Interview with Jacob Gube of SixRevisions.com, a Web Design and Development Blog
1. Let’s begin with the basics. Could you tell us a little about yourself and your blog?
I’m Jacob Gube (pronounced as “goobeh”): a 26 year old web developer, author, and the Founder/Chief Editor of Six Revisions, a web publication that shares useful design and development information and tutorials. My passion in life is creating (and writing about) awesome websites and web applications. I also like taking pictures as a hobby; something that I’ve been neglecting because of all the things going on right now.
2. Is being a professional blogger your full-time job, or do you work on other projects as well? Do you have any other websites that keep you busy?
I am not, and never will be, a full-time blogger. To be effective at writing about the topic of design and development, I have to practice the stuff I write about on the site. I have a full-time job as a Web Developer specializing in distance-learning education and online training sites and applications.
As for other websites: I don’t have any other web property besides Six Revisions, though I do work closely with the people over at Smashing Magazine, so if there was any other site keeping me busy — I’d have to say it was them. Vitaly Friedman, Co-Founder and Chief Editor of Smashing Magazine, is a friend of mine and is a person I take a lot of advice and inspiration from, whether its in my writing or what TV shows are worth watching. He always manages to find ways to improve my writing and makes me think of things I’ve never thought of before. I’ve also learned a lot about how to become a good publisher/editor from him. Having written for various other online publications, I would have to say Smashing Magazine is the best place to write in.
3) It’s easy to see that Six Revisions is very popular. How long did it take to get the following you have now, and how did you do it?
Six Revisions has been up for a little less than a year and a half, and the journey from the start to what it is now has been a life-changing experience for me. How did I do it? I think the main recipe is to write about what you know and to let your passion, knowledge, and experience about the topic show in the stuff you write. I think that’s what makes people come: they want to read about design and development not from a professional writer, but from someone who’s just like them.
When it comes to contributing writers — I typically recruit and publish authors that write not as a profession, but rather, as a passion. For example, Jan Cavan from Dawghouse Design Studio, who writes Photoshop tutorials for Six Revisions, is a design agency graphic/web designer whose work has been featured in .NET magazine. Tyler Denis from Denis Designs and Matthew Heidenreich from PSDVIBE are freelance designers who share their Photoshop expertise on Six Revisions. Angela Rohner, who puts together these beautiful design showcases, and who runs my favorite web design gallery (TheBestDesigns.com), is an Art Director and front-end developer for a design studio. Francisco Inchauste, the brilliant mind behind Finch, is a UX designer. Phil McClure from theRailWorld.com, who writes about RoR, is a software developer. These are just a few of the great and talented people who write stuff for Six Revisions readers — they’re real professionals who just happen to have a knack for writing.
4) As a blogger myself I know how hard it can be to keep focus. How do you stay motivated to keep working on Six Revisions, and creating new posts almost every day?
When you receive emails and comments from readers thanking you for the stuff you share, whether it be a cool slideshow jQuery script, a freebie set of textures, or a showcase of designs that’s inspired them in their own work, that is motivation enough to keep going. I have an obligation to the readership to provide them with useful information on design and development.
The key is to have a love for what you write about, otherwise you’ll run out of ideas and you’ll never put the time you need to keep a regular posting schedule. The topic I write about is what I think about before I go to bed, and the first thing I think about when I wake up – it’s sad, but true, and you know what, I don’t mind it one bit. If I were to love something else, like spelunking or baking cookies, even if I worked as a web developer, I would write about those topics instead.
5) When did you first become interested in the world of web development, design, and blogging? What inspired you to do what you’re doing today?
Let’s start with development first. I started as a hobbyist software programmer making command-line games — this was about when I was 14 years old. About a year later, I learned about HTML. It must have been HTML 2 or 3 (probably 3), and there wasn’t really any CSS back then, so just inline properties for things like background color, widths of elements, and table layouts.
Let’s jump ahead to design. When I was about 17 years old, I grew an obsession towards Photoshop; I saved up all my money for three months to purchase my very own copy. I started off professionally as a freelance graphic designer, more specifically, a brand identity designer for small businesses and start ups — this is about the time I was able to hone my skills using Illustrator (you can see one of my early vector illustrations in college on Flickr).
Blogging just happened by accident: I was looking for an outlet to share and maintain an online archive of the things I learned from work, and a weblog just seemed like the natural way to accomplish this. I set up a site, installed WordPress, and in under a day, I had a post up even before the “sixrevisions.com” DNS records had fully propagated.
And that’s my story in a nutshell. In short: being a designer/developer was planned since they’ve been my passion most my teenage and adult life, blogging just sort of happened by accident and on a whim.
6) What advice would you give to a person just starting out in your field, whether it is blogging, design, or development?
I’m not going to try and say something smart and enigmatic to make myself sound intelligent and cool, that’s just not my style: if you know me, you’d know that I’m a practical and straight-to-the-point person.
For designers and developers: learn your craft well and be sure to keep up with what’s new, even if you don’t plan on using it; that way you’re always well-informed. For example, I know about Flex 3 even though I’ve never applied that knowledge; I’m dangerous enough with it to be conversant about it. Start a blog, that’s the best way to learn and to force yourself to keep up with what’s going on around you.
Bloggers: write about a topic you know well, not about a topic you think will generate the most site traffic.
7) What are your future goals, both for yourself and your blog?
That’s a tough one. I’m not that much into planning, and I believe that if you work hard and do what you love, the rest will fall into place, and at the very least, you’re doing something you love doing. I do know that I would like to redesign the Six Revisions layout, as well as improve site features and findability (I did the current layout in a rush). I do like the simplicity of the design as it is now though, so I’m not sure when I’ll ever want to redesign it.
Other than that, my goal is to finish the books I’m writing and not get my editors mad(der) at me for being late on my chapters… again.