Impatience Killed the Blog (Revive It!)

Your blog won’t become popular overnight. Blogging is a process, a commitment.

After last week’s article, The Gold Mine in Your Artist Blog, several people commented to the tune of: My blog is no gold mine. I can’t get any traffic or interaction with people.

In nearly 10 years of blogging and many years of teaching artists to blog, I have witnessed a large number of artists build successful blogs.

I have also, sadly, watched even more artists’ blogs falter. The main reason artists’ blogs fail is impatience.

RIP

There’s no instant gratification at a blog’s birth. No showering of thumbs-up signs or insightful comments. This often results in a lack of commitment to writing for the blog and little desire to learn the craft of good blogging.

Let’s take a closer look at these missteps in order to help you get more traffic.

You Gotta Have Heart

Good writing doesn’t happen overnight. Just like good art, it happens over time.

As someone once said, “There is nothing to writing. All you do is sit down at a typewriter and bleed.” (often attributed to Ernest Hemingway)

You must be patient. You must be easy on yourself and embrace the learning process.

And don’t try to write like other people. Blogs that look and read like everyone else’s don’t succeed. Let people “hear” your voice through your words.

Write from your soul and people will take notice.

There’s a Craft to Blogging

Think of blogging as a new art form – because it is. There is so much that goes into a winning blog post:

  • Blog post styling (and trends)
  • Image use
  • Linking
  • Commenting
  • Sharing
  • Strong headlines
  • Calls to action

Because writing is so important for Web searches and connecting with others online, entire blogs exist to help you improve.

Yes, you could get impatient wading through all of the available advice, so just pick one area to improve at a time. I suggest starting with your headlines.

Commitment Required

As I said, there is no such thing as instant gratification when you start a blog. The satisfaction only happens after many months of consistent posting.

People must know that they can rely on solid content before they will subscribe. If your blog looks like a wimpy attempt, they won’t come back for more. A plethora of good content waits elsewhere for them.

This is why I advise that you hold off telling people about your blog until after you have your rhythm down and a few months of consistent posting under your belt.

If you can’t make the commitment to regularly blogging, I hate to say this, then you probably shouldn’t have a blog. The burden of trying to keep it up will just stress you out. I’ve seen it happen more than once.

It’s okay if you don’t blog. Really it is! But if you’re going to have a blog, you’d better make the darned thing look respectable.

My middle name is impatience. I get it! But I also know that quality is worth waiting for.

So how’s your blog doing?

Catch my free webinar where I show you exactly how I save and organize my blog content ideas.

 

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46 comments to Impatience Killed the Blog (Revive It!)

  • I have been constantly blooging for 5 years at least once a week. It is my most important marketing tool and yes it took some time till it worked and looked the way it does now. For me it’s an extension of my creative work and I could not imagine not to do it any more. It’s a bit like journaling in my sketchbook. At one point I made the decission to blog in German and English as well but my main target group lives in Germany.
    My blog has helped me tremendously to increase my sales and stay in contact with my customers.

    I still can think of many improvements and your youtility aspect , Alyson, has given me loads of new ideas.

    How I keep my blog going? I have a set office time for this task and no excuse is allowed to skip this appointment.
    See the English version of my blog at:
    http://www.pastellbilder.de/en/blog/

  • This is just the bit of fodder I need to “keep on keepin’ on”, Alyson. The webinar the other day was a great hit for me, as well. I launched my blog on Jan 1, as a personal addition to my studio practice and art-making… The commitment is definitely a challenge, but I’m slugging away.. I have a strong history of “letting things slide” and I don’t want to give up. I want MEANINGFUL content, and am on such a steep learning curve. Thanks for the wonderful support you provide. Here’s the link to my blog… http://cleaningupthestudio.com/

    • Karen: If it makes you feel any better, I don’t know of anyone who looks back on their first posts with pride. Mine are so embarrassing (2004) that I ought to take them down. I used the blog more like we use Facebook now.

      Keep going!

  • lin

    I think I mentioned in a comment on a previous blog post that I had had a blog that I gave up in 2012. The blog was a personal journey for me and I didn’t really intend it to be a marketing tool at all – it was for me and the people who followed it. At the time I wasn’t active on Etsy though I had a shop (I only went back to the shop when people I met at local shows started asking if I had a website). I gave up the blog when I didn’t feel I could write any longer about what was happening with me. Now I’m ready to start again and am carefully evaluating what it’s going to be this time around BEFORE I start it. I am going back to blogspot, where I was before, because I can’t handle figuring out wordpress or typepad nor do I have my own website. (I know that wordpress and typepad are probably very easy to set up but I have a cognitive difficulty [after an apparent mini stroke and 3 concussions] that makes it hard to understand instructions and such easily) My plan is to start the blog May 1. I’m looking forward to it, and now that I have ways to market it maybe more people will read it B-). I didn’t watch the webinar because I’m already familiar with organizing topics, what to write about, etc etc and I like to do my own thing without necessarily following a crowd and a prescription for how to market it – otherwise, I feel as if (for me) it won’t be an honest reflection of me, my work, and my life. Not judging anyone else at all, by the way. When I was writing my blog before, it was easy for me to write posts in advance, and I think that’ll be true this time as well. I hope. Thanks again for all your useful advice Alison -

  • Love the RIP gravestone! I have dug my blog up a few times. Currently on a fairly good roll. It truly is all about sitting down and writing. There is no magic pill, as much as I love to have one. :)
    http://celebratingcolor.com/blog

    • Thanks, Carol. I’m trying to use more of my own photos these days. That was a lovely gravestone for a child that I found in Lewes, Delaware. But I wanted to keep the name private.

  • Before I began to blog in 2008 I wrote journals, long hand. I got serious to a commitment and discipline of writing about 15 plus years ago after reading and applying the tools and exercises of The Artist Way by Julia Cameron, a book that was life changing for me as an artist. I came to realize writing daily was an powerful and vital part of my creative process. I am grateful and happy I had learned this lesson long before I began to blog. I still continue to write in my journals regularly and this improves my blogging immeasurably. After hundreds of blog posts in my art blog, I am finally beginning to see the rewards and now have started another blog related to Tarot Cards and connect this blog to my art blog.

    When I was much younger I used to think discipline was an albatross around my neck and almost a dirty word. Being creative is a discipline that gives freedom not restriction. This is a great lesson learned!

    Thank you for your very important and helpful article and blog!

  • I’ve always enjoyed writing so starting a blog came naturally to me. But I had to learn to relax a bit when writing it. I needed to let the flow come naturally instead of feeling like I had to always make it a sale and marketing blitz and just open up about who I was and what my process was about. I’ve noticed that when I put pictures up along with text, I get more of a response.

    This past week, I got a record number of visits after sharing pictures from a photo shoot. My friend/model posted the link on her Facebook page and I got a lot of likes. I was really happy. What people have told me is that they like the blog because they like hearing about the story behind my work.

    I’ve come to enjoy it and really encourage people to keep at it.

    • Good to remember those things, Jaimee. I challenge all of my members and students to post their art with every entry. Not, as you ay, in a marketing/sales way, but as a reminder that that’s your gift.

  • I love blogging as it satisfies my need to write which I am no longer employed to do. I have read many blogs and have done a great deal of thinking on who I want to read my blog and what they will benefit from or be entertained by….I strive to do both. The conundrum I face is that my reader profile is someone relatively new to art appreciation and collection…this makes readers hard to find via the typical art social network. I would love some ideas on expanding my readership subscriptions…comments are positive from those who do receive it but I would love to share my enthusiasm with even more folks. Suggestions anyone?
    P.s. I am very open to exchanges of guest blogs or being a featured blogger for someone….have several ideas!

  • Just finished listening to your Organize your content. Was helpful. Thank you. You asked what we would like to see happen. How about a seminar just on using Evernote? Muchos gracias.

  • I started my blog back in 2007, primarily as a way to get more visibility for my work, but as it’s gone on, I’ve found that it’s been an adjunct for what I put down in my journal, particularly since my husband died. It’s also been a good barometer to see how I’m doing: there was a long stretch where it was just a lot of hysteria (and I keep thinking I should take some of those posts down too!), but lately, it’s been about the new work I’m creating, and how I’m integrating the old with the new.

    While I keep track of visitors, and it’s been going up lately, as I post more often — a habit I’m trying to get back into — that’s not what drives me to do it. I’m always amazed when I talk to someone I haven’t seen for awhile who says “you’re doing so much better, because I read your blog regularly”: that’s the best feedback I think I could ever have. :-)

  • I’m a published writer so knowing how to write isn’t my problem. Nonetheless, I get so few views, I seriously wonder whether my photo blog is time well spent. It’s not a new blog, been doing it a couple of years at least. I think I need to make my content more consistent so people have an idea what to expect. Interestingly, my other blog, about the area in which I live, has far more readers; it, too, features my photographs.

  • I’ve been blogging since 2005 – a couple quickly deserted ones until I found a project perfectly complimentary to my studio practice. When I became a daily painter in 2006 I reaffirmed my commitment to blogging daily. It does take a bit to build an audience, just like it takes a bit to find one’s artistic voice. My blog has not just driven my business, but it has helped me face some of my biggest fears (like admitting to/sharing bad paintings), gotten me to discover a passion for teaching, and allowed me to revisit – and see with my own eyes – the progression of my style. The process of writing also helps me to be able to discuss my work, ideas and process more coherently.

    Now if I could just get the whole darn thing migrated to a more robust platform so that I can give it an entirely fresh look – that’s my challenge for this quarter!

    http://www.PaintingaDogaDay.com is where I blog and share my artwork.

    Thanks, Alyson!

  • I think the usefulness of a blog depends on who your target audience is and the nature of your artwork. Or something like that. :-) In any event, mine doesn’t seem to be very useful.

    I’ve studied my website stats and here’s what I’ve noticed. People who are looking for information on particular art topics (usually of a “how to” nature) will Google, land on the relevant blog post, spend less than 15 seconds, and leave. They rarely take the time to click on a second page, and they NEVER – repeat, NEVER – look at my paintings. And they never come back. In fact, I had a couple of how-to posts that were pulling in more traffic than anything else I’d put up, but I eventually took them down because they were doing nothing to drive traffic to my art.

    On the other hand, visitors that are interested in my paintings rarely bother to check out the blog, but they do return occasionally. I just wish I could get more of them. Usually, I have no idea how they found the site, unless they jumped from a couple other art sites I’m on (Society of Animal Artists and Artists for Conservation). Most often, it says “No referring link” or “Keywords Unavailable”. So I have no idea what they were looking for when they found me. I also doubt that many of them are collectors. Given the thoroughness with which they go through every single art page, I suspect they’re other artists, which is fine except that they’re not the people I’m most interested in reaching.

    I suspect that artists who are trying to reach other artists in order to promote their workshops, have the best luck with blogs because it’s an ideal tool for demonstrating their expertise. That’s not me, however.

    So, I’m seriously considering discontinuing the blog. I’ve seen no evidence that it does anything to create interest in my art. I’ve already renamed it ‘News & Updates’ while I figure out what to do with it. That seems less obligating than ‘Blog’ which implies that I’ll be coming up with some witty or profound subject matter several times a week.

    My paintings take quite a bit of time to complete, so it’s not as if I have a steady stream of progress reports to put up. Besides, “here’s my latest painting” posts don’t seem terribly interesting, at least to me. I do have occasional things to report related to nature/wildlife (my primary subject matter) but again, not that often. And since it takes me the better part of a day to craft a decent blog post, it’s a major time suck.

    And finally, I have noticed that the really top-notch, highly successful artists don’t have blogs. Most of them seem to use FB as a substitute way to stay in touch with their followers, but as we recently discussed, that’s not working so well these days, either.

    • Kathy, I think if you use the blog, just like how many use FB, to create your persona (whether it’s real or not doesn’t matter) and allow collectors to feel as though they know you, you’ll see better success. It’s hard to do, I know – many people (myself included) are not comfortable opening up online and sharing details of their lives.

      However it’s been my experience that buyers want to get a little sliver of our lives or a story along with the artwork – and what’s better of a story than one that continues/is regularly updated long after their purchase?

      There’s so much more to blogging than shouting from the rooftops LOOK AT MY ART – thinking about the audience you wish to attract (like others have said, there’s also different types of blog followers (students, fans, friends, fellow artists and buyers alike) and then building content specifically for them is the key element. And part of this is totally understanding who buys your work – what sorts of things they do in down time, other related interests, etc.

      For instance, I have an artist friend who has a crazy fun shoe fetish and she regularly shares pics of her feet. Those posts are the ones that generate the liveliest conversations. And she converts fellow shoe fans into buyers by sharing her love of fashion and colorful clothing – which def relates to the sort of artwork she makes. And people love to engage her in conversation because of this – she’s given them an easy opening.

      What sorts of things do your buyers like to do? are they naturalists? do they travel? are they involved in conservation? tying your content into a parallel topic that they are already concerned with will improve recall and give then a reason to want to subscribe/stick around. (Conversely, guest blogging on a respected blog on that parallel topic is also a great way to get your name in front of a new audience)

      Which leads me to another peeve – many artists have blogs but do not build in a means to follow/subscribe. I see that yours has this – but I think it’s imperative that we give our readers an easy way to get updates – whether it’s with a feed or email or however they wish – but don’t make them have to bookmark and then remember to return. Many won’t.

      Just a few things to think about…. sorry if I sound soapbox-ey !

      • ha! I’m looking for the Like button to your reply to Kathy! You gave some great insight here! Thank you!

      • Hey Kimberly, thanks for the great reply. One of my problems is that I don’t know anything about my collectors, because they’ve always bought through my gallery. Here’s the situation.

        Up until the economy went off the cliff back in 2008/09 I was doing pretty well selling equine subjects. At the time, I was expanding into landscapes and wildlife and seeing some success there as well. Then the economy tanked, personal matters came up, and things sorta went dead – as they did for many artists. I’m now picking up momentum again, but concentrating on the landscape and wildlife. It seems to me that the market for equine art has kinda fizzled; I thought it was my imagination but in looking at the websites of other accomplished “horse artists” I’ve noticed that they too, are diversifying their subject matter into portrait work (people), African wildlife, etc.

        So, I’m trying to generate interest in the work I’m doing now but have no clue who has purchased my work in the past since it was always through a gallery. The idea is just to somehow drive traffic and interest to the *art* on my website, if I end up with some private collectors that’s great, if they click on the link and buy through the gallery, that’s fine too. But it’d be pure guesswork to try and write for these people since I know absolutely nothing about them.

        I have identified some groups and circled people on G+ who appear to have interest in nature, but they’re total strangers. They may or may not be into buying art. So far no one I know personally – except my second cousin – is on there.

        • Kathy, I’m sure Alyson has some great advice, too, but I’ll chime in one more time before powering down for the nite.

          Getting to know our collectors is a long process – one that neverends, because as our work evolves and our audience expands, our customer base also shifts. Selling primarily through galleries and shifting your subject matter can make the process lengthier, but it’s no entirely impossible.

          Build true relationships with those making every purchase from here on out. Ask for photos of your artwork once it’s installed in their homes (study the photos – what does their home look like? you can tell a lot form a person’s decor and view). Ask them why they chose you/that piece. Find out what other artists they collect. Have a genuine conversation with them and make notes. As these conversations grow, find commonalities and use those to steer future conversations/questions with new collectors. It’s a gradual process, but everything learned helps you to understand the connection between the collectors and your work.

          A connection you can then begin to leverage with blog topics. Keywords. Guest blogging. Reciprocal links.

          Mind you, this information can also be mined in other locations – social media, art openings/festivals, with gallery staff, etc.

          I’m interested to hear what Alyson has to say as well.
          We’re all in this together – and it’s great to have a conversation and see what each of our challenges are!
          Warmly, Kim

          PS For the record, I think the issue with the equine industry is that horse care has skyrocketed in cost, and when owners have to choose between buying hay/paying a vet bill or art, they will always do something for their horse first. Which is fine – that means we need to create secondary market items that have lower price points than original art, so that this part of our collector base can still be plugged in/supporting us via cell phone cases or other items bearing our artwork. Don’t just think about diversifying your subject matter, but also diversifying your price points and stream of income.

          • Like said above, always consider your target audience. Even collectors would like to know about your procedure and of course this will interest other artist as well. But it’s important to educate your collectors.

            I have been trying a new strategy and it seems to work. Because I paint pictures of the northern german seascape and of my hometown Hamburg I use words in my post tourists might be searching for. If I paint a ship, the name on the ship goes in the blog. This way a painting found a new home in the Nethherlands.
            If you paint horses: use the name of the breed in your blogpost. Whats special about this breed, why did it attract you?
            Landscapes. Where did you find the idea for this painting? Are there hiking/ walking tracks. How can one get there? ( youtility)
            I am really trying to think about what people who don’t paint but like the places I do would search for on the internet.

    • Kathy: You have received excellent feedback from Kimberly and Astrid.

      After reading both of your comments here, it doesn’t sound to me like blogging is the issue for you. It seems more like a mindset issue – like you have decided that something isn’t working so, rather than changing your approach, you’ve given up.

      That’s fine! As I said above, I don’t think blogging is for everyone.

      I encourage you to blog for yourself rather than for collectors. Read Kimberly’s post above about how much blogging has done for her and for her art. See if that approach might be more appealing.

      • Thanks Alyson. I’m giving it a lot of thought. I don’t really want to give it up if it will eventually turn into a great tool, but have been unsure what other approach might work. Writing for myself means most of my blog posts would be about what Kimberly called a “parallel topic”. I think I’ve been afraid that might make me seem scattered or unfocused. But I won’t know if I don’t give it a try, right? :-)

  • This is a really hit me a key time as I’m struggling with the whole blogging thing and what direction to go with it. I used to blog regularly and had a nice following and then I found I simply didn’t seem to have much to blog about. I found that I was, if you will, preaching “to the choir.” I had a following who weren’t essentially customers. I was selling well on Facebook so I backed off the blog. Big mistake now that FB has changed it’s reach. I have a blog on my FASO website and a Blogspot blog (and am getting ready to launch a studio/student blog/website on WordPress) and I’ve recently started researching who is searching for me and what people have been looking for on my blogs and it seems that the biggest hits are from other artists checking out my reviews of materials or plein air set up type things, artist struggles and art marketing. My big question is do collectors really follow blogs? I really enjoy trying out new materials, doing work-in -progresses, marketing strategies, etc… my ideal reader *is* the artist or student as opposed to the collector. But this is not my ideal customer. So to sell my art and to design new marketing strategies ..specifically where/ who/ how am I marketing to? Should we have separate blogs the for artists and the collectors? Not sure which way to go with this. Thoughts? Thanks so much, Alyson for your thought provoking and enlightening posts!

    • Deborah: 1 blog. Blog for yourself!
      But also let people know the work is for sale. Put a price on it.

      If you want to improve, I would also encourage you to “study” blogging more. The craft part of it.

  • Kimberly, I would like to ditto what Deborah said. Thanks!

  • Just as an additional thought to the conversation going on above, I’ve been blogging since 2007. I use my blog to tell my story about life as an artist and stories about my adventures as an artist who goes to and paints subjects from Mongolia, so to build my brand. I also offer nuts and bolts information. It’s where I put information that I can refer people to with a link. I use it for that all the time. It keeps me writing every week.

    The payoff is that I just got a contract as a paid blogger from an online education company called Sympoz for the Fine Art section of their Craftsy site. They reach over 500,000 people and I’ll reach a nice slice of that that I wouldn’t have otherwise. I’ve noticed from past experience that workshop and class attendees often become buyers. That won’t happen where I live (a low income rural county in northern California) and I just won’t be doing workshops around the country. But I have the possibility now to build up a following on this site through offering what I know. All because of my blog.

  • Thank you Alyson for all your helpful information. In reading this article I’ve realized that I have to be blogging a whole lot more, as well as improving on the quality of my content. I also appreciate your recent webinar about how to keep content organized. I’ve been blogging for a while, inconsistently, and my website traffic is very low.

    I’ve already begun making changes, and was inspired immediately to write a very different kind of blog post based on this quote in your article, possibly attributed to Ernest Hemingway: “There is nothing to writing. All you do is sit down at a typewriter and bleed.”. The title of my blogpost is “My Bleeding Art Blog & Why Ernest Would Be Proud.” (I’ve taken creative liberty in assuming it was Hemingway who wrote that, and have also credited your blog for the source of this inspiration.) Here’s the link: http://barbarablairart.com/blog/74701/my-bleeding-art-blog-and-why-ernest-would-be-proud

    I actually had fun writing this, although it took me quite a lot of time to get it finalized. But I can see how the effort of consistent blogging, and being more creative with content possibilities should eventually pay off.

  • My blog is doing ok since it’s launch last July. My engagement is pretty good with average 10+ to 20+ comments. But social sharing is poor. I have one post went sort of viral with 200+ comments and 1.7K Facebook Likes that got me over 100 subscribers. But that was just one post.

    I enjoy blogging as I like writing, too. So it doesn’t feel like a chore. I think this is really important. If it feels like an obligation to you and you don’t enjoy it, you will fail for sure, just like everything else. We have to enjoy it, and for each one of us, we need a reason to keep blogging. A reason other than it’ll be good for business – because that’s where we give up when success doesn’t happen overnight. We need to work on the inside, start with our Why.

  • Really appreciating these recent posts about improving one’s artist blog!
    I’ve been blogging since 2004, first on Blogger, then on self-hosted WordPress (since ’07 or ’08). I’d really like to get more readership and more engaged readership. Right now, most of my page views seem to be coming from unsavory IP address numbers–yikes!
    This year I’m coming back from an extended creative block due to life changes (positive, but left no energy for the studio), so snapping nature pix while walking the pups and posting them to my blog was my creative outlet. My quandary now is whether I limit my blog to nature and botanical art, or if I broaden it to include my other lifestyle interests as well. Nature and botanical art is a very narrow niche! Mid-life lifestyle topics might draw more readers and provide me with some writing variety, but would diffuse the focus away from my art.
    I’ve noticed that most botanical artists seem to have blog communities consisting of other botanical artists. They offer lots of tips & tutorials, etc, that appeal to other artists. Or their blogs promote their classes and workshops as much as their art. I’d prefer to appeal to buyers of botanical art. I suspect these people are nature lovers and gardeners, mostly female and over age 40. But does this group take time to read blogs?
    I do have 2 real-life friends who show up to comment every once in a while, and I take part in a monthly wildflower link party that brings in interested viewers. I’m a member of 2 blogging networks, I tweet and pin my posts, and I also now use LinkedIn updates for posts that relate specifically to botanical art and wildflowers.
    I’ve been thinking about taking an online blogging class to learn about improving my blog, but I have two reservations. First, most of the classes seem to be run by and aimed at 20-35 year olds, both for the bloggers and the intended readers. I’m in my 50s and feel really out of sync with the gushy writing voices and girly topics and can’t help but think my potential readers would as well. Second, most of these classes are aimed at writing a lifestyle blog and earning a living from it. I’m more interested in using my blog to showcase and support my art–not for the blog to be the centerpiece of my creative efforts.
    Any advice is appreciated! :-)

    • Wren: I’m sorry you missed out on the Blog Triage class we offered for artists for the past 4(ish) years. Unfortunately, it’s no longer available (as of January).

  • Hi Alyson,
    Thanks for your response! I’ll keep an eye open here if you ever decide to create a successor to the Blog Triage class.
    BTW, do you know of a workaround for Google/Blogspot’s gatekeeper hurdle for commenting on Blogspot blogs? As a self-hosted WordPress blog, OpenID is not an option for me, and I often find that Name/URL doesn’t work (after entering my name and URL and hitting publish, my comment disappears into the ether). Many of the gardening and art blogs I’d like to comment on are Blogspot with the anti-spam OpenID or Name/URL logins, but I can’t log in, and thus, can’t participate.
    Is this a Safari/Google antipathy?
    I’ve seen other self-hosting WordPress bloggers complain about this, so I know I’m not alone. Fully support people’s need to fight spam, but it really inhibits the ability to join a blogging community!

  • I completely agree with you on the blogging. It’s of vital importance and is one of the tools I use to connect with my followers. I am not a great writer but certainly enjoy doing so. If anyone wants to reach out about what I’ve done and my findings I’d be glad to share. My blog link is located on http://gregcartmell.com/ feel free to contact me. The short answer to the question is this, if you’re not blogging you’re likely not reaching your best potential. :)