A design blog is a great way to establish yourself as knowledgable, up-to-date and an expert in the industry. Writing also gives you the ability to show your personality and wider range of skills, more than a design portfolio could.
If you’re reading this, you’re aware I write – I’ve started this design blog and contributed many pieces to the Forge and Smith blog, with my articles being shared by industry leaders. I’ve come to gain great pleasure and enjoyment from writing.
It wasn’t always like that though, at school and university I struggled with every essay and written assignment. I’m going to share my process and how I’ve grown to become a lover of writing.
Throughout our time at school we are forced to read pre-selected books, which I generally didn’t enjoy, and then given assignments based off of those books. It doesn’t set kids up to enjoy reading – at least my experience didn’t.
The key is to find what you love reading! There’s more than Shakespeare and tired novels out there. If you enjoy what you read, then you will read more – it’s that simple.
I love articles on design, they generally take 4-12 minutes to read and help develop my knowledge and skills, perfect for my morning transit into work. Others prefer listening to audiobooks, or having Siri (or equivalent) read to them. Find what works for you because reading will make you a better writer.
See my best resources for design reading: Consume your way to being the best designer.
2. Find a topic you love
Just like reading, writing is easier if it is about something you love. I love design, so writing about it comes naturally. I have special interest in usability, user experience (UX) and client relations, that is what I focus my writing on.
If you’re reading this, I’m guessing you are also considering a design blog. Below are some topic ideas your first design blog:
- Have a friend or colleague suggest a topic for you (this is how I wrote my first design blog: Inspiration not Perspiration)
- Think of a question that you’ve answered a thousand times (for example: What is the difference between UX and UI design?)
- What one thing are you the expert on in your workplace? What do your friends always come to you for ideas on?
3. Audience and purpose
Knowing who you want to talk to and why you are writing will help drive tone, ideas and motivation for your writing. I use my blog (or ‘Notes’ as I call it) to show my knowledge and contribute to the design community. My audience is design peers and potential employers.
Consider your audience and purpose before publishing any article. I’ve written several articles which I didn’t end publishing. I enjoyed writing them, but publishing on my design blog could have been detrimental to my purpose.
I don’t force myself to write on a certain schedule (although that will help your SEO and digital strategy goals). Write quality over forcing out poor quantity.
4. Do it!
You actually have to do the writing.
Your first writing piece will likely be the hardest. Set to work knowing it will be difficult, but don’t complicate it, choose an easy topic for your first article. The easier you make it the more likely you will be to finish and then move on to the second piece, third, forth and so on. It will only get easier as you go. Dedicate the time and write!
I write the bulk of my articles on the Skytrain into work each day. It’s an uninterrupted 40 minutes to myself. If I’m not reading the latest articles, I’m writing. Some people prefer hand writing in a notepad – do what works for you.
After finishing your first article or two you’ll have ideas flowing, new topics, and different approaches – perhaps even develop a style or reconsider your audience.
5. Choose a publishing platform
Once you’ve completed an article you need a platform for your voice. If you haven’t already chosen one, here are my insights:
- WordPress If you’re personal site is WordPress based (like mine), you’re ready to go! WordPress is a blogging platform so it’s built-in. It’s the perfect place to show off your writing and enhance a design portfolio. Using your own site will give you the most control over your content, however it is harder to get readers and traffic to visit your blog (compared with the below options).
- Medium is a great writing platform, with a large audience of readers. It’s a great choice if you don’t have your own site – or you want a larger audience.
- LinkedIn Publishing Long-form LinkedIn posts are a great way to show off your skills to potential employers and recruiters.
Some authors cross-post on multiple platforms (I’ve experimented with it myself). There are arguments both in favour and against this strategy.
6. Edit, publish and share
Congratulations on writing your first article! Make sure you give your work the love it deserves: carefully edit it. I find if I leave an article for a few days and then come back and read through it again I’ll pick up on things I missed before. Have someone else read over your work too.
It’s time to hit publish!
Once it is out in the world, share your article on Facebook, LinkedIn, Twitter and any other social platform you are active on. Promoting your own writing feels awkward and uncomfortable at first, but you’ve put in the hard work, it deserves sharing.
Those were my six steps to starting your own design blog . There is space for everyone in the blogging world: opinions, ideas, analysis – get started on your own design blog. If you need more convincing read: Why writing should be part of your design portfolio.
Writing has given me an outlet and a joy that I never realised it could (especially for a C-grade English student). I am also extremely grateful to anyone who has taken the time to read these words I put together – I humbly thank you. I hope I have provided you with some value, and that you find your writing just as rewarding.
Any feedback or thoughts on my work are most welcome, please reach out on my contact page. If you enjoyed this article, I would very much appreciate a share on social media: