A few days ago, I chatted with one of my super amazing coworkers about design blogging. We shared tips, talked about what motivates us, and discussed the ways blogging has the opportunity to positively impact the design industry.
I’ve had some incredible conversations with designers from all types of backgrounds and all segments of the industry over the years, and when we have an especially fascinating or thought-provoking conversation, I always encourage them to put their thoughts into blog form to share with the community.
I recently wrote about 6 design blogging tips for beginners, but I wanted to follow up with a whole new post that includes the valuable tips we exchanged.
So, here you go: even more design blogging tips.
2. Focus on educating the community, and you’ll be authentic without even trying.
3. If you’re blogging to try to achieve fame or notoriety in the industry, you’re doing it for the wrong reason.
Related: Write or fade away as a designer
4. Only write about things you’re passionate about. If you’re not passionate about the topic, it shows in your writing. (For me this followed the same general rule as design. If I was working on a product I was passionate about, it would consume me. If I was working a product I was lukewarm about, I had to really, really force myself to not be lukewarm in my work. People definitely sense the lukewarm.)“If you’re blogging for fame, you’re doing it for the wrong reason.”
5. I feel incredibly fortunate to have found a career that I’m passionate about. I blog about my experiences because I want to make sure that others trying to hop into the industry continue on their path. I want people who are passionate about design to always pursue it as a career, because I get so much joy out of it myself.
6. Don’t put too much pressure on yourself to write on a set schedule. When I tried to do this, I had writer’s block for over a month—it was terrible.
I stopped trying to schedule my writing and went back to only writing when I was hit by inspiration—it was so much more fulfilling. But others do better with a schedule. Do what feels right.
7. As I mentioned earlier: Express opinions as if you’re talking to a friend. If those opinions are negative, land on a point of encouragement and action.
That way, it’s not just an angry rant—it’s an angry rant with a lesson or some advice wound in. Even if the lesson or advice is just, “Don’t ever do this thing that’s terrible.”
8. Don’t feel like you have to write a long-form academic paper every time you blog. Some of my most successful blog posts have been short form, and straight to the point. (I honestly even prefer reading short-form articles myself because I have a really short attention span.)
9. When you first start blogging, don’t worry about your posts not being the best in the world. Every blogger on earth was terrible when they started.
People typically don’t remember the terrible—they remember the good that follows.
10. On a similar note, there’s a comforting anonymity in the sheer volume of content that gets published each day.
I read design articles constantly, but I don’t usually remember who wrote them unless I know them personally or I’m a huge fan of their work. It takes the pressure off of every single article needing to be the best.“Encourage people at every opportunity.”
11. If one of your posts is well-received, it may get picked up for syndication. I’ve found that the most random posts are the ones that get picked up. (I wrote one about being a woman in tech for 10 years, and it wound up in the strangest places: a collection of pieces for a White House initiative, a business journal, design publications—it was a really random experience. I never in a million years expected it to be received the way it was.)
12. Encourage people at every opportunity. The design industry can be difficult to break into, and even just a few small words of encouragement in a post can impact someone’s future in a positive way.
I’ve received messages from folks saying they were starting to give up on their careers and something in a post triggered hope. That makes me a little teary to think about, honestly.
People who read your posts will end up inspiring you as much, if not more, than you inspire them. I think focusing on educating the next generation of designers, encouraging them to keep pushing, and instilling hope is crazy powerful.
In turn, blogging with this focus will fuel your love of design, as well as your dedication to writing to give back.
13. Stream-of-consciousness posts sometimes end up sprouting more posts, and that’s totally okay. Don’t think of them as random thoughts, think of them as new topic ideas.
14. Get everything out of your head, then focus on rearranging your post to give it a flow. I don’t worry about paragraph placement until I’m done writing.“Don’t worry about editing until you’re done getting all your thoughts out.”
15. You’ll probably accidentally find a time that ideas turn into blog posts. Mine is usually between 10pm and 2am after my kiddo is asleep (when I should probably be sleeping). I think through my day as I’m winding down, and then I remember something that set me off that I need to write about, and I get up and write about it.
16. If topic idea hits you during the workday, jot down some quick notes so you’ll remember it in the evening, or whenever you get the time to sit down and write.
17. Try to write, edit, and publish your posts all in one sitting. If I wait until the next day, I run the risk of getting so tangled up in editing details that I abort the mission entirely.
18. Once you’re done writing, read through your article twice. The first time I read through it to shift around paragraphs, make sure it has a good flow, and add any additional details. Then I read through it once more to check for spelling errors and grammatical catastrophes. Then I hit publish.
Worst-case scenario, if I miss a detail I can go back and edit it once it’s already published. It’s not an enormously terrible, stressful thing. Just click edit and click republish. Problem solved.
For a while I thought I needed to respond to every single person who commented on a post. I love engaging with people who read my posts. Some comments are really kind and encouraging. Others respectfully express dissenting opinions. I respond to people with differing opinions by asking them to expand on their opinions because I’m genuinely interested in learning why they feel the way they do.
Every so often someone comes at me with a kind of obnoxious attitude. At that point I ask them to explain their perspective in more detail, like I do with polite dissenting responses. The obnoxious person either stops being obnoxious because they can’t back up their stance, or they appreciate having an opportunity express their thoughts more fully, which makes them soften their tone and be less obnoxious as a result.
The people who are a little obnoxious are totally different than trolls, who aren’t worth engaging with. If someone says something really awful, I flip through their comment history, and if it’s just a string of obnoxious comments to a variety of people without ever expanding on their thoughts, I ignore their comments completely. They just get worse the more you engage. They thrive on it, and it’s not worth it.
Some of the best blogging advice I ever received was from Clair Byrd. She basically said, “As a blogger, you’re not required to respond to anyone. You respond because you want to. Life is too short to bother with people who are looking to take out their frustration in life on others while hiding behind a screen. Do not engage the trolls.”
These things work for me, but you’ll define your own process and cadence as you work. I’ve tried to adopt other people’s processes and found it restricting.
Do whatever works best for you and is most comfortable.
I probably should have opened with that.