If you’re looking to rebrand or just launching your blog and need some help with design, this week’s post on DIY Blog Design is for you! It’s one of the most frequently asked questions I get from clients who are looking for how to build a beautiful website on a budget.
This week’s guest blogger is Gillian Perkins, an online business strategy consultant, multipassionate entrepreneur, and the #1 internationally bestselling author of “Sorted: Freedom through Structure.” She has extensive experience growing businesses in a variety of industries and is also the mother of two young boys. In short, she knows her stuff and is spilling her secrets on how to DIY beautiful blog design.
DIY Blog Design
Anyone who wants to run a successful blog or online business knows that having an attractive, well-functioning website is key. However, unless you’re willing to invest a significant amount of money into a professional web designer, achieving your website goals can be a challenge.
A professional web design can cost anywhere from $1,200 up to $10,000 — a significant sum! So going the DIY route can seem attractive.
If you want to DIY your blog design and aren’t sure where to start, here are three easy options.
WordPress + Free Themes
WordPress has loads of free theme options. So aside from your hosting costs, you won’t have to pay anything! Two of the best free WordPress themes are “Tesseract” and “Spacious.” Both are very flexible and free.
While there are hundreds of great free WordPress themes, if you don’t know how to code it can be nearly impossible to get them to comply with you. That’s where visual page builder plugins come in, they’re installed as plugins and essentially turn your site into a “drag-and-drop” project. This way, you can move elements around visually (rather than typing code).
For even more ways to customize your blog, try these plugins:
If you’re interested in using this completely free, bootstrap option to build a beautiful blog, I highly recommend this video tutorial by Tyler Moore. In the tutorial, he builds an entire site from scratch using this combination of plugins. The result is quite attractive! (This is how I built the site for my book, “SORTED: Freedom through Structure.” Check it out here.)
WordPress + Premium Themes
Another DIY WordPress option is to use Premium themes. This is perhaps the most expensive DIY option, but at $50 – $200 it’s still a far cry from the price you’d pay for a professional designer.
The benefit of using premium themes is that it’s far EASIER to make them look better. The premium themes come with premium visual page builder plugins that have been custom designed to work perfectly in conjunction with the theme, so everything runs more smoothly. With these options, you’ll run into virtually zero glitches.
Some of the best places to find beautiful, premium WordPress themes are:
- Thrive Themes
- Elegant Themes
- Bluchic (what this site is built with!)
- Restored 316 Designs
- Viva La Violette
- Hello You Designs
- Pretty Darn Cute Design
Squarespace, Wix, & Weebly
The third and final option for easily designing your own site is to use a comprehensive hosting and site building platform, such as Squarespace, Wix, or Weebly. This is certainly the EASIEST of the three options, but it comes with several downsides: customization, features and integrations.
While customization is quite easy, it only goes so far. You’ll find that while there are plenty of fonts and colors to choose from, adjusting layouts, shapes, and sizes can be next to impossible unless you’re a pro coder (and even then, you may be limited by the application itself).
Unlike the WordPress options, the features you will be able to add are also limited. There may be plenty of options for what you want your site to do, but if you need anything out of the ordinary or more advanced, you might discover that the platform makes it simply impossible.
Finally, you’ll be limited as to what other services you’re able to integrate your site with. For example, you might not be able to integrate with your email service provider, mass mailer, or landing page software.
Despite these downsides, comprehensive website services are still a great option for many people. If you only need a simple site and you don’t enjoy tech headaches, then this might be your perfect match.
You might also like: 5 creative ways to use stock photos
The Best Website Solution for Your Blog
Now that you know what your options are, you’re probably wondering which one is really the best! Well, that depends on your situation. Here’s a simple summary to help you decide:
The most AFFORDABLE option is to bootstrap your site with WordPress, a free theme, and several free plugins.
The EASIEST option is to use a comprehensive website service, such as Squarespace, Weebly, or Wix.
The BEST RESULTS (most advanced features and most likely to look amazing) will be achieved with a premium theme and its corresponding, premium plugin.
How To Make Your Website Beautiful
Using the right tools makes designing a great looking website much easier, but true beauty starts with your branding. And I’m not just talking about colors and fonts! Branding is about how your visuals make your website visitors FEEL.
Why is does it matter how your visitors feel? Because that’s how you’ll develop long-lasting relationships! Your branding shows off who you are and, if done well, attracts your ideal customer.
To help you design beautiful branding that really speaks to your target audience and CONVERTS them into paying customers, I’ve created a free eBook just for you! It’s called “The Ultimate Guide to Beautiful Branding” and it teaches step-by-step how to DIY a custom brand look and feel for your business.
Are you considering DIY Blog Design? Which tool is your favorite?
To learn more about how to start and run a successful online business, be sure to check out Gillian’s blog where she publishes new articles about online business tech and strategy, covering everything from email marketing to web design to accounting.