The Internet can be an intimidating place! Everyone claims to be an expert in this and a guru of that. If you’re just getting started with blogging (or event if you have some experience under your belt but are looking for a re-design), here are a few handy tips that may help you find and confidently retain someone to bring your vision for your blog to life.
1. Ask Around! There’s no better recommendation than one that comes from a friend or family member. Ask them who they used and whether they were pleased with the process and the outcome. If you don’t know anyone that you can ask, then roll up your sleeves and do your own research. Visit the blogs that stand out to or impress you and look to see who designed them (you can usually look at the very bottom of the blog’s theme); when in doubt, email the blog owner – 9 times out of 10 they’ll be happy to pass along their designer’s info.
2. Check Out Their Portfolio. Ok, so now you have a recommendation or a lead on a designer. The next step is to see real samples of their work. A good blog designer will have a portfolio online that you can peruse. If not, then they should be able to provide you with some links to live sites that they’ve designed. If you’re getting a good feeling and think that the designer’s style meshes with yours, take things a step further and contact the designer’s past clients (maybe just 1 or 2) to see how they enjoyed the design process.
3. Transparency In Pricing. This is a biggie. Any professional designer should be able to give you their rates up front, or at least an educated estimate of what your blog design will cost you. You may (and should) need to provide the designer with some specific information about what you are seeking in order for them to give you an accurate quote. Ask questions and pay attention to the “fine print.” Are they going to charge by the hour? Or do they charge a flat fee depending on the project? Do the extra bells and whistles (i.e. custom Twitter background, button, social media icons, etc.) cost an additional fee or are they included? And remember, the quote should be free!
4. Responsiveness. I cannot emphasize this one enough: is the designer accessible and responsive? There’s nothing worse than waiting on a project without knowing the status or when you can expect to see a proof or final product. Yes, your designer is a busy and talented professional, but your time is valuable too! During the research process, pay attention to whether the designer responds to email or phone calls in a timely fashion…and what their demeanor is when they do. Having people and professional skills can mean the difference between your design being a painful experience and an amazing one.
5. Skill Set. Not everyone can do everything (unless they’re really good). Is the designer familiar with coverting a Blogger blog to WordPress? Can they install your new blog theme once it’s designed or will you need someone else to do it? Is web hosting included in your design package? Will they offer you continued support once the design phase is over? Is her or she a blog designer or a web designer? Because there is a major difference in the lingo and code used, and look and feel of the site.
One more thing: while you should be very conscientious when hiring a designer for your blog, it’s important to also be a good client once you do. That means being upfront about your needs, budget and timeline, in addition to being responsive yourself. If both of you hold up your end of the bargain, the relationship could be one that will last for many projects to come.