Designers, stop and think about why you're blogging

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I make an effort to frequently visit the web sites, portfolios, or blogs of people who take time to leave comments here at GDB, follow me on twitter, or ‘like’ GDB on our facebook page. Needless to say, I spend quite a bit of time looking through content that other designers produce. And there has been a common concern that I have experienced nearly every time I visit a designer’s company or personal blog:

They don’t seem to think about why they are blogging.

Today I’d like to help you discover the “why” behind your design blog. By doing so, you will be able to attract a larger percentage of your target audience and, ultimately, be a more successful designer and blogger. Read on, my friends.

Why do YOU blog about design?

Before I get to far into the article, I’d like to know what your motivation is for blogging about design. Are you hoping to become the next Smashing Magazine, Web Designer Depot, or Elliot Stocks? Are you trying to use your blog to increase traffic and consequently find more clients? Are you blogging about design so you’ll be more attractive to potential employers? Or (dread the thought) are you blogging about design because that’s what all the other designers are doing?

Take a minute and share your motivation for blogging with us by leaving a comment on this post.

Reasons designers blog: and why most of them don’t make sense

This is the first time we have covered this particular topic here on GDB, take a gander at one of our favorite posts: “Top Designers Discuss Why They Blog“. It discusses reasons designers should blog, advice and resources for starting a blog, and opinions from top blogging-designers like Chris Spooner, Jon Phillips, Jacob Cass, David Airey and more.

As I’ve investigated this topic, the following are the most common reasons for blogging:

Establish yourself as an authority within the design community

Create good relationships with other designers

Become “popular” and generate a large following

Make money from advertising

Now, none of these motives are bad in and of themselves, but it seems to me that a lot of design-bloggers are missing the point. I recently visited a blog, for example, that was part of a designer’s business web site. Using a blog as part of your marketing strategy as a designer is a great idea. But this particular designer, who was a freelancer and no doubt depended on finding constant clients in order to make a steady income, blogged mostly about design inspiration and interviews. It seemed to me that this particular designer was blogging to attract other designers instead of blogging to attract clients.

Let me explain further:

If you want to attract clients, blog about:

• Basic design principles such as “Typography Tips for non-designers” by Joe Malleck.
• How to find a good designer -or-
• What to expect when working with a designer.

If you want to attract designers, blog about:

• Inspiration
• Interviews -or-
• Advanced design tutorials

There’s a better way

Blogging about design is tricky business. It’s hard to find your voice in the design community. The purpose of this article is to point out that there is a better way to blog.

Blog to your target audience.

I know it’s hard to read blogs like this one, Smashing Magazine, Webdesigner Depot, or Line25, but keep in mind, these blogs are writing to an audience of designers. It’s likely you are writing to an audience of clients, right? So how can you find a good balance between blogging about boring client-related stuff and also making your mark in the design community? Let’s have a look:

If you want to attract both designers and clients, blog about:

• Client relationships with designers
• Your design process (showcase work you have done and process behind it)
• Pricing out design projects
• Principles of good project management

Take, for example, some of the articles written by Jacob Cass at his blog, JustCreativeDesign.com. Some of his top articles include ones like “What makes a good logo?”, “Why logo design does not cost $5.00″, and “How to design a logo”. Can’t you see both designers and potential clients searching google or bing for these very topics?

Keep your audience in mind

If you do happen to blog a lot about inspiration, interviews, or advanced tutorials, that’s fine. As long as it meshes with your blog’s goals and the target audience you are trying to reach. My invitation to you today is to take a step back and think about who you are really trying to reach with your blog. Are you trying to make your mark on the design community or are you trying to attract new clients for your design business. Possibly you have an entirely different purpose. Just make sure you cater to that purpose and you’ll be successful.

Good luck in all your blogging and designing persuits!

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About Preston D Lee

Preston is a web designer, entrepreneur, and the founder of this blog. @prestondlee

Comments

  1. Great article…my very new blog is aimed at clients, not designers, since I feel that there are so many out there who already know so much about website design…I prefer not to try and be heard above them. Instead, I prefer to blog for my clients…make it useful and interesting for them and perhaps even touch on topics that aren’t often discussed regarding website development and the client/designer relationship. I hope that it will attract new clients and make existing clients more loyal. We’ll see!

    • @Amanda,
      Excellent point, Amanda. I think that was well-evidenced in your article you recently published here at GDB. It could have been aimed at either designers -or- clients.

      Good luck in your blogging!

  2. Very nice read. Tweeted to spread the word because I really enjoyed reading it and hope others too

  3. Much of the reason I don’t blog much is that so many things are said, duplicated and I’d rather fill an empty niche. Less and less of those nowadays. But if I wanted to hit blogging hard, I think I’d focus on my clients interests. Meaning, I’d talk about what things work for me that you (client) might like and new ways to do things. That way I can be able to educate through my writing, if clients ever got interested.

    It’s hard to care about blogging when I’ve been luke warm about it for so long. I think I’ve failed at both a personal blog as well as a design / resource blog because I’ve had them combined in the blog, but despite being a reflection of me, it always felt like not enough on both sides. There’s no right answers.

    I don’t feel like giving up on it or anything, I just blog about things i like when everything clicks, like I happen to have the time to write, the topic is fun and it’s not overcooked in the blogosphere already.

    I do like this blog. It’s casual, attractive, the topics are nice and I can dive in and out when I like. I also like the idea of supplementing the blog with twitter. I think I always would have time for twitter posts, if for nothing else but to save interesting web pages for later. A tweet is as good as a blog post, it’s just you want to give them the right real estate within your blog.

  4. You’ll see from my blog, that I blog very infrequently. What motivates me to actually write something usually is an issue or topic that starts life a personal gripe! Although it’s a design blog I don’t limit myself to a particular topic. I use my blog as a pesonal journal – a good a reason as any I suppose. Too many design blogs are a case of blogging for bloggings’ sake. The quality of content is often uninspiring as topics are just regurgitated over and over. My advice to anyone, is to strive for originality and quality over quantity.

  5. Just about everyone who is passionate about their work likes to talk about it. Some of the most enthusiastic–and worst–writing comes from designers. They tend to be more visual than verbal, so the writing either meanders pointlessly or is filled with errors in grammar, spelling and syntax. If the point is to promote the work (and it usually is), bad writing can do more harm than good. People who don’t write for a living should have someone with experience look at their copy before it is posted. As with any business writing, the blog post should answer (even if obliquely) the reader’s question: “What’s in this for me?”

  6. I think a good balance of both client -friendly and graphic-friendly is a good idea. I think it’s safe to say that at any moment could be a persons first visit to your blog, so blog with that in mind. This post confirmed for me that I’m on the right path. Thanks.

  7. I just started blogging. Not trying to get e-famous, but the other reasons (traffic, search ranking, connecting with clients) seem more on track. For the most part I had nothing to start with, so I just spit out a few random posts just to get started. Reading your post, it really makes sense to take a look at the body of posts you’ve created and see if you are really reaching your audience.

    A design blog is really a marketing campaign and should probably be treated as such. A lot of people I’m sure enjoy the freedom of writing about whatever they feel like, but they should try to mix in posts that hit a specific target (clients, link-bait posts to bring in site traffic, expertise on a very specific subject, etc.)

  8. Excellent points – luckily, I’ve already determined why I want to blog – to produce more client leads. We try to keep all of our posts geared toward the client rather than other designers (how we go about market research, what to expect in the first meeting, strange anomalies in the design world, etc.), but it seems to be a much more difficult subject to tackle than posts geared toward other designers.

    Would it be wise or a waste of time to try to target both? What if we were trying to build a client base AND become well-known in the design community?

  9. Thank you for posting this article! On my blog I try to cater to both sides, inspiring other designers and photographers. Along with showcases a lot of work, to target potential clients. Plus I learn a lot about my self when I blog!
    http://mistdesigns.wordpress.com/

    Thanks for raising a good topic.

  10. I started my blog to share what I’ve learn over the past 10 years as a designer as well as sharing some of my ideas which would otherwise sit on my hard drive not doing much. So I guess my blog is more geared towards other designers, although I wouldn’t mind attracting a few potential clients through it. I’m trying to stick to a schedule where I go no more than 3 days without an article to keep it fresh with content.

  11. This article has truly helped me filter out what I should be blogging about on my personal website. Thanks for the great tips! I hope to bring in new clients, so let’s hope I can keep with it as it’s very easy to lose motivation with blogging!

  12. David Ogunyemi says:

    I started blogging to simply continue on from what I started at university but now as a graphic design graduate. During my second year of uni we were asked to start a blog to document our assignments and the process we took towards completing them (research, sketches, ideation designs etc). Since then I’ve just had the urge to continue blogging about the design steps and things I have delved into since the completion of my degree.

    But I haven’t until now thought about making it a niche or a SUPER NICHE blog in order to cater to designers or even possible clients, I suppose that is something for me to now consider (having read previous comments on here) as it seems to add more weight or substance to a blog.

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