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Meet Bittbox Founder Jay Hilgert

by Grant Friedman

on October 23, 2008

in Interviews

This week I had the pleasure of interviewing Jay Hilgert from Bittbox.com.  On his website, Jay offers some of the highest quality design resources on the net.  Jay describes himself as a “designer, blogger, web enthusiast, and Apple geek” but you could also describe him as a design philanthropist.  His resources have saved us thousands of hours and his design tips have helped many of us to improve our skills.  In this interview, Jay offers many insights into how to develop a successful design blog.  I hope you enjoy this interview and when you’re done, I hope you will take the time to view Jay’s website and follow him on Twitter.

Jay, thank you so much for participating in this Interview.  Can you start off by explaining a little about your design background?  How did you get your start?  How have you grown as a designer and where do you see yourself in the future?

I went to Oklahoma State and graduated with a BFA in Graphic Design. Immediately after college I moved to St. Louis to work for a small design firm, where I stayed for about 2 1/2 years. During my time in St. Louis I taught myself web design, HTML, CSS, Flash and more. I Started BittBox as a hobby, and eventually started to make a decent amount of income from it, I believe, because of my freebies.

Eventually, my BittBox income surpassed my salary, so I quit my job and moved home to Oklahoma. Now I blog full time, maintain a few websites for past clients, and I’ve begun making fonts as a secondary source of income. As for the future, I don’t expect to change much, but I do think you’ll be seeing more free demo version fonts on BittBox than in the first year and a half.


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Your website Bittbox.com has become one of the best design blogs on the web.  How did Bittbox get its start?  What gave you the idea to do a design resource blog?  How did you come up with the idea for its name?

Like I mentioned above, I started BittBox as a hobby. In fact, I started it to try and teach myself CSS and how CMS’s work, in order to become a bigger asset to the design firm I worked for at the time. It was a personal learning experiment that turned into a full time thing after a while. I hardly tried to promote the site other than Digg every once in a while. I think BittBox’s success is a direct result of quality freebies that make people come back for more quality freebies, and tutorials as well. BittBox is an embodiment of the phrase “Content is King.” I try to write all of my own content, create all of my own freebies and so on… This makes a site unique. Writing and creating things that you can’t find on anyone else’s site.

What is your favorite part about being a designer/blogger?

No alarm clock, and no rush hour commute :)


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What would you consider your dream project?

A project where the client who’s paying you for your professional advice, actually listens to your professional advice. (instead of insisting on a flash intro, for example.)

Which designers have influenced you the most?

Justin, my former art director and Eduardo Recife who inspired me to get into creating fonts; Just to name a couple.

What are your primary design tools?  Any Non-Adobe design tools that you can’t live without?

Photoshop & Illustrator. As for the non Adobe tools I can’t live without: Coda, FireFox, Firebug, Cyberduck, Textmate, VMware Fusion, FontLab Studio, Apple Mail, Calendar, and definitely can’t live without iTunes.

What is your favorite plugin for Photoshop or Illustrator?

All of the free ones.

If you could make any change to an Adobe product what would it be?

Being able to adjust fonts with the font tool active!  Why do I have to click on the select tool first?  Drives me crazy.


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Which online services could you not live without?  (ie: paypal, rss readers, etc..)

Definitely couldn’t live without PayPal, or RSS, but the biggest one is Google. I wouldn’t know how to function without Google! Digg is up there too.

What advice would you give to any aspiring designer or blogger looking to make it in the industry?

  1. Quality, original content + responsible social media + responding to as many emails/comments as possible = Traffic. Traffic = Advertisers. Getting on the front page of Digg should not be your goal. Making/writing original, quality content should. Original content that is focused on a certain related group of topics is what makes people bookmark your site. 1000 subscribers is worth more than 25,000 Digg visitors, because people who read your feed will often times, come back to your site, depending on your content. Do 1 thing, do it well, and everything else will fall in place. But don’t be afraid to email fellow bloggers for advice. You’d be surprised how many will help you out.
  2. The WordPress forums are priceless (for those using wordpress, of course)
  3. Make your presence known on Twitter (follow some top design bloggers) and you can get help from people in real time. (faster than a forum)
  4. Don’t blog for the wrong reasons. Do it because you’re passionate about the subject matter.

Finally, last but not least; which do you prefer?  iPhone or Blackberry?

iPhone FTW!

JAY’S WEBSITE

BittBox.com

CONNECT WITH JAY

Twitter
Flickr
Bittbox Flickr Group

About Grant Friedman

Grant Friedman is a graphic design, blogger, and author. In addition to being the founder of this website, Grant is also the editor of Psdtuts, one of the world's most popular tutorial websites.