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8 Reasons Why You Probably Shouldn’t Start a Design Blog

posted by Matt Ward on Nov 25, 2009.

Thinking of starting your own design blog? Well in this post, I’m outlining 8 reasons why it might be a good idea to stop and pause and really reflect before you get started. Food for thought, as they say.

Looking to start a design blog all of your own? Maybe you should think again. I certainly wouldn’t be presumptuous enough to tell you flat out that you shouldn’t start your own blog, but make no mistake, this blogging thing is a tough business. Just look at the number of design blogs (and others) that are just sitting out there on the web, sites that haven’t been updated in months – sometimes even years. The outnumber the active blogs by a significant margin.

You could also ask the designers who are running successful blogs. These sites take time and energy, and require constant motivation. So, while I’m not going to tell you not to start your own design blog, if any of the 8 points below apply to you, it might be a good idea to think again.

8 Reasons Why You Probably Shouldn't Start a Design Blog

8 Reasons Why You Probably Shouldn't Start a Design Blog

You Don’t Have a Passion for Design

If you’re going to start a design blog (or any other blog, for that matter) you absolutely, positively must have a passion for your subject – in this case, design. If you don’t, then why do you want to start a blog to begin with? If you don’t love what you’re writing about, it’s going to be hard to stick with it, and if you’re not going to stick with it, then what’s the point of starting at all?

I’m sure there are much better things that you could be doing with your time.

Personally, I would say that design has to be with you at all times. You have to notice it everywhere – think about it, analyze it, start trying to figure out how it was done or how you could do it better. I’m not suggesting anyone become obsessive, but it has to be more than a job. It needs to be one of your life’s passions.

All You Have is a Design

If all you have is an awesome theme for WordPress (or any other blogging engine), which you want to unveil to the world, starting a design blog is probably not the best avenue for getting it out there. Your design may be slick. It may be the single most incredible blog design ever seen my man – but unless you’re ready to present meaningful, interesting or useful content, it’s eventually going to flop.

Sure, you may get a surge of traffic out of the gate, since everyone will want to see your design, but it won’t last. Visitors will only come back so many times to gaze upon the beauty that is your blog.

They will, however, come back if you are offering a constant stream of good and meaningful content. Trust me, I’ve seen dozens of blogs out there that, while they don’t have the prettiest designs (in some cases, they are borderline ugly), have achieved a strong readership and following. And that, folks, is one of the key measurements for the success of any blog.

You Don’t like to Write

Here’s a revelation: blogging involves writing, and preferably good writing. There’s really no way around this one. If you don’t like to write, then starting any kind of blog is probably not for you. Meaningful content takes time to research, write, edit, re-write, and edit again. Generally speaking, I figure that any good post should take at least an hour to write, and most will probably take more than that.

Do you dislike writing?

Do you dislike writing?

If you don’t like writing – and especially if you dislike writing – committing this much time to producing quality content is likely to become tiresome for you!

You Can’t Commit to at Least Two Posts a Week

There is no steadfast rule that tells us exactly how often you need to post, but it is generally agreed upon in the blogging community that a minimum of about twice a week is pretty much a necessity. Many design blogs post more frequently than that. Some post every day. Some even post multiple times on the same day.

This isn’t to say that your site will fall off the face of the internet if you miss a post one week, but producing good, regular content is one of the best ways to engage your audience and transform casual visitors into regular readers.

If you can’t deliver more than at least two posts a week, then maybe your own blog isn’t the right choice. Instead, consider guest posting. This would allow you to write one article every week, or even every two weeks. Depending on where your articles get published, you could even make a bit of money!

You Can’t Think of Seven Great Post Ideas in Five Minutes

Good bloggers are always coming up with new ideas. Granted, sometimes they may hit a dry spell, where inspiration doesn’t come as quickly as they might like, but for the most part they are always finding new things to write about.

Can you think of seven different post ideas in as little as 5 minutes?

Can you think of seven different post ideas in as little as 5 minutes?

This should be especially true when you’re just starting out. So, I would say that if you can’t sit down and think up about seven good and interesting post ideas in a fairly short span of time (I’ve allotted about five minutes), that might be a reason to pause and reconsider what you’re getting yourself into.

There’s nothing worse that sitting down and racking your brain just to come up with an idea for your next blog post.

You’re Not Willing to Interact with your Readers

You may have heard this said before, but a blog is generally thought of as something of a community, or at least one part of a larger community. That’s why they almost always contain a comments form. Readers expect to be able to interact with a blog, with each other, and most importantly with you. They want to feel that their voices are heard, and the best way to achieve that is to be generous with replies and comments of your own.

I try to respond to comments on a regular basis, especially if those comments have something meaningful to say about an article – such as an interesting counter argument or an additional resource. I also do my best to respond to any emails that my readers send me. This is a great way to help make them feel a part of the community.

If you’re not willing to commit to this level of interaction, that would be another indication that maybe a design blog isn’t for you.

You See Other Designers as Rivals Rather than Peers

The same thing is also true if you look at other designers and see them as rivals or competition. Generally speaking, I’ve found the design community to be open and inviting and more than happy to help and support each other. Also, if you’re starting a design blog, you need to realize that the vast majority of your readers are going to be designers.

Do you see other designers as rivals or competitors?

Do you see other designers as rivals or competitors?

So, if you’re looking at other designers and seeing them as competitors, does it even make sense for you to start a design blog, and start feeding your own knowledge and resources to these people? Probably not. Of course, I would always advise against this kind of thinking in the first place. The sharing, support and spirit of camaraderie that exists within design community is actually a benefit to everybody.

You’re Planning on Talking About Yourself

Okay, you rock. I get that. I’ll bet that even your readers will get that. But you don’t have to keep preaching it. If you run a design business, or even if you are just freelancing, there is absolutely no doubt that your design blog can be a remarkably powerful marketing tool! However, it’s not the place for hard selling yourself.

People are going to visit your blog looking for information on one topic or another. They want to be informed, educated, sometimes entertained. They don’t want to be bombarded by posts which talk, either implicitly or explicitly, about how great you and/or your business are. Save that for a more traditional site (which you should link to from your blog).

An occasional post of this nature is fine. If you win an award or achieve something else significant, that’s something that your readership would probably be interested in. They just don’t want to hear about it all the time. I would suggest keeping these kinds of articles to less than 10% of your total posts.

Well, that’s it. So why did I write this article? Well it certainly wasn’t because I don’t want you to start your own design blog. If you’re up to the challenge, I say go for it! If it’s good, I’ll even do what I can to help support it! No, the reason that I wrote this article is that I hate to see blogs just fizzle away into oblivion.

So, if one of these things apply to you, you might want to take a moment to think about whether running a design blog is really for you. If several of these things apply, you’ll definitely want to take that moment. If all of them apply… well that’s a completely different issue!

What are your thoughts here? Do you agree? Disagree? Want to add something? I’d love to hear your views, so please feel free to hit this post up with a comment!

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Also from Echo Enduring Media:

An Unfolding Tale

About the Author

Matt Ward is a digital artist who lances freely under the moniker of Echo Enduring Media, and specializes in graphics design, illustration and writing. He is also the Creative Director for Highland Marketing, a creative direct marketing company based out of Waterloo, Ontario. You can follow Matt on Twitter

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Comments

Nov 26, 2009

Tom Lynch says:

Very interesting article, I know what you mean about blogs fizzling out, so irritating to start trying to follow someone for them to give up a few months down the line

Let’s hope people learn from this!

Nov 26, 2009

Leora says:

You come up with some good points! Though I certainly think a person should try before giving up. Maybe if they don’t like to write, for example, they can just post designs with a bit of text. One can be creative in how one approaches blogging!

It would be great if you could write this same post in reverse… 8 Reasons to Start a Blog and do it differently than the next guy, in your own style.

Nov 26, 2009

Matt Ward says:

Thanks for the comment Leora. You certainly can be creative in how you blog! And if someone can come up with a new or interesting way of going about it, that would be great! I certainly hope that my article didn’t come across as too negative :) My purpose we to really get people to think about whether they should try blogging, and not just jump into it head first just because everyone else seems to be doing it.

As for people who don’t like to write – posting designs is one way around that, for sure. For some of the other points, I would still suggest starting off with some guest posts on some other blogs. That should give them a pretty good idea of whether or not they will be into this whole blogging thing!

Nov 26, 2009

Ana Rodrigues says:

That is so true. Great post! :D

Nov 26, 2009

Rubén says:

I’m not a designer, but I quite feel these points apply to all kind of blogs (just replace the appropriate subject). Great post!

I’d just ad a note on the last reason: it’s bad to always talk about yourself, but it’s also bad if you don’t put your own stamp on your blog. Even if you just comment other people’s posts, and keep the original material to a minimum, you should relate it somehow with your own experience, and don’t just say whatever every other blog has said.

Nov 26, 2009

Matt Ward says:

I agree, Rubén. Most of these same points could probably be applied to pretty much any subject matter. I talk about design because… well because I talk about design!

I also agree that bloggers totally need to put their own stamp on their posts. Relating to your own experiences is a great way to make content and information seem more real and relevant, rather than just some theoretical stuff. The key, though, is to make sure that the content comes first and that anything we have to say about ourselves or our own experiences ultimately supports and/or expands the content.

Thanks for the comment, though. Really great insight!

Nov 26, 2009

Sven Quandt says:

Hello Matt,

thanks for this post. -> it’s hard to be a blogger sometimes ;).

I think that, nevertheless, many people these experiences want to make self and then necessarily will also make. it just gives pleasure to try out new things like blogging.

The contents of my sites comes predominantly from my visitors ;)

Kind regards,
Sven

Nov 27, 2009

Ryan Cash says:

Great post Matt!

I especially love the part about looking at other designers as rivals – definitely not the case!

Nov 27, 2009

joska says:

Hi
This is exactly what i was thinking.
Blogging need to spend lot of time on it and to keep doing it.

Nov 27, 2009

D Bnonn Tennant says:

A good set of guidelines, Matt, except that I really disagree with the “post twice a week” stipulation. The two best designers who spring immediately to my mind are Jason Santa Maria and Andy Rutledge, who both post quite infrequently. As long as your blog isn’t actually dead, quality should always be preferred over quantity.

Regards,
Bnonn

Nov 27, 2009

Matt Ward says:

I absolutely agree that quality should always be preferred over quantity. Nor do I think that it’s absolutely necessary to post twice a week. I simply suggest that if you’re not willing to post that often, it might simply be a sign that running a design blog is maybe not the best choice.

As for Jason and Andy, I have to wonder whether or not their ability to sustain a readership is, at least partially, a credit to their reputations? Just something to think about.

Thanks for the comment! Glad you seemed to agree with the other 7 points, anyhow. :)

Nov 27, 2009

D Bnonn Tennant says:

Hey Matt, that’s fair. I suppose it depends largely on your reasons for writing as well. If your blog is the primary way you’re hoping to build reputation and demonstrate your expertise to others in your field, then regular posts are very important. Andy and Jason work the other way around; their blogs are more like a “gift” to other designers than a “proof” (;

Nov 27, 2009

Tracey Grady says:

Thanks for an interesting post, Matt. There are many good points here for anyone contemplating their own design blog. I would add:

# You don’t have a clear focus or subject area within design that you will concentrate on.

The blogosphere is awash with design blogs, which means a great range of ideas, perspectives, opinions and sources of inspiration. It also means there’s a huge amount of competition for readers. If you don’t establish a point of difference, you may find yourself struggling to get noticed.

I disagree about the need to publish blog posts twice a week. I have been blogging for nearly 18 months and I’ve never blogged as frequently as that. It might be great for SEO, but many design bloggers simply cannot make that time commitment.

Nov 27, 2009

Violet says:

Great post. I’m just starting a blog consisting in photoshop tutorials for beginners and this article was really good for me. Now I know that I’m on the right track. thanks!

Nov 28, 2009

Thomas says:

It sounds like someone is afraid of a little competition.

Nov 28, 2009

Matt Ward says:

Not particularly.

Nov 28, 2009

Lauren says:

Hi, my main blog is hosted at blogger so though I feel a little silly posting about web design, but I thought this was a really great post., I absolutely agree that a passion for design must come firstly. I said almost this exact same thing in an interview with Design Something. recently.

I also thought your point about viewing peers as rivals was also good. It is a competitive arena, this can easily become an issue. I for one an honored to be considered a peer. :)

BTW ( I do have hosted domains just for the record but my nymphont.blogspot addy is my main hobby/personal/blog, i did infact purchase nymphont.com a year ago almost, just having serious issues between host & registrar – long story, wish me luck :P)

Keep up the great work here. :)

Nov 28, 2009

AJ Troxell says:

Great write up. These are major items to put much thought in to. From time to time, I re-evaluate these items in my head, because if I am not delivering a blog worth reading, then I am simply wasting space. Extremely good write up indeed.

Nov 28, 2009

Saoo says:

I think this post should published on all designers blogs :)
delicious post, really :)

Nov 29, 2009

Christina says:

Good insight…one more though..practice what you preach…you have the skill, ability to write, interact everything., but your blog must also reflect what you inform other people…

Nov 29, 2009

Marcell Purham says:

I think posting twice a week is too much. Give your content time to sink in and if you have content that’s worth reading then you’re good to go. Blogs that post over 2 times a week are just posting things like, 50 beautiful website designs ans that gets old after a while

Dec 5, 2009

Matt Ward says:

Yes, list posts can get tiring after a while, especially if there is nothing else to really engage the reader beyond the list itself. But I would still hold to the idea that twice a week is a good amount. Not everyone is going to read every entry, and having a variety of different articles is a good way to build a broader readership base.

Of course, if you’re looking to blog in a super specific niche, then a different approach might we warranted.

As for letting content sink in, do we really need a week? I think that posts that are that provocative are an extremely rare breed.

Thanks for the comment though! I love hearing all these different opinions!

Nov 29, 2009

Andy Feliciotti says:

Great post, the “You See Other Designers as Rivals Rather than Peers” point is excellent

Nov 30, 2009

Carol says:

Hi, I am just starting a blog, and it has taken a few twists and turns along the way!!!
I started off just re-posting other peoples’ photoshop tutorials, but I realised very early on that it wasn’t going to inspire anyone to keep coming back – most tutorials can be found on many blogs – why come to mine???
So I knuckled down and started creating my own tutorials, submitting them to other blogs for publication and getting traffic to my own blog that way.
It has been a serious learning curve. You need something unique to attract visitors.
Fortunately, my passion is all things graphic design, so I am simply indulging that! However, I was (and probably still am) quite a novice at Photoshop, by no means an advanced user, and it felt at the beginning that I was trying to teach my grandmother to suck eggs! Then I realised, things don’t have to be difficult, there are many people who aren’t, don’t have the time or simply don’t want to be creative and they rely on others to do it for them – therefore, fingers crossed, it seems to be working well and there is no writing involved!!!
An excellent article, but had I read it before starting my blog, maybe I never would have!!

Nov 30, 2009

Destiny Islands says:

I have to agree, there are way too many design blogs out there today. The niche is very oversaturated just like the making money online blogs, so it’s hard to get unique content.

Dec 5, 2009

Andy says:

In reply to a poster, I really don’t think there are “too many” design blogs out there. I for one like to have a choice when I Google for a particular tutorial, and like to have a number of options to choose from even to get a similar effect.

I am in a situation where I am finishing my design degree this year, and plan on becoming a design blogger. I have learned a lot over the last 4 years and wish to share my knowledge, albeit limited compared to a lot of you, with the design community. I don’t plan to have it down to a tee straight away but am willing to learn through trial and error and user feedback.

I do think that you raised a number of very important points, however I just hope it doesn’t put people off starting up and following their passion.

For me it has just inspired me further, but has definitely prepared me for the tough road ahead, so thank you Matt :)

Dec 2, 2009

Sneh Roy says:

Good post Matt! I actually agree with you on the at least 2 posts a week. Like someone else pointed out that Jason Santa Maria posts very infrequently but u wont unsubscribe from his feed because he is Jason Santa Maria and has proved himself. My blog is 9 months old and I try to get in 2-3 posts a week, but when I get busy with projects and the post drops to once a week, my subscriber count decreases quite a bit. People don’t have patience with new bloggers even though they are the ones actually coming up with unique post ideas and posting more frequently. I don’t blame them because a lot of bloggers give up easily too, I guess you’ve got to go with your gut when following someone and their writings. And new bloggers must get those 2 posts out every week at least, or they are getting nowhere :)

Dec 5, 2009

Matt Ward says:

Hey Sneh! Thanks for the comment! I have pretty much exactly the same experience. If my post count drops, so does my readership – both RSS and general blog traffic. So I, too, try to maintain 2-3 posts a week. It can be a rough go, but it’s been worthwhile so far. This site has been around for about 5 months now, and I’ve seen substantial growth every single month.

Hopefully it continues!

Dec 3, 2009

Humble Pied says:

Definitely agree with you on the point about talking about yourself on your own blog. (Although I agree with you on all of your points!)

People come to blogs for specific content, not to stroke your ego or read a stream all about you or your company. Cheers to that!

Keep on eating that humble pie.

Dec 4, 2009

Jesse says:

Great post. Of course, I say that because each answer allowed me continue my pursuit of ruling the world via blogging!

The biggest hurdle for me is dealing with a very busy schedule. In life, things have been pretty crazy so I know the next unexpected whammy is right around the corner. So, should I focus on my next blog post now or take a break and see what’s on the Jerry Springer show so that I can handle the curve ball that’s sure to be already on its way? These are the inner dialogues I go through on a daily basis anyways. Maybe I should write a blog article about it?!

Dec 5, 2009

Matt Ward says:

I f I find a bit of time to work on my next blog post, I almost always take it. Blogging is much more enjoyable when you’re not writing under pressure!

One of these days I’m going to take some serious time to get several quality articles put together all at once and try to get to the point where I am at least a few articles ahead of myself and scheduling publication more often!

Dec 4, 2009

Chris Thurman says:

Ironic that I just started a design blog (visualswirl.com) just a week ago and now I stumble across this post. You make some great points and it inspires me to not be “that guy.” I feel like I need some accountability so I don’t fade away, so I’m creating an event on my calendar for 6 months from now with a link to your blog. I’ll check back and see if I’m still motivated. So far so good! Thanks for your post!

Dec 5, 2009

Matt Ward says:

Hey Chris. I’ve checked out Visual Swirl. Looks like it has all the makings of a successful blog. Nice, simple design and some pretty good content to start of with.

I hope that when that event comes up six months from now you look back and are pleased with the growth of your blog! Stick with it!

Dec 17, 2009

Victor Velazquez says:

Nice article, I agree that design must be something that your really interested in.

Jan 7, 2010

LEah says:

Thanks for the great post. One thing that I think could be explored further is the business side of blogs – whether you can make a living off blogging – and how much time it takes to get ads, if you need to be a salesy person to pull off the advertising piece of it, if you need to spend time uploading and switching ads, etc.. I guess I really don’t know what it takes in that regard, but I assume many people are doing it to make money….
When I look at some of these design blogs I wonder if they are such knowledgable designers how they have time to sit and create intricate tutorials, etc for their blo – all the while keeping up with technology trends. Do I have it all wrong? Are these people making a living on the blog alone? Maybe you could shed some light on how the business side of this works…. Thanks.

Feb 21, 2010

TheAL says:

I actually could commit to all of the mentioned criteria. I just think there are far too many blogs already. I think finding one for which I could write, and maybe get paid, would be a better idea. No need to over-saturate the web with clones.

Apr 9, 2010

sickdesigner says:

Very nice post, Matt, as usual!
I agree with all your points of view, apart from the one about how often one should post. But not because of the fact that readership goes down if one doesn’t post twice a week or more but because it sometimes implies that one HAS to do it. And more often than not I see blogs that post very good content, every now and then, that shooting blanks about once every other day. It gets a bit frustrating from a reader’s perspective to have to guess which post is interesting and which is just a filler to keep traffic going.
I stand by the opinion that quality posts should always be more important than quantity of posts.
Now, I’m not tootin’ my own horn here, as one might be inclined to believe, but I support this kind of blogging behavior on my own blog. So I might have three, four ideas every day but I’ll only post about the ones that I feel are interesting to the community, even if that means one or maybe two posts a week.
And then there’s the added factor of who your target audience is. I think far too many blogs write for the masses instead of focusing on a niche and being the best at it, or at least trying.
Take your blog, for example, Matt: the way I see it, your target audience is the kind of designer that has evolved beyond simple Photoshop tutorials, has the basics and medium knowledge of design already figured out and is trying to develop and evolve in a rational, sensible manner on the web. Sure, it’s a subjective opinion and I invite anyone to say what they think your audience is about. I really am curious how people perceive themselves in regard to a design blog. In this case your own, Matt.
Cheers!

Jun 16, 2010

clippingimages says:

very well written indeed…a quality writing indeed…thanks for sharing …

Jun 23, 2010

Sergei Tatarinov says:

This is good, Matt. Great article, as usual.

“Personally, I would say that design has to be with you at all times. You have to notice it everywhere – think about it, analyze it, start trying to figure out how it was done or how you could do it better. I’m not suggesting anyone become obsessive, but it has to be more than a job. It needs to be one of your life’s passions.” – this can be applied to me, totally

“..you’re ready to present meaningful, interesting or useful content..” – MAN you should see my notepad notes and other stuff I store on my HDD.. I’m sure it’ll find its audience, *fingers crossed* :)

“You Don’t like to Write” – oh I do, so freaking much! My writing skills and my formal English may not be perfect and fluid but I’ll master it quickly while writing my posts.

“Meaningful content takes time to research, write, edit, re-write, and edit again. Generally speaking, I figure that any good post should take at least an hour to write, and most will probably take more than that.”
– I like doing research and writing articles. Now, even without a blog I usually spend half of the day in researching/collecting/organizing stuff which I’ll use later (and I really enjoy the process).

“You Can’t Think of Seven Great Post Ideas in Five Minutes” – Frankly speaking, I can’t. However, ideas come to my mind constantly during the day, then I search if any of them have already come to life. The funniest fact about me and ideas is that they come to me a lot faster while I’m taking shower – water makes miracles :)

“You Can’t Commit to at Least Two Posts a Week” – So far, I’ve got about 18 of them; not all of them are finished but it won’t take me too long to fix that. Then I plan to post at least 4 times a week, each time for its own category of content.

“You’re Not Willing to Interact with your Readers” – I am! I’m eager to read/respond to comments, emails, etc. I have a nice community of friends and fellow designers on the web, on twitter in particular, and plan to be super active on social arena.

“You See Other Designers as Rivals Rather than Peers” – definitely not. Those who see other people from same niche as rivals are doomed to fail and be left alone. Hence, no success will ever come for such type of beginners.

“You’re Planning on Talking About Yourself” – Oh, let me just put a link to my portfolio site somewhere ^_^

Cheers Matt! Keep on writing such deep and interesting articles!

Regards,
@sammographer from twitter.

Aug 19, 2010

Hayavadhan says:

Superb!!

Jul 16, 2011

chithara says:

A meaningful post. I started a new blog recently. Most of your points are valid. It made be a better thinker related to blogging. Thanks for this post.

Jan 31, 2012

coco says:

You made really good points but the headings are just too negative especially for people who just needs a boost to writing, sharing or expressing their interest and passion.

May 15, 2012

Brandon Halliburton says:

Do you think it would be to have the blog on my graphic design company site or should the blog separate from the company site? Any suggestions?

Sep 18, 2012

Nag says:

Nice post matt! I started a design blog two months back. I focus on design round ups and giving freebies which I love and design. Your point writing two posts per week is good and will follow it. Yes, it’s hard to achieve but am determined.

Thanks for such a great post.

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