How to blog about your Art and wow people’s clothes off
Hypothetically, of course. Anything else might get me into trouble.
In my ebook, the Grymm & Epic Guide to Blogging, I talk a lot about figuring out what to blog about. A successful blog strikes a balance between writing about what interests you, and writing that helps you find and build an audience – the right audience. The audience that will go on to buy your art. And sometimes, that audience isn’t whom you’d expect.
A lot of artists get stuck in the habit of writing about the business of selling art. Often, they’ll get quite in-depth, writing epic 2000 word posts about their successes and failures at craft fairs, etc. These posts will be extremely useful for other artists, and they’re profoundly interesting for the artist writing them, because they offer the chance to put thoughts about business down in a cohesive way and analyse what is and isn’t working. But whenever I see an artist with a blog that’s all about running an art business, I wonder if the artist knows whom their audience really is.
Who wants to read a blog about how to run an art business? People who want to become full-time artists, of course. And yes, many people who are full-time artists want to support other artists and love to buy art, but they are a small slab of an infinitely larger pie.
Your Unique Artistic Niche
Most artists have a distinctive trait they return to again and again – maybe it’s a style, a subject matter, a medium or a motif, but most of us have something distinctive that enables someone to look at a piece of our work and say “Yep, I got me a Steff Metal.” I know artists who paint animals, to calligraphers who create wedding invitations, to artists like Vivian Masters who have a distinct style and artistic interests.
This unique trait in your artwork is your personality spark – it’s what makes you awesome. You take this trait, and you amplify it, and you speak to other people who also have this trait, or who wish they had this trait, and those are the people you will sell art to. So those are the people you should be writing a blog for.
I have a niche – I paint artwork that appeals to metalheads, Goths, other alternative types. But my art is also upbeat and happy, and a little bit silly. Just like my blog, Steff Metal, which I use to promote my artwork. I write about art business stuff on this blog, but Steff Metal is all for metalheads, and some of those metalheads buy my artwork.
Write a Biography of your Readers
When I start a blog, or work with a client on a blog, I like to create a bio of a reader. You can give them a name, a job, a partner if they have one, and list all their interests. You can give them an age, a hair colour, a tattoo, and an opinion about politics. Create a picture of the kind of person you’d love to have as a customer.
Now, write for them. Think about what they would be looking for on the Internet, what questions they would need answering, and answer them. Maybe they’d like some tips on how to decorate their home, maybe they’d like vegan recipes or links to free jazz music or to learn about interesting personalities from Victorian London. Maybe they’d like to know how to save time, how to be more productive, how to make their own cheese, or plan a vintage wedding. Maybe if you teach them these things with ample doses of your personality thrown in, they’ll fall in love with you and your work, and they won’t just buy one piece … but several pieces – for themselves and for friends.
The Blogging “Shoulds”
If you read any of the great “how-to blog” blogs, they’re big on rules – simple do or don’t, yes or no statements that determine whether a blog will be successful or not. But the truth is, for every “rule” there are hundreds of blogs that break the rule and are better for it. Rules and lists and step-by-step guides make great link bait, but they don’t teach you
You’re an artist, so you probably make your living rocking the boat. Sure, you need to know how the boat works before you start fucking with it, but once you’re the master of your boat, you can start adding aesthetically-pleasing holes in the hull and carving a Viking wench for the figurehead.
Spend a few weeks reading about how to blog, and once you feel like you’ve got it sussed, stop reading, stop trying to obey the rules – there are no rules. You’ll feel much more authentic and happy if you blog what you want to blog, and when you’re happy and passionate, you’ll attract readers who respond to that.
Conversions – not just for Rugby Heads
Create specific articles, pages and sections of your website to convert – that is, get your readers to do something – leave a comment, buy a piece or art, download a free ebook, sign up to a newsletter, etc. Keep these pages tight and focused, work hard on making the titles and text appeal to readers. It’s these pages that transform your blog from an artistic ramble to a viable marketing tool. (Check out my writing packages if you need some help creating conversions and bringing loyal readers to your site.)
What I want to read about an artist on their blog
- I’d want to know who they were and why I should care.
- I’d want to see a lot of pictures of their artwork – including in-progress pictures.
- I’d want to learn about their thought-process and meanings behind each piece.
- I’d want to hear about upcoming shows and projects.
- I’d want other articles to keep me interested – articles that appealed to my particular sensibilities.
- I’d want to feel like I knew this artist, like they’d invited me to share a little of their world.
Guest Post on Other Blogs
Now that you’ve got some great articles written and an idea of whom you want to write for, it’s time to get the word out about your blog.
Now, you can do this in any number of ways. I recommend first sharing your blog with your family and friends. And then you should start sending off posts and pitches to other bloggers, offering them guest posts to publish.
You don’t get paid for writing guest posts, but you do get links back to your site, and your blog and artwork in front of a brand new set of eyeballs. After each guest post you get a bio – the Webmaster or mistress normally gives you two links back to your sites. I use one link to link back to my blog, and the other to link to the Grymm & Epic Gazette sign-up. Every time I guest post, the number of subscribers surges.
The other thing I love about guest posting is that it allows you to write about the topics you’re interested in that don’t, for whatever reason, fit on your own blog. If you want to write about the business of art, but want your blog to appeal to a wider audience, seeking out guest posting opportunities on artist business blogs. Ditto if you want to write about cats, or having a baby, or organic cooking. Promoting your blog across different niches can bring remarkable benefits – you attract people outside of your usual circle, and you may find yourself with enough readers to provoke another income stream.
Be Patient, Grasshopper
You won’t become a famous blogger overnight, and even a mention on a big site won’t skyrocket you to success. Building a successful blog is about sustained effort over a period of months and years. For all my blogs I’ve noticed a distinct pickup in traffic after they’ve been running a year. Maybe yours will come sooner, maybe later, but about a year is what most people need.
Don’t lose heart if your blog isn’t getting the attention or comments you thought it would. You might discover that blogging isn’t for you, and that’s OK – you shouldn’t force yourself. Life’s too short for that.
Love your Rabid Fans
One rabid fan is worth more than two hundred “likes” on Facebook. Even if you’ve only got three people reading your blog, if one of them is screaming in enthusiasm at everything you do, then do everything you can to respond to them. If they feel welcome and appreciated, they’ll continue to follow and admire your work.
And do you know what rabid fans do? They spread the word. They harp on about you with such enthusiasm all their friends become your blog followers. You start selling several pieces to this person every year as gifts, and their family start emailing you when it’s time for them to return the favor. Rabid fans bring their own networks of clued up and tuned in folk.
So take the time to respond to every post and email (even if there are oodles – I answer every email I get, eventually. I get a LOT of email). And don’t be afraid to ask for a little love. If you want something spread around, just add a Facebook button and ask people to like it! The worst they could do is say no.
Your blog adds another dimension to your artwork and to your interaction with your audience – a blog can be an amazing tool if you keep at it and respect the people who read it. And don’t be surprised if, through your blog, you meet all sorts of amazing people and take your art career further than you could possibly imagine.
A Few Blog Posts by Other Awesome People on Artists and Blogging
What Artists Should Blog About? – on the Abundant Artist
9 Reasons Why Every Artist Should Have Their Own Art Blog – on Empty Easel
5 Blog Posts Every Artist Should Write – on Imaginative Bloom
Keys to Building a Successful Art Blog – on Unstarving Artist
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