Since I began blogging about design for profit I’ve learned a few things about myself and about blogging. There’s more to it than just stating your mind, when you’re doing it for money essentially you’re working for the public and your job is to be as accurate, as helpful and consistent as possible.
What follows are some simple facts I’d like to share about design blogging. It doesn’t matter if you work for a big group like Smashing Magazine or yourself these six tips are essential:
- Be articulate. Proper grammar and spelling are the greatest pitfall of all writers. I’m guilty of it, you’ve been guilty of it, everyone who’ every written anything down on paper or screen has dealt with it. Proofread everything you write and if you have time send it to a friend to have them proofread it again. I’m guilty of getting over-excited and publishing things before they’re fully reviewed but as I blog more and more I’m learning to pace myself.
- Be concise. Writing Photoshop tutorials online can bring a flood of traffic from sites like good-tutorials.com, psd-tuts.com and smashingmagazine.com. However, if your tutorial takes longer than necessary because you’re overly verbose you’ll cut that traffic in half in no time! One thing an English teacher once told me was “If you can say it in ten words, you can say it five.”
- Be accurate. It’s one thing to blog because you want to waste your own time but if your readers feel like you’re wasting their time they’ll respond by flaming you or ignoring your blog on the web. So don’t make things up. If you’re writing a Photoshop tutorial and you get to your end result before you fully explain it, people will call you on it.
- Be fun. Reading a Photoshop Tutorial should NOT be (in anyway) the same experience as reading the Declaration of Independence. Any tutorial that is ONLY facts is boring. that’s not to say that those tutorials aren’t just as useful but if your tutorial is boring most people aren’t going to stick around to read much more than they came for. Throw in an unexpected joke or two. Mention odd facts. Make your readers identify with you!
- Know your audience. The biggest advice I can give aspiring Design tutorialists is to BE RELEVANT. If you’re writing a tutorial that has been written 100 times before like “How to make a Sphere in Photoshop” no one is going to give a flying frack. Similarly, if you’re writing for the Smashing Magazine crowd your tutorial should be something edgy, exciting and innovative. “How to Draw Ponies in Photoshop” would not be appropriate.
- Be yourself. Since so much is at stake (money, fame, credibility, exposure) the world of design tutorials has become dirty business. Just know that once you become popular people will copy your style, blog design and all to try to steal your throne. If you remain true to yourself and your goals, this won’t matter. As long as you enjoy it, no one can’t take your motivation away from you.
- Be innovative. So many people are writing tutorials now that it’s hard come up with new things to write about. That’s what pushes innovation, though, when the ‘same old stuff’ just doesn’t cut it anymore. Some sites are pushing things forward by offering ALOT of money for good tutorials. Great! It raises the standard.
- Be consistent. If you are absolutely convinced that you want to enter the ‘design blogging for profit’ world you need to deliver. Before you write a post make sure your audience will appreciate it. Some people are making their livings by blogging these days so it’s a highly competitive market in general but design blogging especially is competitive because it’s so lucrative. Think about how many art school there are around the country and world? It’s a guaranteed audience and one that grows every day.
- Be smart. If you write design or code tutorials on a daily basis, have you ever really stopped to realize how much content you’re actually producing? At some point you may want to consider pitching a traditional book or writing an e-book. If you think about it, you’ve already got an extensive portfolio so why not approach a publisher with your ideas or publish them yourself.
- Be realistic. No matter how much of any of these things you are it’s going to take time to build a following. Patience is a virtue, let your following build, serve theme well and in no time you’ll be blogging six-figures.