“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.