Blogging has become the platform for many people to voice their opinions, give advice, inspire and teach. Some of the people in the ‘blogosphere’ have become celebrities within their niche, while most stay shrouded in obscurity, no matter how much effort and love they pour into their little space of the web. A lot of those who succeed seem to be able to do it in a manner which appears effortless, and do so amazingly quickly. Jacob Cass is one of those people. He was kind enough to answer a few questions about blogging, university and design.
From 0 to 6,000 (and counting) subscribers in less than a year, Jacob Cass has propelled Just Creative Design to some amazing places. In that time, his name has been on many sites listening him as either one of the most successful bloggers under 21 or in Australia, mentioned in an episode of LayersTV and has written guest articles for Daily Blog Tips, Creative Curio, David Airey and Freelance Switch. A decent list for someone under the legal drinking age in the United States. But the most impressive thing about Jacob? Given his rapid popularity, he is still an easy going, approachable and nice guy.
Alex Charchar: Let’s start off by talking about your blog, Just Creative Design. You’ve been blogging for less than 12 months, yet you’ve built up a considerable audience. When you were starting, did you expect it to be the success that it has been so quickly? Why do you think you’ve been able to grow the audience so rapidly?
Jacob Cass: I never expected to grow so quickly, in fact when I first started blogging my goal was to have 1,000 subscribers by the end of 12 months which is a bit of a laugh now, considering.
It hasn’t been easy growing the audience so rapidly, I did and do put a lot of work into the blog writing quality articles, replying to comments, reading, promoting and commenting on other blogs along with researching SEO techniques and keywords constantly. I started off back in November not knowing one thing about SEO, Blogging or Social Media… In fact I didn’t even have a friend online. I guess it just shows that building a blog from nothing can be done.
I started off back in November not knowing
one thing about SEO, Blogging or Social Media
AC: What advice would you offer to bloggers who are in the early stages of developing their sites and trying to build up an audience?
JC: Research before diving right in – you will save a lot of time this way. Read about what makes a good blog/website and how to maximise SEO. After you do this, get involved in the community, hold competitions (contact top bloggers to see if they will donate a prize), reply to all emails, offer free advice, give things away for free, network and lastly… do to others as you would like done to you.
AC: If you had to start over from scratch—no audience or content—would you do things differently?
JC: I would have researched more about blogging, design, WordPress, social media sites, content management systems, SEO and would have invested more money into it from the start (not advertising, but hosting) before starting. It would be interesting to note that I have never paid for advertising – except for local Google Adwords.
AC: What’s been your highest and lowest moment with JCD, and your career, so far?
JC: The most satisfying thing about JCD for myself would have to be the loyal fans that continue to come back to the site to comment and add to the discussion. It is those that really keep me going. The lowest moment would have to be my hosting issues and my site going down multiple times due to the amount of traffic received… but can’t complain about traffic.
The most satisfying thing [is] the loyal fans
that continue to come back to the site
AC: What are your favourite kinds of articles to read and write?
JC: I am always surprised to see what articles bring in comments and what don’t. I like writing about things that are going on at the time… for example if I have to do a creative advertisement for someone, I may gather creative advertisements for my own research and then post this on my blog for others to see.
I like reading through other peoples design processes and also posts relating to the business side of freelancing.
I get most of my inspiration online
AC: Do you spend much time reading about design offline? In magazines or books? What are a few that you’ve read and enjoyed lately? Any design writers whose name always gets you excited?
JC: I get most of my inspiration online however I am subscribed to Computer Arts magazine and own a few books. If I get a project that needs some special inspiration, I always go to my university library and hire books rather than buy them. I like looking at books, not reading them.
AC: You’re currently studying at university – how are you find your studies in design thus far? Is it what you thought it would be when you first enrolled?
JC: I had no idea what to expect at university but I am loving the experience. University life is really laid-back here in Australia which means it really comes down to how passionate you are in the subject you are studying and how bad you want it in relation to the quality of the course.
AC: What is it that sparked your interest in graphic design and lead you to university?
JC: I originally started designing for fun back when I was 15, putting free ringtones and photos on the internet (before Myspace and Facebook) for my friends. This lead to people asking me to design things for them, and soon after, I began charging so I guess it just went from there.
AC: What is it about writing and design that gets you excited? Do the two feel like separate creative outputs, or two sides of the same coin?
JC: Definitely two sides of the same coin as what I write is mainly based on design. By showing your creative process, thoughts and work, you get your name out there and prove yourself as a successful designer.
I have learnt more from blogging than
I have learnt in 2 years at university
AC: Has your site changed the way you view design and your studies?
JC: I have learnt more from blogging than I have learnt in two years at university. By having this blog, it really motivates me to break down my design process and reflect on my work… seeing what I can improve and what I am doing correctly. The community also offers their valuable feedback which in turn really improves oneself as a designer.
AC: And finally, who are some of your favourite designers and are there any pieces of design that are guaranteed to leave you breathless every time you see them? Something you’d urge everyone to have a look at?
Thank you Jacob
As I said in the introduction, Jacob is a nice guy to deal with, so this interview was a good one to have. Not to mention that reading his site and talking to him is a great encouragement for those wanting to build up their own blog. His is one of those blogs worth looking at and asking yourself ‘What did he do that worked for him? What can I learn from the way he went about things?’ It’ll be interesting to see where he and his blog goes over the next two to three years as he moves out of study and into the ‘real world’. All while his site grows more and more in scope and popularity. Thanks for the interview Jacob.
REFERENCES & LINKS
Just Creative Design
Jacob’s site has grown at a great speed and doesn’t look like it’s going to be slowing down any time soon.
Top 10 Design Blogs
A list of ten blogs that Jacob reads, to help you get an understanding of where he gets some inspiration from.
If you haven’t visited JCD, this is a good place to start. You’ll find a list of some of the most popular articles on the site organised by category