Ten years of Sketchbook B


Ten years ago today, I launched this blog. My plan was to use Sketchbook B as a home for a bunch of side projects that were rattling around in my head. Typefaces and photography, mostly. I’d spent most of my career up to that point as an art director in the insurance industry and I needed a home for more creative endeavors — projects that would keep me energized when the day job was a little too straightforward.

Over the last decade, I’ve averaged about a post a week. Roughly 520 posts. And while I’ve posted about creative projects, I’ve also written about just about everything else you can imagine. I’ve written about my community. I’ve gone through phases where I was providing weekly InDesign tips. I split out an entire “off-topic” blog. And then I merged it back in with the main blog. I added Google ads. I took them out. I’ve written long posts and short posts. I’ve written about social media, pens, cars and popular culture. It’s been an ongoing experiment.

In 2016, I tried to get serious about Sketchbook B. And by serious, I mean that I tried to have a publishing schedule and build an audience. In the process, I stopped writing the things I wanted to write and started writing things I thought my “audience” would read. Two things happened… my traffic increased slightly and I no longer enjoyed writing posts. 

As 2016 came to an end, I knew I needed to make a change and started to think back to why I started Sketchbook B. It was a creative outlet. It was my creative outlet. I needed to start writing for me and stop writing for statistics.

I needed to start writing for me and stop writing for statistics.

I spent a day at a coffee shop that December thinking and sketching. Planning. In January, I stumbled across the Micro.Blog kickstarter that made me think even more critically about my writing online. I read Stephen King’s “On Writing” which really challenged me to think about what I was writing — and more importantly — why I was writing. 

That process led directly to the 52 Shirts project that I’m in the middle of. I love designing the shirts, but I also love writing the blog post that explains what I’ve created. I tell people all the time that the project isn’t just the shirt design, it’s the design and the explanation.

I’m writing about topics that interest me again. And two things have happened… my traffic has increased slightly and I love writing.

So here I am, ten years into this blog and I feel like I’ve finally found my voice. I’m excited to be writing regularly. I’m becoming a stronger writer and recognizing areas where I need to improve. I’m working hard to push outside my comfort zone.

I’ve got some plans for what I want to do over the next couple years with Sketchbook B. Plans can change, but I’m looking forward to what’s ahead.

And most importantly, I can honestly say that I’m more excited about Sketchbook B today than I was ten years ago when I launched it. 

Bob Wertz writes about design, technology and pop culture at Sketchbook B. Bob is a Columbia, South Carolina-based designer, creative director, college instructor, husband and dad. He’s particularly obsessed with typography, the creative process and the tools we use to create. He's currently in the middle of a project to design a new shirt a week for an entire year. Follow Bob on TwitterInstagram and Micro.Blog.