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 They may get outdated, but they will still be here as a resource.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.
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!