As some of you know, in addition to my art career, I work part-time for Wells Fargo (the 4th largest bank in the US). Since I can’t support myself with art alone (I tried for 3 years and almost starved 😉 I may as well do something I enjoy. At a company the size of Wells, that’s either a) Art Director or b) Blogger. I’m a B, Blogger. I manage a team there developing blogs for different parts of the company, the first of which was Guided by History, the first blog by a US bank.
What’s nice about this other job is the research and other information I get working for a large company. That info has helped re-enforce why I blog, but in the end, you have to a) have a passion, and b) have decent writing skills. I have to admit–for me–it didn’t start out that way. It all started with “Google Juice“. As I said, I was trying to make a living, with good months and bad, and was looking for some way to get “discovered” beyond my local galleries, shows, etc. My web site did make a dent. Somehow, one of my seascapes got added to a library of backgrounds for a popular blogging network, and I get a TON of traffic from that. If you “Google” the phrase plein air seascape (please don’t sue me, neighbor Google) I show up on the first page of links. I’ve made progress from that, one new gallery and a number of sales.
But to get more “Google Juice”, I thought I’d try blogging. So yes, dear reader, I first started my blog for the money. In the end, I do (over a year later now) for the passion. The fact is, in order to write something worth reading nearly daily, you have to have the passion. Sure, there are bloggers who write daily for the money (they used to call them journalists), but that’s not my story. If you’re a lurker and considering blogging, consider this:
- Where are consumers? 4X more people read blogs today than did 9 months ago (40% of the US population). That’s self-reported reading a blog. Many presumably come across blogs and don’t realize their blogs, and therefore don’t report so.
- Bloggers have Disproportionate Voice. Bloggers enjoy roughly 9X the voice of other web sites. Eg., 3% of the US population blogs, yet bloggers (for any brand) account for rough 25% of Google search result links. The very nature of blogging (heaving inter-linking, trackbacks, frequent updates) plays right into Google’s algorithms for sites that rise quickly on their search result listings.
- Consumer Adoption. The size of the “blogosphere” is doubling every 5.5 months. This is a cultural phenomena that apparently has some legs. According to BusinessWeek, the adoption of blogs to communicate rivals that of email in the 1990’s.
- Passion = Blogging. The best bloggers have passion, they really care about they write about and it shows. As a communication medium, blogging is a unique combination of:
- Authenticity: written in first person, as if in a conversation. See the great blog, Naked Conversations.
- Timely Information: near real-time information…remember the London Bombings or the Tsunami–first pics from bloggers. All blogs are also characterized by the availability of an RSS feed, which aids there timeliness.
- Conversational Voice: in the best blogs, the purpose of the post is to start a conversation online.
- Community-Minded: when bloggers write, they do so with the broader community in mind, again, as a means of connecting to others and getting comments. Eg, see 43Things. For me, it’s been well worth it to “virtually” meet great art bloggers from around the world, like Jeff Hayes, Tracy Helgeson, Bart Westgeest, Micah Condon, Frank Edwards, Michael Chesley, Jan Blencowe, Rob Mackintosh, Katherine Tyrrell, and Lisa Call. Note the recursive nature of this list 🙂
- Passionate: the best bloggers have definite opinions that gather an audience of like-minded thinkers. Consider the popularity of political blogs, like DailyKos in the US. Also see Culinary Notes, the #4 blog on the planet and PostSecret, the highest-rated art-related blog. To learn to blog with passion, see “Passionate – Creating Passionate Users“
- Tackle a Niche: Think about “mass media”, one message, billions of people. Blogging is the opposite, it’s Niche Media, one message, but a few dedicated, passionate readers. Who else would take the time to read Dogs in Duds, a great blog about dogs wearing clothes.
If you’re a blogger or a reader, let me know what you think. That’s what blogging’s about.