Five Thoughts from a Blog Designer

As a designer, I have a myriad of blogs that come across my desk every day. Design blogs, blogs I’m building, friends, writers, ideas, concepts, you name it. Over the course of a year, I talk to lots and lots of fellow bloggers, thinkers, entrepreneurs, moms, sisters, friends who want to talk dreams. Plans. Goals.

So here’s my 5 thoughts for you, fellow bloggers, writers, seekers of truth and beauty, and miners of the diamonds amidst all the coal. These are what I would tell you if I could over coffee or peanut butter on toast with blueberries, which is my absolute favorite, but I digress…

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1. Your blog is an extension of you, but does not, and should not run your life. It’s really easy in this blogging world to get swallowed whole by the screen that you sit at every day. I’ve found myself taking out my iPhone, snapping a photo only to think, “I should blog about this later.” I’m sure you all know this feeling. Your readers, your friends, your family, don’t want your blog to run your life. TRUST ME. The best and most authentic posts and content come from people who are living rich lives, learning from mistakes and getting into the grit of the world they live in. This might mean you take some time off and that’s ok. I’m sure I’m going against all “How to get one million followers in one day” suggestions, but you don’t need to keep constant content. Keep GOOD content.

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2. Uncluttered design is better for your reader. I come across a lot of designs that are full. Busy. Links and arrows, directions, options, ads and you name it. I love seeing so many exciting things going on for so many bloggers. But if people are coming to your site to read, make it easy to read. When it comes to the design, remember that there are three main areas your readers are looking — who you are, where to connect with you and what you’re offering. Keep it simple and cohesive. Too many colors, images, fonts, etc, will make it harder for your community to engage completely in what YOU are saying. Try to imagine your blog and website as another room in your home. Declutter it. Dust it. Refresh it. Give people beautiful things to look at, but not too much to distract them from why they’re really there — to see YOU. Whether you’re writing about parenting, home decor, organizing, the Gospel, whatever it might be… keep the main thing the main thing.

3. Don’t try to be someone else. We all know that there are some amazing writers and creators out there. So. much. good. stuff. But if we all tried to be like them, this world would implode really fast. As Dr. Seuss said: “Today you are You, that is truer than true. There is no one alive who is Youer than You.” Own who that person is. Maybe it takes some introspection. Don’t be afraid to routinely ask yourself — Why am I writing? What is my story? What do I have to give? What is my voice?

4. Smaller can be better. Your audience is not a direct reflection on your content. In the business realm, it might be beneficial to keep an eye on stats, but sometimes it can destroy a personal passion. If you are PASSIONATE about something, then don’t let small numbers deter you. Your passion should not fly or fall based on the attention of others. We wouldn’t tell our children that they are less beautiful or handsome based on how many people tell them this, would we? And if you are trying to grow numbers, remember to stay authentic and press on. Hard growth doesn’t mean it’s bad. It could mean that you are just growing deeper roots.

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5. Moodboard your life. With all the designs I do, I start with a moodboard. This is a collection of images, colors, typefaces, concepts to help myself and the client work from the same idea. We are both looking at the same collection of items regularly to make sure we’re not splitting too far from the concept. You can do this on your own for your own life and blog, and you should. Start collecting images, photos, prints, clips of things that inspire you. Maybe it’s a magazine ad. Maybe an old photo. Maybe it’s a quote in a book or a blogger who said something that went to your heart. Collect all of these things and put them somewhere where you’ll see them every time you write. Remember who you are and why you’re there.

(If you create one of these or already have one, link up here and share!)

I am thankful for all of your stories, voices, tips, bravery and passion.

Shine bright. :)

Andrea

Andrea Levendusky writes about everything. Literally everything. Whether it’s the deep, disappointing heartaches of life, the richness of the Gospel or last weekend’s epic baked oatmeal recipe, she writes in hopes that you’ll sit and talk with her too. It’s no secret that life can be one wild mess, and she writes to be a voice of hope pointing to redemption in the middle of it all. When she’s not rambling at theorganicbirdblog.com, she’s designing and creating pretty things for theorganicbird.com. And if you really want to keep up with how much she’s procrastinating or whether or not her daughter is the next four-year-old savant, you can follow her on twitter (@theorganicbird). She also drinks copious amounts of coffee, which is worth mentioning in this bio since really it’s the only reason she gets anything done.

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  • http://www.facebook.com/rebekah.ellis.9634 REBEKAH ELLIS

    This was so helpful and encouraging. I just spent a bunch of time over the weekend reviewing my blog – trying to determine what I needed to add; to fix; to change to make it better. Lots of fussing around and messing and not much change because I got too frustrated. These ideas really help me (remind me!) where to start and focus. I love the mood board. I’ve not done one for my blog, but have similar ideas in my SmashBook for other things. I think I have a new jumping off point!

    • http://theorganicbirdblog.com ANDREA

      So great! I’m so glad this helped you today! :)

  • PAULA

    Thank you for this simple, yet helpful goals to focus on the right things. I really like the moodboard idea and am looking forward to putting that together.

    • http://theorganicbirdblog.com ANDREA

      Awesome Paula! Link up here if you do! I’d love to see it :)

  • http://www.natashametzler.com/ NATASHA METZLER

    great tips, Andrea. Thank you!

    • http://theorganicbirdblog.com ANDREA

      Thanks Natasha! You’re welcome :)

  • http://www.facebook.com/profile.php?id=742417103 CARRIE STEVENS POSTMA

    I am a designer myself and it was encouraging to read your thoughts. I fully agree with every point ;-) I also make inspiration (mood) boards for myself and my client, it really helps narrow down the look and style of a blog/website. Thank you for this great post! (http://www.carriepostma.blogspot.com)

    • http://theorganicbirdblog.com ANDREA

      I’m so glad you liked the post, Carrie! Inspiration boards are so fun to create & look at! How cool to know that you do it too :)

  • http://twitter.com/stephmommybrain STEPHANIE KAY

    I love the idea of a mood board. I think Pinterest does that for me. Let’s me put my favorite things in one spot without cluttering up my house. :)

    • http://theorganicbirdblog.com ANDREA

      Yes, Pinterest is great for that too! (though it’s alot easier for me to get sidetracked once I’m on there ;P)

  • GUEST

    Andrea – That is what I can attest to… as God was “growing deeper roots”, for 5+ years of my personal bloggy life, I learned to quit watching the numbers (hard to do since I work in media – haha!) and He then drew me in even closer to hear His voice. I balance it now with His help and His help alone. Great post! As a media-gal, I love to read tips from others. Your tip on not making it too cluttered is spot on and what I tell clients as well … less is more. :) And I love the idea of the mood board!

    Heather
    40YearWanderer

  • http://www.facebook.com/heather.mertens2 HEATHER MERTENS

    Andrea – That is what I can attest to… as God was “growing deeper roots”, for 5+ years of my personal bloggy life, I learned to quit watching the numbers (hard to do since I work in media – haha!) and He then drew me in even closer to hear His voice. I balance it now with His help and His help alone. Great post! As a media-gal, I love to read tips from others. Your tip on not making it too cluttered is spot on and what I tell clients as well … less is more. :) And I love the idea of the mood board!

    -Heather
    40YearWanderer

    • http://www.facebook.com/heather.mertens2 HEATHER MERTENS

      Not sure how I got my comment on here twice! LOL – sorry about that.

      • http://theorganicbirdblog.com ANDREA

        Thanks Heather! This is encouraging to hear — for me and I’m sure others!

  • CYNTHIA SCHRAGE

    This is very encouraging. I wish I had more control over my blog’s design, but am still reluctant to spend the money required. I’m at the awkward point where I feel like getting more viewers would justify the upgrade, but without the upgrade, I lose viewers.

    • http://theorganicbirdblog.com ANDREA

      I would suggest making what little changes you can in the meantime, and focus on great content. Sometimes a little “spring cleaning”, decluttering, freshening up can do wonders. :) And maybe tell your readers that…a little note to say, “Pardon the dust! I’m just freshening up my space for you!”

  • http://twitter.com/alyssaavant ALYSSA AVANT

    On this moodboard do you mean you shouldn’t put anything on your blog that doesn’t match?? Just curious

    • http://theorganicbirdblog.com ANDREA

      No, more so, try think bigger picture. Place your ads in a place that won’t distract your reader from what you’re saying, but is instead a natural flow of their “reading”. Picking a color scheme and a couple typefaces can also help streamline your look. But matching? Not necessarily. Think of it like a good outfit. Classy, fun, fresh, pops of color, and all there to show off the amazing person :)

  • DIANE BAILEY

    I don’t have a mood board, per se. However, when a friend built my website ( what a great friend! Yes?) she asked me to send her some of my favorite photographs, and some of my favorite colors. And, WhallllLaaaa! A website was born out of my likes!

    • http://theorganicbirdblog.com ANDREA

      Yes! That’s the same idea. Knowing what the end product should “feel” like is a good place to start. :)

  • LISHA EPPERSON

    This was an informative and encouraging read. As a newbie blogger I am often overwhelmed by the work required to maintain a blog. The details of maintaining and creating challenge me as I search for my unique voice in this sea of such creative beauty. putting everything together on a mood board sounds fun and will keep me focused and inspired. Love the idea. Thanks.

  • http://www.facebook.com/profile.php?id=1103139415 LORRETTA STEMBRIDGE

    I saved reading this for a “rainy day” because I knew I’d have time to get to it and when I did, it was gonna be SO helpful. Couldn’t be truer! I’m in the midst of manifesto and everything you say here has been part of my own personal revelation and revolution. Thanks so much for laying it out neatly in front of me. Bless you!