Friday, October 31, 2008

How to Make Money w/Ugly, Free Blog Designs

My blog design sucks. I know that. The design of my website sucks even more, as I've been told three times in the last two days. I know that too! Before I explain how to make money with ugly, free blog designs, let me tell you what inspired this post.! My post there earlier in the week entitled, Where Have all the Freelance Writing Jobs Gone, started it all. Copyblogger is a megapopular blog for freelance writers. It has almost 45,000 subscribers to its RSS feed. Hence, it gets a lot of traffic.

And, apparently my site and blog just don't measure up. And ya know what -- I can't even get mad at those who wrote me to tell me so (they were all very nice) because it's true.

But, my ugly blog and website still make me money. And yours can too! How?

Don't let what you can't do slow you down. Obviously I'm a writer; not a web designer. My skills in this area are very limited. I'm a self-taught HTMLer, and this language is becoming about as old and staid as this presidential campaign has been long (sorry, could resist that!).

I need to move my sites into the 21st century (ie, wordpress). But, I don't know anything about cascading style sheets (CSS) and all the other stuff you have to know to work in wordpress. And, I don't have the time to learn right now. So, I keep working in what I know (HTML/FrontPage).

Is this limiting my growth and my income? For sure. BUT, not to the point (yet) that my business is not growing. AND, that's because I focus on what I do know how to do (write/market) -- instead of what I don't know (graphic design/programming).

Note: I already have a new site designed in wordpress and it's gorgeous! I can't wait to use it. But, I have over 300 pages that I have to migrate over. This means each page has to be redirected to its new page name. To pay someone to do this ranges from 3K to 7K according to the quotes I've gotten. And, that's just not in the budget right now.

So I plug away on my old site.

How to Know When It's Time to Bite the Bullet & Change

I'm the kind of person who has to be pushed into change -- especially when it comes to technology. My brain just can't seem to wrap itself around a lot of it. I find this particularly ironic since I'm sort of a tech writer (as in, knowing and understanding internet marketing technology, NOT programming/design).

But, I know it's time to make the switch. Following are some guidelines that signal when it's time to take the bull by the horns and implement change.

1. Your Peers Are Telling You So: Getting three comments in two days about how horrible my site is make me pause and go, "It's time." When well-meaning peers start telling you that you need to upgrade -- and doing it in groups no less! -- then it's probably time to change.

2. When You Know You Could Be Making More Money: Two of the three people who wrote in about my site practically begged me to change it because I was "leaving money on the table," so to speak.

And I know they're right.

3. When You Could Be Hurting Your Career: Your web presence says a lot about you. It's your face to the world, espeically in freelance writing b/c most of the time we never meet our clients.

I'm lucky in that I have long-time clients who refer me a lot, so I don't have to rely on my site to do so much selling for me. But, imagine what could happen if my site matched my reputation as a writer. Hmmm . . . can we say car paid off 1.5 years early instead of 6 mos to one year early.

4. You're No Longer Proud of Your Web Presence: When you dread logging onto your own site, then it's time to change. Looking at the new site design just sitting there waiting to be used made me drool the other day. Compared to my site now, it's like comparing Jimmy Choo sandals to Payless brands. The new site really is that gorgeous -- and the old one is that bad.

All of this made me realize that I have to carve out time to update all of my web presences (, and (I'll be retiring And, I have to do it sooner rather than later.

So by the new year, all of my websites will look 21st century slick. While the timing sucks, I realize that if I don't make time to do it, it'll be another 6 months to a year before I get around to it -- and that will never do.

Besides, I have some new services offerings, a new affiliate program and a revamped SEO writing company that I'm itching to market -- all of which I'd planned to have ready by the new year. So while the redesigns won't be easy, they will get done.

I heard you everybody, and thank you for taking the time to write in. I truly appreciate it.

120,000+ New Blog Readers? My Freelance Writing Jobs report got written up on For those who don't know, this is a major tech site that gets over 120,000 visitors a day. And they'll all be eyeballing my ugy site (waaaggghhhhh!!).

Have a great weekend!

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Poewar said...

I'm glad to hear you will soon be embracing a new site. Ugly can work, but it isn't a good long-term strategy.

Yuwanda Black said...

James I've always embraced a new design. I just haven't embraced the technology that comes with getting a new one.

But, I'm getting there.

Thanks for writing in.

Vanessa D. Alexander said...

Great article about ugly blog design and when it's time to move on. But sister your writing talent and skills ain't ugly and that's what I've always noted when I come here. Blessings as you venture into the beauty of it all.

Yuwanda Black said...

Thank you Vanessa. That was very nice. This is how I tend to judge sites too. if the content is good, I don't give too much thought to the design, whic is probably why I've let my sites languish in the 20th century for so long :-)

But, design and good content do go hand in hand, so I'm headlong into updating them.

Continued success to you!

A said...

Hello Ms. Black. Found your site this a.m. when searching for "$100 writing jobs", I believe :O) FYI..

Your site is great, it provides INFORMATION that true writers desire.

It works for you!
So do what you do!


HotWebTopics said...

Thans Toneemarie. As I said to Vanessa, I seem to have the content part down pat, now I need to get up to speed on the design. So, if you all can just put up with the ugly for a little longer ... :-)


Anonymous said...

Hi Yuwanda, I'm sooo glad I stumbled across your site. It's jam packed with useful and easy to read information! I've been reading your info for the past week now and I'm ready to take the plunge! will keep you posted on my progress - thanks for sharing - Ninah