So often artist/photographers blogs don’t serve anyone but the artists themselves, so why not just keep a diary? Well our students do keep sketchbooks as part of their course that are a visual diary. As part of our courses we have also adopted blogging as a way of seeing how students develop their work, gather together their ideas and reach out to the wider world embracing blogging. As first it is a bit daunting, setting up their blog, linking to their other online streams etc. What we want, is that blogging becomes second nature and enjoyable, but also a showcase for your wonderful art or photography. So in trying to help you get your head around what to blog we thought that we would share what we have read on a post from textileartist.org on the subject.
“Don’t get me wrong – there are some fantastic artist blogs out there; I recently came across a fiber artist called Lisa Call who is doing a great job – she updates regularly and each of her posts are well-thought-through and offer some insight into her work as artist. Along with many others, Lisa has realised that a one-line post with an image simply isn’t going to cut it; you may as well just use Facebook or Twitter. The purpose of having a blog is to invite people into your world, offer something unique and to nurture a deeper connection to you and your artwork
But how do you do this? My aim in this article is to systemise the process of sitting down to write a single blog post. This isn’t the right way, it’s just my way!
Before we start:
How to write an art blog
Why is a single blog post so important?
Well, from small acorns and all that! If you manage to get people interested in a single post, they are more likely to bookmark your blog, subscribe to your RSS feed, like you on Facebook, follow you on Twitter and, best of all, pay attention to what you say in the future.
The aim is to get them back to your blog on a regular basis; if you don’t do anything to entice them (i.e. your blog posts are dull, uninformative, careless or sloppy) why would they bother checking in the next time you update?
If you can build up a loyal band of followers who are interested in what you write, you’ll have a league of supporters online. These guys will prove invaluable in helping to promote your work and tell others about your events and exhibitions. Hopefully they’ll feel so connected to your artwork through your blog, they’ll simply have to a buy a piece to hang in their hallway!
But I’m an artist, not a writer!
I know. I know. And as an artist, not a writer, it feels frustrating to spend hours staring at a blank screen waiting for inspiration to strike when you could be in your studio doing what you love. It’s all about efficiency; you have to have a plan. A plan will ensure you write fully yet concisely and will help eliminate writer’s block. So let’s get going!
1. Identify the goal
Before you start to actually type your blog post, make sure you have identified what the post will be about and, even more importantly, what the point of it will be. Ask yourself these questions:
What is my goal for this post?
You must have an objective, otherwise you may find it impossible to start or, even worse, ramble on and on with no structure or discernible point to make. The simpler the goal, the better. My goal for writing this post for example is ‘To communicate to the TextileArtist.org audience my ideas for writing an engaging blog post‘.
How will it benefit the reader?
This is essential and tricky in equal measure. If your goal is to showcase a new collection of work, you are starting from a place of self-promotion; try to put a spin on it. Find a way to make your blog post useful, witty, educational or informative so that your audience will maintain interest. Why not tell the story behind a piece of work or offer some insight into the inspiration or process?
What impact will it have?
How do you want the reader to respond? Remember engaging people on a human, emotional level deepens connections. Do you want them to feel empathy? Joy? To be inspired? Motivated? Try to define what will have changed in your reader by the time they’ve finished your post. It’s what blogger extraordinaire Pat Flynn calls ‘the transformation’.
2. Mindmap or brainstorm
Once you have your goal, write it out in the middle of a piece of paper and brainstorm ideas and subjects that relate to it.
3. Plan your post
From your brainstorming session, create the subtitles of your blog post. Subheadings and small paragraphs make the post more digestible (often blog readers are skimmers). Each subtitle should deal with a new strand of the topic.
Order your subheadings logically to take the reader from A to B and fulfil your goal.
4. Write your first draft
You now have a roadmap for creating the post; your subheadings will guide you and should make each small section more manageable to write. You have one specific thing to cover under each subheading so try to stay on target.
Whilst writing your first draft, keep your reader in mind. Go back to what the benefit of the blog post is for them and what you’d like their transformation to be. Remember, shifting the focus onto them and not being too I-centric is more likely to engage your readers and encourage a deeper connection.
It is sometimes helpful to picture your ideal blog reader and write for that individual person; this can give your writing a more personal tone, which in turn will keep people involved.
See our tutorial for identifying your ideal target blog visitor.
5. Tackle your title
Once you’ve got your first draft, write a title. This may seem like a backwards way of doing things, but now you have the content you’ll know what the post is actually about.
The blogging gurus over at CopyBlogger suggest that good titles are the difference between your post being read and shared and it disappearing into oblivion. When you think about it, the title is what appears all over the internet (in search engine results, on social media, in RSS feeds, and even in your blog archive pages); in short, your title will turn potential blog visitors on or off. So your aim is to grab people’s attention. There are a few tried and tested ways to do this:
Tell readers the benefit
What need does your post fulfil? (Go back to your goal) This isn’t a clever or particularly creative way of crafting a title; the post does what it says on the tin, but if that aligns with what people want, they are more likely to click through and actually read what you’ve got to say. (Notice that this is the method I have opted for in this very article).
Example: 10 ways to take stunning pictures of your artwork
Ask a question
When we ask questions people automatically want to respond. Using a question as your title is a great way to encourage engagement.
Example: Is gallery representation the only way?
Engage with individuals
By using ‘You’ or ‘Your’ in the title a personal connection is triggered; readers feel you are talking directly to them.
Example: How to get YOUR work into galleries
Say something cryptic to inspire curiosity
This is the opposite of the first technique but can be just as effective for the right audience. However, it’s far more difficult to do well. The aim is to create intrigue so that readers want to know what on earth you are talking about! Remember, a cryptic or teasing title is good, but the content of the blog post should be as clear and to-the-point as possible.
Example: Chaotic minds and kitty cats
More tips for great titles
- Keep it short and easy to digest: Search engines only show 70 characters so any more than that and your title will be edited in search results.
- Use keywords in titles: If people are searching for something, give them what they want. For example we found (using Keyword Planner) that people are regularly typing ‘Textile artists inspired by nature‘ into search engines, so our article of that name now appears top of the results when you type this phrase into Google.
- Show enthusiasm for your subject in title: Using words that show enthusiasm (otherwise known as trigger words) will help to get potential readers fired up and interested.
6. Edit your introduction
It’s time for your second draft. Just because your title has done its job, this is no time to be complacent. The internet generation suffer from a sort-of collective A.D.D, so your first paragraph needs to hold their attention or they’ll be playing Farmville within a matter of seconds! Here are a few suggestions (don’t try and do all of these in one post – choose one or two):
- Make sure the first line grabs the reader by identifying the problem you are going to solve
- Ask a question that can only be answered with ‘Yes’
- Ask a question that is intriguing in some way
- Say something unexpected or left-field
- Tell a related story from your own life
- Make a claim or promise
- Make a controversial statement, but keep it related to your topic
- Use statistics to pre-empt your point
7. Add depth to your post
As you are reading through what you have written, look for opportunities to add depth.
Try to back up claims with examples. If you say your work has become more abstract in the last year, offer an insight into the difference between two pieces that illustrates the point.
It’s incredible how many artists don’t make use of images on their blogs. Of course the type and amount will depend entirely on what you are talking about in a particular post, but images engage readers on a different level. As a visual artist, images are your currency; make use of them.
If you can add a human element to your art blog by telling stories from your working or personal life (that relate directly to the topic of the post) readers are far more likely to connect, empathise and engage with you. Great stories will keep them coming back for more (that’s why I watched all 5 seasons of Breaking Bad within a month!!!).
If you can suggest books, magazines and blogs (even related blog posts on your own site) directly related to the topic you have been discussing, you are adding value for your readers.
The comments section of your blog is the perfect place to have conversations with your audience. How do you get them to leave comments? Ask them. Calls to action (Leave a comment to let me know what you think about…) are the most effective way of inviting your readers to be active participants in your blog, rather than passive bystanders.
Asking for their opinion is also a great way of making them feel valued; and you should value them – they can offer incredible insights and feedback that will help you grow as a blogger, artist and person! But try to make it a win/win; think about what’s in it for them!
Make sure you limit calls to action to 1 per post otherwise it can be overwhelming.
8. Proofread and edit
So you’re ready to hit ‘Publish’, right? Not so fast! The final read-through is critical.
This is your chance to check for typos, spelling mistakes and grammatical errors. You must also keep asking yourself, ‘does this fulfil my original goal?’
It can be tough, but be brutal and get rid of anything that is superfluous; ideally the post will be thorough but concise.
Keep an eye out for repeats. In speech most of us have a habit of saying the same thing in 5 different ways and this can infiltrate your writing.
Make sure the order of the material is logical; do you need to swap paragraphs around for the over-all flow to be better?
So now you have the basis of a blog-writing system. My suggestion would be to take what resonates with you from my ideas and leave the rest; the more you write, the more you’ll discover your own way of doing things on your artist blog. But you’ll never get better without practice – so what are you waiting for?