Painting a PictureA few weeks ago, I posted an article outlining the steps that I followed in outsourcing the design of my professional blog. Check it out in case you haven’t read it yet.

In that post, I described how I compiled a list of blog design service providers, narrowed that list down to a manageable few, solicited request for quotes (RFQs) from those that made the shortlist, evaluated each designer against a set of criteria, and then made a selection based upon “best fit.” I personally chose E.Webscapes to complete the design for this site, but I recommend that you conduct your own evaluation based upon your unique needs and preferences.

To help save you some time in compiling a list of candidates, I’ve listed out below the top 12 blog design service providers that I came across during my search. For each one, I’ve included some basic information: services offered, target audience (e.g., individuals, small businesses), Content Management System (CMS) platforms supported (e.g., WordPress), design samples, pricing, and contact information. You can find all this information, and more, from each service provider’s respective website. The information that I supplied, however, should help you identifying which particular designer(s) that you’d like to investigate further.

A few notes before I let you get to the list:

  • If you’re unsure how much a typical custom blog design should cost, I recommend checking out this post: “How Much Should a Web Design Cost?
  • If you want to get a custom design completed as economically as possible, I recommend reading this post: “How to Get a Custom Blog or Website Design on a Small Budget.” It was written by Findable Blogs, one of the service providers listed below.
  • As you read through the list below, you’ll notice that each designer describes the services that they provide a little differently. As with most services supplier markets, especially technology-related ones, this is just the way it is. Unfortunately, this lack of standardization makes it harder on us buyers to make apples-to-apples comparisons. If you’re finding it difficult to make comparisons between blog designers in your search for the best one, let me know. If I get enough requests, I’ll create a standardized list of services and then research which designer actually does what.
  • Lastly, if you’re aware of any top-notch designers worthy of inclusion in this list, please, send me the URL via a comment.

The List of 12

1. E.WEBSCAPES DESIGN STUDIO

  • SERVICES: Design services: Blog designs, custom blog designs, new blogger setup, custom graphic design, custom CSS (Cascading Style Sheets) layouts, web standards, XHTML validation, search engine optimization, discussion board set up and design, advertising banners, and multiple site templates. Technical services: Blog installation and design, hosting via their blog hosting division (Blogs About Hosting), domain registration services via their blog hosting division (Blogs About Hosting), site migration, blog platform conversions, bug fixes, PHP skinning, software installations and upgrades, plugin installations and upgrades, and script installations and upgrades.
  • TARGET AUDIENCE: Individuals and small businesses.
  • PLATFORMS SUPPORTED: WordPress, Expression Engine, Movable Type, Blogspot, Typepad, and PixelPost Photoblog.
  • PORTFOLIO SAMPLING: Aliblog, Perfume Posse, Getecovers, Smartlife, and more.
  • PRICING: Pricing on per project basis.
  • HOW TO CONTACT: RFQ form or email contact form.
  • NOTES: The owner and founder of E.Webscapes, Lisa Sabin-Wilson, wrote WordPress for Dummies. All design projects, communications, and files are conveniently managed via their Client Desk application.
E.Webscapes

E.Webscapes

2. BLOG WHAT? DESIGN

  • SERVICES: Blog designs, blog hosting, domain registration services, host transfers, blog installation and setup, code clean up and repair, custom vector & vexel graphics, plugin & script installation & setup, advertising Banners, RSS feed setup, blog ads and blog monetizing, and forum setup.
  • TARGET AUDIENCE: Individuals, small businesses, and corporations.
  • PLATFORMS SUPPORTED: WordPress, ExpressionEngine, and MovableType.
  • PORTFOLIO SAMPLING: Twirlin’, Nature Moms Blog, and more.
  • PRICING: $1,200 and up for custom design.
  • HOW TO CONTACT: Via email contact form.
  • NOTES: This design service provider sports some pretty amazing designs at a reasonable cost, and has won several design awards.
Blog What? Design

Blog What? Design

3. DESIGN DISEASE

  • SERVICES: Blog design and markup and style optimization.
  • TARGET AUDIENCE: Individuals, small businesses, and corporations.
  • PLATFORMS SUPPORTED: WordPress and unspecified others.
  • PORTFOLIO SAMPLING: TV Jab, Gadgetizer, Forever Geek, and more.
  • PRICING: Blog designs start at $2,000.
  • HOW TO CONTACT: Email contact form.
  • NOTES: Showcases the most consistent quality blog designs that I’ve seen to-date from a designer. Also develops a number of free WordPress themes, which have been downloaded over 100,000 times.
Design Disease

Design Disease

4. UNIQUE BLOG DESIGNS

  • SERVICES: Personal Branding Package: Custom blog design, full WordPress coding, 3 design revisions, complete setup, plugin integration and installation, and SEO plugins installation. Ultimate Branding Package: everything in the Personal Branding Package plus custom landing/home page, custom logo design, and 1 additional design revision. Business Branding Package: Custom blog and website design, custom landing/home page, 2 additional unique layout designs, custom logo design, full WordPress coding, 5 design revisions, complete setup, plugin integration and installation. Other services: website, blog and affiliate landing page design, discussion form design and integration, PSD Photoshop to WordPress conversion, web hosting, and SEO.
  • TARGET AUDIENCE: Individuals and small businesses.
  • PLATFORMS SUPPORTED: WordPress.
  • PORTFOLIO SAMPLING: JohnChow.com, Nate Whitehill, and more.
  • PRICING: Request a quote for one of the packages via their email contact form.
  • HOW TO CONTACT: Via email contact form, telephone, snail mail, or live chat. See contact page.
  • NOTES: Offers collection of free blogging video tutorials, discussion form support, and several WordPress templates.
Unique Blog Designs

Unique Blog Designs

5. MOXIE DESIGN STUDIOS

  • SERVICES: Full custom blog designs, custom logos, custom illustrations, blog installation, and site migrations.
  • TARGET AUDIENCE: Individuals and small businesses.
  • PLATFORMS SUPPORTED: WordPress, Expression Engine, Movable Type, and Blogspot.
  • PORTFOLIO SAMPLING: Lipstick Lifestyle, The Modern Concierge, FashionJunkie.com, and more.
  • PRICING: Personal Blog Package starts at $1,800 and Pro Blog Package starts at $2,200. RFQ form for custom estimates.
  • HOW TO CONTACT: Skype, telephone, fax, or email contact form. See contact page.
  • NOTES: Moxie has completed nearly 500 client projects!
Moxie Design Studios

Moxie Design Studios

6. CONTENTROBOT

  • SERVICES: Custom brand design, custom graphic design (flash presentations, banners, and logos), domain host installation, blog marketing/SEO (e.g., blog directory submissions and search engine submissions), site monetization (e.g., pay-per-click campaigns and banner ads), hands-on training, and ongoing services (e.g., metrics analysis).
  • TARGET AUDIENCE: Individuals, small businesses, and corporations.
  • PLATFORMS SUPPORTED: WordPress and unspecified others.
  • PORTFOLIO SAMPLING: The VAR Guy, CopiaTECH, GrokDotCom, and more.
  • PRICING: Pricing on per project basis.
  • HOW TO CONTACT: Via email contact form, direct email, Skype, or telephone, as listed on the contact page.
  • NOTES: ContentRobot clearly specializes in business-powered blogs, as you can see from their portfolio of work. In addition, much of the owners’ combined 30 years of experience in website design and development has been in corporate e-commerce.
ContentRobot

ContentRobot

7. THE BLOG DESIGN STUDIO

  • SERVICES: Blog and website design, identity design (logos), custom CMS development, consulting, and training.
  • TARGET AUDIENCE: Individuals and small businesses.
  • PLATFORMS SUPPORTED: WordPress, Expression Engine, Movable Type, Textpattern, and unspecified others.
  • PORTFOLIO SAMPLING: Ecorazzi, Budget Fashionista, Cream Puffs in Venice, and more.
  • PRICING: RFQ questionnaire. Cost for a new blog ranges from $4,000 to $6,000 (rough estimate).
  • HOW TO CONTACT: Email or phone. See contact page.
  • NOTES: Blog Design Studio’s pricing may seem excessively high, but you get what you pay for: ultra-high design quality.
The Blog Design Studio

The Blog Design Studio

8. FINDABLE BLOGS

  • SERVICES: Offers a suite of services, including blog design, but focus is mostly on marketing and SEO. Full list of services include: blog design, WordPress blog setup, SEO, blog marketing, blog consulting, and blog writing & editing.
  • TARGET AUDIENCE: Individuals.
  • PLATFORMS SUPPORTED: WordPress.
  • PORTFOLIO SAMPLING: None available.
  • PRICING: Blog Starter Package runs at $650, which includes hosting (first year is free) and selection of design template. Custom designs are on a per project basis.
  • HOW TO CONTACT: RFQ form.
  • NOTES: Although blogging has been around for a few years, the service provider market is still fairly immature. There are a lot of niche providers popping up, but none that really offer an end-to-end solution to address all of your blogging needs. Findable Blogs is the first provider I’ve come across that offers a complete package.
Findable Blogs

Findable Blogs

9. CROWD FAVORITE

  • SERVICES: Custom plugin development, CMS development, theme design and development, multi-user development, integrations, and general “how-to” services.
  • TARGET AUDIENCE: Small businesses and corporations.
  • PLATFORMS SUPPORTED: WordPress.
  • PORTFOLIO SAMPLING: OpenedHand, RedMonk, and more.
  • PRICING: Tiered billing rates from $125-175/hour based on project size. Special rates and fixed bid estimates can be negotiated for larger projects.
  • HOW TO CONTACT: Email contact form.
  • NOTES: Founder is Alex King, creator of innumerable WordPress plugins.
Crowd Favorite

Crowd Favorite

10. PIXELITA DESIGNS

  • SERVICES: Design services: New blog designs, blog design makeovers, CMS migrations, and graphic designs. Consulting and technical services: Blog app selection, domain selection, domain registry process, registrar selection, web hosting setup, and web hosting services and packages recommendation, and site maintenance.
  • TARGET AUDIENCE: Individuals and small businesses.
  • PLATFORMS SUPPORTED: Primary: WordPress and CMS Made Simple. Secondary: Movable Type, TextPattern, sNews, and PixelPost.
  • PORTFOLIO SAMPLING: Dallas24HourClub and more.
  • PRICING: RFQ form. Hourly rates: web design at $55, graphic design at $75, and site maintenance at $30.
  • HOW TO CONTACT: Email, phone, or chat. See contact page.
  • NOTES: None.
Pixelita Designs

Pixelita Designs

11. REMARKABLOGGER

  • SERVICES: Offers blog consulting services plus various packaged services. The Blog Launch Package includes web hosting and domain name assistance, WordPress blog setup, custom design, monetization assistance, Q&A support, WordPress coaching, setting up FeedBurner, how to track and analyze visitor stats, social networking setup assistance, and blog content strategy. The Blog Boost Package includes a full analysis of what is and isn’t working with existing blog. Analysis occurs at regular intervals over 3-month period. The Blog Master Package is combination of Blog Launch and Blog Boost packages. The Blog Wrangler Package is essentially on-going management/maintenance of your existing blog.
  • TARGET AUDIENCE: Individuals, small businesses, and corporations.
  • PLATFORMS SUPPORTED: WordPress.
  • PORTFOLIO SAMPLING: The Wealthy Freelancer, Self Made Chick, and Small Business Coaching & Transitions.
  • PRICING: Blog consulting & coaching: $140/hour. Blog Launch Package: $1,200. Blog Boost Package: $852/hour. Blog Master Package: $1,682. Blog Wrangler Package: $199 setup & first month, $62/month afterwards.
  • HOW TO CONTACT: Via email contact form.
  • NOTES: Remarkablogger has nicely packaged services and strong sales messages, but lacks a supporting portfolio of work that would convince me I’m going to get $140/hr’s worth.
Remarkablogger

Remarkablogger

12. PRO BLOG DESIGN

  • SERVICES: Custom SEO-friendly designs, hand-coded themes, blog platform installations, and Q&A support.
  • TARGET AUDIENCE: Individuals and small businesses.
  • PLATFORMS SUPPORTED: WordPress and unspecified others.
  • PORTFOLIO SAMPLING: Bruliam Wines.
  • PRICING: $795.
  • HOW TO CONTACT: Via email contact form.
  • NOTES: At $795 for the quality of work this designer produces, that’s a good bargain in my estimation. Also, Pro Blog Design runs a blog on how to design blogs. (Not a coincidence, I’m assuming.)
Pro Blog Design

Pro Blog Design

Image credit: webphotographeer / iStockphoto

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