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.
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.
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.
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.
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!Post A Comment
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