December 30, 2008

Design Blogging

In the U.S. News & World Report year-end issue, blogging was highlighted as an important part of “personal branding” that can be used to help advance one’s career:

“A rigorously updated blog is also a crucial part of branding. You’re communicating your expertise and acumen in a public forum, where you can network with others interested in, or relevant to, your niche. It’s passion for a topic … that sets successful bloggers apart.”

There are many key words here that are worth examining:

Blogging is a fun activity but it’s also hard work. I have touched upon “slow” blogging but as long as the dictating-my-own-pace doesn’t stagnate—and this is where the rigor comes in—the rigor lies in seeking suitable ideas, or being hit with them.

The word “network” speaks to the challenge of building an audience and keeping them interested to the point of being captive—transcending the mere “target audience.”

Niche speaks to the topic that drives your blog’s core content. The benefit of niche-ing is that it’s not picky. On the contrary, there’s no topic too obscure to be game for blogging. As part of his practice and evangelistic personal branding, Wine Library TV’s Gary Vaynerchuk declared that “Niches can go crazy.”

If a blog’s motivation comes largely, or even somewhat exclusively, from its creator, the blog exceeds a format. It becomes an investment in one’s subject matter of passion. Blogging can be an integral part of a personal platform of passion (pardon the alliteration).

Graphic designer Brian Holl summarizes the benefits of Rigor, Network, Niche and Passion in blogging this way: “In a quickly changing creative field, it is extremely important to continue growing as a graphic designer and improving your creative skills—blogging is another way to help me to grow on both a personal and professional level.” Brian’s blog posting about the benefits of blogging gives a good tour of design bloggers and why they engage the blogging medium.

I recently noticed that a LinkedIn connection of mine, Kristi Olson, began a blog about user experience design. She relates the encouraging advice from her friend:

“It’s all about getting your name out there—associated with the themes and topics you’re interested in doing work on. There’s lots there. Lots. If I had 1 recommendation, it would be: Start. Doesn’t have to look good out of the gate. Posting is most important.”

Kristi is acting on her friend’s advice. It’s never too late to take blogging for a test drive and gradually find out if it helps deepen your niche and connect you to like-minded and passionate people, and, furthermore, increase your noticing power. So if you’re noodling over doing something on the web and are curious about writing, consider a blog a viable option. It’s never too late to start.