Recently a blog consultation client asked me for an example of a blogger who invested in branding and blog design then took off fast because of it. I immediately thought of Andrea Zanetich at Fox In Flats because, even though she’s not one of our blog design clients, I love her blog and the blog design.
That’s unusual because I’m fussy and although there aren’t too many terrible website and blog designs these days thanks to the many WordPress templates available, those same templates mean most blogs look quite similar to each other.
But not Andrea’s blog. The Fox in Flats design is fun, fresh and foxy (of course!) so it easily stands out from a zillion other blogs.
So I was surprised to hear Andrea didn’t hire a professional blog designer. In fact she did most of the work herself and I loved that too because Andrea used her existing marketing smarts and contacts to her advantage.Check out Fox in Flats for hot tips by Andrea Zanetich on navigating motherhood in style
Still, while I would never urge a new business owner to invest too much in their web design I usually encourage business owners to spend some money on web marketing because I know investing in good web design is worth it for most businesses.
My reasoning is this:
- If you set up your website and blog right from the beginning it will help people find your business, make them want to buy from you and give you a good return on your investment. For example if your average sale for your services or products is around $1000 then you will have repaid a $3000 investment in web design once it’s helped you get your first three clients.
- Good web design stands the test of time and pays a return on your investment long-term. While print adverts will end up in the bin and TV or radio advertising only airs when you pay for it, a well designed website will continue to get you new business for years into the future. Many of the websites we set up are so successful they only need updating years into the future as screen sizes change get bigger or smaller due to increased use of mobile devices.
- All you need to launch a business is a great website, business cards and a smile so if those are the only costs and you believe in your business you should be confident that the money you invest in your website is well spent. If you’re not sure about that maybe there’s a reason and you’re not 100% confident your new business idea will succeed.
- Having a professional website will improve your confidence and your client’s confidence in you. Trust is priceless so if you can gain it by investing in your website you should.
- Thanks to WordPress it’s getting easier and easier for anyone to create a website. But that doesn’t mean anyone can create a website that gets traffic, gets people to stick around and encourages them to get in touch with you. If you have time you can learn how to create your own website or possibly even create a team of people who can do it for you cheaply. There will probably be a lot of frustrations and you may never get it right but, as we’ll learn from Andrea, you can set up a website if you have time, know how and energy.
Andrea was very clear about setting up a business which is her blog but for most freelancers, consultants and business owners their time may be better spent growing the business, getting an income and outsourcing the web design to someone who can do it faster and better.
But I know a lot of people don’t have much money to spend on their blog so I decided to interview Andrea for our Blogging Success Stories series and ask her some nosey questions to help you decide what’s best for you. To help you decide if you’ll design your blog yourself or if you’d prefer to pay someone to get it set up just how you want it leaving you to get on with other jobs like adding content, promoting your blog and, best of all, earning money.
So here are the nosey questions I asked Andrea:
Please introduce yourself first for those who might not know you yet
I’m Andrea: Sydney based time-poor-yet-aspiring-to-be-fabulous mother of two who’s made it my mission to discover style secrets and shortcuts that’ll have us looking awesome – fast – on my blog Fox in Flats.
While I juggle (and often struggle!) with finding balance between work, kids, and the usual fashion dilemmas, the one thing I know is that with a rockin’ outfit at least I’ll look like I’m doing it all with ease.
Tell us More About Fox in Flats
How long ago did you set up your blog?
I started working on the idea of the blog in September 2010, snatching hours while the kids napped, weekends and at night, and went live January 2011.
How much did you invest in your blog up front?
Actually, not that much. I was able to draw from my 15 years in marketing to do many of the things myself that most people would need to outsource.
For instance, it was important for me to research the insight behind the idea of Fox in Flats, and also to really understand my target consumer to a deeper level before I did anything. So I designed a quantitative research study which over 150 women completed. This type of study and analysis would have usually cost me around $30,ooo if I was working corporate and had outsourced to an agency! Major money saver.
The study itself was done with Survey Monkey and only cost about $50. The outcomes allowed me to design a very clear brand positioning, and provided years worth of content ideas.
How much did you invest in professional photos?
The head shot of me wearing bright green rollers with my son putting make-up on me was done by my husband in the kids playroom! He probably took 100 shots to get this one. I did invest in a fancy camera for about $2,000 though to make sure we had the best chance of getting a quality shot.
How much did you invest in logo and branding design?
As I’ve developed loads of logos for major brands in my career, I was very au fait with the concept of new brand development, and the development of imagery around it. As such I had a very clear brief that I gave to a graphic designer friend. He charged me ‘mates rates’ so it probably only cost a couple of hundred dollars. Ordinarily that level of design work (my buddy works for one of the top advertising agencies in Australia) would cost at least $5,000.
I registered the logo, which cost about $2,000 all up.
How much did you invest in blog design?
Would you believe I largely did it myself? I spent $80 on a theme, and less than $100 on a couple of books like WordPress for Dummies. I also borrowed a bunch of books from the library and scoured the Internet for tips and ideas. Picture me with a bunch of books laid out around my laptop, a sketch of what I wanted it to look like in the end, and me scratching my head. That’s what it looked like.
I’m in the process of giving the site a subtle make-over and this time it’s all outsourced – phew!
Is there anything else you spent money on when setting up your blog?
I invested in childcare! That may sound trite, but I employed babysitters regularly, and also had my sons in day care a couple of days a week so that I could commit to working on the idea. This has by far been the biggest financial investment.
How long did it take before you earned any money from your blog?
After a couple of months I made $3.64 from affiliate links – ha ha ha! I always knew that it would take time to make money as I had to build up an audience and a brand that was of value.
What kind of income has your blog created in the last 12 months and what are your expectations for the future?
The income has varied from month to month as some of it has come from concentrated project work like the e-magazine I produced for ECCO Shoes. Now however I am with a blogger agency The Remarkables and that’s freed up the commercial side from me and allowed me to concentrate on building the brand into other areas, and focusing on producing quality content.
I’m now making what I’d earn if I were in my old corporate job part-time, and I expect that to double this year all going to plan.
Overall was that investment in branding and design worth it?
ABSOLUTELY! Being crystal clear about what the Fox in Flats brand stands for, and how it is presented has been key to any success I have had.
Where can people find out more about you? Is there anything else you’d like to share?
Visit Fox in Flats for easy style tips, ideas and inspiration, and say “Hi!” on Facebook, Twitter and Instagram. I love a chat!
Thank you so much Andrea for taking the time to answer these questions and share your blogging tips with the Successful Blogging team. We really appreciate that.
Do visit Fox in Flats to see what Andrea gets up to and even learn how to navigate motherhood in style. I love the idea behind and her style dares so if you need a personal style update rather than a blog design update just start there.
Here’s what to do next…
Want to make real money blogging? You should join my free 5 day Start a Blogging Business Crash Course.
In it, you’ll learn the ins and outs of what it takes to build a blog capable of making $1,000+/month in just 12 months without quitting your full time job.
This is the exact formula I used to start my pest control blog and scale it to 7 figures.