How to write blog posts that designers actually want to read

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designers read your blog content

In the relatively short amount of time I have been blogging about design, I have been asked some version of the following question multiple times:

 
“What are the best kinds of design articles to write?”

I can understand the motivation behind the question. The more designers read your blog posts, the more influence you have in the design community, and the closer you get to achieving whatever goals you have for your design blog and design business. Whether you hope to find more clients, sell more ad space, or simply have a stronger voice in the community, the

first step to success is actually getting people to read what you write.

This article will explore a few of the lessons I have learned during my short time of blogging. I have noticed a few trends in what makes a design article popular (not only here at GDB, but on some of my favorite design blogs) and would like to share some of my insights with you today.

While the following is not a complete or exhaustive list, the tips mentioned in this article are meant to spur conversation, discuss and brainstorming about how to best reach the online design community.

Be creative, fresh and original

While this tip might seem obvious to a lot of designers, it seems to be highly overlooked. The online design community is one of the most creative communities around, and whether you’re talking about print graphics, web design techniques, or copywriting, designers love material that is fresh and original.

When I receive proposals for guest articles here at GDB, many times potential writers pitch ideas that are extremely similar to content I have read on design blogs before. When writing content that will be read by designers, make sure you don’t copy anyone.

Of course there is nothing wrong with addressing a common issue. Certainly, common topics are bound to be repeated but try to be fresh and original when writing about common topics. As they say in the journalism industry, take it from an angle.

Dig deeper, don’t be superficial

There is nothing more disappointing than reading a great headline on twitter, digg, or another site, clicking the link and then finding out the article contains nothing of great significance or deep value.

When approaching a topic, take time to consider opposing views, unique methods, distinct opinions, and more. This will allow you to fully explore a topic. If you need to take more than one blog post to explore a particular subject, do it. There is nothing wrong with digging deeper on any particular subject. It’s the shallow articles that leave readers asking for more and usually cause them to leave your site.

Solve designers’ problems

I read an excellent piece of advice the other day on CopyBlogger.com:
“…[P]eople don’t come to your blog to find out what you think. They come to your blog for solutions to their problems.”
Understanding the difference between a personal blog and a professional blog is key in this aspect. Even designers like David Airey, who write from a more personal angle, still take time to help their readers solve problems.

So what kinds of problems do designers face? That’s a great question. If you’re a designer, you should be able to answer that question fairly easily. If your design career is problem-free then you have even more of a responsibility to write, because we would all love to learn from you!

To get an idea of what designers struggle with, try visiting forums or the comment sections of other design blogs. Pay attention to what other designers are asking about, formulate some strong ideas about common problems designers face, and get writing. You’ll find that the more you can solve problems for your readers, the more loyal and appreciative your readership community will be.

Get into the minds of your readers

One of the best ways I have found to develop new topics to write about is by being heavily involved in the comment areas of GDB. If you frequently post a comment on Graphic Design Blender, you have more than likely had a conversation with me. I love getting ideas and suggestions from those that most frequently read the blog and interact with other designers here.

Another way to know what designers are thinking is to simply ask them. Pose questions in popular design blog comment areas. Ask designers on twitter or other social media, email your close friends, etc. I have found that people are more than willing to give you ideas about what to write about if you just ask.

Why? They would rather have you solve their problems than try to do it themselves. This creates a perfect opportunity for you to write a new article.

Use good grammar and syntax

I know this isn’t a rule that pertains exclusively to design blogs, but it is extremely important in the blogosphere. There are way too many poorly written blog posts out there. It’s time that we start writing more professionally and take extra time editing our content.

Now, before I invite a number of antagonists to insult my grammar or writing style, let me be the first to admit that I am not perfect. I’m no grammarian, but I do strive to write well-written, easy-to-read content that flows well and reaches my audience.

In addition to good grammar, you have to write with an interesting voice. Don’t be boring. Put a little of your own personality into your writing and you will see that others are more likely to interact with you, recommend your posts, and return for more reading.

Don’t overinflate your content

Nothing is worse than lying to your audience. Don’t write headlines that promise outrageous things like “Designing an entire web site in less than an hour” or “Mastering logo design with this one blog post”. While this may drive a substantial amount of traffic to your blog, you will pay the price for such traffic in lost trust with your readership community.

Be honest in your writing. Let readers know exactly what they are going to get when they read your post.

What else would you add?

As I said previously, this is by no means an exhaustive list. What other tips can you share with us about writing content that designers actually want to read? What successes have you seen at your design blog? Thanks for sharing!

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About Preston D Lee

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

Comments

  1. other point * don’t use inappropriate language ;)

    • @GUS the Gamer,
      Ha. Okay, you got me on that one. Good response. Nice to see you back here, GUS.

    • Zlatan Halilovic says:

      @GUS the Gamer, hmmm, I’m not so sure about that one. I’ve seen some design blogs use what could be called inappropriate language in a funny way, and a lot of people like that.

  2. I have just started my own blog, but I found that a great way to start was to answer questions I get asked every day through my job as a project manager. It links with your point in remembering your audience – if people can actually go and change/improve what they are doing perhaps immediately as a result of your post then there will be people interested and engaged with your content.
    Nice post – always good to remind the point of a post!

    • @Emily Smith,
      That’s a great point, Emily. I like the idea of writing content that invites people act immediately. What kind of things do you write about that encourage other people to act quickly?

  3. Great article. Short and to the point. I’m in the planning stages of my own design blog, as my current site lacks a lot.Typos, and poorly written posts are such a disservice to the community, and really undermine the content by appearing unprofessional.

    Cheers!

    • @rorschach design,
      Well put. Thanks for sharing. What do you do to ensure less typos or grammatical mistakes? Any tips?

      • @Preston D Lee, Read, re-read, wait, and then read again. It’s not enough to avoid typos and spelling mistakes. In order to engage a reader the post must flow in the same way a story would. A few typos have slipped onto my site, my tweets, and various other things, but for the most part, it’s a matter of taking the time.

        I think one of the key things is also to get someone to read it for you. That way you get a different perspective, since it’s always hard to edit your own writing.

  4. Good post, to the point. What makes me leave a blog, written by a self called design/business professional, and never come back are big typos like the misuse of its and it’s or their and there. I can’t believe how frequent these are. You are right, grammar is very important.

    Resolving issues is also important, as you say, and I would add to that two others: generate ideas and stimulate debate, creating, among the people posting comments, an exchange of opinions and experiences.

  5. great article. loved it. I agree with your point of view esp when you pointed out the difference between a personal blog and a professional blog. I’m just a novice (bachelors 2nd year) working on a personal blog for the time being but I’m planning to move on professional blogging after some (or many) months. For now, I’m reading many blogs, looking out how the blogging world looks like. Its more of a learning experience for me right now. Its these type of articles that help me a lot. Thankx again.
    any last advices?

    prashish

  6. I really did not enjoy reading this article, Just kidding. I loved it. I wrote a few articles for GDB and it did stir up some great conversation. They were topics that were of great concern to me and knew that others would benefit from them. One best way to forecast the level of interest is to post the question in a forum and she how it does. Then gather input from others and write your articles. This way your article is a collective effort of opinions and not just your own understanding.

  7. Another good post Preston. I especially liked the points about personal or professional blogs and how the content should be useful to others. Many of the ideas for articles I come up with are interesting to me but I’m not sure how much use others would get from them, so I don’t take them any further.

    Personally I would like to write more freely, without worrying too much about structure and grammar; I don’t want to feel like I’m writing a school essay that’ll be marked when handed in. However, I realise why these things are important, so I try to keep a balance between the two.

  8. Thank you for sharing this post! We are not writing design articles but most of your points can be applied to our business as well. Thinking about what kind of problems your readers have, is a great question to ask.

  9. Wonderful blog indeed…I’m not a blogger, but as I’m a designer, so could get lots of concepts here…So enjoyed a lot..Thank you so much for such a nice blog..Will be in touch with you regularly..:)

  10. There are many concepts valuable in this blog.
    Mario, a french canadian

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