5 Remarkable Resources on Building a Better Blog

by Derek Halpern · 32 comments

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Today I’ve got 5 resources about building websites that you’ve got to check out.

  • The true cost of entrepreneurship (what your friends and family will never understand)
  • 5 steps to building a better blog (an oldie, but did you finish all 5 steps yet?)
  • The dirty little words that prevent your readers from buying whatever it is you’re selling (I call them wallet-closing words).
  • A remarkable, high-converting feature box download (for Thesis users)
  • 3 beautiful website designs that use Thesis (for design inspiration)

Plus, I need your opinion…

5 Resources on Building a Better Blog

First, let’s start with the resources:

1. The True Cost of Entrepreneurship

When you begin building a web-based business, your friends will think life is great. They’ll think that all you do is sit home all day and do nothing. They don’t understand though, and this article by Rae explains this in detail.

(Note, I want you to pay close attention to some of the comments on this article. See how some people overreact?)

2. 5 steps to building a better blog

We published this article on DIYthemes a few weeks back, but today I want to check in with you. Have you followed these 5 steps yet? If not, why? You’re only hurting yourself.

3. How to Eliminate “Wallet Closing Words” from your Landing Pages, Blog Posts, and Emails

There are words that REPEL your customers… Words that stop them—dead in their tracks—from buying whatever it is you’re selling. What are they? Listen to this podcast all about the psychology of language.

4. A simple little download that lets you add a great feature box into your Thesis Theme

By now you know I love the Feature Box, so I’ll spare you the “selling.” If you want to add a Feature Box into your Thesis Theme, it’s easy. Just grab this feature box download here.

5. 3 beautiful blog designs that use Thesis (for design inspiration)

People always ask me something like, “Derek, can Thesis do [insert question about web design?].”

And the answer is always yes. Especially when you work with a developer.

Out-of-the-box, no framework can create some of these advanced customizations, but I’m sharing these great web designs simply because it’s good for inspiration.

So, without further ado, here are 3 remarkable Thesis designs:

1. Marie Forleo – If you don’t know who Marie Forleo is, here’s what I told this woman I met over the weekend: “If you don’t LOVE Marie Forleo after visiting her site, I’ll give you $100.” Seriously. I’m not making that offer to you right now, but no joke, it’s impossible to not love her and what she does.

Marie Forleo Web Design

Plus, as you can see, her design is based off Thesis, and it looks AMAZING.

2. Psyblog – By now you know I’m a huge psychology buff, and as you might have guessed, that’s why I love this blog called Psyblog. It’s one of the top psychology blogs, and as you’ll soon see, he breaks down complex academic research into easy-to-understand action steps that anyone can implement.

Psyblog web design

Plus, as you can see, Psyblog uses Thesis too.

3. Missy Ward – Missy Ward is the co-founder of Affiliate Summit, the largest affiliate marketing conference that attracts thousands of people to Vegas in January and NYC in August. She just launched a new design and it’s Thesis. Look how amazing it is:

MIssy Ward Web Design

Now I need your opinion…

I’m compling data on two separate scenarios. One about web design horror stories, and the other about web design success stories.

If you have a story about either, I’d love for you to share your experience by leaving a comment on either (or both) of the two articles below:

Just click the link above and share your story in the comments.

And don’t worry… soon you’ll see why I’m collecting these stories.

About the Author: Derek Halpern ran marketing at DIYthemes, and is the founder of Social Triggers. To get more tips on how to be confident, sign up to his list here.

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Please don’t stereotype women. I do not love Maria Forleo. I’m sure she’s a nice person, but I’m not a fan of the talk about juicing and vision boards, and the dancing on a video that has nothing to do with dance (just using examples from her home page). The impression I get from her is that she thinks all women’s brains are filled with fluff and being an entrepreneur is a matter of learning to control the fluff. W00, you go, girl! Blech.


I fail to see how I was stereotyping. Marie Forleo targets women as her main audience, and I believe she does an AWESOME job dispensing great advice. She’s one of the few newsletters I subscribe to, and thought I’d share it with everyone.


You were stereotyping when you said “if you’re a woman, then you will love Maria Forleo.” Looks like you changed it, so that’s good–thanks for that. Now you’re saying it’s impossible not to love her (a huge, incorrect generalization to be sure, but not a stereotype singling out one group).


Get a life, Maggie. Jeez.


Maggie, I think if you would actually pay more attention to Marie’s ideas, rather than the way they are presented, you’d be less critical towards her.

I mean, you can’t argue about the taste, some people like dancing in the videos, some people don’t, but Marie has built a very successful business, helped a lot of other women do the same and is very respected among successful online entrepreneurs (really, take a look at her “Praise” page, there are some big names there). Probably there’s something more to it than visions boards and juicing, don’t you think?

Don’t be so quick to judge a book by it’s cover.

Stephanie Barnhizer

Would love a “how to” create a successful website within a structured environment (e.g. university). I need to (1) attract students; (2) provide information to parents and (3) get students to events.

Thank you ~ I am still new to website building and am having fun (and am still somewhat “random”)! I appreciate your blog!

Sarah J.

Marie Forleo visited her site… don’t love her. Thanks for the attempt anyway.

Kind of looks like you sold out with this post though, advertising sites I dunno but to me I got a peddler vibe this time Derek.

[Editor’s note: Please disregard Sarah’s comment. She’s not a real person, as shown by Derek below]


Well, I do. We’ll agree to disagree. But what do you mean by sold out? I’m showcasing different Thesis designs from people that I like. Psyblog, Marie Forleo, and Missy Ward have great Thesis designs (and I happen to like what they’re up to, too).

Derek Halpern

Hi Sarah, I just want to call out one more thing. Our records indicate you have the same IP address as John P.

It looks like someone is sitting at their computer and trolling today. Don’t you have anything better to do?

John P.

This site has lost all credibility, now you have to have moderator approval to post comments? Seriously? Censoring comments to improve the “Positive” vibe and leave out honest critiques…well Enough said.


You have lost your mind. We require the FIRST comment to be approved as a way to weed out spammers. We don’t moderate real comments from real people.

Note: You just commented on this post without me approving it. It just appeared here.

Take your outrage elsewhere. Quite frankly, I’d rather you not read the blog.

Derek Halpern

Hi John, I just want to call out one more thing. Our records indicate you have the same IP address as Sarah J.

It looks like someone is sitting at their computer and trolling today. Don’t you have anything better to do?


Thank you for the 5 great tips Derek. Today, I actually had some time to spend with them and I am glad I did. I particularly liked the “wallet closing words” and learned a thing or two.

Tom Watson

Great info as always…thanks!

Caroline Leopold

After reading this post, I went into mourning and draped black over my mirrors. I am a writer, on the geek side of life. Medical and scientific research interests me. My eyes are myopic from squinting over statistics in journals in wee fonts. Normally, I think I’m intelligent, caring and witty (and cute to boot). But Marie Forleo’s site made me question my worth. The site was beautifully designed, had messaging perfectly on point for her to draw business, and she looks like Liz Lemon with an extreme makeover – breezy, beautiful, bright and fun. And promises give what people want – money, sex appeal, shiny hair, etc. But I write to illuminate truth in nature, not manufacture a brand. One thing I must remember is that all types make the world go round. Perhaps I should spruce up my website’s look a bit – add popping action words to my dry copy – give my news a little journalipstick. Eh, who am I kidding? I’m too busy learning programming languages to bother with image management. But it certainly is fun to imagine how I could cadge some magic from the marketing geniuses out there. And with a generous does Photoshop.

Dr. Jerry Hoskin

Enjoyed your comment. Seems like you have talent to manage both image first and then “geek side” copy for the ‘die-hard readers’ ready to read ‘truth illuminating’ stuff. I get that you are ntelligent, caring and [witty] (and cute to boot). Two out of four fit my self evaluation also.


Derek I swear I just stumbled across Marie’s website last week and was amazed at the design. Now you’re showcasing it. Crazy.

I think the previous commenters might have missed the point of you using Marie’s website as a great design. To the naked eye it may just look like a colorful website with some woman looking “beautiful” on every page.

But the trained eye sees the optin boxes brilliantly placed throughout her site. A great balance of landing pages and content pages. Header graphics and more change depending on the page you’re on. And more!

Try buying a theme online with that type of functionality built in.

The other sites were great designs as well. Really shows the power of using Thesis to combine functionality with great design.

Good stuff, thanks again.

Peter Nguyen

I really don’t like the default design and layout of the “out of the box” thesis framework.

I wish there’s a user guide that shows you how you can do the customization to achieve the cool “look and feel” that can give your site a professional and beautiful design.

I wish there are “recipes” available that you can just copy and do minor tweaks to achieve the look and feel you want.

Anyone know of any resources that help with this?

Gregory Ciotti

Are you talking about Thesis skins?

Go to Kolakube, thank me later.



The support forums are full of customisation examples of every sort.

Kathy Henderson-Sturtz

Thanks for the chuckle, Peter. You sound like a guy I once spoke with who admitted buying a box of yellow cake mix expecting to open it and pull out a Twinkie.

Thesis has a User’s Guide, a forum full of incredibly talented and generous users willing to share tips and advice, plus there are plenty of reputable sites on the Internet with info, plus free and low cost skins to save you the trouble of customizing most anything.

You don’t need a Thesis framework on which to build your site. Head to a site bakery and design chef and buy yourself a finished cake.

JudyAnn Lorenz

The high cost of entrepreneurship is a reality that many of us learn. I’ve had kids do without fun stuff, pinched pennies and worked long hard days. We all loved it. I envy Rae’s ability to write one of the formula gems of blogging that landed on a silly drama which drew so much fine flaming comment which really rocks the SEO. I need to start a rumor or something, but as an entrepreneur with a slow start up, I don’t have time. ROFLMAO


I second Peter N.’s question.

Tamal Anwar

I will definitely give it a read -all the resources you have mentioned. Thanks


Another one who’s left feeling like the Village Idiot …

…gets the red out?

Ironic really.

Perhaps it’s an American saying?

Lisa Firke

“Gets the red out” is from an old Visine advertisement, for eye drops.

Rob @ Atlanta Real Estate

Don’t think I’ve seen a good ‘ole blog throw down on the Thesis blog ever. Surely there must have been one, but I must of missed it.

Anyway – good stuff. Entertaining.

The real question is: why doesn’t my killer Thesis framed site ever make it into any of these lists?

If I told you the number of leads it captures and the REVENUE it generates year after year, you would probably use it as Case Study #1.


Maisie Spady

An attention-grabbing dialogue is worth comment. I believe that it’s best to write extra on this subject, it may not be a taboo topic but usually people are not enough to talk on such topics. To the next. Cheers


I also agree with Peter N.
We need a good training course on Thesis.
I’s such a powerful theme and can do a lot!

It’s nice to see snippets in the forum and I know you can get third-party skins and such but it would be nice to have a really good training area to take you from 0 – infinity with his product.

That being said,,,,It’s still one of the best out there


Lisa Firke

Dblues, you don’t need a training course in Thesis, per se. What you need is thorough grounding in design concepts and a good working knowledge of html and css. Not so much so you can write code not already present in WordPress and Thesis, but so you know what’s possible. A great resource for this are the tutorials at Lynda.com.

And don’t forget there are a ton of resources and tutorials right here on the diythemes.com site. The user community has been extraordinarily active.

Missy Ward

Hey Derek,

Just getting caught up from the show and saw the incoming link. Yeah, I’m very happy with how the re-design came out and I’m getting a 65% lift in email signups with this layout. Kudos to Chase Reeves, the designer who really hit the nail on the head with this one.


love the article, thanks Derek! ♥
I am not rocking Thesis yet but i certainly will be soon! and i found Marie’s site and Marie herself incredibly inspirational and feel that she will prove to be a valuable resource for me so thanks again!