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7 Questions, 7 Designers – Day 5

posted by Matt Ward on Dec 22, 2009.

This is the fifth in a seven part interview series in which I put a number of design related questions to seven awesome designers including: Chris Spooner, Sneh Roy, Mike Smith, Jeff Finley, Brad Colbow, Grace Smith and Nick La. Come join the discussion!

I can’t believe we are already on the fifth day of our “7 Questions, 7 Designers” series, in which I throw out a different question each day and compile the answers from seven different designers. There are participants from all over the world, each offering a different and unique perspective on the realm of design.

Today, we’re going to be tackling questions about blogging (specifically design blogging), both in its present state and its envisioned future. Our designers have some really interesting ideas.

You guys all run or are directly involved with at least one blog. Can you speak to your experiences in this area? How important is blogging to your work in general? Where do you find inspiration for your posts and/or articles?

Also, what do you foresee as being the evolution of blogging? It’s already changed so much over the past few years, and I would be really interested to hear your thoughts on where you think things might be going!

Brad Colbow
Brad Colbow
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My blog posts a weekly comic strip and inspiration for it is everywhere. For me the comic and the site it’s on are my playground where I can try things that I can’t do for clients. It’s a great creative outlet and I think every designer should have a way to explore things there interested but can’t do during their day jobs.

The Future…

Design blogging has really changed over the last 2 years or so. Before services like Buysellads.com were around it was very hard to make money on a blog. Since there is money in it now we see a lot more blogs pushing out similar content. That’s part of the reason I gave up trying to run a conventional blog and turned to creating content that would be different than everyone else’s (the comic strip). A few months ago I started playing with the idea of taking normal blog content and putting it in comic strip form and that’s been really successful for me.

Right now I’m really really in to the idea of art direction in blogs, like what Jason Santa Maria is up to. Designing a blog post to visually reflect the content of the post instead of just sticking it into a WordPress template like I have on my current site. The next iteration of my site will incorporate a lot of those ideas.

Grace Smith
Grace Smith
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My blog is a way for me to talk about the things that I am truly interested in, namely; design, productivity, UX and freelancing. It also acts as a means of keeping in touch with other creatives and bloggers and as a way to improve my writing and teaching skills.

Writing and blogging is important and has become an integral part of my personal branding and also acts as a way for me to continually learn and explore new ideas, techniques and technologies.

Inspiration for posts usually comes when I’m not in front of my mac! It could happen at the cinema, reading a book, listening to music, having a conversation with a client or friend or even when I’m working on a project. It means the ideas flow naturally as staring at a blank screen forcing yourself to write and brainstorm does not work for me!

The Future…

Blogs are essentially just a tool for communication, to share thoughts and ideas and connect with others. It think it will continue to evolve with the very concept of ‘blog’ becoming fuzzy as more and more tools and ideas are embodied within it. I think this will lead to the line dividing micro-bloggers and bloggers writing in-depth niche specific content, becoming blurred.

Blogging will become a greater mash-up of a persons existence online, to become a web of interconnected social elements that becomes highly reputation based.

Even though we are now undoubtedly in the era of micro-blogging, thought leaders such as Seth Godin will continue to be a powerful influence. I feel the shift to real time is just the beginning of the next evolution of communication online.

Nick La
Nick La
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Blogging at Web Designer Wall and N.Design Studio helps me keep up with the design trends advance my technical skills. For example, as I’m writing tutorials I also learn new techniques at the same time. I get self satisfaction by reading the feedbacks from the blogs. I get inspiration for my articles from reading other designers’ blogs, surfing the net, reading tweets on Twitter, and the things that I see in everyday life. Going through the submissions from Best Web Gallery helps me keep up with the trends and technology.

The Future…

I think blogging is getting more popular than ever. Thanks to the ease of WordPress and cheap hosting, almost every designer has a blog now. I think WordPress will grow even stronger in the future. Most sites I see now are powered by WordPress – whether it is a blog, general website, or large complex editorial site.

Chris Spooner
Chris Spooner
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Blogging has given me a huge boost in my career, by developing quite a large profile online, bringing in awesome client work and generating a passive revenue that enabled me to go forth into self-employment. Therefore blogging is the most important thing in my work life. I can trace back all the great opportunities I’ve seen over the past 2.5 years back to my blogging activities.

Having written blog topics for a while it’s like second nature to develop new post ideas, this is also combined with everyday inspirations. With my blog being a place where I experiment, any urges I have to play around in new areas I’ll simply create a new tutorial or article.

The Future…

There’s definitely been an increase in design blogs, and there seems to have been a few blogs gaining huge success with the magazine style model, where a large number of authors are paid to write. I’ve seen some revolts from certain people in the industry about the style of content from design blogs, with a lot of people condemning list style posts. Whether this will have an affect I don’t know. While there’s this collection of people with a hatred for certain types of blog content, there’s also an audience ten times larger that enjoy such topics!

Sneh Roy
Sneh Roy
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I have two blogs. LBOI is a design and development blog which initially started as an outlet for all my creative energy. It was and still is a place where I seek solace in the form of my creative ramblings, connect with other like-minded individuals who get excited about sometimes rather nerdy things like Optimus Prime or that awesome casette tape retro USB hub. It is a place where I share what moves and affects me as a designer, what I learn on a daily basis and a medium to showcase my work. Gel’s Kitchen is my food blog which is a dinosaur at the ripe old age of 6 as compared to LBOI, which is not even a year old. Gel’s Kitchen is fueled by my passion of good food and photography. Blogging on LBOI has recently fetched me a lot of projects which I am thankful for. I think potential clients look at your blog and your very public persona and realize that you will stick around and won’t run away with their money. They also get an outsider’s perspective to your work as a designer and how you deal with other designers and non-designers on social networks.

Blogging is not easy, if someone tells you otherwise, they are not doing it right. Every time I write on my blog [other than list.inspiration posts], I feel like I put a bit of my heart and soul into what I write and put it up there for people to love or hate. When you blog, you have to open yourself up to the lovers and haters and be responsible with what you write and project. It gets a tad frustrating sometimes, but on the whole it is a very rewarding, self-development process. I feel blogging has taught me things in 9 months that 4 years of my degree education didn’t teach me.

The Future…

Blogging and micro-blogging comparisons aside, I think blogging is becoming more and more personal with time. Not only are people weaving a very unique, personal web of words on their respective blogs but the infusion of unique themes and layouts for each post makes it a very tangible prospect towards stamping your own personality on those posts. The time is not far when we see little video blurbs/modules instead of comment boxes where each commenter will be live and actually involved in a lively discussion with others, a la Brady Brunch style window boxes.

Mike Smith
Mike Smith
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I’ve run a few blogs in my day and am in the process of revamping/relaunching a couple new ones actually. I think it’s good to build dicipline in your work day and also a great way to share your knowledge with other people in your niche. If your blog is directly related to your business, it’s a great way to let clients know you’re smart enough to work on their projects.

I find inspiration for my articles by subscribing to 100+ feeds from all different niches. I generally get ideas from sites that aren’t even closely related to the one I am writing for.

The Future…

I think that the flood of copycat blogs will continue to grow, while the blogs that are unique will start to thrive. I’ve also noticed that a lot of the big blogs over the past couple years are slowly dying out (in certain niches) and posting a lot less which is going to allow for a new breed of “top dogs” to arise. Maybe I’ll be one of them? Who knows. I just love being a part of the process.

Jeff Finley
Jeff Finley
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We run the www.GoMediaZine.com and I also run my personal site www.jefffinley.org – Adam Wagner runs www.soundsjustlike.com which requires more time and energy to maintain.

Blogging is actually kind of a necessity these days. I don’t know anyone in the design community who doesn’t have some sort of blog online. It can be personal, corporate, or educational. But the concept of writing about your expertise is only a good thing.

My personal experience says blogs are easy to start but hard to maintain. You have to really believe in your blog and once you start to get readers, you need to interact and be friends with them. Readers are more than just casual “fans” – they want to interact, get involved, talk to you on Facebook, etc. If you’re going to blog, do it for the community and the social relationships otherwise it feels like work. Which I admit, it often does. But that’s only because I get loaded up with projects or other tasks and “socializing” or writing worthwhile articles gets put on the backburner. It takes time to craft good articles.

I find inspiration from reading other blogs. When I see an article that inspires me, I figure out why. Why do I enjoy that article? How did they write it? And then the next step is to take that inspiration and turn it into a productive session of writing and hopefully it becomes something of value. I should take my own advice more!

The Future…

I touched on this on question 2. But I foresee blogging taking a positive step BACK. Back to the days when blogs were personal and transparent. However, everything we’ve learned through the whole “list post” era will enhance what we do. I envision blogging becoming more interactive with readers and definitely more social.

I envision more opinion related posts that are for conversation rather than a tutorial or freebie. I envision the reader base maturing and craving more substance and meat from their post. More controversial topics, more people challenging what others are doing. I picture readers getting overwhelmed in their RSS Readers and removing everything and starting over.

There are some really interesting thoughts and ideas on blogging. Again, we’re seeing more discussion about the whole issue of list posts, which is something that I will be writing about soon. Also, I really agree with Brad about being captivated by the idea of having unique design elements on a post by post basis! Be sure to check back over the next couple of days for more awesome insights from these seven great minds!

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Also from Echo Enduring Media:

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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

Dec 22, 2009

Union Room says:

I think as long as people find the content that blogs are posting, then they will continue to seek out new and exciting content.

I think in 12, even 24 months, we will be largely in the same place with design blogs where content is king but perhaps we will see a shift in how involved readers are?

Dec 22, 2009

Matt Ward says:

Yes, I think that content will always be king. I think that has been true since long before blogs were ever invented. From ancient epic poems to modern magazines, the texts that endure are those that offer great content, whether that content is poetic, narrative, philosophical or educational. The common denominator of all great works are their ability to engage the readers.

So I think you are right.

I wonder, though, how many of the current “blogs” (I am having growing trouble with some of the terminology) are going to be able to maintain their content levels?

What I think will happen is that you will see a lot of the mid to lower range blogs either die off or have to reinvent themselves. I also think that we are going to see more of what Brad was talking about when he referred to Jason Santa Maria. We’re going to see a lot more blogs that have unique layouts and designs on a post per post basis.

Oct 3, 2010

Arif Saeed says:

I have to agree on content, it is indeed the king, as far as emerging and closing blogs are concerned, I refer to it as cycle of life, in nearly every new field starting periods are crowded and with time its survival of the fittest. But apart from that i personally think blogging is a great way to channel yo creative energy.

May 3, 2011

Tiredmouse says:

Content is definitely king and a blog is a perfect way to get your point across about a certain subject or even to promote your business.

May 23, 2011

365ink says:

Good content is the key to all blogs in my opinion! No one likes a boring blog!

Nov 21, 2011

ne-web says:

Some interesting answers. I think Chris Spooner was right, for everyone who hates those ‘top 10′ sites, there are 100 who enjoy the quick read and inspiration.

Two years on and I’d say content is definately still king.

Feb 16, 2012

Blueshark Design says:

In terms of blogs I certainly agree with Mike Smith, there is always going to be copycat blogs or blogs with similar content.

However the unique blogs are the ones to look out for.

Blogs are a fantastic in terms of content.

Feb 16, 2012

Web Design Newcastle says:

Like “365ink” says there is nothing worse than reading a boring blog with irrelevant content.

the content of a blog is very important. It must be Unique. Blueshark Design has got it “blogs are fantastic in terms of content”

5 Stars!

Feb 16, 2012

Web Design Newcastle says:

Simple 3 words for you.

CONTENT
IS
KING

Having interesting content always pleases the viewer.

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