Interview with Nate Whitehill, BlogDesign.com
Update: Nate and the team at Unique Blog Designs have just launched the WordPress Affiliate Theme!
The following is an interview with Nate Whitehill, a professional web designer, entrepreneur and “renaissance blogger”. He has been an inspiration to DotSauce and hundreds of other bloggers over the past few years.
Nate is involved in the domain industry, web development and most notably web design as one of today’s premier WordPress rock stars. Read the questions and answers below to get to know the man behind Unique Blog Designs.
DotSauce asks, “How has the web design profession changed for you over the years since you started in 1998?”
Nate Whitehill: “As you mentioned, I first started playing around with designing websites in 1998-1999 with Adobe PageMill 1.0. It wasn’t until 2004 or so that I put any real effort into trying to learn Photoshop and HTML. As far as what has changed, when I started using PageMill, there wasn’t even native tables-support. Another big transition was making the switch from tables to CSS which I did not do until about a year and a half ago. Tables is a bloated way to write code, CSS/XHTML is so much cleaner. I started designing websites professionally in 2003 when a friend and I launched a local web design company, infinFX media. Even though I’ve been designing websites for almost 10 years, it was only this past year that I realized the potential of blog design as a niche to web design.”
The Unique Blog Designs team with John Chow and Shoemoney
DotSauce asks, “What prompted the foundation of Unique Blog Designs? What have you learned since starting your business?”
Nate Whitehill: “I have been blogging semi-consistently since January of 2007 and in that time, I saw an enormous opportunity in the number of new blogs being started each day. It was only through my previous interest in web design that I put two and two together to decide on starting a web development company specifically catered towards blog design. That being said, we have began to use the WordPress platform to develop more traditional looking websites, with attached blogs. WordPress is not just a great blogging platform, it is a great CMS!
My biz partners, Matt and Josh, and I have been running UBD full-time since August of 2007 (almost 9 months now). We have learned a lot in that time about running and sustaining a business. One of the most important thing we have learned is about the power of networking with other people, specifically bloggers. We exhibited at the Blog World Expo in Las Vegas last year and had the opportunity to meet a lot of our clients including John Chow and Jeremy Schoemaker. We also met a lot of future clients at that event. Attending trade shows is a great way to network and expand an online business. We will be exhibiting and speaking at Blog World Expo and IZEA Fest in September of this year.”
Unique Blog Designs team chillin’ in Las Vegas!
DotSauce asks, “How and when did you acquire your great generic domain BlogDesign.com? How has this domain affected your business?”
Nate Whitehill: “We acquired BlogDesign.com about a month before we exhibited at Blog World Expo in November of last year. We were presented with the opportunity and immediately jumped on the chance to own a fantastic generic domain name which captures our business so well. For the Blog World Expo, we professionally printed a 4×8 foot vinyl banner and we placed the BlogDesign.com domain name on the banner. I think a lot of the big wigs some much bigger companies were impressed we owned that domain.”
DotSauce asks, “Do you have any other high profile domain names or domain stories?”
Nate Whitehill: “Between my business partners and I, we own around 400 domains. About 150 of those are related to blogging and blog design. We also used to develop websites for a man who owns 2000 Chinese-character generic one and two-word domains. Domaining is one of the first businesses I became interested in when I started blogging. I used to chronicle my domaining stories quite a bit on my personal blog (NateWhitehill.com).”
The new Unique Blog Designs office
DotSauce asks, “What advice would you give to an aspiring web developer or professional blogger?”
Nate Whitehill: “While I fully believe in specializing in one particular skill, I think it is very important to aspire to be a “Renaissance person” of online business. There are many different online business skills/models which coincide and intersect with each other. By knowing ‘a little bit about everything,’ it can improve problem solving ability and general online efficiency. I am primary known for being a blogger/blog designer, but I am also well-studied in conversion, SEO, copywriting, domaining, and social media. An aspiring blogger or web developer should work to understand the fundamentals of all of these different types of online businesses. I touched on this topic before on my blog here.”
DotSauce asks, “Aside from your own amazing work, what is your favorite blog design of all time?”
Nate Whitehill: “My business partner, Matt Blancarte, is about to release a new blog design for himself which is incredible, probably one of my favorite designs of all time. We are in the process of coding his site, but once it is done, you will be able to preview it at MattBlancarte.com. Matt is also a co-founder and he is now the lead designer for us. He will also be speaking on the ‘blog design’ panel at IZEA Fest in Las Vegas.”