Some Thoughts on Blogging
July 05, 2011
I get asked a lot of questions about crafty blogging. I don't feel like much of an expert, but I thought I'd pass on a few tips that have been helpful to me. I hope they'll be helpful to you!
1. You've got to love blogging.
If you don't enjoy blogging -- writing, editing photos, answering e-mails, coming up with ideas -- then it's just going to be a chore and it's not worth it. Honestly, blogging is not for everyone, and that's okay. There are many very well known artists who don't have blogs!
Personally, I look forward to writing my posts. I have always promised myself that the moment I started dreading having to blog, I would stop. You've got to do it for the love of the game because it is a massive time suck (you can see all the photos of me in this post at my computer through time and in many locations - in my apartment, at a weekend crop, in a hotel room). You would be surprised by how many hours a day I spend on blogging and blog-related issues. But I enjoy the sharing and I adore the comments. They make every minute 100% worthwhile.
2. Figure out what you're going to share and what you're not going to share.
Another way of saying this is, figure out what the focus of your blog is. This is a line that can wiggle, but for me, my blog is about my crafty life. A lot of my crafty life includes memory art and the telling of personal stories, but my blog's focus is on making art. For example, if I went on a trip to the zoo, I wouldn't blog about that trip directly. I'd make a piece of art about the experience and share the art.
I think deciding what the focus of your blog is does two important things: (1) it makes it easy for you to write your posts, and, (2) it makes it easy for the reader to know what to expect from your blog. All my favorite bloggers have a strong voice and a clear focus.
- Ali Edwards' posts are always going to include big thinking about memory keeping projects, a hint of digi, and plenty of every day stories about her children. There are occasional mentions of her husband and his job, but very little about their relationship. She keeps that part of her life private. She has figured out what she's going to share and what she's not.
- Alisa Burke's posts are a mix of photos, crafty projects, art adventures, and healthy recipes. Lots of beach and nature and hiking. An occasional photo of the husband, but she doesn't really blog about her personal life at all. She has figured out what she's going to share and what she's not.
- Elsie's posts tend to be photo heavy and text short. She blogs hipster-y vintage clothing, about her store, links to things she loves, and lots of photos of herself, her sister, some particular friends, and her husband. And though she shares a lot, she also keeps a lot very private. Rarely do you see candid photos on her blog -- they're almost always staged. She talks about her creative life but not a lot about her personal life (even though the two are most definitely intertwined). She has figured out what she's going to share and what she's not.
I could go on and on about all the different bloggers that I love. They have all figured out what they're going to share and what they're not going to share.
One easy way to figure out what to share is to ask yourself the following questions:
- What is the purpose of your blog? Are you trying to represent your business? Share photos with far flung family? Get your feelings out into the world? Capture your daily life?
- Who is the intended audience for your blog? Family? Friends? Potential customers?
- How often are you going to post? Are you posting daily? Weekly? There are no rules, and you can change your mind, but some consistency is generally appreciated by your reader. And frequency often dictates what kinds of posts you write.
3. Analyze the blogs you love.
This is the number one thing I tell people looking for advice. Pick three or four blogs that you love. What do you love about them? Is it the subject? The interface? The person's life? The way you feel when you read their blog?
Look for the things you consistently love across all of these three or four blogs. Imitate these things. Now let's be clear: I am not telling you to copy other people's posts and style. I am telling you to find the base level of the things you love and do the same with your own spin on it. For example:
- I love beautifully staged photography of artwork that is clear and clean and airy. So I strive for that kind of look when I take photographs. (I've got a post about this coming at you on Thursday!)
- I love artists who talk about their thought process. I think this is why I'm such an Ali Edwards fan, even though our styles are miles apart. There aren't a lot of people who let you in this way. So I make an effort to always do it myself.
- I could go on and on....
Identify the elements of a blog that you're naturally attracted to and include those elements in your own blog.
4. Internet = Public
There are two points I'd like to make about the internet being such a public place:
(a) If you have the greatest idea ever and it will make you crazy to see other people use that idea, don't share it on your blog. In my experience, most people are lovely and generous about crediting the source of their inspiration. But not everyone is. Anything you put out on the internet (instructions, images, thoughts, feelings) is subject to being put to use by others. I'm not in any way saying that I'm okay with bad use, because I'm not, but I do accept it as a fact of life.
(b) When you blog you invite people into your life. People will therefore feel they have a right to comment on your art, your hair, your weight, your significant other's attractiveness, etc. Again, most people are lovely and supportive and just wonderful. But you do run into people who sling some mud -- both intentionally and accidentally. I think it's best to be prepared for this and consider it when you're deciding what to share on your blog.
5. Develop your technical skills so that they're not a barrier.
There are certain technical skills that I have learned in order to make blogging a pleasurable and successful experience for me:
- A little knowledge of HTML has been super helpful in designing this blog and even just formatting posts.
- Being able to edit photos easily is very important. I love Photoshop. There's not an image that ends up on this blog that doesn't travel through Photoshop first. Not just for the look of the image, but I resize every photo to a smaller, lower resolution for quick uploads.
- On a related note (and I'll talk more about this on Thursday), figuring out how to take good photos has been really important. Your artwork is only as good as the photos the public sees of them. You don't need a fancy camera, but you do need to know what works for your camera - lighting, set up, etc.
- I love Typepad. It works the way I think. But I know others who love Blogger or Wordpress way more. I suggest that you explore the possibilities (all of these companies offer free trials) and choose one that you feel technically comfortable with.
- It's certainly not necessary, but videos can be a big draw for your blog. They've been great for me. There's a ton of free software out there for editing, and I often just use my iPhone to shoot the video!
Don't allow technology to control you. Be the boss of it! And make your blog work for you, not the other way around!
These five tips are certainly not an exhaustive list, nor are they necessarily universal. But they are absolutely true for me. I started blogging in December 2006. And I was all over the place for the first few years. In July of 2009, I had a long talk with a friend and decided to get serious about blogging, and followed much of the advice that I've given out here. I have found blogging a much more satisfying experience since then. I hope there is some helpful information here for you!
Thanks for stopping by!