Is your design blog hurting your design business?

Whether you are part of a design firm or an independent freelance designer, chances are you blog about design. The design community is enormous and (dare I say) millions of designers share their thoughts online every week.
But have you ever paused to consider whether your design blog is helping or hurting your design business? This article will focus on the pro’s and con’s of managing a design blog: ways it might help or hurt your design business.


Ways a design blog can HURT your design business

Time is money
Writing for and managing a blog is very time consuming. A lot of designers who decide to take up blogging forget that they aren’t in the business of blogging, they are in the business of design. The time the spend writing for and promoting their blog posts, take away from the time they could be spending finding new clients, getting projects done more quickly, or learning new skills. When you let your blog take precedence over the design projects your clients are waiting on, your blog is hurting your business.

Little return on investment
Let’s face it–for most designers, blogging is not very lucrative. You could spend hours each week crafting your posts and promoting them online only to rake in a few cents from the Google Ads you’ve placed on the site. Imagine if you found a new client and, instead of blogging for 10 hours a week, you completed a project for them. Multiply that by the amount you charge per hour and you can quickly see how blogging might hurt your design business.

Clients may see the bad side of you
I am amazed by the number of negative client comments I see on designers’ blogs. In case you didn’t know– the web is open to EVERYONE. This includes your clients. Never, under any circumstances, should you post a negative comment, bad experience, or evil thought about your clients. It will come back to hurt your design business sooner or later.

Clients become vigilant
If your clients know about your blog, which is most likely to happen, they might begin to watch your activity on the blog. If you miss an important deadline for your client, but happen to post your latest article in time for the high-traffic times on your site, that’s a problem. Whether your client chooses to address the issue with you or not, they’ll take notice.

What other ways could a design blog hurt your design business? What would you add to the list?

Ways a design blog can HELP your design business

Helps you establish a better online presence
Whether you are a freelance designer or a design firm working for thousands of clients, establishing your online presence is vital. Few design agencies or freelancers can be successful today without a good knowledge of the web. In addition, if you have strong online presence, you are more likely to be found (Assuming you manage your SEO properly) by potential clients. Lastly, as you build your reputation and find your voice in the design community, other designers are more likely to approach you with projects they need help with which translates to more revenue.

Can be used as a high-ranking page where clients can then be led to contact you
Nothing is better for a designer than when client find you instead of the other way around. By creating a high-ranking design blog, clients are more likely to find you organically. Linking to your design portfolio, a place to contact you easily, and other important information is an important aspect of any design blog whose purpose is to help the design business.

Builds your credibility as a designer
When clients search for a designer, they want someone who knows what they are talking about. Writing regularly for a design blog shows that you know what you are doing. This helps potential clients gain trust in your work and makes them more likely to hire you for their next project.

Forces you to learn new things
As a designer, you must always be learning. What better way to force yourself to learn than to generate an audience who depends on you to supply them with good information and techniques? Some things you might learn from starting your own design blog include writing skills, time management skills, relationship skills, web design skills, social media skills, and more.

What else would you add? How has managing a design blog helped your business?

Solution: Define the purpose of your design blog

In order to decide if you should continue with your design blog or not, you must evaluate it’s effectiveness. This is achieved by defining a clear purpose for your blog. Where do you see your blog in 6 months, 1 year, 5 years, or 10 years? Will it help you achieve your business goals as a designer or a design firm?

Some motivations for maintaining a design blog might include:

  • Making money from advertising and affiliate work.
  • Gaining exposure to increase client base.
  • Learning new skills and sharing them with others.
  • Becoming a credible and useful source for information.

Whatever the goal of your design blog is, make sure that everything you do is a means to the end of reaching those goals.

Your turn to talk. Does your design blog help or hurt your business?

These are a few things I have seen from upcoming designer/bloggers. What other opinions, thoughts, tips or advice would you offer to any designer or design firm who manages a blog or hopes to in the future?

About Preston D Lee

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

Comments

  1. What percentage of bloggers make serious money (say, $1000+ per month) off their blogs? It must be terribly small. I know one Tier 1 blogger, and I don’t think she makes a whole heck of lot directly from her blog.

    Seth Roberts (http://www.blog.sethroberts.net) got me interested in blogging. He pushes the idea that blogging lets you (1) play with ideas you may not be able to in other parts of your life and (2) build a reputation as an expert in some area.

    Re: point 2, I’d add that you can either raise your profile in a competency or establish a profile in a new competency (or both, of course). The second is more important, because building credibility in a new competency is naturally harder than strengthening credibility in an old one, and blogging is a way to do it that doesn’t rely on someone else giving you the opportunity.

    You don’t need a lot of readers to do this either. Even if it only serves as an idea portfolio for perspective partners, it’s working for you.

  2. Good post, some solid advice here.

    It’s easy to fall into a trap, especially if you are spending too much time blogging and not producing new work. This is what happens to a lot of people when they start out, I know it did with me.

    Having learned that lesson, I like to plan my posts. Sometimes its just a few days in advance, but keeping yourself organized is the key. I keep notes on ideas and look to explore them in my downtime. This usually keeps me moving.

  3. Hey Preston, you definitely bring up some pertinent points regarding the perils of having a design blog. After reading them, it definitely sheds light on some areas that we need to watch for. By the way, I like how you mention the dangers but also the benefits of having a blog. In my opinion, if used in the right way, a blog can definitely boost your business and take it to the next level. Anyway, great article and I really enjoyed it. I really like your writing style. Keep up the great work!

  4. I loved that you included both sides of the blogging coin.
    As a design blogger, I’ve experienced the good and the bad with mine.

    The Bad First…
    Background: I wanted to know if blogging had value in driving traffic to my site. So I did a month long experiment… I followed popular tips by a favorite blogger (The Design Cubicle) and blogged everyday about the progress. All off hours…to see the log: http://bit.ly/iJyV0
    The result: It definitely worked, but in the end I had blogging burn out and just couldn’t maintain it. I feel it affected my credibility, but can’t really measure it. My thinking is though, what’s the point of traffic if you then drop off the face of the earth? It was a learning lesson, but now I have goals to work towards like building better SEO, scheduling time, and keeping notes when topic ideas strike.

    The Good….
    I am a MUCH better communicator and have more credibility with my referral network. I network heavily for my business at various events and meetings and not only can I articulate what I do to a regular business person quickly and effectively, but after when they follow up online my credibility is reinforced. I get meetings with potential prospects faster and I’m landing more of the clients that I really want.

    I think the important key is to figure out what your business goal is first, then figuring out if blogging will help you achieve it. Like any other social media outlet, it’s just another tool available in the arsenal.

  5. “The time the spend writing for and promoting their blog posts, take away from the time they could be spending finding new clients, getting projects done more quickly, or learning new skills. When you let your blog take precedence over the design projects your clients are waiting on, your blog is hurting your business.”

    This right here was my first major question when I started my design site (Doug Draws). No one could seem to answer it to my satisfaction, but you just did. I kept telling everyone “I am an illustrator…what do I need a blog for?” But everyone told me that I should have a blog on the site. Finally I found a theme I liked which I could tweak to my satisfaction and, yes – it had a blog attached.

    So I occasionally write some blog articles and I have quite a few from my old blog on Blogger which I can plagiarize, but in truth I’m not too big into the whole “blogging” thing. As you said in your article, if it begins to draw in clients (pun intended) or adds to the exposure of my site then I may keep doing it. Otherwise, for now, it’s just a sideline hobby.

  6. I blogged about Graphic Design Blender and a couple of other sites…This site is a great tool for designers and I wanted other people to know about it–I especially loved this article!

  7. I hadn’t thought about client’s reading a blog and thinking “Hey, he’s got time for that, what about me?”

    One thing I had put a lot of thought into is just how vulnerable should you be in your blog? Can you admit that you don’t have all the answers ever? Will that make a client think that you’re less of an expert and therefore deserve less than what you’re asking?

    • @Travis Ulrich,
      That’s an interesting question, Travis. I think you should definitely be careful about what you say–especially if your clients read your blog–but I also think clients appreciate people who admit they don’ know everything but are willing to learn.

      There’s nothing wrong with essentially saying “I don’t know the answer to that, but I’d love to find out for you.”

      Also, I think writing about a topic you don’t understand shows your willingness to learn about that particular topic. It seems to be a good thing to me as long as you handle it right.

      Nice thoughts. Thanks.

  8. The only thing I didn’t like about this post is the first image. Ouch!

  9. You’ve raised some excellent points in this article. Blogging can be a minefield. When you start out you don’t realise just how much time maintaining a blog steals away from you.

    Like all things it’s about balance. You have to find your equilibrium. Blog enough to make the effort worth it, in a number of ways. I don’t blog expecting a load of benefits. The social & networking aspects of blogging are the big benefits for me. Working alone can be hard, knowing I have a community at my fingertips is a great comfort.

    As far as worrying about clients reading my blog, I don’t. I run my business (and blog) with complete honesty. I wouldn’t blog about a client without their express permission (including displaying work)and any other comments I make give an impression of my outlook and personality.

    I guess you only need to worry about clients reading your blog if you are trying to fake it, whether it be knowledge or circumstances.

    I think blogging is another form of expression, and it benefits my business by giving people an open door into my head. If they don’t like what they find there, chances are we were never destined to work together anyway.

    Great article.

  10. I was actually going to write about this same topic today, but now there is no need!

    Personally I see blogging as an incentive to learn new material and keep the mind sharp. “Teaching by Blogging” allows you to put out worthwhile content as you are improving yourself.

    Better yet, since you are writing what you’re learning for other people to understand, you have a 100% chance of retaining everything you’ve learned. Highschool/College math courses taught us that having the teacher explain it in the classroom doesn’t always mean you’re going to be able to do it when you got home!

  11. Excellent site, keep up the good work. I read a lot of forums on a daily basis and for the most part, people lack substance but, I just wanted to make a quick comment to say I’m glad I found your forum. Thanks
    ==============

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