Well, it's time to get back to the Artists Online Series - today I'm going to be exploring the different types of art blogging.
One of the golden rules of blogging is that 'content is king'. All the articles about improving your readership numbers will tell you to 'write great content' and 'post regularly'. But how do you do that? Where to start? It can all seem a little daunting at first.
Fortunately, there are lots of different techniques for art blogging and it's probable that you can find at least one that suits you. Here are a few different kinds to think about:
The Blog As Art Project
This form can be a great way to stand out from the crowd. My own Diary Project is an example of this but there are plenty of other artists using blogging to create art projects. Some notable examples are The Textile Files, PostSecret and Skull-A-Day.
I've noticed that art project blogs usually have a set of defined rules, however, this isn't set in stone and blogging is a form that lends itself to plenty of creative interpretation. Blogged art projects can be a one person affair or a collaborative or communal project. If you've got a great idea for an art project, why not take a moment to consider whether blogging could enhance it. Remember that blogging can often bring you a larger and more diverse audience than a gallery show.
The No-Writing Blog
This is an excellent way to blog if you're not confident with writing or don't have a lot of time to write in-depth stuff. Because art is a visual medium, you can put together a great blog simply by linking to other people's work. Do make sure that you have images of their work though, rather than just a text link - you'll have a far more interesting blog that way.
Maditi Links is a good example of this form, she doesn't write about the work at all, just posts an image and a link. Her blog is a feast for the eyes and I visit regularly for inspiration and to find interesting artists for my own blog.
If you want to use this technique, make sure you host images on your own site rather than stealing bandwidth and don't lift any images if the artist has stated that people shouldn't do so. If in doubt, simply ask the artist. Always give full credit to the artist and link back to their site. If you want to include a little bit of text, you can usually pick up a description from the artists' site (be clear that you're quoting them) or write a brief piece about why you like the work.
There are plenty of places to find artists to blog about - Flickr, other art blogs, other artists you already know, general search sites like StumbleUpon! or dedicated art sites like Saatchi Online or AXIS.
Linking to lots of other artists in this way will often improve your traffic since the artists in question usually come over to your blog to check you out. Don't be cynical though, only link to people whose work you genuinely like, rather than people you think might be useful to you.
The Process Blog
Blogging as a way of recording artistic process is a popular choice amongst artist bloggers. It can be helpful for artists because it creates a journal-type record of their practice but readers like it too because it gives them an insight into how an artist creates and the way a piece develops - warts and all! It's a way of unlocking the studio door and that's always appealed to people. If you can talk about your work until the cows come home (erhm, guilty as charged, officer!) and are comfortable showing unfinished work, then you'll probably feel quite at home with this technique.
I don't have any numbers to back this up but I suspect that this could also be a good way to drum up sales because allowing people to see the process might get them emotionally attached to a piece.
Blogging images of your own work also exposes more people to your work - I've found that a large proportion of people who read my blog don't visit my galleries. Posting images of my work on a fairly regular basis means that those people see at least some of my work. Blogging about your own work also allows you to go into greater depth about subject matter or technique than might be appropriate in the portfolio part of your site. If you're not comfortable showing unfinished work, then just show finished pieces and talk about them instead.
The Tutorial Blog
If you're a frustrated teacher then this could be the blogging technique for you!
A step-by-step guide to a technique, especially when accompanied by clear informative pictures, is a great way to draw people to your site. Plus, there are plenty of places where you can promote tutorials - sites like Whip Up and Craftster are always on the look-out for them and I'm sure there are plenty of other sites that would happily link to them. If you can't find an existing place to promote them, then why not set up your own Squidoo? Squidoo isn't something I've got into yet but I know a lot of people find it a useful concept: Katherine from Making A Mark uses it to provide a handy round up of art resources and a search for 'art' on Squidoo gives nearly a thousand results, so there are clearly plenty of people interested in art who are using it.
If you want to try this form, you'll need to have reasonable photography skills and be good at writing out projects or techniques in easy to understand steps.
The Article Based Blog
A similar approach to the tutorial blog but with more words and less pictures. Good if you're confident with writing and have plenty to say on a subject. This really works for visitor numbers - the articles I've written for my Artists Online Series have brought a large number of people to this site. Watch out though, this kind of writing is time-consuming and you may want to balance it out with some of the other forms, both for your own convenience and so your readers aren't drowning in words.
The Subject Blog
If you want a very defined blog, then blogging about a single subject can be the way to go. The Carrotbox is a blog about rings and nothing but rings. You might think it would get boring but it's actually a constant source of delight and a brilliantly condensed way to learn more about contemporary jewellery because there's lots of images and the work chosen is so diverse. The downside to this type of blog is that you may only attract the people who're already interested in your niche subject.
The News Blog
A round up of news stories in the art world is a fairly easy way to provide regular, topical content. You can provide stories without comment as The Arts Journal site does or add your own opinions, like The Arts News Blog does. If you're going to focus on this form you'll need to have the time to keep up with current art stories and you should also have a few research and journalistic skills.
The Opinion Blog
Aren't artists always a bit opinionated? The ones I know certainly are, myself included! If you're a critic at heart, love to analyse things and don't mind sticking your neck out, then you'll probably enjoy this form of blogging. Just remember that being overly critical might not win you too many friends and being overtly nasty can look very unprofessional.
Of course, your blogging might cover many or all of these forms, there's no rule that says you can only do one and I use a combination on this blog. However, if you mostly blog in one way, why not try shaking things up a little by trying a different form? You might gain a new readership and surprise yourself by being good at something you didn't know you could do.
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