It's been a while since I've posted some tips for bloggers, so I thought today might be a good day to do some of that. A lot of my tips in the past have been centered around getting started with a blog or getting up and going. Today, these tips are a bit more geared for folks who have been blogging a bit and maybe want some pointers.
, originally uploaded by carolsLittleWorld.
, originally uploaded by carolsLittleWorld.
- For starters, I get asked a lot how I keep posting to my blog. How I keep it up, day over day. The short answer is, well, I don't. If I wake up in the morning and I just don't have anything all that interesting to say, why I don't blog. I don't feel the pressing need to blog or even to craft a blog post each and every day (for the most part. You know, minus November.) I usually craft a post when I have something interesting, something relevant to post about, otherwise I just wait a day or two before posting.
- Another tip I use is I try to come up with a general topic. Like "tips for bloggers" or "music" or whatever topic is handy, and then sort of "flesh out" a post related to that topic. Sometimes, my ramblings take me far from my original topic, that's fine, that's what blogs are supposed to do. This is an informal means of communication and I don't spend a lot of time "polishing" my blog posts. I don't over-edit them and I often don't even run a complete spell check. It's ok if you do that, don't let spelling rule your life. Sure it's great to have nicely polished bio and press kits but this situation, this is not the same. People have grown to expect a more informal setting on a blog. Some people don't even write complete sentences, and that's fine too. There are no hard and fast rules here, just write as you feel and try to have clear thoughts. That's all I do and, I believe, that's how many blog posts are crafted.
- I try to keep my posts relevant or somewhat relevant-ish to my art and photography. Sometimes, as you know, I famously "go off" this model (my Tivo has a fan-base. Well, except for that entire Nicolas Cage incident, but we won't bring that up again.) I do even try to go "off topic" on a select few topics. Sometimes talking about TV or movies or music is ok but I try not to make a habit of it. I try to keep most posts short but don't adhere to any strict length. I stay on topic and just let it happen.
- I try to tie-in an image with a post in some small way. I love to have one image and one post in combination. I think this really works for my blog although I'd be the first to admit this model is maybe not for everybody. Since I have a large archive of images, it's not hard for me to write and post an image at the same time. Your results may vary.
- Finally, I avoid messing with templates. My advice here is simple but, I think, very helpful. Pick a template of some kind that you like and stick with it. Don't spend hours fussing with templates, put your time where it matters most: content. Try to be a content generator and come up with lots of content rather than spending your valuable time fussing with the "look and feel" of a blog. The default templates are fine, just try to come up with some on-topic posts and craft your blog a bit more. After a while, if you really feel like diddling with your template, go ahead and do so, but don't let that stop you from blogging or keep you from generating new content.
- There is nothing wrong with only blogging once a week or even once a month and there is nothing wrong with putting a post up that contains nothing more than a new piece of art that you have created or a new photo you have taken. Don't feel pressured by the blogs of others into having to "live up to" certain expectations. I'm going to sound like your mother here but, just because "little Johnny" is posting every day and writing gobs of new material for his blog, doesn't mean that you have to also. Do what you feel comfortable doing.
- Then there is the topic of rants. Rants work great and can be received as being very funny even but, here again, don't make a habit of it. Posting too many rants will lead people to believe that you are a negative person. Complaining about a brush that falls apart or a photo shoot that didn't work out all too well is fine if you do it once in a while but remember that people (your fans) want to share in your successes too, not just hear about your rants.
- Try to keep your audience in mind. Who is reading your blog? What do you think they are going to want to read about today? Sometimes, answering these all too simple questions leads to great content. Especially if you are working in the field, if you are in the trenches and actually doing something like traveling or working with a specific type of technique, people love to hear that and they want to listen to what you have to say so don't be afraid to speak up. Say what's on your mind, and tell them what you think they want to hear about. Share what it is your doing with them. They'll love it, I'm sure.
- I've said before that this blog is read mostly by artists and photographers and so that is my target audience. I try to keep them in mind. If I post everyday about the weather or about what I ate for dinner or something unrelated this will eventually chase them away. Sure a rant from time to time about a chicken I burnt or my dead mac and cheese is fine, but I look at that as being part of living the life of an artist. I'm not a chef and most people don't come here for cooking advice, but I'm also ok if they share in my burnt dinner once in a while. Sometimes though, things are on my mind and they are things that are not really related to art and photography and, if that's the case, why you're probably going to hear about them or, at least, hear a little bit about them. They're part of me and I don't mind sharing. This is my kitchen table of sorts and so anything is fair game but I do try and come around to the topic at hand again and again. It's what keeps people coming back for more.
- I try to let readers in on big projects or even long-running projects I'm working on. I think this is helpful as they can learn too by following along. You are also right along with me when I travel because that's a big part of what I do. As Joe McNally so eloquently put it, "I’m thankful airplanes generally go interesting places, ’cause I’m on them a lot." Yes, photographers are on them a lot indeed. In these days of social media, the "behind the scenes" is the scenes, so I let you in on that whenever I possibly can. It's what you want to see.
- I try to share information about upcoming shows, gallery openings, and the like, although I also try to avoid being a commercial. If every post I were to write started out with a "buy this!" or "look at my work here!" I know you would stop coming here, stop reading along. I try to keep those more like pleasant interruptions, rather than the norm, even if I do wind up doing a lot of shows this year. I do, however, think it important to share. I also find this helps promote other artists. A lot of artists in Austin don't blog and don't have websites so, often, I find I'm the only way their invitation might get on the web or in front of so many eyes on Facebook. I almost think of this as a service I provide and do try to promote the artwork and photography of others as often as I can.
- Blogging is like exercise. The more you do it, the better you get at doing it. It's just kind of one of those things you have to pull yourself up by your bootstraps and say, ok now, I'm going to start doing this. It has its own rewards. The Internet can be a wonderful place, and you enjoy it a lot more when you are a blogger.
- Some days you are the pigeon and some days the statue. What I mean by that is that, some days, it's going to feel like the entire world is reading your blog while others? Yeah, not so much. Even your grandmother will tell you she has better things to do with her time. Accept that. Internet traffic varies. It's better to build up a stable of regular readers than to become a flash in the pan one hit wonder. Take your time and don't expect instant results. Nothing is instant in this world except for make instant mashed potatoes and even they take 90 seconds in the microwave.
- Don't substitute a blog for doing marketing and, by this, I mean real marketing. Have business cards, hand them out. Talk to people. Attend shows in your area. Go out and see local art. Go on photo shoots, see what it's like even if you are not a professional. Having a blog is not a substitute for living an interesting life, try to strive to do both if you can.
- Lastly, have fun. I try to have fun in everything I do, even if I take things seriously. There's always a little bit of fun thrown in somewhere along the way.
Until next time...