Branding Fit for a Bride: Part Five {The Bottom Line}

Hey guys! Happy Monday! This post is coming out a little later than planned, but I had a whirlwind weekend! We left Saturday to Williamsburg and our schedule was jam-packed. We went to a banquet Saturday night and to church services all day Sunday. My spirit is very full, but Monday morning hit me like a ton of bricks: Ah! I have so much to do!

One of those things is wrap up my series on branding and starting this blog. I talked last week about getting an awesome logo and working with Carolynn of Two Brunettes. The logo was the first part of the process, and as mentioned, the second was finding BluChic and the free Adelle theme.

Adelle

I want to go back to that for a minute and focus on that one, key word: Free.

Free, you guys! Almost nothing in this life is free and that includes (especially!) blog design! So, in case you missed it, this is the bottom line: after spending more than $1,000, I'm blogging from a free template! If that's not a lesson learned, I don't know what is!

The take-away: Web design and branding is big, big business and there's a lot of choices out there. Because I don't want you to go through the same thing as me (investing way too much money early on), I compiled this list of tips:

Be cautious and know the prices associated with these services. We talked about this a little, but as a refresher, a logo alone can average $500 and up. A blog design concept, which does not produce a functioning blog (think more like storyboard) also averages $500 and up. The programming- your actual website- is usually the cost of the aforementioned services combined.

You have to know what you want. You have to know whether you're looking for a logo or an illustration. (I was confused about this at first.) What are your colors? Are you sure about them? You'll be dictating the entire creative design process, so you have to be sure of what you want.

You'll need to speak up about those wants too. You'll have to articulate your vision and be specific. If possible, use images. Pinterest is obviously an excellent resource. Check out My Brand :: FFB :: board on Pinterest to see the images I pulled for inspiration.

Pinterest

Seek out friends in the business. You can probably see that there are a few differences between the Adelle theme and what the Adelle theme looks like here. That's because a friend (a fellow bee) helped make those changes. She doesn't code for a living, she just likes doing it, and thankfully, she didn't charge me a lot! Friends can be great for helping, but also be aware that if they do this for a living, they will charge you. (Read: it's how they make their living!)

Lastly (this might be a hard pill to swallow), start with a free template. I thought I needed a customized site that was the perfect look and feel for MY NEW BRAND and I know what I thought that-- there's a lot of blogs out there today and to stand out, you need a professional look, but in hindsight, I wish I would have told myself the following (which, just so happens, my husband tried to tell me several times!):

If you stick with blogging...

If your blog picks up traffic...

If you start to sell ads...

THEN consider investing further. I know that sucks and I know we all want a brand that's gorgeous and that people will be attracted to, but it's more important to GET STARTED. I let the whole branding thing stand in my way for MONTHS. I kept putting off 'starting' because I didn't have the perfect blog. That's totally backwards, guys.

You're going to want to revamp again, and again. Here's the other reason it's important to wait to invest in your brand, because your brand will evolve and grow as you blog! I thought I needed certain buttons on my sidebar (weight loss stories, recipes, workouts, and real weddings), but it turns out I haven't featured many weddings! I feature more engagement shoots, so that might be a more appropriate button! As the content grows, I will understand my blog design's needs better.

Not only that, but here's a little secret: blog redesigns are addictive. It's like changing outfits, who doesn't love a fresh, new look? But, with the cost associated, it's near impossible to do it all the time. Especially if you're just getting started and don't make money blogging.

When I vented to my mom about the cost of starting this blog, she gave me this piece of advice. Mind you, she's been a business owner for more than 30 years, and she knows her stuff!

Use the money you make to support your business, otherwise, you might end up in debt with no business! Sounds harsh, but it's the truth.

All in all, I'm still a little weary about the money I spent getting the blog up and running, but at the end of the day, this blog has been my baby. I cradled and nursed the idea for more than a year before starting, and  I know I'm going to stick with it. I also think the experience provided a lot of insight, and hopefully these posts have helped you! 

It's important to note: Blogging isn't my full-time job. I"m a Writer with the Government and blogging is my hobby. My husband spends his money on golf gear, cause golf is one of his hobbies (as are blu-ray movies and play station games!), the twins love their designer handbags and me... blog design :)

What about you?

Do you believe in waiting to invest in a blog's design?

What tips would you give others who want to start a blog and want it to stand out, but may not have thousands of dollars to spend on the design?

I cannot wait to hear your responses!

If you missed Part One , Part Two, Part Three, or Part Four  just go to the Categories drop-box and search “Blogging Tools.”