The 1st month of Richworks : My journey to become a kickass blogger
Hello guys, I am very overjoyed to announce that Richworks has officially completed its 1st month of blogging. What started as a ‘Everyone has, why not me?’ kind of a blog to ‘I’m absolutely loving what I do’ blog. This has been a great run for me and I am really enjoying sharing what I always loved to do.
I give all the credit to my loyal readers. I have around 300 loyal RSS readers already and the main reason this blog has become what it is today is because of you guys for continually supporting me and motivating me to write new and interesting articles.
The first month of blogging is always the toughest because this is when you have to come up with quality posts and tutorials to keep the visitors glued to your blog. It was a tough month for me, I must admit; amidst all the exams and stuff I had.
I also wanted to show you guys a few of my statistics which I thought would be a great way to start off writing this article on ‘How to become a kickass design blogger’
This is a screen shot of how my Dashboard looks like. I have written 40 posts which involves a wide range of disciplines from basics in Photoshop to quite a few quality intermediate tutorials, also loads of posts which includes inspiration from the world of typography, illustration, photography and many more.
I thank everyone of you who commented and provided valuable suggestion no matter how simple it was. Even a small ‘Thanks’ is very motivating for a newbie like me :)
Here are a few screen shots from Google Analytics:
As you can clearly see, the traffic is not so awesome. There were so many times I hardly got 1000 visits a day, but that does not matter because I believe, where there is a will, there is a way. Constant dedication to what you do and your love for sharing what you learn will definitely be a stepping stone for becoming an awesome blogger.
Well, as for the traffic sources, I get most of my visitors through Photoshop Tutorial sites like Good-Tutorials, Pixel2life and a few more. Twitter is a great way of promoting your articles. If one of your followers find your tweet/article interesting, he/she will Retweet and his/her followers will do the same and this goes on and suddenly, you have around 500 visits, provided you’ve written an awesome article :)
Also, Design-Newz has been an awesome promotion site for me. Most of my articles made it to their list. Even though, they make it 2 or 3 days late, it gives a huge amount of boost when it comes to traffic.
Not many of us would agree that Alexa Ranks are genuine and extremely important to grade our website. But, the fact remains that it is one of the most sought after ranking system apart from the Google Page Rank and is used by the best Ad service agency for blogs, BuySellAds. Well, Initially when I started my website, its alexa ranking was around 8,000,000. Hard to believe, huh! As you can see, it has come down to around 134,000.
There are a lot of ways to increase your alexa ranking (which, surprisingly I haven’t done yet) which I am not going to discuss here :(
We all know that BuySellAds rules when it comes to managing advertising. It seamlessly adopts to almost any website and creates a transparency between advertisers and publishers which is so awesome, and it gives a fantastic dashboard to manage the account. It also gives a pretty decent UI and as you can see from the picture above, gives a whole lot of information about the site.
Sadly, the theme which I am using has some CSS issues, so I couldn’t add a 125 x 125 adspace. That was very annoying for me, as most of the advertisers prefer those ad blocks.
I am very very glad to announce that the website is being sponsored by 2 awesome guys, namely Creative Den and Print OX. I am very thankful to them for choosing my website and hope to continue the relationship for many more months to come.
Here are a few great tips on helping you sell your adspaces which was quite useful to me.
Ok, thats enough of the statistics. Let us get to the crux of the issue now. Well, As promised earlier, that I would be sharing my thoughts and ideas on how to become a kickass blogger, let me start off giving out the basic points. Well, these points are from my perspective. If there is anything that you disagree upon, please feel free to share it among us and suggest a few good points if you have any:
1) Kick Start your website
Before you start off a design blog, make sure everything is ready. Be sure to think wisely about your website name. Names which contain words like ‘Design’, ‘Graphics, ‘Tutorials’ help you a lot in indexing in the Google list, but becomes extremely banal because of the amount of website which have such words. I chose to create my own profile and create a new brand of design blog. So far I’ve not been that successful, but the quest never ends. Always remember, the success of a blog mostly comes from the name it carries around. So, decide on a catchy yet trendy name and make sure it reflects what you do and blog about. Here is an article by the expert in Typography, Brian Behoff :
Also, make sure you have plenty of ideas in mind before launching your new site so that you can easily write articles every day or two. Such consistency will help you a lot in getting new visitors and people subscribing for your blog.
2) Do not under estimate the power of Social Networking:
Once you get into blogging, make sure you use your opportunities to the very best. Utilize the power of social media and networking. Once you finish writing an article, do not forget to promote them. There are numerous networking sites which allow you to share your articles. Remember to always document your work. There are some really good sites out there which lets you submit your artwork as well. I use DeviantArt and Behance. Fubiz and Creattica also showcases the best among the design community.
3) Submit your design articles:
There are many sites which allow you to submit your design related articles in the ‘Community News’ Section. Once you finish writing the articles, do not forget to submit them. Some of the sites have to moderate first before they accept it, so make sure you do not spam or anything. During the early times, you will have to literally do anything that is possible to promote your articles, even hold up a sign on the road which has your website url on it :)
Here is a link to an article written by 1stwebdesigner :
4) Create icons and logos
Freelancing is a very under-appreciated form of employment. Clients always tend to choose the best in the design community. To make sure you become one among them, you need to tell the world, how awesome your are in designing stuff. Icons and Logos are a great way to popularize your work. We all use icons in our blog and most of us keep them updated with new and improved ones. So, the best bet would be do create icons and submit them as a resource in many websites. Creating logos is also an effective way of showcasing your skills.
Productive Dreams : 20 sites to submit your logos
PSDTuts : 7 principles of effective Icon design
5) Follow Design blogs on Twitter
There are almost hundreds of design blogs which constantly keep their twitter profile up to date. But, most of them Keep Retweeting stuff from the ‘Big’ guys. Design Blogs like Smashing Magazine, Speckyboy, Design Informer and many others tweet quality articles and are very much useful to grow as a designer. Follow such blogs and follow a few others as well which you think are providing quality tweets. Here is a link to a few Design blogs which you must be following on Twitter:
Designussion : Design Blogs you should be following on Twitter
If you are a new to blogging, I suggest you to follow a few upcoming blogs to build a friendly community to start your own mini-network to share and promote your articles.
6) Become a Guest Author
Initially, you have to do everything you can to promote your website and attract visitors to your blog. Become a Guest Author and submit your articles there. Choose a few of the best blogs which let you contribute to them and start writing articles, preferably research articles and tutorials. If you put in a lot of hard work into such articles, people will commend you for your work and will definitely visit your profile and start following your site.
Cats who blog : 10 tips to be an efficient guest blogger
Well, as a new blogger, you may not get a chance to become a guest author in the top design blogs, but do not worry. Start off with upcoming blogs, mail them and let them know you are eager to contribute to their site. Its a win-win situation and both of you are happy at the end. Gradually you can make your way up the ladder and become authors for blogs like Smashing Magazine and others.
If you think you are good at Photoshop or Illustrator, come up with some awesome tutorials and submit them to sites which I have listed below :
Not only do they pay you money, but they get immense traffic and this will help your blog escalate into popularity
7) Think Different:
Most of the design blogs we see today have almost the same domain of articles. These articles include Inspirational ones, round ups and stuff. I suggest you create a different niche for your website. Always think different and be creative. Try to research on some design related article and collect as much information possible and then write an article on that. The hard work you put into will definitely be worth it.
Read this article on
Cats who blog : Why a blog should always be niche focused?
Design Informer: Your Creative Drive
Tripping words : Transforming Creative Ideas into Stunning Designs
8 ) Experiment with design and blogging:
Success always comes from experimentation. Try to understand what your readers want and the changing trends of design. On some days, articles related to ‘Awesome Illustrations’ might be a hit but on another day, it becomes boring because viewers have already seen most of such articles and are expecting better ones. Try varying your content carefully and see how it affects the visitors and comments. This will give you an example on how to come up with new ideas and content.
Design Informer : The benefits of Experimentation
9) Comment on blogs wisely and share your opinions:
When you read an article or tutorial, always leave a comment on how how you felt about the article. Even a simple ‘Thanks, that was great’ would not only be motivational to the author but also will bring you a lot of traffic if you leave some really thoughtful comments. An excellent comment system will not only create a network of ideas but will create a forum of discussion with people agreeing and disagreeing with suggestions. This allows you to involve yourself in a dynamic form of networking.
10) Host Guest writers:
Allowing others to contribute to your blog not only increases the popularity of your blog but also creates a very structured blogging platform and helps you a lot in understanding about blogging. Once your blog becomes really good and you are making a reasonable income from it, you can even start paying your guest authors.
If you want to contribute to Richworks and popularize your blog, make sure to contact me and pretty soon, your article will be up and running.
11) Search Engine Optimization:
Make your blog visible to the outside world. We all know that 99% of the people who want to search will opt for Google. So, make sure your theme is SEO optimizable and provide relevant meta tags, titles and description so that it becomes easy to find your blogs. My website theme, on the other hand is quite bad and is not SEO optimizable and I am not able to promote it properly. Without SEO optimization, your blog will suffer a lot of traffic drought. Google Analytics and WebMaster are great tools for optimizing your websites.
Freelance Folder : SEO Trips and Tricks
If you are using wordpress, do not forget to add this plugin : All in one SEO plugin
12) Release freebies, wallpapers and design related links/bookmarks.
Every now and then, keep bookmarking your favorite links and resources and write and article on that in your site. This not only will let viewers access to some really cool stuff which they might have not seen before, but will also give you a lot of appreciation for the backlinks/trackbacks you’ve provided.
Also, create new icons/wallpapers and release them as a freebie every week or so. This will allow viewers to see the ‘creative side’ of you and you will also be making your blogging a bit more professional. Sites like Abduzeedo and Design Informer do this regularly by releasing awesome wallpapers from talented designers. This also can be an effective way of compensating for the lack of ideas on your blog posts ;)
13) Conduct Giveaways and competitions:
Everyone likes free stuffs and everybody likes winning. So, combine both the elements and host giveaways for commenting and subscribing. This will increase the traffic and you also have a chance to detour visitors to some of the popular articles in your blog.
14) Interview talented designers and bloggers:
This is the most important step in the path of any budding designer. Visit portfolios of some creative artists and mail them. Let them know how awesome their works are and how you loved it. This will motivate them to help you and then you can ask them a few suggestions and ideas on how to become ‘Creative’. If you are lucky enough, then may even be gracious enough to answer a few questions and this will allow you to understand how their workflow is and how to become a successful artist.
Here is an interview I did with the master in Photo manipulation, Erik Johansson
PSD Tuts and Abduzeedo has been the pioneers in interviewing talented designers and artists from all over the world and this is great source of inspiration for any designer.
PSD Tuts : Interviews
Abduzeedo : Interviews
For those of you, who are relatively new to the design/blogging world, I suggest you read the interview of Jad Limcaco, the ‘magician’ at Design Informer who has given some clever insights on Starting and Growing a Design Blog
15) Seek inspiration from wherever possible:
As Jad Limcaco of Design Informer says, “Always carry a notepad with you wherever you go. You don’t know when Inspiration strikes you”. It may be in the food you eat, the things you see, the music you hear or even the bad weather. Inspiration always comes from thinking and allowing your mind to roam around freely. Do not always sit in front of a computer and spend your time stumbling and digging stuff. Go out, take a stroll, observe the things around you and analyze how the outside world is interacting with you. This helps you a lot in removing the stress and burden of blogging.
16) Become active in the design community:
As I quoted earlier, always be active in the community. This will enable other designers/bloggers to identify your potential and skills, thus leading them to your website and appreciating your work. Share what you felt about an article you read. If you are so lethargic to read the entire article, at least leave a ‘Thank you’ or ‘Good article, mate’. Even though that appears juvenile and insignificant, it is sort of a motivational factor for writing new articles. Who knows, most of the comments on your blog maybe of this type and you feel better when you see them :)
Join design forums and offer help and share your ideas. This will create a virtual portfolio and will enable readers to approach you whenever they have a doubt or anything. Forums like Smashing Mag forum and Graphic design forum are very active and will push your limits of being active to a further level.
This may be the end of the post, but it is a new beginning to us.
Well, that’s pretty much what I intended to share with you today. I will keep sharing stuff which I think would be really useful in the coming articles. This is a pretty new blog and I need all your support to make it really awesome.
[image credits : sxc.hu]
I would love to hear your suggestions, opinions, critiques if you have any. Please feel free to comment on what you felt about this article and what kind of articles you would like to see in the future. Thank you so much :)