Getting a Custom Look Without Breaking the Bank

January 26, 2011 Posted by Jacob

When you look at John Chow, Shoemoney, Problogger, Copyblogger, Tyler Cruz and any of those other large bloggers, what is one of the first things you notice about them? They have created a brand around them that is so complete, people know what it is before they even have to start reading the content.

Now, why is that?

Could it be that they have a great looking logo? Could it be that they have a completely custom looking design that probably cost a lot of money? Could it be that their designer went so basic as to focus on what the words looked like because of how important content is?

If you answered yes to any of those questions, you’re correct. These bloggers have spent a lot of time and money building these brands. And, for many people who are just starting, it’s intimidating to imagine how expensive it can be to really create that brand. And because of this intimidation factor, many argue that it really isn’t all that important.

You’d be wrong.

Why You Need a Custom Look

Above, I mentioned the word “brand.” This is, singlehandedly, the reason why you want and need a custom look to your blog. And let me say that a custom look is not just a logo and it’s not just a blog design. It’s both.

To better understand why you need it, it’s important to appreciate what a brand is. According to the Merriam-Webster Dictionary, a brand is:

A class of goods identified by name as the product of a single firm or manufacturer.

In other words, a brand is anything that you create that is identified by your name. And your name can either be your own name–Tyler Cruz and John Chow–or your blog name such as ProBlogger. A brand is your identity.

The reason so many big corporations build a brand is because of its importance in gaining customers. We move with fads. If we think that faded jeans are the way to go, we’re going to buy them. Why else can Abercrombie charge $200 for a pair of jeans? Their brand allows it.

Now that you understand what a brand is, why do you need it?

Because you want to be identified. You want people to remember you. It’s very hard to remember the content that someone reads; it’s very easy to remember that the content was good. If there is some sort of an identification, the person will remember you.

Understanding that you need a unique brand is one thing. Achieving it is something entirely different. It can get very expensive to build a brand. Therefore, how do you do it?

How Do You Build a Brand?

There are two main components, in my opinion, linked to a blog brand. The first is your blog’s design. This is what people are going to see when they come to your site that will, hopefully, differentiate you from a lot of the other blogs out there.

I remember when it was acceptable to use free themes. John Chow used a free theme. I used a free theme on quite a few blogs. All of us were using free themes. And then suddenly, there were these expensive paid themes popping up out of nowhere.

And for the average blogger who might make a hundred bucks a month on his blog, the idea of getting that type of design was just too far out of reach. And if you were a new blogger who was making no money, how could you possibly afford the $2,500-$5,000 price tag for a blog design?

That’s why you should get a premium theme instead of a unique theme. A premium theme is a paid theme that costs somewhere between $25-$150 (sometimes more). These themes aren’t used by very many people because they do cost money, but they are not totally unique because there are other people out there that appreciate the need for a somewhat unique feel.

When you get this premium theme, you can then go in and customize it a bit by changing colors. If you make some of those color changes, suddenly you have created yourself a unique theme. But, where should you go for unique, high quality, premium themes? Here are a few places:

All of those places have really high quality themes that are going to help you break out of the free theme bore. However, by getting a premium theme, you are only accomplishing half of the whole process.

The other half is the logo. The logo is your graphic that people know. Not to suck up to Tyler with the hopes of him accepting this guest blog post, but his mascot, to this day, is still the best known graphic that I know. There are a lot of logos out there, but I can immediately pull up the look of his mascot. That’s effective branding.

However, finding a place to get a logo that won’t break the bank can be tremendously difficult. When you’re a new blogger who is looking to create his brand without going broke, where do you go?

There are two places that I go when I am looking for logos. The first is a designer named Aziz Natour. He sponsored Tyler’s most recent design and I’ve used him for some of my clients. He is really a talented designer.

The other place I go for people who need the absolute cheapest logo (without sacrificing an ounce of quality) is Logo Nerds. For $30, you can get a totally unique logo. Want to be like Tyler and have a mascot? For under $100, you’ve got that.

The logo is going to be the way that people remember you. And if it is truly a great looking logo, that’ll be what can bring people back to you when they have a new question.

Are you Ready to Brand?

For under $200, you can get a great look for your blog. Get a logo for $30 and get the premium theme for $100 and you’re golden. And, if you’re just not that good at making customizations, hire someone to do it for you. There are plenty of designers who would take $70 to do two hours of work.

How do you build your brand? Do you bother or are there other, more important things that you would rather be doing for your blog? Chime in. I’d love to hear your input.

Jacob is the owner of Blog Revolter. It’s his goal to revolt from the norms of blogging and help people achieve their success. You can follow him on Twitter or Facebook to keep in contact.

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Posted: January 26th, 2011 under Guest Posts  

12 Responses to “Getting a Custom Look Without Breaking the Bank”

  1. Good post. It is very important to build a brand like you said. With this brand you gain trust and got the subscribers eating from your hand!

    Well done!

  2. hahaha says:

    LMAO! So now Failure Cruz is a “large blogger”??? All he has is bunch of spammers that comment here so they can put a link to their crappy sites.

  3. webtechlife says:

    It’s important to build brand and with the brand we gain trust……..

  4. Am I the only one that finds the advice of this writer a tad hard to take, especially considering how lame an unispired his own blog design and logo are?

    I am sorry if this is harsh, but come on, there is absolutely nothing even remotely memorable or eye cacthing about his site design, he hardly seems to be the right person to preach about its importance.

    • I didn’t check out his site, but that wouldn’t be surprising. This guest poster seems to be talking out of his ass a bit. It is bad advice to tell some new blogger to spend a bunch of money on customizing his or her blog. It simply is not that important, especially early on. It is perfectly acceptable to use a free theme when starting out. While it may be advantageous to brand yourself, in the blogging industry you would have very little opportunity to use that branding outside of your own blog. Instead you should be focusing on producing quality content and networking with other bloggers.

  5. Jasmine says:

    Regardless what the above comments are, I absolutely love your logo or mascot. It’s very catchy and unique!

  6. Nice tips! It is very important to build the brand like you said. I think you can gain trust from customer.


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