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Working with a designer is awesome. You get all kinds of ideas for branding and content upgrades that you never could have thought of on your own.
But the downside is the cost. It can get expensive to work with a designer.
I know this because I am one. I work with clients to build a brand and create templates for images and content upgrades. It’s a ton of fun, but the cost can add up quickly.
So, it’s time to face the facts: do you really need to hire a designer to work on your blog?
Short answer: not necessarily. But there are a few follow-up questions I have for you before I can tell you whether or not you really need to hire a designer for your blog.
What’s your budget?
First things first, what’s your budget? And while you may think you have X amount to spend on your blog, don’t forget about the necessary costs of your domain name, hosting, theme, etc. Plus, there’s the technically unnecessary but extremely helpful monthly services you might want to allocate money to. Think: email marketing, landing pages, editorial calendars, social media scheduling tools, etc.
Once you take all of that out, what do you have left? If it’s $500 or more, then by all means, hire a designer! It’s going to save you time and give you some kick-ass materials.
But the chances are, if you’re just starting out and / or if this is just going to be a hobby (at least for now), you’re not going to have much (if anything) left. And that’s totally fine! You won’t be able to hire a designer, but that doesn’t mean you can’t have all of the same kick-ass materials you’d get from a designer.
How much time do you have?
If you need to have your blog or project launched like, yesterday, and have no design experience yourself, you might want to hire a designer.
Keep in mind, though, that designers fill up their schedules quickly, so you still might not be able to get your materials as quickly as you would like.
Conversely, if you’re on a flexible schedule and have the time (and willingness!) to learn, I recommend hitting up some tutorials and trying to create your designs yourself. Not only will you be learning something new, but you’ll also have more flexibility in the future!
If you take the time now to learn how to build a brand and use the software that will build your designs, you’re not going to have to worry about how packed a designer’s schedule is. If you need something immediately, you’ll be able to sit down and make it yourself.
For example, a few months ago I was reading Marianne’s post about creating Fake Leadpages with WordPress and ConvertKit. I was bummed that it required ConvertKit, so I figured out how to do it with Mailchimp instead. Yes!
I messaged Marianne on Twitter and told her what I’d figured out, and she said if I wrote it up in a post, she’d link to it in her original post. Double yes!
This post was going to get a ton of traffic, so I wanted to include a content upgrade. I moved around my editorial calendar, wrote up the post, created my content upgrade, and posted it three days later.
Imagine if I’d had to wait for a designer to create the content upgrade for me. There was a lot of excitement around Marianne’s post for the first week or two, so waiting would have been a big damper on my page views and email list.
Instead, I was able to open up InDesign, create something super fast, and put it up on my site right away.
PS If you’re interested in learning more about graphic design and have no idea where to start, check out my course, the InDesign Adventure Guide!
How big of a project will this be?
Next, be honest about how big of a design project this is going to be. Are you just starting out and need an entire brand identity, complete with colors, fonts, a logo, and a website to match? Do you need worksheets done regularly, as well as on-brand blog post header images, stock photos, and some headshots?
The more pieces you need from a designer, the more expensive it’s going to get. And the more general the materials (like coming up with all of your branding), the more expensive it’s going to be.
On the other hand, the more pieces you need to create yourself, the longer it’s going to take. Especially if you’re new to design.
So, you’ve got a couple options:
- Have the designer create all of the materials ($$$$)
- Have the designer create the basics (brand identity, etc), and then create the collateral items yourself ($$$)
- Create the basics yourself, and then have the designer create the collateral items for you ($$)
- Create everything yourself ($)
Oh, and did I mention I’ve got a one of your collateral pieces already completed for you? Click below to download your FREE ebook template!
How much money are you expecting to make?
Are you planning on turning your blog into a business immediately? Do you have a business plan already set up with an income goal (and steps to achieve it) for the end of the year?
Or, if this is for one project for your blog (like, say, an ecourse), are you planning on making a lot of money off of it?
If you’re planning on getting a lot of attention for your blog or project, it might be worth investing in the work of a designer. Not only will it make you seem super professional (which could lead to more sales), but it will also allow you the time to focus on other, more pressing matters. Think: finalizing your business plan, writing your blog posts, and shooting videos for your course.
Plus, if you’re planning on making quite a bit from your blog (or your blog’s project), the cost of the designer might end up paying for itself.
How confident are you in your design abilities?
And finally, let’s talk about your confidence in your own design abilities. Have you done any design work before? Do you think you’d be happy with any product you came up with?
If designing your own blog is going to stress you out to the max, it might not be worth the money you’ll save by creating the designs yourself.
However, it’s also important to remember that your blog is a massive learning experience for you. You’re going to make mistakes in the beginning (and shoot, in the middle and at the end, too!). You’re going to look back on your first designs and be a bit embarrassed. And that’s okay!
If you can be confident in your future abilities and give yourself the room to experiment, make mistakes, and learn, you’ll be so glad you did.
So give yourself the chance to evolve as a designer! Everyone has to start somewhere.
So you aren’t going to hire a designer. Now what?
You’ve made the decision not to hire a designer for your blog. Awesome! I’m so excited to see what you end up creating!
So, what are the next steps you need to take in order to design your blog?
Figure out what style you like
And not just what style you like, but what style fits with your brand. Who is your target market? What colors and graphics do they like?
Do some research on Pinterest and figure out what everyone else is doing. Then do something different. Make yourself stand out.
I recommend creating a secret board on Pinterest that you can fill with inspiration for your brand. Pin photos, graphics, typography… anything and everything that you love and feel like your audience will love.
Do some searches that you expect your audience will make, and save the most popular images. What stands out about them? Why do you think they’re so popular?
After you’ve done some pinning (but not too much! you’ve got to actually start creating at some point), see where the common threads are. If you find things that don’t fit with the rest, remove them. You want to end up with images that have a cohesive feel so you can easily create a brand based on them.
Decide on your colors, fonts, etc.
Once you’ve got a cohesive board, decide on your brand colors. What colors do you see consistently throughout the images you’ve pinned? Is it a lot of neutrals with a few small pops of orange? Or maybe it’s a lot of earthy colors, like dark greens and browns. Pick out a few colors for your brand based on these images!
I recommend choosing no more than 3, plus a neutral like a dark or light grey. Anything else can easily become too overwhelming as you’re starting out.
Next, choose one or two fonts (maximum! again, don’t overwhelm yourself) that you want to use for your branding. To save money, I recommend checking out free fonts on sites like Font Squirrel or Google Fonts, but you can also look for paid options on Creative Market.
Try to stick to one serif font with one sans-serif font, or one display font with one serif or sans-serif font. Having different styles (within a similar theme) will give you some variety while also keeping your designs simplified!
Make a text-based logo
If you’re just starting out with graphic design, I recommend making a text-based logo. Adding in illustrations can be time consuming and a little difficult to learn. (But if you’re feeling inspired, by all means, try!)
Interested in learning the basics of illustration in Adobe InDesign? Check out my course, the InDesign Adventure Guide, where I walk you through the steps & tools!
Take your two fonts that you’ve chosen and play around with some different sizes and combinations for your logo. I recommend coming up with at least 10 varieties before settling on one. Even if you go back to the first one you created, you’ll know you’ve really put your full effort into it!
Create templates for blog post images, worksheets, etc.
Now that you’ve got your colors, fonts, and logo all picked out, it’s time to make some templates! Think of all of the materials you’ll want for your blog: blog post header images, worksheets for content upgrades, buttons for your website, etc.
Make a list of everything you’ll need, then start slowly chipping away at all of those elements! Remember, you don’t have to do everything all at once — that can get very overwhelming! Do one project at a time as you feel inspired and motivated.
If you need some direction for blog post header images, check out this blog post.
Overwhelmed by worksheets? Here’s my tutorial on how to get started.
Oh, and don’t forget that you’ve already got one template ready to go — download your free ebook template below!
Save everything in an editable file
Finally, it’s time to save everything in an editable file. You’ll want to create an InDesign file of your brand identity, complete with fonts, brand colors, your logo, etc.
(If you sign up for my free resource library, I’ve got a template ready to go for you!)
You want to make sure these files are editable in case you ever want to chance anything. Maybe you decide on a different shade of yellow, or change from Lato to Open Sans. Don’t force yourself to re-create everything!
I also recommend setting up special folders for all of your templates. Check out my tutorial on how to organize all of your files here!
Whew! That was a lot. But you should be excited that you’re challenging yourself to learn a new skill and brand your own blog!
Hit me up with questions below, and check out the InDesign Adventure Guide if you’re feeling a bit overwhelmed!
Oh, and don’t forget your ebook template! It’s one less thing for you to create down the road.