As a blog designer, and also someone who loves to change up my own personal blog an awful lot, I have come to realize that there are a ton of mistakes you can make when purchasing your very own blog template/custom design from a graphic designer. Here are the top 10 things to be aware of + look out for :
Ordering the wrong platform for your blog.
Let's face it. As much as we would like to say we read every single detail on everything we purchase (even the fine print), most of us don't. Be sure when buying a blog design you READ CAREFULLY or you might end up with a Wordpress Theme when you really need a Blogger Template. Don't understand the difference? This might help.
Not backing up your template/sidebar before installation.
Most designers include this in their shop policies - to backup your template! I can't stress this enough. Not only should you backup your template, but you should also save all of the code/photos you have on your sidebar. Why? Well, mostly because sites like Google Blogger can be kind of wacky and have made a lot of changes recently. One being that when a designer installs your new template, it no longer gives them the option of "save all widgets?". Therefore, when the new template is uploaded, you might be left wondering what was even on your sidebar. It's precautionary ... and always necessary.
Purchasing a Design and THEN asking for specific changes.
From a designer's point of view, let me just say that this is a pet peeve of many of ours. Please, if you are shopping around for a new blog design and find something you like but want to change colors, fonts, etc, PLEASE convo or contact the designer first with those questions. It will save you a lot of time and trouble rather than spending your money and then finding out that the changes are not possible for certain templates. And more than likely, the purchase listing description probably told you as much. In the fine print, nonetheless. :)
Paying for a premade template, and yet, ordering a custom design in your mind.
Yikes. Premades and Customs have a huge price difference for a reason! Premade designs range anywhere from $20-$50 depending on the designer/amenities, and custom designs can go as high as the $1000 range with everything included. It would be a huge mistake to order a premade template, and instead of getting what you pay for, thinking that you are going to ask for all of these custom changes and add ons. Most designers charge based on creativity and TIME the work takes. Remember this and purchase your design accordingly.
Not letting your designer finish with installation before emailing with questions and changes.
As a designer, one of the most stressful times of creating a design for someone is the installation. It is the time when you must link up all buttons, make sure everything is fitting beautifully and that the overall flow of the theme is working for that individual and all of their past blog posts. It is also the time when the client is the most anxious to see the finish product. We get that, we really do. However, several times in the past I have experienced what I like to call - Premature Meltdown Mode. This is when a client knows you are installing a design, visits their blog, sees possibly a halfway done installation or maybe even tweaking that some designers need to make in order to link things up correctly, and starts shooting 15 emails per minute asking why "this looks like that" and "can we move that over" or "can we change that to red instead of blue". It is a crazy and rather exhausting time for the designer who is installing in their own little way. Out of courtesy and respect for your designer, try to remember to wait until you are contacted and installation is COMPLETED before you take a look at your blog. Then and only then, address the changes needed if you have any. Your designer will thank you, I promise!
Mixing up social media URLs with profile names.
Sending in your information to a designer is crucial for the success of your new blog design. When asked for social media URLs to link buttons, what they mean is - the actual http:// address that comes up in the search box when on your personal page. Sending profile names, full names, or anything other than those exact URLs will prolong your design process or possibly even halt it temporarily.
Asking if they can change their templates to look like another designers.
Ouch. This one is always pretty painful. Take it from me, no designer wants to open up a new conversation with a client like this: - "Hi. I really want a new blog design, and I love your prices, they are so reasonable, but I don't really see a design that I like. However, I was in this other store/on this other site and I saw a template that I just LOVE! Can you recreate this for me!?" ... This is a HUGE no no. Every designer will tell you - the number one reason why we got into blog design is because we have a creative and artistic spirit and we feel as though our work is lovely in all ways. The last thing we want to hear is that you want us to give you a design by someone else. The best thing to do in this situation is to suck it up and pay more for the other designer's template. No one likes a copycat.
Picking out a sample template with a 1 or 2 word title and wanting to add your 9 word title.
Be aware of things like this when looking at samples. A one word title on a sample is definitely not going to look the same as a 9-10 word title. Don't be surprised when your selfie photo in the bathroom with your old cell phone isn't as attractive as the professional "about me" photo you saw in the sample. The best thing you can do is try to envision what your photos, title, etc. will look like on that sample before you purchase. And if a sample has no tagline, adding one in could either be a piece of cake, or it could ruin the entire look. Choose wisely.
Spilling the beans about a "little help" from the designer to all of your friends.
I'm sure all designers can vouch for this. We've all had it happen at some time or another. You get that one client that is incredibly sweet, and is trying to fix up her blog about adopting her third child from China while her husband battles cancer. You know, that one. So you offer installation for free (just this once, right!?) because, well, ... we can. And then, they let all of their friends know that you threw in installation for free and the next thing you know, every client for the next three months says - "my friend Sally said you did hers for free." Sheesh. I guess some of the blame DOES have to be on us for even offering, but spreading the word too much might make that designer very hesitant to show little acts of kindness like that to any other clients ever again. If you have a designer that helps you out a little, great! But they also are trying to provide for their family, so keep that in mind when you make your referrals.
Choosing a designer for a custom blog design when their style and your vision are completely different.
One of the first things I tell a client on my design shop is to review my portfolio and to make sure that my overall design style is compatible with their blog theme vision. There is nothing worse than having a certain style as a designer, let's say - a modern bohemian chic style and then getting a client that would like family scrapbook type blog design. These are two very different styles. Remember that there are SO MANY different designers out there and you can find what you are looking for if you look hard enough. Do not settle for someone who does not typically create templates in your style or you might come out of the deal frustrated and unsatisfied.