The Industry’s Erondu on Why Design and Opinion Are the Future [INTERVIEW]

This post is part of the Content Q&A Series, featuring interviews with top content strategists and bloggers about their work and insights about the industry.

Before he began writing about technology and design, Jared Erondu was a designer, a defining factor in the blog he co-founded nine months ago, The Industry.

He is a prolific blogger, editor-in-chief at The Industry, as well as a content expert at Treehouse.

Erondu said that editorial websites that put as much effort into design as they do to the content itself will continue to supplant what he calls the blog “dynasties.”

He recently told The Content Strategist about his lastest projects and shared some tips on how to amplify online content.

TCS: You’re editor and co-founder of The Industry — what’s the story behind the site?

Jared Erondu: Drew [Wilson] and I launched last December. Essentially the goal was to be, not TechCrunch, per se, but the big tech blog for the design industry..

A lot of times the small design projects are overlooked by sites like TechCrunch, Mashable and The Next Web solely because they’re not invested in by Kevin Rose or Reid Hoffman or something. But that doesn’t mean that what they’re doing doesn’t have impact, right?

So we’re kind of like that middle ground — we’re not too small but we’re not too big for you not to contact us.

Originally I am a designer. Writing was always a passion of mine but I never actually pursued it until I started my first blog three or four years ago. And from there I just sort of got attached to it. I wrote for several sites, most recently for Macgasm.

Eventually we started The Industry because I wanted to write about the field that I come from. Coming from the design industry, I know exactly how hard it is to get coverage if you’re not known or have 50,000 followers on Twitter. The Industry was kind of just piggy-backing off two passions of mine, design and writing.

TCS: How’d you get involved at Treehouse and what your vision is there?

Erondu: Ryan [Carson] and I have been in contact for some time. We’ve encountered each other a few times in the past years. So with Treehouse I am – there are so many names for my title – one would be content lead.

Essentially I am running a project that we’re working on that I can’t really talk about but besides that I write and do content stuff. The goal is user growth. The project I am leading comes out in August, and a new addition to Treehouse is coming soon, mid-September, and I am playing a major part of that.

TCS: What can we expect to see from The Industry in the coming months?

Erondu: We have a massive redesign planned. It’s under works right now.

And we’re also building out a podcast and editorial network, so our editorial network will encase a bunch of smaller design sites that focus on one thing in particular — web design, graphic design or development, or even a subcategory of those niches.

Also, a podcast network — our current radio show — we’ve tripled the amount of plays per episode, four episodes in a row, so that’s growing tremendously. The podcast network will bring on podcasts like the ShopTalk Chow, The Changelog and other design and development podcasts to our own little network.

TCS: How do you build an audience?

Erondu: Twitter’s been a massive tool for us, Twitter and Google. We haven’t done much in terms of SEO, but it seems to be working.

Word of mouth as well, because in our podcasts and blog, we do a lot of interviews with people like like Chris Coyier and Dan Cederholm of Dribbble. People with large follower bases.

We’ve had guests from Adobe, Github and so forth on our podcast so when those episodes go out, people are going to want other people to hear what they’ve just been on, so they’ll tweet out or write about it on their own personal blog.

TCS: What do you expect from the content industry in the next five years? 

Erondu: Well, it’s definitely changing. The big dynasties like TechCrunch and Mashable are definitely falling. You’re seeing sites that focus equally on presentation as the content itself. Sites like The Verge that captured a lot of people, even non-tech savvy people because the presentation is just as good as their content.

So, people are going for more longform-style articles instead of the quick 200 – 300 word announcement pieces. PandoDaily is the analysis of Silicon Valley rather than the up-to-the-minute news, so in essence I think that blogging about news has kind of returned to its foundation.

We’re even making that slight pivot at The Industry. We’re starting to realize that when people come to our site and read our articles, it’s not to hear news that they heard seven minutes ago — it’s to get a different view or a deeper analysis of it.

I think news announcements are not even articles themselves, but the headline. People give a lot of information away in just that. If the title is “Google Plus massive redesign,” you see that on Twitter about seventeen times before you actually click on an article. You’re not clicking on that article to hear “again” that Google got a redesign.

 TCS: What traits make a fantastic writer or content lead?

Erondu: I think commentary is the biggest thing. Certain people have a lot of traction in the blogging space like John Gruber, Shawn Blanc, Federico Viticci and Marco Arment — you see, they link to the news, and the headline is the news for them, but that’s not why people are coming to their site. They’re coming for the commentary

At Industry, we have four main categories — news, reviews, interviews and op-ed or opinion — and you’ll find that most articles on our site falls under news, but the ones that get the most traffic are between the other three. And that just goes back to my earlier point that no one reads articles for news anymore. The headline kind of does that for them.

The opinion category on The Industry probably gets the most traffic. You build up your credibility in this space and people will believe what you say, so opinion pieces are very powerful. People want to hear a specific person’s take on a situation or announcement because they’ve built up their credibility in that space.

As a design blog what we push for each of our writers to do is to build that credibility amongst their readers so people can actually see them as an authority in the design space. If such-and-such happens and they cover it and write their own opinion pieces, people are gonna want to read and understand their take on what just happened.

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