Cost effective way to fastrack your design success

The vast majority of my clients are of the "bootstrapping entrepreneurial" variety, which means cost effective is one of their TOP priorities.

For that reason, when I launch a new blog for a client (and blogs are a boot strapping entrepreneur’s best friend) I always offer the option of using a Template Monster Templates for their self hosted Word Press blog.  For less than $60, we can "dress" their blog in an attractive and stylish "theme" which can easily be changed in the future.

I usually don’t recommend they use a "free" template for their blog just because the quality of those free template blogs tend to vary widely.  One client fell in love with just such a "free" template, only to discover that any pages created in Word Press won’t display properly (i.e. AT ALL).  That created a problem.  My client was in LOVE with certain elements in this blog theme which she can’t find duplicated at Template Monster.  For her, we had to move to plan B.

Plan B involves:

  1. Hiring a Graphic Artists/Designer

    This client spent three months posting her design requests to various web sites which offer to connect clients with designers.   Her hope was to find a "rising star" who would create a design for her.  Unfortunately, that never happened.  When she told me she was going to raise her listed "budget" for the project to more than I paid for the cover design for my book, I offered to introduce her to the graphic artist who designed the cover of my book, Richard Leach.

    Richard is an incredibly gifted graphic artist and he designed a SUPERB graphical concept for the theme.  Step 1 is completed… and now we’re moving to Step 2.

  2. Hiring  someone to code the design.

    Unfortunately, this client was directed to a source that claimed to "code your design" for a low, low cost of $150.   I had been telling her that a custom coding job would run in the $750 range….  so she was THRILLED to find this resource via a business coach with whom she works.  Unfortunately, inquiries to this designer yielded a response along the lines of  "I’m swamped and I can’t take on any more projects" type of a reply.  (His web site is down now which I assume means he”s going to raise his rates.) 

    I’ll admit, I was concerned when she first approached me about this "low cost alternative".  My figure was based upon using a word press theme developer I know personally to code the design.  Other sources range in the $650-$750 range for custom coding of a design as well. One site, recommended by Tech Crunch is  XHTMLized Turns Your Design into Code. When you choose "WP Theme" at XHTMLized the price automatically jumps to $649. 

Just a word of wisdom to any one new to business and/or life:  When you get four quotes for something and three of those quotes are within 20% of each other… and ONE of those quotes is a full 80% LESS than the other three… throw out the rock bottom quote.  (This is why you should get multiple quotes on any project, web or otherwise.) 

In the case of Template Monster Word Press Themes, you’re getting a theme at a 90% discount FOR A REASON (two to be exact): 

  • Because they can sell that same theme over and over again! 
  • Many of the themes offered there are variations of a select group of theme codes… so while two themes have markedly different graphics, code wise they are almost identical in nature.  In economics class your professor called that "economies of scale".  It costs $750 to code the first design, but it only costs $50 to swap the graphics and change the color values for the second theme offered for sale. 

This works in reverse as well.  If you have four real estate agents and THREE of them tell you they will list your house in the $300L-$350K range and ONE agent assures you he/she will list your house at $650K…. disregard that final figure.  No matter how BADLY you want to believe it, most of the time it’s not the three agents who are "wrong" about the value of your home.  Instead, you have ONE agent who is trying to "buy" your listing.

My client is going to have a LOT of money invested in the development of her new theme.  (Unfortunately, it looks like she’ll be spending $500 more on the coding than she originally estimated.) However, she’s going to end up with a blog like no other, and one which powerfully communicates what she does before you read a single word of copy.   Because she’s a seasoned business professional, she understands better than most of my "boot strapping" clients that you have to spend money to make money.

In the end, it’s rare to find someone who is great at what they do offering their services at a fraction of cost.  What always happens is the provider becomes deluged and as a result, raises his/her rates.  If you find you’re swamped, then it’s time to raise your rates.  Trust me…. the clients you lose aren’t nearly as good as the clients you’ll gain.