I want to share this excellent example of a blog post from Linea – the publication of the Art Students League Of New York. It’s one of the Art Students League’s most popular instructors speaking about the three most important tools in her studio. It’s fascinating. It’s compelling. Read and be inspired!
The content of your posts should be compelling and engaging. I cannot say it enough so I want to give you even more ideas and inspiration for your posts.
Answer Common Questions About Your Art
Do you hear the same questions again and again – when you’re at a gallery, on email, on Social Media – about your art. This could be your place to provide the answers. When someone asks the same question the next time, you can simply refer them to this post on your blog.
Make An Announcement
It could be an upcoming exhibit, an event, an achievement, even something that’s important to your career. A milestone. Put the announcement in the “Subject” and elaborate in the text area.
Host a Question and Answer Session
Interview a viewer of your art, interview a buyer or collector, interview a teacher or a mentor, interview an artist that inspires you, have someone interview you. Then post the results to your blog. A TIP: Use an app on your phone that will convert spoken word to text. Turn it on when you are interviewing someone. It will save you work when transcribing the interview later.
Review An Art Tool Or Supply
Believe it or not, spelling out why you like a particular art supply will give tremendous insight into your working process. As I’ve said again and again, this is actually quite fascinating to someone who has no idea how it’s done.
Review An Exhibition
The artists point of view is quite different from the critic or art historian. The inspiration or not, the technique and a unique understanding of what it’s like to put tool to medium, I find, is more down to earth and interesting. TIP: Speak in your voice about this – don’t worry about competing with ArtNews or using Art History terms. You are appealing to your audience who will look at a suddenly academic sounding post and probably say “What happened here?” Be yourself!
A Case Study
Are you doing research for a particular piece or project? Outline it here – you can break this up into progressive posts. Keep your audience engaged – waiting for the next step.
This is wide ranging. Do you have a possible problem in making your art that a new tool or technique would solve? Write about it. See who comments and you might get more ideas. Find a problem outside the scope of your art that you think your readers will respond to and give a possible solution. TIP: Avoid politics or religion unless that is the main content of your blog or your art is political.
Frequently Asked Questions
This one can be broken up into several posts. Similar to the Questions And Answer but more targeted and direct. From you to the reader.
Should Ask Questions
Are there questions you think viewers should be asking about your art? About your concept? Is there a dialogue that you hear when you’re at an exhibition of your work, or online? Is there something you are not hearing and wish you should? This is the place to address it.
This is somewhat self explanatory, however you can make this about you or about something your reader should take into account. Perhaps a checklist that you complete when your finishing a work of art. Perhaps something someone should consider when they are displaying your art.
Define Your Art
Define your concept of your art overall and/or a particular piece. What do you want to convey to your viewer. Remember that a work of art is a dialogue between an artist and a viewer. You can enhance that by writing about it here.
Profile a fellow artist, an arts professional, someone that inspires you or have someone write a profile about you – this falls under the guest blogging category.
Crowd Sourced Post
Bring together several people by sending out or asking a question and having them answer in 100 words or less. Compile and edit it and post it.
Curate and link to websites that inspire you or with information that you think would be of interest to your readers. Give the title of the link and a one sentence description. Then link those words to the website. For example: Miriam Schapiro – Wikipedia, the free encyclopedia TIP: Do this on Fridays to coincide with Twitter Recommendation Fridays and make sure you Tweet about it.
Find quotes that you think will inspire your readers and/or inspires you and post it.
I.E This world is but a canvas to our imagination Henry David Thoreau TIP: A good place to find quotes is: BrainyQuote: www.brainyquote.com/
Best Of The Web
Find websites that you think are outstanding and review them. TIP: Don’t forget to link to them.
Pick Of The Week
Pick one of your own works, post a perfect image of it and describe your inspiration for it or the concept of it. This also works for art that inspires you.
People To Follow
This is similar to a Link Round-Up but it’s especially important to link to other blogs and bloggers. Fellow bloggers will get something called a “ping” when you link to them. This is a notification and they will most likely link back to your blog.
A story about you related, or unrelated to your art, a reminiscence of an art class that you took or what happened in your studio today.
Choose a trending topic – in the art world especially or in your world. Survey your following – your readers, your email list and on social media. Compile the results and post it.
Do you predict something will happen in the art world, your world or the world at large? Write about it.
Profile someone who has purchased your art and is ecstatic about it. This will, perhaps, inspire a closer look at your art by other readers.
I hope that these inspirations will keep you blogging repeatedly. When you get writer’s block come back here and look for inspiration. Keep on blogging and tell us about your blog in the comments here so that we can follow it.
Since I am discussing blogging here I thought it would be good to hear from an artist who is also a marvelous blogger. I am so glad she agreed to do it and it was an honor to have Altoon Sultan answer my questions.
About Altoon Sultan
Altoon Sultan is a New Yorker, Brooklyn born and bred, who now lives on an old hill farm in Vermont’s Northeast Kingdom, where she makes art––paintings, textiles, prints, photographs––gardens, and blogs. She exhibited her paintings for 30 years in the prestigious Marlborough and Tibor de Nagy galleries, and in shows nationally and internationally. She has a solo show coming up in October of 2014 at McKenzie Fine Art in NYC. Her work is in many public and private collections, including the Metropolitan Museum of Art, the Tate Gallery, London, and the Library of Congress, Washington, D.C. Her awards include two National Endowment for the Arts Fellowship Grants and an Academy Award from the American Academy of Arts and Letters. She is also the author of an instructional book on egg tempera titled The Luminous Brush: Painting with Egg Tempera.
Melissa Wolf: What made you decide to start a blog?
Altoon Sultan: When my gallery and I parted ways five years ago, I wanted to have a web presence. At the time I didn’t know of the do-it-yourself, inexpensive website hosts, but I did know about Blogger, so I began a blog. Right from the beginning I realized that I wanted to integrate my life––gardening, nature, cooking––into the blog, along with art.
Melissa Wolf: Do you have a specific schedule for your posts?
Altoon Sultan: No. When I began the blog I used to post more often, five or six times a week, but the posts were shorter: fewer photos, fewer words. Now I’ll post two or three or four times a week; I want a clearer theme with each post.
Melissa Wolf: Do you do anything to to increase your following/visibility?
Altoon Sultan: No. When I started I let my friends know in an email, but that was it. The only thing I did, which certainly increased the blog’s visibility, was to join Facebook and link to each new post there. The blog has a great deal more traffic because of Facebook. Sometimes other bloggers will link to my posts, which also brings new readers, but I don’t seek that out.
Melissa Wolf: How do you decide on what to write?
Altoon Sultan: I write about my own work and I write about whatever interests me, whether it is film, books, recipes, art exhibitions, the flora and fauna around me. I feel compelled to write about things that I love. Sometimes something I read or something I see makes me think about an interesting topic; I keep a notebook next to the computer to note ideas down. This thought process helps to keep my mind open and fluid, which often gives rise to yet other ideas.
Melissa Wolf: Do you have any advice for a beginning blogger?
Altoon Sultan: Blog about what interests you; put your heart into it.
• Visit Altoon Sultan’s Blog Studio and Garden: www.http://altoonsultan.blogspot.com/
Before I give you tips about writing for your blog I thought it would be good for you to be familiar with the terminology. Here is a glossary of commonly used terms….
A page on your blog that is your biography and why you are writing a blog. You can use your bio or artist statement combined with a statement about what you are writing about. WordPress links to something called Gravatar.
A listing of your posts in reverse order by date.
A means by which readers can subscribe to your content and view it via a feed reader. (See also feed reader and RSS Feed).
Backlink or Trackback
A reference link used to notify another blog when you have linked to them on your blog. They usually appear in the comments section of a blog post.
A program or website that allows you to create, manage and post on your blog. Examples are: Blogger, WordPress, Typepad, Moveable Type, Tumblr and LiveJournal.
A person who writes content for a blog.
The act of writing and publishing blog posts.
A company that provides the space to host your blog. (See Blogging Application).
Blog Roll or Links
A list of links of blogs that you like or recommend. They are usually linked to a blog topic or other sites that a blogger enjoys. There is a widget that will show them in the sidebar.
The online blogging community made up of bloggers from around the world.
Category or Label
A way of separating blog posts that will make it easy to find your posts. You can add a widget to the sidebar that has a linked list of your categories.
An opinion or thought in response to a specific post. Comments are what make blogs social.
Something I highly recommend that you turn on behind the scenes in your dashboard in your blog. This allows you to approve comments before they are made public. You can avoid negative comments and trolls.
The primary page where you will manage your blog. You will post, see your statistics, moderate comments, change your settings, design the theme or template for your blog and more.
A tool used to read RSS and Atom Feeds.
The area of the blog on the bottom of your blog where you will put a copyright link, contact information, comment policy, etc.
Gravatar or Avatar
Gravatar allows you to create an image and a profile that follows you wherever you are on the web. So if you comment on another blog your Gravatar will show up as an icon next to it. I recommend putting an image of yourself, similar to a head shot.
The place at the top of your blog where your blog title/logo, subtitle, graphics and possibly the navigation bar will appear.
The first page that the visitor to your blog will see. This is not necessary and not common but it is possible to create a page on your blog that makes an impact.
Some applications allow you to create pages on your blog. This allows you to categorize your posts and your content. It can make your blog look like a website. In fact, it is possible to create a website on WordPress. This is something I do not recommend. It will function like a blog – in that your content will be added chronologically and it will be Search Engine Optimized for a blog. You won’t be able to meta-tag it the same way.
A signal sent from one website to another to notify that the content has been updated. They are usually used when one website links to another and receives content from it. I’m sure you’ve seen feeds from Twitter on websites on the side. You can also do this with your blog.
Third party tools – created by web developers – that enhance the functionality of your blog. Some charge a fee (which can be one time or function like a subscription).
Content that you will create and put on your blog, appearing in reverse chronological order.
Which means Real Simple Syndication. A means by which readers can subscribe to your content and view it via a feed reader. (See also Atom Feed and Feed Reader).
A column that appears on the left or the right of the main column that allows you to put widgets or content that enhances your posts.
Keywords that categorize your posts and are read by blog search engines, making your posts searchable.
Template or Themes
A pre-designed format that allows you to create content without any knowledge of website design. You can adjust colors, typefaces, sidebars and more.
Someone who makes negative comments or posts on the internet for the express purpose of insighting an angry response. (The best way to handle them is to ignore them and delete these comments from your blog or social media).
A tool that allows you to add functionality to your blog in the sidebar, particularly in WordPress. Examples include: Categories, Blogroll, RSS Feed, Atom Feed, Links and Social Media Buttons.
In 2011, Technorati.com (a powerful blog search engine) was tracking 120 million active blogs. That number has been growing at a rapid pace daily. There is an active audience for blogs and people will want to hear from you. They will be interested in what you have to say and want to hear more.
The word Blog is a combination of the words Web and Log. The blogging format was originally created for a single author to create a daily log of their activities. Almost like a diary. Today major companies and news outlets have what are called multi-author blogs. The New York Times has a Blog called ArtsBeat among many others. Even the Metropolitan Museum of Art has “Met Blogs”.
There are smaller blogs that referred to as Niche Blogs. Blogs that focus on one thing and do it well. Such as a neighborhood, a celebrity, a featured item or an artist. A good example of a neighborhood blog is We Heart Astoria: Delivering the Inside Scoop In and Out of Astoria. They combine this with active Social Media accounts and have 5,842 followers on Facebook as of this post.
The difference between a blog and a website is that a blog is interactive and a website is static. People can and will comment and leave feedback on your blog. You will answer and suddenly a whole entire conversation has started. If you use good etiquette your commenters, followers and readers will tell their friends about you, link to your blog and tell other bloggers about you.
Those bloggers will link to your blog and you will link back. This will increase traffic to your blog exponentially. If you link your blog to your website – and you definitely should – it will increase traffic to your website as well. The most important thing a blog will do for you is to increase your exposure and your readers will come back for more because they can see who you are in a wonderful way.
A blog is a unique creative outlet. Remember always that you are an artist because you have something to say visually. Here is your place to put that into words. To let the world know, and those critics that matter, just what that message is again and again. Tell them what you like and don’t like, what inspires you, what you’re working on. You can simply tell your readers what you’re working on today, or what happened in your studio. You can review exhibitions you’ve gone to, giving your readers an artists perspective. Believe me, that will fascinate them.
There are some things you can do to make your blog really visible and really good looking. In the coming posts I will go into that so please stay tuned.
Most people think of Social Media as Social Networking. Social Networking is one of only a vast range of tools at your disposal. I will break it down into simple terms in a minute. What they all have in common, however, is the ability to interact. To have a two way conversation. There are places on the internet where you will not have that ability, a website is a good example and on Social Media you can also turn off the ability to have that conversation but this is not something I recommend. On a website you might be able to click a “Like” or “Tweet” button but you won’t be able to comment or post, directly on that website.
Here are categories of Social Media:
• Social Networking – a platform, similar to blogging, where you can interact with people, create relationships and enhance the ones you already have. Facebook , LinkedIn, Twitter, Foursquare, etc.
• Blogging – short for web log, this is a place (like this blog for example), where you can write articles, post photos and videos and people can comment and share and repost your articles on their blogs. So far I have found that WordPress.com is the best platform because it has automatically built in functions and widgets that will share your posts on various Social Networking websites. I also like Blogspot.com, otherwise known as Blogger.com but not as much. It’s run by Google and has good search engine visibility but there aren’t enough widgets or built in things. I have had more traffic and comments on Word Press in a month than I had in three years of being on Blogspot.com
• Micro-Blogging – Twitter.com is a good example. You have a set amount of space (140 characters – spaces count as characters – on Twitter for example) to post. An original idea is to post several consecutive posts on one topic. I did a Twitter class on Digital Photography for example.
• Photo Sharing – websites like Pinterest.com, Flickr.com and Instagram.com It’s almost like a photo blog. You will post photos and people will comment or in the case of Pinterest.com, they will “re-pin” onto their boards.
• Video and Audio Sharing – this is a website where you would post audio or video and you would get comments and feedback. People will also share your posts and put them on their “Channels.” YouTube.com is a good example of Video Sharing. SoundCloud.com would be a good example of an audio sharing website.
• Podcasting – Audio or Video that you create and post – different from Video and Audio Sharing – that people listen to or watch, like listening to a radio show. It’s usually a series of informative recordings. These are available through a website or a platform like iTunes.
• Article Sharing – These are websites where you can post articles that you’ve written about different topics. They will be shared and re-posted and commented on. A good example of an article sharing website is hubpages.com
• Business Rating Websites – These are websites where users post information and reviews of existing brick and mortar businesses. Yelp.com is a good example.
• Crowd Source Funding – These websites work in conjunction with Social Networking websites to help you raise funds for certain projects, such as Kickstarter.com, Rockethub.com and GoFundMe.com. Some are all or nothing websites – raise all the funds or you won’t get paid (Kickstarter.com is one of these) – and some are get paid as you go (Rockethub.com and GoFundMe.com are get paid as you go websites).
The statistics of user numbers for these websites is huge! I will share some of this in future posts. Before Social Media, however, Word of Mouth marketing meant that one person could spread the word about you and your art with 20 people over a period of time. With the advent of Social Media – combined with mobile devices such as iPhones, Androids, iPads, Kindle Fire and more – one person can share information with 2000 people in a matter of minutes. This should give you a fair idea of the power of Social Media.
In future posts I will show you how to maximize your use of Social Media to get positive feedback and word of mouth about your art.