May 23, 2013

Paul Jarvis shares good advice for designers

Designer and writer Paul Jarvis has a useful website. Here are some posts and resources of interest, and some thoughts I agreed with.

Paul Jarvis book cover artwork

Paul talks about how to build an audience from scratch. Many of you are, or once were in this situation. If I found myself transported back to when I became self-employed eight years ago, this is close to the advice I'd give the younger me.

It's important to say no from time to time.

"Saying no sometimes means I get a feeling that the client could be tricky to work with, or not jive with how I work. It’s ok to turn down projects I have a feeling might not go well, because chances are they won’t. And if they don’t, it’ll end up costing more to do the work than if I had just said no first. Not everyone is a perfect fit, and I’m certainly not a perfect fit for everyone."

There's a page comparing ebook sales on Amazon versus other platforms. Mailchimp is listed as the favoured email list management tool. I recently signed up with preferred AWeber. More on that later. (Update: read how I increased subscribers by 1,000% using AWeber.)

Work better. Good productivity tips.

Solid thoughts on how to succeed at anything (posted on the Medium platform — worth a visit for the unfamiliar).

"Pay your dues and if you want something, earn it by doing everything you can while expecting nothing. Acting like you’ve put in your time and now deserve more than someone else will get you nowhere but thought of as an ass pretty fast."

A quick bio: He's a "practicing yogi, touring musician, has a tattoo (or two), and is a non-preachy vegan." He currently lives in the woods, on the coast of Vancouver Island, with his wife Lisa and pet rats Ohna’ and Awe:ri.

Paul Jarvis

Catch him on Twitter.

May 12, 2010

The WordPress plugins I use

I limit the number of plugins I use so load times aren’t bloated, but there are a few I’ve found useful enough to keep.

Read more

July 30, 2007

Seven blog mistakes to avoid

orange limeImage by Becca Fatora

#1 — not using a self-hosted blog

I began blogging using the platform instead of The former involves hosting your blog on the WordPress website, rather than self-hosting.

The problem with using is that you don't have full control over customisation. Essentially, WordPress owned and stored my content. It also meant I was showing my blog's address as rather than

In Jakob Neilsen's 2005 article on blog mistakes, he had this at number 10:

"Having a weblog address ending in,, etc. will soon be the equivalent of having an email address or a Geocities website: the mark of a naive beginner who shouldn't be taken too seriously."

I get the point, but that takes it a bit far. Some of my favourite blogs are on TypePad:

There's also — a guru on everything WordPress-related.

Douglas Karr of has this to add about self-hosting your blog:

"I personally like to host my own blog because of the flexibility it provides me in design changes, adding other features, modifying the code myself, etc.

"I wouldn’t discourage anyone — even a corporation — from using a hosted solution like Vox, Typepad, Blogger or WordPress just to start out and experiment."

#2 — expecting people to visit

It's the interaction on blogs that keeps me going. When I started out, I had no idea how to attract visitors and comments. I thought that if I published new content I'd automatically find readers in my niche.


It takes time and effort, and reaching out to fellow bloggers. In fact, there's a whole that changed my way of thinking. Now if I see or hear something of interest, I wonder if I can use it for my blog.

#3 — not writing as if I'm talking

My first ever posts were more like lectures. Who wants to read a lecture? I want to make things engaging, and show people something they haven't seen before, or tell them something they don't know. When you write like you talk, people are more likely to comment on what you're saying. When people comment, they share their knowledge. I want to learn from my readers.

At the start I was rather than making use of comment threads.

You might find it helpful to leave comments on other blogs, adding to the conversation. It takes time, obviously, but blog owners appreciate it, making them more likely to visit and comment on yours.

The way you write, the words you use, your tone of voice, how you reply to comments, your blog design, the topics you cover... they all show a little bit of who you are.

#4 — changing blog location

When I moved my blog's location from to it dented my Page Rank. The mistake was not moving sooner, or not starting with my blog in the root directory.

Daniel at has this to say:

"Unless your blog is a secondary part of an existing website you should always install WordPress on the root directory. When I created my first blog I used an automatic WordPress instalation that my web hosting company offered, but the standard installation was done on “”.

"I wasn't sure how this would affect the blog so I decided to leave things as they were. A couple of months later when I started studying SEO I realised this was a bad move."

When I launched my first website about two years ago I wanted my portfolio to be the main purpose, with the blog a secondary aspect. But it didn't take long to realise the number of clients I could attract through my blog content, then direct them to the portfolio. It's generally the content I publish that brings visitors rather than the static pages in my portfolio.

#5 — neglecting my article headlines

Most people new to blogs will spend all their time writing the post, not thinking too much about the headline. But if your headline in a feed reader or on social media doesn't catch attention, the chances of a click through are greatly decreased.

This is something Brian Clark gives advice on. Another good read is Ben's piece on writing headlines.

#6 — not linking to others as I'd like them to link to me

I see it every day, people linking to others using the anchor text 'here' or 'click here'. You don't link to other sites unless you think it helps your visitors, so give those site owners a link they'll really appreciate.

I touch on the subject here: . Andy Beard says it better: .

#7 — underestimating the time commitment

I'd no idea how much time a blog would take. There are — something I think many people don't appreciate when taking the first step. I jumped right into it without doing any research (hence this trial-and-error post and the dead blog that started me off).

What blog mistakes have you made? Feel free to join the chat below.

David Airey
Brand identity design

Independent since 2005
Website hosted by Fused

13 Gransha Park, Bangor
Northern Ireland
BT20 4XT