i DiD iT

Bloesem_Singapore_apt_irene

{image by Marjon Hoogervorst … my legs on my couch in our Singapore apartment}

I (finally) did it … and it feels so goood! Time for Champagne to celebrate a new, refined and fresh look for Bloesem Living. I really hope you like it? I know I do … not least because I designed, coded (with the exception of one page that is…:)) and built the new templates in typepad completely myself! You know me … after so many years of reading Bloesem… I am normally not this immodest, certainly not looking to take centre stage… but in this case I am happy to make an exception … and just wanted to let you know that a non-tech savvy – although now very tech-savvy … – blogging mom pulled this off!

Why you might ask would anyone in her right mind put herself through such a painful process… putting in more than 12 hours per day for long periods of time… well, I certainly did not volunteer for it… and you are right… this whole thing has been quite an ordeal to be honest…

I started out by doing the seemingly sensible thing… after making the design templates in photoshop for the new site, I hired expert tech-builders who, suffice to say, could or would not do what I thought we clearly had agreed … so another lesson learned the hard way I guess…

With hindsight it is difficult to imagine how I could not have seen the signs and perhaps I have been too naïve and certainly to trusting… so here it goes… some after-the-fact very basic wisdom and pointers from me when you are about to spend a bunch of money and time on 3rd party service providers… all of this appeals to common sense but it is easy to throw caution to the wind in the spur of the moment, so “bloggers beware”:

i.) Make sure to vet your service providers. Ask for references, then actually speak to them about their experiences. Yes you want to hear the good and the bad.

ii.) Don’t be tempted to pay 50% or more up front! Even when working with other freelancers who of course may be light on financial resources themselves. I still think anything between 10%-20% down payment is more than enough. Yes, you work on the basis of trust, but there has to be a balance. Make a payment schedule that ties with agreed deliverables. As a client, you have a right to see draft deliverables, within agreed timelines before further payments are made – and stick to the plan.

iii.) Don’t be a dummy! (I behaved like one for some time until I found I wasn’t one!) … there is much more that you can do yourself. Educate yourself even if you think you don’t have time. Yes, the learning curve will be steep but it is worth it. AND it will save you time and money later.

iv.) And, essentially, only hire service providers that are “better” than you… by that I mean, as is the case with hiring employees, there is absolutely no benefit in hiring anyone who pulls you down… the only way is up … and your service provider should lead the way.

v.) One more thing… being a perfectionist (and I am sure you are too…) building this site myself, I had to accept that some things will not work to perfection, be it the design or tech specs, so a few happy mistakes or errors will remain but that is OK! See it as a sign of ‘Handmade’ and a sign of any proper DIY project I suppose … :)

Furthermore, I think this episode has for better or for worse hardened me a bit as a “business woman”… and perhaps that is a good thing… after all I do run a business and there is nothing wrong with taking a more business oriented approach to things like this. Freelancers like you and me should protect their businesses… businesses that are so precious to us and that we have nurtured along with hard work for many, many years.

My husband tells me I have now become “anti-fragile”… a term coined he says by this Wall Street guru who wrote a book with the same title… so, what does it mean? In the face of adversity, you are not only robust and survive, you actually thrive…! I kind a like that… I feel a bit anti-fragile today… and I do hope the feeling lasts… at least for the rest of the day…

Tomorrow will be blogging business as usual at Bloesem Living! ~ irene xoxo

 

 

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Bloesem loves comments
  1. Lisette

    Congratulations, it looks wonderful, and thanks VERY much for the tips to avoid unpleasant surprises when embarking on a similar project!

    Love the photo of your living room and hope you did have that glass of bubbly (or more than one) as you certainly deserve it!

    xo Lisette

  2. danielle

    Congratulations with your beautiful new design! Coincidentally I am working on a new blog design myself after similar experiences. It is taking ages (because of the lack of time and the fact that I am a perfectionist) but is good to have the control in your own hands. Well done Irene!

  3. Fifi

    Thanks for this post. Have been locking horns with a web designer for some time over my business website and am now embarking on an overhaul of my personal blog. I will take your advice and learn something new – it’ll be a darn sight nearer to my vision that way!

    Congrats, the site looks beautiful.
    Fifi Scarlett

  4. Marjon

    Heel mooi irene! Ik heb maaaaaaanden geleden een online cursus WordPress gekocht en heb er het geduld niet voor… :-/ haha
    Dus (milan zou zeggen) dikke duim! 😉
    XX

  5. Judith

    It looks so bright & clean, Irene! Congratulations on the new look for Bloesem Living and all the hard work to make it happen. a well-deserved *plop!*

  6. Margot

    Ziet er fantastisch uit. Mooie uitstraling, lekker overzichtelijk en fijne kleuren.
    Gefeliciteerd!

  7. Angel Y.

    It looks great! I’m so sorry to hear that you had a bad experience with developers. There are good guys out there (hi!) but I know how easy it is to get burned by some of these companies. Glad everything has now turned out ok.

  8. irene

    I sincerely thank each and everyone of you for the kind words and taking the time to leave a comment!! ~ Irene xoxo

  9. Rachel

    It looks great! You’ve done a fantastic job and you should be really proud of what you’ve achieved. Thanks for all the advice.

  10. Sonia

    It looks great! Great lesson indeed! I also do everything by myself so I never had that bad experience… I know how much time it takes. I only can say… Well done! You go girl!
    Liefs. Sonia

  11. Lisa

    I love reading your blog and think you did a really lovely job on the redesign yourself.

    However, as someone who does freelance web design and pours her heart into every project she takes on I have to take objection to your second point. Freelance web designers and freelancers in other fields as well get burned just as often (and probably more often) than clients. 50% up front is pretty standard in the field. 50% up front helps us to make sure that the client is taking the project seriously and has the capital to fund the project all the way through.

    Your first point is extremely important – see if you can get recommendations from previous clients and don’t be afraid to ask detailed explanations on the technical things you don’t understand. A designer/developer who can’t communicate those ideas or is condescending about them probably won’t be doing a great job or at the very least won’t be pleasant to work with.

  12. Maria, Nordic Design Collective

    Wow, congratulations! I’m sorry to hear that you had problems with the people you hired, but I know from experience that you learn a lot from that kind of problems.

    It’s always easy to be wise in hindsight, but I think it is important to remember that you took the best decision you could with the information you had at the moment. Knowing what you know now, the decision probably would be different – and it will next time! So it’s a great lesson learned – even though it feels like hell when your stuck in the middle of it and swearing over code snippets late at night… 😉

    The blog looks fantastic, great work! You should be really proud!

  13. Louise

    Bravo et merci!

    Great tips and needed encouragement to try to improve my blog by myself.


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