Give More to the Design Community with Better Content
Writing design articles has been my passion for over 3 years now; although I have been writing since I was very young. I taught writing for a few years, which I enjoyed almost as much as the actual writing itself, until my husband, a self-taught designer and jack-of-all-trades, got me interested in design a few years back. Soon after I had the opportunity to write about design professionally.
I have learned a lot over the past years, simply from the blogs of designers much more talented than I in this department, and now I love nothing more than to help other designers take their work to the next level with helpful hints, tips, tutorials, roundups, free content, and more. This is where writing for GoMediaZine comes into play; I have been very impressed with the rich content that this blog provides to designers for quite some time now, and am very honored to be a part of adding readily accessible valuable knowledge to the design community.
Every time you sit down to write about design, you have the opportunity to make a difference. This would mean that every
bad design article you post is not only a lost opportunity, but also damaging to your credibility in the design world. Considering how big and influential the online design and creativity circle is these days, one mistake can really put a dent in your writing reputation.
Owning a blog requires you to take even greater responsibility with your blog content. The wrong headlines, irrelevant topics, and poorly cited information and resources are just a few mistakes that bloggers can make, hurting their chances at growing their own community of readers.
Whether you own a blog or simply love contributing helpful knowledge, there are a few key elements that your writing needs to contain in order to better the design community at large.
Know the basics of good writing. You need to follow the rules of proper grammar not only because it will make your English professor proud but also because it will make your writing clear and easy to understand. If it has been too long since you took that English class, then take the time to review some of the more important grammar rules. The 20 Most Common Errors from EasyWriter.com or Do You Make These 7 Mistakes When You Write from Copyblogger.com are two great articles with which to start.
Headlines, Introductions, and Conclusions
Make your headline interesting and attention-grabbing. It should turn a prospective reader into a loyal reader. For instance, avoid vague and boring titles such as “Best Flower Illustrations.” Instead, your title should be as informative as possible and include powerful words (best, incredible, stunning, etc.), such as, “25 Best Vector Flower Illustrations from 2010.” For more help, check out 7 Ways to Write Smashing Blog Post Headlines.
Once you have your reader’s attention, keep him or her reading with a helpful introductory paragraph. It should tell your reader what the article is about and what he or she can expect. After the main body of your article, end with a bang: an impactful and memorable summation of the main point you want to get across. Check out How to Write an Introduction for help with starting off articles with a bang. For more advice on conclusion writing, read 5 Tips for Writing Great Conclusions.
Write with substance
No one wants to read the ninth article on the same topic. So be original and write about something new. Sometimes the best way to find article topics is by reading other blogs; however, do not fall into the trap of simply reproducing what you see. Instead, let your research inspire you to come up with new topics.
When perusing the web, you may come across the opinions of other designers with which you disagree. Write an article that gives your own opinion on the matter. You can even be controversial. It’s a good thing if people react to and discuss your article, but be sure to include a link to the article of your inspiration if you reference it in your own discussion.
Relevant and useful topics
Don’t be original or controversial just to have something to say. Your article should still be relevant or useful to your readers. Knowing your audience is the best way to write content that will keep them coming back to your blog. Sometimes knowing who you are writing for is easy when your blog is focused on a niche field. For instance, your blog may be about business cards, which means that you need to stick to topics that only relate to business cards. However, if you own a broad design site, your topic range can be quite large. To make it easier for yourself, you may want to limit your blog posts to topics such as beginning design tips or resources and inspiration.
When showcasing work, show only the best. How do you know which are the best? Keep the following in mind:
- The best designs are usually from respected and well-known artists, hot up-and-coming artists, or award-winning artists.
- Know who these artists are by keeping up with blogs of respected designers.
- Peruse sites such as Flickr or DeviantArt for finding talented artists.
- When you’ve found an artist you like on an art submission site, follow the link to his or her personal website to more fully research him or her.
The best blogs include all of the necessary information needed to properly credit a work of art used or another article referenced. Doing the same in your articles will not only take your work to a new level of professionalism but also will help you avoid copyright issues. It is best to cite as many of the items below as possible.
For works of art include:
- title of the design.
- the name of the artist.
- where he/she is based.
- the URL to his or her website or online portfolio.
Be sure to also include a brief description of the piece if possible. Tell the story behind the artist’s work or explain what makes the art worthy of display.
When referencing another article include:
- title of the article.
- the author’s name.
- the date published.
- the URL to the original location of the article.
Always be sure to link back to the original location of an article or piece of art. While it is not wrong to link an image to another roundup post, it is common courtesy to give credit where it is due.
Say it with JPEGs
The right resolution
Make sure that the images you use in your article are of high resolution (not blurred or pixelated). Image editing software, such as Photoshop or Gimp, allows you to resize an image to a size you desire for your post.
Always be sure that images are appropriate for your audience as well as relevant to your article topic. The point of images is to improve your post with visuals that help drive your point home. If you include images just to have them, you risk becoming sloppy with your image choice and cluttering your article with unnecessary content.
Say it your way
Professional writers use the term “voice” when referring to your personal style of writing. Almost no one has a strong voice when they begin writing; some have a voice but are afraid to let it show. If you are a writer for hire, using your own voice may not always be appropriate, especially if your client desires a certain writing style.
Developing your voice
The best way to learn your writing voice is to write, a lot. Allow yourself to experiment with different styles and find which one is most natural to you. For instance, you may find that an ironic tone is your style or you may decide that writing exactly like you talk is easiest for you. In the beginning, mimicking different styles is one of the best ways to discover your own voice, especially if you have no clue where to begin. Simply read some of your favorite blogs and try writing in the same tone as the authors. Let trusted friends read your experiments and give constructive pointers. Write on topics about which you are passionate, and you will develop your personal writing style much faster.
Appropriate use of your voice
The best writers know their own voice well enough that they can use in varying degrees. With enough writing, you will be able to do the same. The point is that no matter how often you will get to use your voice in its fullness, you will be a better writer knowing your personal style of writing because even in a very formal document, a slight amount of personal style will prevent dry writing.
Improve the design community
In every field, it seems that you can find two types of blogs online. There are those blogs whose owners use an industry (usually one the blogger knows just enough about to make it by) to make them a quick buck. Then there are the blog owners who, while they also need to make money, truly desire to give back to the community. Join the respected design blogs by writing articles that offer unique, fresh, and quality content to the community. Make every article you write count by giving each one the time and thought needed to make reading it worthwhile to your fellow designers. Your reputation and readers will thank you.