Advice: How to give your blog a fresh new look

creativity quote_maya angelou

 

Recently, Things I’m Thinking got a whole new look, and I’m so happy that I did it.

I’m also so happy that I wasn’t the one who literally did it.

I’m a creative, but what I do with words doesn’t exactly translate into the visual arts. No matter how much Joanna Gaines I watch, I will always be a fan, not an apprentice.

So, I decided to look for a freelance web designer to help me out. I think part of my receptivity to this idea is the fact that I do freelancing myself, so the idea of employing a freelancer was not all that fear-inducing. (Freelancers are just like you and me!) I also made it a point to try and work with someone who I knew or who came as a reference from someone I know, which made me a lot more comfortable putting my blog-child in the hands of someone else for an afternoon.

I completely lucked out and, after a few “Hey, do you know anyone who could complement my inability to design? I’ll pay!” texts, I managed to connect with an amazing designer who came recommended to me from an old friend from high school. BUT, knowing that not everyone associates with other creatives/has a network that could readily supply a design guru, I also strongly recommend Upwork. It’s a super secure platform that has lots of measures in place to protect freelancers and those who hire them, and is a great first stop if you’re trying to curate talent. (I know, because I freelance through that site.)

Now, once I accepted that I was going to outsource this task, I also knew I needed to be able to effectively communicate what it was that I was trying to do. Working on a visual identity can be super tricky because it’s hard to talk someone through how you want something to look.

So I created a brief.

As a marketer who’s been fortunate enough to work on some of the largest/most recognizable brands in the world, this step came naturally to me. Anytime you work on visual creative, of course you need a brief! So, a brief I made.

The goal of a brief is to set the scope of what it is you’re trying to accomplish, so that the people you’re working with are clear on what you need for them to do. It helps people understand your tone, brand assets, color schematic, and other important cues so they can understand the guidelines in which they have to ideate. I know it can be super overwhelming to start something like this from scratch, so I wanted to share with you all the template I created to brief for this site. It worked really, really well for me, and I completely believe that it will do the same for you!

Here’s what you’re gonna get:

 

Blog Design Brief

A super easy-to-populate PowerPoint template that you can use to create a simple and impactful design brief for your blog. I include call-outs on what to include where, visual examples, and even some of the design slides I used for my own brief! (Make sure you check your email! You’ll receive instructions to download the template straight to your inbox.)

$10.00

*And, nope! You don’t need a PayPal to download. Just click “Create Account” and then, once you fill in the payment fields, don’t check the box to create a new account 😉

 

A Couple Notes to Make About Process

  • By definition, freelancers get paid. So, what’s a good price for something like this? It’s entirely up to you. Freelancers generally work within one of two payment models (which are set by the client, a.k.a. YOU). You can either offer a fixed-price model – which means that, regardless of how long the project takes, you’ll agree to pay a certain amount for it. Or, you can offer a rate model – which means that you pay by the hour. Regardless of the kind of payment model you choose to use, if you’re using a site like WordPress (that transfers all of your content automatically into a new layout theme), you should definitely be able to find someone to help you for $50-$100. I know that, for some people, that can sound like a lot, but if design is not your thing, I say it’s totally worth it. My site traffic has already increased substantially since I updated my page, and if you’re monetizing your site in other ways, you can totally consider this a cost of doing business. And remember: one good site refresh will last you A WHILE. It’s not like you’re going to need a redesign every six months.
  • If you’re working on WordPress, I recommend the following: make your freelancer a site administrator and ask them to work on the update during a low-traffic time for your blog. Unfortunately, WordPress hasn’t exactly perfected a collaborative process for these kinds of things, so your freelancer will need to publish the new design in order for you to see it (and, thus, determine if you like it). That’s why it’s great to do this during a time when your site doesn’t get a ton of traffic, and even a few days after you’ve recently posted. You’ll want to be available while your freelancer is working as well, so you can quickly check out your site as s/he publishes updates and guide in real-time any edits you’d like him/her to make. Honestly, I thought this part was so fun. And it only took me and my freelancer an hour or so before she’d nailed it! **Note, once your freelancer finishes, make sure you revoke, or at least downgrade, his/her access to your site
  • When you’re briefing a freelancer, you have a few options. A lot of briefings in the real world happen face to face, but it’s totally not mandatory (my freelancer was in Portland and I’m in NYC, so face to face would have been generally impossible). When you can’t do in-person, the phone is a great alternative, or even email. The great thing about the template I’m offering here is that it’s super thorough yet very simple, so people should have a very clear idea of what you’re looking to accomplish without you having to invest a ton of time in trying to explain it. And, so you don’t have to exhaust that scroll finger, I’ve included access again below!

 

Blog Design Brief

A super easy-to-populate PowerPoint template that you can use to create a simple and impactful design brief for your blog. I include call-outs on what to include where, visual examples, and even some of the design slides I used for my own brief! (Make sure you check your email! You’ll receive instructions to download the template straight to your inbox.)

$10.00


 

Good luck on all your incredible blogging! I’m rooting for you ❤

Xo Charlene

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