The blogosphere is growing by leaps and bounds, and as the design field also expands many designers are looking to take their business and brand to a blog. The landscape is crowded with so many longing to get their brand established and garner the full advantages that this online presence can offer. However, the blueprint that some are following is not always one that will lead them where they are wanting to end up.
Success is naturally something that we all strive for with our projects, there are not too many who set out to have their endeavors fail. When we take on any charge we tend to outline our expectations and our benchmarks for success, because success can be a completely subjective term. When it comes to the design blog, again, there are various relative successes that are satisfied with the place and audience that their blog has found.
However, there are two broad and basic definitions that are usually accepted en mass by the blogging community when it comes to a site, for whether or not it is a success. And though not all bloggers judge their site by these same standards, these two prevailing ideas are the ones that most people base judge their sites by. They either measure their success based on generated financial gains or by a noticeable community impact. Whichever approach you choose you will need to use the blueprint that matches up with your mission.
Building Your Blueprint
There is not a lot of difference in the way you approach your blog when choosing either of these directions, but the differences are there. And you need to have an accurate and full understanding of your blueprint before you get started in order to save yourself the time and headache that usually comes with struggling to find your direction after the fact. Below are some areas to focus on when putting your design blog blueprint together.
Decide Your Direction
First things first, you have to know which direction you plan to go with your blog before you dive headfirst into the water. Otherwise you will spend most of your time treading water without actually making any forward progress. It will lead to a stagnating start that you may or may not be able to recover from. Just as we would expect our clients to know where they are heading so we know what to communicate, the same applies to design blogging. We have to know where we want to go, so we know what to we need to say.
Set Your Benchmarks
As your blueprint begins to come together, and starts taking shape, you will want to be sure and give yourself some reasonable benchmarks for your blog’s development and growth. Otherwise it can be easy to become discouraged if your site is not growing at an elevated rate of expectation spurred on by outside stresses and pressures. Pace yourself modestly, if you find overnight success then that is fantastic. But if you expect it, and then it does not show up on your doorstep it might leave you questioning your decision to begin blogging.
Find the Right Design
It was discussed recently in a post on Vandelay Design about the impact your blog’s design can have on your traffic, which means the design has more impact than just for establishing your brand. It may in fact be driving people away from your site, either through navigation frustration or other bad design choices. So make sure that your blueprint focuses on the design that you decide represents your site, and choose it well. Also, be able to let your site design adapt and develop just as you do in your skills, and never be too rigid, clinging to elements of the design that simply work against you.
Examples of Design Done Right
Here are just a few of the folks who have taken the time and effort to get their design right. Be it through unique styling, working the whitespace, bold typography, layered navigation, and so on.
Connect with the Community
One must have element for your design blog blueprint is connectivity with the online design community. This is key in helping to make the most of any new design blog venture, as the community is an irreplaceable resource that can not only provide you with invaluable tools for growth, but they can also provide you with an outlet for stress relief. As you find out from these connections that you are not alone in your journey, and the barriers and roadblocks that bar your progress are pestering others as well.
Ways to reach out and get involved!
DCTH – or Design Community Twitter Hours.
Connect with Your Readers
Speaking of must have connectivity, especially if you are pursuing the impact measure of success for your blog, one blueprint basic that almost goes without saying is the connection you make with your readers. Engaging your audience is a standard rule for almost any artistic medium and the art of blogging is certainly no different. The benefits of this are to numerous to consider singularly, but no matter which means of success you hope to achieve, this connection cannot be undervalued.
Resources for Your Readers
Track Your Stats
One blueprint addition that some might consider to be more of a minor element, but one that should still be in your thought process nonetheless, is your blog traffic statistics. This will help you not only deliver the content that your readers and passers-by are searching for, but it will help you find the content that lands and the content that tends to fall flat. This way you are not wasting your efforts producing content that does not add to your blog, but instead takes away from it.
- Mint Website Stat Tracking
- Google Analytics
- W3 Counter WordPress Blog Stats Plugin
- Wassup WordPress Plugin
Commit to Your Content
For a blog engaging and communicating is what it is all about, and the number one engager and communicator for your blog is the content generated for it. You hear it all over the web, content is king, and once you have established which direction you plan on steering your site, the content is what will take you there. So make a commitment to your content, and put the effort and time into it that both it and your readers deserve and it will pay off.
Live Beyond Your Blog
It is extremely easy, especially in the beginning, to get so wrapped up in this new venture that you allow it to basically take over your life and you live within the pages and posts of your blog. No one should lose themselves in their site to the point that they are ignoring the larger community, and only focusing on the one that surrounds their site. Network, guest post, in short, remember that a blogger is a social being that requires communal interaction to thrive. So step outside of your site to comment and share beyond your blog, it will benefit you and your site.
Don’t Be an Anonymous Blogger
This next point goes a bit hand in hand with one or two other blueprint elements but that crossover is expected when laying a solid foundation to build on. Don’t be an anonymous blogger. Yes, there is something to be said for that surrounding air of mystery, but that air tends to be to constrictive for the blogosphere. Readers want to be able to connect with the blogger, and know a bit about the person they are going on this journey with. This will help to establish trust in your blog and it will bring readers back.
The Marketing Mark
The final blueprint element that I am going to discuss for the post is one that poses a challenge to many of those in the blogosphere, and that is the making your mark through a solid marketing effort. Especially in the beginning, when you may not have enough capital to financially market your blogging venture, it is vital that you be able to effectively market the site and yourself on your own. Whichever approach you take to marketing the blog, make sure that you allow enough time and focus to keep it up and not let it fall behind. You want to keep your visibility high.
Below is a list of wonderful posts that address some of the secrets to other blog successes and ways to help your blog grow and stay vibrant, appealing and inspiring. I highly recommend giving them a read when you find some time to examine this further.
Colorburned talks about running a design blog like a business.
Some great advice from The Design Cubicle on driving traffic to your new design blog.
What is in Your Blueprint?
So what elements do you consider the must haves for a successful blueprint? Leave a note in the comment section below to let us know.