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If you are building an online agency or doing brand building work for clients, one of the most common (and profitable!) requests is for a blog or website makeover.

The truth is, if you have my design skills……this is the sort of work you should routinely pass up.

Okay, I know what you are thinking.  And it’s true…YES, I do have a very cool collection of Ekhart Tolle-eque cardigan sweaters, and yes, for a straight guy, I do have a very uncanny and innovative eye for suave summer style.  (which comes in handy when you live in a seasonless,  perpetual summer sunny climate like south Florida)

But, when it comes to designing websites – other than having a good sense of what should go where, and what looks and converts the best – when it comes to actually DOING the design work – it’s always something I need to outsource to others more skilled than I.

And that’s fine – a web designer I’m not.  But often times, you’ll find that by outsourcing the design elements to others, you are taking a few thousand dollars off of the table that your clients SHOULD be paying for marketing – but instead, want to allocate to making their blog (and brand) look good, as the first step.

(I can’t tell you how many times I’ve worked with a small business that has a budget of 5K or less….that will end up spending 60 or 70 or even 80 percent of their funds on a jazzy looking website, rather than a super simple blog or website, only to have very little leftover to actually build their blog (and bank account) when the fancy pants design bells and whistles stop making whizzing)

So what I recommend for just about everyone…..is to use templates.  Good looking, professionally designed templates that can reduce your development costs by 95%…and site and design aesthetics that are super clean, easy to read and absent the many (expensive) moving parts that are completely unnecessary and that reduce conversions to boot.

Tumblr, for example – is a great and FREE way to build a great looking blog, create content that CONNECTS with your community in a unique way, and is something that YOU, as a marketing expert, agency or brand building pro can use to deliver amazing, interactive and incredible sites….with a whole host of creative, content curation strategies built in, for a fraction of a fraction of what your clients would pay a design house to build.

Pixel Revel builds KILLER themes for both WordPress and Tumblr – and some of the favorites from their portfolio are totally free.

For sheer minimalism – and something I’m recommending for WordPress sites that need a pure content focused design that is great for authors, artists and PASSION professionals is their Thoughts theme.  I love it – it’s 100% free – and I am using this on a new project myself…and have 3 or 4 coaches who are now using this as well.  (both for themselves, and for their clients as well)

There is only 1 day left to grab this for free (I meant to share this a month ago :-) but THIS kick ass creative theme on Themeforest, which has been free for the month of October, so you have to get it by tomorrow if you want it gratis.  This is not so much a minimalist theme…..but one that can do some very cool things and can be customized in lots of crazy ways to really be cutting edge – which you can see in their demo examples.

BUT, there is a great plugin that comes with this theme called “Canvas” which is uber cool as well – and gives your clients (or your own sites) a great “featured” page to promote anything you want, in a very subtle but super cool way – and again….you can download and experiment and see for yourself for FREE, if you grab it before the end of October.  (which is an evasive way of saying – by tomorrow at midnight)

You can literally use professionally designed templates like these to build a quick and easy and great looking site for your clients in an hour or two – charge them as little as 3 or 4 hundred dollars – throw in some low cost hosting, a dedicated newsletter or relationship marketing campaign, and quite literally – offer world class value to people who truly need what you have, in a way that empowers, inspires and motivates them in an affordable way – all while still earning a few hundred bucks an hour for your effort.  (and opening a big back door to all sorts of other offers and ideas and referrals and so forth along the way.)

Launcheffectapp is another free theme that works wonderfully well for the above as well.  (you don’t even really NEED the premium version to offer something incredibly valuable to your clients that they would be clueless to do on their own)

There are now TONS of killer Ghost themes that are 100% free that look like (and have been) created by world class designers.

I’ve been sharing a list of my own favorite FREE WP themes on Campfire with chat clients over the last week, (we’re up to 20 really good ones, including some suggestions others have made I didn’t know about, and am stoked to add to the arsenal as well)

I’ll publish that PDF sometime next week, along with some innovative ways you can use free themes to build a thriving web marketing agency that focuses on high paying clients and premium priced services, and starting on a bootrap budget to boot.

Also – as I don’t promote this via newsletter anymore……

If you want to join our Campfire Chat community – I’m adding a group chat “mastermind” functionality in November where 3 or 4 of us all catch up to brainstorm and share ideas several times per week, and….in addition, I am available to you via chat and phone work specifically on growing your brand, blog, and business.

(this is $500 per week, per client or small group of related clients  – this is a firm and non negotiable rate so please don’t inquire if that feels like a stretch for you in any way – and is for folks who are really inspired and motivated to build something magical and meaningful and have the passion and persistence to follow through –  I will take 2 more of these  in November and 1 in December – if you want more info – drop me an email)

Important little update:

Discussion on BEHEMOTH_ Reshape Your Personal WordPress Blog | ThemeForestA Few people have  emailed me that the free wordpress file above is no longer free – and it’s not yet midnight on the 31st.  It appears like themeforest is on australian time, which means that, for most of us….we are a day behind, and quite literally, a dollar short.  (or in this case, 43 dollars short)

Sorry if you didn’t manage to get to download this for free – if you really need/want the theme, send me an email and i’ll give you mine.  (but don’t tell anyone – it has to be between you and me, which at this point – based on the readership of this blog – ain’t gonna be that much of a stretch 🙂










View all posts by ian

I am an author, artist and entrepreneur. My 2 passions are writing about, and teaching Marketing and Meditation. I like to think I’m a lot like Eckhart Tolle, if only he was taller, and a much better tennis player. (it turns out in person, he’s super short, has a terrible backhand and wears this weird scottish hat thingy that makes it really difficult to concentrate while serving) Plus he refuses to keep score and says ” it’s always NOW” when you ask who is up. Enough about me. We barely know each other. Stop staring. You’re making me nervous.