The Gold Mine in Your Artist Blog

Last week I asked how you’re going to be marketing your art differently now that Facebook Reach is plummeting.

It’s tempting to just jump to another social media site. Google+ anyone?. I would encourage you, as I always have, to build up content on your site first.

As this Facebook brouhaha has reminded us, we don’t own social media sites. Their stockholders do. We will never be in control of what they do with their platforms or how they make money.

But we do own and can control our own sites. We can build up beautiful content, links, and Google juice on a blog.

Wouldn’t you rather have the traffic than sending it all to Facebook?

It’s time to rediscover the gold mine in your blog.

Gold Bars

Where’s the Gold?

Here are four reasons why your blog is a gold mine.

1. Blogging helps you become a content juggernaut.

When you commit to blogging, you commit to creating content. This means publishing articles and images on a regular basis.

After a period of time, you might begin to leverage that content by repurposing it for guest posts, magazine articles, brochures, exhibition labels, grant applications, and more.

With a horde of content under your belt, it’s much easier to say Yes to opportunities because you are confident you can follow through.

How do you think I’d Rather Be in the Studio was written?

2. Blogs help you build an audience by connecting with readers on a personal level.

Facebook does this, too, but we’ve already been over that.

It’s easier to build relationships with people after you’ve proven they can trust you. [Tweet this.] You create a supportive community by listening and responding to blog comments.

Since your mailing list is your #1 asset, it’s critical to do what you can to add more people to it.

3. Blogging makes you an expert.

If you want to be a leader in, for example, the collage or metalsmithing world, you’d better be blogging.

Building content shows potential students, workshop venues, and publishers that you know what you’re talking about. And you can take it to the bank that other artists interested in the same status will also be blogging.

4. Blogging leads to self-discovery.

You can’t help but learn more about your art, yourself, and your dreams when you blog and interact with people.

Almost every artist who blogs regularly has shared the above benefit as their #1 reason for blogging.

Start Mining

How are you going to turn your blog into a gold mine?

 

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34 comments to The Gold Mine in Your Artist Blog

  • lin

    This is very timely as I am actually restarting – or starting over – the blog I did for almost 3 years. I stopped it because I was feeling pressured to produce content when I wasn’t in a place to be able to do it. Now I’m getting the itch again. I cannot set up my own website right now so I’m going back to blogger. Yesterday I started setting up the template and such – I’m starting a completely new blog – and am thinking about content. So thanks for this post, it’s a good kick in the pants to get moving on it

  • Hello Alyson,
    I started a new WP self hosted website in January and my blog ‘Studio Stories’ in February. My reader numbers are still really low and it is far from being a gold mine with approx 1200 visits to date. I did link my ETSY shop from the website and that has attracted approx 1400 visits to date.
    I enjoy your blog, and hope you are going to continue with practical advice to find the hidden ‘gold mine’
    Regards Julian

  • Hi Alyson, your post and Julian’s comment brings to mind something I’ve been wondering. I, too, am on wordpress, and there are a fair number of artists there, but I don’t get a ton of traffic. I’m also not overwhelmed by art blogs I want to follow on wordpress. Sometimes I feel I am missing the larger community of fellow creators because they are all using blogger. Any evidence to support this feeling? Is blogger a better place to be to interact with other artists?
    Maggie

  • Hi Maggie,

    I recently switched from blogger to WordPress. I’d recommend sticking it out with WP, as it is seen as a much more professional platform. Blogger is considered, by many professionals, to be a novice platform. I’ve even read on several websites that accept guest posts that they actually check on this. I’m not sure that this is evidence, exactly, but I’ve seen it often enough to believe that it isn’t a fluke.

    My traffic is still fairly low volume, but it’s not a WordPress issue. It’s because it takes time to build up a list and establish connections. One of the best ways of doing that is actually through building relationships with other bloggers, not just following their blogs.

    Best of luck to you!

    • Mani, you nailed it. It’s not WP. It’s what you’re doing to connect with others.

      I see another post in my future.

      • Thanks, Alyson! I think that networking feels sleazy to a lot of artists and entrepreneurs.At least I know that I shied away from it for a long time because of that. I had a terrible time with self-promotion through networking because I didn’t want to use people.

        The big shift for me was when I figured out how to do it in a way that felt genuine. I know everyone has to decided for themselves what that means, but for me it means only working to build connections with people whose work I truly admire. If someone seems like a total jerk, I could care less if he has the potential to bring thousands of visitors to my blog, I won’t be leaving comments on his blog and tweeting his posts. The other component is the give and take factor. Sleazy self-promoting is take, take, take, but when it becomes mutually beneficial, and you are more than happy to promote the people who are promoting you, because you believe in what they offer, that feels good. Everyone wins.

        I’m still a work in progress, but it gets easier with every genuine connection. I love people, so when I think of it in terms of forging relationships, rather than pushing my blog, it comes naturally. I’ve met a lot of wonderful people through this, and I value them and their work.

  • Do not worry about your blog traffic! A common mistake many artists make is being overly concerned with the traffic to their blog. They get concerned that no one is visiting, stop posting as much, and let their blog fade away out of frustration.

    Blogs by artists are always relatively low traffic. This is just the nature of what we are writing about and who we hope to reach. But it is better to have 10 dedicated readers than 1,000 random visitors!

    The only artists who have huge traffic numbers are those few social media “rockstars” – outliers who often get touted as examples of “how to do it right”. But ignore these examples, for they are not the norm, and will only give you a skewed idea of success.

    Traffic volume is nice, but does not directly lead to success. Remember, you are not building a magazine or trying to make money from online ads, where volume does matter. Instead, you are using your blog to communicate with your audience — potential buyers of your art. Worry instead about making the voice of your blog authentic to you and relevant to your art. This will be valuable to people who are already interested in your art, or help create new fans.

  • Hi Alyson

    I am wondering about something… as i understand it ideas cannot be copyrighted but the way you express ideas can.

    How do you create content, that is based on what you do, and substantiate your expertise without expressing it in such a way that your idea(s) is “free for the taking?”

    Appreciate your thoughts on this!
    Col

  • Interesting convo on the blogging topic. I recently started to use the blog section on my portfolio site, where I couldn’t insert more than one image to represent the story, if you will. I wanted to give readers a rich media experience by sharing some of my favorite artists, designers, little known novelties, etc. Besides showing my own work, I appreciate the tremendous talent I’ve found in many areas. So I started to use blogger Art Appreciation by Adriana J. Garces, where I can post as much or little as I like. So far, it’s been a blast to show images I’ve taken at art fairs and events. Also, I plan to extend my outings to other happenings in venues uncommonly known. Thank you Alyson, for the lessons I always learn proudly from! ^_~

  • I find it so encouraging to read of the power that’s in the blog post. As one who’s been actively blogging for almost 7 years – I echo Daniel’s thoughts about not giving so much credence to the numbers.

    And – I’d be curious to hear your thoughts around Col’s question.
    Thanks Alyson!

  • Wups…I expressed that rather mixed up. To rephrase…

    What makes created content, that is based on what one does, to substantiate their expertise, remain copyrighted?
    If you teach or describe what you do, are you giving up copyright? If you are sharing processes you created how much info is too much that it can be interpreted you are relinquishing copyright?

    Sheesh, I hope that is clearer :)

    • Col (and Marcie): Please keep in mind that I am not an attorney and this is not legal advice. (Had to say it.)

      As I understand it, the exact way you write something is copyrighted: the text of a book, a blog post, etc. It sounds like what you’re talking about is a patent (an invention).

      http://www.uspto.gov/trademarks/basics/definitions.jsp

      If you gave it a fancy name that could past the smell test, you could trademark the name.

      Interestingly, some guy online who gives marketing advice to artists lifted an ENTIRE blog post of mine and changed a couple of words. He got a note from me asking him to 1) take it down immediately or 2) give me credit – because that text was copyrighted. He took it down.

      But if he had changed it enough, it might not have been such a clear case.

  • We’ve rebuilt our company website and relaunched it Feb. 1. This site does have a blog and I’ve been trying to keep up with adding content. Google Analytics helps me see if people are reading and how long they’re on each post. You are so right about using FB as a way to drive people to the website. With the old site, it was the other way around.

    Thanks for reinforcing what I have struggled to do these last few months. Makes it seem like I’m on the right path!

  • Alyson,
    After reading your wonderful book cover to cover, I finally started my own website! I know I’m supposed to send a newsletter, start a blog, and/or try Google+. Which is most important?
    My artwork making is taking a back seat now, but I’m willing to get everything in place before heading back to the studio. I appreciate your advice.

  • this is so perfect and so timely. i blog. i love it. i love my audience. i love writing. i’m passionate about it…almost as much as my art. but sometimes it seems like i’m talking to myself.

  • I’ve been blogging since 2007. Except for illness and travel, I post once a week come hell or high water, 623 posts and counting. Did two a week for a few years, but finally had to cut back. I’ve sold paintings, made valuable contacts and have been able to share both my work and adventures (I go to Mongolia every year and am right at the top of Google for many searches related to the country and its wildlife, thanks to my blog). I like doing it partly because it means that I’m writing every week and have been able to develop a “voice” that is my own.

    I just got a major payback for my investment of time and effort…yesterday I signed a contract with Sympoz, a relatively new online education company that offers video courses in fine art and a variety of crafts that you buy once and then can watch forever (based in Denver, Alyson), to become one of their fine art bloggers through their Craftsy site. And yes, it’s a paid gig. I’ll be doing between one and four posts a month. Once the contract and other “paperwork” was done I asked the woman who had originally emailed me with the offer how she had found me and what made them decide to offer me the opportunity. Her answer was my blog and that my work and writing “matched their desired level of expertise”.

    Once I’ve blogged for them for awhile and get to know the company, I plan to submit a pitch for a course, probably related to animal art. They have well over 600,000 followers and fans on a variety of social media that I can now tap into, all without leaving home.

    So I’d say, if you decide to blog, keep at it, think about it as honing your writing skills as much as getting eyeballs, and who knows what might happen.

  • Thanks for sharing your insights, all! I switched to WP because I thought it looked more professional and allowed more freedom in how I presented my paintings. I worried that I am missing out on a larger artists community on blogger.

    I’ve been dedicated in losing – now, to cultivate relationships (while still being dedicated to posting!)

  • *posting
    Oops! That was a major change in meaning there.

  • Thank you Alyson for creating & maintaining this great site! I just stumbled across it and am very impressed with your advice & the comments of other artists. I too have a WP blog & portfolio, and have been wrestling with many of the same issues. Sometimes it does feel like you’re talking to yourself and who’s listening except a couple of totally annoying spammers who get around the Akismet spam filter? But apart from the networking aspects of blogging it is a great way to organize ideas and have them easily accessible when we need to come up with a description or explanation of the work. I am looking forward to following up on other artists blogs.

  • Alyson: Thanks so much. As usual, your advice comes exactly when I need it most. Daniel: your comment was also timely– I must admit, though I love writing about my processes, my craft, and where my inspiration comes from, it’s sometimes disheartening when I see how few hits there are. I start to wonder, “what’s the point? is anyone actually reading and getting anything from this?” I have a small number of followers (thank you!! xoxo!) and often need the reminder you so eloquently dispatched. Thanks to you both–I’m going to go write the new post I’ve been putting off!

  • Alyson, et al … This has been an interesting read about blogging. I’m not yet up on one although it’s my next priority and I found a lot of helpful comments and encouragement in the fact that it, like everything we do to be found out and followed, takes time and concerted effort.

  • Susan Fox, congratulations on your blogging success!

    Alyson, thanks for the renewed focus on the importance of blogging. I need to step it back up to weekly (at one time I posted twice a week on one blog, and about weekly on another, but I’ve lagged since).

    And thanks to your advice I removed my “Follow me on Facebook” badges from my website. I realized how much viewership had dropped last August and September, when I saw how very much the numbers had dropped on the FB page for our local open studios program. (I’d done most of the FB posting there for four years.) It’s too darn bad! Now, although the FB pages are there to look at, it’s sad to think posts won’t actually get out to new, or old, likers. It was very helpful marketing for a time.

  • Clara Teixeira

    I am just beginning to do more art and am strongly considering a WP blog to help get my work out in public. I am confused by the suggestion not to have a Facebook page. I follow a lot of other artists on Facebook and enjoy their updates so much! How do you direct traffic to your blog without social media like FB? I realize it is not all in how much traffic you get but rather word-of-mouth through loyal customers. But it would still be nice to have a relatively easy way to direct people to your blog…

  • I am new to having a website and in learning to market my artwork, and am also a right-brain artist and not a left-brain computer geek (my husband, an electronics engineer, says I don’t even have a left brain!).

    So this information on having a blog is very interesting and helpful to me and I’d like to learn more so I can start my own blog on my website.

    Thank you, everyone!

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