As the wild year of 2016 wraps up—crazy, we know—it’s a good idea to start looking forward in the world of design to see what graphic design trends are coming our way. We’ve been dreaming and imagining how we can incorporate stock photos and vectors. into new and exciting design themes. While we’ve seen some great trends over the past year, 2017 is promising to take design to a fresher, bolder level.
Learn how you can incorporate these trends into your designs using stock media from our royalty-free vector and photo library.
Material design may just be the biggest and boldest of design trends to really try to grasp and understand. This style guide was created by Google to try and simplify the way designers design and users interact with the Internet. The core concepts of this trend are “material as a metaphor; bold, graphic, intentional; and motion provides meaning.”
Download this Infographic Chart Template.
What does all that mean? The visual aesthetic communicates clearly with your user. Draw inspiration from real-world materials—particularly paper and ink—to keep your designs grounded in reality, yet lightweight and minimalistic. Paper is tactile, casts shadows, but is also incredibly flexible. Design with those principles in mind and think about how you’re weaving together the fabric of the Internet.
Download these Web Infographic-Ready Button Vectors.
Be bold with your colors, contrast, and typography. Don’t shy away from imposing a strong hierarchy. Your design should guide the user’s behavior. Utilize motion in your designs—literal and implied—to communicate with your users. Always be thinking: How can I influence my audience to act the way I desire? Google’s Material Design aesthetic is very similar to Flat Design 2.0, but it takes intentionality to another level.
Bold Photography and Sleek Text
Download these images of A Fit Woman Running and the Determined Female Athlete in the Bleachers.
This may be the year of brave designers. Bold photography in coordination with sleek text is gaining momentum as a trend. This combination is often found in advertisements for brands that embrace adventure. Some examples include activewear brands like Nike and also fashion brands like Everlane, amongst many others. (Have you seen our tutorial on how to create striking text portraits?)
This combination exudes class, yet also excitement. It communicates a clear message, but doesn’t bore the audience. “Bold and sleek” works well for an audience with a short attention span as it gets straight to the point. This combination works great for display ads, social media promotions, and graphics where a small amount of information needs to be conveyed instantly. Incorporate bold borders to better emphasize your information and draw greater attention.
In our recent post about the hottest trends of 2016, we coined the term “Retro Nouveau” in order to distinguish what was commonly known as retro (20s-70s) from what newer retro designs are emulating (80s-00s). However, modernized retro is a whole other ball game. Consider it as a way of simplifying and modernizing any particular graphical element that stood out from any time period of the past.
Download this Nautical Vector Illustration.
For example, you could focus on modernizing old product labels that utilized badges and flowy script. Or possibly choose to recreate incredibly detailed artwork and icons and choose to scrape them down to their bare essential geometry. Maybe a color palette of the past inspires you—creams, reds, and baby blues, anyone?—and revitalize those little details in your new design. Breathe fresh life into old graphic classics and make something into your own.
Download this saturated image of a vivid sky at sunset.
Pantone often leads the way with seasonal color trends. In 2017, expect vibrant and bold colors that are incredibly true to their dominant hue. This trend started to sneak its way into a variety of design elements earlier in 2016, but should really pick up speed with the new year. Look for colors found in nature and intensify them. With photography, be bold and up the saturation of your images.
Download this image of a beautiful lake landscape with long time exposure.
In terms of designing with color, choose loud and deep colors—not necessarily bright. Look for colors that are heavy on the hue rather than brighter in lightness. In your graphic designs, utilize contrasting colors similar to what is suggested in material design. Allow each color to fearlessly draw attention to specific areas of your design.
Above all of the previously mentioned trends, function is the key player for 2017. As new technologies emerge like augmented reality, it’s important for designs to be clear about the action that is desired from a user. In fact, utilizing all of the above trends can help achieve this goal.
Utilize the presence of shadows and motion to indicate clear “clickable” portions of your web designs. Bold photography combined with minimal text can help relay an important message that needs to be quickly discerned. Modernized retro can help encapsulate a distinct feeling or sense of nostalgia you wish to associate with your product. Saturated and contrasting colors will draw attention to the most prevalent portions of a design. Think function and clarity in addition to aesthetically pleasing design.
Instead, this has led many bloggers to feel unsuccessful for not earning huge amounts of cash from these “traditional” forms of revenue. It also means that bloggers try for years before they ever earn a cent. Guess what, blogger babe? It doesn’t have to be that way! You can still earn a whole lot of money as a blogger, just not in the way you’re thinking.
First of all, ads + sponsorships are not the answer.
This is actually how I started earning income on my blog. When TNC was still a baby, I began selling sidebar ads for $10 a pop, eventually working my way up to $150 ads as my traffic and following increased. At its peak, I had 30 ads on my sidebar, which were earning me about $700-800 per month in total. At the time, it felt great, since I was still in my first year of blogging and never expected to earn anything at all.
But let me tell you, running sponsorships is a LOT of work and I eventually realized that the income I was making just wasn’t worth it for how much time I needed to invest. I also began to realize that having 30 ads for other blogs on my sidebar was diluting my brand. I put so much time into MY blog, and here I was, escorting people away. I started to cut back on sponsorships, until eventually I did away with them all together.
Similarly, ad networks (like Google Adsense and BlogHer) have done little for my wallet. Here are some stats to make my case. At the time of writing this, I have three ads on this blog. Each month, TNC receives about 170,000 pageviews and 75,000 unique visitors. How much do I make from those three ads? About $300. $300! That’s barely enough for my car payment, let alone a full-time income. Imagine how much traffic or how many ads you’d need in order to make a full-time income from having ads on your site. It’s just not feasible unless your site is enormous.
So, blogger buddy, I urge you to think bigger (and differently).
A lot of bloggers think that to be a full-time blogger, you need to earn money from ads and sponsorships. Pull that mindset out of your brain, friend! It ain’t doing you any favors.
Instead, think of your blog as a hub for your brand, a marketing tool, and the perfect platform to launch a product or service that WILL make you a whole lot of moolah.
My main money-makers are my web design studio and blog coaching program. They may be more loosely connected to my blog than say, a sidebar ad, but without my blog, they would not be as profitable as they are. I also launched them both through my blog, simply offering up my services to blog readers.
So, if you want to earn money as a blogger, it’s a-ok to abandon “traditional” forms of making an online income and replace them with other things, like digital products and services. Not only will they make you more money, but they’re also things you can start selling now, even if your audience is fairly small.
Almost everyone should forget about making money directly from blogging. It’s so unlikely that it’s a total waste of your time trying. I am actually shocked at how ubiquitous the idea is that blogging is a get-rich-quick scheme. Or even a get-rich-slowly scheme. It’s not. Blogging is a great career tool for creating opportunities for yourself. But here are eight reasons you should stop thinking about money from blogging:
1. Big bloggers come from big media.
Usually I’m the first person to rip on print media as outdated and a dead-end career. But here’s something that maybe you don’t realize: Most big bloggers today have a strong background writing for print. For example: Erik Schoenfeld (TechCrunch), Owen Thomas (Valleywag), and I all wrote for Business 2.0 magazine at the same time. Ten years ago. Which means we had a ton of national media experience before we started blogging. Anya Kamenetz (Yahoo Finance) wrote for the Village Voice and had a very serious book published—before she started blogging.
2. Sure, there are exceptions. But you’re probably not one of them.
Let’s look at some people who have big blogs who didn’t come from big media. Heather Armstrong at Dooce. She’s a good one. Here’s what she has that you don’t: She’s a talented writer and a talented designer. She’s married to a developer who does all her tech stuff for free. And she has an amazing story to tell. She has the ability to translate her genius across many media—photography, memoir, twitter, and so on. She is a marvel. And you are not. None of us is. That’s why she is making so much money from her blog.
3. Even if you can do it, supporting yourself with a blog is crazy hard.
Most people had to do their day job and experiment with their blog and figure out what works and then do two, pretty much full-time jobs, and then quit their day job when their blog earned enough money. JD Roth did this at Get Rich Slowly. I did this with my blog (and nearly fell apart). Most people who do this do not have kids. Because if you have kids and a job you already have two full-time jobs, so you cannot add another. Blogging to support yourself is a complete full-time job. Read Gina Trapani’s post about how she is taking a break from blogging because it’s so life-consuming.
4. You probably have to be controversial to make money blogging.
Yes, there are some topics that do not require controversy: Productivity tools, for example. I think it’s safe to say, though, that that market is pretty saturated. You will have to find a good niche for yourself in order to stand out from the crowd. So you will have to be different, and the bloggers who are different have surprising things to say. And if you have surprising opinions, you’ll have people who tell you you’re an idiot. And if you are making good money from your blog, you’ll have hundreds of people telling you how you’re an idiot. Do you want that? Really? Will you be able to write another controversial opinion the next day or will you be too nervous?
5. You can make more money flipping burgers.
If you want to get your opinions out into the world, or you want to write a diary about your life, whatever—do that. But why do you have to make money at it? Most of you would probably like to write a bit, to get new opportunities, and then leverage the blog to do something fun. Most of you do not want to write blog posts optimized for advertisers. Really.
6. Please shut up about your book deal.
Books are not cash cows. They are time sinks. And they are marketing tools for something else. Like a consulting business or a speaking career or a blog. And people who are great speakers are seldom great writers, and vice versa. So don’t tell me you are doing a blog to get a book deal: Dead end. And don’t tell me it’s not a dead end because you’ll turn that into a speaking career. Show me someone that has worked for. Don’t tell me about Seth Godin. He had huge books before he started blogging. Not the other way around.
7. Blog for better reasons than money.
There are a lot of reasons to blog, but for the most part, money is not one of them. In the book, Blog Blazers: 40 Top Bloggers Share Their Secrets, Stephane Grenier asked forty bloggers what their definition of blogging success is. He talked with people like Seth Godin, Neil Patel, Ramit Sethi, and me. We all make a living online, and we all have big blogs, but almost no one in the book said money was the definition of success.
Bloggers defined success as things that mattered in their life: influence, connections, friendships, the ability to lead a conversation that matters to people. Some talked about a blog leading to other business opportunities.
8. Banner advertising is the mafia.
I have not had banner advertising on my site because I am so adamant that people should not blog to earn money—I don’t want to encourage anyone. I did take one ad. For Career Bags. I’m going to tell you something: The amount they paid for that ad was insignificant to me. But they let me do a lot of shopping on the site for free. Which was a huge treat. Shopping was fun. And I think about how much I love my blog every time I put my laptop into my Casauri bag.
I would never say that about a banner ad. But I am about to capitulate and sign a contract with Federated Media, the by-far-biggest company for online ad sales. Federated is sort of doing me a favor. I mean, I have about 400,000 page views a month, which I think is less traffic than any of their other clients. I’m grateful to be part of Federated because I do, in fact, need to make money from my blog. But what I have done to get here—work two jobs at once while raising kids, sell equity in my blog and then almost go out of business, and spend about four hours on each post—you probably wouldn’t want to go through all that just to make money on banner ads. You probably have a way more efficient mechanism for earning money and you can blog on the side.
This seems like a good time to tell you the advice my writing teacher gave our who class in graduate school: Writing for a living is a very, very hard life. If you can do anything else for a living, you should.
So the idea that blogging will help you get rich: Forget it. Your chances of that are so slim, while your chances of gaining the other benefits of blogging are very high. So blog, yes, and do it to reach real goals, just not financial goals.