Comments on The Love You Make

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  1. Great advice! One thing that has always perturbed me about this business, however, is a freelance designer that only writes Photoshop tutorials or other articles for fellow designers. Do clients ever care? I have never come across one that does. They care about your competence in design, sure. But they can see that.

    I have always focused my writing on things that have a direct impact on my clients’ business, things they can use. It “wins” me at $20K a year in new business. When someone sees how you can help them - both through your design work and your knowledge of business and marketing - they are much more likely to pick up the phone.

    My portfolio speaks to my skill in building websites and using all of the necessary tools. Writing about client-focused issues demonstrates my business knowledge. Also, it let’s me keep in touch with them via email newsletters, etc. Every time I write a new article I get a call from an old client saying: “Help me do this.”

    Just food for thought.

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  2. I think @Jack raises a good point, which is to put some attention and thought (and dare I say… content strategy?) into your audience and reasons for writing. I used to write pieces aimed at clients, and never landed a single project based on that work. Once I started writing for colleagues, though, now they send me all kinds of leads and referrals because they know what kinds of problems I’m good at solving.  Friends who work for agencies (and have no desire to go independent) may want to connect with industry leaders and conference organizers, not clients. None of these paths is right or wrong; it’s more a matter of what works best for you and your business/personal development plans.

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  3. Great response, Jeffrey. Design, or any ideas that take root in a culture have to be sold. It’s knowing the Why that produces the What. Just like you won the Batman Forever website by knowing that Batman doesn’t talk, being able to articulate the reasons for design decision or crucial when winning clients. Winning them over to your ideas is important every step of the project.

    Words carry. In speaking, writing, any form of articulating your ideas is just as important as being able to draw or design in Photoshop.
    Your esteemed colleague, Mike Monteiro, said recently that design you did not sell is as worthless as design that you did not make.

    Clients and colleagues both can only know how we think if we continually express what we’re thinking and why. Writing, speaking, podcasting, or making videos is part of the designers outreach to the rest of the world.

    Jack and Ellen make excellent points as well. Jack said he wins business by speaking directly to his clients. Ellen take some more indirect approach and rights for her colleagues, but wins business on their referrals. Each person is different, each path is different. What is important is that we put our thoughts out there on a regular basis. It is not enough to show the artifacts of our design we have to show the thinking process that went into making those artifacts.

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  4. One of the defining moments of my career was at a Thunder Lizard Conference in Denver—maybe 1998, at the very start of my career. The ideas you shared are what put me on this crazy 15 year journey of web design :D

    The first 12 of those years were all about reading and watching. Webmonkey taught me how to code. Joshua Davis taught me to wonder “What if?” and Simon Sinek taught me to start with why. And all of them helped shape my design philosophy. I wouldn’t believe what I do today without their (and your) influence.

    It wasn’t until maybe three years ago that I started writing, speaking and teaching on a regular basis. I’ve been really stoked to discover that having to articulate what I believe when teach a class, write a post, or prep a presentation has helped me to develop a better understanding of who I am as a designer. It’s a pretty rad side effect.

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  5. @Chris Ford I spent a year+ teaching design at one of the colleges here in Denver. It made a huge difference for me, as well.

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  6. Can it be clarified what “equally meaningful content” you find comparable to blogs you expect from designers and developers—particularly budding developers towards hiring them being hired?

    Particularly with new developers, it can be rather odd being encouraged to write articles when there’s a high chance that the articles they’re considering writing they feel will have a “this is all information you can read from the documentation in merely a different voice and differently worded sentences” vibe when they’re read by others.

    Similarly, being encouraged to write blogs about evangelizing a certain way of doing things can seem premature to write for newcomers since they can easily feel they’re not in a position yet to have weight or reason to write such blogs seemingly.

    What advice would you give developers to overcome such thoughts to not be discouraged to begin giving back towards getting positive things in return such as job opportunities?

    Finally, what about new developers who have a passion of wanting to solve actual problems for others, causes, and organizations but couldn’t care less about expressing themselves?

    Considering there’s a lot of pressure these days is to create “pet projects”, that seems pretty hard to do for particular newcomers coming from homelessness, a background of never being part of a community or kinship to help (or grow inspiration from), and so on…

    Such developers—especially if they have reservations of writing for reasons similar to the ones I pointed above—are bound to have a continuous chicken-and-egg problem, despite very likely having the skills to at least be employable.

    Obviously an oversimplification, it’s strange to me if a developer is gifted enough as far as technical skills to be employed aren’t hired because they’re essentially forced to write to “prove” their passion to an potential employer who may stand firm of never hiring them unless they do otherwise (if such a stance is followed to the extreme).

    Web development “being a team sport”, there’s definitely talented people that want to do good work for clients and just go home afterwards—is it becoming harder than ever for people to do that from the very beginning (Not unlike people like Marshall Lynch or Jony Ive) ?

    Or it’s sort of the web development version of an initiation where newcomers must write blogs or temporarily evangelize till they can live that sort of way?

    I personally believe everyone should become talented enough in an industry to eventually contribute towards the industry being improved in some way, help it be more approachable for newcomers, and so on.

    However, I don’t know if budding developers or types of people I mentioned above should be expected immediately to go out of their way to write blogs in order to get opportunities they’re otherwise capable of fulfilling since it’s too easy for them to pollute the web with uninspired, bad content.

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  7. One of my biggest weaknesses is my ability to spell, it is like a wet cheese sandwich trying to fight of a famished cheese eating tiger. So after 11 yrs in the web/design industry I finally launched a blog section in my site. It’s pretty rough and kinda hidden on my site. The one thing I like about it is I can now put my thoughts in “print” and it lets me flesh out a deeper meaning (also highlight my bad spelling which I can fix) as well as to start developing that skill of explaining/educating a wider audience. I now write about things that interests me but also responds to client needs/request, it’s almost a personal work diary. I’m always a bit behind the times but also look out towards the front of the pack.

    Thanks Dr for words of encouragement to get out there amongst it in a thoughtful way.

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  8. One of the defining moments of my career was at a Thunder Lizard Conference in Denver—maybe 1998, at the very start of my career. The ideas you shared are what put me on this crazy 15 year journey of web design :D
    The first 12 of those years were all about reading and watching. Webmonkey taught me how to code. Joshua Davis taught me to wonder “What if?” and Simon Sinek taught me to start with why. And all of them helped shape my design philosophy. I wouldn’t believe what I do today without their (and your) influence.
    It wasn’t until maybe three years ago that I started writing, speaking and teaching on a regular basis. I’ve been really stoked to discover that having to articulate what I believe when teach a class, write a post, or prep a presentation has helped me to develop a better understanding of who I am as a designer. It’s a pretty rad side effect.

    Personally, I find the “defining” influence of people like @zeldman to be a key aspect of anyone’s personal and professional development. It’s easy to talk about influencers, mentors and the like, but sometimes there’s just the need for a reference :)

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  9. great article…piastra per capelli

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