It’s tempting to think that news and updates from your offices should be the main staple of your blog.
While these should definitely be included, to build a blog with a strong reputation, reach and readership, you need a lot more variety.
To form an on-going relationship with potential clients, you need blog posts that’ll reveal not only your expertise but also your personality and likeability.
With this in mind, I’ve collected together 21 of my favourite blog post styles ideal for architectural firm websites. You’ll also find some real examples, plus some of my ideas, within many of the numbered suggestions.
On the many architectural websites I visit, I see hundreds of extraordinary portfolio photographs but little written context to go with them. Turn some of your previous projects into a blog post. Tell readers about what the client wanted, how you developed the ideas, how you made the designs, and finally, how it all came into being.
Share relevant photographs and drawings. Highlight any problems faced and how you overcame the issues.
Make a story out of it. Interview fellow architects who also worked on the project. You can even explain any significant local events which had an impact on the development of the building(s).
The Sheppard Robson architecture practice provides some great examples on their 75 stories site. Each project review is presented as a series of first-person interviews. Well worth a look.
Potential clients will be impressed with your portfolio. However, they also want to know more about the architects behind the stunning building designs they see. It’s a key task of yours to connect with them on a personal level.
A series of blog posts which open the doors into your architectural offices and studios is one way to do this. Tell your readers about what happens on a typical day among your architects. What do the desks you work on look like? Where are meetings usually held? What’s the standard daily schedule?
All this breaks down barriers between client and architect, and gives your practice a familiar and friendly appeal. Architect Bob Borson provides an example of what this could look like in his blog post The Best Things about my Future New Office.
Have you recently had a client eloquently enthuse about what a great job you did designing their new home or office block? If so, see if they will agree to an interview and a walkthrough of the new building. Ask some questions and let them provide the body of the blog post in their own words.
This provides another opportunity to share photos or videos of your work. What’s more, it will give context and a client-orientated story to the finished project, which images alone cannot do.
Think of the reviews you might have already on your website. Now imagine them in a conversational tone, together with related images, and you’ll get a good idea of how great a blog post of this type will be to read.
People connect most with a brand when they get to know the people behind the scenes. Don’t hide your architects behind small formal bios. Bring them onto the stage by giving them blog post exposure. Shine a light on their individual talents, personalities, and experiences.
A good way to do this is to explore their design philosophies. Give them each a blog profile and allow them to contribute a post, perhaps once a month, writing about their personal design concepts, their favourite contemporary styles, and what’s happening in their lives with a connection to architecture.
Australian architect Talina Edwards provides a good example in her Elemental Design Philosophy post. Remember, a blog post is different to a more formal ‘About’ page. With a blog you have a lot more freedom to go in-depth and also to be more expansive.
What’s it like to be an architect? Your potential clients have an image of what an architect does but it’s likely to be very different from your reality. Use some of your blog posts to unveil what being an architect is really like.
In a gentle and jovial manner, talk about your work and your life. Tell your readers how you came to be an architect in the first place. Explain to them the challenges you frequently face. Write about the types of people you have to collaborate with. Highlight the sort of projects you like best and how it feels to see a completed building you designed.
Want a great example? There’s a blog devoted to this one topic alone and it’s a great read. Here it is: Life of an Architect (notice the number of comments each post attracts). That’s what an architect’s practice blog should look like.
As an architect you’ll be aware of notable buildings in your local region. Show your knowledge and expertise by writing about these buildings on your blog. Do a little research and find out the history behind the landmark or distinguished structure.
See if you can uncover some fascinating little facts about who lived in, or owned, such buildings.
These blog posts will show you are knowledgeable about your local area and have a more intellectual architectural awareness. Clients will be impressed by an architect who shows a detailed knowledge of his industry and a familiarity with the region and its unique complexities.
A great source of material for a blog post comes from exhibitions and events related to architecture. If they are gatherings you have personally managed to attend then you can share images and thoughts regarding what you saw.
Alternatively you can comment on exhibitions you’re aware are taking place in the near future. These can be based locally, nationally or even internationally. Gather some information about the event, and share your thoughts on why it might be worth going to.
The Dezeen architecture magazine website has a good example of such a post which highlights an exhibition being shown at the 2014 Venice Architecture Biennale. For anyone interested in Nordic-influenced architecture, East Africa, and indeed architecture in general, this would be a must-read post.
Business blog posts are at their best with a personal touch. This means opening yourself up to your readers about what you like, where you go, and things you see. As an architect you will get to see a lot of different places, whether on a regional level or on a wider international scale.
Write blog posts about these places. They can be locations where your clients are based or places you went on vacation. Tie in each post with architectural features you came across or worked on. Maybe you visited Paris with your wife and kids a few months ago. Recollect to your readers the buildings that impressed you most and share a few holiday snaps.
Architect Jody Brown’s blog post titled Sketches of Venice provides a wonderful example. He took along his sketchbook during a 3-day visit to Venice. The blog post is a lovely visual study of a magical city seen through the eyes of an architect.
Another great way to portray your in-depth awareness of what’s going on is to comment on news items in the world of architecture. Think of a story you and your colleagues have been talking about across the drawing boards recently.
A nice example of a newsy blog post comes from the Guardian’s Art & Design blog. Oliver Wainwright covers the aforementioned Venice Architecture Biennale from a Rem Koolhaas perspective. Has architecture become nothing more than cardboard? There’s a lot for readers to think about when reading a blog post like this.
The news can be of the standard sort or it can be a little weird, whacky and wonderful. Gizmodo has an example with its Pompeii Ruins blog post which covers the story of the ancient ruined city being wired up with high-tech sensors.
As an architect, you’ll have your own design philosophies and views related to the field of architecture. Your blog is the perfect place in which to express such thoughts. Think about creating an opinion piece series detailing your opinions on matters you think are important for your readership to know and understand.
The architecture profession is not an isolated bubble. Like all industries it’s influenced by outside factors such as the economy, societal trends, politics, scientific innovations and so much more. Talk about these issues and how they impact positively or negatively on your work and also on your clients.
An essay by architect Jeremy Till for the Design Observer Group titled Scarcity contra Austerity is a good example of what I mean. It’s not a blog post but it does show how important concepts related to architecture can be studied and written about, and be interesting to fellow architects and potential clients alike.
Some of the most popular design blogs on the internet focus on showcasing the most interesting objects from around the world. These types of posts get widely shared on social media and they provide an image-heavy distraction for people inquisitive about design and creativity.
Architecture practice websites can also take advantage of this popular format. Think of the buildings that have wowed you recently and write a post about them. Acquire some images (with proper permission and attribution) and share your thoughts about them.
Have they inspired you in any way? Would you recommend readers go out of their way to see them? What would you have done differently?
Some of your practice work will probably involve restoration of old buildings or the conversion of an existing structure into something else. Show your knowledge of such endeavours via your blog. Your own previous restoration/conversion projects can be written about but so can the work of others, especially from abroad (if you’re worried about advertising your national competitors).
A blog post about a 100-year old Greek stable being converted into a holiday house is a great example. The post is equally balanced with stunning images and interesting informational text.
You can even get in touch with fellow professionals from around the world, ask about their projects, and share their creative endeavours with your readership.
Your potential clients will see you as a cultured and aware architect with connections worldwide. Whether true or false, it imbues within them a sense of trust and excitement, especially in regards to working with you on similar architectural projects.
All the great creative minds of the past and present usually have interesting life stories behind them. Think of a few architectural names that have influenced your work and delve a little into what made them the men and women they became. Find some scandals, some tragedies, some stories of overcoming the odds. Mix in your own thoughts and evaluations.
For example, you could mention the time when a client complained to Frank Lloyd Wright of a leaking ceiling in one of his buildings. The renowned architect apparently replied back “that’s how you can tell it’s a roof”.
Wright’s fascinating career struggles, romantic tragedies, and the many masks of this design genius make any glimpse into his life a fascinating one.
People love peering into the lives of famous names. It’s why celebrity magazines are so popular. Tap into this natural human inclination. Find something unusual in a life story to zoom in on which will fascinate your readers.
“I don’t know what London’s coming to — the higher the buildings the lower the morals.” ― Noël Coward
We all have personal philosophies that shape our day-to-day living, whether we are fully aware of them at any given moment or not. The same applies to our professions, and for architects it’s no different.
Share with your readers what your architectural design philosophies include. Are you a “less is more” Mies van der Rohe adherent or a “less is a bore” Robert Venturi disciple, or neither? Do Constructivism and Functionalism get your drawing board shaking? If so, why?
Have fun explaining to your readers the particular philosophies that have shaped your career. Potential clients will like to see a solid architectural mind behind the name they hire.
Every now and then, a week arrives where the thought of writing and blogging becomes a little too much to bear. These moments provide a great excuse to implement one of my favourite blogging concepts which is the interview blog post.
Look through your connections and find someone who can answer half a dozen or more architecture-related questions for you. The interviewees can be fellow architects or alternatively professionals in related fields such as interior architecture or urban planning. You could even interview a psychologist about spatial awareness and related design considerations.
This is probably best done via email as you can then just copy and paste their answers onto your blog. An alternative is to meet in person or talk on the telephone and write up a general synopsis of what they said in your own words and using quotes.
An interview blog post is like a guest post. You’re getting someone else to come up with the bulk of the content. The interviewee gets some publicity, you strengthen a professional connection, and your fans get more fascinating reading material.
The design and construction of a building doesn’t exist in isolation. There are related fields of design (i.e. interior designers, landscape architects) that can also contribute to a building project.
Talk about these other professionals on your blog and explain to your readership how you all work together on a project. Present some of the concepts and considerations they have to deal with and maybe showcase some of their work, in the form of photographs and explanations.
Interview an interior designer about how they work within the space you create. Chat with a landscape designer and ask them what clients might need to think about.
This suggestion is closely related to the previous one. The structures you create, once finished, most often become spaces which people inhabit. They’re going to put furniture inside, decorate the walls, select particular uses for rooms, and generally add their own characters to the building.
Help potential clients see this final step by focusing on furniture and décor you love. From unconventional rocking chairs and arachnid inspired furniture to unusual trade fair stalls and playful boutique hotel interiors, there’s a wealth of fascinating and shareable designs to be found.
You can also compare the design principles present in the construction of famous pieces of furniture (the Le Corbusier chaise perhaps?) and your own architectural designs.
Many of your visiting potential clients will come from sections of society that have particular needs when it comes to building design. The most obvious of which are the disabled. Think back to projects you have carried out which have catered for the physically impaired.
Explain how you designed or adapted structures and interior/exterior spaces to make their lives easier. Share the processes you went through and even talk about the people you met who gave you some insights into the day-to-day challenges they face.
Architecture for Recovery, a blog post found on the industrial design magazine website Core77, is a fine example. It focuses on the design and development of a care home for disabled military veterans.
Other sections of society you can write about might include the poor, the elderly, the mentally disabled, home-schoolers, or adherents of a particular religious faith, for example.
What environmental considerations does your practice take into account? Are you an active member of any green initiatives in your local community? How can architecture benefit the natural world?
These are some of the questions you can pose and then answer in the form of a blog post. Environmental issues have been important to many people for some time now and they’ll expect you to be aware of ways architecture and the environment can coexist harmoniously.
Talk about some of your previous projects where eco-friendly designs have been implemented. Share your thoughts about new innovations which might soon become standard in residential and/or commercial premises.
Write about how you are dealing with your trash, just like Hennebery Eddy Architects have done in Trash Talk.
A great way to increase reader involvement with your blog is to hold competitions. They can be simple or complex, short-term or long-term, depending on your enthusiasm and the types of people you want to get involved. The winner receives a prize, which can be anything your core readership is sure to find beneficial.
As an example, you can ask readers to send in self-taken photographs of the most unusual buildings in their region. You and your team of architects then select your favourite, and in a separate blog post you announce the winner and publish the winning photo and those of the runners-up.
A great example of such a blog post series is the 3rd Annual Life of an Architect Playhouse Design Competition. 208 designers from around the world submitted their work to be judged. The blog post describes the process, shows photos of the judges as they judge, and showcases the finalists.
The abovementioned competition example was aimed at designers but you can open yours to the general public. Consider having knock-out rounds (like in World Cup soccer) which will create more posts, excitement and social media sharing opportunities.
Showing your humorous and playful side every now and then is a super way to connect with your readers and potential clients. The world of architecture provides many great stories and images to make your visitors laugh until tears run down their legs … okay … to smile, at least.
Write blog posts about the funny things that have happened during your career. Get colleagues to share their stories as well. Think of the amusing things you talk about over your drawing boards and think about forming them into an hilarious post.
If there’s a talented cartoonist in your architectural practice then get him or her to create a monthly architecture-themed cartoon. Find images of whacky buildings, crazy public spaces, and design jobs gone wrong. Poke fun at your profession like this architect has done in his post What Happens When Architects Date.
Try some of these ideas out on your own firm’s blog. Don’t be afraid to be experimental sometimes with new styles, subjects and formats. Successful blogging requires a high level of ingenuity and creativity.
Can you think of some other suggestions we could add to this list? What architectural blog post styles have you written which have met with positive reader reactions? Is there any advice you’d offer design bloggers in general?
Share your thoughts, questions and ideas in the comments section below.
Creative Commons image attributions: Drawing of an architect from Forgemind Archimedia | design plans from Vierdrie | Venice from gnuckx | Mies van der Rohe pavilion from Joan Sorolla | Nan Lian Garden from Nathan O’Nions
This post was originally published in June 2014 on what is now a defunct website.
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