Why do designers blog? I’m not asking this rhetorically, and I’m not asking it in a pejorative fashion, like “Why do designers waste their time with blogging anyway?” I’m posing a serious question about what people are trying to achieve with their blogs, and how what they post actually helps them to accomplish these goals.
I’m certainly not here to suggest that designers and other creative professional shouldn’t be blogging. There are a lot of great reasons to do it. It sharpens the focus of your work, improves your writing skills, keeps you on top of new technologies and online marketing tactics, and helps you to find and land new clients.
It’s the last of these items that really raises questions for me. We take it as almost sacrosanct that a blog is an important part of a well-rounded marketing plan, and my own experience with the fd2s blog supports this notion. Many of the blogs run by working designers, however, seem to be much more focused on topics that I would categorize as “how the sausage gets made” than on issues that would appeal to end-user clients. In other words, posts about tools, techniques, and resources of interest to other designers, rather than posts about topics like how good design can reduce shopping cart abandonment, or how corporate graphic standards have evolved to reflect the growth of social media.
This certainly isn’t a dig at these kinds of sites. In fact, many of the blogging designers whose sites I regularly visit fall into this category some or all of the time, including big names like Brian Hoff (some of the time) and Chris Spooner (all of the time). These examples, and many others like them, are well-established, long-running blogs, and their owners continue to devote a lot of time to them, so obviously they are working on some level.
My guess is that they are valuable to their owners for one or more of the following reasons:
- The designer/blogger actually does a lot of work as a subcontractor to bigger agencies/studios or other freelancers, as opposed to working directly with the ultimate client. In this case, the designer’s prospective clients are people who understand and appreciate this industry content.
- End-user clients don’t fully understand, or even have an interest in, the blog’s content, but they recognize it as something that establishes the designer as a leader in their field, giving them a lot of credibility.
- The blog isn’t about marketing at all, but is instead a vehicle to network, share information, satisfy a personal creative desire, and/or possibly make a little money from affiliate links.
I started this post with a question. And since it is, as I said above, an honest question, I’m not going to end the post with a pronouncement or a recommendation. Instead, I’m going to restate the question: Why do you blog? If you’re one of the many designers who posts largely about “inside baseball,” does one of the three explanations above explain your logic? Or is there something else driving your strategy?
And if you’re someone who does write posts aimed at end-user clients, how is that working? Feel free to share a link so that we can see how you do it.