Blog Tips

What You Need to Know Before You Hire a Blog Designer

By Jun 4, 2012October 28th, 201435 Comments

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Are you ready to take the leap into the world of blog design? When it comes to how your site looks, you have plenty of options ranging from tackling the changes yourself to hiring a professional.

If you fall into the latter category, then we want to give you the tips you need for how to be successful with a blog designer. Learn what you need to know so that when the project is finished, you walk away one very satisfied customer.

Learn what questions to ask before you hire a blog designer and what questions your designer is going to ask you. This will help you be prepared to design a new blog or rebrand an old blog.

Secrets to Working Successfully with a Blog Designer

Create a Pinterest Board

Before you pick up the phone or send off an email, be sure you have your design ideas together. A great way to consolidate your thoughts is to create a Pinterest board. This allows your blog designer to understand what you like visually.

If we were to create a Pinterest board for The SITS Girls, it might start out looking something like this:

the sits girls

The SITS Girls’ Think Pink Pinterest Board

Over time, we could add on with cool fonts that we love, attention grabbing blog headers, creative blog footers, and so much more.

Know What You Want Your Blog To Do

Give some thought as to the functionality of your website. Do you want your readers to be able to search your content with a simple search box?

Or can you offer something more?

If you are a food blogger, you might want to give some thought to recipe search.

Or maybe you have a product you’re selling on Etsy. Can you highlight your store using something more than simply an Etsy widget in your sidebar? Being able to articulate what you want your site TO DO is critical. Don’t worry about whether you know the name of a particular plugin. Your blog designer can research a solution for you.

Ask the Right Questions

Never apologize for questions that you might have. It’s far and away better to get everything answered up front, than it is to remain silent and hope for the best.

Here are some questions to consider:

  • What is your designer’s background? Do they have a degree in art/programming, or are they self taught? How long have they been doing this?
  • Do they do their own illustration or will they be using Clipart?
  • Will you own any and all art created, or will there be limited licensing?
  • Can they provide references to past clients?
  • What is their turnaround time?
  • Do they ask for a deposit? Will you be charged an hourly rate for any changes or edits?

Understand What You Are Paying For & Get It in Writing

As the saying goes, you get what you pay for. And this is certainly true when it comes to blog design. If you are paying a premium price for a blog design {premium being over $500}, then be sure you understand what type of premium service you’ll be receiving. Having a conversation regarding those details can certainly begin on the phone, but ultimately, it needs to conclude in writing. If the information is not in email, or better yet, a contract, then it doesn’t exist. It is vital that you outline everything that will be included in your design and the timeline to completion.

Additional costs you’ll want to make sure you discuss upfront include:

  • Fees for stock art
  • Whether the cost to migrate from Blogger to WordPress is included
  • Installation: While a designer may be a whiz are creating ultra cool graphics, will you also need a programmer to install the design on your site?

you get what you pay for

Push for a Premium WordPress Theme

While it may sound super cool to utilize a theme that someone you hire developed “just for you”, understand the long term ramifications of keeping that theme up to date. In other words, if you decide you want your blog on the WordPress, your best bet is to go with a premium theme that is kept up-to-date with the latest WordPress version. Themes that are pros at doing this include Genesis and Thesis. On the other hand, if someone writes their own theme, it may be current when your new site launches, but six months from now, you’ll want to make sure you can rely that your blog will still be working.

So tell us, what questions do you have when it comes to working with a blog designer?

Special thanks to Cynthia from NW Designs for this post! She let me pick her brain on what matters most when it comes to a successful relationship with a blog designer.

About Francesca

Francesca has an extensive background in content marketing, public relations, and social outreach. She oversees all Operations at Sway Group, including our robust metrics capabilities. Prior to joining the online world, Francesca oversaw viticulture and oenology at various wineries in both California and Italy, and managed regulatory affairs and facility approvals at the biotech company, Genentech. Francesca has been featured on CBS Sacramento and Food Blogger Pro’s podcast. She has also hosted an AMA webinar and spoken at Social Media World.


  • Jackie says:

    Having hired a “pro” to REdesign my blog for $500 (I already had a premium WP theme and the basics in place), I would add an important question to the list; “How much follow up support can I expect for the fee that I am paying?” Also, check their portfolio to see if you notice any patterns that may affect your site, like really long load times. And YES, get a detailed, written list of exactly what you are paying for and their schedule of availability/response time to errors & questions during the process.

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  • Gabbie Arias says:

    I love the part about asking questions .I always tell my fans on fb that they should always ask their designer questions that it helps you the client and Me the designer great article !

  • Thank you Thank you Thank you!!! All questions I have been wondering about. Still trying to figure out what I want my blog to ‘do’…but now I will be armed and ready when it is time to hire a designer!

  • Barbara says:

    As a web designer, I agree with all these tips. I especially like the tip of asking questions. I think a lot of people are afraid they will look stupid for asking questions, but I swear, most of us designers are really nice!

  • These are fantastic tips. I wanted to work with a friend on a new blog design, but I quickly realized that she really didn’t understand the difference between a site for a blogger and a site for a business. She kept wanting me to change my site to look more like a business and didn’t understand how confusing that would be for people coming to my site to read my blog.

    I will definitely be looking for a designer who is experienced in working with bloggers. I love using premium themes; once I tried one, I never went back. WAIT! I went back once for about 5 minutes. It was awful. It’s worth a small investment.

    Thanks for these great tips.


  • Francesca says:

    You’re a brave girl! Look at you ready to learn web design. That’s great.

    Our go to site to understand code is http://www.w3schools.com/. They have a tutorial for practically everything under the sun.

    Good luck!

  • Tanya says:

    These are great tips, I’ve contemplated getting a blog designer for awhile, just not happy with the free WordPress theme I have now. I may have to just go with genesis or thesis though,that way I know they are supported. I had my eye on a couple genesis themes but I know lots of people use them. any good sites for learning web design or good free WordPress themes? I don’t want anything too fancy but definitely something more feminine than I have now. I’m married with 3 sons, at least my blog can be girly!

  • Kari says:

    Great post! I’m wanting to redesign my blog and move it to self-hosted WordPress but I need LOTS of help and hand-holding;o) I know nothing about the technical side of blogging so I’m wanting a designer who will really help me through the entire process and be very accessible and patient with all my questions (and within my budget). I’ve been looking for someone but really haven’t had a lot of luck. Do you know of a resource list of reputable blog designers?

  • Jen says:

    Great information here! Pinterest is a wonderful tool to help your designer see your personal style and the look you’d like for your design. Great tip!

  • I’m so overwhelmed by this process that I don’t know where to start. Every time I start thinking about it, I overwhelm myself with details and freak myself out. My current design was done by my friend out of the goodness of his heart, but he becomes less and less available and I have to do something to rebrand myself. This design isn’t exactly me…but I’m really afraid of how much it’ll cost me. I’m going to start by creating a Pinterest board, but I have no idea where to look for designers…I keep finding the tech looking designers.

  • Raquel says:

    Thank you for all the suggestions. As a newbie it is so overwhelming with all of the features of a blog, plug-ins, etc. I would love to hire a blog designer some day in the future.

  • Thank you so much for all the tips. I had a great experience with the gal who took what I had and notched it up. She ‘listened’ well and heard me. I feel very fortunate.

  • Tanya says:

    I wish I would of seen this two weeks ago. I just hired a designer and put a 5o% down payment. She had a lot of positive feedback and I liked what i saw on her portfolio. The only thing is it was around $100. That’s all I could afford. Hopefully everything will work out. I didn’t know there was so much to think about!

  • Laura says:

    I was looking for a cheap way to hire a designer. I found a new designer on etsy who had done some nice blogs. But before she finished my blog, she literally disappeared. Her etsy shop disappeared and her email stopped working. I hope no tragedy was involved since she the end was so abrupt. Needless to say I am more cautious now as I look for someone to finish was she started. Thanks for the tips.

  • Oh this is making my head spin! I so want to hire a designer, but I have a feeling it’s not in the budget! 🙂

  • Do you know anything about Headway? I’ve heard that is also a good theme, but I wonder which is better. I run into the name “thesis” almost everywhere.

    • Francesca says:

      We had SITS on Headway for some time, but ultimately moved away from it. We were finding that it wasn’t keeping current with the latest WordPress updates.

  • krystle says:

    Thank you! This is so useful!! I know I want a blog designer eventually but my blog is just a baby right now.

  • Elizabeth says:

    I recommend you look at their work as well to make sure you and the designer mesh on the artistic level. Meaning if you are all about the bling, girly, frou-frou type design that your designer doesn’t only do traditional, simple type of design. Looking at their work will give you an idea of what style of design the designer usually does.

  • Amber says:

    I can’t tell you how true this is! I design blogs and if every client did this it would be so much easier!

  • You have given me a lot to think about.

  • Having been through the redesign process last year, I can tell everyone that this is excellent advice! My process went smoothly because my vendor was awesome, but this would have been so helpful! I am bookmarking it for future reference. 🙂

  • JazieStyle says:

    Great tips! I just started a new blog and got the basics down pack (header, background) myself. However, I will be looking for a professional blog designer in the near future. My one question is: When looking for a designer should you choose someone who has designed blogs within your niche or someone who has designed other types of blogs?

    • Francesca says:

      Great question. When it comes to choosing the “right” designer for you, I think it boils down to style over whether they are working in your niche.

      Ultimately, you want someone who can deliver the look you have envisioned. A good designer should be able to do this regardless of whether they are outside of your niche. 🙂

  • ronnie says:

    great post!