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How to Invest in Your Blog Design Beauty vs Budget
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Beauty vs Budget: How to Invest in Your Blog Design

How to Invest in Your Blog Design Beauty vs Budget

When you are start considering designing or redesigning of your blog you can be faced with a lot of questions. One of the first questions you should ask is how much should you invest in the blog design.

[Tweet “Question #1 when considering your blog design: how much should you invest?”]

You have four main options for choosing your design a free WordPress theme, a premium WordPress theme, a customized premium WordPress theme, or a customized WordPress design. We will be exploring the pros and cons of each of these to help you decide how much your site is worth to you and how your investment will benefit you.

perfect home
By mccheek

Free WordPress Themes

Just like a mobile home a free theme will have predesigned colors and style and it may not match you and your style. Plus hundreds of the exact same blogs are out there due to the theme being pre-constructed. But just like a mobile home you can live in it for a time until you run out of room and you are tired of that one cupboard that just won’t stay closed. Especially since it was offered to you free from a relative.


  • Free
  • A free theme is better than a default theme
  • You can find lots of free themes to choose from
  • Even my favorite theme provider offers free themes. (MyThemeShop (Affiliate Link))


  • Doesn’t really represent you and your brand
  • You will not have as many options for customization
  • Attempting to customize the theme yourself it may just not turn out right
  • Your images and style may end up feeling mismatched and disjointed
  • You may see other bloggers using the same theme
  • The theme may not fit your needs exactly (ei. menus don’t fit, colors don’t match, etc)
  • You can feel overwhelmed sifting through all the themes out there

Conclusion: A Free Theme doesn’t represent you and your brand but you can live with it.

Gt Yarmouth Beach 18-10-2008 16-21-43
ByMartin Pettitt

Premium WordPress Themes

Just like a manufactured home you can find a premium theme that is very inexpensive and you can choose the siding, the carpet and counter tops, but once you get it into the mobile home court you realize your home looks just like some of the neighbors homes. But you at least you have a home that has new appliances and keeps you dry. This may work for a time until you realize that you are tired of your friends getting lost every time they try and find your house and it becomes time to upgrade your fridge.


  • Very Low Cost
  • You will find more features than a free theme
  • Premium themes tend to have a more professional look
  • You will have more options for customization


  • Doesn’t represent you and your brand
  • You still may have troubles with customizing the theme beyond the basics
  • Attempting to customize the theme yourself may make it lose it’s professionalism
  • You may still run into other’s using the same theme
  • You can still feel limited by the options

Conclusion: A Premium Theme doesn’t represent you and your brand but it functions.

MyThemeShop 300x250

My favorite company to purchase themes from is MyThemeShop (Affiliate Link). I am affiliated with them, but that is only because I love them. There themes are amazing and the control panels for their themes are easy to work with and well made.

Suburban Homes
By LancerE

Customized Premium Wordpress Theme

Just like a modern stick built home you can have a customized theme built for you.  A builder will give you multiple floor plans to choose from to create your new home. Then you get to pick the flooring, the wall color, the counter tops and the appliances. You get to have a home that really showcases your style and gives you some special functions you have been really wanting.

Even though you live in a house that may be the same floor plan as your neighbors your friends will still know which house is your house. Plus now you will not be embarrassed to invite your boss over for dinner.


  • Low Cost
  • No one else will have the exact same design
  • Represents you and your brand
  • Professional customization makes your brand more recognizable
  • A Professional does the customization so your under less stress
  • Brands and readers can see that you have invested in your blog or site
  • Professional help cleaning up your layout and making it easier for your readers to navigate
  • You will have more options and functions that a professional can install
  • Sponsors will see you have invested in your blog and they will want to invest in you


  • More of an investment
  • You may have to wait on a waiting list for your design
  • Still may feel cookie cutter as you see the same layouts at other sites
  • May take some time to find a professional that you feel matches you and your style

Conclusion: A Customized Theme starts building brand recognition and makes your site more professional.

Custom Built Home at West Shores - Omaha, Nebraska
By Omaha Homes For Sale

Custom WordPress Design

Just like a custom built home you can invest in a Custom Design. Your imagination is the limit. You can have any flooring, walling, appliance, and more that you could possibly want. You can change the floor plan to fit better with your needs and wants. You could even have a swimming pool built into your dinning room for swim-dining!

You can create a place that is all about you and your style. Your friends will know your home instantly even on the first visit and you will be inviting you boss over for monthly dinners just so you can show off your beautiful home and brag.


  • The Design is all yours, you will not see anyone with the same design or layout
  • It is obvious you are invested in your blog or site, so users and brands will invest in you
  • You will find you will have unlimited customization and options
  • Everything coordinates and functions just as you wish


  • Large investment
  • Have to do some homework to find the right designer that fits your style
  • Takes some time to create

Conclusion: A Complete Custom Design represents you with a unique layout and images and functioning.

I hope this gave you some things to consider as you are choosing the level of investment you want to make into your blog.


Android Family Giveaways slide

GelaSkins – Vibrant Protection for your Android

GelaSkins offered us something special and I’m going to share it with you! We are receiving a GelaSkin to review and to give away. I was first attracted by Gelaskins because of the beautiful artwork that they offer for amazing sleek skins that are easy to apply and come off clean. I then read more …

7 Elements of a Blog Blogging

How Much is Too Much? Let’s talk sidebars

A chronic disease of that many bloggers have caught is cluttered-sidebar-itis. Have you caught the disease? Let’s talk about how much is too much in your sidebar and how to know what you should add and what you shouldn’t. Even taking a look at my sidebar I realize I need to do some spring cleaning.


The best way to start is to look at your sidebar and ask yourself:

  1. How does this benefit me, my blog, or my readers?
  2. Could I put this somewhere else on my blog?
  3. Does this blend with my blog design or does it distract?

5 things you should have in your sidebar

  1. Social Media – You need people to know how to connect with you! I would put this in your #1 spot on your sidebar. Don’t know how learn, it’s really easy.
  2. Call to Action – Call to action is a great place for one specific goal you have your blog. Are you wanting more Facebook Followers? Add a Facebook widget. Looking to sell your eBook show it off in your sidebar. The key to this section though is to only have one call to action.
  3. Search – If your readers can’t find what they are looking for in a few seconds you are going to loose them. Make it easy and include a search on your sidebar. Make sure this is close to the top also, no one is going to search for a search box.
  4. Newsletter Sign Up – Don’t have a newsletter, maybe it’s time to consider one. That’s on my to do list for this summer. Learn more about how to use a newsletter.
  5. Paying Ads – The keyword here is paying. I know you love your bloggy friends, but this is valuable space! Don’t overdo your ads. Make sure you are charging enough for your space that you don’t look like your selling out to your readers. I would limit your ads to about 4-6 ads.

5 things to consider putting in your sidebar

  1. About You – Share a little something about you or your blog. Make it short, if you want to say a lot link it to your about page. Make it interesting, this would be a good place to use your tagline. You created it to catch new readers, use it here to take
  2. Featured and/or Popular Articles – If you want both on your sidebar make sure you use a tabbed widget so that it doesn’t fill your whole sidebar.
  3. Categories or Tags – Same above you should have one or the other not both in your sidebar.
  4. About Video – This is the newest and coolest thing to do. Instead of an about you section have an about video for your site.
  5. Polls – Polls are great way of interacting with your readers, learning more about your visitors, and giving your readers something to look for updates on.

5 things to delete from your sidebar

  1. Blog Roll – I know you love your friends and have some great blog finds, but really the best place to share these is on their own page.
  2. Badges or Community Buttons – You are using up valuable space to give these communities free advertising. Create a page about the places you have memberships and awards you have received.
  3. Too Many Ads
  4. Ugly Widgets –  Just because your favorite website offers the option for you to add their widget it may not be the best to do it. Unless you are getting something from the widget and you have the option to make it look good and look seamless just don’t add it.
  5. Your WordPress Login – Unless you have an open sign up for your WordPress there is no reason for you to have the login in your sidebar. It’s really easy to bookmark your login page and take out this section no one but you uses.
Okay now it’s time for me to get busy and clean up my sidebar. I hope you will join me and do a little spring cleaning!
What do you have in your sidebar? What is a must keep and what is a must go?
7 Elements of a Blog Blogging

How Important is Color on Your Website?

Colors are so important in your website design. Color can make all the difference. Colors can change the tone of your site, emotional effect your readers, and colors can make your site unique and stand out!

Find your colors!

When looking at color for your site you should think about creating a color palette. In design and branding you always want to try to make sure you are using only 3-5 main colors. When you start getting over 5 colors things start to become too busy. You also want to make sure that at least one or two of your colors are neutral.

Now if you want to create your own unique palette but don’t know where to start, look around you. Look at some of your favorite clothes, look through your favorite magazines, or look at some of your favorite websites. You may be surprised where you can find inspiration.

If you hire a designer to create your layout make sure to ask for the hex codes for the colors in your site.

If you do not have the colors that are used on your site you can use some different tools to find the colors. If you have a header that has all your colors or take a screen shot of your site ( fullscreen). You can visit PhotoCopa and find your color palette by uploading these images to this great tool.

Use your colors!

Use your colors in everything you possibly can. Change the colors on your google friends widget,  on your blogfrog community, and if their is an option of editing on an item you are putting on your site use it.

Make sure all your buttons match your palette. Use these colors on your twitter page, facebook page and other external social sites. As an example, when your readers go to  your twitter page if you are using the same colors they are going to instantly know this is you! This is where they want to be!


My personal favorite tool is Colour Lovers. This is a great community. You can create your own palettes or you can use pre-made palettes. If you have a color that you know you want to use, you can search for a palette with that color. Another great thing is that people can vote for color palettes, so you are able to see what palettes are popular.

Just while writing this post I found these five great color palettes:





Colors by COLOURlovers

More Resources

Are you ready to go find new colors for your site or for your next design? Trying to find the colors on your current site? Just love color? Here are some great resources:

Color Combos
Color Scheme Designer
Color Schemer

I could keep going but you can see a comprehensive list at Aviva Directory.

[box type=”info” style=”rounded” border=”full”]Originally posted on my blog at Uniquehorn Designs, but that blog will be closing and moving to PepperScraps.[/box]

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