Wednesday, 9 February 2011

Artist: Time to start a blog

This article was first published in "Frequency Magazine" – February 2011.


When I started an art blog four years ago, I was not sure how long it would last and what it would bring to me. 350 articles later, I know it is worthwhile and I want to encourage you to start your own art blog, if you have not done so already.

Provided you have access to a computer, setting-up and running a blog is free. The two main blog platforms are Blogger and WordPress. With Blogger, you can choose a template and customise it and then use the editor to write blog posts. The editor is as simple to use as a text processing software, and you can insert photographs and hyperlinks at a touch of a button. You can then save drafts, publish your blog post immediately or schedule post publication for the date and time of your choice. You will be up and running in less than one hour.







What will you do with your blog? There are many ways to use a blog and a good way to find out is to visit other artists’ blogs and see what they have created.

At a basic level, a blog is an online journal. Tracking your progress by publishing your works on a blog has great value. As visual artist, painter or photograph, you can build a blog just by posting images of your work online. You can also get valuable comments from visitors to your blog and better understand what people like in your art.

It is better if you own a good digital camera (you are always keeping a photographic record of your work, are you?) However, if you have a mobile phone with a camera, you can start with it. A resolution of 72 DPI is sufficient to display graphics on the web.

Writing articles around your art and your technique will train you to better understand and communicate what you do. Post after post, you will tease out what constitutes the uniqueness of your art. There is an abundance of topics you can talk about: your art, technique and favourite subjects or art material. I also like to review art books, discuss art history and share art quotations. Overall, the blog motivates me to keep creating, reading and researching art techniques.

This is what I learnt by reading and writing blog posts:

  • Post regularly: it could be once, twice or three times a week; but keep posting on a regular basis. Readers will abandon your blog if you publish only sporadically.

  • Stay focussed: You need to find your voice and this will take time. Until you do, think about the topic you want to cover, write a description of what you plan to share with your blog and use this as a guide. Your art should be at the heart of your content. You can then broaden the conversation by talking about connected interests.

  • Use pictures: You should have at least one picture in each blog post. This will make your content more attractive.

  • Grab their attention with titles: The title and the first few lines of your article may be all that your reader will see in their RSS feeds reader. The title should intrigue, amuse or at least retain their attention. The first sentence is your hook and will keep them reading.

  • Keep it short: readers on the internet surf from site to site. A short and well written article has more chance to grab your readers’ attention than a long and convoluted rambling.

  • Make your content scannable: Readers want to know quickly if the content is relevant to them. You can use various techniques to improve an article readability: put keywords or important sentences in bold (don’t write sentences in all capitals, it would be like shouting); use lists and bullet points; and use short sentences and paragraphs.
It takes time to build readership, so be patient and grow your audience post after post. See you on the web!


3 comments:

Garden Groans said...

What an excellent article on blogging. I wish I had the benefit of your experience one year ago. I manage 3 blogs, with my art one the newest. Regular posting is so important to build readership and as you write: to develop a unique voice. It's not to late to learn from your advice and apply it to what ever stage our blogs are in.

Thank you!
GG (nanina)

Lokelani Forrest said...

Great article. I started a blog for my artwork quite a while ago and try (unsuccessfully) to blog on a regular basis - that is something I really need to improve on.

Benoit Philippe said...

Lokelani,

It does not matter it you post only once a week, but people will stop following a blog that leave long gaps between posts.

Nanina,

You are brave to manage 3 blogs... Well done and carry on.

Benoit