You may have notice that this week’s theme at Design Shack has been talents to add to your skill set as a designer. First we looked at copywriting, then marketing, and today we’ll examine blog writing.
Blogging has come a long way in recent years. The practice has transformed from a questionably productive hobby into a popular and lucrative profession. The design blog industry is one of the fastest growing niches in the blogging world and here we bring you five convincing reasons to join the fun and begin writing your own design-related articles and tutorials.
The primary reason that you should start writing for design blogs is simply that you can get paid to do so. Most of the designers I’ve ever met are always looking for a new talent that they can use to earn a little extra income and writing is a legitimate and easy way to do just that.
Several design blogs post their rates right on their site along with pleas for writers to sign up. However, if your favorite blog doesn’t have a section like this, that doesn’t mean they aren’t looking. The guy who waits for the “Help Wanted” sign to appear in the window is almost always beat out by the guy who simply walks in and asks if he can have a job.
Just about every design blog out there posts an email address for you to contact them. Simply send a brief message explaining that you’re interested in writing for them and would like to know if they’re looking for extra help. If so, what are their rates? Also be sure to include a sample of your writing as this will be asked for 100% of the time.
The rates that you can expect vary quite a bit but in my experience range from about $50-$200 per article. Obviously, the blogs with the largest audience will be those that pay the most. However, these blogs often have stricter guidelines for who they allow to write for them than smaller blogs. Further, they can reasonably demand longer, more researched articles than those blogs only paying $50.
A Steady Income from Blogging!?
A few years ago, if you would’ve told me that I would one day leave a job as an Art Director at a major international marketing firm to blog for a living, I would’ve tried to help you with your obvious substance abuse problem. However, that’s exactly what I did a few months ago.
You’ll find that more often than not, blogs are looking for someone who can commit to writing a regular stream of articles, whether that be one every two months or two a week. No matter how much or little time you can commit, just having that guarantee in place will make you more of an asset to these blog owners as they know they have at least that many articles scheduled on a regular basis.
2. The Learning Experience
You might imagine that we blog writers only write articles on topics that we know all about well in advance. You would however be very wrong. It’s more often the case that writing an article or tutorial is as much a learning experience for the writer as it is for the reader.
Writing for blogs is an excellent way to force yourself to stay up on the latest web/design trends and technologies. If you have to continually learn, you might as well get paid to do it! Never be afraid to accept an article when you’re not familiar with the subject, instead see it as a challenge that will ultimately benefit you.
Even writing about topics you know a fair bit about usually requires plenty of research. You’ll find that you are a lot more prone to learn things the right way instead of taking shortcuts when hundreds or thousands of people will be reading your overview of the subject. Commenters can always be depended upon to point out every incorrect claim or syntax error. They’re also not shy about simply telling you that your entire premise is just plain wrong.
Consequently, make sure you’re an expert by the time your start actually writing. Otherwise you’ll be eaten alive. Any time you’re not sure of something, just say so. People are usually not hard on you if you fully admit that you’re not an expert. In fact, it’s even acceptable to ask the advice and opinions of your readers. This is far preferable to pretending to be an expert when you’re not.
Writing for design blogs opens you up to a potentially huge audience of people. Whether you’re looking for more work or simply want to feed your ego with more Twitter followers, this is a great way to do it.
You’ll find that when you publish an article on a given topic, there are plenty of readers out there looking to hire someone to do that very thing. Since you as the author of the article seem like an expert on the subject, you’ll be the first person they approach.
No matter what kind of work you do, be it website building or logo creation, try to find someone that will let you post a tutorial or two on the subject. This increases the likelihood of potential clients contacting you to do the kind of work that you’re comfortable with.
Appearing on multiple blogs will definitely improve your Google-ability as well so be sure to include your website in your author bio so interested parties can find out more about you.
4. To Contribute
The community of online designers is huge. Through social media we meet each other, share links, and briefly discuss the victories and losses we experience on a daily basis. Driving this community forward is an ever-growing network of design blogs, daily churning out free information.
If you’re reading this, you’re currently a consumer in the design community. This is great, we design blogs need you to keep reading and sharing our articles or we go hungry. In this way, you’re already a sort of contributor to what we do.
However, you can make that distinction all the more real by actually sharing your own knowledge and experiences. If you look around, you’ll see that a ton of blogs are dishing out articles that are nearly identical to those posted elsewhere.
The design community needs your brain. No matter how experienced you are, you can bring original ideas to the table that no one else can. We’re all desperately thirsty for truly unique content and you can help feed that need.
In fact, preparing a list of original article ideas is one of the fastest way to get a design blog to accept your offer to write. When a blog owner sees that you’ve thought of something to share that no one else has, you’re immediately bumped up in status to that of a valuable asset.
5. To Pad Your Resume
Getting published on a major design blog is a far cry from having a blogger account. It’s something to be proud of and add your resume.
As I’ve mentioned before, I recently switched jobs and starting writing full-time. This switch was the ultimate result of an extended job search. I went on several interviews where I was one of only three to five people chosen out of a pool of over 300 resumes.
One of the reasons I heard over and over again for being selected was that they found my writing experience impressive. Even though I was applying for a design position, employers saw writing as a desirable skill.
This is true of almost any profession. Writing is a high level thinking skill that requires clear, logical thought processes and a gift for communication. If you can break an advanced topic into easy to follow steps in a written tutorial, it’s a strong indication that you might be good management material.
Communicating clearly to others is one of the key requirements for any high-level position at virtually any company in the world. This is why nearly every college professor you’ll ever have wants you to write a lengthy paper as a part of the class. It’s simply one of the most important skills you can possess to be a successful professional.
So get out there and start writing. Be proud of it and list every site you’ve worked with on your resume along with the size of the site’s audience. Then when any interview questions arise as to your communications skills, and they will, point to your excellent record as a professional writer.
I Have Zero Writing Experience, How Do I get Started?
If you have little to no professional writing experience, you should probably start with a smaller blog. Many blogs that either can’t afford to pay writers or aren’t looking for any additional paid help are more than willing to give you a shot at writing for them on a voluntary basis. There’s absolutely nothing wrong with writing for free on either a temporary or permanent basis as all of the benefits above, aside from the first, still apply.
Another way to get started is to sign up for Tumblr or Blogger and begin writing articles as a hobby. Don’t worry too much about traffic or promotion, simply write for the experience. This is exactly how I landed my first writing gig. When a popular Mac application blog started looking for writers and asked me for a sample, it just so happened that I had been working on my own little blog project for Mac apps and therefore had a link to send them.
Once you’ve built up a good buffer of articles and get a feel for your particular style and what you most enjoy writing about, then you can start approaching larger blogs for writing opportunities.
If you’re a designer at all interested in writing, I hope I’ve convinced you to give it a shot. If you need some potential blogs to contact, check out the Envato Tuts+ Network, the Fuel Brand Network, Six Revisions, Smashing Magazine, Web Design Ledger or Web Designer Depot.
These are all excellent sources for free design and design-related content and are always looking for extra writers from all areas of the design world.