The True Story Behind Virgin Blogger Note’s New Look

This past weekend, while I was busy planting petunias in the back yard, designer Chloe Adeline was creating a fun, colorful look for Virgin Blogger Notes.

Now, this is the part where I’d like to tell you this lovely makeover is the end result of my mind-blowing creativity and magical branding powers.

Feel free to stop reading right now and go on believing that. I won’t mind a bit :)

The truth is, Virgin Blogger Notes has a new look because I’m a procrastinating, indecisive cheapskate.

Yep. That’s how it is.

Now that I’ve owned up to it, I suppose I may as well tell you the rest of the story. Here’s what happened:

When I first started learning how to blog, everyone told me to create a header to enhance the overall theme of the blog. Great idea, but considering I barely knew a header from my left earlobe, I sort of tuned out that advice. Meanwhile, I set up a plain, generic header, and occupied myself with the only thing I knew how to do . . . writing content.

Okay, I may also have spent a moment or two appreciating the tights on a couple of those digital empire builders when they flew by, but mainly I stuck with writing.

A few weeks later, some well-meaning folks started dropping some not-so-subtle hints about free themes that would give the blog some style and color. The word “free” made my inner cheapskate feel sort of warm and tingly, so I looked it into it.

Five pots of coffee and two quarts of Visine later, I realized I was way too indecisive to be left alone with 10,000 free theme choices. I simply didn’t have a good sense of the blog’s personality yet, which made the whole process feel like picking out a dress for a stranger.

“Well, Jean, that’s why bloggers hire designers to create headers,” a blogging pal pointed out one day. “You’d be surprised how easy a designer would make things for you.”

I didn’t doubt that for a minute, but I had it in my brain that designers charged 1.3 gazillion dollars an hour, and my blogging budget tends to run a hair less than that. My friend suggested I get a couple of estimates, rather than conjuring up wild scenarios, but by now I’d moved into procrastination mode.

Besides, I sort of like wild scenarios.

A couple weeks later, I was scoping out the A-List Blogger Club forums, hoping to score a couple of fresh blogging clues, when I saw it . . . .

“Free Custom Logo/Header for Your Blog . . . ”

The moment I saw that thread title, an intense shiver ran through me. Unfortunately, the shiver ended up being from the glass of ice water I’d dumped on myself in my excitement, but really, I was seriously stoked.

When I dried off and read the whole post, I learned Chloe was holding a contest, with the winning blog serving as a model for an upcoming Club seminar teaching members how to design their own custom headers.

Despite my propensity to procrastinate, it took me all of a half second to enter, and a few days later I learned Virgin Blogger Notes was the lucky, lucky, (did I mention, lucky?) winner!!!

Well, things just buzzed right along after that. I knew absolutely zero about working with a designer, but Chloe made it easy and fun. She asked all sorts of questions, like how I wanted readers to feel when they visited the blog, what colors I liked, and what types of images I’m attracted to, and then she went to work. She drew up sketches, shared them with me, got my input, and kept coming up with her own amazing ideas and tweaks until we had a winner.

Turns out, this is the look I’ve wanted since the blog was born. I just didn’t know it until Chloe imagined it and brought it to life.

And that’s how the new look happened.

When it came to getting a custom blog header, I was an indecisive, procrastinating cheapskate, but it worked for me :)

Please join me in thanking Chloe for her beautiful work. I am so grateful to you, Chloe, and I wish you all the success in the world.

Click here for more information about Chloe’s services. Also, check out her amazingly fun and helpful blog, Simple Rabbit Society.

Your turn: Have you ever put off doing something and ended up being glad you waited?

Image Credit

59 Responses to The True Story Behind Virgin Blogger Note’s New Look

  1. Mike Roosa May 24, 2010 at 11:41 am #

    Looks nice. She did a great job!

  2. Karen Ruby May 24, 2010 at 1:21 pm #

    Hi Jean,

    I like the new header logo. It really pops out :-) She did a great job for you.

    I try not to put off too many things, but sometimes it absolutely does work out not doing them, particularly when you have to live with those decisions for a long time.


  3. virginbloggernotes May 24, 2010 at 1:26 pm #

    Thanks, Mike. Your site is looking great too. The logo is really fun and different.

  4. virginbloggernotes May 24, 2010 at 1:31 pm #

    Working with Chloe was a great experience for me. I don't have artistic talents, so it was especially fun for me to see how she sketched out different concepts. I totally lucked out by dragging my heels on the header issue . . . it's not something I recommend for everyone :)

  5. John Chayachinda May 24, 2010 at 1:44 pm #

    Hi Jean,

    I visited your site for the first time yesterday, and I really enjoyed your post regarding your inner critic. I come back today, and now your blog has a new header. I really like the look!

    I procrastinate a lot, but the stress that comes with it if you have a deadline has always has outnumbered the times I've put something off until the last minute. If there were no deadlines, I think I'd would choose to procrastinate and put something off forever. But then I would never get anything done. =)

  6. virginbloggernotes May 24, 2010 at 2:13 pm #

    Hi John,

    Thanks for visiting and taking the time to comment.

    I have a love/hate relationship with deadlines. I know I get a lot more done, especially when it comes to writing if there's a deadline. I still tend to whine over them though :)

  7. Chloe Adeline May 24, 2010 at 4:14 pm #

    Aw. I'm so glad you like it!! [I like it too!]

    I'm impressed with all the awesome articles you put out – and I'm really proud I could help with your site!

  8. Chloe Adeline May 24, 2010 at 4:17 pm #

    Hehe…although I don't know about advocating for procrastination as a way to accomplish things…but I guess it worked for you!

    Omg. Now that I'm thinking about it – I got a $10,000 extension to a school scholarship by procrastinating last year…maybe it IS a good thing ^_^

  9. virginbloggernotes May 24, 2010 at 4:39 pm #

    There's been so much positive feedback on your work, Chloe. You definitely turned this ugly duckling into a swan.

  10. virginbloggernotes May 24, 2010 at 4:40 pm #

    Wow, I'd say procrastinating paid off big time for you! We just won't make a habit of it :)

  11. Scott Barron May 24, 2010 at 9:49 pm #


    Reading your story about free templates hits home. I spent days trying out 10,000 free templates. My website changed hourly for the first couple days! My true obsessive compulsiveness was wild and untamed.

    Free is still my favorite word on the internet. Last year I was the proud winner of a free pap smear at my doctors office. I never know when that might come in handy…

    Glad to hear your summer crops are planted!

    If you get a chance, check out my new post.

    My Latest Story

  12. BrandonBurgh May 24, 2010 at 4:52 pm #

    Hey Jean,
    I think they did a great job! Simple and easily stands out, conveying what your site is about.

    Great job. Doesn't it also give you a new sense of purpose? Everybody should reward themselves with a little dose of new motivation every now and then.


  13. virginbloggernotes May 24, 2010 at 5:43 pm #

    Hey, who are you calling simple and easy? Haha. Seriously, you're right about it boosting that sense of purpose. It's definitely visually motivating to me because it seems to fit in so well with what the blog's about. Which really is that whole simple and easy thing :)

  14. k0zm0zs0ul May 24, 2010 at 6:21 pm #

    Ha..that's so funny! We were kinda in the same pickle. Only I finally found my designer and hired him, so I didn't win anything. :( But luckily he's not costing me a gazillion.3 dollars, and he seems to not mind too much when I tell him 50 million things I like and then has to sort through the mire to find the really important bits. Actually just got the first proof today, and he probably hates me now. lol But I still like him! 😀 That counts, right?

  15. Francoise May 24, 2010 at 6:27 pm #

    Hi Jean,

    that's a nice way you have to describe how it worked and how you worked with Chloe.
    I don't believe all of it though … you do have some ideas about design, you do listen and you do have some ideas about the way to get things going!
    Hey it's great that you jumped on it and started writing, jumped on a great ocasion to have a redesign ..

    go on like this!

  16. virginbloggernotes May 24, 2010 at 6:37 pm #

    You might want to tie him down with some cyber-Velcro so he can't get away. Although, if he hasn't made a break for it after listening to your 50-million things, you're likely safe. Were digital warriors wearing blue tights on your list of favorite things? I was thinking maybe an image of one of those cutie pies on a Post-It might still work out . . .

  17. virginbloggernotes May 24, 2010 at 6:42 pm #

    Thanks, Francoise. I hope lots of people visit Choe's site and blog and find out how fabulous she is.

    I have been known to exaggerate a bit now and again :) But, I do have days when I feel like I've lost my last clue. Sort of like today with that facebook issue. Lucky for me, you had extra clues to share!

  18. Angela Artemis May 24, 2010 at 6:43 pm #

    Hooray for you Jean!!
    I love the new site. It's perfect. I wish you much success with it.

    You go girl!

    One of your biggest fans!
    Angela Artemis

  19. Dave Doolin May 24, 2010 at 7:01 pm #

    You write well, Jean. I'm looking forward to reading in the years to come.

  20. Kayla May 24, 2010 at 7:49 pm #

    Hi Jean!
    Your site looks fantastic! Very much like you. I've been reading your posts everyday since I found the A-List Bloggers. Very, very helpful stuff for completely blog-illiterate people like me. Thanks for all your help!


  21. deb May 24, 2010 at 7:57 pm #

    love, love, love – love it.

    the header is just great, as is the blog. – I'm cutting down on the blogs I read but I am keeping yours as core reading. It inspires, uplifts, educates and most importantly on a wet, gray winter morning – it makes me smile.

    btw – love the header.


  22. Katie Tallo May 24, 2010 at 8:10 pm #

    The new look is awesome and suits you. Fun and informative. Thanks for sharing your design journey with us, Jean. It's interesting how we're ready when we're ready.

  23. virginbloggernotes May 24, 2010 at 8:50 pm #

    Angela, you're always such a bright light around here.Thank you so much for your kindness and support. Really, I think Chloe channeled the blog when she came up with this design. :)

  24. virginbloggernotes May 24, 2010 at 8:52 pm #

    Thanks Dave, I appreciate you taking the time to stop in. Hope you're having a good week!

  25. virginbloggernotes May 24, 2010 at 8:56 pm #

    Thank you so much, Kayla. I'm glad I can make things a little easier for you. Just give me a holler if you need more specific help. I was so happy for you when I saw that post of yours up today!

  26. virginbloggernotes May 24, 2010 at 9:00 pm #

    Deb, I'm really humbled by your words. I know how precious time is these days, and to hear that you plan to keep reading means a lot. Please do let me know if there's anything in particular you'd like me to write about.

  27. virginbloggernotes May 24, 2010 at 9:03 pm #

    Hi Katie. “Fun” is what jumped out at me too. As the weeks, months, and years go on there will be a lot of information archived here, but my goal is for this to be a place where learning can be fun and we can laugh together over our foibles.

  28. Eric May 24, 2010 at 10:03 pm #

    The new design looks great! I'm actually working on doing something with mine here soon as well. Got a lot of work ahead of me and I know it's going to be worth it.

    When we're ready, things really do happen.

  29. Mars Dorian May 24, 2010 at 10:05 pm #

    jeez, what a change, soooooo much better, good work Jean, gooood work

  30. virginbloggernotes May 24, 2010 at 10:30 pm #

    Hey, Eric. It will be worth it! Of course that's awfully darn easy for me to say since I didn't do a speck of the work to make this new look happen :) Really looking forward to see what you come up with on your site.

  31. virginbloggernotes May 24, 2010 at 10:33 pm #

    Mars, it's good to see you! All the credit here goes to Chloe the designer. I was just smart enough to sign up for the contest :)

  32. virginbloggernotes May 24, 2010 at 10:41 pm #

    Scott, I think it is funny that your comment got kicked into moderation :) It always makes me smile when it is you and not me having these challenges. Haha. Actually, I wonder if 'pap smear' (great prize!) got you flagged. It appears that “virgin” gets me blocked sometimes. At least 'pap smear' isn't in your blog title :)

  33. Scott Barron May 24, 2010 at 11:02 pm #

    Ok, well I won't say that word again. I'll take my boy parts and leave now.

  34. alexwhalley May 24, 2010 at 11:16 pm #

    I love your writing style Jean! So visual and you have a great command of the english language (are you sure you're American?) The header looks fantastic but to tell the truth, your content is that good it doesnt matter to me. It definitely makes your USP easier to see and gives your brand a look.Good on you girl! Kudos on winning too, I can't think of a more deserving blogger for this.
    I did the same thing Jean, got creative with photoshop just the other night (primarily as a distraction from what I should have been doing) and I created a new header for my site that would give people an idea what I was about and make my USP more defined. Great post and would love your feedback on my new look too (not quite as snazzy as this though)

  35. virginbloggernotes May 24, 2010 at 11:25 pm #

    Thank you, Alex. I'm blushing a little bit over all those nice things you said :) But I must confess, that I don't know what a USP is. Could you lend me a spare clue and define that?

    I'm popping over to your site right now to check out your new look!

  36. mark May 25, 2010 at 2:17 am #

    Hahaha! Great stuff Jean! I read it twice – really great. The sentence I related to most was “The truth is, Virgin Blogger Notes has a new look because I’m a procrastinating, indecisive cheapskate.” This is the reason for many of the things that have “happened” in my life. I would give you examples, but I just don't feel like it right now…

    Love the new look! Have a great day!

  37. virginbloggernotes May 25, 2010 at 2:54 am #

    Well, since you truly don't feel like giving me those examples, I'll just have to give you a pass this time around, Mark :) Glad you enjoyed the post and didn't wait til next month to read it. Haha.

  38. laurie May 25, 2010 at 10:14 am #

    Love the new fun look here! What works in our spaces in real life is what works in our spaces here on our blogs. Looks like it's working for you… enjoy your new digs!

  39. virginbloggernotes May 25, 2010 at 1:39 pm #

    Thanks, Laurie. This blog makeover has been so uplifting that it has gotten me to thinking about making over some things in my offline life too. I'm not thinking of major change but rather things that create a brighter, lighter feel because I sure do like that on here.

  40. John Sherry May 25, 2010 at 1:55 pm #

    As you are a virgin blogger Jean I wouldn't say cheapskate. You merely did what you can advise other newbies of, namely don't throw money around like water on fancy stuff. Keep it simple from the start. Ask around to see if anyone knows any inexpensive designers as personal reccommendation is a good rule of thumb or do what you did and be creative (enter a competiton, contact your local school/college to see if they have any budding designers willing to give you a freebie in return for a mention etc). So your story is also your advice and that's at the heart of a great post – which this most certainly is!

  41. Sally_Neill May 25, 2010 at 3:50 pm #

    Hey Jean, I feel your pain! When I was looking at themes I almost fainted when I seen what was on offer, thanks so much for letting everyone know about Chloe, I had a header, designed by myself which is poor I know, but I have been looking for a designer with a personal touch, Chloe sounds exactly that so I will be heading over to check out her site. Yours is lovely, so warm and friendly, speak soon, Sally :)

  42. Cathy May 25, 2010 at 3:52 pm #

    Perfectly appropriate! It just fits! I won't tell you how many times I have redesigned my blog/site. I think design is my way of procrastinating. But you are so right about being overwhelmed with the choices out there!

  43. virginbloggernotes May 25, 2010 at 4:47 pm #

    I'm pretty good at throwing water around :) You've got great suggestions there to ask for recommendations plus look at creative approaches at getting the design done. One thing I just thought of now is that sometimes people are willing to barter so if a blogger is also a designer they might do a design in exchange for tech stuff or writing.

  44. virginbloggernotes May 25, 2010 at 4:48 pm #

    I know, Sally! Variety is a great thing, but holy cow, there are soooo many options out there now. Good luck with your own redesign. You're writing some great stuff over there, by the way!

  45. virginbloggernotes May 25, 2010 at 4:49 pm #

    We all have our favorite ways of procrastinating, Cathy. Mine is looking at pictures of digital empire builders and eating cake :)

  46. ralphcarlson May 25, 2010 at 6:08 pm #

    That is a great story and a nice new look, There is a lesson about being blocked by ignorance about what to do and what it will cost that I am having as well. It is also about priorities. How much time, effort and money can you afford to spend on the parts of blogging you don't understand. What should you take the time to learn and what can you hire out, How much money can you afford and where do you allocate it, I really appreciate reading about your leaps forward as I procrastinate and dither. There may be hope for me.

  47. virginbloggernotes May 25, 2010 at 7:28 pm #

    I hear you on the prioritizing, Ralph. I've had to work on that big time. I tried to learn everything at once and my hair nearly flew off. I ended up making a plan of sorts, which helps make sure I work on the right things at the right time. For example, it's nutty for me to be diving too deep into learning about the nuts and bolts of monetizing when my main focus at this stage needs to be on producing content and promoting the blog. To everything there is a season . . . then again, I don't have as many seasons left as some of the whippersnappers around here, so perhaps I'd better get a move on :)

  48. Sally_Neill May 25, 2010 at 7:31 pm #

    Thanks Jean, I am learning lots from you and a few others, it's great meeting new people online, who are so good at writing and blogging, Sally :)

  49. Kaizenvision May 25, 2010 at 8:13 pm #

    Ahh, good things come to those who take action. :) As you focused on writing a designer arrived in a forum.
    Your site looks FUN & FABULOUS! It pops.
    I know I need design help and I so agree with you variety is great and yet it can be overwhelming.
    Congrat's on the new look! I feel like this comment section is like your House Warming Party :)

  50. virginbloggernotes May 25, 2010 at 9:38 pm #

    Welcome to the party, Aileen :) Thanks for your comments, and here's wishing you the best for your design changes, whenever they may come. I do like your color but there are definitely lots of options for when you want a change. I have some extra Visine for when you start looking at all those options :)

  51. Kaizenvision May 25, 2010 at 10:37 pm #

    Actually my eyes are a bit pink from researching and I've managed to consume an awful lot of these dark chocolate covered almonds as I browse design ideas.
    I think the indecisiveness is coming from not loving one solid idea 100% – ahhhk.
    ok, I'll follow your lead and just write, and trust design will happen. That's my affirmation today :)

  52. Ishan May 27, 2010 at 1:49 pm #

    She did a great job! Looks like I am a bit late(OK, I am bit lazy with visiting other blogs and last 4-5 days have brought in some extra laziness)

    I like the simple look and color combination is, simply great!

  53. virginbloggernotes May 27, 2010 at 2:59 pm #

    Good to see you, Ishan. I really love the new look too. It sure is a lot more fun looking than that old boring blue color. Glad to hear you're letting yourself be a little lazy. I get the feeling that you push yourself pretty hard sometimes and are probably due for some time to relax.

  54. k0zm0zs0ul June 4, 2010 at 12:12 am #

    Lol.. red tights actually, but different strokes for different folks. :) I
    think one on a post it could do quite nicely actually!

  55. Vince June 17, 2010 at 9:12 pm #

    You deserved to win content is King. And you deliver that. I truly beleive that people will read the back of a fag packet if the content is interesting. However they may not even pick it up if the packet is not enticing.
    Not sure if I said this right but you know what I mean…

  56. virginbloggernotes June 18, 2010 at 1:04 am #

    Thanks, Vince. When I was a kid I used to sit at the breakfast table and read the back of cereal boxes because there was interesting stuff on there, so I know exactly what you mean :)

  57. Alan Ashwood February 14, 2011 at 6:09 am #

    Hi Jean, this is my first visit.

    I love the style of your blog, and the brilliant header looks just like the wall next to my computer. The only difference is that the writing on yours is legible.
    I just noticed that one of the post its on my wall reads “Don’t Procrastinate”, another says “Well I’m not sure”, the next says “Hang On a Minute”, “Make Coffee”, “Leave It Till Later”, etc.
    I’ll sort them out – later.
    Alan Ashwood recently posted..A Day in the Life of an Internet Marketer


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