Should Freelance Designers Run Design Blogs?

To blog or not to blog – that is the question. For freelancers, especially designers, it can be a particularly difficult question. Blogs have popped up as one of the most recommended methods for a freelancer to market himself, if only because the cost can be minimal. But the benefits have some dramatic matching costs, like the amount of time it takes to build up a blog that will actually bring in clients.

A Blog is a Big Commitment

The biggest problem with using a blog to land freelance work is that it takes a lot of effort – and a good freelancer hopefully has enough work on her plate that she can’t spare tons of time to invest in a blog. A good blog takes a lot of effort. The set up work, such as designing the site, may be trivial, but once you’ve got things up and running, the work is only just starting.

You have to write on a regular basis for your blog. While many experts will tell you that exactly how often doesn’t matter, you do need to set a schedule and stick to it. Even if how often doesn’t seem to matter, there is a need to blog at least every month if you want to consider your blog fairly regularly updated. You also need to promote the posts you write – they won’t bring you any clients if no one but your mother reads them (after all, your mom is probably already well aware of your talents). That can mean more writing, such as submitting guest posts to other sites or simply investing time in submitting links to different sites.

On top of that, your blog has to be well written and interesting. If writing isn’t your strength, that can be an incredibly difficult situation. There are plenty of people who will write your blog for you, for money, but that can be an expensive proposition.

A neglected blog – one that hasn’t been updated recently or has a standard theme on it – can be detrimental to your efforts to bring in business, rather than helpful. There’s a saying: “The shoemaker’s children go barefoot.” It tends to hold true for freelancers, too. A designer’s website routinely gets put off in favor of paying client work. If you can’t truly commit the necessary time to a blog (writing, designing, promoting and so on), it’s not going to be helpful for your freelancing.

But if your blog knocks it out of the park, you can land amazing amounts of work with each well-crafted post. The investment, at least of your time, is huge, but the payoff can certainly match if you do it right.

Don’t Blog About Design

If a blog is going to be worth your while, in terms of helping you bring in more clients and showing off your amazing freelance skills, there is one further point to remember: you shouldn’t blog about design.

The number of freelance designers blogging about design rises every day, without a corresponding lift in the number of clients those designers are picking up. That’s because the average design blog is read almost entirely by designers, rather than the sorts of individuals that hire designers. You may pick up a few readers who are creative directors or agency heads or are otherwise involved in bringing in freelancers, but it’s rare.

It’s crucial to think hard about who your ideal client is – and then blog for that client. If you want to build websites for real estate agents, you should be writing posts about real estate, probably along the lines of how real estate agents can better market themselves online. If you want to design logos for restaurants, you should be blogging about restaurants, possibly narrowing down the field to how a restaurant can use its logo and what a restaurant owner should look for in a designer.

Get as specific and narrow as possible. Don’t be afraid as getting known as an industry blogger, rather than a designer – that will help you sell your services to the people who view you as an expert and will be willing to pay top dollar for your work.

Discussion time: What is your opinion on this matter?

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Mae Krukin is a writer who covers design and art. Mae is a freelance writer for - a freelance design website.