How to run a successful design blog without sinking your design business

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For those of you who haven’t known me for long, late last year I got a job. Yes a job.

No, I’m not a freelancing sell-out. I still freelance on the side and I still stay in contact with a lot of my freelance friends which is why I still love to write about managing a successful freelance design business.

Anyway, when I got my job I realized there would be less time to continue writing frequently for GDB and was afraid the blog would die quickly.

It seemed to me that I either needed to make some serious changes to how I blogged, or I needed to give up the design blog all together.

Luckily, I found a situation that worked and the past two months have been GDB’s most successful (mostly thanks to you guys- the readers).

Here’s how I manage to run a successful design blog without sinking my business:

Make effective plans

When I was freelancing full-time, I loved the idea of having all the time I wanted. I was king of my world. I was awesome at time management.

Or so I thought.

The truth was, I spent a lot of time trying to come up with good design blog posts. This included wasting a lot of time in forums, social media or just around the internet.

Don’t get me wrong, these are all good things to do, but I was using way too many hours each day just trying to keep my design blog alive.

When I got a full-time job I was forced to make more effective plans. Now I spend 30 minutes each Monday researching and brainstorming new ideas.

Then I spend 60 minutes on Tuesday writing the content for the rest of the upcoming week’s blog posts.

All I have to do after that is manage the blog: moderate comments, interact with readers, network with other designers. It’s much less stressful now and the blog is taking off!

Why? Because I made effective plans and stuck to them.

Stop Rambling

When I first started blogging I read a lot of posts from successful bloggers who said I should shoot for around 1,000 – 1,500 words in each post. For the first year I ran the blog, that’s what I tried to do.

And it was hard.

Not that blogging should be easy, but I wasn’t seeing the kind of results I was hoping for. When I got my job, my blogging time was limited to around 60 minutes per day. That includes writing, managing, promoting, interacting, and everything that goes along with running a successful blog.

So I made an important decision: I stopped rambling.

Instead of writing three 1,500-word posts each week (a total of 4,500 words per week), I wrote three 500-word posts per week (a total of 1,500 words per week). I was worried that GDB readers would start to resent me for scrimping, but guess what.

You’ve loved it.

Or so it seems. Comments are up. Interaction is up. Pageviews and Visits are up. Sharing is up. And frankly, I have you to thank for it. So, thank you. I have thoroughly enjoyed hearing from you and interacting with you. You guys are great! Keep it up.

If you want to be a successful blogger and run a successful design business all at the same time, stop rambling.

Enlist the help of other people

One last thing I did that really helped me get through the transition period was to enlist some friends and colleagues to help me write a little bit of GDB content during my busiest times.

This helped lighten the load so I could refocus my energy, get my ducks in a row (so to speak), and get ready to have a successful 2011 at GDB.

Thanks to everyone who helped me out.

If you want to be successful as a designer and as a design-blogger, be sure to build meaningful relationships with people and help them as they help you.

How do you manage a blog and a business?

Ok, you master bloggers/designers out there. How do you successfully run your design blog without sinking your design business in the process?

What are the tricks of the trade that you have been holding on to?

Share them with us by leaving a comment!

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About Preston D Lee

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

Comments

  1. G’day Preston, great post!

    I know how you feel regarding time. Trying to balance billable hours vs writing content is tough. As a night owl I write most of my posts at night between 10pm-12am. I edit them the next day and that is pretty much it.

    I also try to keep my posts as short as possible. 600 words seems to be where I’m going at the moment. I’ve written a few longer posts, but on reflection I may of been able to split them up into a couple of posts as I wrote about a couple of points.

    It seems there are also many design bloggers who blog to help sell their design business online. If this is a successful sales technique then I would suggest that blogging for these folks isn’t a ‘fit it in’ task, it should be a structured routine that they block out each week.

    Congrats on getting a job by the way, I know its tough out there at the moment! I think you are perfectly placed now to talk about the challenge of freelancing on top of working full time… something along the lines of ‘smart freelance moonlighting tips for hungry designers’ or something like that! ;-)

    All the best!

  2. Thats cool that you’ve been successful with blogging and having found a full time job. This post is actually motivating me to be more active in writing a blog post once more diligently.

    I’ve literally have hundreds of bookmarks that I thought could be used to write a post about but I just never did it.

    Well, here’s my new start to try to network and make some new friends. I can start with you.

    Hello, my name is Rudy. You got a good website here.

    Thanks for sharing.

  3. Good for you!
    This happens to me too. I have no time for my blog because of my full time job, still I don’t want to leave blogging (I just started, and it’s hard). Making connections with other fellow designer is quite hard also, I hope I could write more on my blog and will be successful just like you. Cheers!

  4. great information on blogging for designers. Am a newbie for blogging your article gave me a great insight to run my blog. Thanks

  5. In this high-technology age, design is not everything about talent. You have to know multiple tools to help you create amazing designs you haven’t imagine possible. But these tools are not always available as you search them yourself. You will really need the help of others.

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