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Art blogging

In this article, I comprehensively discuss different aspects of blogging on art and related subjects, and also share best practices in the industry. 

Since this is a comprehensive article, you can jump to a section if you do not have time for the whole article. I will advise new bloggers to particularly pay attention to the section on starting an art blog.

Contents

What are art blogs?

Art blogs are the blogs that showcase and discuss art in different forms - usually visual arts (painting, drawing, photography, designing, computer graphics, folk art, street art, cartooning, etc.) Application of arts in different walks of life or commerce (e.g. fashion art, home decor, poster and cover designing, typography) can also come in this category. Crafts, especially handicraft, carving and sculpture can also be considered under the broad category of art blogs.

Blogs on photography, DIY, commercial paintwork, fashion designing, decor and such forms of 'art' have their own niches and are generally not mixed with other art forms on art blogs, but some big websites include them too in this category. Audio-visual art forms (films, etc) go even farter from what is usually considered art blogging.

Let us look at the narrow subject of drawing and painting from the blogging perspective. Most art blogs are associated with this form of visual art. Most blogs in these areas are maintained by artists, art enthusiasts, art historians and art teachers, but some are also maintained by curators, museums and art galleries. Rarely, artists join hands to make joint/ collective blogs. I have seen a few Facebook groups of artists and art bloggers.

Art blogs can present artworks for display and also for sale. They can have artist interviews, reviews of artworks, discussion on artists' styles, comparisons between artists, art techniques, art merchandise, tutorials and so on.

Art blogs opened by bloggers other than artists often have information on a number of artists; sometimes, they focus on art of a particular artist, genre, country or time period. 

Going by the way they are created and maintained, art blogs can be stand-alone blogs, blogs on free blogging platforms, and pages/ accounts/ pin-boards on Instagram or Pinterest, and pages on art-trading portals. When talking of art blogging, let us not ignore the contribution of thousands of 'how-to' and tutorials that artists post on YouTube and other video-sharing platforms.

Art is a big business and has a big market. So, there are numerous big portals for trading artworks. Institutions such as museums tend to have portals and web magazines rather than blogs. Some of these big institutions/ firms do maintain a blog as part of the big website. There are websites that curate others' artworks and offer them for sale and print - they thus create an online art marketplace. In this crowd of biggies, small - individual - blogs are lost in terms of influence. Yet, art blogs add variety, depth and width to the art scene. They also are independent, often non-commercial, voices and add individual perspectives to the discussion on art. The passion, bias, experimentation and quirk that individual blogs bring to the art scene contribute to better expression and refinement - the life-bread of all arts.



Why should an artist have a blog?

Artists of today, like any other creative person, should have a blog. If you are an artist who still does not have a blog, you will be benefited in these ways:

  • The blog gives exposure to your work, finds viewers for it and connects it with online community. It is like your own art gallery.
  • It helps in branding you as an artist. 
  • It helps you in selling your art, directly or indirectly. 
  • Even if you do not sell directly through the blog, the blog helps in building your brand. This helps you in selling your services such as running courses, online teaching, freelancing. Better branding also helps in monetization of your works.
  • You can use the blog for sharing ideas, discussing master artists, new developments and so on. 
  • Blog is a fantastic property for promotion, engagement and online socialization. You should make the blog the fulcrum of 'content marketing' and social media activity.

why an artist blogs

      



How to start an art blog?

Whether you are a new art blogger or an established one, you must maintain your blog in a professional way. Remember that it is not a personal blog, even if you maintain it only for discussion on art.

The first thing you must decide is the niche or subject/ area that you will cover in the blog. The niche can be very narrow (e.g. Michelangelo art, papier mache, folk arts of Madhubani, painting brushes, your own art) or wider (e.g. art scene in the US, cubist art, watercolor, urban art) or all-encompassing (e.g. modern art, discussion on art, art history, color in art).

I suggest that you do a bit of research to find the niche that would suit your blog: (i) subjects that attract good traffic because they are topical and people are interested in them, (ii) you have good knowledge about the subject and (iii) these subject are not covered well on the web or you have the ability to present things in a different way. 

The next things to decide is the blogging goal. Do you want the blog just for discussion or personal branding or for making money? If for selling artwork, will you use the blog for direct sale of your artwork or use it to send traffic to some other website? 

Once you are clear about your blogging goal, other things will fall in place.

Will the blog be a stand-alone blog or a part of a website or on a blogging/ social sharing platform? Or you will be OK with having the blog on a free blogging platform such as Blogger? Are you OK with just a blog on Instagram or Pinterest and do not need a separate blog? 

Answers to these questions will come from your blogging goal; if branding or making money is your goal, go for an independent blog. Open a blog in addition to your presence on social sharing sites such as Instagram. I recommend that you use wordpress.org for designing and maintaining the blog. 

You must give your blog a suitable name, whether it is a free blog or a self-hosted one.

Give your blog the right webdesign. If the blog is on Wordpress, there are many themes available that suit art blogs, and some of them are free. If the blog is on Blogger, there is a small bunch of in-build themes, and you can customize the template in many ways to suit it to your blog. Whatever the platform, try to make your blog stand out in the crowd using not-so-ordinary design elements. 

I will suggest that you visit this resource page if you are new to blogging: How to start a blog. If branding or money-making is your goal, also browse articles on money making, web hosting and tips on choosing the right domain name for the blog. This series of posts on putting images on websites and blogs discuss in detail about the type of images you should put on the blog and how to process them for the blog.

Now comes the content part, which I have discussed in the next section. Also look at the best practices section at the bottom of this article. Develop quality content, and always keep in mind the needs of your target audience. When we say quality, that includes the quality of subject matter, language and images. 

You must be regular in publishing posts on the blog. You must also reply to comments you receive on the blog (and social media). 

Traffic is very important for all blogs. For that, you will need to do a bit of search engine optimization. Forget this initially, if you do not want to burden yourself with too many tasks in one go. However, note it down as an essential activity after the blog has run for a few months by which time you will have put some content on the blog. Being active on social media also brings good traffic. If your goal is to make money, you should also use networking and a bit of paid promotion to build up traffic fast.

You should also think about putting an email subscription widget or pop-up on the blog. When people voluntarily subscribe to your blog, they are likely to visit your blog whenever you publish a new post. There are a number of email scheduling/ marketing services available on the web. For beginners, Mailchimp is a good option as it gives a lot of freebies. 

Don't forget to be on social media. Choose only one or two platforms that you can handle, from among the popular ones e.g. Instagram, Pinterest and Facebook. If you have a good fan following, think of Twitter. Give social media links on the blog, and publish your blog posts on social media.

If you are into teaching art, a YouTube channel would go a long way. YouTube channels and traditional blogs support each other very well.



As an art blogger, what is your audience?

It is important to know your target audience (= the likely visitors) to your blog. Your blog's name, main content and the way you promote your blog  - these all should be aligned with the target audience.

If you are an artist, art enthusiasts, students, new bloggers, collectors, stray art buyers, and those looking for a freelancer can be your main audience. Among them, those interested in your type of work will be your core audience. 

If you are an art critic/ specialist, your audience perhaps would be those interested in discussing art: academicians, curators, teachers and students, art enthusiasts, people interested in art and culture, researchers, etc. Once you are known as an expert/ authority, people will like to know your views before buying an art piece. 

If you are an art teacher, you will sure want to target the blog to young artists and students. Maybe, those learning art as a hobby will also be in your target. Teachers themselves might like to learn one bit or two from you.

If you are into selling art (of others) on your blog, you will obviously have buyers as your focus group. 

If you sell art merchandise on the blog, you will definitely focus on the likely buyers - young artists, art students, hobbyists, etc.

Also keep in mind location of the target group, size of the group, the group's likely reading/ buying habits. 

You can take many decisions based on the target audience. For example, if the size of the target audience is too small in a particular niche, expand it to include more subjects. If your goal is to make money blogging and the target group of your chosen niche will not buy things online, change the niche.



What should art bloggers blog about?

It is obvious that artist bloggers should be liberal with showcasing their completed artworks on the blog. 

If you are a new art blogger, you might like to explain your inspiration, style, experience etc to build rapport with visitors. If you are an established blogger, your fans would like to also hear something about your life once in a while - and that builds in making a personal connect with the fans.

If you are a blogger with some fan following, you will have to come out with new artwork at a regular interval and spread word about that through the blog as well as your social network.

You should also talk about arts in general, art scene in your area, and other artists. That will also show that you are not a cocooned, one-dimensional artist.

When composing content for the blog, try to give a unique perspective, especially when you discuss an art topic.  

Hesitate in making comments on controversies relating to art (e.g. an artist is blamed for lampooning Gods of a particular religion). When a comment from you is called for, be moderate in criticism and do not take the wrong side.



What mistakes an art blogger should avoid?

Do not put out bad content on the blog. Do not write drab prose. Do not make language or proof errors in text. Do not indulge in controversies or write inappropriate content.

It is not a good idea to have a website and a separate blog. You can have a blog or a blog as a part of website.

Not putting images on blog posts s not acceptable on art blogs. Putting very bad quality images and images in shapes that create visual imbalance is also not acceptable. Such things immediately crash your reputation as an artist or art lover.

Not posting regularly is a blogging sin. Yet many bloggers initially publish many posts and then become irregular.

A blogger cannot afford to ignore engaging with people on blog and other social media.

If your blog sells products or services directly, it must have clear details about the product and easy way to buy things.

Some artist bloggers get obsessed with blogging so much that they ignore their primary work of creating art. 

Do not have too much expectation from the blog, especially in terms of earning, and do not lose patience. Blogging is a slow and steady process, and it demands hard work and constant attention. 



How to make money blogging on art subjects?

Art blogs that sell artworks or merchandise are best monetized by selling the products directly or by affiliate marketing. The blog can also act as a funnel to send traffic to your main website that sells artworks or to your page on a gallery or to your account with a trade directory/ online marketplace/ auction site.  

Art blogs that give out information can be monetized through various means e.g. placing advertisements on the blog and affiliate marketing of other's products.

Many bloggers feel that a well-maintained blog would generate enough passive income through advertisements. Experienced bloggers of any genre would tell you that display advertisements alone do not generate enough income even when the blog receives lots of traffic. So, one needs to look for other streams of earning, e.g. affiliate marketing, paid reviews, e-courses, YouTube channel, etc - of course, the blog becomes the hub of most such monetization activities. 

making money from art blogs
    


Best practices for art blogging

  • If you want to be an established art blogger, especially if you are an artist who wants to establish himself, open a self-hosted blog (not a blog on free blogging platform).
  • It is better to talk about one piece of art or one art style or one artist in one post. Sometimes, you should have comprehensive posts with multiple ideas, etc,
  • Arrange content in different categories by artists, styles, etc. If the blog is on your own work, you should still maintain them in categories (e.g. scenery/ nature, portraits, sketches). On the blog, list those categories on the sidebar or top menubar.
  • If your art is such that it can be copied and misused (particularly computer graphics), do not upload the original work. Use thumbnails, low-resolution pictures or pictures with watermarks.
  • Keep the blog neat and clean. Use a design/ theme that suits art blogs. Put pictures after resizing them to a uniform size. Don't let pictures come out of the column in which they are placed. 
  • Focus the content to the target audience (discussed above). It is a waste of effort if your blog is purely on watercolor and you occasionally put content on other media.
  • Promote yourself and your blog. Be active on social media, and cross-post your blog posts to social sites. When you plan to have a show (e.g. art exhibition), keep sharing details and deadline with your fans, email subscribers, and others. Use social media, email and instant messages (on WhatsApp etc) to reach them. However, do not overdo it - otherwise people might be put off.
  • If you want to sell artwork or merchandise directly through the blog, you will have to go for e-commerce. Wordpress blog with an e-commerce plugin is a good idea.
  • When selling product or service directly through the blog, ensure that potential buyers get all the details easily and can access the action button without confusion.
  • Have an 'About me' page on the blog. On this page, give your bio and contact details.


Useful resources on art blogging

A few top web resources for artists and art bloggers are given below. As an art blogger, you should update yourself reading art magazines, and as an artist, you can use these websites to learn, share experience, collaborate and sell your creations.

Disclaimer: I have no commercial affiliation with the websites/ services linked in this article. My recommendations are based purely on merit.