What makes a Design Blog Interesting?

I have mixed feelings on whether yesterday’s post should ever have been written. There was lots of lively debate in the comments and even a few cranky ones mixed in to the long list I received (I also lost a reader according to her comment).  Also, two emails arrived saying “Wow your sisters must be upset about that post”.  And here’s the thing, I read it to one because it was mostly about her and she said “sure no problem’” because actually I’m committed that we come to a solution that works for us all (and so is she).  My other sister was mentioned (so I didn’t read it to her in advance) and she was cranky, and we worked it out. She is the real writer in our family and she offered to write a post from their point of view, so I agreed. Stay tuned for that one.

I wrote about ‘decorating for family’ because I know a lot of designers (and anyone who sells time) struggles with maintaining a balance with their family and friends and I honestly didn’t know the best way to handle it.  What makes me a good colourist and a designer is that I analyze everything and I do the same thing with relationships.  If I wasn’t writing about design, I would write a relationship blog because what makes people tick inside them fascinates me just as much as colour does.

And I also love a lively debate once in a while, I always learn something and I think what makes relationships great is when you work through the issues that push your buttons and get to the other side.  And forgive.  And forget. And forgetting is hard.  We hardly remember the argument that we had but we sure remember how we felt when the event or argument happened.

So what makes a design/or any blog interesting?

As Copyblogger says in this post, The first rule of Copyblogger

1. “Great content comes from craft, care, and attention, not talent.”

Image via This is Glamorous 

2. “It comes from obsessively focusing on what your reader wants. What’s bugging her? What problem is she having a hard time solving? What does she want more than anything? What’s she dreaming about? What wakes her up at 3 in the morning? What makes her feel like a beautiful and unique snowflake?”

Since a huge number of my readers are designers, I think that my post attempted to help them (and me) in the family = free conversation.  But what about all the rest of my readers who don’t care about that (because it’s not what you do) and had opposite opinions?

Or then there’s the other side of it (this part is for the bloggers reading this), written by Mike Duran; who asked this question:

3. “What kinds of comments are you looking for on your blog? Are you looking for “amens” and “attaboys”? Or are you really looking for dialog?” and then he quoted Copyblogger (like we all do):

“In the blogging world, buzz mainly finds you in your blog comments. When you hit a hot button, that’s where you first find out. When you look at great blogs, it’s not uncommon to find that the comments become even better than the post itself — so let them.

If you’ve written something that’s whipping up controversy, don’t hide from your comments. Embrace the buzz, both positive and negative. Learn from it. Dive in and chat. Your readers will thank you (and become even more loyal on account of it)” 

4. To have a good blog, pretend that your perfect client is on the other side of the desk while you’re writing.  Write to her.  So when I’m writing posts about money, I’m talking to the designers that attend my workshops.  When I talk about “How to have a great blog” I’m talking to other design bloggers.  When I talk about design, colour and atmosphere, I’m talking to my future clients, readers that love design in addition to designers and bloggers.

I created this blog because I’m passionate about colour and design and because it took me so long to figure it out on my own, if I can, I like to make it easier for everyone else. And sometimes I write ‘about me’ because whenever I read a personal post on a blog that I follow it makes me feel closer to the blogger and it makes her blog more interesting to me.

There was lots of talk in the comments in yesterdays post (almost 100 by the time I’m posting this) analyzing my relationship with my sisters and whether it’s ‘healthy’ or not so let me be clear, for the record.  I love my sisters deeply, we are very close and at the same time, we most certainly argue and occasionally hang up on each other, but it generally never lasts long. Is our relationship perfectly healthy? Well that is up for us to decide and for you to analyze, should you care to.

Over to you, what makes a blog interesting?

If you would like your home to fill you with happiness every time you walk in, contact me for on-line or in-person consultations.

Related posts:

3 Things I Learned about Design while Decorating for my Mother
6 Uninteresting Things about Me
10 Things I Hate/Love/Share about me

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  1. Erin @ The Impatient Gardener

    It's difficult for me to say what makes a blog interesting to me because I follows more than 100 blogs and I have a hard time finding a common denominator through them. What I DON'T like in a blog is when posts are written with the sole purpose of creating that controversy that Copyblogger claims is so good for a blog. If there is a purpose beyond controversy that's one thing, but when the true intent is controversy meant to gain a lot of buzz or comments, that is a total turn-off for me and I've left more than one blog because of it.

    The folks at Copyblogger apparently subscribe to the blog version of the theory that "any publicity is good publicity" and maybe it works, but it doesn't work for me. My life is stressful and visiting my favorite blogs is a way for me to escape that. Occasionally they tackle controversial topics (as I sometimes do on my blog) and I appreciate it because I like a good purposeful discussion. But if they are full of posts meant to get people arguing in the comments without any other purpose behind the post, then that's my cue to leave.

  2. Jodi (The Simply Inspired Home)

    Great Post. What makes YOU special is that you show you are not only a designer, but human. A Human with anger, thoughts, joy, and questions just like the rest of us.

    Good for you. Throughly enjoyed reading yesterday's post!

    Thanks for all your great advice.

  3. My blog has multi purposes: to promote the arts, other artists of all genres, art events. I have readers that include high end designers, architects and artists.

    As I often do giveaways, I also do interviews which I think many find extremely interesting!

    I think it is impportant to keep it exciting and have people want to visit to see the latest!

    Come and join my Giveaway from Blydesign!

    Art by Karena

  4. Betsy Head, Affordable Interior Design

    This is great. Helpful tips for a fellow design blogger. Wonderful food for thought as well.


  5. Flying Carrot Designs

    I suppose all blogs each aspire to various goals…to tease, promote, educate, tantalize, provide beautiful photos, whatever. Constant flogging to sell services is a huge turnoff for me personally, as are giveaways. It feels…um…desperate? One's talent and/or unique perspective WILL shine through the internet…the gimmicks and hard selling is not necessary.

    For myself, I like the mix of personal with professional that your blog offers. I'm grateful to see your recent projects and compare your business with mine. Keep up the good work.

  6. I think it's so cool that you are able to post a touchy subject–that one of your sisters agreed to it, and then one was cranky but will get over it. That's how sisters are–cranky one moment, downright irritating sometimes, but we love them anyway. And that's the way it is in real life.

    That you are able to talk about it, communicate, call each other in tears, and tell each other–"you're driving me nuts.. okay already.." is just like being back all together in mom and dad's house. Loving, fighting, comforting.

    Better than sisters who live apart from each other and eventually drift far enough from each other and eventually treat each other like "friends"–nice, polite, always friendly.

    You are a "sister" when you can slam the phone on each other, and still make up and love each other. That's what you call respect and acceptance of each others' idiosyncracies.

    You will come to a decision which will be win-win for everyone because you are talking about it, instead of keeping quiet and pretending that everything is okay.

    I loved the post, and all the comments that followed were such wonderful insights on human nature (whether they were positive or negative).

    You are a wonderful, insightful blogger. Thanks for always sharing.

  7. What makes a blog good? Pretty pictures. I'm very easy to please. 🙂 I scan over most posts. Your blog is a fav because I have a new home and it's inspiration. I read a few comments from your last post because of your link and I think that I must have a very low tolerance level. It's amusing that people judge your relationship with your family based on one issue. I love and hate my family….. but I mostly love them. 🙂

  8. Chic 'n Cheap Living

    So true Maria. I enjoyed your post. There aren't as many blogs that put themselves out their in an open, vulnerable way so many of us just don't (I posted once about a topic that bothered me and was verbally butchered).

    Admittedly most design blogs I frequent are just picture heavy, pretty ones. But I definitely appreciate great content and glimpses into real relationships and issues.

  9. I love your blog because you write about one of the things I am interested in. You have good content with interesting photos to back it up. I have learned a lot from reading your posts and I just found you!

    Noticed you were a Gemini! Me too! I analyse everything. Having had 2 blogs the last couple of years has taught me that you can't please everyone. You lose one reader and gain 2. It really doesn't matter in the big scheme of things if you write from the heart. People can be bitchy no matter what you do. Who cares! Really! Don't apologise. Move on. It's a new day.

    Look forward to the next post.

  10. Kathy @ Creative Home Expressions

    I have two younger sisters myself, Maria, and I totally understand what you are saying and the relationship between sisters. I think it's good to have a discussion, heated or otherwise. It's a shame that when someone doesn't agree with you they either walk away in real life, or drop you from their blogroll in blog life. I enjoyed the post and I think it is something that decorators/designers {and people in other professions, as well} have to deal with.

  11. Y' know, I think you can't beat being genuinely the person you really are in a blog…whoever that person may be. Being honestly you is no. 1…'cos then you are always interesting because you are complex and diverse. When blogs are written that are the way someone would just like to be…a showcase person…the blog has an emptiness, a shallowness, a hollowness and may intrigue for a short period 'til you get bored eventually.

    Re yesterdays post which I only just read…I think you give freely and without restraint to immediate family and work something else out with family once removed…like aunts, uncles etc and your sister's in laws etc where there is not that day to day closeness of relationship, 'cos you never know when you will need them in a capacity you can't even dream of and your immediate family will be the ones you really rely on in any emergency or crisis.

  12. A great blog is "real" and deals with issues that tug at a nerve or touch the heart. A blogger can inspire another individual and can provide a good forum for open dialogue, as evident in your post yesterday. A great blogger also treats people the way they want to be treated.
    ( My brother-in-law designed my logo and he is a graphic designer. I paid him for his services. ) We respect each other's talents and families! Well he is married to my sister!!! 🙂

  13. I've been a follower for a long time and I subscribe because I'm interested in your design expertise….however, NOT interested in your family interactions. I feel you crossed the line with your comments and therefore I, too, am unsubscribing. Family dedication is very important and if you have a talent,then those are the ones that certainly should receive some special considerations. Life is too short for petty arguments!

  14. Love this post, and definitely something every blogger needs to think about!

    Happy Weekend wishes to you!
    xoxo Laura

  15. For the writers of blogs the most important thing to think about is audience as you've so aptly described.That makes the writing "true".

    Next to that is your purpose in starting a blog. Not everybody wants a wide readership, some bloggers are thinking through writing or improving their understanding through the research needed to compose a post. Both are important to me and I like to see that quality in other bloggers.

    Variety in posts is good because most blogs have a range of people looking/following. I follow fellow designer blogs for a wider exposure to the world of design. While I get to travel frequently, most of my time is spent in a small city on an island which can be very limiting in scope and stimulation.

    Like you, I am interested in what makes someone tick professionally. I may not always agree with what I read on a blog but it always makes me think. I am not much interested in heavy debates!

  16. I love your blog, have never posted before but wanted to share that. Back to yesterday's post, you are very brave to share those feelings. I am a nutritionist and you wouldn't believe the number of times I'm asked "how can I lose weight?". To do that question justice and address it properly would take a LOT of time so I just laugh and move to the next topic. But really, was my degree free? Is your training free? For me, I wouldn't ever charge family, but I would charge friends,acquaintances for my time. People who are not in the "service" industry do not understand this concept. You are selling your TIME. I think it's great you had an open discussion with your sisters about this instead of letting resentment simmer.

  17. As a designer and a blogger, I am always looking to see how someone else in the biz is doing something. That's one of the reasons I like your blog….you often make me think…and I like that. I am also a former teacher, so my natural inclination in my blog is to try to convey a lesson every once in a while. Designers are unique because they see things differently, so I like to take people out of the box every once in a while. I think a post is successful when it changes something or someone. Comments occur when we hit a nerve which causes us to have something to say. I also think it's good manners to leave a comment on a blog you read. It's the dialogue that makes blogs living things, and when we stop commenting or just give "atta-girls" that important aspect of the blog is gone. Keep up the reality. It works for me!

  18. I wanted to comment on yesterday's post because it was real and that right there is what makes a blog interesting, exciting and real. I sew and used to work for a sewing machine company and it was all too many times when family and friends would ask the "could you" question. I'm sorry you've lost readers over this, but seeing the real person is a very nice thing to let show! Love your blog, love your design, love that you are real.

  19. Gosh, now I have to go read the comments from yesterday.

    When my retired from accounting, CPA husband was the co executor of his parents estate he did almost all the work. He charged the estate a very modest hourly amount. It was a gift to his siblings. (Am I still mad that the co executor, who did almost no work, charged the estate the same amount? Yep!)
    Working with family is never easy.

  20. I loved your post yesterday.

    One of the litmus tests for me, as a blogger, is, "Does hitting publish on this post make me a little scared/uneasy/afraid of what people will think?" If the answer is no, then it's probably not interesting content.

    For every reader you lost yesterday, you gained at least a handful more of engaged readers. Thank you for being the open, curious person that you are.

  21. I am glad that you tackle subjects that spark conversation, and controversy as in this case. I don't have to agree with you on this one Maria, but I was challenged by your opinion and forced to think of both sides like any good debate.

    To squash our opinions just to appease the masses just feeds the fluff and frou frou side of blogging that does nothing for ones intellect, or to keep it real.

    I think it took guts to write your post. I also think that conflict makes a family stronger. Families (mine included) that simmer and broil over issues without discussion, are far worse off than those that resolve them, even if they have to battle a bit to reach resolution.

  22. I believe your personal success Maria comes from educating us I a thoughtful and human way. How many times have you been told by a reader, including me, that we feel like we know you as a girlfriend? It's because you are honest. And brave enough to tap into a very touchy subject to help us all in the creative business. You stuck to your purpose and be proud of that. Who cares if you loose readers? Be true to yourself and you will always come out on top. Xo

  23. Blogs which moderate comments are generally the ones written by authors who deeply need to be praised for every post and every download as though it was the reinvention of the wheel. I am not a blogger, but read numerous ones, both design, news, political, etc. If you enter the arena, you must be ready to take the praise with the criticism. There are not many design blogs ready to do this. Perhaps it's because most of these blogs are authored by women and unfortunately women are more thin skinned and need their self esteem propped up by other women more than they need the real exchange of ideas.

  24. Yesterday's comments were interesting, a lot to say on both sides of the issue. We need to know other people's opinions so we don't live in our own bubble. I'm looking forward to reading your sisters point of view too.

    Interesting blogs have good, witty writing with a story to tell, and beautiful photography to look at.
    Pretty basic. The trick is to keep it interesting by mixing it up a bit.
    You did that yesterday.

  25. Honestly, what makes a blog interesting to me are the inspiring photographs. I am a very visual person, and I actually believe that's how I stumbled across your blog in the first place. I must have typed something into google images and something from your blog came up and that was it! Keep those photos comin'!

  26. Wait, now you invite comments that don't agree with you and tell you you are great? If so, I think that growth is terrific. Less than a year ago, you did a whole post on deleting negative comments, telling posters that if they did not agree with your ideas or designs, to "keep surfing." It really turned me off, and I have visited here far less frequently ever since.

    I hope this is your new approach.

  27. Hi Maria,
    I thought your blog post yesterday was very thought-provoking and honest. (Two qualities I think are important for a successful blog.) You wrote about one of the very real challenges of being in this business/running your own business, and I actually found it refreshing and comforting to hear from you on the topic…it almost felt as though we were commiserating and also that I was learning from a mentor…in a very genuine, human way. I really appreciate that your writing is a transparent look into your business and design world. What you do isn't just about picking the right colors and creating a harmonious balance in someone's space…there are so many other facets about your work – and part of the reason I come back to your blog is because you are open to sharing all those facets. (and btw – I think it was a good move to review the post with your sister before you published it, probably would have reviewed it with both of them first. AND I think it's big of you to be open to the feedback of your followers. Successful blogs are conversation-starters, and having you participate in the active conversation is key.)

  28. Hi Maria,
    Interesting how anonymous writers can be so critical..I personally like bloggers who talk about themselves so that I can get to know them..that includes triumphs in their lives as well as adversity…the reader who just "unsubscribe" because she felt you "crossed a line" doesn't understand that blogs are not a news reporting service where we leave out our personal opinions…blogging is all about our personal opinions and insights and our daily lives, our families, our goals, pets, husbands, food, struggles,desires, etc,etc…. you own your blog so it's what you decide it's going to be…. if someone doesn't like it, yea, go away, but don't make it an issue….(and,btw,anonymous, stop stomping your feet and slamming doors…and post your real name..)
    good topics Maria…
    and great blogging…

  29. I like a blog that tells me something I don't know. I am interested in design and read a fair number of blogs on the subject. I do have a couple that I check on a very regular basis. And I have encountered a woman who does a DIY blog on home remodeling that I read just because she's a very fun writer. I'm not sure that I would have wanted to share as much of myself as you did in yesterday's blog, but once that sort of thing is out there, you can expect to see the kind of responses you did, I suppose. Which does NOT make some of the more snarky ones OK. Those were rude and unnecessary!