A while ago I wrote a post called 8 Reasons Why Designers Should Blog. This post explained how designers can use a blog in many ways to promote themselves and their work. In the time I have been blogging I have learned a lot about how a blog can help you get found on Google and so have put together a guide for complete newbies into how to create your first blog.
If you have never set up a blog before this guide will literally take you step by step through the process of setting up your first blog. It also has tips for choosing a domain name that might help you get found more easily.
Step 1 – Choosing a domain name for your blog
Step 2 – Checking domain availability and buying domains
Step 3 – Purchase your web hosting
Step 4 – Pairing up your domain name with your webspace
Step 5 – Installing WordPress to power your blog
Step 6 – General Settings
Step 7 – Setting your permalinks
Step 8 – Choosing a theme for your WordPress blog
Step 9 – Installing plugins on your WordPress blog
Step 10 – Writing your first posts and pages
Step 11 – Setting your home and blog page
Step 12 – Using Feedburner
Step 13 – Backing up your WordPress blog
Finding free and cheap images for your blog
Ben Vallack contacted me the other day to tell me about his new CMS (content management system) called SetSeed. Most people will have heard of WordPress, which is incredibly popular so it will be interesting to see how Setseed develops as the new kid on the block.
One of the key ideas behind the CMS seems to be that we, as designers can set up the CMS and make it look as we want and then hand it over to the client allowing them to edit the text they need to without being able to fiddle with (and break) the design.
Some features of Setseed CMS
SetSeed is a self-hosted CMS which lets you rapidly build and deploy complete websites and online stores for your clients.
The CMS interface is beautiful, easy and lets your clients control their content without breaking your design. Use your own logo on the CMS and even in our training videos for your clients.
Pay a one off low-cost fee per site no expensive monthly payments
There are now a lot of blogs about graphic design and if you are a graphic designer who still isn’t blogging you could be missing out. There are a lot of reasons that designers should blog. If you want to set your own blog up you can download my free guide to setting up a WordPress blog (no email or sign up required)
1. Blogging Helps Designers Get Found in Google (SEO)
You probably already know this but google loves blogs and fresh content so when you blog about design you increase your chances of getting found by potential clients. I can by personal experience say that through both this blog and my personal design blog I have received several thousand pounds of work that otherwise I wouldn’t have got. Not only can potential clients see your work but they can get an insight into your personality through the way you write and the way you interact with people that comment on your blog.
Blogging can help you find both international or local work. Most people probably see blogging as an opportunity for designers to do work for clients further afield but I also use it to find local clients. By trying to optimise my personal blog for local words such as using my county in some of my post headings I will be more likely to be found by local companies.
2. Finding Full Time Design Employment Opportunities
Just as a blog helps a freelance designer find full time work it can also help a designer to find full time work. As I mentioned before a blog is a small insight to the type of person you are alongside a portfolio of your work. You could also go as far to create video posts showcasing you and your work. A blog is also somewhere you can direct potential employers to when you are sending out letters and emails to prospective employers. The potential employer can view your work and see your level of knowledge and enthusiasm.
Jacob Cass from Just Creative Design received a job offer via twitter which I should imagine was down to his very popular blog which you can read about here.
3. Designers Can Make friends and Contacts
The blogosphere enables you to contact any other blogging designer to both ask and offer advice. In the past I have contacted fellow bloggers who have helped me and in turn I have answered questions through emails and comments from novice designers. It never ceases to amaze me how helpful people you have never met before can be. You may also be lucky enough to find people to collaborate with on projects (not something I have done yet myself).
4. Opportunites and Design Exposure
When I first started blogging David Airey already had a fairly popular blog, though nothing like as popular as it is now. After his first blog – www.davidarey.com he launched his incredibly popular www.logodesignlove.com early 2008, which not only made him become an authority in the area of logo design and I am sure allowed him deservedly to increase his prices, but also led to a book deal with Peachpit Press which you can read about here.
Maybe not every designer blogger will end up with a book deal but there are also design magazine opportunities. Open up issues of Computer Arts and some of the articles you will find written by a designer blogger. I personally wrote a small piece “last word” for Computer Arts Projects a couple of years ago after being emailed by one of the editors. Not only was this cool to do but I got paid for it too. There are also opportunities to write for high profile websites – Jennifer Farley, Laughing Lion Design now writes for Sitepoint and John Boardley Ilovetypography writes Linotype’s monthly newsletter.
5. Extra Cash from Advertising and Affiliate Programs
So for most of us this is probably not going to make a fortune, but a bit of paid advertising can cover your web hosting costs.
If you are writing reviews about products you like, in my opinion, there is no harm in using an affiliate link to the product as long as the review is genuine.
6. Design Freebies
Be honest, everyone loves a freebie. If you write a design blog with reasonable coverage you will probably be offered some free stuff to review whether it be free ebooks, real books software or other equipment.Personally I have received a few ebooks whichI have read. I reviewed the ones I liked but not the ones I didn’t. I have also received a couple of books, a couple of bits of software (one after I had already done a review of a trial version) and most recently a Wacom Bamboo tablet which I will review when I have played with it a bit more. I can only imagine what some of the big design blogs receive to try out.
7. Blogging to Sell your Themes, Graphics, Designs, Tshirts or Designer Merchandise
Designers who create web themes such as WordPress themes can use a blog as a way of promoting their themes. Paid themes can generate a lot of revenue for some designers such as Brian Gardner who has developed a successful business selling premium themes, blog design and internet marketing. Blogs could also be used to generate traffic to sell vector graphics, photos, prints and posters or other merchandise.
8. Turning a Blog Post into a Business
Collis Ta’eed who was previously a web designer ran a blog called NorthxEast where he posted an article on his blog about freelancing. It was a big hit and realised that a site/blog about freelancing might be successful and set up the incredibly popular Freelanceswitch, he has also created Flashden and Tuts+. You only have to look at Freelanceswitch’s advertising prices alone (to see what a good business it is) not even taking into account the jobs board, ebooks and affiliate sales. You can also listen to a podcast interview with Collis here.
As a designer, do you think it is important to blog?
For tips on freelancing straight to your inbox click here
I have just recently got an ipad and I was trying to work out the best ipad pdf reader, plus how to transfer my existing pdf ebooks to my ipad (as my little UBS converter has not yet arrived). One common suggestion seemed to be to email them to yourself, but really I wanted a way to organise the pdfs once they were on my ipad too. I found a solution which seems to work quite well.
1. Go to your Google Docs Account (or open up a free google account if you haven’t already got one). Google docs now lets you upload pdfs so you can read them online which is pretty neat. You can upload all your pdf ebooks and organise them into folders. Slight problem though, this is great if you have an internet connection, but what about if you don’t. This is where the Good reader App comes in.
2. The Good Reader App lets you link up to your Google docs account and download any PDFs from there to your Ipad. You can then organise them into folders and read them whenever you want without an internet connection. The Good Reader App has a nicer interface than google docs for reading your PDFs too. Of course you can easily delete PDFs from your IPad when you have read them too (while still keeping a copy in Google docs)
The new version of WordPress 3.0 Thelonious has just been released and it looks pretty cool. Take a look at the video below to see the new features. If you want to set up your own WordPress Blog and are not sure how, why not download my free guide (no sign up required)
I just thought I would share an experience I had with my blog at the weekend. I was doing a bit of tweaking to my graphic design blog and for some reason I couldn’t edit text from my existing WordPress posts, I would make the text edit and save, but the text would go back to how it was. Then shortly after all my posts and pages disappeared both from the admin section of WordPress, as well as the front end. After a slight (OK major) panic – and realising that I hadn’t made a back up very recently (tut tut).
I contacted my host – Hostgator and asked if they could reupload the latest version they had for me back to my blog. Within a couple of hours they had come back to me and said the problem was a corrupted database and they had repaired it for me. So thank you Hostgator and don’t make the same mistake I did, back up your blog regularly, mosts hosts let you do this through your cpanel or there are WordPress plugins available.