How to Hire Design Help for Your Food Blog

How to Hire a Designer for Your Food Blog

There are some things in life that you can do yourself, like building a deck or changing your brakes. However, sometimes it’s best to come to terms with your frugal urges, realize that there are professionals that do these things for a reason, and that maybe you should consider hiring one.

One of these things is hiring a website designer. There are hundreds of thousands of free website templates out there for both WordPress and Blogger, in addition to millions of spiffy plugins that promise to increase speed and traffic to your site. You can even Google videos on transferring your blog from one platform to another. But just like many other occupations that you could do yourself, professionals exist for a reason. It’s not as easy as that Youtube video made it seem, and one innocent slip of the finger could bring your site crashing down.

Web surfers can tell within the first five seconds on a site if they are going to stay or not. You know exactly what I mean. We can all think of sites that have had us reaching for the big “X” before it was even finished loading. Building a site that makes a reader feel invited, and want to explore a little more, is an art. There is a strategy to learning where to place the things that make a new reader click more, and come back again. Even though your recipes may be stellar, if your site looks like it came out of the Geocities era, your readers may not stick around. I hate to judge a book by its cover, but let’s get real people. Your site is being judged by readers and future advertising partners by the overall look and feel of it constantly.

Before you go slinging dozens of emails to every web designer that comes up on a quick Google search, spend a little time asking yourself what your expectations are. Look at the top sites you visit, figure out what draws you in about them, and then try to figure out your variation of whatever that thing is. Look at colors (Pinterest is a great place to search for color boards). Figure out what sort of personality you and your brand are looking to showcase to the world. Are you a stay at home mom, juggling three kids, and learning to laugh everything off one pound at a time? Maybe you want something a bit more whimsical. Are you a young professional who loves to throw classy cocktail parties? A neon pink site with bubbles and daises everywhere probably won’t express this to your readers. The point is, consider not just what you find attractive, but what works for the brand you are trying to sell the world. Outline your ideas and expectations, then start asking around for a reliable designer.

When looking for a designer, don’t be afraid to shop around. Get a few recommendations, check out their work, email them and talk to them. Please, though, if you get a quote that you don’t consider reasonable, don’t go posting it all over Facebook or Twitter. Everyone has their rates for a reason. Just like you shouldn’t give away your photography or recipes for free to magazines, you need to keep in mind the education, equipment and experience an individual has in their field before posting their quote out there for the world to criticize. If you don’t think the designer is worth their quote, then simply don’t go with them, but be respectful.

However, know that you’re getting what you pay for. If you go with the lowest bid, it’s just that. This is no different than putting a new roof on your house. Sure, there’s always someone willing to work for a little less, but what is the overall quality going to be? Will it hold up over time? Does it give you room to grow? Does it convey the atmosphere you want it to? If your blog is something you hold dearly and want to see grow in the future, maybe saving up a little more for a professional web design is something you need to work into the budget. I’m not telling you to forgo anyone’s college education for a spiffy website, but consider the design of your site as an investment in its future.

Once you have chosen a designer, make sure there’s a contract. Sure, your designer may be a friend and have a great reputation, but a contract not only covers you both legally, it also clearly defines the work and expectations of both sides. One of the things that I like to make sure is included in this, is that the web designer is not just plopping you from one platform to another without a little help during the adjustment time. Something as little as 30 days of support while you get a feel for how your new design works or any glitches you may run into after they are done. Most of all, don’t be intimidated by who you hire. You should feel comfortable speaking with them and letting them know if you are unhappy with anything long before reveal day comes.  Keep in mind that most designers are average people just like you, who enjoy what they do. Their overall goal is to give you a product you love and will brag about to your friends. Nothing beats a good reputation.

Check out this post from Kim at Cravings of  a Lunatic for tips on hiring a web designer, and tips from me about how to prepare yourself for the experience. Do research, and write out your expectations – on real paper! This helps you visualize your design ideas much better then any computer screen will. Consider what the benefits are to upgrading your site. Breathe, and have a cup of tea over it. Have a support group of honest friends who are willing to give you some feedback on what your site needs, and what elements that it should consider getting rid of. Then, start the process. Take these tips, and spend a little time thinking about it. Hiring a web designer is something worth serious consideration, and in the long run, will serve your site much better than trying to do it yourself using a bunch of YouTube videos.

7 comments

  1. The biggest problem for me in hiring a designer is that I know what I don’t want and I suspect that’s fairly common so for me the more conversation I had prior to starting really paid off.

    I read Kim’s post and taking your time is really important, otherwise you’ll be buying more than one design and still not happy.

    • kita 5 years ago

      I think knowing what you don’t want is actually a great thing. It’s a huge help for me to hear exactly what clients don’t like. Often it can feel like you are pitching spaghetti at a wall to see if it sticks because the client is too afraid to say “I don’t like this” instead of “oh, whatever you think would work”. Making a list of things you don’t like on sites, or don’t want on yours is just as important as knowing what you do want and is still a great place to start. :)

  2. Great article and that’s coming from someone who does this for a living. Professionally…as in during regular work hours, not after work when I can get to it….or even better not after school if I don’t have too much homework!

    I have far too often played Ms. Fixit. My rates are too high (because this is my REAL job!) so they find someone cheaper and then…when things don’t work out quite so well…they come to me to fix it after they’ve spent their budget.

    I’m sure there are other professions but not sure there are any where the real knowledge it takes requires more than being a graphic designer or having the ability to setup WordPress or even worse…knowing how to build a Flash site. I could not have said it better. Thanks!

    • kita 5 years ago

      Playing fixit can be a pain! But I often try to consider it as an investment in future work. Glad you liked the post :)

  3. Kim Bee 4 years ago

    For some reason I just noticed this post today. Apparently my powers of observation are weak. I am so glad Kita wrote this. She was such a huge help when I decided to take the first step. She is patient, kind, talented and hilariously witty. That combination works beautifully when working with someone. You are going to get to know each other well during a redesign and the better your relationship is the better your blog will turn out. The designer needs to know what you like, don’t like, and be dialed in to your vision. It’s worth the money to hire out. Kita was a lifesaver for me and I look forward to working with her again as my site changes and grows.

  4. Hi Kita! I just found this article in Google. I was searching for “reasons why a blogger should hire a web designer”. The hubs doesn’t think it’s necessary, and I’m trying to tell him it’s going to be a waste of my time and energy to learn everything myself. Sure, I can do a few theme changes in WordPress here and there, but I won’t be able to create a brand and ensure proper seo and security AND grow to my full potential otherwise. When I get this years medical bills paid off, with hopefully no more coming in the future – I’m all over it. I’ve got a year to prove to him that it’s necessary. ;) Your article will help! Thanks!!

  5. Kris Jolls 3 years ago

    I’m a web designer setting up a recipe/blog website for someone. I like this article. I firmly believe WordPress in the hands of a designer will set you apart, establish a brand/identity and keep eyes on your page longer and in the end convert more, which if you get down to the point is why you blog.
    Nice read thanks.