How Content Marketing Helped the Businesses of Famous Web Designers

Are you missing out on the benefits of content marketing? Most likely yes, you are.

Does it even actually work as good as everyone is saying it does?
No, content marketing works even better than what you have heard about it.

As long as you use it wisely and don’t shoot blind.

So here are four guys from the web and graphic design industry who will make your doubts disappear.

But before you scroll down.
Remember – content marketing is not your average marketing strategy.

No Pushing, No Forcing, No Arrogance and No Spammy Attitude.

Keep that in mind and there is no reason why you could not be included in a list of successful stories like this one.

Ready?

Chris Spooner

Chris Spooner

Image Courtesy of  Richard Shepherd

Chris is a creative designer, avid blogger and is generally crazy about pretty colours and shapes. His two main hobbies/interests in life are design (obviously) and gaming. Chris also enjoys creating videos to capture exciting events.

Follow Chris On Twitter.

1. Do you believe content marketing (blogging) has contributed to your business’ growth? If yes – how exactly do you think it has contributed.

Absolutely! Since around 2008-2009 just about all my business was generated as a result of my blog. My blog posts and tutorials were gaining substantially more exposure than my portfolio website, so my work was being put in front of a much wider audience.

Not only this, but the quality of projects were often much higher. Instead of clients finding me through a generic Google search, they were choosing me because they enjoyed my content and saw how much was involved when creating a particular design thanks to the breakdowns I presented through tutorials. This meant projects ran much more smoothly without the usual client nightmares.

2. Could you tell me which one of your blog posts has received the most attention? And why do you think it happened?

The most popular article on my blog is “50 Illustrator Tutorials Every Designer Should See“. There’s a couple of major reasons this post is the most popular. Firstly it provides the exact result designers are searching for when they Google “Illustrator tutorials”, and saves people the leg work of finding these articles themselves.

This post has gained the number one position for “Illustrator tutorials” in Google search, so with it being a pretty popular search term it makes up a considerable portion of my overall traffic stats. Secondly the title is quite catchy with it including the “Every Designer Should See” wording. It makes it a little more intriguing and entices people to click it in the results page.

3. If you started blogging today would you do something differently? What would it be?

It would be much more difficult today, but I’d follow my basic rule of creating content that helps people out. I kind of started from scratch recently with my gaming channel on YouTube. I set myself up in a community where I had zero subscribers and built up exposure by creating videos to share my knowledge with others.

4. What is your advice and tips to others who would like to taste the benefits of content marketing?

My basic rule is to create content that provides answers to what people want to know. In my case this was in the form of Illustrator tutorials. A relatively untouched topic will be much easier to become the “expert” in, but above all it has to be a topic you’re thoroughly passionate about. Keep grinding through the early days when no one is reading your content and you’ll soon start to see your readership and exposure grow.

David Airey

Image Courtesy Of Herman Miller

Image Courtesy of  Herman Miller

David is a graphic designer and occasional author who specializes in designing brand identities. He has worked with companies like Yellow Pages, Giacom, Asian Development Bank, and Berthier Associates.

Follow David On Twitter

1. Do you believe content marketing (blogging) has contributed to your business’ growth? If yes – how exactly do you think it has contributed.

Undoubtedly. My blog used to be my only marketing tool. Now I have my blog and my books, but I wouldn’t have the books if it wasn’t for my blog, so that’s where everything started. Many new business inquiries arrive through my website as a result of organic search queries for relevant design terms. It’s my 24-hour promoter.

2. Could you tell me which one of your blog posts has received the most attention? And why do you think it happened?

Back in 2007, in the early days of my blog, a Gmail security flaw allowed a thief to steal my .com domain and try to sell it back to me. I blogged about it on my .co.uk domain and the story went viral, hitting the front page of Digg, Reddit, and on the New York Times website. With the help of the design community I got it back, and you can read the initial post here: Google’s Gmail security failure leaves my business sabotaged.

Why was it so popular? Because so many people use Gmail. It could’ve happened to them.

3. If you started blogging today would you do something differently? What would it be?

I’ve made a ton of mistakes along the way, so yes, I’d do quite a lot differently. It’s a topic I wrote about in another popular post from 2007: Seven blog mistakes to avoid. It’s old in blogging terms, but there are still some valuable lessons in there.

4. What is your advice and tips to others who would like to taste the benefits of content marketing?

It’s time-consuming. You need to be prepared for the long haul. I didn’t know what I was doing at the beginning, but in a way that helped, because you can plan and plan, but the best thing to do is start. The following post is another popular one, a bit more recent, and it covers a lot of the advice I’d give: How to get 87,698 blog subscribers in five years.

Paul Boag

Image Courtesy Of Treehouse

Image Courtesy Of  Treehouse

Paul has been working with the web since 1994. He is now co-founder of the web design agency Headscape, where he works closely with clients to establish their web strategy, he is also a prolific writer.

Follow Paul On Twitter

1. Do you believe content marketing (blogging) has contributed to your business’ growth? If yes – how exactly do you think it has contributed.

Absolutely. My blogging and podcasting are the primary mechanisms by which my web design agency brings in new business. We estimate that approximately 90% of new leads come via my blog. The blog not only helps us rank well on search engines, but also demonstrates our expertise and establishes us as leaders in our field.

2. Could you tell me which one of your blog posts has received the most attention? And why do you think it happened?

My most popular blog post is “10 techniques for creating effective calls to action“. This post rates number one on Google for the phrase “calls to action” and for a long time was extensively linked to throughout my blog. Its success is primarily down to the fact that it is a list post containing solid practical advice that can be easily applied to any website.

3. If you started blogging today would you do something differently? What would it be?

I would more closely associate my blog with my company. Currently the blog exists on a completely separate domain name to my web design agency and so I do not believe the blog is as effective as it could be at driving traffic to my web agency.

4. What is your advice and tips to others who would like to taste the benefits of content marketing?

My advice is simple “don’t give up”. Too many people launch a blog and post for a few months before being demoralized and giving up. Others continue to blog, but do so on such a sporadic basis they never build up a solid readership. The secret to successful blogging is to put out content on a regular schedule and to do so over a number of years. Content marketing is not a quick win but it pays off over the long term.

Jacob Cass

jacob-cass-just-creative

Jacob is a self-employed graphic designer, specializing in the fields of corporate identity (logo) design, web design, print design, and branding. He is also the founder of ‘JUST™ Creative’.

Follow Jacob On Twitter

1. Do you believe content marketing (blogging) has contributed to your business’ growth? If yes – how exactly do you think it has contributed.

Blogging is really the backbone of my business… not only does it bring in traffic, passive income and freelance clients, but it has also got my name out there, and subsequently my services are now in more demand, thus allowing me to increase my costs. Essentially my blog has made me be able to “work less, but charge more”, meaning I can do more of what I love (designing) and less of the nitty gritty of business.

2. Could you tell me which one of your blog posts has received the most attention? And why do you think it happened?

The classic list posts get the most shares and traffic, but there are a number of other articles such as Branding, Identity & Logo Design Explained  that also get a lot of attention. I think this post stands out because of its simple explanations and it’s not just another list post.

3. If you started blogging today would you do something differently? What would it be?

This really is an extraneous question as the internet changes so much every year and you gain so much knowledge over time. This quote comes to mind: “Wisdom does not come with age, it comes with mistakes made.” I’ve made many mistakes along the way, and it’s all about learning from these mistakes and improving on them for next time.”

4. What is your advice and tips to others who would like to taste the benefits of content marketing?

Stick at it for at least six months, these are the hardest months and when you will learn the most. Be a sponge and take it all in, network with others like crazy and utilize all the resources available to you… it will pay off.

So, did these four guys open your eyes to content marketing?

I want to know, do you have any more questions left? If you do – please fire away. I’m here to listen.

Jimmy Rikky

Jimmy has been a Graphic Designer for over 7 years. He uses various methods to create and combine words, symbols and images to create the visual representation of ideas and messages.

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Comments

  1. says

    Great article – The “plan and plan” stage is where i was stuck with my website design refresh for a while!

    This was a great read, very relevant, as once I launch the new site part of my planning over the next year for marketing is to apply more focus on the blog, which has been lacking to say the least.

  2. says

    Hi James,

    Thank you for sharing this interview-style article. I agree with what Chris Spooner said about publishing content that provides answers to what people want to know about. Not only does it help others, but it’s also a way of keeping your site fresh.

    Thanks,
    Richard

  3. says

    Great interviews!! James thanks for sharing..
    All the advice’s and tips are great but really liked Jacob’s tips to new comers like me stick in for initial six months which are hardest and the is the time when you learn the most.

    • says

      Hi Chetan

      Thanks a lot for your comment mate.
      What exactly did you like of what Jacob said?

      And do you have any content strategy in mind for Desizn World?

    • says

      Ahoy Leigh

      Thanks a lot for your kind words mate!
      What about yourself? Do you have any blog or any content marketing strategy in mind for your own or business branding?

  4. says

    I believe content marketing can do great and help a ton of people but somehow I think there’s something we’re missing – something that’s yet to be done :) The hopes of continuously making content to make it out there is very attractive, but the thing is, it’s getting much tougher of a job to be noticed above all the noise as others do the same method.

    It’s awesome to see how such a tactic worked for these people. Personally familiar with all but Paul so I guess that adds another name in the people to check out :) Plus look at Jacob, that guy’s my age and has a f*ckload of accomplishments! *hats off*

    Thanks James, great post.

    • says

      Ahoy Ken

      I always appreciate a different and strong opinion by others.
      So let me ask what do you think is yet to be done, to break through that noise?

      With your own words :)

  5. Nikhil Malhotra says

    I stronly believe that sharing good information is very important.Whether through blog or some other medium.I am also redesigning my blog as per my latest portfolio website design.Even though its a small blog so far but still the maximum people have went for the freebies I have shared.Yes if paid proper attention and continuous efforts are put in then blog can be a very strong marketing tool.Agree to all the guys above and hope to make it big soon.

    • says

      Hey Nikhil

      Thanks a lot for your comment, I’m glad you enjoyed the article.
      Your website doesn’t seem to be working? Any idea why?

      Also do you think you’ll be paying more attention to your content marketing efforts?
      Or are you ok for now?

    • says

      Hey Lance

      Thanks a lot for your comment :)
      I’m very glad these guys are already on your radar and you enjoyed this article.

      Do you have any specific strategy in mind for your Inabit Webdesign blog?

  6. says

    Great insights here. I think my blog suffers from being a low priority when I’m in the throes of client projects. Time is so tight when running a one man ship and it’s difficult to decide sometimes whether to write a blog, or maybe tweak that job I’m in the middle of, or spend some time reading, experimenting, working on self initiated projects, or how about doing some tutorials that have meaning to… aaarrrgh!

    Also I’d be interested to know if you / the guys here think there’s still room for another design related blog that could build such vast communities as you all have or whether you think aiming for a particular niche area would be a better way to go.

    • says

      Hey James

      I totally understand where you come from mate :)
      And to be honest I’d suggest using a big part of your blog as a social proof.

      By writing about case studies, featuring your clients (with their permission)
      As well as by writing about what you learn and what mistakes you make.

      If you set your self a schedule and stay consistent let’s say 2 blog posts a month, it should work out.

      Regards another design related blog, I absolutely would recommend niching down.
      Also think about a unique approach. Don’t just cover latest news, but instead do something different.

      For instance encourage your readers to take a certain action, etc.

      I hope this helps James :)

  7. says

    Thanks James for giving us an insight behind into these designer bloggers. All of them I have been following for a long time now. In fact i’m sure that Chris Spooner’s blog is so successful that he doesn’t actually need to client work now.

    I often go to David’s blog when I just need my creative thinking putting back on track…

    • says

      Ahoy Chris

      Thanks for your comment mate, it was my pleasure! :)
      Hell yes – if we are talking about Chris, he’s a really great example of how side income can become your main income.

      How long have you been blogging/pod casting then?

  8. says

    I really wish you had included some female voices here. Though the advice is valuable and relevant, it’s quite off-putting to see how rarely women are show-cased.

    • says

      Hey Cat

      Thanks a lot for your opinion :)

      You are right – I totally understand where you come from.
      It’s not very often when you can find an article showcasing women.

      And I’d be really happy to change it.
      So let me ask you before I do my own research do you have any in mind that you would suggest for me?

      I promise to take a look and see if I can include them!

      Thanks a lot once again Cat!

  9. says

    Jason asked:

    “Is it better to have a blog with your portfolio, or a portfolio with a blog?”

    I once asked myself the same thing, but what I’ve found most important is simply to have both, and to make one easily findable from the other.

    Years ago I had my portfolio in the root folder, with my blog in its own directory (/blog). I then switched so my blog was in the root, and my work in a /portfolio directory. In some ways it depends on who you see as your main visitor. The journey I’ve taken is a result of the thousands of subscribers who’ve stayed with me over the years, so I’m happy to have my blog up-front. Plus, I don’t really like the word “blog,” so ditching that directory was right for me.

  10. Jason says

    I have followed all of these designers for years and I love their advice. One question:

    Do you think it is better to have a blog site that has your business/portfolio and contact info on it or to have a business/portfolio site with a blog section?

    While designing a new site I have been confronted with this decision. I am currently designing my site to have work with blog section, but after looking through Jacob’s and some others, I wonder if I have it backwards. Any opinions?

    • says

      Hey Jason

      To be honest every designer might actually have their own opinion on this one.
      Because there isn’t really 100% right or wrong.

      It depends what’s your aim, audience and how much time you can dedicate.

      Because if you are not updating your blog very often it might even be off-putting to see a 3 months old post in front of the page.

      Now, I personally would definitely keep blog as the main attraction and main content of my business website.
      Because I’d use my blog to tell stories about how I learn new skills, new techniques and show case studies with my clients (with their permission).

      And even portfolio section wouldn’t be a simple gallery for me.
      I would write a separate story about every project/client, how I went about coming up with idea, sketching, presenting, step by step.

      Which would really show my expertise to my potential clients, as well as how detailed my process of project creation is.

      Every client would feel much more comfortable and warmer when approaching you if they already know how you work, what steps you take, what’s your attitude, etc.

      So then pretty much an additional section would be Contact Me form, everything else is pure content strategy of telling stories, including my mistakes, success stories, lessons, happy endings, awards etc. in a vary open and natural way.

      I hope this helped Jason :)

  11. says

    I already follow 3 of these guys and two of them are amongst my biggest inspirations. I too am stuck in the ‘plan and plan’ – I need to make the leap and get started asap and am ready for the long haul.

    Was great to see their answers to the same 4 questions.
    Thanks, James

    • says

      Hey Mike

      Why only 3? What about the 4th one? :)
      Still not thinking of following?

      Anyway plan and plan is really a really tough trap.
      You know as they say “Better done than perfect.” Because you can always fix and adjust anything along the way.

      What about your own strategy? Any plans on how to reach out and show your expertise to others?

    • says

      Hey Sanjay

      Thanks for your comment mate. I also take my hat off :)

      And what about your own plans? Have you already been thinking about your own content marketing strategy?

  12. says

    Truly inspiring ! Yes these four guys has opened my eyes to content marketing.
    I will surely follow these advice:
    1. Best thing to do is start
    2. Create content that provides answers to what people want to know.
    3. “Don’t give up”.Content marketing is not a quick win but it pays off over the long term.
    4. Utilize all the resources available to you… it will pay off

    Thanx a lot

    • says

      Hey Rehman

      Really nice to hear there’s a lot you can take away and learn from these guys.

      So what’s the next step of your action plan then?

  13. Rydh says

    “… you can plan and plan, but the best thing to do is start.”

    I always trapped in ‘plan and plan’. :(
    Gotta start!

    • says

      Hey Rudh

      I totally understand what you mean mate.
      Because I myself always have been in this plan and plan phase, such a nasty trap.

      And once I understood you can always fix any mistakes along the way, I got moving.

      What about yourself? Any specific plans on how to get started then?

  14. says

    These guys are inspirational! I started blogging at the beginning of the year, and I’m slowly starting to promote my blog more and more. It’s nice to read interviews like these.

    • says

      Hey Cassandra

      I’m really glad you enjoyed the article and find these guys inspirational, because they really are :)

      And by the way I really like the name of your blog and logo.
      What are the ways you promote your blog, let me ask. Is it all pushy, pushy, or more sweeter attitude?

      • says

        Thanks!

        I’ve mostly been trying to build up my social media profiles to share my content, and content from other sources, too. I also found that relevant groups on Goolge+ provide some good targeted traffic.