When I first looked into how to start a blog and have a professional website, I was startled by the price of web developers. One quote was over $3,000! Being recently unemployed as a radio news reporter, there was no way I could afford that type of rate. So, I decided to take things into my own hands and find a theme that would work for someone who doesn’t understand blog design whatsoever.
I feel like an absolute dummy when it comes to designing blogs. I first started blogging back in the 2008, but I used platforms like Blogger.com and WordPress.com, which I later learned aren’t good if you hope to have a money-making blog. My attempts at making those blog sites look good failed, so I had no idea how I’d build my own website this time around.
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So, I did my research, searching near and far for a theme that would be easy for a complete beginner to use and design a decent-looking blog.
Reasons why I picked Divi
The visual builder.
I was taken with Elegant Themes‘ visual builder design option. Usually, you design a blog from the back end, using the theme customizer and the page builders. But with Divi, you can literally look at the front end of your website and move stuff around, change text, add images, etc. This really appealed to me because it seemed very intuitive, like something I could tackle.
I really liked the quality of the pre-made layout pages and themes offered by Elegant Themes. I ended up going with a theme called Extra, which appealed to me because it resembled a news website layout.
Customer service and support.
Maybe this is a dumb reason to go with a theme, but I really liked the way customer service interacted with me when I was first looking at the Divi theme. A chat box popped up and I could ask a lot of questions about Divi, and I was offered a discount. I also like the Support Forums. Every single question I’ve asked has been answered in a very timely manner, and this has helped me so much.
The online tutorials.
The online tutorials Divi offers proved invaluable to me, as I consider myself totally inept at blog design and these videos came in handy.
You can use Divi on as many websites as you want with a single yearly subscription. The $89 subscription may seem high to some. There is also a lifetime subscription option that’s $249. Divi isn’t cheap, but I’ve been really happy with it so far and consider it worth the money.
The design process
Building my blog didn’t come exactly easy to me, even though I picked a beginner-friendly theme like Divi. I started by googling websites designed with the Divi Extra theme to get ideas, then I tried to copy those ideas with lots of trial-and-error. Watching the online tutorials and reading the documentation was super important, and I did it relentlessly until I had a blog design I was in love with. It took me about a month to build The Wayward Home.
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That being said, I did hire out a few things.
I have no graphic design skills at all and knew it would be impossible for me to create a logo that looked good enough for a professional blog. I hired this one out and I can’t recommend Penny Jane Creative enough. She designed my logo for $125, and responded quickly to my questions and concerns. She was able to design exactly what I had in mind.
A few minor website tweaks
I did end up hiring an experienced Divi web designer, Colman Carpenter of Four Lakes Internet Services, to do a couple things I didn’t know how to do. Total cost: $75.
I’m such beginner at this stuff that I don’t know how to fix a website crash, nor do I have a web developer who would be responsible for this stuff. So I kinda freaked out when my site crashed when I uploaded a bad plug-in. Luckily, WP Fixit came to the rescue, and fixed my problem super fast for just $40. I love them!
I’ve had my website for a few months now, and am still glad I chose to use Divi’s Extra theme, which is a magazine layout. I’m also very glad I chose to design my own because I can tweak it any time without having to wait for a developer to become available.
If you’re interested in looking at Divi and Extra, click on the links below. Happy blogging!
Kristin Hanes is a journalist who founded The Wayward Home as a place to learn about alternative living. She currently lives on a sailboat and in a Chevy Astro van, and has written articles about alternative living published in Good Housekeeping, Business Insider, Marie Claire and SF Gate. Read more about Kristin here.