How Graphic Designers Can Get Work With a Blog

There are many sites out there that provide venues for graphic designers to obtain freelance projects. However, due to fierce competition, many graphic designers lack the opportunities to get new projects consistently. If you are one of these unfortunate designers, what is your best possible move to land more work?

One of the best methods I’ve found is to utilize a blog. By writing about the subject area you are most passionate about, you are much more likely to be noticed by potential clients.

David Airey's Blog

Start A Blog

Don’t get hung up on the word “blog”. A blog is a website which is easy to add content to.

Many companies provide hosting services for blogs, and some of the more well-known providers are WordPress.com, TypePad and BlogSpot among others. However, as a professional, you should definitely be using a self-hosted WordPress.org blog.

WordPress

I would also advise you to use WordPress to power your whole site including your portfolio. If you’re not convinced, you can just tack WordPress (in a directory called “blog”) onto your main site and then, once you see the traffic flood into the blog, you can easily convert the whole site over to WordPress later.


Design Your Blog

Since you are a graphic designer, you should have the ability to make your blog look great. If you are familiar with HTML and CSS, you can customize the overall look of your blog. If you don’t have the time or knowledge, you can also search for themes online for free or buy some of the many excellent (and fairly cheap) premium themes. With some of these themes, you can easily change the layout and incorporate your own designs without any programming knowledge.

Write Articles or Blog Posts Related to Graphic Design

When you want to attract new clients, you should create content that is interesting and helpful to people in the industry. For example, you can write about your perception of what good design is. Also, other interesting topics include corporate branding and its importance, the use of logos and their significance and great designing tools for designers. You should be generous enough to share some of your tricks with the community.

So, if you’re writing blog posts that the design community will be interested in, how on earth does that get clients contacting you? The answer lies in the type of post you write.

You need to be as specific as possible when writing your posts. Sure you can write about graphic design in general, but you should concentrate on what you specifically love doing and are good at – whether it’s storyboards, choosing fonts, converting PDFs to iPad – get specific as possible. This is because, especially when you’re starting out, you’ll never be able to beat the big boys on the big search terms.

Don’t Forget the Long Tail

However, I’m going to surprise you now, most of Google traffic isn’t from the big search terms. 70% of Google searches have no exact matches (or haven’t had in the last 6 months) – this means 70% of the billions of phrases typed on Google don’t have any exact representation on the web at all.

So the bulk of all Google traffic is in areas no one talks about! This is the so-called “long tail”. This is where you can find speedy success in blogging.

The articles you write about your specialties will attract clients looking for specific skills.

Two quick examples: I gained one client, a Fortune 100 company that has given me tens of thousands of dollars worth of business over 5 years, through writing one article about InDesign and PDFs. Another client who’s given me a similar amount of business and is a fairly large global brand contacted me after having searched for “freelance designer rates”.

Other Blogging Strategies – SEO

When you start to read about the blogging minutiae of Search Engine Optimization it can be very daunting.

But, don’t be daunted. It’s very simple. The best SEO is writing great content.

Of course, there are some essential SEO actions for WordPress that you must carry out. Quickly, here are a few:

  • Put the %%postname%% in your permalinks instead of a question mark and some numbers
  • Add keywords (for example, “web designer, web design, web designers, graphics, ” etc.) in the titles of your posts – where it’s natural to do so
  • Break your posts up with subheadings that also contain keywords – again, where it’s natural to do so
  • Always put images in your posts, give them a proper file name and always enter an alt text for them
  • Create an XML sitemap and register it at Google Webmaster Tools
  • Redirect your non-www site URLs to the www version or vice versa with by entering code in your .htaccess file
  • Install an SEO plugin to ensure that the post headings are the first or only thing in your page titles. SEO plugins can also help you with a number of other SEO tweaks – like ensuring different titles and meta descriptions for all your pages and to noindex the tag and category archive pages.

But, it’s important not to stress too much about SEO. The most important thing is to create the best content you possibly can.

Market Yourself through Social Media

Social media, despite being the buzzword of the last few years, is not the be all and end all and can be responsible for a lot of wasted time on the internet.

Don’t spend hours wondering aimlessly through social sites promoting yourself. The truth is that well placed social media buttons on your blog will be more effective than hours of self-promotion.

You may well find that you can learn from sites like Twitter, Pinterest and LinkedIn. And, if that’s the case, stay with them and contribute to the conversation by helping people and posting other’s links if they’re relevant as well as your own.

Be sure to only promote your own content less than 25% of the time on social media.

Social media sites like Facebook and Twitter are good venues to market yourself and your services. Start a Facebook Page and get people to like your page. Add social media plugins on your website to add accessibility. Get people to follow you on Twitter and also pin your designs on Pinterest. Always explore new ways to harness the power of social media but don’t spend too much time on it.

What You Can Do

Whether you are a web designer who understands HTML, CSS and PHP or a print designer who doesn’t, there is no excuse not to start blogging.

The tech-savvy will have no difficulty dealing with WordPress and the not-so-tech-savvy can use existing WordPress themes until they are able to create their own.

Your knowledge and expertise is your livelihood and, if you don’t blog, there is no online record of it.

About the Author:

Rob Cubbon runs his own graphic design business and regularly contributes to his own design and marketing blog. Where he explains, amongst other things, how to start a web design business from home.

Looking for hosting? WPEngine offers secure managed WordPress hosting. You’ll get expert WordPress support, automatic backups, and caching for fast page loads.

14 Responses

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  • Mark Pritchard, October 2, 2012

    I have created a new blog in WordPress but not able to design it properly. I will definitely follow the tips which you have mentioned in this post. Thanks for sharing this informative post.

  • Ashley Carter, October 2, 2012

    Great post! I’ve thought about starting my own design blog for years but always had some sort of excuse stopping me. Hopefully the inspiration sticks! Thanks.

  • Andrea Smith, October 3, 2012

    Great post Mark! Actually I am not really a programmer but I know how to build wordpress site and I have a few knowledge css and html. I really agree that using social media to market your site is the best way to gain more traffic on your blogs by using social media plugins.

  • Rob Cubbon, October 3, 2012

    @Mark. If you’re unhappy with the design of your WordPress blog you should definitely have a look at a few themes and play around with them.

    @Ashley. I hope this does inspire you to start a blog as it is definitely the best thing I ever did business-wise. Go for it, please!

    @Andrea. Social media buttons are useful but you will also get great promotion from your close network of internet “friends” who share your passions! :)

  • Fion Ordon, October 4, 2012

    I agree with with you @Rob that if your blog have a social media plugin like facebook but you need to get promotion from friends or other people who are using social media sites or just doing a social media marketing but it depends on how you market your page and your site :-)

  • Jansen Williams, October 4, 2012

    I did also market my blog through social media sites like Facebook and Twitter and thanks for sharing this post and I really learned a lot especially the “Long tail” because I never did this in my blog.

  • Rob Cubbon, October 4, 2012

    @Fion, yes, once you have a plugin installed in WordPress to make it easier to share your content you’ll start to get more traffic from social sites. Don’t forget to create great content that people are going to want to share first! And, great advice, try to get your friends to share your content first to create momentum.

    @Jansen thank you. Best of luck with your blog. If you keep writing consistently, as you’re doing, you’ll see the benefits of the long tail very soon.

  • vonulrich, October 4, 2012

    Just a lil contribution to wanna-be professional designers out there, I myself just passed that stage, what i did during the design of my blog was, I made the design of my blog a project for myself, I thought of myself as a client with high taste… I did extensive research on designing and coding a wordpress template and after goin through over 20+ tutorials I was able to comeup with a 100pcercent unique and premium template from scratch that I now use. Though the site is down at the moment for development. In essense, I gained so much knowledge from designing my own blog template that I now design premium templates for sale. I’d advice any beginner out there like myself to try same and trust me it will payoff

  • Albert David, October 5, 2012

    Hello Rob, I am not sure of what I understand of “long tail” It is mean that in every post in your blog you will not focus on your target keyword that linking to the other post in your blog? because what I did in my post on my blog is that I have a anchor text and linking to my other page on my blog but that anchor text is my target keyword. Can you give me a example of “long tail”.. Looking forward hearing from you. Thanks!

  • Steven Snell, October 5, 2012

    Hi Albert,
    A longtail keyword is basically a phrase that consists of several words. For example, it’s really hard to rank well for a phrase like “web design” because there is so much competition. But a phrase like “web design for small businesses” or “web design for non-profits” would be much less competitive and you might be more likely to achieve a decent ranking for one of these terms. Since we’re talking about blogging here, you can give your blog posts titles that include longtail keywords like this and those posts will hopefully attract some search engine visitors. So if you have 100 different posts on your blog you may be able to attract a small amount of search traffic to each post because of the longtail keywords, and that all adds up to a significant amount of traffic overall. I hope that helps to explain it.

  • Rob Cubbon, October 5, 2012

    @vonulrich I absolutely agree. Creating my own theme for WordPress was something that taught me loads about web design (HTML, CSS, PHP, etc.) even though I now create child themes on the back on theme frameworks. But creating my own site didn’t just teach my web design it also taught me about best practices for on-page SEO, email marketing, RSS, social media and a whole host of other things that I regularly get asked to do by clients. It’s really a win-win.

    @Albert, I think Steven has explained it quite well. If your target keyword is, say, “web designer”, you may decide to write an article entitled, “how much web designers charge their clients”, for example. This may bring in a few searches each day for people interested in how much a freelance designer would cost. One of these could be a potential client.

    But don’t just write posts with your target keyword in! And, yes, by all means link to other posts in your posts.

    But the important point is not to over-think it. Write articles that help solve common problems and the traffic will come. Very often the successful posts take you completely by surprise anyway!

  • Mike Ward Design, October 9, 2012

    Great advice Rob. I’ve found by adding to my blog on a regular basis it’s helped with the SEO side of things and new topics I write about often rank quite high up in the search engines which has given my site a good number of visitors.

  • Lift serum pro, June 5, 2013

    certainly like your web site but you have to test the spelling on quite a few of your posts.

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  • Gail, August 5, 2013

    Interesting advice. Haven’t updated blog in a while, so will get round to it now.

    Was shocked to find that 70% of traffic is long-tail, and has no obvious match on Google. Definitely a chance for everyone to carve out their own niche in the market.

    Interesting to hear you picked up a couple of big jobs from long-tail searches as well.