Hello, my name is Chris Thurman and I’ve been a blogger for 30 days.¬† Visual Swirl has been live for one month and it’s been an exciting but busy first few weeks.¬† This is my first go-round at blogging¬† and I’ve learned a lot about myself, the design community and the web in general. With the new year right around the corner, it would be appropriate to share with you lessons I’ve learned and actions I’m planning on taking in 2010.

In my First 30 Days…

Here are a few Lessons from my first 30 days of running a design blog.

Lesson: Original Content is a Priority

contentchessI’ve heard time and time again that content is king.¬† I tried to make it a priority to have high quality, original content always ready. I also wanted to try and post at least 4 or 5 times a week.¬† What I’ve found is that it is hard to push for both quality and quantity, at least from a one man show. But looking through my analytics I’ve found what everyone else has said to be true–your original content is what will be read, time and time again.¬† The content I’ve worked hardest on, like 15 Websites That Break The Rules or Don’t Reinvent the Web Design Wheel have been huge successes compared to other posts that are not as highly original.

My Next Step: Focus on Valuable Content and Look for Contributors

Please understand that I don’t expect every post to be pure gold. Sometimes people just want to look at pretty pictures.¬† But in order for this to stick, I’ve got to start standing out by the content that I produce.¬† Also, I will try to purposefully reach out to find designers and creatives who can help create some fresh content. I’ve been blessed to have a few folks reach out already and you’ll start to see some great Guest Posts but I’m always looking for new contributors.¬† If you or someone you know would like to be featured on Visual Swirl, please get in touch.

Lesson: Original Design Yields Credibility

When I started the blog, I pushed design to the side and jumped on board with a template from Theme Forest.  The main reason for this is I wanted to not worry about the hassles of launching a site and instead focus on producing right away. A month into it, while I love the clean design and layout of my template, I  have come across more than a few blogs using the exact same theme.  Now I know that content is what drives a site primarily, but I also know that a great design to wrap the content will go a long way in earning credibility for my merits as a designer and as  an original creative.

My Next Step: Redesign a Custom Site

I am putting the finishing touches on a custom WordPress theme that I hope to launch in the next couple weeks.¬† While blogging about design is great, I really enjoy designing in itself.¬† Creating a custom theme for Visual Swirl gives me the chance to make this site my own.¬† And hopefully you’ll like it too.

Lesson: The Design Community is Truly Generous

communityEverywhere I’ve turned in the last few weeks, there’s been nothing but support and encouragement from the design community. I cannot believe the generosity from fellow designers and bloggers, willing to help out.¬† From tweeting articles to providing advice, it has been the support of this creative community that has kept me going and has me setup to continue to grow.¬† While I don’t have space to point out everyone, thanks to all those who’ve helped me along the way.

My Next Step: Reciprocate and Pay it Forward

The only way I know to repay all the encouragement I’ve received is by returning the favor (I know you all would probably prefer a monetary gift, but as most of you know, blogging doesn’t pay so well in the first month). I will strive to help others who have helped me and I also want to reach out to new design bloggers.¬† I know now how tough it can be to get started and I want to help because of those who have helped me.¬† If you need anything from me or from Visual Swirl, don’t be afraid to ask.

What About You?

These are the lessons I’ve learned in my first 30 days and the actions I’m going to take as we turn towards a new year.¬† What other lessons have you learned from designing or blogging?¬† What are you going to do differently in 2010?

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