99designs: How Our Designers Inspire Our Content Marketing [Interview]

The Creative Edge’s editor Kaitlyn Ellison tells us about their community-driven content strategy in the latest installment of our Content Influencer series. 

The first step to fostering a successful content marketing strategy is knowing what your audience wants — and 99designs is a great example of a company who’s excelled at that. The unique marketplace has built a community of talented graphic designers around the world by giving them opportunities to showcase their work and by providing them with engaging resources on their designer blog: The Creative Edge. From tips on how to better use Photoshop to roundups of their favorite weekly designs, The Creative Edge has become a popular destination for many in the design space. To learn more about their content strategy, we caught up with the blog’s editor Kaitlyn Ellison.

Scripted: How did you get involved with 99designs and what are your responsibilities as the Blog Editor?

Kaitlyn: I got started a couple of years ago not long after we created the Community Team, now responsible for managing and supporting the online designer community here at 99designs. We barely had a blog back then — we have spent the last couple of years building it up from scratch! I was a writer for the first couple of years, and transitioned to an Editor about a year ago.

As an editor I work with our content team to create topics for posts that fit in with our larger content strategy, manage our in-house team of writers, and edit and post the majority of the content we put out on the Designer Blog. I work with another editor who handles all of our community writers, as well as the Editor of our Customer Blog.

See also: Why Reorganizing Your Content Will Make Your Audience Stick Around

Scripted: Can you briefly explain what your content strategy is?

Kaitlyn: Our strategy is about figuring out what our on-site community needs most, and creating it for them. We have almost 300,000 designers on the site so naturally there are a lot of different kinds of designers with different levels of experience. Our goal is to provide them with educational resources and inspiration regardless of what level they’re at. We also use the blog to curate and promote the best users in our community. We think they’re awesome – we want to spread their work as far as we can!

Scripted: How did you first approach content and finding your audience?

Kaitlyn: We really had a built-in audience we knew we wanted to target right from the beginning, as there were thousands of designers coming to the site daily before we even had a blog. We listened to them telling us what they wanted to know more about, and started to extrapolate from there what kind of content would most benefit the designers. But as we’ve been growing our content we’re also now writing for designers who don’t participate on the site yet. We don’t want to limit ourselves.

Scripted: What was the most important part of your content strategy in the beginning? How has that changed today?

Kaitlyn: In the beginning it was really about setting a foundation — literally the foundation for a design education. We covered topics we knew were taught in intro design classes. We still do that, but we’re expanding more and more articles that are useful at different design levels as well as spreading out to more specific design genres, techniques, etc. For curation and inspiration work, we’re looking to show off design that is new and interesting, both on and off-site. We want designers to get excited by what they see on the blog, but also be learning from it.

See also: 5 Ways to Turn Your Audience into Content

Scripted: How did you grow your audience and community organically?

Kaitlyn: Social media played a huge role! Facebook and Twitter were the original tools we used to help bring users to our blog, as they’re both great ways for us to reach our community. Now it’s about combining those with SEO, as we get a ton of traffic coming into our blog just from search engines. And we always love a good viral article – sometimes blogs, media sources, or curating sites like StumbleUpon will come across our content and help us spread it organically.

Scripted: How do you measure your content’s success?

Kaitlyn: If it resonates with designers! We are always trying to create content that can continuously be circulated for the inspiration or education of the community. We want designers to be referring one another to blog content for help – in our support of designers we use it as a kind of “help page” ourselves, as well. We also want the designers we feature on the site to feel excited and proud of their own work and participation on the site, so any time a designer we featured gets excited or shares their article with friends, that’s definitely a success.

See also: How to Measure the ROI of Your Blog Content

Scripted: What’s trending in designer right now? What are they most interested in reading about?

Kaitlyn: They always find inspiration in one another – they get super supportive for our Designer Profiles, where we interview a successful designer from the site. In a larger context, they love trend articles. Finding out what’s important and new in the design world at large, so they can further their own ideas. It’s also hard to disappoint with a typography article – that’s pretty hot right now.

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