When we start a blog, we never know where it will take us. Some may walk a steadfast road and believe they want to end up at “XYZ”, when in truth, if we let our blog evolve on it’s own, it can take us on a magical journey.
Two years ago today, I published my first post. Looking back, it was rather lame, but I’ve left it in the archives as a reminder for both me and my readers how things change.
I didn’t plan to have a blogging “classroom”, nor did I even plan for this blog to become popular. In truth, this was going to my online journal of my blogging journey – a place for me to document what I was learning. A place I could return to when I would forget “how to”. But when comments started coming in, and a community started to form, magic began to happen.
Now, here I am, about to embark on year three of blogging and sporting a brand new theme. Those of you who have followed me, know this has been a work in progress for some time now. My goal was to teach myself CSS coding and do it on my own, however, time wasn’t on my side.
That’s when Eric of Frugal Site Design came to my rescue.
I first experimented with several of the beautiful themes Eric provides on his site, and he kindly constructed a header for me based on my preferences, but I didn’t get that “Wow” factor I was looking for. Fortunately the answer was in front of me. I took the theme I’ll be using for our company website and began designing the header and footer.
Meanwhile Eric went behind the scenes and painstakingly made the other changes I asked for. And, when I changed my mind, he kindly revised it again, and again, and you guessed it, AGAIN.
I’ve asked Eric to join me for this post, and answer a few questions about what he does. Here’s what he had to say,
1) Eric, can you tell us a little more about you? How you got into blogging and now theme design?
Well, let’s see…I’m a soon to be dad of a little baby boy named Tyson. My wife, Liz, and I are very excited and looking forward to finally stepping into our parental roles. I live on the East Coast of the US and love living healthy and enjoying the outdoors (and flying my RC gliders).
I’ve had my own computer consulting business since the beginning of 2004, but only since the summer of 2008 did I take interest in blogging. I officially started my first blog, Motivate Thyself, at the end of July. I had written an ebook called, ‘Guide To Rejuvenating Sleep’ and I was planning on trying to sell it on a Niche website. But after I started looking into blogging I realized that it would make a better free download; a kind of gift for stopping by.
I really fell in love with blogging. From the tech aspect it was full of goodies to constantly fiddle with, but it was the community connection that pleasantly surprised me. I’ve made so many new friends from all around the globe and I’ve learned a lot about myself. I’ve even become less shy and reserved (at least on the Internet).
As far as the site design goes, I kind of just fell into it. Just like my computer business, I couldn’t get away from the fact that I naturally play nice with technology. I picked up WordPress coding fairly quickly and I’ve always been naturally creative, so it was a great fit. One of the things that many of us bloggers have in common is the desire to monetize our blogging activity. The desire to have more time and freedom to do what we love. The dream is to have so much traffic that we can just throw up some ads, sit in our hammock and watch the money come rolling in. The reality, though, is that until you hit those high traffic numbers, something like a sought after service is more likely to bring home the bacon. Thus began Frugal Site Design.
2) Maybe it’s a girl thing, but as you know, I changed my mind numerous times. I know that had to be frustrating to you, but you’ve handled it so well. How do you manage to keep your cool when a client continually changes their mind?
Well, after 5 years of dealing with thousands of frustrating scenarios where the computer AND the client aren’t cooperating, I’ve learned to take it all in stride. Your situation, for example, was not at all frustrating. I don’t mind making changes as long as the end result is a product that makes the client happy. It’s when the client is NEVER happy, that I have to draw the line. I find that most people have fairly reasonable expectations and that as long as they and myself remain flexible, we’ll work well together. But, YES, it certainly takes a fair share of patience to work with the general public.
3) The majority of your business is done via emails or phone calls. How is it you can understand so well what a person is wanting without having them physically there pointing out what they like, don’t like, or are wanting to move something an inch here or there, etc?
It can certainly be tough. The convenience of being able to sit in my home office and get the job done is great, but there are certainly times when I wish I were right there with the client. The key to making it work is to know when and what questions to ask and how to read between the lines. Most of the time my clients are up front about things, but they often don’t know exactly how to explain what they want/need. So it’s my job to ask questions ABOUT their questions to make sure we’re on the same page. Over time you get better at this and things get a bit easier and more efficient.
4) What kinds of jobs to you do the most? Do you work mostly with bloggers? Is what you do at Frugal Site Design more technical or design oriented?
Thus far I have done a fairly equal amount of general websites and blogs and a few of the two combined. Most of my website clients have been from my local community. When the word got out to my previous computer clients that I was doing affordable web design, I quickly found my inbox full of requests. But in this great blogging community I’ve had a lot of requests for either a more professional blog design or assistance with moving from a free blogging service to a self hosted WordPress setup. As time goes on I’m finding that bloggers are my main client. This excites me because one of my greatest passions with blogging is helping others stand out from the crowd. This service gives me the opportunity to do this.
As for the technical vs design question, I would say that it’s 50/50. When I was doing my computer consulting I got to enjoy the technical aspect of computers, but never any kind of creative design. Frugal Site Design allows me this opportunity. Also, it all depends on the job. BWAB, for example, was mostly technical as you had already done much of the design. You just needed someone who know the coding aspect to be able to implement your vision. Other times, I get a blank slate and a person saying, “Just make my new blog look clean and use this color scheme.” This is when I get to run wild with my creativity.
To be honest, I equally enjoy both aspects. Sometimes I crave creativity, while other times it’s a pleasant reprieve to be able to just play with PHP. Both are great and one without the other would be a shame. So over all I’m very happy with my new gig and look forward to making magic with more and more bloggers.
Again, I must give praises to Eric Hamm for all he’s done. Knowing me, I’m sure I’ll want to tweak this theme from time to time. I feel blessed to have Eric there to hold my hand.
You’re great Eric. I appreciate all you’ve done and wish you tons of success.
The changes you’ll find here are as listed:
- Obviously, the first thing you’ll notice is the header. Although it’s a big header and it uses up a lot of the space above the fold, I’ve chosen to take a chance and go with it.
- A larger footer section which contains additional links and information
- The inclusion of my photo – finally, hey?
- A new tagline
- A rewritten short description of this site – “About” – see sidebar
- A new “About” page – see header navigation bar
- A comment policy – see header
- A “Featured Blogs” page which contains all of the bloggers who have been showcased in the New Blog Of The Week (NBOTW) series – see header (will be updated weekly)
- An “A.S.K.” page that lists the links to the interviews I’ve done with probloggers – see both header and left sidebar
- Popular/most commented posts – see footer
- Stumble It, Digg it, Delicious It and Tweet it buttons at the bottom of each post.
- A new default avatar for those who comment and don’t have an avatar. Need one? Read this post.
- A statement at the bottom of each comment stating how I may use all or part of your comment as inspiration for a future post.
- A new widget for Twitter which shows my latest updates – see right sidebar.
- A new “Donate” page, titled “Fear Change?” – see header
- In the footer you’ll find a section of “Blogging Resources” which includes a link to Eric’s site plus other sources for blogging help.
- New icons for the free subscriptions – via RSS or email – see right sidebar
- A new signature – see end of post
- A new Twitter profile page – which matches my blog
Feel free to dig around and take a look at all that’s changed. It’s been a challenging, but fun experience.
In closing I’d like to thank each and every one of you for supporting me in my blogging endeavor. I couldn’t do it without you.
Together this is what we’ve created, and I feel blessed.