Ah, blogging. It’s one of those items on the list of things people say “you gotta do” when you’re promoting yourself as an artist or in any other entrepreneurial endeavor. But given that it will require at least 10 hours a week to write and promote the kind of blog that will gain some real momentum, you want to make sure you’re setting up your blog for success right from the start. Here are a few tips from the pros:
Define your purpose.
Done right, a blog can provide a number of valuable benefits. Not only does it add more credibility to your reputation as an artist, it will help you attract visitors to your website and allow you to nurture relationships with your fans. Articulating for yourself why you're doing this—attracting more website traffic—will help you stay motivated in those periods when you lose enthusiasm for the project. That’s also why you want to make sure your blog is directly connected to your website, not separate from it. WordPress is great for this purpose, but many of the website hosting services that cater to artists also have built-in blogging functionality, making it easier for you to maintain both. A built-in blog also ensures a seamless, cohesive look and design shared by your website and blog.
Define your target audience.
One essential step in setting up your blog is to determine who you’re writing to. This influences what you’ll write about, often inspiring plenty of subjects for future posts. If you’re writing to people who love your work—potential collectors—you obviously want to write about every facet of your work and your life as an artist. But don’t stop there. Think about other things that may interest these same people (such as general art topics, caring for fine art, etc.), and write about them as well. Some artists are also teachers, which means their blogs may be aimed at attracting students to their workshops and classes. In this case, some blog posts can be more educational in nature, often including how-to demos and advice. As with everything else in marketing, knowing your target audience helps you set the right tone for your messages.
Commit to a routine schedule.
I suspect this is where the best intentions go awry, and why many artists end up abandoning their blogs. It requires a significant time investment to create a meaningful, lengthy blog post (I spend an average of three hours on each one of mine), so be realistic about how often you can post. Maybe once a week or even every other week is sufficient for your needs. Then again, maybe you’re up for multiple times every week. Whatever realistic timeframe you set, however, stick with it. Your followers will come to expect your blog posts at the frequency you’ve established, and you don’t want to disappoint them.
Brainstorm topics in advance.
One of the best ways to ensure that you stick with your schedule is to periodically brainstorm a healthy list of blog post ideas. There is nothing worse than looking at the calendar, knowing you’ve got to write something, and being totally tapped out of ideas. I’ve been there! It makes you want to say, “Oh, I’ll just skip it.” Next thing you know, you’re headed down the slippery slope to abandoning your blog. Usually about once a quarter, I sit down on a weekend afternoon, brainstorm a list, go through old posts, look at my favorite resources, and make a list. I’m always so glad I did!
Vary the length of your posts.
Blogging experts will tell you that you should go for longer posts in the 2,000- to 5,000-word range because it helps with SEO and rankings and all sorts of things. And an artist can easily meet this lengthy target occasionally, but you don’t have to do this every time. In fact, I think your followers will probably enjoy it more if you have a mix of occasional long-and-meaty posts, shorter posts in the neighborhood of 1,000 words, and even a smattering of posts that are nothing more than a few images with short captions or a quick paragraph about the images. Mix it up, and have fun with your blog!
Think about the visuals.
Well, yes, that seems pretty obvious, doesn’t it? A blog about art should have lots of visuals. But what I mean is, think about how the visuals will look when you push them out onto your social media platforms (see the next step on promoting). If your blog is strictly about your art, then you’ll probably want to just simply post jpegs of your work. But if your blog is more educational or more about art in a general way, you might want to consider using an online tool like Canva to create “cover” images that you can use on Facebook, Instagram, Pinterest, etc. Each social media platform prefers a different size (for example, Pinterest prefers the tall and skinny cover), so you might make several variations of a cover for a blog post to fit all the different platforms you’re using.
Promote your blog posts with social media.
You may be lucky enough to have some die-hard fans who check in on your blog as part of their usual routines, but if you want to keep expanding your blog’s following, you need to promote each post on social media. Not only can you announce it on your own feeds and timelines, you can share the news in any groups you participate in, where the other group members may be interested in the topics you write about. It’s also a great idea to set up some system where your blog posts get sent out directly to subscribers who don’t want to miss a single post. And when you do announce your latest blog post with a link, be sure to include a “call to action,” meaning include a message that gets people excited about coming to read your post. I’ve learned from personal experience that you’ll drive a lot more traffic to your blog this way.
Interact with your followers.
Last but not least, don’t forget to devote a little time each day to respond to any comments people may have made on your blog. It’s a great way to extend the conversation and nurture relationships.
As I’ve said before, blogging can be very rewarding, especially if you enjoy writing. I love it, but I get that blogging is not for everyone. If you’re not big on writing, you just may be able to achieve many of the same benefits with a dedicated strategy on social media, which requires far less writing.
If you’re blogging, are considering starting a blog, or have abandoned your blog, I’d love to hear from you. What’s your blog story? Let’s connect!
P.S. Those of you who subscribe to my weekly e-newsletter will receive a PDF called "The 10 Types of Social Media Posts You've Just Got to Try." It contains more than 100 ideas for social media posts, but they could just as easily be expanded into blog posts. A great resource for everyone!