Every week a new article comes out preaching to designers the necessity of learning to code, sales, or [Insert new skill here]. If you don’t learn one of these indispensable skills, your career is bound to crash and burn. Why? Because of the looming AI insurgence or some other whacky theory.

While these articles may be accurate (in a very far future), the main reason we spill these warnings and encourage the learning of new skills is either to earn extra cash, feel more secure in our own job, or to avoid a sense of Imposter Syndrome.

The real question should be: What skill provides the biggest gains for the least amount of effort? And the answer is: Writing.

Don’t believe me? Just read what five top designers had to say about the importance of writing and the effects it’s had on their careers.

Eyal Zuri - Writing Doesn’t Have to Be Serious

Eyal Zuri is best known for Muzli, which was acquired by InVision, partially due to Zuri’s consistent blogging. He publishes around 16 articles a month after looking for new ways to grow Muzli. Zuri quickly realized that creating great content is an easy way to generate more traffic.

This article generated a lot of buzz, causing significant growth in all of our channels. It’s funny, lighthearted, and not binding, which are keys to a good article.

“I don’t really write. My articles are based on inspiration only,” Zuri said. “It allows me to create a relatively large amount of content that people love to consume.”

Paul Jarvis - Write to Boost Doing What You Love

After 20 years of designing, Veteran Designer Paul Jarvis spends most of his time writing and teaching today. This isn’t surprising, since writing has made him $400,000 in just 18 months. In fact, his most recent course sold out in minutes after writing just one newsletter.

Jarvis made excuses for years before deciding to blog.

“To be honest, I made every excuse in the book to not write for years. I kept telling myself I wasn’t a writer, so I had no business writing,” Jarvis said. “Then I realized that was a total BS excuse. All it takes to be a writer is to start writing. That’s it. So that’s what I did—starting my first book and a regular writing practice for articles. It snowballed from there, and now I spend as much or more time writing as I do designing.”

So how does a designer, who isn’t a writer, become such a damn good one? Jarvis, who still doesn’t consider himself a good writer today, says “Just write for the audience you want to have.”

“Help them with the things they struggle with, worry about or wish they knew more about. Don’t write for other designers unless they’re your target audience, and they probably aren’t,” Jarvis advises.

According to Jarvis, his posts work because they aren’t specifically selling something.

“My articles are entertaining and educational about a specific point, for a specific audience, so that I could paint a picture of what they were struggling with, help them in some small way, and then mention that if they needed further help, my paid courses were available.”

Before Jarvis the teacher, Jarvis the designer wrote posts for potential design clients, like this one.

“As my job changed to more of a teacher, articles that spoke directly to the pain I was trying to solve with the courses I teach help me sell those course - like this one (used for Chimp Essentials) or this one (used for Creative Class).”

Nick Babich - Writing Brings Opportunities

Nick Babich, developer/designer hybrid, usually writes research-packed posts, based on his work experience.

Babich tries to publish six articles, between five and seven minutes long, every month. Why between five and seven minutes? Because this way you only need to write the most important details, and also, because you don’t want readers to get bored.

Like Jarvis, Babich’s writing has provided him with a multitude of opportunities, such as a speaking gig at Push Conference.

“It was such an amazing event! I had a lot of inspiration and new ideas from this experience, and most of them will be in my future posts,” he said.

Matt West - Write About Passions That Outweigh the Fear of Writing

Matt West, author of HTML5 Foundations, tries to publish between two and three articles a month, but sometimes he goes for long periods of time without writing anything, when there just isn’t anything to share.

While there are loads of books on how to improve your writing, West simply focuses on reading a lot.

“Read the work of writers you admire, and pay attention to their use of language, how they structure sentences and how they present their ideas. You can learn a lot by simply surrounding yourself with great work.”

For a while, West lost his passion to write, when writing became more of a chore. It wasn’t until he was presented with the opportunity to author a book on HTML5 that his desire to share his knowledge outweighed his dislike of writing.

West recommends writing about topics you’re passionate about; not only will you do your best work, but you’ll also feel like you aren’t doing work at all.

“Don’t try to please everyone, be opinionated, and stay focused on your core idea. If you put something out into the world, and nobody disagrees with you, then you’re probably not saying anything worthwhile.”

Andrew Graunke - Director of Design at Toptal

Toptal’s Design Director Andrew Graunke connects the world’s top designers with businesses looking to hire. Graunke’s favorite part of writing is how it allows you to connect with new people.

“By proposing a new design for Crunchbase, I was able to open a public dialogue with Crunchbase CEO Jager McConnell, who commented ‘…loved your blog post! Lots of good ideas in there - many of which depended on us building the search/list functionality we just launched with Pro. Exciting times ahead!.’”

While this may not seem like a huge deal to outsiders, it certainly does to Graunke.

“The work I do takes buy-in from all parties, and even the smallest opportunities look like the biggest opportunities to me,” he said. “Will Jager McConnell leverage our Toptal network to build out design and dev teams? This one’s yet to be seen, and the hashtag’s on me.”

These are just some of the examples of designers getting great results by writing. I couldn’t interview myself but I got my current job as the Lead Editor of the Design blog @ Toptal by one of the founders of Toptal reading one of my articles on Medium and reaching out to me.

Challenge yourself to write

These are just a few examples of designers reaping great results from writing. Now, it’s your turn.

Perhaps you can begin by leaving a thoughtful comment on someone else’s article.

From there, challenge yourself to write an article of your own. Then write one more and another and another. You get the picture.

The most difficult part is starting, so don’t wait until you find the perfect idea. And don’t edit while you write, or you’ll drive yourself crazy.

The more you write, the easier it gets.

To get started, ask yourself: What point do I want to make? And just go from there.

About the author

Michael Abehsera, United States
member since December 15, 2015
Michael is a UI/UX designer and front-end developer originally from Israel and France. He specializes in designing landing pages and user interfaces. In addition, his background in marketing and data analysis helps him make better decisions in landing page designs and user interface construction. [click to continue...]
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Comments

Waqas Shah
So let me get started by writing a comment :) Well, I think if a designer want to add another skill to secure the his/her future them he should probably learn to code not writing because coding will help collateral with his/her design skills as much as writing will not. Good article Iconfinder.com/WaqasShah
Michael Abehsera
Actually writing is a big part of designing. Communicating your product well, features and benefits is a huge part of the design process. Designers who are great communicators are usually in the top 1% in the design space. Dieter Rams, Jonathan Ive, and even new guys like Tobias van Schneider all great communicators.
Waqas Shah
You're right writing is a very big part of designing to market yourself, to communicate to your clients etc. I write thousands of lines weekly bidding and communicating my clients, listening to their problems asking questions etc. But the point is that is NOT a professional writing and I'm not a professional writer whereas wer are talking about writing as a profession. And if anybody wants to be good in his skills he shouldn't be a hodgepodge. It takes time in learning, mastering a skill and then having a real experience in that. So if someone would ask you can you create a super professional logo in 5-6 hours you wouldn't be worried, oh would I create it. Good information by the way :)
nemrut
Writing clearly and succinctly to explain UX thinking or solutions is powerful skill to have in one's toolbox. That said, it's far different from writing articles or a regular blog, both of which consume an enormous amount of time and effort to do well. The reality is most writing online is terribly bad. That doesn't mean one shouldn't try but instead realize that it is not something to pick up on a whim when you have spare time. Good writing that is articulate and engaging takes years of practice. -->Note to the author, slight nit-pick with the following statement: "... talks with some of the best designers around the world who write to leverage their careers" What does it mean to 'write to leverage your career' in this context?
Derek Kunze
Sometimes the "writing" / blogging scene in design seems like such a circle jerk of the same like 10 bloggers who release "10 killer logo designers you should know" types of articles. It can seem like a bit of an exclusive club of the you must be this popular on Dribbble and Behance to join. I mean no offense when I say the "writing" in this article was not anything groundbreaking, and thats why the "writing" in design scene comes across to me as hey lets just put something out there give it great SEO and just use basic "articles" which function more as a click bait inbound marketing platform to promote all of these freelance designers respective careers. For example: I could go and start writing an article right now called "5 Must Read UX Blogs" "11 Interstellar Motion Designers" "How to Grow Your Customer Base with Writing" etc... and source content/links from other artists, write up a 5 line summary of them pulled from their Behance, and it wouldn't really offer the world anything unique in terms of value but it would bolster that artists measured SEO metrics and hopefully get them to feature ME in one of there articles. Vicious cycle see where I am going with this? Which is why I feel like the freelance designer or "content maker" or blogger or whatever now a days is really just a glorified source of trying to get people to click on there link and hopefully find some way to monetize that... This can make these sorts of posts where it encourages people to "write" (mind you writing prose vs poetry etc. was not mentioned in this article at all) can seem like "Hey you need to just constantly be putting out links or "content" to try to generate web traffic" because THAT is your value as a designer. So there that is my "thoughtful comment" I would love to hear (or rather read) your thoughts on the matter! TLDR: "writing" in design is more about SEO and using "content" sharing between peers as a way to drive web traffic and actually has nothing to do with the craft of language
Derek Kunze
I think my comment tries to explain the concept of "writing to leverage your career"
Anubhav Tiwari
"Designer biggest asset is creativity" That's by Me Well in today's era as everything is going digital and visual, Designer don't have to switch their career there is a lot of scope in their field. All they need to do is bring out there best and stay focused according to the trends. Not every designer can write harry potter and J.K Rowling designs would be horrible. Overall Nice Article..! Wgbl India
Michael Abehsera
I completely agree with you that writers should strive for content quality instead of generic posts like what you mentioned. And since you have insights on this, why don't you write interesting topics to offset all the low quality content out there in the design world?
Derek Kunze
Im not sure I just assumed no one wants to read my Jaded views on how pretentious design culture is. Its not the writing that puts me off its more the trying to put it out to the world and make people care about it. And the operative term here being "interesting" Im sure you can tell by the littany of positive "great article! Awesome read!" comments on the majority of these articles is that most people do to some extent must actually find these articles interesting. And I just wonder why if you "completely agree with you that writers should strive for content quality instead of generic posts " that this article is essentially just a promotion to check out these other designers/sites that are writing... Is it just a necessary evil to be succesful to write basic promotional marketing stuff full of links and pats on the backs? It just seems like a method to gain credibility in the community to have a blog with metrics that corporations and clients can easily digest and say "Hey this person knows how to manipulate people into clicking links with words, thats what we want for our site!" And I guess I will retort by using your own prompt: "Ask yourself What point do I want to make?" What was the point you wanted to make with this article? "What skill provides the biggest gains for the least amount of effort? And the answer is: Writing." Doesn't that defeat the purpose of striving for quality, and more trying to reap the benefits of web traffic as a promotional tool?
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About the author
Michael Abehsera
Designer
Michael is a UI/UX designer and front-end developer originally from Israel and France. He specializes in designing landing pages and user interfaces. In addition, his background in marketing and data analysis helps him make better decisions in landing page designs and user interface construction.