Working with a blog designer

This entry is part 3 of 5 in the series Blog design

Now that you’ve found the right designer for your new custom blog template, what’s next? I’ve dabbled in blog design, but for expert input I turned to Elizabeth of Gazelle Creative, Girly Blog Designz and Mommy Zabs.

Agree on payment
You probably set the price in the “opening negotiations” that we discussed last week, or your designer has a set price. Your designer probably also has a preferred method of being paid—PayPal, Google Checkout, check in the mail, your first born. Paying in advance (or at least on time) helps the process along, Elizabeth says.

Agree on a (working) deadline
Depending on how popular your designer is, this could be several months or a few weeks. Can you live with the deadline?

Naturally, you should be flexible with your designer: they’re doing you a service, and we all know how crazy life can get. Generally, etiquette asks that a designer let you know in advance if there will be any delays, but sometimes that’s not possible (hospitalization, for one example).

Have an idea in mind
Either from your favorite designed sites or (better yet) from the designer’s portfolio. Try to identify what it is you like about the sites: the colors, the layout of the columns, the clean lines, the way the header stands out or is integrated into the body.

Also helpful: Have at least one color chosen (I totally recommend for designing palettes; hat tip to Kasie).

Elizabeth agrees. She says that it’s easier to work with a client:

  • when they have a well articulated goal in mind. (ex. I would like 3 columns, girly blog, I like flowers, and have a passion for education. My main focus will be homeschooling.)
  • When they provide links to blogs (or sites) that have things they like about them. Anything that can give me an idea of what they like and what they don’t.

So, conversely, if there are some site designs that you don’t like, it can be helpful to point those out (especially if you can be more specific than ‘I hate this one.’) Another important point that Elizabeth makes is that it’s important to share with your designer what the themes for your blog are—and not just the colors. If you have any specific photos or clip art (which you own the rights to), obviously, share them with the designer.

Be specific and polite
Kind of reiterating what I just said, but by pointing out exactly what you want and don’t want, you’ll get there a lot faster than if you leave your designer to stab in the dark.

Be constructive and specific (again) about revisions
If you don’t like something in your new design, it’s up to you whether you want to try to live with it or ask the designer to fix it. Most of the time (especially if you’re polite about it), a designer wants to work with you to make you as happy as possible.

Bad examples of this might go:

Dear Designer,
You really screwed this up, didn’t you? Back to the drawing board.

Dear Designer,
I don’t like it. Can you fix it?

Better examples:

Dear Designer,
Thank you for my design! I like the design overall, but there are a few things that I don’t care for. Can we work on the way the comments display and the color of the headings (especially post titles and in the sidebar)?
Thanks again!

Dear Designer,
Thank you for working on my design. I see how you incorporated a lot of what I wanted into it. However, I was hoping for a bigger header and a darker background color. Could you fix that?

Sometimes your designer will automatically include a number of revisions (or batches thereof) in their price, though occasionally some will charge extra.

How do you know if now is the right time to buy a custom blog design? Come back next week to read more. Be sure to join in the Group Writing Project if you haven’t already!


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