Chris Spooner – King of SpoonGraphics and Line25
Tell us a bit about yourself and how you ended making SpoonGraphics and Line25 so successful?
I’m Chris Spooner, a designer who enjoys creating tutorials and articles to help people out on my blogs. As for how I made them successful? I guess it’s just a case of consistently posting topics that students and veteran designer alike would find useful. Combine this with around 4 years and you have a nice catalogue of posts that fill up the search engines. The majority of my traffic is from people stumbling onto my posts during their searches to solve their design problems.
It’s unusual to have a members only section on a design blog site – how is this working out? What are the benefits?
It’s working out pretty well. I can’t say I’m the pioneer for such things are there were a few blogs who introduced the idea before me. There’s a range of benefits both for me and the members themselves. Obviously for me there’s the financial gain – Now I’m doing this as a job the income my blog generates needs to be more stable. Advertisers come and go so I wanted another source of income to cover my basic outgoings. The membership fees bring in a little bonus each month. For the members the value of the goodies that are posted in there just gets higher as time goes on, as they have access not only to the latest posts, but all the previously shared resources. You can cover your $7 membership fee in a matter of seconds when you look at the wealth of design resources that are available.
As for disadvantages, the main trouble for me is keeping on top of errors and issues with the membership system. Thankfully it’s all stable now but there have been a couple of instances where people have paid and not gained access to anything. I’m lucky in that the majority of people know I’m not trying to rip them off, so a quick email and sorts things out in a jiffy. Disadvantages for the members? There are none Members can either keep their membership going and download the resources and source files are they’re posted, or they can cancel at any time once they’ve got their hands on what they want.
How on earth to you split your time between your blog and your client projects? Do you actually sleep?
I started out running my blog, working full time and working on client projects. When I went into self employment I cut out the full time bit and concentrated on blogging and client work. More recently I’ve managed to support myself just from blogging. Since the early days I knew how important my blog was for my exposure, so I’ve always set aside time for blog posts. Nowadays I get to spend days at a time on a blog topic, which in theory should result in better quality posts to keep the blog growing over time. I do actually sleep a fair bit, I’m usually in bed by 10:30-11:00pm and up at 7:30ish.
Where do you get your inspiration and what blogs do you look at?
I get my inspiration from a range of places both online and offline. Ideas usually stem from things in general life that capture my interest. A tutorial topic I’ve just produced originated from the cover of the game Homefront, this led onto research which brought up a similar style of design on book covers, which I then used to develop my own design based on that theme.
I have a bunch of blogs I read in my feed reader. DesignInstruct and WeGraphics are two I often find really great tutorials on.
What sort of kit do you have to do your work?
I work on a 15″ MacBook Pro connected to a 24″ Cinema Display along with the usual Apple peripherals. I also use a Wacom Intuos 3 and a good old notepad and pencil.
If you were sent to a desert Island and could only take three pieces of your work, or tutorials etc.. – which would you take?
I’d take my skateboard deck tutorial so I can design my own deck and have some fun on the desert island, my WordPress tutorials so I can blog about my experiences and one of my poster tutorials to decorate the walls of my little tree house slash shack.
For the same Desert Island – which three DVD/films would you take?
Inception, The Dark Knight and Top Gun.
If you could have dinner with three people (alive or dead) who would they be?
Arnold Schwarzenegger, Sylvester Stallone and Bruce Willis. My childhood action heroes! I used to watch all my Uncle’s 18 rated 80s action movies as a child.
What did you want to be when you were a little kid?
Strangely enough I came across the career of Graphic Designer at quite a young age and have followed this since. Back then I saw it more as designing book covers but I’ll settle with websites instead in these modern times.
Photo of Chris fishing as a kid. Those 80′s action films starting to take effect on him even then!
(Simon note: most people say they want to be a fireman or dentist when they grow up – Chris said ‘Graphic Designer’ – go figure !)
Thanks to Chris for his interview and all the inspiring work he does. Best from the team at Pixmac