Take your next step as a design authority

Take your next step as a design authority

Chris Wolfgang's Layout avatar

Okay, so you’ve spruced up your design blog with some thought-provoking industry articles. You’ve even done some public speaking as a design expert. Excellent! Way to add your voice of authority to the multi-faceted world of design! You’ve got something to say, and the industry is better for you figuring out how to say it well.

Now… what’s next?

Ever considered ebooks?

Digital self-publishing is another fantastic way to send your design knowledge out into the internets. You could create an Amazon author page or simply upload a PDF of your ebook to your own website. Whatever distribution channel(s) you choose, ebooks are eye-catching projects that showcase your design skills alongside your freshly polished communication skills.

“Why, yes,” your ebook says calmly, “I can not only blow your mind with my stellar design talent, I can talk with you about it clearly and eloquently. Be amazed.”

Why it’s a good idea and how it helps you

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It’s to your advantage as a design professional to communicate your views thoughtfully and coherently. Potential clients and industry peers alike are attracted to someone who takes the time to explain their philosophy, describe their process, and analyze their own work with a critical eye.

By outlining your ideas seriously and having the guts to publish them, you’re also inviting potential clients to a new level of interactivity with your business beyond social media. Ebooks give your audience that much more to interact with, respond to, and share to their own groups of influence.

As your ideas spread to people you may never meet in person, your presence in industry conversation increases. Your network of potential clients expands, as do opportunities for collaborating with other design pros. Is there a superstar out there you’d love to work with? Start getting your ideas out there.

Keep it short and make it stunning

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But writing a book? Sounds intimidating. Might be a little scary to commit to. First, let’s redefine what you think of as a book. Your ebook doesn’t have to be a 50,000-word tome about your entire design philosophy. Maybe save that until you’ve got some smaller works published first.

For your first foray into digital self-publishing, aim for producing something that’s a bit longer than your average blog post but much shorter than the last summer novel you read. Something between 1,500 to 3,000 words is an approachable length, both for you to write and for your audience to read. You can totally do that.

Pick a pretty narrow topic to start. Something specific that you feel passionately about and have given some serious thought to. Don’t get too lofty and esoteric — you’ll be able to write much more easily and fluently on something concrete that you’re excited about.

Once you’ve got your couple thousand words down, send it off to a word-loving friend for a quick edit while you get down to the fun stuff: designing your ebook. This is where your talent and industry skill shine. You know the rules and where they need to be broken. Do you want to stick to your company’s official palette so this ebook reflects your brand? Want to play with the layout a bit rather than design for a more traditional-looking book?

Your ebook is your sandbox. Think of it as a mini design project.

Help people find it and then talk about it

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Once your ebook is a full designed and edited PDF, get out in front of the eyeballs of others. You know how to do this: display it prominently on your site, tweet it every once in awhile (but you know not to be annoying about repeated tweets, right?), put a link to it on your various online profiles.

When people read it, respond to their tweets and posts and commentary as much as you’re able. Pay particular attention to differing opinions that are offered respectively — those are the best opportunities for growing thoughtful conversation.

Because isn’t that what you’re going for here? Share your own knowledge and opinions about design, pay attention to how others relate their ideas to yours, and watch the industry as a whole become more innovative and daring.

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