When you are just starting off with blogging it’s pretty affordable to buy a cheap template and get to writing posts. I found a template I think for $50 and was SUPER happy with the look of my website and how it functioned. Sure it was basics, and didn’t have any customization but at the time it worked. Then I made my big mistake. Here’s the raw detailed scoop of how I essentially wasted tens of thousands of dollars and how I have fixed it so it won’t happen again by switching to Tonic Site.
Combining DIY Beginner Basics & Honey Built Home
I had launched my online course, DIY Beginner Basics on the platform Kajabi. I didn’t love that it was a separate destination from my website and thought it would work better if I self hosted which means move my course onto Honeybuilthome.com so my tutorials, blog posts, and course lessons were all in one place!
I hired a web designer who was fresh out of her program to move everything over. But because we were moving over the course materials we had to change the $50 theme I liked to one that would work with the learning platform. This change was around $300 and it also meant that I would have to build a new website, well, that this web designer would build a new website. I wish I had taken screenshots of how the website looked, but I felt like I went from this cool looking website to something super basics and not me. Even with tweaks it just still looked not great.
The second problem was we suddenly got hundreds and hundreds of spam registrants added into the course, and the login was challenging for students. All in all this $300 solution that was supposed to make life easier for everyone was only causing more problems.
So after trying to make it work for 6 months I decided to move everything back to how it was. A separate host for the online courses and my website.
It would have made sense at this point to just go back to the $50 theme that was functioning well, but with HoneyBuiltHome growing I wanted to add in more customized features and really create a professional looking website. I looked into a this one stop shop a lot of other influencers were using and fell in love with how beautiful their websites were. The price, $10,000 for the website. YIKES. I then learned from a few creators that that’s just the entry cost. If you want to swap out a picture, or update the way a page looked you would have to pay them hourly to make those changes. The code on their website could not be changed by another web developer. You are essentially stuck with this expensive website with no growth without additional money.
I knew there must be a way to accomplish something similar, but have a little more creative control to make changes as my brand developed.
So I found a web designer and SEO specialist that was willing to build my site for a fraction of the price. It would be $6000 to design the website OR I could pay $1250 a month for a year long contract and they would design my website for free and then manage it and provide SEO insights each month. To my understanding those SEO insights were supposed to be reports which told me what was performing the best on my website, and other ideas of similar content that I could write about that would increase my google ranking and overall views on my website.
At that time my website was generating $300-500 a month in ads and I figured if we ranked higher in SEO my ad revenue would go up and in turn my blog would pay for my monthly SEO! Great plan! So I thought.
Here’s where it gets dicey.
I decided on the year long contract, equating to $15,000 to build my website and run it for 12 months. We started on the design and functionality of the website and within the first month I could already tell that how I was explaining I wanted my website to look and the overall look of it wasn’t even remotely close. I needed branding and I needed it ASAP.
So I reached out on instagram to find a web designer/graphic designer to help with my branding (fonts, colors, overall look of my website, and logos!). I loved their work and although the price felt steep $7500, I felt like at this point, you get what you pay for, so I went for it. I have no complaints over this part, and if I were in the same position all over again I would pay the $7500 because they gave me my brand a direction and identity that was uniquely mine.
I handed the design over to the web developer to code and the coding process took a LONG time and still I felt like what was on honeybuilthome.com didn’t match what the graphic designer created.
Finally we launched the website after I think 8 months of working on it and it broke…
My assistant spent countless hours creating these shop my home pages with links to all the tutorials, links to all the products in my home, plus paint colors and details on tile and flooring. When the website went live ALL of these pages were deleted. We were devastated.
So we worked again to rebuild all the pages, the problem became the website builder was very hard to use (for a non web coder like myself).
A year + went by
My initial plan of launching the new website, having the SEO reports, and increased ad revenue to pay for my new website didn’t exactly pan out. My ad revenue went up slightly. Some months $500-800, but it wasn’t the $1250+ I was hoping it would be to cover the cost of the SEO monthly expense and the reports and feedback I was anticipating on receiving didn’t come. So after about 16 months I decided to part ways with my SEO web coder and manage the site myself.
The Change to Tonic
This brings me to a few months ago. I saw another influencer talk about how they built their own website using Tonic Site Shop and it looked FANTASTIC.
So of course, I clicked over to Tonic Site Shop to look at how it works and was blown away at the customization that I could make to my own site, and change whenever I wanted without forking out more money!
So I made the plunge and purchased one of the Tonic Site Packages and began designing my own site. This might seem daunting to someone who has never worked on a website before but I was actually impressed with how easy it was.
- import my fonts and colors and it transforms the template to my style
- add in my text and images
- it pulls the archive of all my blog posts into the site without me manually having to do anything
- drag, drop, resize, add, delete anything. literally anything! It is mind boggling how much can be changed and customized.
So after years of trying to create a professional looking website and thousands of dollars having other people do it for me with no ability to really update it without extra $$$, I now have my Tonic Website that I can change as often as I want.
If you are looking to build your own site and have control of the functionality, look, and layout check out tonic and get 15% off by mentioning Honeybuilthome at checkout.