Over the last few years the design community has been virtually transformed by the growing blogosphere. Many in the field took to this expansive new medium as a way to connect with colleagues, potential clients, and other online audiences as well. However, one way that the design blog can be viewed that many designers overlook, causes a lot of potential to be missed, and that is to view their blog as a virtual extension of their online portfolios. Taking this stance will tend to increase the amount of effort and thought that we put into our sites.
Recently, over at Arbenting this point was really driven home, when two separate posts, a freebie that we had given away on our blog and a guest post that we had done on another blog, both yielded job opportunities from clients who had not visited our portfolios. So it is not like this principle is without its merit. The reason that this can be important to design bloggers, is because we tend to put a lot of work into our portfolios, ensuring that only quality goes into it. However, when it comes to our blog, quantity tends to trump quality at times. This is among the considerations that need to be made if you seek to maximize your blogs potential and use it in this way.
Below is a look at a few of the ways that we can fine tune our blog and get it working with us in this new direction that we are steering it. This is not to say that you have to engage in all of the blogging activities listed below in order to increase your chances of reaching potential clients through your posts, but the more of them that you undertake the better your reach will be.
One thing that you hear a lot when bloggers are dispensing advice on gaining traffic, is that giving something away on your site tends to draw people in. This falls in line with our discussion today, because on a design site, if you are going to give something away in order to attract readers, then try to make it something you have designed. A freebie of some kind. Now there are those in the community who feel like giving away design freebies is not necessarily a great thing for the field, but I disagree. Especially in this case.
Speaking of freebies, this was a wallpaper we gave away on the site that prompted a band to hire us to put together a new design for their cd cover.
Because when we design some sort of freebie to give away, we are not only drawing in readers, but we are also showcasing some of our design skills and know how by crafting usable and appealing design resources. There are many who forget that you can use these freebies as mini marketing posts for your site and your talents within the field. You never know who may be browsing your site or your freebies, and these types of posts on your blog can be attractive ways to highlight the designers behind the scenes, so to speak. So that is one way to potentially reach new clients through blogging.
Guest Blog for Other Design Sites
Another way to use your blogging skills to reach out to potential clients, is to effectively extend your reach beyond your own blog and do guest posts for other design related blogs as well. Given that increased visibility throughout the blogosphere is somewhat key to rising above the masses and being noticed by some of the more casual audience, finding other sites in your arena that you can do guest posts for can help grant you that more visible edge you need. Lets face it, the blogosphere is somewhat crowded these days, so anything we can do to help us stand out is useful.
The better you blog, the more opportunities you have to guest blog on sites with a much wider audience reach than your own, and this will really help with the visibility factor when it comes to getting out there. So work on your ability to really dissect a topic and present it in a helpful, easy to digest way so that you can be marketable among the blogosphere. There are a number of posts and sites that are dedicated to helping you improve your blogging skills, and honing your voice for an online audience that you might want to check out if you feel you might be somewhat lacking in this arena. So even if you are not quite there yet, that doesnt mean you should give up. It takes time to get the formula where you want it.
So especially in the beginning of your time in the blogosphere, you want to accept whatever opportunities you have at your disposal in order to flex your voice and get it out there. Getting others to blog on your site is another boon in this effort, as you can often work out a trade of posts with some of your colleagues who are looking to get their voice out there as well.
Design Filled Posts
Another way to possibly reach out to new clients through your design blog, is to actually fill your posts with designs over just plain complementary images. This is not always the easiest to do given your posts specific topic may not lend to this method as naturally as you would like. But whenever it is possible, find ways to include some eye catching design work into the post to highlight a particular point in the discussion. This will more than likely be received well by your random readers as well as any potential clients browsing through the posts.
After initially consulting with the band, this was the concept they chose to jump off from, combining it with more of the color and style of the wallpaper that drew them in.
Interestingly enough, it is not always necessary for the designs that you are including in the post to actually be your own work to attract new clients your way. It just so happens that you can also be showcasing the work of other designers, and as long as you are able to effectively critique the work or provide a rundown which demonstrates a level of understanding of the field and processes then you might find businesses contacting you based on this display of design expertise. You might also find that you are being contacted because they think the designs showcased are your work. In these cases it is best to be honest and direct the client towards the owner of the piece, but this still provides you a chance to get your foot in the door.
Especially since the potential client will be directing you towards a design that tends to be along the lines of what they are looking for. When you contact them back to direct them onward (since we tend to link the images to their point of origin this is an easy forward) you can include some samples of your own work that might also fall into that same category to show them what you are capable of.
Quality Always Wins
As mentioned up front, when you are trying to use your blogging efforts to extend your portfolio, you want to apply some of those same rules to your blog that you would to the works you would include in your portfolio. The first and foremost being that you always want to opt for quality over quantity with regards to your blog posts. You do not want to be posting just to have some sort of fresh content on your blog. Content for the sake of content does not tend to follow on this quality rule and so when you are blogging to essentially expand your portfolio, you want to really tighten the content reins.
For this approach to work, when potential clients casually make their way to your blog, they need to connect with gold. You do not want them to have to sift through the filler content to find the posts that might lead them to hiring you for their next design project. Same goes for the content that you are putting out through the design community blogosphere as well. Those guest posts should be viewed as an extension of your own blog, and the same care and effort you put into your own posts should go into every post you put out. Again, for this approach to work right, quality always wins.
Thats a Wrap
That is all from this end for now, but that does not mean that the discussion is over. The comment section is now yours to follow up as you see fit. Add to the topics already introduced, or highlight some of your own approaches for successfully pulling off this extension below. Hopefully the post has left you with some things to think about.