Artists’ Blogs: Updated Thoughts

It’s been a while since I’ve written about blogging, so I thought it was time to share some thoughts I’ve had and revisit some past ideas on the topic.

Let’s dive right in.

Thoughts About Artist's Blogs

The Benefits of Blogs for Artists

There are three clear benefits to blogging.

1. More content attracts more eyeballs for your art. [Tweet this]

It’s tempting to forego a blog for social media: “Who needs a blog when I have Facebook?” The danger in building up all of your content on Facebook is that you can’t control Facebook. They’ll do whatever earns their shareholders the most money.

But you can control a blog. Blogging allows you to build content on your own site, which attracts traffic. You’ll benefit from posting on a blog and then sharing to social media, rather than posting only on social media.

2. The more you write about your art, the more you will discover about its meaning and your purpose and the better you will be able to articulate your work to collectors, curators, and writers.

This is the #1 reason to blog.

Blogging encourages you to write consistently about your art. There’s a little pressure to “keep it up” once you’ve started a blog, which is good for maintaining momentum.

3. Blogging can help establish you as an expert in your field, which is especially valuable if you teach or plan to write a book.

You’ll be seen as knowledgeable and generous when you share frequent nuggets of information.

I don’t know about you, but I want to be sure my teacher knows what she’s talking about before I lay down money for a class. Ditto for the author who wants to sell me advice.

If you’re looking for a publisher, it’s increasingly rare to sweep a publisher off his or her feet with a manuscript. These days, publishers want to make sure you have a platform. You can build that platform (a list of followers) through blogging.

The Focus of Your Artist’s Blog

To the point: If you are a working artist seeking a larger audience, your blog should be about your art and your life as an artist.

If you read other blogs, you might be tempted to write “how to” posts. A lot of the top blogs are ranked high because they are service-based businesses, like Art Biz Coach. We solve problems, and people spend a lot of time searching online for solutions that save time and make money.

If you teach, write the how-to posts, but only if you want to attract students.

How-to posts are easy to write. It’s the posts in which you open a vein of vulnerability that will set you apart from other bloggers.

You and I both know that art can solve problems, but that isn’t its primary purpose. The primary purposes of art are to delight, question, confound, and document. Some would argue that art is for decoration. I’m not one of these people.

Please delight, question, and confound us! Document your world, and the world we live in.

Most people cannot imagine what it’s like to live the artist’s life. Tell them. Show them. [Tweet this]

Hugh MacLeod didn’t hold back when he wrote about why artists’ blogs fail:

… most people are not reading your blog because they have an inherent love for purple dogs and green sofas. They’re reading your blog because THE PERSON YOU ARE inspires them. They’re not reading your blog because they’re thinking of buying your paintings, they’re reading your blog because the way you approach your work inspires them. It sets an example for them. It stands for something that resonates with them. IT LEADS THEM TO SOMEWHERE THAT THEY ALSO WANT TO GO.

Blogging Frequency

You don’t need to blog every day or even multiple times a week. Weekly is sufficient as long as you’re consistent.

Maybe You Shouldn’t Be Blogging

Then again, maybe blogging isn’t at all right for you.

Can you align with the 3 reasons for blogging that I’ve posted above? If you’re not on board with those – if your only reason for starting a blog is because someone (me?) told you that you had to have one – you probably shouldn’t have a blog.

If you have a bad attitude or think about it as “just one more thing I have to do,” it will be a waste of your time.

The commitment to blogging is key to your blog’s success. Without it, your blog might end up six feet under in the ever-expanding graveyard of artists’ blogs.

Your Turn

Are you blogging? How has it helped you?

If you have given up on blogging, tell us why.

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67 comments to Artists’ Blogs: Updated Thoughts

  • Thank you Alyson, I needed just this nudge today to write more content for my blog.

  • Thank you for this great post on blogging. When I finish this last post on William Bartram, I’ll be done with a huge commitment I made to both my audience and myself, to write and illustrate 52 Posts about following in the footsteps of a 18th Century Early Explorer of the Southeast.

    I learned quite a bit in the process, but I definitely discovered that I love to write and blog, and it works really well with my Photography. I have also built a body of work that got me 2 exhibits at top locations around town, and I ‘m in the process of wrapping up the last blog post to be released in conjunction with my work going up on the walls.

    I have plans for my next blog series, but I want to finish the photography for it first. I’m hoping it will be a hotter topic than a dusty library book from the18th Century, although I ‘ve been surprised at how hot a topic William Bartram still is in these parts.

  • Thank you Alyson. You are an example of clear, rich and well structured content. Blogging is helping me to be consistent. It’s a challenge. Writing about my art helps to better understanding myself, what I do and why, and stops me from being so shy. You read my mind when you said that art is more about communication than decoration. I also think it should bother just a little. This is only my opinion. Also I teach, so blogging forces to improve my communication skills. Thanks again and sorry about my English.

  • I have a blog about creativity where I blog three times a week, and one of those is to share my art or my life as a creative.

  • Thanks for this post! The timing is perfect for me, as I’ve been struggling with how to start a blog off and on for quite a while and just this week have been telling myself the time is now. One of my biggest obstacles was really how to focus it, and you nailed it for me in this post.

    I’m now giving myself a deadline to launch it by end of next week!

  • GREAT post, and a great reminder to talk about our lives as artists. Thanks so much for the valuable post Alyson!

  • Thank you for this motivating post Alyson! All the latest social media platforms makes blogging feel like a dinosaur but I enjoy blogging. I only post once a month but I find it a fun place to experiment with articles and ideas.

  • I’m taking a break from being in the studio to have a cup of coffee and read your newsletter. I was happy to see this article about blogging. I have just started my own blog, and I’m having so much fun with it! (I’ll post my 3rd weekly post tomorrow.) I’m not sure where the line is between artist and person. I’d like to reveal in my next blog post some of my struggles and shortcomings as I try to balance motherhood and artist-hood, but I’m wondering if that’s too raw and personal? Should I be strictly writing about me-as-an-artist? I’d love to see an article addressing this issue. Thanks!

  • Thank you for the post Alyson. I appreciate it. I stopped blogging awhile ago because I kept hearing that “blogs are dead” and other such rumors. Also, I just don’t seem to have the time, between making work, the rest of my art business and my life. It seemed to be a bit of a chore for me as well. But, you make a very clear and compelling argument why to do it and how. Thank you!

  • I forgot to ask a question. I use Blogger. Is there a way to link it to my website, which is through FolioLink? Thank you!

  • Right now I’m finding words to be superfluous…i post pix of work in progress on Tumblr from Instagram…thanks for your post tho…future thoughts to keep in mind!

    Kathy Crabbe
    http://KathyCrabbeArt.com

  • Kind of funny that this is the newsletter I opened today! I’m currently working on my first blog post in over a month. I usually try to keep it at least weekly, but summertime is a difficult time for me to blog. Vacation, outdoors, family, etc. always seem to keep me busy during the summer months. I’ve been blogging for over 10 years! Thank you for the reminder to keep up the consistent posts!

  • I couldn’t agree with you more. I’ve got a ginormous move of my studio which will take three months to do. I can’t blog twice a week but I can do once a week and document what is required to do this move. Videos are also a good thing to do. Thanks Alyzon for the good advice as usual.

  • Blogging, blogging, I go back and forth with it. I agree the how tos bring a lot of traffic, I have 2 blogs, one for my art, it is more like a creativity journal and the other one is in Spanish and it is about art marketing inspired of what you do for us but adapted to the Latin American culture. I wish I have enough time to update the second one but still get so much traffic from there to my website and social media that I’m happy I decided to build it years ago.

  • Hi Alyson
    I started a blog after reading your wonderful book. (and yes I would rather be in the studio!) Blogging is a fulfilling way to share things on the art front that just pop into your head. I soon realised I couldn’t do too many how to posts, they don’t float my boat, but I talk about how my painting’s going and sometimes do a little review of local art shows of people I often know and that is very rewarding for all concerned!

  • I.am taking the Art Biz Boot camp…and looking forward to learnibg more about better blogging.
    I have posted consistently weekly for probably 5 years.

  • Great Article about Blogging! Good motivation.
    From my experience, you never know what doors your blog posts might open. I have been blogging over a year and it was one of the key things that set me apart from the crowd which led me to be chosen for Professional Artist’s Artist Spotlight feature in the current Oct/November 2015 issue.

  • Hi Alison, a great, interesting post. Yes. I blog. Been doing it for sometime and I really enjoy it. I’m interested in that point about people reading it NOT BECAUSE THEY WANT TO BUY. So how does the blog convert to sales? Or does it not? Or is it only for other artists to read or students who may come to a workshop. I do teach a bit. But it’s not my main focus. My blog is an area where I write about what I’m doing in the studio – an exploratory process. But I wonder if I should be doing it if it’s not for sales. Maybe I’ve misunderstood the purpose.

    • Lesley: Whenever we focus too much effort on sales, we lose site of our real purpose.

      I believe your real purpose as an artist is to connect with other people. You do that through your art (your gift). It’s how you make meaning throughout your life.

      If you focus on that – on nurturing relationships – the sales will come.

      And Hugh’s point wasn’t mutually exclusive. They might buy, but they’re there to be inspired by what you do.

  • I love blogging and am consistent with Friday posts. But a question: how do I attract new readers AND discern whether they are reading or deleting? Very few of my (predominately) non-artist readers leave comments.

  • Hi Alyson,
    I’ve been too busy to contribute to your discussions here for most of this year. About twenty five weeks were consumed in illustrating three children’s books about a baby dragon called Brian. There was an off shoot from this Athena The Terracotta Wise Owl…

    She has her own website @ http://www.athena2015.com/#!/athena

    And her own blog @http://terracotta2015.blogspot.co.uk

    Along the way I think I’ve added one post to my blog on my website about this illustration project.

    Then my wife & I had a five week adventure on a circular cruise from London to Montreal with a stop off practically every second day.

    We missed the UK summer all is packed away. The studio is ’empty & clean’…yes I can see my way to making some art soon!

  • Thanks for your article. I especially liked the part about why people read a blog. Which I think is also true about a newsletter.

    After writing a blog for three and a half years, I have decided to stop doing it. I had started posting weekly and by the end it was very hard to get myself to post every other week. I felt I was writing into a void, since I very seldom got comments.

    I have a mailing list of over 700 people and I feel that that needs to be my priority. I have committed to doing a monthly newsletter and I feel that gets more response and gets people to my art fairs more effectively than my work on the blog. In the newsletter, I show new work and photos from my travels. (And, based on your suggestion, I plan to also write about my life as an artist.) So a newsletter feels like a better use of my time and I recognize I can’t do both.

  • Thank you for this post. I started a blog this past May. It’s mostly been works in progress photos and explanations, but there have been a few posts that are more personal. I try to post weekly but that hasn’t always happened. Neither my blog nor my website get very much attention. I have a whopping 5 followers to my blog so sometimes it doesn’t hardly seem worth it to invest the time in writing, but I’ve committed to myself that I will do it for at least a year, then re-evaluate. Plus, I just kind of like doing it.

    • Lisa: As long as you like doing it, keep it up. You’ll learn a lot from it.

    • Lisa,
      Having three followers is an achievement…well done you.

      I know my latest blog posted to a UK artists’ forum has about 70 views and about five comments in a week…it is duplicated on my website…The Challenge of The new.

      But for me after blogging since 2008 about my art and me this is an achievement, believe me.

      My only other “success” was here with Alyson which featured one of my paintings…’What is your Website’s Opening”?

      You just have to keep plodding away…one day who knows?

      PS how many art-blogs do you read & contribute to?

  • Very true Alyson re: “You need words if you want to have intelligent dialogue with people about your art. Can’t tell a curator or gallerist that words are superfluous” but…when I’m ready to share I will…I’ve always been a writer/journaler but have no need to share my private thoughts yet with the world …when I’m ready I will…no need to clog up the blogosphere with more extraneous and unnecessary verbiage.

  • I’ve been blogging once a week (twice for a couple of years) since 2007 except if I’m sick, seriously overloaded with work (it has to be overwhelming for me to skip a week) or when I’m traveling and even then I try to post at least once with some photos and location sketches. What I’ve found is that besides engaging people who are interested in my work and my life as an artist is that I’ve created an incredibly valuable archive of information not only about me and my art, but my area of interest, well, passion actually…Mongolia in all its aspects. As an artist I specialize in subjects from that country and am the only American artist doing so at the present time. At least a couple of times a month I have occasion to either refer back to a post myself or to give someone else the link to a post that will provide information they want. Write it once, use it as resource forever.
    http://foxstudio.biz/blog/

  • The trickiest part for me was figuring out the best time and frequency for my blog. I tried blogging several times a week and that made me crazy. Thankfully, I didn’t drop the ball but honed in on once a week and have gradually figured out how to method that is fun and not too challenging. And now I enjoy it! It is another creative process and it helps promote my work and business. Win win! Your tips and tricks have been helpful, Alyson!

    • You have a fantastic blog, Helen. I love that you’ve been able to keep it up and even grow its impact (on you and on others).

      • This is a great discussion, and I’m looking at several of the commenters’ blogs to get some inspiration. I’m just at the point of establishing & planning my website, and I agree that Helen’s blog is fascinating and well-done and is the kind of tone & content I envision for my own site, but with a fiber/textile arts viewpoint rather than a paper arts.

  • Right now I am blogging monthly concurrent with my newsletter. I am proud of the fact that I am publishing consistantly and on time. Much thanks to Alyson and her Creative Content Camp for helping me finally putting together a system that works for me.

  • thanks Alyson, for your answer; will do! Always helpful to get a specific nudge in the right direction.

  • Taryn Macon

    Alyson, thanks so much for the informative blog you have! I have been struggling with my blog for months now, not really knowing how or where to start. Thanks to you I’m feeling a quite motivated!

  • Sarah W

    Alyson,
    I just finished reading that blog post by Hugh MacLeod before I found you blog! I think you both have great points about having an art blog. I’ve been tempted to create one in the past but as I am just about finishing my bachelor’s I won’t have time to spare on a blog for a little bit longer. Your post is quite motivating that I’m going to bookmark it later for future inspiration.

  • Thanks for this. I help write content for the blog at the museum where I work, but have had a block for a blog of my own. Planning on writing some for myself and getting going!

  • So… How do you even start a blog?? I am revamping and rebranding my art in the new year and hope to have a website of my own.

  • I blog regularly over the years on my past websites I have been hit and miss with blogging. My first website I did a few blogs then never went back. Second website I did a bit more but still had alack luster commitment. With my current website I have been consistent. The main reason is for updates to my website and thats what im told by many source’s you need a blog. The benefits outside of website ranking and what not have been a lot. For instance I learn a lot about the craft , because I write about relevant things pertaining to what I do.

  • I attempt to blog every now and then because it is considered to be a vital part of marketing – but I dont want to write for bloggings sake and just be adding to the white noise – I just dont know what I would consistantly talk about

    – but after reading this the other day was a bit inspired, so I gave it another go and wrote a blog called ‘art saves the world’.

    http://www.mandyevansatuni.blogspot.com.au/

    I laughed and laughed – and have got all sorts of ideas for the future now – so thanks for the inspiration

  • Thank you for this great post on blogging