Tips and Advice When Starting Your Own Design Blog

Starting a design related blog has to be one of my biggest accomplishments as a developer and it has also become a tool to help me learn more about web design and development (I even list nenuno on my CV!). What my ambitions were for nenuno at the beginning have totally been blown out of the water as to what you see today.

But if you are just starting out in the design niche of blogging or planning to start your own, here are a few of my thoughts on what I’ve learnt whilst running nenuno on a daily basis and I will discuss on what I could have done differently along the way.

Friends In The Business

If you have a handful of friends that also blog, it could be very beneficial. They could be the “free” advertisement you will gracefully need to help promote your newly created designer blog.

Don’t worry though if you are going at it alone, as your blog gets more awareness within the community, tools such as Twitter and Facebook will help you network with other bloggers such as I did with Design Juices and Lucas Cobb Design. Giving you more doors to walk through, your blog will gain a larger audience if your friends are also promoting your articles and showcases.

Be A Designer/Developer

One of the biggest bonuses for starting a design blog would be that you are a web designer or developer. This will assist in being more technical in your writing and will give you a industry perspective, which will be shown in your content. This will give the reader confidence to follow your guidance as you know what you are talking about!

Other pro’s would be that you have the potential to publish tutorials on the subject you admire (WordPress, Photoshop, CSS etc) and freebies such as themes, wallpapers and graphic resources.

Avoid “Free Premium Themes”

I know it may be hard to avoid free themes for your favourite CMS, but be warned, they are riddled with encrypted code that can be very troublesome to remove. But what does this encrpted code do to my site?

  • It may be malicious and cause harm to your machine and your readers.
  • Removing the Theme Developers sponsored links in the footer is not the easiest task for a novice developer. They normally link to Credit Cards, Loans and other services that have no relation to your blogs content.
  • Managing to remove the un-wanted code can stop your whole blog from working.

The one way to tell if your theme contains encrypted code is to look in either your header.php or footer.php in your themes root directory. If there is something like the below hidden inside, remove the theme at your own risk.

[php]<?php eval(base64_decode(‘ZnVuY3Rpb24gdGhlbWVfZm9vdGVyX3QoKSB7IGlmICghKGZ1bm
BkaWU7IH0gfSB0aGVtZV9mb290ZXJfdCgpOw==’)); ?>[/php]

If you are not confident in creating your own theme for your blog, please visit a well respected theme marketplace that offers very well designed and “encrypted code free” themes. $30 isn’t that much money for a long term investment is it?  The added bonus is that you can also add your own customisations to the theme.

MOJO Themes

Themeforest, Blogger Templates For $5

Manage Your Time

Time management hasn’t been one of my strong points whilst blogging, with normally submitting a post straight after I got home from work which sometimes forced me to post when I wasn’t in the right mindset to blog. Sometimes, I felt inclined to post two posts everyday, which is something I regret deeply as our content from the early days, just felt like a placeholder.

But with working with Design Juices and Lucas Cobb Design it has given me the opportunity to learn from other bloggers on how to manage posting on a weekly basis more efficiently and one of the best “free” tools for the job has to be Onehub which allows us to manage content ideas, blog progression and other ideas all in one centrally managed place.

Now we schedule our posts in advanced and we now do two posts each weekly, this works a treat with multiple authors, but if you are working solo, it still works well depending on your schedule.

Showcase Vs Creative Writing

Showcases and creative writing in my opinion has always been a love hate relationship. When I first started, I hated creative writing as it wasn’t something I was confident enough in doing but as time passed by my writing style has come into its own and my written posts are becoming more knowledgeable and most importantly more enjoyable to read.

Personally, I know some may not like this.. but showcases will be by far the best “traffic bringers” for any blog (specially new ones). It is quite easy to link 50+ images and write a small paragraph telling the reader what you are showcasing then to spend several hours writing a well structured and detailed article.

Reader Interaction

Reader interaction is probably the key in making a visitor a long term reader. So if your articles are generating lots of retweets, facebook likes and comments, try and reply to those who went out there way to help promote and/discuss your post with others.

I know this may sound rather odd, but when your readers start to debate amongst themselves on one of your posts, I feel it’s a good thing! It shows your article has took some strong interest within the community.

What I Would Of Done Differently

As discussed above, I would have done quite alot of it differently, below are some of the errors I have made during the course of my blogging career:

  • Rushing into blogging without researching ways of driving traffic.
  • Used a free premium wordpress theme before coming aware of the implications.
  • Posting for the sake of “posting”.
  • Lack of time management.
  • Not promoting my articles.
  • Focusing mainly on showcases and round-ups.

I would hope that any of you planning to start blogging or have just started to not make as many mistakes I have made, but it’s always best to learn from others. I believe I’ve come along way since starting nenuno back in March, with the quality of posts improving. You have got to start somewhere!

Please let me know your thoughts and the experiences you have had whilst blogging. What would you change?


  1. Daniel,

    Thanks for sharing your personal experience; it is really valuable for any blogger.

    I also would have done some things different, but it is great to learn a long the way (and some times the hard way) :)

    Great Post

  2. This is a great article, thanks! I just started a web designer/developer blog a week or two ago so I really appreciate your tips! :)

  3. Some of them are missed by me, i think its time to work on them the coming days

  4. Nice post! Thanks for sharing these tips from your personal experience.

  5. You have certainly help me out a lot with Box Model Junkie. It’s nice to know some people that can help you out and give you advice from time to time. I think you, Jared and Lucas have all been amazingly beneficial to my success and I am incredibly grateful for it.

    I like the point about “Focusing mainly on showcases and round-ups”. It’s true, at least for me, that those posts don’t bring as many readers as good quality evergreen content does.

  6. Its been 2 months since I launched my own design blog.. I am doing several of the things you listed here. And thankfully, I’m slowly getting the results.

    Design blogs arn’t built in a day.. you gotta work anything to bring up the standards.

    A nice read! Retweeted!

  7. Well to get start you need to add quality content to your blog and I don’t think that’s showcase is preferable method to start with

    • It’s also preferable that any comments are also in full sentences, and make sense to the reader.

Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *