March 29, 2013

The Time Has Come to Say Goodbye!

If you have been keeping up with my blog, you've probably heard that I am quitting my blog. I have been contemplating this for months, maybe even a year, and finally have decided that I just don't have time for it. I love writing tutorials and helping people fix up their blogs, but it really sets me back in my family and personal life. I have posted my last tutorial and will no longer be posting designs or tutorials. Also, I will not be doing any more custom designs.

I have considered just leaving my blog as it is but there are a few problems with this. Without doing custom designs, I don't make any money on this blog. No big deal, except that this blog is not free for me. In order for me to offer background and design images for readers to put on their blogs, I have to store the images on the web. To do this costs money, about $10/month in addition to the yearly fee for my domain name (making my blog a .com instead of a .blogspot.com) and another fee to keep my personal info private through my hosting service. I have considered putting advertising on my blog, but I feel like if I am going to ask people to pay me for advertising then I should post regularly on my blog. Because I can't do that, I can't ask.


So, what does this mean for all of you? 

   1. My blog will stay on the web.
All of my tutorials will stay put. They may get outdated, but they will still be here as a resource. If I do not renew my domain name (blogdesignsbydani.com), then you will find my blog at http://blogdesignsbydani.blogspot.com.

   2. What about my backgrounds, headers and template? 
In order for me to make all of my designs accessible to you, I have had to upload them all to a web hosting service, as I mentioned above. I have renewed my hosting service through the beginning of June. So before that, nothing will change. I won't be posting any more designs, but all of my backgrounds, headers and templates will still be available for use through the beginning of June. Now, if enough of you are dying to still use my free designs and you are willing to donate to my blog, I can keep my hosting service. I pay 3 months at a time to get a good discount, so I would need 3 months worth (about $35 for 3 months of service). If that is not the case, then when the 3 months are up, all of my design images will be gone.

If people do donate, I will post updates on whether I have received enough to extend my hosting service as well as dates that the designs are still available.

If I end my hosting service, I will likely cancel my domain name when it expires in September. If that is the case, you will find my blog at http://blogdesignsbydani.blogspot.com. My designs will not be there but my tutorials will still be there.

Update: I received a generous donation to my blog allowing me to keep my hosting through the end of the year (2013). This means that my free designs (backgrounds, headers and templates) will be available through December of 2013. Thank you, thank you to a kind reader!

3. Open Comments
I have been moderating my comments because I really hate spam-like comments. Also, people are more careful about what they post when they know it will be moderated. I honestly haven't deleted any comments other than spam. (Not all spam is caught by Blogger.) But since I won't be reading comments regularly, I will not moderate comments in the future. This means that if someone posts a question and you know the answer, please answer it for me. Also, if anyone posts anything offensive or spam-like, please email me and I will delete it.

4. I will keep my Facebook, Twitter and Pinterest Accounts
I will keep these social networking accounts and I may post now and then if I find interesting things on the web. I am often on Pinterest, so you can definitely find my pins there. :)



A few last words of advice

I am very sad to quit this blog, but when I finally made the decision, I felt so strongly that it was the right thing to do. I want to thank all of you for your support. I have learned so much from this blog in the last few years. Before I go, I would like to offer a few final tips for designing your own blog:

  1. Always back-up your template before making any changes to your blog, even little ones. You never know when you might delete a semi-colon or a bracket by mistake and now your entire blog is a mess. Here is my tutorial on How to Back-up Your Template.

  2. Keep a journal of all the changes you make. Sometimes it takes a while for you to notice that one of your blog modifications is causing a lot of problems. If you don't know what you did or where you found the tutorial, you are going to have a very hard time fixing it. So record specific tutorial links along with a description of the changes you made with it.

  3. Before you alter the HTML/CSS of your blog, try to learn as much as you can so that you know what you are doing. When you post random codes onto your blog and then try to fix them, you may find an even bigger mess than you started with. Learn the basics of HTML and CSS. Creative Bloq has a list of the Top 20 Online Training Resources for anyone interested in learning more about web design. I have used #1 and 10 from that list and recommend those for beginners.

  4.  Keep your blog simple. Too many busy designs distract readers and make it hard to find what they are looking for. Create simple, easy to find navigation and always include contact information. Your navigation can be through Blogger's pages where you can create vertical and horizontal navigation bars or you can create a Drop-Down Navigation Bar. And if nothing else, at least use good labels for your posts that can be accessed through your sidebar.

5. Read the comments section of tutorials. Often readers have the same questions when they do a tutorial and the answers to those questions are often found in the comment section. Also if you, as a reader, know the answer to a question in a comment, don't be afraid to respond. It is hard for a blogger to respond to every question posted. Help each other out, especially now that I won't be responding to comments on this blog in the future.

If you have any other words of advice that you think should be added to the list, post it in the comments section.


Resources
 I know that there are a lot of blogs that are very similar to mine and I want to create a list of links to help you with your blog. If you have any to add to the list, please do so in the comments.

The following blogs offer free or custom designs and/or tutorials. Check them out:

Smitten Blog Designs  Free and Custom templates, Blogger and Wordpress, as well as other free printables
Designer Blogs  Custom and Pre-Made Blog Designs, Blogger and Wordpress
Makin' Cute Blogs  Free Backgrounds and Tutorials
Leelou Blogs  Free and Custom Blog and Social Networking Designs
A Mommy's Blog Design Custom and Pre-Made Blog Designs, Blogger and Wordpress plus a few useful resources for blogging
Hot Bliggity Blog  Free and Custom Blog Designs
The Cutest Blog on the Block  Free and Custom Blog Designs, Blogger and Wordpress
Shabby Blogs  Free Backgrounds and other Extras, Custom Designs, Tutorials
Kevin and Amanda Very diverse blog including Blog Tutorials, Photoshop Tutorials, etc. (see her right side bar for tutorials)


These sites have links to a number of blog designers. I have not been to most of them, but feel free to check it out:
Custom Blog Designers
Simply Blog it Backgrounds (Designers listed in sidebar)
Mama of 3 Munchkins


Thank you all again for following and supporting my blog! I wish you all the best of luck with your blogs!

~Dani

18 comments:

  1. Good luck. I totally understand. I have had these thoughts many times.

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  2. I am going to miss you! Your blog has taught me so much and has been my rock while getting my blog up and going. I completely understand why you have to go and I wish you the best of luck!

    Jessica
    Hanging Out in First!

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  3. Best of luck and many thanks for all your help and lovely templates over the years.

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  4. I love your designs and thank you so much for sharing them for as long as you did! Good luck to you! Sorry I cannot afford to help keep you updated!
    Be blessed,
    Cindi

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  5. So very much enjoyed following your blog Dani, sincere thx for everything you did and the help you gave. Maybe see you back here someday, one never knows. Plz be happy, safe, well and take good care of what matters in your life. All the best to your future, thx again.

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  6. Hey Dani, than you so much for your creativity! I wish you all the best! xx

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  7. Dani, you are a really a great mom, friend and teacher. Trust me, all of us will always remember you.
    Thanks again for all your kindness on helping us, Dani.

    Nadia.

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  8. I just found your blog, I was actually looking for templates as I just began a teacher blog for the very first time and I'm not quite comfortable enough in what I am doing yet to purchase anything. After looking at your great designs, I then read your post about this being your last. I am so sorry to hear that as you have helped me so much just today! Thanks so much!

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  9. You are all so kind. Thank you again!

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  10. Hi Dani, I found your site while looking for a decent background for my husband's teaching site. I have to say there are tons of cutsey stuff out there for gals but not much for the guys!

    Personally I think you should figure a way to keep this site online. Why? I also had a site over 2 yrs ago and it was up and coming. I had serious content thieves and I didn't have the skill set to deal with it. I got fed up and stomped off the web. I wished I had kept the site up and backed off of working on it so much. It would have been nice to be able to periodically add to it. I had followers and my traffic was up to 1K a week after only 4 months of me lamely putting up a blog for the first time.

    Since you are so clever here and figured out so much on your own I still think you could in some way monetize it, not for profitability but for sustainability. Leave this door open to re-enter as you feel. Maybe you will come at it in another direction after a year of cool down. Add to it once a month or once every two month or whatever. Have guest bloggers help out with content periodically to take the pressure off. I think this site is a creative outlet or can be if you let it.

    I liked this site because you actually present the concepts well and that is not always the case. I think we put too much pressure on ourselves with these blogs and as I look at your posts it is clear you were banging out a lot of posts. I think you burned yourself out and this is so common. I felt the same way.

    You have a following and that is hard to do and hold onto that. I hope you rethink this before you pull the plug on this since you worked so hard to get this far.

    So many teachers are starting up blogs now and signing up for selling their products. I think TpT (teacherspayteachers)just signed up like 170K new teachers in the first two months of this year. Not all sellers either but when there is a demand the supply will increase. Perhaps you could sell your backgrounds on TPT to pay for this site? You could link to this site. You have the teaching background to help you create products that would sell too. Maybe don't do the custom stuff which I bet is really time consuming. I bet right now you could just post your backgrounds on TPT and link to this site and slowly pay for your site. Post a new product once a month or so. I do think you are well positioned to take advantage of all that you have learned on this. How about making some cool man teacher templates? That is an area that could certainly use some better options.

    I just used your chalkboard fun template and it took me so long to find a decent one and now it will turn into a pumpkin before I know it :(

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    1. Thanks for the encouragement. I agree with a lot of what you have said, but I really can't keep going with it. However, here's one idea that I saw another blog do. She had people donate $1 a month to put a link to their blog in her sidebar. She usually had a good list of links to help her pay her hosting fees. If I could get good support for that, I could keep my hosting and thus all my images.(I'm sorry there aren't good teacher backgrounds for men. I wish you'd found me earlier!) I could figure out better advertising, but I just really don't have time to sit down and do it.

      If you check my post dates in the last year, I really haven't posted that often and yet I still have managed to let this blog consume me. A lot of my problem is that this blog is really addictive to me. When I get on the computer to research things, it takes a lot to pull me away. I end up staying up way to late and am a very grumpy mother that's too tired to get anything done. And often it's just from responding to comments or emails of readers that need help. I don't have to help them, but I have a hard time walking away from it. Any spare minute I have, even if it doesn't look like I'm posting much, I'm designing, researching for tutorials, answering questions or fixing problems that come up.

      So while I would love to post once a month or so or sell templates, I just couldn't do it. It would begin to consume me. I have a lot of other interests and this blog is just not on the top of that list. I am sure that I will not be gone forever. Someday in the future, I hope to take actual graphic design classes. Or I may continue my teaching career, just tutoring for now. Either way, a future blog may emerge with whatever new I am learning. In the meantime, I would like to give my son and my family my attention. I do hope to have more children and I'd like to enjoy these years that they are young.

      Thank you again for your support for my blog. I will consider the $1 ads and maybe your template won't become a pumpkin after all. :)

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  11. Hey Dani, I finally checked back on this...you have had over 1 million visitors. There has got to be a way to moneytize this site. So that you can do a little when ever you have time and feel like it. Time management is a biggie and I do think we all fall prey to that with this blogging and creating. However, I would like to say that it is one kind of creative outlet you can tinker at your own rate. Don't let it consume you. Say I will only work on this one day a week or once evey two weeks and that is it. To close it so you won't touch it is not the only way. You have stuff for sale here and links elsewhere to sell your items. What about google adsense stuff? With your traffic numbers I got to believe you would qualify for some ads on this site. Maybe you could look at this site as a way to generate mad money to help with staying home with more kids. Treat the kids with extras. Also generate funds to pay for graphics or wordpress class since they are not cheap when you are ready. Having some adult mommy time is VERY important. Your focus until June should be how do I make this site pay for itself. Why can't you just load up images to a free service like photobucket? Have ads for software you use?
    I don't know but I do think working in some way at home is ideal. Takes the pressure and keeps the creative juices flowing. Do you really realize how hard it is to get over a million views? Clearlyl looking at this site you didn't do it with so many tricks others use with tons of ads and loaded up the html with deceptive info. Do not let this blog and it stats evaporate on you until you figure out how to make it just pay for itself. Just do baby steps. Then build on getting it to make some money for you. You may have to move it over to Wordpress like I am thinking of doing. Trying to find a designer I like who knows how to moneytize it and who is reasonable. Also I wanted to find someone who has a cupboard of sorts of add ons I can eventually add on with instructions. Blogger has too many limitations and at any time they can pull the plug on you and all your content. You only own the content not the site. Move the blog to a new domain first. Don't close this one is my understanding. But maybe it is all or nothing for you which is a common ailment with so many. It doesn't always have to be black or white...live in the grey. I think you may regret it down the road. Best of luck to you.

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  12. Hosting will be renewed through December! Keep using my backgrounds and templates until you hear otherwise!

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  13. My blog is totally dependent on yours. I took help from this blog to change the look of my blog entirely and this took me 2 years. I will be completely lost if you go away.

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  14. I have stumbled across your blog posts and tutorials for some time and loved the designs. I have used your tips on how to customize my blog as well and I understand your decision to leave blogging for I have done the same thing. Only, I didn't have a family but wanted to get away from the online technology world. I wish you and yours all the best.

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  15. why did you left blogging.Not good for internet bloggers.You are such a genious .We always expect to to come up with some new ideas.

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  16. I understand and support you in what you feel is right for you and your family. They are the most important, not the blogging world. Stay true to yourself! Thanks for all you have given others through your blog. You will be blessed!

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Thank you so much for leaving a comment! I would love to answer everyone's questions, but I am a busy mama. I will try my best, but technical questions that require me to study your blog's html are very time consuming for me. I may not be able to answer all of these comments. If you are a reader that knows the answer to a question, please help your fellow readers by offering your advice.