Sunday, January 3, 2010

5 Elements for a Successful Artist's Blog

Revised 18Sept2011
"You need a blog. Not just an ordinary blog - there are too many of those. You need to talk, in some depth, about your vision and your art, in a way that makes me care about what you have to say. Tell me something worth hearing. Enlighten, entertain, inform. Make me happy, angry, intrigued, or inspired. Write about whatever you want, just make it uniquely you and don't leave me bored and uninterested. Express yourself and show your passion. Leave me wanting more, eagerly awaiting your next post. Your art may "stand on it's own" as some artists like to say, but with a good story behind it, your art will stand even stronger."
So goes part of a November 2009 posting entitled Is your art broken? Good news and bad news for artists, and the simple new rules of art marketing, written by "Micah" on the website We know nothing about "Micah" except that she writes well and she's spot-on correct: what's essential for a successful artist's blog (and ANY blog) is compelling, engrossing content.

A fly-by of the info on artists' blogs and blogging in general yields the following 5 elements of a successful artist's blog:

The most essential feature is outstanding writing. Don't even think of attempting a successful blog unless you wholeheartedly enjoy writing and are damn GOOD at it. With all the competition out there for prospective blog followers, none will tarry a moment on your site unless they find stellar quality writing there.

A blog is not only for showing prospective buyers your artwork (though it can and ought to include that). You can accomplish that with a simple gallery website. A blog is about WORDS, conversation, reading, writing, discussion.

Next in importance is frequency. Post new material on your blog at least twice a week. This is, of course, related to being a skilled and enthusiastic writer. If your heart is in it, this kind of frequency is not a burden. But a joy.

Regular and provocative postings create a community atmosphere. Casual followers will become loyal followers. (You know. How often have you discovered a really excellent blog posting, one that grabbed you and intrigued you, so much so that you bookmarked the blog. But when you went back at intervals over the next month, you found no new content. So here's what you did: you deleted the bookmark.)

The raison d'être of #1 and #2 is this third one: make it interesting. Make it engrossing, fascinating, amusing, stimulating. You can be the best writer out there and post faithfully every day, but if what you are offering to your followers is humdrum or boring or nonsensical or just too much work to figure out, no one will return.

This is difficult -- sometimes even controversial -- because there are so many variables. What might be absolutely riveting to you may be a big yawn to those you are trying to reach with your blog. Coming up with good ideas and fertile topics requires knowledge of your target audience. What do they care about? And beyond that, should you 'pander' to what they care about, rather than what interests YOU?

This next one is what OUGHT to be the catalyst of #3 above: be honest, be candid, be passionate. They follow your blog because they are interested in YOU and your artwork. Let your art and your personality shine. (Incidentally, prospective buyers really enjoy getting the 'back story' on you, your art, and especially on that one piece that has caught their eye. The more you reveal about your process and your thinking the richer the 'back story'.)

Last, be greedy. Make your blog a part of your own process of discovery, creation, and documentation. Use it as your personal art journal. "You can share the process of creation of your art and document it so that the connection between journey and destination is made even more unbreakable." (from remarkablogger) Follow your own progression and think about what you have done and left un-done. Heck, if you are going to go to all the trouble, you might as well exploit your blog as one of your learning tools.

WHY?Why Should Artists Blog? (2007), from
Why professional artists need a blog (2009), from Artists Talking, a British site
Top 10 Reasons to Start a Blog / Why Should You Blog? on
9 Reasons Why Every Artist Should Have Their Own Art Blog (2007), from

 HOW?Artist Blogging 101 (2009), from
Getting Started With Blogging – How To Create An Artist Blog (2009), by
Blogging for Artists - Resources for Artists, from Squidoo
27 Thoughts On Blogging For The Artist (2008), by Robert Bruce, posted in
☛ here's an ebook entitled 31 Days to Build a Better Blog: very interesting! Download it for twenty bucks. More info here.
Blogging for Artists (2009), from - loaded w/tips and how-tos
Notes on blogging etiquette for artists (2008) from Katherine Tyrell, on her excellent blog Making a Mark. There are a lot of 'NEVER's and 'ALWAYS's here, but the tips are very useful.
☛ Chose your platform: The blog platforms of choice among the top 100 blogs, from The winner? WordPress!
Content Strategy: 7 Tips To Make Your Blog Stickier, by Shane Snow.
All Info on Art Blogging, by Nancy Natale -- A bit scattered and disorganized, and somewhat ambitiously titled, but useful nonetheless.
A million visits to my art blog - and some tips, by Katherine Tyrrell, author of the blog Making a Mark

SAMPLES:29 Art Blogs to Watch in 2011, as nominated by Donna Zagotta, posted on 25Jan11
Top Ten Posts on an Artist's Blog 2010, by Casey Klahn
Top 10 Art Blog Posts of 2009, by Casey Klahn
☛ and the Top 10 Art Blog Posts of 2008, as selected by the inimitable Casey Klahn.
May 2010 list of the Top 25 UK Arts & Culture Blogs, from

AVOID THIS: Avoid this if possible. While there is nothing inherently wrong with this, it tends to frighten potential readers: "My blog reflects my interests in stained glass, mosaics, encaustic wax, weaving, journaling, doll making, cooking, soap and cream making, herbs and, of course, sculpture."


Casey Klahn said...

Good post and very nice blog - I liked it (a lot) even before I saw the links to me.

Why? Quotes from WKahn and pix of Matisse - gotta love that. Great graphics, too.

Now, I just need a follow method and I'm a daily follower of your blog. And, I'm gonna link this post and I also feel inspired to add my own in this vein.

Observe Closely said...

Thanks for the kind words, Casey! It means a lot to me. (Heck, it means I have a least ONE set of eyes on it, right?) Merci beaucoup! Jan

Mindful Drawing said...

Great advice, however I see more and more art blogs without pictures of the artist and with vague and ultra short bio's that publish ones a month. Snob, posh or a new trend?

Observe Closely said...

Thanks, Mindful, for the comment. I am not sure pictures of the artist and long detailed bios are a "must". (I have seen artist's bios that would make your hair stand up. Best to keep them fact-filled and businesslike, imo.) But once-a-month posting won't do for a useful functioning blog. If it's a trend, it isn't an interesting one.