Jacob Cass is a multidisciplinary designer and art director who has worked the gamut of clients, including the likes of Disney, Jerry Seinfeld, Red Bull, Nike and VitaminWater. He currently works as an interactive art director/designer at NYC agency, Ammirati while also freelancing under his business and blog Just Creative. He also runs Logo of the Day, a logo gallery website dedicated to showcasing the best logo designs around the world, and Logo Designer Blog, a blog dedicated to branding and identity design. You can find him on Twitter or Facebook.
In this interview, Jacob:
- Tells us what the most important things are when it comes to brand building.
- Explains how he built the massive social media following that he has today.
- Shares how he makes money from his website.
You have a very popular design blog and a massive social media following, what role did this play in your success as a web designer?
My blog is, and has been, the base platform for me to grow as a designer. It allows me to share my thoughts, insights and learn from others as well as provides a place to share my work, bring in clients, and make some passive income too. My blog and website is the backbone of my business.
Would you recommend other web designers to start their own blog? Why or why not?
It’s a crowded market, but if you do the appropriate research and are completely dedicated to building a readership, then I’d say to go for it. Don’t expect solid results for at least six months though. It’s a slow ride at the start, but often speeds up and snowballs as time goes on.
What are the key things one needs to know in order to build a strong personal brand through blogging?
To build a strong personal brand requires much more than just blogging. You need to be social on other networks as well, and be consistent in your communication. You need to have a visual brand identity as well. Everything you do and say (or don’t do or don’t say) makes your personal brand.
How do you come up with ideas for blog posts and decide what should you write about next?
Blog post ideas often come from me wanting to share my thoughts, or something that I want to learn more about. Unique articles add value and that’s what you should be striving to do, giving value to your readers.
What is your process for writing a blog post (from initial idea to hitting the publish button)?
Idea > Write > Review > Wait Few Days > Review / Edit > Publish > Reply To Comments.
Having a mailing list on your blog, what are the benefits of it and would you recommend other web designers to start building their own list?
RSS and email subscriptions offer an easy way for people to keep up to date with your updates so there really isn’t a reason not to have one, especially since you’ll be blogging anyway. Right?
How did you build the social media following that you have today? Would you say that a decent social media following is a valuable asset for a web designer? Why or why not?
I’ve been at it for nearly 5 years, fairly consistently so it’s been a gradual build over that time. At the start I was writing 2-3 times a week however have now gone down to 1-2 times a week, if that. A social following, is generally a good indicator of someone worth listening to (in a broad sense) so it can certainly help build your brand. It does take some of your time up but over the long term it will shorten your marketing efforts and generally make things easier.
How did you promote Just Creative in its early days and how do you promote it now? What turned out to be the most effective marketing strategy for you? What would you advise for someone who just started their own web design blog and wants to attract more readers?
When I first started out the best way to get the word out was by commenting on other blogs and interacting with those with more influence. Guest blogging also helped a lot, running competitions and replying to every single individual comment.
How do you monetize Just Creative?
I have a subtle rotating ad on the sidebar on my site which brings in a modest monthly income, that helps cover server costs and then some. Other than that, most of the income comes indirectly from bringing in clients whom want my design services.
What are the best ways to optimize a personal website in order to attract more paying web design clients?
The best way to optimize is to know what your specific goals are. Who are you targeting and what do you specialize in? As an example, on initial load of my website it says:
“Welcome to my design portfolio & blog. I’m a multi-disciplinary graphic designer working with clients all around the world. My speciality is logo & brand identity design.”
I then have a call to action button that say’s “Let’s Talk”. This lets users know who I am, what I specialize in and how they can contact me, all within the first seconds of visiting.
What is your experience with promoting affiliate products, such as e-books and others? Would you say that for someone who has a relatively popular blog affiliate marketing could be a way to build an additional income stream?
I only occasionally do affiliate marketing and when I do, I tell my readers so they know. I only do this when I know the product and can actually vouch for it. It can yield a worthy pay check if done correctly but this is not something I have explored too deeply.
Last, but not least, what would you advise to web designers who want to use the power of blogging and social media in order to enhance their careers, get more clients and maybe even set up some passive income streams, but are at the very beginning of this path?
Get started! Start reading up on how to blog, start networking and get the conversation started. Share your knowledge, read lots and most importantly, don’t just be in it for the money. Good luck!
Thank you, Jacob!
In A Nutshell:
- Your website and your blog can serve as a strong foundation for your business if you set it up right.
- You have to know that it takes a lot of work to get a blog going. You have to do your research and be committed. Don’t expect to see results sooner than 6-12 months.
- When it comes to brand building, being active on different social media networks and being consistent in your communication helps a lot.
- It takes time and efforts to build a decent social media following, so don’t expect it to happen overnight.
- You can’t just expect people to come to your brand new blog. You have to promote it by doing guest posts, commenting on other blogs, maybe even running competitions like Jacob did.
- If you’re not afraid of hard work and have a lot of patience, you might want to give blogging a shot. Just get started!
What did you learn from this interview?
Share in the comments!