How to restart a blog after five years

This is not the post I had planned for resuming my blog. I had in mind a lengthy article about design and its role in communication at this point in digital evolution. Deep. Thought-provoking.

But I know that it’s better to start with ideas that are a little less ambitious in scope. Plus, to tell you the truth, I’m still thinking it all through. Let me get back to you when those deep thoughts have taken better shape.

Best laid plans …

My blog went into hiatus at a time when I was busy with work and preparing for a new addition to the family. I expected to take a break for a few months.

That was in late 2009.

My youngest child was born in 2010 and I took an extended period of time off to look after him. Later that year my husband became very seriously ill and needed several months to recuperate.

Meanwhile, readers like you kept visiting, which made me happy as a writer. My Website Checklist and Design Checklist posts and this article about Illustration Resources have continued to be especially popular and relevant even a long time after they were first published.

Blogging has changed

When I did resume my business I was keen to resurrect the blog, but in the meantime I sensed that the blogging world was changing.

In three years of blogging I had become active in the online design community and I made several friends who were designers that blogged. Our blogs were successful and we grew a following.

Many of us grew our businesses as a result of our blogs. More work equals less time for writing. People moved along on various career, business and life paths. Many of those blogs have been quietly archived.

I had been blogging to the design community, and they didn’t disappear. But the enormous growth of social media understandably caught their attention, as it did for just about everyone. Twitter and Instagram have grown into major social platforms. Readers no longer submitted their thoughts and comments directly on blogs in the same numbers. There was a sizeable shift in the way that people engaged with blogs and their authors.

All of this is fine; it’s part of the evolution of our online activity.

Think of your audience and write for them

There are design bloggers who have continued with what they do very well, and their blogs are stronger than ever. Spoon Graphics and Abduzeedo are two examples. David Airey continues to ask great questions and write strong commentary on design matters. Alex Charchar took a break from blogging at retinart but has returned in the past year with beautiful writing that I hope you take the time to read. All of these bloggers have built impressive communities around their design interests.

Even as my blog grew, back in 2008-09, I was aware that I wanted to write for a new audience; I wanted to help people and companies with their design choices. But those choices have changed dramatically in recent years as well. For example, some businesses are now tempted by offers of logos, websites and other design work for less money than it costs to buy lunch.

Now, I will be writing for people who value design and how it is used to communicate to their customers and audience. In the online world and with social media in particular, there is an increasing overlap between customers and audience, and I will be referring to these jointly from time to time (or frequently).

What are my interests that you are likely to find here as I flex my writing cortex again? Communication and Content Strategy will play a big part. My own work has taken on a greater project management role, which will be apparent in the case studies that I publish here.

I can see my own path moving increasingly towards Content Strategy. With my experience in both Graphic Design and Journalism, this makes good sense.

My strong interest in illustrative design is likely to feature as well.

One step at a time

I started the Couch to 5K running program this month, and running wasn’t even on my to-do list (although improving my fitness is an ongoing goal of mine). The running is going well which I find encouraging. I feel emboldened to tackle some of my other big goals.

Maybe that means I’m now starting on the writing equivalent of Couch to 5K. Getting back into writing is about putting one foot in front of the the other, and moving step by step. Maybe that lengthy in-depth piece would be too much for now after all.

I want to say thank you: if you are a first-time reader; if you have returned to continue the journey with me; and if you have connected with me on Twitter.

It has been fun to write this first return blog post. I have thought of three more while I composed this one, and there are others already in the pipeline. I’m enjoying myself.

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