your blog where you can save or spend to make it what you want. I’ll be giving you the free option alongside the paid option (if they’re available). Let’s get to it!
Themes – Save or Splurge
It really doesn’t matter, at least not to me. However, it is the foundation of your site design, so you want to make a good choice. You do not have to spend a lot of money, or any at all, to accomplish this. I started my blog with a free theme and had it for a very long time before switching to a paid theme (for no other reason except thinking I had to in order to look professional). While I absolutely love my paid theme, I would have been okay with my free one, especially since I’ve learned a lot more about CSS since then. Here are some options for you. Most free themes can be found by just simply Googling “[platform] free themes”. If you do opt for a free theme, knowing some CSS is a huge help!
|WordPress has tons to choose from||Most free choices have paid upgrade options|
|Gooyaabi Templates or a simple Google search (Blogger)||Nosegraze (WordPress)|
|Etsy (WordPress and Blogger)|
|Stay Bookish (she has some great designs & the prices are super reasonable! + It will be 100% original!)|
Graphics – DIY, Paid Elements, Graphic Designer
This is another question I get a lot: how I got my graphics. I’ve actually discussed this a few times when I talked about my must-have blog design resources, how to use Canva, and how to use Inspect Element for design. Design is a pretty extensive topic, and here’s my verdict on whether or not you have to pay to have good graphics: Absolutely, positively NOT. I understand some people find it easier to pay someone to design their header and more power to them! However, others don’t have the extra cash lying around in order to do so. OR, maybe you’re like me and change your mind often so you don’t want to feel committed to a design you paid someone to make. Either way, here are some resources for you:
|Canva – This is a great resource for beginning designers (and everyone basically)||Canva for Work – This is a monthly subscription that expands on the features of Canva|
|PicMonkey – Another photo editing/graphic creating program like Canva||PicMonkey Royal – Either monthly or yearly (yearly is only $40 USD!) with extra features|
|Design Elements – Add fun fonts and elements to your design from sites that offer freebies like Creative Market and Design Cuts||Sites like Creative Market also offer many paid elements|
|Vectors and Icons from sites like FreePik and Font Awesome|
|Stock photos or taking your own photos|
Should you buy this?
There are a few products out there that I’ve seen people contemplate buying in regards to design (and one I will just recommend that has nothing to do with design 😉 ) So, here is my two cents.
|Ultimate Book Blogger Plugin by Nosegraze – Only for self-hosted WordPress |$35.00 Buy Here||YES. If you spend more time setting up your book reviews than you do writing them, then I highly recommend investing in this one. It automatically fills the fields in, has star-ratings, and is customizable. If you like a lot of customization or are super picky on how the format looks, maybe just stick to what you’re already doing, though.|
|Tweak Me v2 Theme by Nose Graze – Only for self-hosted WordPress | $69.00 Buy Here||MAYBE. I bought this theme when it was on sale and I just had a hard time customizing it. Maybe I didn’t put in enough time to figuring everything out, but I found the user interface difficult.|
|ShortPixel Image Optimizer – WordPress Plugin | Monthly between free & $30.00 / One-time payment between $10.00 & $30.00 Buy Here||YES. (Ok, not this specific product, but if you need to optimize images, I like this one). Some of you are more responsible and optimize images before uploading, I don’t. So, instead of redoing all of my images, I paid ShortPixel to do it for me. They have monthly & one-time payment plans. I did a one-time payment of 30k images for $20.00 in DECEMBER 2015 and I still have 11k left.|
|Girls on WordPress Nosegraze eCourses –
Make WordPress Your Bitch – FREE
Master Customizer – $97.00
Code Your Own Damn Website – $97.00
Badass Theme Shop Owner – $47.00
|YES. If you have some extra cash, Ashley’s classes are worth it. I am currently enrolled in her Master Customizer (coding) class and it has helped me a lot in understanding CSS! She explains things in a laid back, easy to understand way, and she’s always easy to get ahold of if you have questions! Also, if you’re thinking about switching to WP, she has a FREE WP beginner course!|
You can design a great blog for free or by spending very little. Sometimes it may take a little more work to get to where you want your site to be, but it is possible! When I first started blogging, I spent $0.00 on my blog design (and it worked for me for almost a year). Now, my theme only costs me $40.00 per year and I paid for a huge pack of design elements for $25.00 that have been used in many projects. So, both options were a good deal on my wallet.
Just do some searching, check out the resources I recommend (this isn’t extensive, just resources I like), and don’t be afraid to ask for help! Most people are willing to help you as much as possible, at least I am! So, if you have any questions or want some more advice, feel free to leave a comment or enter your question on my contact page 🙂
Hope this helped!
What do you think about paying for design services?
What are some resources you would recommend?
What do you have the most trouble with when figuring out your blog design? (Helps me with future posts!)