Friday, January 25, 2013
Blogging for the Sake of Art by Trudy Thomson
Oh yes, for the sake of your art. To enlighten, or to entertain. To make a personal statement and maintain your presence in the eye and ear of the public. A blog is a fresh and friendly way to stay connected to your collectors and admirers of your work.
To help you get started, here are a few questions you can ask yourself when blogging:
Q: What are you working on recently that would inform your collectors or potential buyers about your work?
A: It could be a new sketch for something not yet rendered, pictures with a description of what you are currently working on in your studio, or a new process you have just applied. Think about ways to demonstrate how imaginative you are — with techniques or treatment.
Q: What are your observations about a show you just participated in, and what was different about this particular presentation of your work?
A: Explain how your latest show is different than others you have participated in. Maybe it was collaborative in a unique way. Or the mediums required were unusual. Or the art was a response to a specific theme suggested by the gallery or organization. Include pictures taken at the opening for the show!
Q: What should you name your blog?
A: Blogging is all about branding. Which means being consistent and uniform in how you tag and title yourself when you present your work online or in print. On your blog use the same logo you use in marketing collateral such as business cards, postcards, or newsletters.
Q: You are concerned that your writing skills might be rusty. You feel more comfortable with visuals than with words.
A. A blog is not a research paper or a thesis with strictly defined standards. A blog post should be conversational, and informal. Just type in the words you would use if you were talking to a new friend. Ask questions to engage your reader. Include lots of pictures for visual appeal. The only formatting tip I have is to use italics to indicate proper names and places, and printed book titles. Remember that since you are online, an underline represent a link.
Q. I don’t know much about posting on a blog, what is most important for me to know?
A. To help you understand a little about the terminology of blogging activity and construction. I have addressed some of the features or issues you might encounter when setting up a blog.
Q: What are all those widgets placed at the right or left of the blog?
A: They are tools you can use to make your blog site more interactive. Depending on the theme you have selected, you can incorporate widgets to present text, images, favorite links, archives, searches and much more. You will have to read carefully about them and apply them judiciously — no matter what blogging tool you use.
Q: So where should I put all those widgets? On the right or the left side of my blog article?
A: It is generally advised to place the widget to the right side of the blog. Why? Because search engines first look through what is at the left and you want that to be the content you are focussing on for that particular article. And let the goodies with extra stuff to consume stay to the right.
Q: What on earth is the RSS feed. Should I use that or ask readers to subscribe to my email service?
A: RSS stands for Real Simple Syndication feeds that announce to self-select readers that you have posted a new article and show up in someone’s reader. I think that unless folks are seriously into the blogging world they would be more likely to subscribe to an email service that emails them when a new article appears. An advantage of this is that you can start to keep a list of folks reading about you, interested in your work, and combine this with other lists of visitors to your openings. If you maintain one master list of “all admirers” you might want to start a newsletter. There are many online services that make that an easy task. For instance, Mad Mini, Mail Chimp or Constant Contact.
Q: Are there other things I can do to connect to people?
A: Yes, become a guest blogger and write an article for another blog that might be of interest to you. This gives you an opportunity to link back to your blog. And as a courtesy, link to that blog from yours. Another thing you can do that readers appreciate is a widget with Favorite Links at the right that refer the readers to other bloggers that you respect and enjoy.
Q: So, which is more important, a blog or a website or social media?
A: The answer? Use the blog to maintain and sustain interest. Use your website for information that is more static, such as your background, sample work, your artist statement, your bio, and exhibits. From your website link to your blog and back, or use software like Blogger or WordPress that enables you to combine the two efforts into one. Then use social media — Facebook and Twitter — to announce new articles and experiences you are writing about and point to your blog.
Q: Any other ideas about what I can do to get more attention or more search for hits?
A: Make a video, and post it on YouTube or Vimeo. Post short videos to show your viewers how you make your art. And your philosophy is always welcome. See this link to a video that enables the artist to demonstrate her process and provide an explanation of how she conceptualizes her work.
So, to round things out a big, here are some guidelines I have gathered by reading what the experts have to say online. In theory, if you follow these basic principles you will succeed at getting an audience:
– Many artists don’t do this, but experts recommend that you write at least 300 words. This is the minimum amount that Search Engine Optimization applications need to rank you in a positive fashion. I think it is more important to get the word out about what you are currently pursuing and that those interested will follow you, even if you don’t come up high in a google search.
– Do not put huge images up there. Google penalizes you in the searching process because your page will take longer to load, and that means you will be lower in the SEO ratings.
– Include outbound links to other artists, articles, galleries, or process descriptions. Whatever is pertinent to the particular article you have just written.
– Ask others you know or correspond with to link back to your site. That really will get you higher in search results.
– Invite your readers to comment. Say, so what do you think about this or that? Do you have an opinion? Weigh in on what you think about this. I’d love to hear from you!
So that’s about it, from my perspective. For more technical information that summarizes what two chief art marketing strategists have to say about blogging see this posting on my media blog.
Now, if you have any questions about blogging, go ahead and make a comment following this article. One of the main purposes of online media is to start a conversation.
And by all means, get busy blogging! I hope to see you soon in the blog-oh-sphere!