Design Blogging Tips: Part 2
Today I had the opportunity to chat with one of my super amazing coworkers about blogging. We talked about what motivates us, shared tips, and chatted about ways blogging has the opportunity to positively impact the design industry.
I’ve had some really 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 and share with the community.
During the chat today, some tips came to the surface. I recently wrote another post on blogging, but wanted to followup with this 2.0 post because many of the things that we chatted about today weren’t included.
So here you go: Blogging Tips 2.0
1. Write posts as if you’re talking to a friend about design.
2. Focus on educating the community and you’ll automatically be authentic without trying.
3. If you’re blogging to try to achieve fame or notoriety in the industry, you’re doing it for the wrong reason.
4. Only write about things you’re really 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 luke warm about, I had to really, really force myself to not be luke warm in my work. People definitely sense the luke warm.)
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 hit a wall of writers block for over a month, it was terrible. So 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, express opinions as if you’re talking to a friend even if they’re negative, but 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. Don’t worry about your posts not being the best in the world in the beginning. 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 is a comforting anonymity in the sheer volume of content that gets published each day. I read design articles constantly, but don’t typically 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.
11. If one of your posts is extra 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. Try to encourage people at every opportunity. The design industry can be really 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. Which 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 into multiple posts, which is totally ok, and great. 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 it to give it a flow. I don’t worry about paragraph placements until I’m done.
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 remember something that set me off that I need to write about, and I get up and write it then.
16. Every once in a while a topic idea hits hard during the workday, and I just jot down some quick notes so I’ll remember it in the evening.
17. I try to write, edit and publish my 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 I’m done writing I read through my article twice. The first time I read through it to shift around paragraphs, make sure it has a good flow, and to 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.
19. 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, it’s really not worth it. Some of the best blogging advice I ever received was from Clair Byrd.
She basically said, “You’re not REQUIRED to respond to anyone as a blogger. 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.”
20. Feel free to ignore all of these suggestions, because I just make stuff up as I go. haha 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 them restricting, and creativity sapping. Do whatever works best for you, and is most comfortable. (I probably should have opened with that.) :)