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.
So, should you blog? Check the list of sites on “Community Minded” above to see more examples and if you remain a lurker, that’s okay too. We all need readers, as well as writers.
If you’re a blogger or a reader, let me know what you think. That’s what blogging’s about.
24 thoughts on “Why Artists Should Blog”
I referred to this post on my blog, as I enjoyed reading it and hope that others will too.
Blogging is not everybody’s “cup of tea” and I sometimes hesitate telling people about it in the “meatspace”.
But for me it is up till now a good way to write an “interactive diary”.
I wanted to show people what it means to paint – a backstage view so to say. Something more up to date and active than my homepage.
My second purpose was to try to keep track of my own thoughts, works an ideas and now a third reason is that I soon discovered that the blog motivated me to work, as I simply wanted to have something to tell or show!
The only drawback is that blogging, bloggers and the blogosphere is so interesting that it could (…. 🙂 ) sometimes interfere with the painting itself….
Wow – I get another reference from Ed – thanks- this is turning into a really good week for links for me. One small plea though – could you please help my Google juice by spelling Tyrrell with two ‘r’s. Thanks! 😉
I’m reciprocating with a link very soon when your map of plein air painting spots gets rave reviews from me when I get to the Northern California bit of my recent painting trip.
I knew the stat about blogs doubling every 5.5 months and that there are now over 50 million blogs but I was really surprised by your stat about the degree of impact – 3% of the population accounting for 25% of the links. That’s a very powerful statistic!
What I really like is that the really good blogs have a credibility which comes from the author’s knowledge and application. Good blogs are authentic. They’re written by people who really do know what they’re talking about and, as Ed says, demonstrate a passion for it and a commitment to blogging. They’re the only ones I keep going back to and the ones I pay attention to – and their enthusiasm is infectious – whether it’s about art or blogging! Maybe that’s why we all keep doing it?
a final note – I was really looking forward to “dogs in dugs” – having a friend who has a SIL who is passionate about dressing dogs up 😉 but got “passionate users” again – please fix and I’ll be back!!!
Thanks, Katherine for your corrections and comments. I’ve fixed the link to http://www.dogsinduds.com/ and your name spelling. I’m leaving tomorrow for my painting trip to the Colorado Rockies, so I don’t expect to finish my painting tour page until September sometime. I also want to check out some of the sites you recommended that we may be able to use to make the tour more dynamic. I want to find a way for any artist to add their own artwork to the tour, and have it “mashed up” with Google Maps, if possible. Cheers!
Hey Bart, thanks again for your considered thoughts. This is such an interesting medium. Imagine checking your blog in 40, 50 years! It’s a dialog (and diary) that can last forever. What would it will like a 100 years from now to read the blog of tomorrow’s Vincent Van gogh?
Ha! 🙂 … I am afraid you will be pretty bored after checking my blog for that long a period!
I thought about artist -diaries as well, I find them often interesting to read. But I wonder if van Gogh would have been such a fantastically honest writer if he knew that his letters in principle would be available to the whole world as soon as he sealed his envelope.
Maybe it is easier for artists to blog anonymously, but since the name of the artist is also the name of the product he/she produces this has its drawbacks.
On another note: did you see my post about pictures of my paintings on a google earth based program? Soon after I finished making it I suddenly remembered your idea about pin pointing plein air spots (pppas)- that’s probably where I got the idea from! Would be very nice to combine plein air painting spots with pictures made on that spot -as you propose.
Here’s my post: http://ilandscape.blogspot.com/2006/07/latest-gadget-communitywalk.html.
Have a good trip!
Hi Ed, Thanks for the mention! Good post with interesting info about blogging.
In addition to the community aspect, the diary aspect of keeping a blog is turning out to be really important to me. I have never really kept very good notes or a diary and always regret it after time passes.
Plus I now have the perfect forum to discuss my fave topic-me!:-)
Those were some great statistics you shared! Blogging has given me way to indulge my “other” passion (besides painting)…writing, and has allowed me to combine both, to the benefit of both. Other new communication technologies like Squidoo.com, where I have three “lenses” I believe will also be making an impact. Check out http://www.squidoo.com/pleinairpainting for plein air painting resources or http://www.squidoo.com/100dollarpaintings It’s a brave new world of communication fueled by ordinary people rather than the elite media and I rather like that!
Thanks for recommending I look at squidoo, interesting site. It reminds me of About.com, but it seems much more “Web 2.0”-ish. Good luck with it.
Very interesting article. I’ve been pondering the benefits and drawbacks of maintaining a painter’s blog myself lately and the more I think about it I agree that there are more benefits than drawbacks. I personally needed better reasons than just “every artist should have a blog” and “it’s a cool thing to do,” especially since it takes a fair amount of time away from painting. But in the end I came to similiar conclusions, that blogging helps keep me in touch with what I really love about painting, and also widens my community in the process. Both good things!
Ed – I’ve just blogged you here http://makingamark.blogspot.com/2006/08/why-artists-should-blog.html
It occurs to me, after I’d written the blog post of course! 😉 , that the best reason for me for artists to blog is the community of friends you find and the resources you get access to as a result. Such as Ed providing me with information on where to sketch/paint when visiting California last month.
I’m also into Squidoo lens (after I lost my blog links). I’ve got three up and running and I’m developing tw more – all focused on resources for artists. Let me know if you want any tips about developing one as mine are all now in the top 300. You can find them here
1) Drawing and Sketching http://www.squidoo.com/makingamark/
2) Coloured Pencils http://www.squidoo.com/colpencils/
3) Pastels http://www.squidoo.com/pastels/
Thanks for the link Ed. Great post. I just got back from vacation and will write about this topic soon as I have more to say about it.
Nice post. I also started blogging out of a sense of economic necessity, but as you suggested, that’s not what keeps me posting every day. I really like the interactive nature of blogs and I do like having an easy place to share new work and talk about it with other artists.
I always enjoy your blog and this article was very good.
Very good post…I started my blog 2 years ago with no idea what I would write about (I’m a pencil portrait artist). So I just wrote about whatever was going on, and whatever I was working on. It’s been fun, and my biggest struggle is trying to stay on a topic…there are so many interesting things to write about. It is a nice way of letting the public know what an artist is like, which is important especially in portraiture because it’s a very personal thing to commission a portrait artist.
Thank you Ed, for this interesting and educational post.
I gave up the day job to chase the art dream about 9 months ago after 30 years of engineering and other things.
I started blogging about 1 month ago. I have been amazed at the results in such a short period of time. I am learning so much.
I appreciate your honesty as to why you started to write a blog and I must admit marketing and recognition were on my list also. But what took me by surprise are the number of great people(some experienced artists and some not) who regularly read and comment. I feel connected to a small and growing community of fellow artists.
Sharing what I learn as I plough into “what I want to do when I grow up” is almost as much fun as doing it.
What a great essay. Your day job research into bank blogs has turned fruitful in supporting your art blog, and now it’s beneficial to a host of artists, linking, surfing & lurking here. Someone happened upon your essay just after we tangled brushes in a spirited debate for and against artists’ blogs. Your essay tipped the nay-sayer into my camp. She forwarded the link to me, and I am about to forward it to a few more artists who should consider blogging their art to the world. Thanks for taking the time from your brushes to help the rest of us respond more articulately when our friends and family ask us why we art-blog.
Thank you for your sharing your heart thoughts ,suggestions and great attitude
Thank you for your sharing your heart thoughts ,suggestions and great attitude. I do not have a web site yet and certainly not ready to blog.
Started to late on computor, haven’ been true to the talent God gave me but He understands I took good care of family first, since i am 79 now I can use my talent. Your blog excites me to continue working and get a website to sell .Iappreciate the great article. Bea Haggard
Hi. I am just embarking on the world of blogging.
So, it really is a learn as I go experience. I am a developing artist, hoping to make it my second vocation. your page here is interesting. I never really realised how powerful blogging can be until I inquired with a webhost that caters to artists. They told me blogging can help an artist’s website get more noticed on the web.
I hope to make those connections once I make a website for my artwork.
I also hope that it will open the doors to more communication with other emerging artists out there.
It will be interesting to see how it goes. I have a lot more to learn about how to harness the power of blogging on the web.
Janine, yes, give blogging a try. Add another comment with your URL so we can subscribe.
Ed. Thank you this insightful piece.
Previous to your piece, I must confess that I had some thoughts of “cutting bait” when it came to continuing my blog.
After reading your essay, those thoughts have largely disappeared.
You made me more aware of my blog’s possible positive influence in the (arts) community. At the same time, the sharing of some thoughts on the making of my own art excites me again. It would be fair to say that because of your writting, I have gained a new lease on it’s continued life..
…and for that, Ed, I thank you too!
Frank: I’ve very happy to hear you’ll continue! As you know, I’m a big fan of your blog and work. I know it takes time, “feeding” really. I used to blog daily, but found that way too much of a grind. Now I’m happy to post weekly, or whenever I have something to share. I don’t think it’s really necessary to stick to a schedule.