This week I wanted to explore some of my experiences and intentions when writing and updating a blog. I’ve been writing blog posts on my art for 4 years and have written other blogs before that, however this year has been the first time I’ve really gotten into it with a clearer head and a better idea of running a successful blog. Within this list I will be detailing 8 steps to running a blog, these are somewhat in order but are build-able and interchangeable depending on you. This will be aimed at creating an art and illustration blog but may apply to other areas you want to blog about.
1. Establish an Audience
Before you get too into blogging you need to consider who it is exactly you’re aiming your content at, what type of art do you create? Is it NSFW? Is it 3-D, digital, traditional? What are the themes/context of your art?
You don’t have to aim your art at an audience, you should base your audience around what you want to create. For example, my art work tends to contain nudity (no sexual themes) meaning on a lot of places my content is restricted. For example my 2018 Space Carer is shown nude as a form of spirituality and naturism, but can only be view-able by someone with an account on Behance to prove age or needs to be censored to be posted on media such as Instagram and Facebook.
2. Come up with a handle
This is your second step because you want to take into consideration what your niche is before you can create a name to support that. Some people may use their name in their blog but others might chose something relating to their craft, their interests, or something else less personal. I prefer using a handle to my full name as it is much more searchable for someone with a common name like myself, but it is also more of a memorable name as it is short and includes just 2 syllables. Once you’ve come up with a name I would suggest searching it through google to see if anything else comes up as you don’t want to get confused with other social media personnel or influencers.
If you want to build a brand you can use sites such as Spark where you can make a logo and build colouring and themes around it which I have used on my website and my blog to show a consistency in my online presence.
3. Hosting site
Not everyone likes a layout so you should have a look at your options for your blog. Do you want it to have a .blog address or would you like to pay for a domain? A few examples of blog sites I have used in my past is Tumblr, Blogger, WordPress, Weebly. Since using wordpress to host my blog I love the analytics and the layout when it comes to posting and managing your site, however the best I’ve found for creating a customizable blog layout on a budget is Tumblr but that would require an understanding of HTML code which I understand isn’t for everyone. If you want to create a domain and a unique, customizable blog with aesthetics I would suggest using Wix or Squarespace to host through.
4. What is your content?
Are you using this blog to post about your art? Will you discuss processes and techniques? Will you share your research and development? What is the purpose of your blog? For education, personal or professional study?
Try and show a consistent flow in your posting. My blog is an art oriented site but you might be a writer or a chef, etc. Your audience might link in with this but this step is more about you and what you will be writing, you can share inspirations that influence your practice, you could review others within your subject, maybe write tutorials. Try making a mind map to get a good idea of what content you could post as well as how you post it. When writing a blog you aren’t restrained to just typing, you could make a vlog to accompany your writings.
5. Standing out
To add some flavour to your writings try using visuals where you can, this could be photos of steps in a tutorial, concepts to an idea or a mind map of other peoples work that relates to what you’re talking about, or you could have an illustrator create unique visuals to support your writings.
It’s important to keep up to date on what is trendy if you want to become searchable or generate views, more people are going to look for and read something that is popular at the moment. Research your community through posts and later act upon your research, or within the same post create your own tutorials or views on whatever the subject.
No matter what you’re writing about, always source your writings. You can add links or use the site Cite This For Me to help you create harvard referencing so that your viewers can find where you get your information from. You need to use this when quoting or referencing books, journals, magazines, artwork, videos, etc. Of course you would be bothered should people take your words and re-work them claiming them as their own so it is important that you practice referencing not only for your viewers to find your source material but to give credit where it is due. You might use an image for example that could be drawn by someone and your viewer wants to see more of this persons art, this won’t effect you poorly should they want more of that art and it won’t lessen your views. Instead it will give you a good reputation for providing your sources accordingly.
How are you addressing your audience in your posts? Is it a casual setting or formal? Are your posts in a sort of commentary format or an essay? Take all of this into account when writing and try to keep your formatting consistent throughout your blog. Your audience will most likely prefer a certain way of typing and might be put off by a change or you might struggle to grow an audience with inconsistent typing styles. I would also suggest using something like Grammarly to ensure you have correct grammar and spelling to ensure your posts are readable.
I have found over the year that my posts do considerably better when I post on the day (instead of back dating posts) as well as sharing my posts externally. Twitter is one of the best places I’ve found to share my posts not only for ones from that day but older posts that might be becoming relevant again in subject or that I think might be interesting and get more traffic to my blog. When sharing you should include hashtags and mentions of related key words such as #cooking #art #blog etc, and software or tools you have used such as @poscapens @adobephotoshop. I have made a post about Varoom magazine, mentioning both Varooms twitter and The AOI, both of which then shared my tweet gaining more followers and views to both my twitter and my blog, all of which have the same handle meaning I can get more attraction elsewhere such as my website, my facebook, instagram, etc. Ensure the accounts you are mentioning (@) are correct and verified, and of course relevant. Don’t mention more than 2 accounts (maybe 3 at a push) and don’t use more than 4 hashtags as all this can clutter up your tweet. Twitter likes to keep things simple and sweet, but whats best is they are about sharing news and encourage linking to external sites unlike Facebook and Instagram that like to keep everything within the platform. Facebook has been another good place to share my blog posts but this has only really been seen by my followers as facebook is more of a personal site and isn’t as wide open as twitter.
Why have a blog?
Keeping your blog updated regularly shows you are dedicated and more people are likely to follow if they think they will be seeing you on a regular basis. Some people might like what you have to say or share but can be turned off if they suspect you are a dead blog. Try to share good messages and “positive vibes”, you can critique artists, writers, etc, but keep it professional and in a positive light.
Keeping a blog is a fun way to stay involved in your community and are a trend coming back, obviously vlog formats have become more popular from the birth of youtube but since the rise of tumblr from 2010 onward blogs have come back and became popular amongst more people once again. Having a blog where you can write and document your work shows a lot more passion and dedication than some vlogs could, however mixing vlogs in with your written blog could benefit you when showing tutorials and processes or to branch out.
This year I’ve loved working on my blog and have found it a nice way to get ideas and research that influences my practice down, it helps me reflect upon it and it feels like it has a better place being put online for others to see rather than just being put into my course work for one or two people to see and understand. It allows me to show more of myself online which as an emerging illustrator is a good way to get noticed and will help my audience understand my work flows. I hope the documentation of my blog throughout the year will benefit me in finding work as it will allow employers to see how dedicated I am and where I gather influences and experiences, it shows my constant involvement in my work and in the community through commercial projects and live briefs. From September to December I was getting used to posting regularly and starting to develop a good writing format that I like to work with, then from January to now I have worked hard to make my blog less about my academic study and more about informing and speaking to my audience in a less formal context.
I really hope you’ve enjoyed my blog this year as much as I have while working on it and I hope this guide can help guide you in starting or working on your own blog. Keep in mind this is my own experience with running a blog and what I have learnt from my time running blogs throughout the years, this by far being my best experience and most successful. Take what you may have learnt from this today and apply it in your own special way, not everyone can follow the same path exactly and its important for you to learn from yourself and start making your own path based on what you learn in your life. Good luck ~