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Starting and Growing a Design Blog with Design Informer's Jad Limcaco - Colorburned
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jad

Starting and Growing a Design Blog with Design Informer’s Jad Limcaco

Hello everyone! This week I had some time to sit down with Jad Limcaco. Jad is the guy behind Design Informer, a relatively new design blog that has been publishing some really nice content. I wanted to talk with Jad for a couple reasons: 1) because his site was new and; 2) because the quality of his site’s content was so good that I thought that he would be a great person to talk with about starting a new design site. The result was a pretty solid article about starting and growing a design blog. Please take a moment to review what Jad had to say and feel free to leave a message in the comments.

jad

Deciding on a Name

Deciding on the name for Design Informer was very tough. I started by opening up Notepad and typing up different ideas for my blog. The next step was to arrange them descending order, starting from the one that I liked the best.I then went to GoDaddy and started going down the list and typing them in to see if they were available. This part was very frustrating! I typed in domain name after domain name and they were all taken. I also considered buying a domain name that was already in use but I decided not to. After typing in over 50 possible names, I typed in “designinformer” and guess what? It was available. I quickly purchased the domain name and threw up a landing page.

Here are some more tips to consider when choosing a domain name:

  1. When choosing a blog name, try to choose something that’s easy to remember. This doesn’t have to be about web design or graphic design. Try to make it catchy. When I chose Design Informer, I wanted a name that would be easy to remember and also a name that sounded good. It’s pretty funny actually, that after I chose this name, some people actually refer to me as ‘DI’ or as the Informer. So remember to keep that in mind when coming up with a name.
  2. Is your name scalable? What I mean by this is that if you decided to expand your network/blog, would it be easy to come up with another name? For example, Collis over at Envato has a network of sites called Tuts+ (ie: NetTuts, PSDTuts, ActiveTuts, CGtuts). He also has the marketplaces which are all named after nature, such as CodeCanyon, ThemeForest, GraphicRiver, etc. Make sure to think about this as well when choosing your name. Oh, and don’t forget to purchase these other domains as well that you think will one day be part of your network.
  3. By the way, it would also be wise for you to think about how easy it would be to promote your potential name. Design Informer was a catchy name so it was very easy for me to spread the word about it.

Building your Brand

For Design Informer, I already had a logo in mind when I started the process. I wanted to use a speech bubble as part of the logo. I know, it’s a little bit overused but I thought that it would match the name. I also included a spy holding a magnifying glass as a mascot for Design Informer. When I think of the word Informer, I think of a spy, or someone who tells and shares secrets with someone (Informant), hence the Design Informer. So it was very easy for me to create the logo. As far as the website, I went through many different iterations until finally deciding on the current one. Here’s an excellent article about branding basics that every designer should know.

It is very important for a new blog to have its own identity. You don’t want to be just like any other blog out there, but you want to stand out. Here are some tips on doing that.

  1. Design your own website. Please don’t use a purchased template for your site. Chances are, there are already other blogs that have the same design, making it much harder for your site to be memorable. I know for a fact when people come to my site, they always remember the large header that I have with the spy as well as the big, bold logo. Don’t have the skills to design and code your own theme? Then shell out some money and invest in one. If you aren’t willing to do this, then you probably won’t be succesful anyway. I learned a lesson a long time ago that where your “treasure” is, there will your “heart” be also. This means that if you are willing to spend money on something, then you will be into it. :)
  2. Be very visible in the design community. Get your name out there. If you are a new blog, consider purchasing some advertisements from bigger, well-known blogs. Leave comments on other blogs, but don’t spam. Make sure you leave intelligent, well thought out comments.
  3. Use the power of social networking. It is extremely important that you use social networking to aid you in building your brand. Tweet useful articles, interact with other designers, build relationships with your followers. Get people to follow you by being a good resource.

These are just some tips that I have personally used to help me build the Design Informer brand.

Choosing a Direction

The direction of your blog should already be chosen long before you start blogging. There are many different niches out the that you can cater towards. For example, Design Informer is a general graphic design and web design blog, so it is in a very broad field. You can be more specific and start a blog about typography, or about design theory. I would also suggest that your blog’s direction should be something that you have a passion for.

Remember, once you set your blog’s direction and you start establishing your blog, it’s going to be hard to switch it to a different direction so choose wisely. Here’s a great article that deals more with this subject.

Developing Content

We’ve all heard it before. Content is king. If you are going to be successful at blogging, then you will definitely need to have high quality content. Most new bloggers have a lot of article ideas so writing content in the beginning isn’t too difficult. But what happens during the second month of blogging when you have already used up all your great ideas? What do you do then? Where do you get your content? Let me give you just a few things that help me develop content for my blog.

  1. I keep a notebook with me at all times. I have a small field notes notebook that I have been carrying around with me to write down ideas and inspiration when they strike. I remember when I first started blogging, I got tons of ideas while I was out and about. I told myself that I would write it down when I got home, but eventually never did. I’m sure the same can be said about others as well. That’s why having a notebook will definitely help you remember your ideas.
  2. I spend some time thinking of new ideas. Ideas aren’t always just going to strike you when you start blogging. You are going to have to spend some time churning out ideas from your brain. Once in a while, I just sit there on my desk, think of new ideas, and then I write them down. Also, it helps that I have a long drive to work everyday, so I have lots of time to think about what to write next.
  3. Read other blogs.There are some blogs that I visit frequently and read so I can get some ideas. There have been plenty of times that I have read an article, and at the end of it, I received multiple ideas for blog posts, all by reading a single article.

There are lots of other great articles online that you can read to help you with producing high quality content. Now that I have given you ideas on generating new content, here are a few pointers on keeping the quality of your content at a high level.

  1. Don’t just compile a list post that has no value. Add your own spin to it. Now, I’m not going to elaborate on this much as there have been tons of articles that were written this past year about this, but don’t just pump out a list post because you are out of ideas. If you are going to do a list on the “50 Best Photoshop Tutorials” then at least describe each tutorial to us. Tell us why you chose that tutorial to be on the list. Really, I’m sick and tired of these people who are doing list posts after list posts so they can get another post written.
  2. Learn how to spell. Please do this for the sake of your readers. I know that English is not everyone’s first language, but there are hundreds of spell-checkers out there that you can use.
  3. Vary your content. I already mentioned lists earlier, but try to mix it up with articles, tutorials, inspiration posts, freebies, interviews and resources.
  4. Do something different. Put a unique spin on things. Let me give you an example. Most blogs do some type of interview. Let’s use Chris Spooner for this example. Chris has been so gracious to allow people to interview him multiple times, but more often than not, these interviews are all the same. They all ask the same questions. Where do you live? Mac or PC? How did you start? I wanted to be different so I decided to start a series on Design Informer called “Ask the Expert.” This series of interviews all focus on one topic and that topic alone. I’ve also had tremendous positive response from the readers about doing these types of interviews. It’s a unique spin on something that blogs have been doing for a long time.

Growing your Readership

Now that we have a name, a brand, a direction, and good, high-quality content, people should automatically start flooding the site right? WRONG!

While all of these are good, there is still much work to be done. Your blog won’t grow just because you have great content and a great design. Let me give you a few tips to generate some buzz around your blog and how to grow your readership.

  1. Take advantage of social media. By far, Twitter has been the most profitable for me. I’ve received tons of new readers through Twitters. Interact with people and build relationships with them. This is the best way to grow your readership.
  2. Write an article for another blog, especially one that is already established.
  3. Comment on other blogs. Don’t spam please, but leave genuine, well thought-out comments and people will notice you. I’ve also acquired readers using this method.

There are a lot more ways to grow your readership, but those three are what worked for me the best. By the way, don’t get discouraged if your blog doesn’t grow rapidly. Keep working at it and you’ll eventually start to gain more readers. I can sum up the magic formula for growth in two words. Are you ready for this? Hard work!

Earning an Income

This is an area that I am in no way an expert, but I have had some success with this in the three months of blogging. Currently, all my advertisement spots are taken. In the beginning, I would suggest not placing any ads in your site at all. Some would be against this, but this is what I did. I didn’t want to have lots of blank spots saying Advertise Here on my blog. An alternative would be to use affiliate ads such as Theme Forest, Woo Themes, etc. until you are able to acquire some advertisers. (Oh, by the way, I currently only use BuySellAds but I’ve heard of others that are great as well.)

Also, I would suggest to start off at a low price. In the beginning, I was a little discouraged cause after two months, I didn’t even have 1 advertiser. Then one day, I woke up, I got my first one. I was so excited. This happened for about 5 straight days. I’m not sure how they heard about my site, but all I can say is this. If you have good content that draws people, chances are, you will probably draw some advertisers as well.

Here are two articles that you can read to further help you earn an income on your blog.

Again, I just want to thank Grant for allowing me to share some of my experiences and lessons that I have learned from blogging.

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.

  • http://www.littleboxofideas.com Sneh Roy

    Excellent read! You are awesome Jad! I love the energy around you :). Thanks for this wonderful interview Grant!
    .-= Sneh Roy´s last blog ..Project 365 Vector Characters – Filor For Day 31 =-.

  • http://www.addtodesign.com Mathew Carpenter

    Great interview. I can also relate to the trouble you had when deciding on a name. When @mattycraig and myself were trying to think of a name for our new blog, it was extremely frustrating thinking that you just chose a winner only to find out that it’s been taken. It was also pretty funny — I’ll have to publish the raw chat logs soon. Anyway, good read.

    Regards, Mat.

  • http://aext.net Lam Nguyen

    Great interview. I always enjoy your articles, Jad!
    .-= Lam Nguyen´s last blog ..20 Ways to Streamline Your Web Business =-.

  • http://designinformer.com Design Informer

    @Sneh: Thanks for the compliment. I’m glad you enjoyed the interview.

    @Matthew: Yeah, I think lots of bloggers would be able to say that they have had the same problem as well. By the way, looking forward to your the launch of your blog. Hope all goes well.
    .-= Design Informer´s last blog ..100 Years of Movie Title Stills =-.

  • http://www.smashingshare.com Smashing Share

    Nice read. Should appreciate the person who is doing great and you are Jad! Keep going. Still a long way to go :)
    .-= Smashing Share´s last blog ..Firefox Themes – 60 Most Popular Themes You Must See =-.

  • http://www.SohTanaka.com Soh Tanaka

    I’m very impressed by Jad’s ambition and motivation. Started his own community blog and got it up there very quickly. Much props, keep it flowin!

  • http://www.logobliss.com Logo Bliss

    Great post Jad, I think writing content and building a solid brand are essential.
    .-= Logo Bliss´s last blog ..Valentime =-.

  • http://www.jankoatwarpspeed.com Janko

    No doubt that high-quality content contributed to this great success of DesignInformer. Great work, Jad!

  • http://www.gloverdesigns.com Richard G.

    Great post Jad. You’ve done a great job with Design Informer. I was a fan and a follower, and I’m honored to be a writer for you. This is a great overview that I will be passing along to a friend of mine who is interested in becoming a blogger.

    And Grant, great work. I like what you have going on here at Colorburned.

  • http://sffarlenn.net Laneth Sffarlenn

    Hi there,

    Thanks for sharing this interview with Jad – I found DesignInformer probably quite close to when it launched, though I don’t remember exactly how. As someone who is in the process of starting up himself, Jad and DI have been nothing but a breath of fresh air amongst the many tutorial and design blogs out there. (I started reading close to ten blogs religiously, daily, until I realised that they were all regurgitating similar content..)

    DI and only a handful of other blogs that I’m currently reading produce consistent content at a rate that is easy to digest – I don’t find myself spending over 2+ hours each morning reading the latest from a dozen sites – I have my favourites, and those they recommend.

    Also, I’ve seen Colorburned mentioned round-about and am now subscribing and will be coming back more often :) Thanks again!

  • http://nmiciano.com nOeL

    jad rox.

  • http://www.visualswirl.com/ Chris Thurman

    Design Informer and Colorburned have been excellent models for what a design blog should be. I’ve followed both closely as I’ve built my blog over the last two months. I’ve had to evaluate my choices of content and branding as a result and I’m starting to understand more about getting off the ground the right way. Thanks Grant and thanks Jad. You guys rock!
    .-= Chris Thurman´s last blog ..Desktop Wallpaper Calendar: February 2010 =-.

  • http://lucascobb.com Lucas Cobb

    Congratulations on your 3 months Jad and all the success you’ve had with Design Informer. This article was a great read for new bloggers starting out and I will take these little tips to heart. I look forward to where Design Informer goes in the future. Thanks grant for posting this interview as well.
    .-= Lucas Cobb´s last blog ..How To Make Money Freelancing =-.

  • http://www.bebop-ad.com BebopDesigner

    Brilliant article! Design Informer is a great source of inspiration in every way. Thanks for sharing so much

  • http://nikhilmisal.com Nikhil

    Jad you are great!
    You have shared really great tips. I am reading your blog from about 1 and half month and never found any article bored or repeated. Most interested post I found is Project 365, it was truly great challenge!
    Wishing you Best Luck for Future and Code Informer!
    .-= Nikhil´s last blog ..Cross-Cultural Web Design: Thinking Global From the Start =-.

  • http://www.codesquid.co.uk Codesquid

    This is a very good article. Congratulations on getting so far with your blog! I have recently just launched my own and will bear your advice in mind! I can only hope to be even half as successful as you have been!

  • http://mediamilitia.com/ jeyaONE!

    Jad straight KILLS it. He really has the time and dedication to rock out quality posts. That is the key to starting out a design blog. Just keep with it and don’t look back.

    I found out about Design Informer because he left well thought out comments on blogs that I follow.

    Keep up the great work Jad! LBC!!
    .-= jeyaONE!´s last blog ..Lighting Effects Pack – 50 Free Brushes and Images =-.

  • http://richworks.in Richie

    Frankly, I was eagerly waiting for this article. Jad, you’ve totally rocked the design community. It is quite hard to perceive that so many ideas comes from one mind. Apart from the exquisiteness of the article, there are so many valuable points to be noted here.

    Design Informer has definitely changed the way I look at things and understand them. It has got loads of quality packed articles in almost every domain in the design world. Also, I admire the way you present them to your readers. It compels one to read more and more and injects the urge to learn a lot from the aspects of creativity and design.

    Your advice is certainly a golden ticket for success in quality blogging. Jad, you simply ROCK \m/

    Thanks a ton for the interview, Grant.
    .-= Richie´s last blog ..25+ beautiful examples of hand drawn elements in web design =-.

  • http://www.lukesfdesign.com LukeSF

    Enjoyed reading. Great job done and keep going. Love what you do. Really high level content. Pleasure to read.

  • http://logodesignguru.wordpress.com Dana

    Hey Jad!
    This is a great read. I enjoyed and picked up some pointers from you.
    Thanks for sharing.
    .-= Dana´s last blog ..Top 10 Chocolate Logo Designs – Simply Delicious! =-.

  • mattt

    Congrats on the successful launch of your blog! That is a pretty good logo you’ve got there. I hope Mad Magazine lets you keep it.

  • http://webexpedition18.com Nikola

    Great interview! I have learn a lot form Jad, since he show up on a stage with Design Informer. Keep up the good work :)
    .-= Nikola´s last blog ..Free Do It YourSelf Button Pack =-.

  • http://designinformer.com Design Informer

    Thank you everyone for the kind words. Really, I couldn’t have been successful without all of your help.

    @matt – LOL! I’ve had multiple people tell me that the mascot does look like Spy vs. Spy – my cousin actually drew him for me. On the redesign, I will still have him, but he will be much smaller and he won’t be front and center like he is now.
    .-= Design Informer´s last blog ..100 Years of Movie Title Stills =-.

  • http://www.joehowarddesign.com Joe Howard

    Jad is proof that great content and hard work float to the top. There generally isn’t a design post that I go to that hasn’t already been commented by Jad. Good comments on his site are also followed up by him as well. It’s truly what “should be” done that separates designinformer from the majority of design blogs. That includes Colorburned in the upper echelon of quality sites to visit and follow. Thank you for all that you contribute and add.

  • http://webdesignfan.com/ Tomas

    Excellent interview. I like your interesting and full of tips answers. I learnt a lot of new things. Thank you Jad and Grant.
    .-= Tomas´s last blog ..Where Do You Find Inspiration for Blog Posts? =-.

  • http://www.underworldmagazines.com julio

    wow awesome write up about Jad Limcaco and his blog. great job with the blog Jad Limcaco.
    .-= julio´s last blog ..Weekly Inspiration: 20 Twitter Profile Backgrounds – N.3 =-.

  • Pingback: Saturday Swirl 4: Tasty Snacks From the Design Community | Visual Swirl()

  • http://twitter.com/ossamaweb ossama

    I really enjoy myself reading this post, because it’s full of great content that i really need to start my blog about web design, thanks men (Jad Limcaco, and you)
    .-= ossama´s last blog ..ossamaweb: Starting and Growing a Design Blog with Design Informer’s Jad Limcaco http://bit.ly/d3OQTx =-.

  • http://iniwoo.net Iniwoo

    Very useful interview.
    I was actually wondering how Jad managed to achieve so much in three months, so it’s nice to get some tips.
    .-= Iniwoo´s last blog ..Inspiration: 23 Creative Video Advertisements of January =-.

  • http://designlovr.com DesignLovr

    Thanks for this interesting interview.
    Since I discovered Design Informer (a few weeks ago) I’m an avid reader and enjoy pretty much every article.

    This interview was particularly interesting for me because I started a design-related blog recently too and gave me some good insights on where I currently stand.

    What I especially like about Jad is that, besides publishing great content, he also answers to most of the comments on his blog thoroughly and encourages real discussions!

    Keep up the good work, here at Colorburned as much as on Design Informer!
    .-= DesignLovr´s last blog ..Why a CMS Is Not Always The Best Choice =-.

  • http://www.appsheriff.com/ App Sheriff

    Well Written, Got my eyes on you and design informer :) Both of you are on fire. haha

  • http://working-from-home.squarespace.com David Carroll

    What a great article. I really like your idea of taking time to get away from things like driving or just taking alone time to think. I also find it really helpful to read articles that help me or give me an idea and write an article to show what I have learned and put into practice. Thanks for your ideas

  • http://santzonthejourney.com Santos Samayoa

    thanks for the interview, got myself a notebook and ideas are starting to flow!!
    .-= Santos Samayoa´s last blog ..Are you listening: A love song for Haiti by Kirk Franklin & Friends =-.

  • zanzu

    Thanks for this interview. Really helps us get established as beginners in design blogs. Very informative and easy to grasp.

  • http://www.frankie.cc DJ Muenchen

    Thank you for the useful information as I’m looking forward to start a designer blog in Germany.

  • http://www.arctosdesign.com Damien

    Thanx for this.
    I am busy planing my new blog for http://www.arctosdesign.com so this has been really helpful.

  • http://www.aaronmoody.co.uk Aaron Moody

    A great inspiration and great tips. Jad is the perfect example to show how to take your blog to the top level. Well done to you, I hope DI continues to grow.

  • http://www.sgdoeschwitz.de BigM75

    great article, nice works
    .-= BigM75´s last blog ..Lok steuert mit Volldampf in Richtung Aufstieg zur Liga =-.

  • http://www.thedesigncontainer.com ManuelN

    Great interview, really help me now, because i just starting my design blog 2 days ago, i really make a big effort to create own content and articles, it’s hard but i like the challenges, i hope that i can do a great job, just need time to make it grow, btw i agree with have a notebook to write all the ideas you have for post, i have one and it really help.

    Nice work Jad!

  • http://www.pixels72.com pixels72

    Thank you for the great advice. I am starting a new blog around the design community and your ideas will be invaluable to me. Keep up the great work!

  • http://designinformer.com Design Informer

    Thanks to everyone for reading the interview. I’m glad I was able to help. You guys just inspire me to keep on going forward.

  • ZANZU

    Jad, you’re the man of the season! May you continue to inspire the community. You are one of the best blogger. Thank you Grant for this in-depth interview of an upcoming young and talented designer.

  • http://www.designhobo.com Bree

    Very awesome read. Thanks a lot for the tips, I am currently starting out and this helped me a lot! =)