The beginner’s guide to blogging about design

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learning-to-walkSo you want to blog about design, eh? You’ll have to take a number and wait in line because, frankly, there are thousands of blogs about design out there.

Starting a successful design blog is like learning to walk: You will most likely fail a number of times, you’ll need a lot of patience, and you can’t do it on your own.

This article will give you a few pieces of advice to help your blog be as successful as possible in an extremely saturated market.

Why do so many designers blog?

There are probably a lot of reasons that so many designers have decided to start blogging. In a very popular post here on GDB titled “Top Designers Discuss why they blog“, bloggers in the design community like Chris Spooner, Jacob Cass, Andrew Houlme, John Phillips and more, share their motivation for blogging.  After reading through their answers to the question “why do you blog?”, you might notice a few similarities–many designer blog for two primary reasons:

First, They find the interaction with others valuable
If you simply hide away in your own personal corner of the universe and avoid interaction with other designers, you are really missing out! Designers make up one of the most active communities online and the majority of them are willing and anxious to provide feedback, inspire and teach, and help you become a better designer. Take advantage of the design community and give back by blogging about your experience.
Second, It helps them market their design services
While blogging might be an enjoyable hobby, not many designers actually make a full-time salary from it. And that’s okay. A lot of designers don’t necessarily start blogging with that goal in mind. Not one of the designers that responded to the question mentioned above said that they began blogging for money. As a result, blogging can be a great way to get clients, boost reputation, increase your personal brand awareness, and increase your business as a designer.

Getting started: 6 steps to a successful design blog

1Spend a lot of time reading other design blogs. You’ll learn as you read through the rest of this article that one of the most important things you can do to make your blog a valuable tool for other designers is to read what is already out there about design. This will help you become familiar with how the blogosphere functions. You can then find your place in the community and start adding to it.

1Find a niche. As mentioned before, there are thousands of design blogs out there. Certainly new ones are being created every day. It is getting to the point where a design blog can’t simply be just another design blog.

To be successful as a design-blogger, you should carefully consider your niche. It is a longstanding marketing strategy: Define a purpose, and let it drive your success. In other words, instead of blogging about web design, logo design, print design, and all other design under the sun, find an angle. This blog, for example, is tailored towards designers who hope to make design more than a hobby. It provides business tips, client advice, project management suggestions, and more for designers who hope to make a living from their passion.

As you determine your niche, designers are more likely to visit your site when they have a specific need.

1Market your blog as a valuable resource. Thousands of designers, and people in general, have started a blog that is simply their “rantings and ravings about (fill in the particular subject here).” While this may serve a purpose for some bloggers, if you really want to see your blog grow, you should market it as a valuable tool for other designers. Write articles that inspire, teach, or persuade. Then use social media or other means to market your blog as something that others will be missing out on if they don’t read.

1Connect with others via social media. For every design blog created, there is most likely a twitter account, facebook fanpage, or some other social media connection established. If you aren’t currently using social media to market your ideas and your blog’s content, you are missing out on countless opportunities.

1It’s all about content. You’ve heard the phrase: “Content is King”. Believe it or not, it’s the truth. You might be a killer designer but if you can’t provide valuable information for your readers, they are not likely to be visiting your blog in the future. While your blog should look professional, don’t waste so much time ensuring your blog design is the best one around. Use that time to make sure you are providing great content to your readers instead.

1Create a professional theme. I know, I just suggested that the blog’s design doesn’t matter as much as the content–and it’s true. But have you ever heard the phrase “Don’t judge a book by it’s cover”? The truth of the matter is, we always judge a book by its cover and a blog by its theme–especially in the design community. GDB featured an article titled “Build your first wordpress theme with 4 easy-to-follow tutorials“. While I still believe this is a valuable tool to any designer looking to create their own wordpress theme, I strongly suggest a new article I recently discovered on Chris Spooner’s blog. It is titled “How to Build a Custom WordPress Theme from Scratch” and will be a valuable tool for any design-blogger.

My blog is ready…now what?

Once you have decided on your niche, you’ve begun to create a few posts here or there, and you have started to market your blog online, what’s next? The most important thing you can do is craft your posts in a way that will make others want to read them. Below are a few tips on writing content for your design blog:

  • Don’t just duplicate information. Make your content original by finding a new angle, taking a spin on a popular topic, writing about something controversial, and keeping it fresh and creative.
  • Make it easy to read. For most design blogs, I suggest a friendly writing tone. Make it conversational and your readers are more likely to engage and participate.
  • Write about what people care about. Keep your content relevant to your audience. Don’t go off on random tangents that distract or annoy your readers.

Summing it all up. What do you think?

While there are thousands of tips for brand new design-bloggers, the information mentioned in this article is what I feel to be most relevant to a designer who hopes to start a successful blog. What other tips can you add to the list?

About Preston D Lee

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

Comments

  1. I have had such a hard time lifting my blog off the ground. I have been blogging about many different things about websites business related and design related, but I’m not sure which one will get me a better audience and more clients.

    Tell me what you think of my blog and what route I should take; I really need some advice :P http://www.serenedestiny.com/blog

  2. Good article! I really needed some tips as i am creating a new blog! Thank you!

  3. Great post… I’d add that some designers probably blog as a way to document their work / process.

  4. Daniel Ellis says:

    I remember when blogs existed just because people were passionate about their given area and wanted to talk and share it as much as possible. Funny that this wasn’t really mentioned in your reasons to start a blog.

    Today, it seems all blogs are just throwing up content just to get traffic for their advertising/premium services. Most content I’ve found promises big things (especially tutorials), and then the content itself is nothing new or very informative.

    I feel bad complaining about content that is mostly free, but the ulterior motives are becoming more and more blatant, especially with design blogs.

  5. Hi there. Well written article. I agree there are so many design blogs now it’s hard to keep up. I’ve been blogging for close to four years now and it’s definitely a labour of love at times but it is worthwhile. I have gotten design work because of my design blog and I also have a regular writing gig with Sitepoint too, so that was an unexpected bonus. So I’d say for anyone starting out, keep perservering/

  6. Great info, some useful points to start blogging in design community, Thanks for all the work

  7. Really interesting and useful article. I’m a graphic design student with a penchant for all these photographic, design, and communication graphic. I’ve been wanting to start a blog for a while, and only just getting to grips with web/blog design with WordPress. – my motivation for starting a blog is to share what I’ve learned and discovered and to help others who are also interested. Not so much to ‘sell’ anything, Many employers (so I’ve heard) are only interested IF you have a design blog! – (that could be scaremongering by my tutor) – But it is likely! which is also a great motivator. I just wish I started much much earlier!

    Philip

  8. Great advice here Preston. I’ve applied all of these tips and techniques already to my blog and it has really had such a positive effect. This is definitely a great reminder for me to keep on doing these things. Also, this should be an article that all newbie bloggers should read, study, and apply in their blogging efforts.

  9. great article!i have a design blog.

  10. Great post, Thank you.

  11. Nicole Foster,
    I left a comment on one of your posts and would love to chat more about your blog with you. I think you are doing a very good job at it. One thing that might help is to narrow your focus and target a very specific reader.

    CSS Gear,
    Good luck with the new blog!

    Tyler,
    Great addition to the collection. Thanks for sharing!

    Jennifer,
    Some great additional inspiration. Thanks for adding to this article.

  12. Preston: Thank you for the advice! Right now, I changed my blog to target web designers or anybody owning a website, but I’m thinking of either going to helping businesses get the most of out their website or webmasters getting the most out their website. Both are good niches for my target audience, but I’m not sure which one to incline more towards.

  13. Helpfull stuff… Will take for consideration…

  14. A fantastic article with some simple but extremely useful tips. Will certainly be using this advice on my own site!

    Thanks!

  15. Useful, as I’ll launch my portfolio and blog soon. Thanks :).

  16. I’m into my third month of blogging about design and it’s been quite a bit harder than I thought it would be but I feel like I’m finally reaching the flow of it all. You’re spot on with almost all of your points and this is a great read for anyone thinking about getting started in this field. Great post Preston!

  17. I agree with all your points, Preston. I would also like to add this : As a beginner in blogging, you cannot find the ‘niche’ easily. You need to keep experimenting with articles. Analyze how your readers react to it. Then carefully carve out your niche.

    Initially I think it can be hard to keep with the pressure as there are so many design blogs and most of them have the same area of articles. So, the trick is to think different and think ‘new’. Never expect a huge turnover in a month or so and therefore get disappointed. Maintaining the tempo/zeal is the key in being a successful design blogger. The results will surely follow :)

    All in all, A very good article and definitely a guide for those who have just entered the blogosphere, someone like me :)

    Thanks a lot,Preston

    • @Richie,
      Great addition. Finding a niche is a process which I think is why people generally use the verb “carve”. It takes time, patience, and attention. This blog for example, is aimed toward the business side of design. It didn’t start out that way, but I found that my articles about project management, client advice, and business tips were my favorite to write and end up being my most successful.

      Thanks for sharing.

  18. Thanks for the information very useful.

  19. Thanks alot

    Great Article ;)

  20. Preston,

    This is a very helpful article. I have just begun blogging and have been learning while making lots of mistakes! :) Thanks for your effort in giving this advice. I’d appreciate any advice you have; if you have a moment to check out my blog I’d appreciate any tips that come to mind.

    Thanks again for your informative blog. I have subscribed and look forward to reading more!

  21. Thanks Preston for sharing these information. I would suggest one to keep on trying and experimenting for the optimized outcome on your blog. Don’t be afraid to try sometimes.

  22. Very helpful post. I have just started my blog and was searching for such advice only. Keep Posting.

  23. Thanks for the article!

  24. Thanks for the article, it is very interesting and inspiring to me, who like many others will be launching a design blog soon. My motives for wanting to start one are: that I love writing and do not get to do enough of it and the desire to create a source of valuable information for other designers. So many design blogs simply regurgitate information, I think the real challenge these days is to create an honest blog with carefully researched and written articles.

    Thanks again for the post Preston, you have gained another reader!

  25. Hi Preston.
    Well, I’m learning about how to create and manage a design blog since now less than 2 months, and after all I read I have to say all tips you gave are just right.

    Thank you for this really interesting article!

  26. nice post…I just launched my blog in January and I can relate to all these answers. These tips are right on for sure.

  27. Great post, Preston, thank you! It’s very challenging to continually find something different to write about, particularly in a field where so many learned people have already walked. I try to blog about my experiences and things I’ve learned, but I also am blogging about my experiences with networking. It’s more for me to keep things straight and I’ve not had many comments at all, but over time I’d like to see that change to even offer challenging opinions.

  28. Great post with some valuable advice. I can’t recommend your first point enough, to spend time reading other design blogs. Examine the ones you think are great, what do they contain, or how are they constructed, in comparison to the one’s you find lacking. Once you’ve worked out the differences, it becomes far easier to write your own blog posts, which hopefully, others will enjoy reading too.
    If you found this article interesting, you might wish to check out my first ever blog post.. Are there too many Design Blogs?

  29. nice article, nice tips. im going to start my own design blog, because i live in hungary, and there arent many hungarian design blogs, so i hope it will become popular :)

    just keep it up! ;)

  30. A nice article, Preston. I have just started my own ‘design blog’ and these tips sure are useful! I think I need to concentrate on the design and the niche part more..

    Thanks a lot.

  31. Just reading some comments. I think a blog critique would be a great idea. Just a thought.

    I have been blogging for a about 8 months and its getting easier with time but some times I question myself. Would love to hear your thoughts…
    http://mistdesigns.wordpress.com/

    Thanks for the article Preston!

  32. excellent advice, just started my own blog too, so this is great

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