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Professionally designed websites vs free blogs

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I think your site looks great, writingale! I did mine myself and it's pretty basic. I designed it on Google Sites, because we use that at work, so I know my way around it, and it's free. Then I spent, oh, three hours figuring out how to design a VERY basic header using GIMP, which is like a free version of Photoshop. Will I spend three more hours redoing the header another day (or later on today)? Most likely. I did purchase my domain name and have it forwarded to my Google site. I'm hoping to learn my way around GIMP so I can fancy things up a bit, but not too much. Like others have said, it gets distracting if the focus is on how fancy it looks rather than on content and ease of access.
#31 - January 16, 2014, 03:54 PM

Barry Holt, at Three Doors Up Multimedia. I like his work a lot...and he's married to a YA writer, so he gets us. :)  I collect antique fashion prints and scanned a bunch and sent them to him, and he used them to create the header, but updated them with fun colors.

Hi Marissa,

I was reading this for website info and saw that you collect fashion prints.  I have a background in costume design and also love antique fashion.  You might enjoy the books "Fashion, A History from the 18th to the 20th Century " from the Kyoto Costume Institute and the "Patterns of Fashion" series by Janet Arnold.  If you haven't seen them already, I hope they bring you joy and inspiration.

#32 - May 25, 2014, 09:57 PM
What is your dream, how are you chasing it?
Kat Ford

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 :hijacked   Yay, another antique fashion fan!!!  I have and lurrrrve the Kyoto book (books, actually)--the photos are amazing! I've seen the Arnold books, but don't own them.   My interest is chiefly ca. 1800-1840 England, so my book (and print) collection centers there, but my new favorite is "Napoleon and the Empire of Fashion" which is just stunning.  I post periodic "Fashion Forecasts" on my blog with prints from my collection  (chiefly Ackermann, but also La Belle Assemblee, The Lady's Magazine, and others).
#33 - May 26, 2014, 07:56 PM
The Leland Sisters series: Courtship and Curses, Bewitching Season, Betraying Season (Holt BYR/Macmillan)

I feel the same way about the Kyoto book, it was definitely a major influence on my desire to learn how to pattern period fashion pieces.  I will look into the Napoleon book and I just book marked your blog.  So cool!  I'm happy to have an antique fashion friend that I can geek out and complain about historical accuracy in movies with.
#34 - May 26, 2014, 10:05 PM
What is your dream, how are you chasing it?
Kat Ford

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Personally, I would never use a template. Designing from scratch is always the way to go, especially if you are an artist as well as a writer. And yes ... I loan my web capabilities.
#35 - September 16, 2014, 03:01 PM

When I consider working on a new site, the question is always self-hosted vs. Blogger or In most cases, I don't use as you can't change any of the coding inside the CSS. At least with Blogger you can change as much as you like.

With that in mind, if it's a site I plan on using professionally for a long time, I buy my own hosting and install WordPress so I can edit as much of the CSS as I like.

The beauty of having the site outside of 3rd party websites is as follows:

- Better uptime. It's rare for Blogger to go down, but it does happen. Being on a devoted server/webhost is generally safer from things such as getting timed out or suffering from hackers (hackers rarely target smaller websites--they want big fish)
- I have the power to add whatever I want on my site. This isn't such a big deal when writing for kids, but I also write for adults in some genres that Blogger might not agree with. This way, my content is my own and I'm the only one responsible for it.
- I don't have to worry about having my blog shut down. I know of a few authors who have had their sites removed on 3rd party websites for whatever reason.

On places such as Blogger,, Webly etc. you're at the mercy of that individual host. Because You aren't paying for it, they can place ads or close individual pages down if they don't agree with them.

I personally don't like the idea of writing hundreds of blog entries only to someday go online and find my content gone.

This is why I always back up my work, but still, just something to keep in mind.

If you can afford hosting and a domain name now, and if you see yourself using that site a year from now, invest in it. Nothing looks worse than going to an author site that goes something like NAME.BLOGGER.COM.

It doesn't look professional. Now, you can buy a domain through the 3rd party site, but then they own the name and you can't take it with you when you move unless it's a year later.

You can also buy a domain from places like and then forward it to a 3rd party site, but you end up seeing the NAME.BLOGGER.COM in the toolbar (unless you mask it--in which case every page on your blog/site would be

I just find buying my own resources saves me a lot of headache later on. I also enjoy coding so... yeah. :)
#36 - September 16, 2014, 05:23 PM
« Last Edit: September 16, 2014, 05:26 PM by Kali Harper »

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I think your site looks great and that is coming from a web designer. Since I do illustration work and web designing so I feel it is appropriate for me to design my sites from scratch. Your site look fine as is. Very fun.
#37 - September 25, 2014, 03:45 PM


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