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The Dangers of DIY Design

The dangers of DIY design cover image.

With the importance of having a strong online presence crucial to success in today’s modern marketplace, the concept of having a beautiful and engaging website and blog is not a new one. We all know that having an online space that clearly communicates who we are, what we do, and how we can help others is a MUST. But what happens when creating that space is just not on the budget? Or, even if the budget’s there, it’s not unusual to want to tackle the design elements of building your online brand yourself.

As the DIY independent women that we are, I can easily identify and respect those of you entrepreneurs out there with the desire to embark on all your branding and design endeavors on your own. You aren’t afraid to learn, grow, make mistakes, and get your hands dirty. Often you enjoy the challenge, and designing your brand can be one of the most exciting challenges you’ll face as you start your own business.

Your brand’s identity is all about discovering the perfect balance between clearly defining who you are, what you stand for. Making your design choices based on what may be popular today may look cool, but there’s a fine line between fitting in with the current style fads of today and being unique, allowing you to stand out against your competition.

“Design is the silent ambassador of your brand.”

Chances are, you’re probably not a digital web designer and didn’t study brand development in college. And that is totally ok! You are no less of an amazing person because of it. That just means your expertise most likely lies elsewhere.

Now I am not saying that DIY is wrong by any means, again I love seeing the energy in the DIY community to empower themselves to take changes and learn new things on their own. But just because you want to DIY your own brand doesn’t mean you have to totally do it all by yourself.

THE DANGERS OF DIY DESIGN

I am so excited to bring my dear friend and personal blogging role model, Marianne Manthey of Design Your Own (lovely) Blog here today to talk about the dangers in DIY and how to avoid them by doing some pre-DIY education and investing in the right tools to help you get the job done right.

How to avoid the dangers of DIYing your website and how to successfully design your own lovely blog DIY style.


First up, why choose to DIY?

“I can’t afford to hire a professional.”

Marianne: A totally valid reason. We all do some degree of DIY in our lives because we simply cannot afford to hire a professional to do everything. We bake our child’s birthday cake because we can’t afford a professional one. We refinish our own furniture, take our own family photos, or wash our own cars for the same reason.

There’s nothing wrong with learning how to DIY our blog’s designs, but you must keep in mind that it takes some research and understanding of your customer, as well as practice in order to do so.

I completely agree with Marianne. While we fully support the DIY-spirit in you, making sure to do your research before jumping in is key. While you may not be able to afford a professional designer, there are still lots of ways to access the skills and knowledge of some of today’s most successful designers through free resources and community forums. Social media has opened up a whole new channel for communication when it comes to accessing your favorite designers. Joining private Design focused Facebook groups lead by your favorite designers is a great way to connect with them and ask specific questions that you might have as they relate to your website’s design.

Some of my favorite design focused Facebook groups are:

And don’t forget Julie’s own Creative’s Corner of course!

And don’t ever hesitate to reach out to your favorite designers through their blog comments or contact forms. It never hurts to ask your questions directly to them and see what feedback you might be able to get. If anything, they’ll be able to point you in the right direction. And all designers appreciate some email love from admiring fans, even if that fan can’t afford to hire them. We all remember what it was like when we first started our businesses and how helpful it was to ask other designers ahead of us how to get going.

Marianne: Definitely! No good designer works in a vacuum. Design is quite collaborative, even if it’s just to ask for some feedback on some design work you’ve done. That’s why I started the DYOB: Blog Beautiful Community so that beginner and DIY designers would have a place to look for feedback.


“They don’t know my industry like I do. I don’t want to be misrepresented.”

Marianne: A professional designer doesn’t need to be intimate with every industry to be a good designer. She will do her research and use her experience and education to understand your industry’s audience. She needs to know what your audience’s needs and desires are and from there, can make a determination of how to proceed.

But even if you still want to do your own, that’s fine, many of us love to work with design and learn new things! The first thing I recommend any DIY designer to do is to fully know and understand her audience. We do this by creating a persona of our ideal client.

Get into your ideal client’s head and ask yourself what she is feeling, what her pains are, what makes her happy and what kinds of unique solutions would she be looking for that fit into her lifestyle? Can you provide those unique solutions?

If you haven’t already, I’d start with Julie’s “You Are Your Business: Who Are You?” worksheet, to help you in identifying your brand. Every good design begins with knowledge and research and your brand is no different.

After that is when you can start to identify what kinds of colors, fonts and design styles she would appreciate.

It all really comes down to communication. A designer understands how to communicate through design while you provide the information they need to know the best communication tools to utilize through the design. These tools include typography, patterns and textures, colors, images, visual navigation, and more. It can easily get overwhelming to try to understand all of these elements as they play into each other, especially if you aren’t an experienced designer, but the role they play in clearly communicating your message to your target audience is crucial. While a designer might not know your industry, you equally might not understand how to communicate through design. So, how do we combat this dangerous scenario? PINTEREST!

Pinterest is one of my favorite resources to use when I work with my clients to help them understand how these design tools come into play as we work to communicate to their target market. Making mock brand inspiration boards on Pinterest is an excellent way to practice and better understand how all the visual elements play into the overall tone and mood of your brand’s design.

Take 3 of your favorite brands and create a secret board on Pinterest for each of them. Then using Pinterest’s search feature, look for images that make you think of that brand. From colors to patterns, to typography, to people, to fashion and food… pin as many images that speak to the tone and mood of that brand. When you have about 30 or so pins, go back through them and eliminate any outlying images that don’t flow with the rest until you have a solid board of about 15 or so pins that all connect in some way as they relate to the brand you are focusing on.

I usually try to think in all the senses when I do this for my inspiration boards.

  • What does this brand look like?
  • How do they dress?
  • What do they eat?
  • Where do they hang out or think?
  • What do they feel like?  
  • What colors represent them?
  • What do they sound like?

If this brand were a person, what would they pin to their Pinterest board?


“It looks like fun.”

Marianne: It IS fun! But it’s also a lot of work and research. It’s not just about picking some favorite colors and fonts and going to town. Nope. Good design is based in research and built on the foundations that serve your audience. It’s about knowing what works well together and also about the experience you’re creating for your visitors that leaves them better informed instead of frustrated and confused.


So, what can we do to avoid the dangers of DIY?

People often don’t think about the financial value of what it takes to actually build a successful brand. Design is often considered an expense instead of a necessity. But it is actually one of the most valuable investments into the success of your business you’ll ever make.

What resources are out there to help successfully DIY design a blog or website?

These are the steps I like to take when working on a new project:

  1. Get to know your audience. (We already covered that above 🙂 )
  2. Create an Inspiration board in Pinterest as Julie suggested by collecting images and designs that appeal to your ideal client.
  3. To choose a color palette, you can extract colors from a favorite photo in your inspiration board, then play with the colors in color.adobe.com. Learn more about choosing a color palette from a photo in one of my past posts HERE.
  4. When you’re starting out and don’t have money for a designer, I like to suggest a logo template for your first logo. You can find super cute templates at Luvly Marketplace or Creative Market.
  5. Next, you’ll want to pick out a font palette. My favorite tool for this is Typecast where you can play with any Google font you like until you find the right combination. Learn more about pairing fonts on another post of mine HERE.
  6. Once you’ve got your branding figured out, it’s time to look for a WordPress theme that fits your needs. I start by making a list of all the features I want out of a blog and then look for themes that fit those needs. (Julie here! I’ve got a special Pinterest board featuring my all time favorite themes based on user experience, functionality, customization, and intuitive backend features to help you pick the best theme for your business.)
  7. Sometimes you get lucky and find a theme that is perfect out of the box, but most of the time, we want to customize it a bit, whether it’s the colors, fonts, or minor layout changes. You can do this either by editing the CSS or by finding plugins to do the work for you. Here’s a great plugin that helps you change colors and fonts without knowing CSS.

Another resource I can’t help but mention is my own website, Design Your Own (lovely) Blog which I created as a hub for the DIY blog designer. Since I understand that many of us solopreneurs are on budgets, I like to share free tools and resources with my readers as I discover them.

Whether you want to start a blog from scratch or beautify the one you have, I’ve got the budget-friendly resources you need to figure out what blogging platform, colors or fonts to choose. There’s also a free library of resources you can access to start beautifying your blog and building an audience right away.

Or you can go straight to the punch and start beautifying your blog step-by-step with my eBook, ‘Blog Beautiful: 50 Tips + Fixes to Make Your Blog Glow’! To help you get going on your blog beautifying journey, I’m offering Julie’s readers a special 25% discount!

DYOB Giveaway on Julie Harris Design

Marianne is giving away one FREE copy of Blog Beautiful to one lucky reader who follows the simple 1 step entry before this Friday, January 15th 2016.

Read through this post on the Dangers of DIY and leave a comment sharing one fear you have with working with a designer OR why you choose to DIY design your own blog or website.

The winner will be randomly selected out of all the comments left by the end of the day on Friday (5:00pm PST), and announced on Facebook.


We 100% salute you, you DIY creative entrepreneurs! Both Marianne and I completely support your design endeavors, but we urge you, before jumping right in with color palettes and fun fonts, make sure to do the research first into who and how you want your brand to be received. The design process might be fun for you, but the person who should really be having fun is your audience. It’s their experience that matters most so we want to make sure to create an engaging, valuable, and seamless experience. Making it easy for your followers to locate the information they are looking for.

Be sure to check out Marianne’s amazing DIY Blog Design master resource headquarters (also know as designyourownblog.com) where she is constantly sharing some of today’s best tips, tricks, and design resources for the DIY designer in you.

She also runs an amazing Facebook Group dedicated to fostering community and providing feedback and resources during your DIY design adventures. To join Marianne’s amazing Facebook Community of fellow DIY’ers, subscribe to her Blog Beautiful newsletter HERE! And of course, she is always available across her social platforms to help or just say hello so be sure to follow her on Instagram, Facebook, and Twitter.

If you have any design questions or further concerns about DIYing your own brand and website, or even working with a professional designer, please never hesitate to reach out and ask Marianne or myself. It is always our goal to help you design a creative space that not only looks, but acts, sounds and feels just like you.

Because after all, you are your brand.  

See you in the comments!

Sincerely,

Julie & Steve signature.

SO, HOW CAN WE HELP YOU BUILD YOUR BRAND?

WEBSITE DESIGN       BRANDING & LOGO DESIGN              CONTACT


PHOTO CREDIT: © Dollar Photo Club

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109 Comments

  • I loved this conversation Julie, thanks for having me on your blog today. I hope some would-be DIYers find the confidence to design their own blogs after this AND win my ebook!

  • […] good friend Julie Harris of Julie Harris Design invited me to have a conversation on her blog about the dangers of DIY design and what you can do to avoid them. I just love Julie’s idea of a conversational blog post and […]

  • What an in-depth blog post with practical tips and resources. My fear when working with a designer would be that they apply a cookie cutter approach to my brand – by that i mean they simply rehash design elements from previous jobs for the sake of ease and time. I want someone to truly embrace MY brand and see me and my brand as an individual, as opposed to what is convenient for them. On the other side, the dangers of doing your entire brand yourself often means lots of doubts and indecision as you have no objective advice and everything feels so close to your heart.

    As you both said, it’s not solely about choosing our favourite colours and patterns, it’s having the insight and objectivity to know what our audience wants. Thank you for presenting the best of both worlds 🙂

    • Ooh i love that Sam: “doing your entire brand yourself often means lots of doubts and indecision as you have no objective advice and everything feels so close to your heart.” because it’s SOOO true isn’t it? Even as designers, you can do other people’s brands and designs all day long but it’s REALLY hard when it comes to your own!

    • Julie Harris says:

      I completely agree with both of you ladies, when it comes to working on our own brands, everything is so close to our heart and we have such an emotional investment in it, but that can easily cause us to be indecisive and make emotional decisions instead of objective ones. I recommend finding someone that you can bounce your ideas off of and help keep you moving forward through the process so you don’t get too fixated on any one thing. Then, even if you are tackling everything on your own, you have a second set of eyes to give you that objectivity and unbiased feedback.

      So many of my clients have the same concern as you Samantha, when it comes to creating an authentic space vs a cookie cutter template that doesn’t fit your brand. I have personally made it my mission to combat this very issue. It all comes down to the starting work. It also comes down to the designer. Not all designers are perfect for every brand. It’s kind of like dating. You want to have some “dates” with your designer before fully committing to financially invest in something so personal. By that point you’ll have confidence in who you are working with and that they will create the authentic and personal design/platform you want. It’s truly a relationship that we’re building. A collaborative experience between client and designer. Anything less isn’t going to produce a positive design experience.

      Thank you so much for sharing your thoughts with us!

  • Bambi says:

    Money is always an issue when hiring a designer. Another major issue for me has been learning all the different aspects of blog design. I go thru so many designers portfolios and look at the actual sites they have built for a client. They are always so thoughtfully planned and executed, completely put together and perfect. But it seems like a large percentage of the time, once that blog design is completed and handed over, the client lets the ball drop and the blog just sits there lonely and abandoned. You can tell the client just really doesn’t know the next steps to take. I just really don’t want that to happen to me. I have a need to know the mechanics under the hood of my website. A lot of aspiring bloggers believe a perfect beautiful design will get them up and running and there are just tons of “after design” issues that having someone else design a site for you doesn’t address. A perfect design doesn’t put a site on “push button here” it’s all automatic now.

    • Oh my gosh Bambi, that is SUCH a great point! I have seen many beautifully and professionally designed blogs that have just been abandoned. Knowing and understanding what’s under the hood is such a valuable thing to know. But not only that, think of the PRIDE one has when DIYing their own blog. You just reminded me of a post I started to write a few months ago on this topic but forgot to finish, haha. Thanks!! 😉

    • Julie Harris says:

      Bambi, you hit it on the head! As a designer, there is nothing more heartbreaking than investing so much time and energy and emotion into building a beautiful website for a client, just to have them abandon them. When people feel like they have no control over their site, they often just back away and avoid dealing with it instead of struggling to figure it out or even mess it up and have to pay to have it fixed. Something my team and I do to help combat this problem is hold “teaching sessions” with our clients after the sites are launched. We want to not only give our clients an authentic and engaging website or brand design, but teach them how to use it so they can confidently continue to manage, maintain, and grow their brand.

      If you work with a designer or hire someone to help you design your website, ask them to SHOW you how to do the things they do. Ask for teaching sessions, guide books, or step-by-step instructions on how to manage everything and keep it consistent. Also ask what their hourly technical support fee is. That way if anything ever did happen, you know you can call them for personal assistance and know that they already know your site and brand and will be able to help fix things faster. Then you don’t have to worry about trying things and accidentally messing anything up.

      A great design can be expensive, but bad design is even more expensive since you’ll usually have to replace it or pay more money to fix it. While I completely understand the financial constraints that can restrict you from working with a designer, a professional designed brand or website should be there to help you make more money and help make your brand look more professional and earn that trust and respect from your clients faster.

      A great resource to consider is to DIY it yourself, and then hire a designer to audit your site. There are tons of designers who will audit your website and give you that unbiased, educated feedback on your brand’s design and overall user experience. They’ll give you a write up with resources and tips to improve things or make adjustments and improve your overall design. That can be HUGELY helpful and help save you some serious money.

      Thank you so much Bambi, for sharing your thoughts with us. You brought up some excellent points.

  • Tammy says:

    Thanks for this post. I am like many others and can not financially afford to hire someone. While I did study graphic design in college and know some of how to make this happen I do not always have the time or patience. Plus sometimes you are just to close to it to get a good perspective.

    • You are definitely too close to get good perspective on your own Tammy, and that’s why it helps to join groups where you can get feedback on your design work as you go. Thanks for joining the conversation!

  • KT says:

    When I decided to start a blog, I knew immediately that I wanted to design it myself. I’m not a designer, but I thought it would be fun and allow me to really put my stamp on everything. I started researching and came across lots of “you think you can, but you really can’t” posts and started to worry that maybe I was in over my head. Honestly, the more I read, the more I realized some people were spending thousands on design that I didn’t think was… that great (some people were obviously getting what they paid for, of course!) So, in the end, I’m DIYing it and learning everything I can along the way, and it’s been great fun, like I hoped.

    • KT, that makes me sad that so many people are saying “you really can’t!” I think you absolutely can, but it does take time and effort. I’m so glad you stuck to it AND that you’re finding it fun too!

    • Julie Harris says:

      I love this KT! I love how you made the decision and stuck with it, did your research, and are taking things at your pace and enjoying the process. So many people do this and jump into the design work before doing the research and have horrible experiences. You totally CAN DIY your own site. This post totally contradicts those other “you think you can, but you really can’t” posts. You can, and you can SUCCESSFULLY do it and have a great time. You just have to be willing to do the research and ask for help when you need it.

      You sound like the perfect person to be in a Facebook group for design. You’re asking the right questions and have the perfect attitude. You’ll gain so much from some of the groups I listed above. I definitely recommend checking them out if you haven’t. Especially Marianne’s DYOB Facebook Group.

  • What a great post! I used to work as a freelance web designer, and I designed my own site. You’d think that being a web designer would make it easy to avoid the dangers you mentioned, but I actually find it harder to stick to a clear brand. I love playing with elements and colors (guilty!), but I know it results in muddy (or unfocused) branding. This post has inspired me to go back to my original branding guide and clean up my site. Thanks for the excellent post, ladies!

    • It’s a curse sometimes isn’t it Bridgid?? I totally know what you mean. When I first designed DYOB, i hated it for so long that I couldn’t wait to redesign it, but it literally took me over a year to finally finish it because of the same reasons you mention. So glad I did finally put my head down and forced myself to focus on it as I’m quite happy with it now. 🙂

    • Julie Harris says:

      Thank you so much Bridgid for stopping by and starring your experience. I know both Marianne and I can relate to the design-ADD that can come when we design our own brands. We have so many ideas! I call it the “creative’s curse”. Something that made all the difference for myself when I last did my own rebranding was having a group of other creative people that I could turn to and get unbiased feedback from. It helped keep me accountable and stay focused on my brand instead of getting distracted by all the fun featured I wanted to play with.

      I totally recommend Marianne’s eBook. It’s an excellent guide, even for us experienced designers. Going through the basics of design can be super helpful, even if it’s just to review everything and not skip the small stuff just because we have more experience. I wish you the best of luck as you jump back in with you own brand design! I am so glad you were so inspired by our post 🙂

  • Reem says:

    I totally agree about the above points and that is one of the reasons I went with a professional designer even though I work in another similar design field (interior). But the problem I ran into and that is making me want to DIY is inconsistent timelines and delivery dates. As well as the inability of the designer to truly represent what I had in mind. I know that these two problems could have probably been solved with better communication channels, but I guess you live and learn, right?

    • That is a common danger of relying on a designer, Reem. Unfortunately there are good designers and not so good ones, so if you do decide to hire someone, it’s so important to truly vet several designers and meticulously pore through their portfolios to see if their style is anywhere close to what you’re envisioning. But that does often come with a price and not all of us can afford that level of designer sometimes.

    • Julie Harris says:

      Ohhh Reem, I am so sorry that was the experience you had. This is unfortunately a common story I hear from my design clients and it always makes me cringe. Design is such a personal and emotional experience for everyone involved. I hate when I hear people have had less than inspirational experiences. I couldn’t have said it better than Marianne did. Finding the perfect designer for YOUR BRAND is so crucial. Not every designer is perfect for every brand and it’s so important to find someone that understands you, your goals, and how to communicate with you the design process. As for the timeline issues, that just makes me mad. There are always little things that come up during design projects, and sometimes these things cause delays in delivery. But communication is always the key.

      I created a free design brief worksheet (http://2trl8j30q7e63fvee32798bz.wpengine.netdna-cdn.com/wp-content/uploads/2014/10/CREATIVE-GENIUS-2.pdf) to help aid in clearer communication between client and designer. If you ever decide to work with a professional designer again, hopefully it will help you clarify your needs and help them to understand what you’re looking for and make for a more positive design experience.

  • NiaSweetz says:

    When it comes to DIY designs, I try I really do but I think it’s one of those things where you’ve either got it or you don’t. lol.
    Sometimes I look at fantastic designs and think “How did they think to put THAT, THERE?”
    Your designs are awesome, though.

    • Hi Nia, sometimes it is a case of you have it or you don’t, but I still believe that with focus, education and LOTS of studying other designs that you like, most people can churn out a pretty good design for themselves, IF they want to put that time and effort into it. It’s all what you choose to spend your time (and money) on. And that’s what’s so great about it: we can always hire a pro to do the things we don’t want to do.

      Thanks so much for joining the conversation!

    • Julie Harris says:

      Thank you so much Nia for sharing your thoughts. You brought up an excellent point. I completely agree with Marianne’s comment about how it really comes down how you want to spend your time and money. You only have 24 hours in a day, how do you want to spend it? DIY ing your own design takes time; time to learn, time to implement, and time to test. So while I fully believe that we are all capable of doing whatever we set our minds to, if you don’t have the long term interest in doing your own design work, then the time isn’t worth it to you and you’d be better off hiring a professional to tackle the design work while you focus on what you do best.

      Honestly, that’s really where a designers value comes in. Not only do they have the experience and design eye to put “THAT THERE”, but they’ll do it (or at least they should do it) faster and better than you could yourself. There are too many resources out there to teach you how to DIY your own design for designers to rely on their design skills alone. It’s the entire experience that makes them a great designer.

      Thank you so much for your sweet comment about my own design work 🙂

  • Kori says:

    The timing of this couldn’t be more perfect! I just finished rebranding and I went the DIY route- it’s rewarding and frustrating all at the same time. I’m still questioning a few things but overall I feel like I’m conveying the right message. Thank you both for this great post!

    • You certainly did Kori and your effort shows! I loved watching your logo and branding transform in the group with everyone’s help and feedback. It really paid off!

    • Julie Harris says:

      Thank you so much Kori for stopping by! And congrats on DIYing your own site. I totally agree about how it is equal parts terrifying, but also so incredibly exciting. And when you finally hit that “launch” button, it’s so truly rewarding. You have a stronger personal relationship with your brand and website because of it. I definitely recommend checking out some of the Facebook groups I shared above. If you have some things you are still questioning, definitely share your thoughts in those groups and you’ll get some excellent feedback and suggestions to help you make a clearer decision on how you want to fix them. A creative community is truly a DIY-ers strongest tool.

  • Megan says:

    This was an awesome post! Just went to check out the other blogs mentioned. I am DIYing it because of money… I would love to begin monetizing soon and save money to get a blog designed. I just can’t justify spending out of pocket.

    • DIYing because of money is a totally valid reason Megan and the plus side is that you get to learn something new too! And when the day comes that you can afford a professional designer, you’ll totally be able to take it over and make the changes you want later on because you’ve done it before!

    • Julie Harris says:

      Marianne said it beautifully. DIYing your site will help you to learn about the design process and what goes into a site’s build so when you do hire a professional, later down the line, you’ll be able to better communicate what you want and you’ll also better understand the process. It will help you feel so much more confident in managing and growing your site as your brand grows.

      One great thing you can do now, especially if finances are tight, is to start vetting designers you love. You know you want a professional site, but can’t afford it just yet. Knowing who you want to work with and what their prices are will help you to budget once you monetize and start saving for the perfect designer. Then you’re not rushing and not committed to investing in anyone right away. Most designers will offer a free design consult, so don’t hesitate to reach out and ask 🙂

  • Ashley says:

    I’m almost always fearful of working with a designer because my taste changes SO much. I think I love these colors or patterns, and then tomorrow it’ll probably change. DIY works for me right now while I find out what really represents me and why. I would love to work with a designer when I can afford it.

    • I totally get it Ashley! In fact, I wrote a whole post about this exact thing a while back: http://designyourownblog.com/when-designing-your-blog-becomes-no-fun/ I’d love to know your thoughts on it sometime.

    • Julie Harris says:

      I totally understand what you mean, Ashley! I call it the “creatives curse”. We love so many different things, it’s hard to settle on just one look. But you really don’t have to. The most important thing is consistency. Consistency breeds trust, and trust is everything in business. As backward as it may seem, hiring a designer will actually help you to finally settle on a tone and mood of your brand’s design. Even if you love lots of different things, a great designer can help you create a custom look with versatility and elements that can easily be moved around or rotated all while still upholding a consistent tone and mood that will register with your followers and build that trust.

      But I love how you are going the DIY route as you learn all the technical aspects of design and better understand WHY you like what you like and how to apply that to your brand. The WHY is so important. One of my favorite bloggers is Erika Madden of Olyvia Media (olyvia.co) And she one said that “pretty isn’t profitable” and that always stuck with me. Even if I like the way something looks, if I don’t know how it directly relates to my brand (if it lacks the WHY) then it won’t ever feel quite right. Blogs like Marianne’s, or The Branded Solopreneur (http://thebrandedsolopreneur.com) will be excellent resources for you when it comes to the design elements of your brand. I focus more on the buliding blocks of brand development and how they factor into design. So definitely feel free to get nosey and look around 🙂 I have a whole list of free worksheets and printables to help you discover the WHY in your brand: http://whiskeyandred.com/resources/

  • Jan Spriggs says:

    With my last business I engaged a designer for my web presence. It wasn’t a pleasant experience as they designed for their vision not mine. I then created my own but it took a lot of false starts to get something that looked great. I’m now developing another business and want to create my own web presence again as I enjoyed knowing that I could update and tweak things myself. Maybe a mix of my creativity with a dash of control freak!

    • Ah Jan that’s a very real problem with some designers (NOT ALL of course!) but I feel your pain. I am SO happy to hear though that you took the reins yourself, pushed through the false starts AND created something you love! That makes my heart sing with joy! (and btw, i’m sooo with you on the control freak thing 😉 )

    • Julie Harris says:

      Awwww Jan, my heart breaks a little every time I hear about design disasters like this 🙁 There is NEVER a reason for a terrible experience like that. And unfortunately they happen all the time. So many of my clients come to me after experiences similar to yours. But not all designers are like that, I promise.

      I do absolutely love how you handled the situation. You refused to give up and took charge of the situation and found a way to create the site you always wanted. And now, this second time around, you’ll be even better and building your own site as you’ve already done it before 🙂

  • sarah says:

    This is very helpful, i myself am trying to DIY a lot in our new small business, so.. thankyou 😉

    • It’s our pleasure truly, Sarah! Please join the DYOB Facebook group (if you haven’t already) for support and feedback during your DIY journey!

    • Julie Harris says:

      I am so glad your found your way to our post, Sarah! I’m thrilled you found it so helpful. That is always the goal 🙂 Entrepreneurs by nature are very DIY-minded beings. We naturally want to take charge and do what we can when it comes to our businesses. I agree with Marianne, check out the Facebook Groups I shared above and see if any of them feel like the pace for you. DYOB is a fabulous Facebook group, and Marianne is always around to help or provide feedback. My own group, the Creative’s Corner, focuses more in the business building elements of branding so between the two, you’ll find two communities to really support you as you tackle DIYing your own business 🙂

  • Aside from the cost of working with a designer my fear would be not reaching a meeting of the minds and having someone create a design that I don’t absolutely love. In working with a web designer I had my own ideas on how I wanted it to look. Nothing fancy, just a simply easy to use website to list my services and pricing. My web guy kept trying to replace my ideas or images with those he thought looked better. I was always in disagreement. In the end, I created my website on my own.

    Thank you for sharing 🙂

    • Ah that is so frustrating Shane-nah! There are a lot of designers that do this and to be fair to them, they’re just trying to defend their own knowledge, but I get that it sucks when you know what you want and they won’t get you there. If you hire someone again, be sure to get recommendations first. Thanks for joining in!

    • Julie Harris says:

      I hate when I hear about those kinds of design experiences. So many designers may be brilliant artists but lack the ability to communicate and design with other’s needs in mind. Design should be a collaborative experience, with the result of a better design than if either party worked independently.

      But I love how you refused to compromise your design and chose to DIY it instead, and built the site you wanted, the way you wanted it. You learned so much too! Now if you ever want to change anything about your brand or website, you know you have the ability to do it yourself, since you’ve already done it before 🙂

      Thank you so much Shane-nah for sharing your design experience with us!

  • Stephanie says:

    Why do I DIY? Of course, because i dont yet have the means to pay a pro for it, a little becaus i love learning new skills, but i think, deep down, because i’m sure i wouldn’t know all the answers to the questions the pro would ask! It all seems à little daunting so i settle on something i found “pretty” based on my own tastes!

    • Ah Stephanie, THIS is why I do what i do! There are so many people that do it for the same reasons and I totally get your fears. Thanks so much for adding your point of view to the conversation.

    • Julie Harris says:

      I love your honesty, Stephanie. As a designer, I so respect and admire your decision to DIY your site so that you can learn more about what you want and WHY you want it so that later down the line, if you ever decide to hire a professional, you’ll know the answers. Often, this also makes you a better business professional as you’ll learn more about HOW you want to run your business and how to create that ideal brand experience for your clients. As a professional designer, there is nothing more frustrating than working with a client who had no idea what they want. It’s so hard to help them create the ideal website or brand design if they don’t know what they are looking for.

      One of my personal favorite bloggers, Erika Madden of Olyvia.co, one said “pretty isn’t profitable”, and that comment has always stuck with me. Something may look “pretty” but if you don’t know WHY you like it or HOW it factors into your brand, it will never feel quite right and you’ll constantly be changing your mind. I love how you are taking this time to explore all of your design options and figuring out what works best for you. Marianne’s eBook would be PERFECT for you! It helps with all of these things and more.

      Thank you so much Stephanie for sharing your thoughts with us. You brought up such a great point!

  • Charmane says:

    I DIY because I have the skills to make it work, but I worry about making the right choices. You really don’t have another set of eyes on the site until it’s an end product.

    • Julie Harris says:

      Ohhhh Charmane, I totally understand what you’re talking about! I just finished going through a rebrand myself, and even with my own professional design experience, designing for myself was so much more difficult. That second set of eyes makes all the difference.

      Definitely look at the Facebook Groups shared above. Marianne’s group DYOB is excellent for DIY-designers looking for more design assistance, but if you are looking for more professional feedback, consider getting a brand audit? Then you can get an unbiased second opinion on your site from a professional who knows what they are talking about. If you need any referrals for this, I can definitely refer a few great designers who offer super reasonable audits.

      • Charmane says:

        Great advice Julie. I would love the referrals!

        • Julie Harris says:

          Erika Madden (olyvia.co) is who I recommend as I personally use her for all of my own client sites. She is great and really understands the mind of a blogger and blog reader so she’ll be a great resource and her prices are super reasonable.

      • Exactly what I was going to say Julie. Yes Charmane, the Blog Beautiful Facebook group is a safe place to get feedback on design decisions. We have lots of designers in the group that will give you their professional thoughts as well. And if you want dedicated feedback from a designer, then a brand audit is SUCH a good idea!

  • Meagan B. says:

    I wanted to design my own blog because I’m a control freak AND I’m really not sure if I can effectively communicate the vision that is in my head!

    • Julie Harris says:

      Ha! I absolutely love your honesty Megan. So many of us entrepreneurs are total control freaks. But that’s also what makes us so driven and invested in our brands. Communicating the vision inside of our heads is often on of the most difficult things to do. I have a whole gallery of free resources to help with this if you’re interested? (http://whiskeyandred.com/resources/)

      Thank you so much for stopping by and sharing your thoughts with us 🙂

    • Meagan, I totally get where you’re coming from. Designing for yourself is soooo hard, but that’s also what makes it so rewarding AND we get to do it totally OUR way.

  • Trudy says:

    Great post, Julie & Marianne. I already follow Marianne, so now you have me as a fan as well Julie. I wouldn’t claim to design my own websites, but I certainly put them together myself (using a theme) and love ‘messing’ around with them. I’ve made a few sites over the years. It is the creative aspect and learning how to do things as I go that I thoroughly enjoy. I’ve learned a couple of new things from this post alone. I’d love a copy of Marianne’s book to continue to make improvements for my reader’s experience and to build a cohesive brand.

    • Julie Harris says:

      Thank you so much Trudy for stopping by and sharing your feedback. I absolutely love Marianne and admire her brand so much. I love that you are already very familiar with her and her content. She is such an amazing resource for all DIY designers and creatives looking to start their own blog and business.

      Themes are fantastic. They are an excellent resource to help organize and streamline so much of the website process as well and help maintain your brand as you grow and expand. But a theme is just a template, it took you and your design eye to really make it yours so I give you full credit for the design work 🙂

      Probably my favorite thing about owning my own business is the endless learning. There is always something new to learn and try out. Marianne’s eBook sounds like the perfect resource for you. It really is such an intense breakdown of the ins-and-outs of DIY designing your own digital creative space. Right now, she is offering the 25% off, so I recommend going forth and purchasing the workbook. I promise it is WELL WORHT IT! And then if you win the giveaway, Marianne will refund you the money 100%. But this way, you’re entered to win, and have an opportunity to get the book for a significant discount. I have the book myself and recommend it to all of my Brand Development clients who are looking to DIY their own site designs.

    • Hello Trudy, so glad you came over the check out Julie’s blog! Starting with a theme is the perfect way to start with DIY and messing around is the best way to learn so you’ve done so much already! I truly enjoy the creative aspect myself.

  • Tonya says:

    Thanks for a great article! Love Marianne’s advice and yes, my fear lies in cost. I know it’s worth spending the money on a good designer, I just have no concept of how much I get for how much money. Thanks for the handy list of links to help me narrow down the process too!

    • Julie Harris says:

      Tonya, you are clearly not alone in this fear. Investing in a professional designer is not always a cheap investment. Honestly, if it is, I’d say you probably shouldn’t work with that designer unless you know them well and trust them. Good design is expensive, but bad design is even more expensive since you often have to spend even more to fix it.

      One way to find confidence in what you are getting for your investment is to shop around. Most designers will do free design consults where you can meet with them either in person or via video/phone chat and discuss their creative process, what the deliverables are, and how much they cost. No commitment necessary. Then you can compare your notes to get an idea on the market average. But all designers work differently. The most important thing to focus on is the designer themselves and how you feel when you communicate with them. It’s truly a relationship being created between designer and client and it’s important to find the RIGHT designer for you. Once you find that person, they will be well worth the money and you’ll know you are getting a product that is perfect for YOU.

    • Oh gosh Tonya, you’re absolutely right! It can be really difficult to find the right designer but once you do, bam! It’s an amazing experience. The best way is to take note of the blogs with designs that you love and find out who designed them, then check out their portfolios. The best blog and web designers should have a blog post or notes in their portfolio detailing the why and the process. But you should also conduct your own interview and determine if your personalities fit too.

  • Michelle says:

    I’m a graphic designer, who has no problem with DIY the design of my blog. The only problem I have with designing a blog is coding. I took web design classes in college but those classes didn’t help much. When it comes to designing, picking out colors and fonts that is no problem. I usually do research before designing my blog.

    • Julie Harris says:

      I hear you Michelle! Since my background is strongly in graphic design as well, most people don’t understand that that does not mean that we code too. Some people can do both. I am personally ok and can get away with basic CSS Styling and HTML editing, but I am NO developer.

      Have you ever taken any Lynda.com classes? I took most of my code classes there and their course are fantastic. Mostly because I can study at my own pace and the instructors actually know HOW to teach. I can recommend some specific courses if this is really something you are interested in?

      Otherwise, a great resource for you to possibly invest in is partnering with a developer. You do all the design work; mockups, individual graphic pieces, styling guide and content. Then find a developer who can take your work, and under your instruction, build the site for you. Then you don’t have to worry about the code, but focus on the design pieces and then hire a professional to help make it work EXACTLY as you want it to. My developer (harrisdesigned.com) does exactly this for me and also freelances out for special projects. He’s great and can maybe help you out here. Or check out some of the themes I recommend for WordPress users (if you are a wordpress user) in my WordPress Theme Pinterest Board (https://www.pinterest.com/brandingbyjulie/wordpress-themes/) All of them are incredibly user friendly and all you to customize the look and feel of your site without having to do much code (or any code at all).

    • I think many designers share your concerns her Michelle. Julie has some great ideas. Lynda.com is a great resource. I also plan to release a CSS for Bloggers course here sometime this year, so I’ll keep you posted!

  • Katrina says:

    This is a very helpful article! Thank you for sharing. I’m currently in the process of DIY designing my own website/blog and I can say, it’s definitely a lot of work. I chose to DIY because I AM a designer, but I’m finding that I’m the most difficult client I’ve ever worked for!

    • Julie Harris says:

      HA! I love it Katrina. It’s so true. We are by far our biggest critic and hardest client. That’s usually because we are so close to the project, it’s hard to be objective and make clear decisions. Having a second set of eyes is HUGELY helpful. I just wen through a redesign of my own website and having those few creative professionals to bounce ideas off of and get feedback from was such a major factor in the speed in which I was able to finish my site. Their unbiased feedback and constructive criticism was so helpful.

      If you haven’t already, check out some of the design Facebook Groups I shared above. They are all excellent resources for you to get that community support and second set of eyes on your site to help keep you objective and focused on the overall picture and not fixated on any one particular element.

    • Oh ain’t that the truth Katrina? Like Julie says, we are our own worst critics and that makes designing for ourselves incredibly tough. I second her advice to join some design groups on FB (mine was created exactly for this!) to get some feedback from others and get validation (or not) on your ideas ad feel better about your decisions.

  • My main fear of working with a designer is being swayed away from what I want by someone I consider an “expert” and ending up with something I’m not happy with because I’ve been told that “this isn’t the way we do things professionally”. Well, that and the cost!

    • Julie Harris says:

      This is a completely valid fear Nicki! And unfortunately, this happens from time to time. The best way to avoid a situation like this is to focus on the designer. Not just their costs, or portfolio. While both of those things are important, not every designer is right for every client. You want to be sure you find the perfect designer for YOU. Someone who understands YOUR needs, can communicate in a way that YOU understand, and is willing to truly collaborate with YOU through the entire process. I promise these designers exist. When you find the right one, you will be 100% confident in the investment in them and you’ll get a positive experience and a product that fits your vision and needs.

      The design process needs to be a collaborative one. While the designer has the know how for the design and development workings of branding and online business, they don’t know your brand or target clients. It’s up to you to communicate this to them, and it’s up to them to take that info and build a platform/design/brand that complements your business so it not only looks, but acts, sounds, and feels like the professional you are. The designer is there to provide advice and guidance but in the end, it’s your business and only you will know what’s best for you.

      You can shop around just like you would for any other service provider. Most designers offer free design consults for you to pick their brain, learn their process, and get an idea of costs. Then you can compare your notes and find the right designer for you. No commitment require 🙂

    • Julie always has the perfect answer to this! Sooo true and I totally get your fear Nicki and that’s why finding a designer who you gel with is so so important and sometimes that’s why it’s better to spend a bit more for a quality designer.

  • Catherine Reynolds says:

    I’m just starting to DIY my own webpage and blog now, so this is perfect timing! Marianne, your book looks beautiful, and Julie, I found this post to be very helpful and timely to my particular situation 🙂 I’m chasing to DIY my own design because, as a fledgling graphic designer, I think it only makes sense that every piece I put out into the world has my stamp on it some how…and, to be completely honest, if I can’t design my own webpage and blog, I don’t really feel that I have any business designing things for other people. Thanks for the chance to win!

    • Julie Harris says:

      Awww yay! I am so glad you found your way here Catherine! Marianne’s book sounds like the perfect resource for you right now. It’s such an incredible tool. I recommend it to all my Brand Development clients who want to DIY the design side of their brand. I completely agree with you. If graphic design is your business, then it makes complete sense that YOU design your own site. Having your mark on everything you create will help you establish your creditability and showcase your skills.

      Something to think about is working with a developer? If designing sites is what you really want to do, finding a development partner is a great way to focus on the skills you are best at, creating beautiful works of art for your clients, and then finding a partner to put it all together and make it work. Then you can work faster and provide more value for your future clients. But if you want to tackle it all on your own, YOU GO GIRL!

      Right now, Marianne is offering her book for 25% off, so even if you don’t win you can get your hands on her workbook for a super discount. Then if you win, Marianne will return your money 100%. Win win!

  • Robin Phillips says:

    Thanks, ladies, for the great info. I have to say my biggest fear is not knowing what to ask a designer for. What do I need to know ahead of time to make the time with a designer productive and especially rewarding? Thanks again for tackling all these design issues!

    • Julie Harris says:

      Totally legit fear Robin! I actually created a free worksheet printable to help organize your design needs and prepare you for talking to a designer (http://2trl8j30q7e63fvee32798bz.wpengine.netdna-cdn.com/wp-content/uploads/2014/10/CREATIVE-GENIUS-2.pdf) You can find more free resources like this in my resources page under the info tab in my menu.

      Another way to get better at this is to just start contacting designers. See what kinds of questions they ask you and what information they are looking for. That will help you to know what to start exploring and what to focus on until you are ready to hire a professional (or DIY). Most great designers will offer a free design consult for this very purpose. I know for myself, it’s always harder to work for a client who doesn’t know what they want. I’d rather connect, discuss, and then let them take the time they need to register the questions I presented and then come back once they feel like the have the creative confidence to explain to me what it is they want in their brand.

      Good luck Robin! And never hesitate to reach out to Marianne or I with any more questions like this. We are always happy to help. And be sure to check out some of the design focused Facebook Groups I mentioned above. They are all excellent community resource for helping you understand what it is you want for your design, and how to find the right designer for YOU.

  • Francoise says:

    I choose to DIY my own website because I find it quite fun to do (even though I have no background in it!). Thanks for this awesome post and opportunity.

    • Julie Harris says:

      Love it Francoise! It really is such an exciting process. Lot of learning and sometimes some frustrating moments, but the final product is always so rewarding. With resources like Marianne’s eBook, even with no formal design background, you can definitely DIY your own site and create an engaging and beautiful platform that clearly represents and supports your brand.

      Thank you so much for stopping by and sharing your feedback.

  • Love this post Julie and Marianne!

    I remember asking Marianne all sorts of DIY tips and I learned (still learning) so much from Design Your Own (Lovely) Blog. Then I started my mission on branding, which lead me to Julie and grabbed her branding style guide. There is a lot of research that goes on when your DIY’er and I know my limits. When I switched my blog over to a self-hosted WP site, I had help getting it done. I knew I wanted my site to be a place where people felt comfortable to ask questions, chat, and feel a cheerful creative vibe.

    I’ve done a survey to my subscribers to ask them just that – How do they feel when they come to my website? Most of them chose adjectives like: cheerful, imaginative, and honest. For me I think I’ve come a long way from just a couple of years ago!

    Honestly, you’ve got to know your limits. Don’t bang your head against the wall trying to get something done when you can simply ask Marianne or Julie or any of the FB groups listed in the blog.

    Thanks ladies for the wonderful read!
    Lillian

    • Julie Harris says:

      Awww Lillian!! Thank you so much for popping in! I know how crazy busy your schedule is. I always love seeing you in the comments. Thank you so much for your sweet words about both Marianne’s and my content. We both truly have your best interests at heart and want to help you and our other creative community members create brands that not only look, but act, sound, and feel just like you.

      I love love love your idea to send out a survey to your clients and followers and get their feedback on the experience they have on your site. Something their feedback can be hard to hear, but it’s really their opinion that matters most as it’s THEM who are using your site. What a great idea!

  • Berni says:

    A great post. Thanks ladies – so much information! My fears of using a designer is of course the financial side of things as I am starting out on my business journey and am not yet making an income. But mainly I’m concerned that I will not be able to get my vision across in a clear and concise way. What I envision in my head may not be what someone else sees. I suppose talking with a few designers and viewing their work will help me to find the right fit. I still worry though that I may be spending money on something that is not ME in the end. The alterative is to design myself which I love but takes up my time and I’m not yet confident on many design aspects. Which way to go?

    • Julie Harris says:

      I am so glad you found your way to this post Berni. Your fear about creative communication is not a new one. You have every reason to be afraid of your vision being misinterpreted. But the right designer will be the one who DOES understand you. Not every designer is great for every client. You hit it on the head when you mentioned talking to other designers and viewing their work. This is a must! Most great designers are aware of this fear, and they too have an equal fear of misunderstanding their clients needs due to an inability to clearly community (on both sides). Shopping around and connecting with a few different designers you love is a great way to combat this fear.

      Most great designers will offer free design consults where you can connect with them one-on-one, ask your questions, learn about their creative process, and see if they feel like the right designer for you. Communication is key! You can learn a lot about a designer just by sitting down with them for 30 minutes and seeing how they handle the meeting. Then, you can even reach out to old clients (most designers have testimonials or links to their past work) and ask them directly about their experience with the designer. Then you’ll have a super clear idea about who you want to work with. Once you find the right designer for you, they will be well worth the investment and the financial side won’t be so scary.

      DIYing until you are ready is a great decision. You’ll learn so much about yourself, design, your brand, and what you want from a designer that if you do every hire a professional, you’ll be much clearer on how it all works, and be ready to confidently take over once the design is complete.

  • siny says:

    A fabulous post; I guess it has the right information on all aspects. I went for DIY designing of my blog mainly due to financial constraints. It is something that I am not able to afford now. Moreover, I have always felt that I haven’t taken up much creative challenges in my life and I wanted to see how much I can do with respect to this and how it would turn out to be. It was a kinda of creative outlet that I hadn’t opened up till now in my life. So it is terrifying and exhilarating at the same time since I am seeing a new face of me. Hope it goes well. Thanks a ton to you all for helping us out and encouraging us!

    • Julie Harris says:

      Beautifully said Siny! DIYing your own site truly is both “terrifying and exhilarating at the same time”. And such a rewarding process. I love that you are pursuing this as a new creative outlet. Creative challenges are always my favorite. I know I speak for both Marianne and I when I say we are there for you 110%! Definitely check out some of the design focused Facebook Groups I shared above. They are excellent resources to give you that creative accountability and community of support as you tackle this awesome project of yours.

  • Cathy Sohl says:

    I’m still in the research phase of developing a blog. Of course, finances play a part in whether or not I would use a designer, but also determining if I can truly communicate what I want in matters of design, functionality, and professionalism. At this point in the process, I think spending the money would at least give me a good start. I don’t have the experience or knowledge base that a designer in the field already has. The more experience I get, the more comfortable I would feel “tweaking” the design, but at least I would have a platform to start from. Thank you for the post, it gives me a lot to think about.

    • Julie Harris says:

      Oooo Cathy, you used all my favorite words; communicate, design, functionality, and professionalism! All of these are KEY when it comes to a positive and successful design experience. Working with a professional should truly be a collaborative experience. You have to find the right designer for YOU.

      Something you can do right now before fully investing in a professional is shop around. Look at different designer’s portfolios, testimonials, packages, and resources. Then, most designers will offer free design consults where you can ask questions, see how they work, and get an idea of pricing. Plus this will help you get a feel for the designer so you can find someone who really speaks your language and understands your creative needs. That individual will be the perfect designer for you, and will be well worth the investment.

      As a designer, I always admire my clients who want to not only hire me to design their brand or website, but want to learn how to do it themselves with me. It breaks my heart when I work so hard on a project just to have the client never use it because they don’t know how. One way my team and I combat this issue is to offer teaching sessions at the end of our website design projects with our clients so that they can confidently take over their site’s management and maintenance. Communication and education are everything in a successful design process.

      Good luck Cathy!

  • Steffy Meia says:

    I love that when I truly need some help I stumble into the right place!

    I’m currently in the process of building (DIY) my own brand, and my goodness I didn’t expect to be so lost. I studied Communication Design and I though to myself “I can do this, I’ve developed brands for other’s, this is going to be easy.” Oh, how wrong was I!

    I chose to DIY my online presence because I believed I had the skills. I do if it is not so personal. It is so hard to be the client and the designer at the same time.

    I own and founded a construction company with my Husband. Designing the brand identity for “Calibre” was nothing like this, even if my Hubby was a little bit of a difficult client lol.

    For me this is personal. This brand is my creative side personified. I put myself into each of my creations and release them out into the world with purpose and love. An embodiment of myself that evokes as an expression of you.

    • Julie Harris says:

      Awww I am so happy you found your way here Steffy! I totally understand what you mean when you think “i’ve done this millions of time for other brands, so I can totally do it for myself”. But usually, we are our hardest client. We’re just too close to the project sometimes to have an objective perspective. It really is so hard to “be the client and the designer at the same time.”

      I believe you are your brand, so I 100% agree with you when you say “this is personal”. I recommend that you check out some of the design focused Facebook groups I shared above. Having that second set of eyes, community of creative support, and group accountability will help you so much in getting through your own self branding. A strong creative community is by far one of the best things we can bring into our live as entrepreneurs and small business owners. We get by with a little help from our friends 🙂

      Thank you so much Steffy for sharing your thoughts with us! You brought up some excellent points.

  • Donna says:

    Someone I know said she would design a website for me in WordPress – for $1,000 per page. O_O (and I wan’t all that impressed with her work either) So since my business is all about DIY, it was only natural that I design my website myself. I even designed my own logo. Granted, I have a tiny bit of experience making websites – from making them in AOL (don’t laugh – it was COOL back then!) , FrontPage and then SharePoint. None of it was easy, but after reading up on the how-tos, and watching a few YouTubes, it was possible. In two months time, my site went from zero views to over 1,000 views/month and growing. I am still learning as I go, but it’s getting easier every day. Now that I am more comfortable with working in WordPress, I would love to learn more about how to tweak my site to be even better.

    • Julie Harris says:

      Wow… $1000.00 per page. Those better have been some flipping amazing pages for that price. I personally don’t like to price projects per page because of this very example. Some pages will be bigger than others, and some pages will require more functionality or design, and others will be quick and simple. No page should be priced the same. Then you start questioning pages and removing them to save money which can hurt your site if they are necessary pages.

      Always try to get full site package prices. Get a full scope of work written out so you can see everything that is included in the package from design, to optimization, to functionality, to responsiveness…. everything! Then have the designer walk you through it line by line so you know exactly what you are investing in.

      HA! Awww AOL, old school, I love it! I love how you tackled your site yourself and looked at it as a learning process and took your time. Congrats on the monthly views! Even the most successful brands started at zero at some point. Marianne’s eBook sounds like a perfect resource for you!

  • This is a great article! I have chosen to DIY my blog for the moment for a few reasons; firstly I can’t afford to have somebody to do it professionally for me. Secondly I don’t feel that my blog is established enough to be having it professionally designed – I worry that they would laugh at me for wanting to make my amateur musings look better on a professionally designed site! Thirdly, I don’t really know what I need to ask a pro to do for me and what they would expect me to be able to do myself…

    • Julie Harris says:

      Those are some perfectly legit reasons to DIY, Sam. I would do the same if I was in your shoes. Waiting until you feel like your brand is ready for a rebrand and upgrade to hire a design is a smart move. Plus, by that point, you’ll know so much more about what you want and how you want to run your business that you’ll get a better website.

      It also never hurts to reach out to some designers you admire and see if they can meet for a 30 minute phone call so you can pick their brain about what you need to prepare in order to work with a professional. I alway admire that when my clients reach out to guidance, and then come back later when they are ready to move forward.

      If they laugh at you, then they aren’t the designer for you. I know you’ll find the perfect person when you are ready Sam.

  • Jen says:

    I’ve actually just hire someone to do some design work for me. I should have read this first so I had a better idea of what I want him to do for me. I’m hoping that I can build on what he will do to create a cohesive brand.

    • Julie Harris says:

      If you just hired someone, don’t wait to reach out with any new ideas or questions you might have. It’s your investment, your brand, and overall your call. I’d set up a meeting to share any new thoughts you might have and see how he responds. Design should be a collaborative experience between designer and client. As a designer myself, I want to create the perfect design for my clients. So i’d want you to call me and let me know what you wanted instead of waiting till the end and then being disappointed.

      I bet he’ll do a great job and you’ll have an excellent design to grow your brand with, Jen. Never settle for anything less that what you want 🙂 It’s his job to make it happen.

  • Rhoda says:

    This was a great blog post just bursting with information!! I plan to bookmark it and read through it again, as well as follow links to read more! I chose to DIY my website because I couldn’t afford to have it done (and I have the coding skills with some art/design mixed in). I’m a little scared to hire it out because I’m worried I won’t get enough bang for my buck. It better be stinking fabulous or I’ll feel I could have just worked on it myself 🙂

    • Julie Harris says:

      Thank you so much Rhoda! Marianne included some awesome links so I definitely recommend checking them out.

      I fully understand your point about how it better be “stinking fabulous”. It should be. I 100% agree. Shopping around for the right designer will help resolve this fear about getting the biggest bang for your buck. Contact some of your favorite designers and see if you can set up a free design consult. Many designers offer this services anyway as a way of screening clients since they too want to make sure they are the right designer for the project. Then you can get an idea of what’s included, what the process looks like, and what your investment will be. If you find the right designer who really understands you and your design needs, then they will be well worth the big bucks.

      With you development background, I know you’ll find the perfect person. Or else, you’ll rock your own DIY design. You sound like someone who, with resources like Marianne’s eBook, would do a fantastic job on your own until you find the perfect designer for you.

      Thank you so much Rhoda for sharing your feedback with us!!

  • I usually DIY my design because I did study a bit of graphic design in college and I really enjoy it! I’m not the best by any means but I do try to use what I learned in the past to make sure I don’t screw anything up.

    • Julie Harris says:

      I love this Jessica. DIYing your design work should be fun and creatively challenging in a positive way. It really is such an empowering and accomplishing feeling when you’ve build your own site. Marianne’s eBook sounds like the perfect resource for you. Thank you so much for sharing your thoughts with us!

  • Kim Noyles says:

    I am doing the DIY approach to hold myself accountable to the progress of my website. There is also the fact that I don’t have the funds to hire it out but I have that on my list of wants. I am happy to have found wonderful sites like Design Your Own (lovely) Blog that share the knowledge and tools for people like me. Thank you Julie for addressing both angles on the topic and I’m not so wary about losing my audience just because the designer doesn’t know my audience/topic well.

    • Julie Harris says:

      I absolutely love this Kim! It really does hold us accountable when we choose to DIY our business. I am so thrilled you are familiar with DYOB and have found your way to my own blog. Between Marianne and I, we are the champions of the DIYer and always do what we can to create useful content for creative’s like you who are taking this on by yourself. But even if you are “doing it yourself” you don’t have to be fully alone. Joining some of the design focused Facebook groups I shared above, particularly Marianne’s DYOB Facebook Group, you’ll find the creative community of support and guidance you need to really rock your own blog design. I am so happy you found this post so helpful. Never hesitate to reach out with any questions, Kim. Both Marianne and I are here to help 🙂

  • Frankly, I chose to DIY my blog because that was all I could afford. As a newbie art business and a mom with four kiddos in college, if I had waited until I could pay someone to design my blog for me I would still be blog-less. I would love to fine tune my blog and website so that it is more professional and better branded, I just don’t know where to begin!!

  • Raluca says:

    I actually worked with a designer (actually a web design agency) to improve my blog, but he was a junior and did not really get me so I ended up redesigning my blog for myself. The only thing I kept was the logo they proposed, which I actually loved.

  • Aeleise says:

    I DIY my website because I change and update constantly. As a traveling hairstylist I need to be able to post my availability frequently. Also I have an art degree and web design has become my outlet for the frustrated artist in me.

  • Sofie says:

    This is such a handy blogpost for someone like me who is really struggling to DIY her blog design. Maybe one day I will actually hire a designer, but for now, I simply don’t have the funds. I really enjoyed reading this and I’m definitely going to try out the Pinterest board to see If I can settle on something.

    ~ Sofie

  • Already bookmarked!! Love this article. This information is mind blowing!

    • Julie Harris says:

      Thank you so much Arpitha! I am so blown away myself by everyone’s comments and feedback on why they choose to DIY or hire a professional. Such a learning experience all around! Thank you so much for stopping by.

  • This is such a helpful article. I had never pondered before of how I could be limiting myself by trying to do my own thing. Thanks for all of the helpful links too.

    • Julie Harris says:

      You are so welcome Sucanne! Thank you so much for stopping by and sharing your feedback. I wouldn’t want to think of it as limiting yourself by choosing to DIY, but rather a growth opportunity to really expand your knowledge in the world of design and online business entrepreneurship, but that comes from time, dedication, and a pursuit of information beyond the visual graphics and color palettes. There are some excellent resources out there and it’s our goal to help you find them faster and easier so you can successfully do your own thing 🙂

  • Emily Davis says:

    Thank you so much for the insights and resources! I’m terribly afraid of hiring a web designer. Not only is it expensive, I really don’t have enough contacts or experience in that arena to make sure that I’m hiring someone with the right expertise or professionalism. I’m also concerned about website upkeep and changes. I feel like I need to know enough about the setup and design to at least be able to do site updates and additions on my own. It’s a daunting undertaking!

  • Alex says:

    For me it’s more that I am just trying this whole thing out. I’m really excited about blogging but I’m basically on day zero of blogging and I may find I’m not good at it, don’t have time for it or just don’t enjoy it. Until I’m sure this is my path I’m not ready to invest in a professionally designed blog though I know I need all the help I can get!

    • Julie Harris says:

      This is 100% understandable Alex. I am a full advocate for jumping in and getting your hands dirty in order to even know whether or not this blogging thing is for you. I did the same thing when I first started out. I invested in a few basic necessities like good hosting and a solid WordPress Theme, but those were more to keep me accountable to continue using them. Once I invested financially, I was more emotionally invested and I got so much more out of those first few months than if I hadn’t. But it wasn’t until I knew this was the path for me that I really jumped in and went all the way. I’ve told clients that I think they aren’t ready for a professional yet and should take more time just like you are to figure out if this is their path. I love that you are taking advantage of the resources out there for DIY-ers in order to empower yourself right from the start!

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