This is a tricky situation! I think about this all the time – as I am sure that most designers do. Blogging for many of us is a creative outlet and often, our personal lives and opinions cross over into the content. The truth is, though I’ve been blogging in some form since 2001, I was very aprehensive at first when I was considering relaunching Nubbytwiglet.com as a blog format in 2007. My web designer friend Star had just turned her website into a blog and though I loved it, I wasn’t sure that it was the right approach for me.
Up until that point, I’d noticed that most designers seemed to lurk in the shadows; they let their work do the talking and often, they didn’t even have a photo of themselves on their About page. To me, they came across as mysterious. When I asked Star about this, she basically said that I was looking at the way the ‘old guard’ did things; the designers of the future were going to jump on the social media bandwagon. I took her advice and began blogging on my domain in August of 2007.
When it comes to content, what I soon realized is that as someone who likes to update my blog at least five days a week, it’s nearly impossible to develop design-related posts every day. Breaking up the schedule with outfit photos and links helps with the rountine. And, it’s good to remember that not everyone is going to be interested in design. Some of my readers may be intrigued by style, the city in which I live or even shoes. By adding in a more diverse variety of content that extends beyond just design, I am widening the net of potential readers.
Sometimes, posting photos of my new shoes or house make me think twice because first and foremost, I consider myself to be a designer. I don’t want to dilute what I do for a living. But, at the end of the day, I’m not going to censor who I am. I like to post about things that make me excited and that have the potential to inspire my readers.
I’ve always wanted to be bigger than just a designer, if that makes sense. I strive to be a personality, an information source and a brand. Eventually, I want to tour schools, write a book about marketing for designers and teach students about freelancing and building portfolios. If people don’t like me based on what I post, that’s okay. We are all human and entitled to our opinions. I’m not going to pretend to not have a personality because I think it will help me get more work. To me, being authentic and staying true to what I love is much more important. When it comes to social media, the saying is that content is king. If that’s the case, then authenticity should be its equal.
My point is, use common sense about what you’re posting…but stay true to who you are. Readers can sense authenticity a mile away. Reach out – it’s okay to share your work and experiences with your readers. By offering other content besides just my portfolio, I am able to connect with more readers. And someday, those readers might need my services. Overall, people like knowing that there’s a person behind all that work!
I should mention that my outlook on sharing may differ compared to other designers because I’ve worked at companies where blogging and social media were encouraged. During my time at Nemo HQ, I was mentored by Dave Allen (now running Fight) who not only blogged constantly but was always at the forefront of social media trends. Nemo was never afraid to share what went on behind its walls and it only added to the cool factor.
As a designer and a blogger, take into account that the more you share, the more assumptions people will develop about you and your life. You’ve got to have a thick skin because not every comment or email will be friendly. But, that’s life. Nobody (except perhaps Mother Theresa) is universally loved by everyone! If you feel like sharing, then share. Just don’t overshare. Though I do a Week in Pictures post, it’s more of an overview of a week in my life. I don’t detail every little thing that went wrong, every meeting I went to or expose sensitive client work.
Sharing is an amazing thing – it has the potential to inspire and influence. On the other hand, I know plenty of designers that choose to keep the focus 100% on their work. They’re not comfortable sharing their personal lives and that is fine as well. I say, do what you’re comfortable with and what makes you happy. Share as little or as much as you like. It’s as simple as that.
Readers: What are your opinions on sharing? How much or how little do you share? Do you think it affects the perceptions of a designer’s work?