Blogging can be tedious but is so important for designers. We are in the communication business and there is no better way to develop your communication skills and develop your expertise. If you are not blogging in some capacity, maybe this will get you started.
Just in this first two months I’ve realized what a huge time and energy investment blogging can be. So for those of you without a lot of either to spare, you can still blog. Write for your personal blog once a month. To expand your network and get people to read that one post, write one guest post. There are tons of big design blogs looking for guest writers. Two posts a month will not kill you I promise, and you can still get some of the same benefits.
With that said, on to the reasons.
We Are in the Communication Business
If you somehow forgot this point, it is time to remember again. We communicate for a living. The quality of our work depends upon our ability to communicate. We have to be able to demonstrate our expertise to clients and dissuade them from making poor design decisions.
By blogging you are demonstrating your expertise. Just knowing a topic isn’t enough, you have to be able to speak on the subject, and blogging is a great way to get started. When you are able to write about a subject you will be able to speak about it easier. Especially for people who are not very outgoing, blogging can be an easy way to share your ideas and enforce your knowledge.
Blogging help to demonstrate your expertise, and makes you think of better ways to communicate it.
Blogging is a great way to revisit past failures and successes. We often never want to relive either, so by blogging about the work that we do, we are able to better understand what works, what doesn’t work, and why. Not to mention people really enjoy reading about personal experiences.
If you had a disaster client, think about how the project went wrong and why. Communication breakdowns are usually at least part of the problem. And when things go right, write about what works. Revisiting personal experiences is a great way to improve how future projects go.
Build Your Network
To be successful at blogging you need to create a strong network. We tend to not branch out and meet people outside of our close circles. Blogging forces you to meet other bloggers and influencers in the design field. To have a successful blog you must constantly be on the lookout to find interesting people sharing interesting ideas. Start out by leaving comments or replying to Tweets and it may lead to guest posts and potentially promoting each others work.
Blogging is a great way to meet new designers because it gives you an easy way to introduce yourself. Bloggers like hearing from their readers. Plus, there are plenty of ways you can help each other, like guest posts and sharing each others posts via social media. Relationships where both people benefit are the easiest to make and maintain. And once these relationships are made they can translate into career opportunities down the road.
It Forces You To Get Better
Many of us say we are proficient in a subject on our portfolio or resume but really are only passable at it. If you don’t do it a lot it can be hard to become truly proficient. If you begin to write on the subject you have to spend the time, doing the research, so that by the time you have written a post or two on the subject you will actually be pretty knowledgable.
Call yourself out on your own deficiencies
If you cannot write or teach others about a topic, you really don’t know it well enough. So find the areas of expertise that are important where you are the weakest and start writing about them.
Using Blogging as Motivation to Teach Yourself
The best way to really know more about something is by teaching it to other people. You really have to understand the entire process and every little detail. It is easy to just know enough to get by but to master a topic start writing about it.
From the first couple of paragraphs you can figure out where your deficiencies are. For me, when I only do something every once in a while, like html email templates I have trouble remembering every little detail. If you blog about the topic in-between working on it, you tend to forget less. Plus, you have a little resource, written by yourself where you can quickly get back up to speed. It is like looking over class notes.
One of my biggest problems, is I know a lot about a topic but cannot remember all of the terminology. Photoshop is a good example. I can show someone how to do just about anything by saying click here, do this, but it is a lot harder for me to remember all of the names of the tools and commands. My fingers can find the keys for ‘Save for Web’ without thinking about it but I don’t always remember the names of those keys without actually looking down to the keyboard. By writing posts about it you will be forced to learn all of the little details you never remember. The best part is you are now able to communicate these things to other people.
Importance For Students
The hardest thing for students and young designers to do is verbally communicate about design. There is a whole other set of terminology and way of communication that isn’t something you will pick up outside of the field. In school design critiques are really the only places you will spend time on this, and it isn’t enough to make you proficient. These skills are vital to working with clients and speaking about your work to potential employers.
An easy blog post is to find a popular website and critique it. Explain what works and why. Go over the weak points and how it could be done better. Keep your opinion out of it. Base all of your ideas around solid design principals and be able to defend every one. If you can learn to do with well, it will help immensely in your career.
Spelling and Grammer
One of my biggest weakness that I am currently working on. You don’t spend enough time writing in design school and any English classes you have taken do not really prepare you for writing for the web. Blogging not only teaches you how to write, but also requires you to proof what you write. No one can spell everything correctly but being able to quickly go back over and find your mistakes is a vital skill designers need to have.
Blogging Forces You to Use Social Media Appropriately
We all use Facebook and Twitter but most of what we post is not professional, it is personel. Creating a blog allows you to post strictly as an authority. No more talking about what you are eating or places you are going, just create updates about design. It can actually be quite challenging, and you have to look for even more interesting people and resources to draw from. This also helps you to build a professional image and reputation for yourself.
So many designers mix up their personal life with their work life. A blog allows you to create social media accounts where you can keep the two separate.
Better Informed Clients
Blogging can also bring in clients. And if the clients are reading your posts they will be better informed about you and what you do. These types of clients will be more inclined to follow your advice and the design process from being somewhat familiar with it. Better clients are always a good thing.
Being able to communicate design verbally is the first step in the direction to a better design career. If you look at what consultants and art directors do, essentially it is a design critique. Consultants take a look at the brand of an existing company and develop a strategy to improve it. Art directors come up with the concept for a project based off of previous design information and the client’s wishes and communicate those ideas to the designers who build the project.
The better you can become at communicating design ideas, the better design jobs you can get.
Setting up a blog is quick and easy. And the benefits are immeasurable. You don’t have to post every day, but get in the routine of blogging at least a couple of times a month.