Six Questions: Chris Spooner on Blogging as a Designer

Jul 22 2009 by Jacob Gube | 20 Comments

Six Questions: Chris Spooner on Blogging as a Designer

We interviewed top designer and blogger, Chris Spooner, to find out about managing weblogs on top of being a professional creative. Here’s what he has to say…

1. What are benefits and disadvantages of blogging as a designer?

Chris Spooner - PhotoThere are countless benefits from blogging as a designer, a few that spring to mind include the hugely increased exposure to both your work and name as well as the source of exciting design projects from around the world.

As a blogger it’s important to be part of the community and read fellow design blogs, this also helps a designer keep up to date with industry changes, and is a constant source of inspiration.

There’s also the good excuse to experiment with new techniques and create a bunch of personal designs, as they all help out when putting together new blog posts and tutorials. There have been plenty of designs I’ve had plenty of fun creating, which have been purely for tutorial purposes on Blog.SpoonGraphics.

This is all without mentioning the advertising income blogs can provide, which all comes in handy in supporting your personal life.

For me, setting up my blog has proved to have been an invaluable decision, which has really given a boost to my design career.

With all this in mind it’s pretty difficult to come up with any disadvantages. I suppose there is the initial time investment that can prove troublesome, as it can take a while for a blog to reach a stage where the benefits outweigh the necessary input.

2. You have several websites, blogs, and you also do freelance work: what are some tips you can share with us to manage time effectively and deal with such a work-heavy schedule?

Chris Spooner - PhotoBlog.SpoonGraphics was initially worked on during my spare time in the evenings and weekends, leaving the usual time during the day for work commitments, because during this period of my life I was working 9-5 at a local design studio.  It wasn’t until I headed out on my own that I started spending more quality time during the day on creating new articles and keeping it up to date. Now, I tend to see blogging as an important project that is slotted into my daily routine.

As the site generates its own income it allows more time to be spent on blogging, and less on freelance work. Meaning that I can often avoid the ‘bread and butter’ jobs and focus on more exciting projects.

3. How does your work play into the role of coming up with posts to publish on your blogs?

Chris Spooner - PhotoClient related projects often help develop my skills and sharpen my knowledge, and usually help drum up post ideas based on certain techniques that are used, or problems that need solving. If I come across something I think would prove useful to other designers, chances are it would work well as a blog post or tutorial.

There’s also the option of being able to document a design as a project walkthrough on the blog. In the past these have proved quite popular, with readers enjoying the insight into the thoughts behind a particular design.

It also works the other way around too, blogging also helps provide ideas and inspiration that can be put into practice in client work.

4. Can you share some instances where your blogs have helped you get more projects?

Chris Spooner - PhotoThere has been quite a range of scenarios where projects have evolved from blogging or blog related activities. The Vivid Ways logo project was generated from a referral from Jon Phillips of Spyre Studios, he was working on the site design at the time. I had the opportunity to create a skateboard deck and a couple of t-shirt designs for a merchandising company on behalf of Fall Out Boy after a guy from the company stumbled across a post based on skate deck design.

Another example is from a client following through from an online interview (just like this!), checking out my work and deciding to get in touch.

John Campbell from DesignBump got in touch to help out with his recent redesign, he had simply become acquainted with me and my work through following my blog.
All in all I see my blogging shenanigans as a hugely important part of my life, with almost every design project being sourced from blogging in one way or another. It’s basically like traditional networking and marketing on steroids!

5. What is the future of blogging, specifically for design blogs?

Chris Spooner - PhotoI guess it’s a hard one to predict as there’s not much of a history to base ideas on. However I reckon the quality of posts and the amount of information they give away will continue to increase. I think the bar has definitely raised for design tutorials, with hugely in-depth articles springing up everywhere.

I find it great that designers and web developers can completely learn a new topic or coding language through following the articles of fellow bloggers. I hope to see this sharing of knowledge and advice continue into the future.

6. Can you share some tips to designers who would like to start a blog? What are things to keep in mind and what’s the best way to go about establishing a weblog?

Chris Spooner - PhotoMy main tip would be to make sure you’re passionate about the subject. Setting up a blog, especially in the early stages can be a huge time investment, with hardly any return.

However if you enjoy what you’re doing, keep it up and sooner or later things will start to pick up.

It’s also handy to live the lifestyle and become active on social networks, Twitter, and to subscribe to a mass of RSS feeds in your niche. This keeps you up to date with the industry and helps feed back inspiration for your own blog development.

About Chris Spooner

Chris Spooner is a top designer and blogger. He’s the mastermind behind the sites, Blog.SpoonGraphics and Line25, where he covers the topic of graphic and web design. Check out his personal site, Chris Spooner. Connect with him via Twitter, @chrisspooner.

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20 Comments

David

July 22nd, 2009

that was good.

Chris Spooner

July 22nd, 2009

Thanks again for the interview opportunity, Jacob!

Benjamin Reid

July 22nd, 2009

Nice read. Being in the same position as Chris once was, running a blog (no where near the scale of Chris’s though) and working 9-5 does prove tricky. Seem’s like he’s done well to get revenue back out of his site, good work!

Jacob Gube

July 22nd, 2009

@Chris Spooner: The pleasure is all mine–thanks for sharing your thoughts on the topic and I hope it inspires many of the readers to consider starting up a blog.

@Benjamin Reid: I’m managing with a 9-5 (more like 8-5 nowadays) just fine. :)

David Airey

July 22nd, 2009

A stellar success story when it comes to self-employment and blogging. Great choice of interviewee, Jacob.

Kevin

July 22nd, 2009

This is good information. It’s always fun to see interviews with design bloggers. There’s always something insightful within them.

John Campbell

July 22nd, 2009

Great interview! I had the pleasure of having Chris redesign DesignBump.com for me. Chris is a very talented designer and awesome to work with!

Chris McCorkle

July 22nd, 2009

I like the beard.

tutorialslounge

July 23rd, 2009

helping for future ideas and future blogs as well. thanks

Jacob Gube

July 23rd, 2009

@Chris McCorkle: That’s really the only reason I chose to do this interview. :)

Jake Rocheleau

July 23rd, 2009

I agree that as new web design blogs are created, the quality of posts will have to go up in order to meet the demand of other popular web blogs. I actually got an interview with Chris to post up on my blog, it’ll be up within the next coming days.

Jacob Gube

July 24th, 2009

@Jake Rocheleau: Don’t forget to head back over here and share the link.

Ryan

July 28th, 2009

Great interview. I am constantly amazed by the quality of work Chris produces. I think it shows what hard work and the desire to stick with something helps within any industry.

PelFusion

July 29th, 2009

Nice Interview…i think there is a future of design blog as there is no ending of design but things will shape up in different forms

Imokon

July 30th, 2009

Now try balancing TWO lifestyles mixed with social media! Not that I’ve gone far yet… still balancing all that out.. sigh :/

Sarah

July 31st, 2009

Nice interview! I too found that I had more time to blog while I was freelancing on my own as compared to now that I’m working full-time in-house. I’d be interested in how you managed your blog before going out on your own.

yo

August 16th, 2009

get a shave

Madomat

June 27th, 2010

A nice behind-the-scenes article. Thanks!

Aaron @ iamcreative.me

September 16th, 2011

Great Read. Always good to remind yourself that it is possible and Spooner is one of those lucky few that has!

Slowly getting there though kid, keep your eyes open for me.

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