Starting An Art Blog

Starting an Art Blog

starting a blog, art blog, how to blog,
Starting An Art Blog...

Every week I write a new article for members of our four Facebook groups, The Artists Lounge, The Artists Exchange, The Artists Directory, and The Artist Hangout. This week we take a look at the world of blogging about your art. It might sound like it is such an old-fashioned thing to do, but it is still one of the best marketing tools that you can have in your artist toolbox. You just have to know where the pitfalls are, set realistic expectations, and you have to give yourself permission to blog. You got this!

As a bonus this week I have scattered a few free reference photos throughout. Each will be titled with reference and if you need a higher resolution version, just use the contact form on the page and I will email you one back. Please bear in mind that I can only respond to messages which come through the official contact form on this site. No attribution is required as long as the images have been used as a reference or if you artistically alter them in some way. If you are planning to just use them as-is, then attribution or the donation of a coffee through the link in the 'about me' section of this article would be appreciated.

Last week I was on vacation and I was in what I would call a data predicament. I could either go with WiFi that didn't work at all and pay for the privilege or continue to tether to my phone and run the gauntlet with the cell provider who had managed to mess up my data allowance from unlimited everything down to 2-Gb of tethering for the same price. 

Of course, I complained to the cell service and they apologised for not getting my unlimited data to me but it would now have to be resolved on the next billing date. They might as well have cut off an arm at this point. So back home to reality and real WiFi and finally now, I am home and I now also have unlimited everything back on my phone before the next billing date, I literally have data coming out of my ears. One thing is for sure, I won't be re-contracting with my current cell provider when the contract is finally up.

I really enjoyed my time away, the only downside was that whilst I had parked the car in between the lines in a real parking space, and to be totally honest even I was impressed with my parking skills, someone then decided to drive a motorhome into the rear end of it. Thankfully he did the right thing and left a note and he was so apologetic when I called. My faith in humanity was restored. 

By the time you read this, the hire car should be with me, and all I can be thankful for was that it was the big car and not my little Fiat 500 (in a fabulous yellow colour)  which would have no doubt crumpled into the size of a trash bin had it have been hit by something the size of a coach. Two lessons here, never park in the very first parking bay where the car is exposed and secondly, if you are driving something the size of a bus, never drive it into the worlds smallest car park. 

Hindsight is a wonderful thing. I just wish I had have had some of it when I started writing this blog. I remember the very first website I created many years ago and I was so excited to get started that I hadn't got the first clue what I even needed the website for. Then years later after many, many, websites, I finally got around to producing the one you are reading today. Even this site has had periodical updates. I went from HTTP to HTTPS which was actually more work than I would ever have imagined, and then I have changed the format to a responsive design which again took me weeks upon weeks to get right. There is no doubt in my mind that creating any website can cost you in terms of time and money. So this week I am going to share some of my hindsight with you so that you don't have to go through the same pain! 

If there is one thing that I wished I had when I started creating a blog it would have been to have someone by my side who could have given me a reality check, tell me that I was on the right or wrong track, and give me an idea of where the pitfalls and traps would be waiting. Instead, I did something crazy, I set up a website and had no idea what to do with it.

I have no idea how many bloggers start blogging each year but according to statistics, around 5.8 million new blog posts are created each day. The same statistics say that a thousand blog words will take you around 3.5 hours to write, and it’s thought that a 7-minute read is the golden time that a blogger should be aiming for. I have no idea where 3.5 hours comes from, it can take me weeks to pull a paragraph together.

Most blogs get less than one thousand viewers per month, and when bloggers start out they’re frequently disappointed that their first blog post didn’t reach Everest level numbers of hits. Within the first six months, many bloggers just give up even trying.

There are many abandoned blogs on the internet, so many words have been written, yet there is every chance that no one will ever find or read them. A blog may sit around for a year waiting for its owner to do something with it and eventually they do and the owner re-enters the blogosphere with an apology for not updating the site and a promise to try much harder. Some do, most alas don’t. That’s the cold reality of blogging.

So armed with that information why on earth would anyone ever make the decision to start blogging in the first place, I mean, as artists we also have to put all the time we can into creating brand new works. Blogging seems so much like hard work for apparently so little in return.

Here’s the reason, because surprisingly even in 2019, blogging remains one of the best channels that you have that allows you to connect with readers away from social media. If you Google the phrase, “why should I be blogging,” many of the websites that have attempted to answer the question will tell you it’s a good idea because it is a perfect platform to connect with your audience, or because search engines can’t read pictures very well, or because it is a great way to promote events.

Some of these websites are correct of course, it can be a great way to connect on a much deeper level with your audience. But mostly, these websites forget to mention the one really important thing and that is that you kind of need to have an audience, to begin with.  Build it and they will come, yeah, not likely. Most forget to mention the workload, or that there will be times when you become determined to give up, and if they do tell you about any of that, they don’t really go on to tell you why.

So this week I am going to lay it all out and give you some of the realities that many advice websites forget to add right after they tell you that you absolutely need to blog. You definitely should be doing the blogging thing as an artist, but you also need to be aware of the pitfalls, the obstacles and you most definitely need to set your expectations somewhere closer to earth. You also don’t always have to worry about the things they tell you that you should be worried about. Mostly, with any new website whether it is a blog or an e-commerce site, you just have to be you and get on with it.

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The Life of a Blogger

A look back at blogging history…

I have been doing the blogging thing for longer than this website. In the early days of the new millennium, I created and ran a website that talked about old personal computers and graphics. I covered my own retro-styled digital art, and all of this at a time when digital art was seen as everything other than art. But I gradually built a regular readership until I eventually started to focus more and more on my art, and when I moved into a gallery space I just didn't have a moment at all to keep it updated.

Back then no one really had much interest in the numbers, the hits, the analytics, people were creating websites every second of every day and there was never a reliable way other than comments and the odd email to gauge how well a website was performing. Or at least no easy way if you didn’t know exactly what you were doing, and even when you did, the numbers didn’t mean much. They were just nice to know. No one gave up blogging because of the numbers, they gave up when they got bored or found other things to do or simply got tired of waiting for it to happen. No one really knows for sure what the 'it' they are waiting for really is when they start out.

Those were the days when dial-up internet was a thing and you had to spend 30-minutes connecting before someone in the house would say that you needed to come off that internet thing now because they needed to use the phone. It was slow and painful and there was literally no one around to view what you did because these were the days when having the internet at home was an absolute luxury. Those of us who were lucky enough would use it for as long as anyone in the house didn't want to make a call.

When you did get online the images would load bit by bit, pixel by pixel, and communication was through the chat rooms of Yahoo and MSN Messenger. Alta Vista was the search engine of choice before Google came along in 1996. If you were born in the time of Internet Explorer, you might not even know that we once used a browser called Netscape and anything that you did online was way more challenging than it is today. It was slower, more brutal, had a learning curve that made climbing Everest look easy, and Bill Gates was just another geek.

Those were the days when blogging superstars were born. Okay, a couple of blogging superstars were born, it wouldn’t be until the later part of the nineties that the real history of blogging really began.

People would blog before the late nineties on static web pages that they had created for free. It was on these pages that people would write a journal about their hobbies and vacations.  The term “weblog” didn’t arrive until 1997 when Jorn Barger introduced it. It was later reduced to “blog” by Peter Merholz, in either April or May 1999. The Blog was finally born.

Websites of the time were often little more than demonstrations of GIFs and garish colours with a splash of comic sans. If you wanted to find the evil of the internet then that too was around in the form of pop-up ads. Our dark web was those pop-up adverts because they pooped up in their thousands. I know this all too well because those garish colours and comic sans filled pages kind of describe most of my own early attempts at building websites. I literally built hundreds, maybe some are still around in the thing we call the cloud.

Let's grab a coffee now and here's the first reference photo!

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Reference photo captured by Mark A. Taylor

Why is the history of the internet and blogging so important?

Back in the nineties when everyone was trying to get on the internet train, it was like the Klondike gold rush. Pretty much anyone who was passionate about their hobby or interest and who owned or borrowed a computer that had online access would have a go at creating a website or somewhere they could describe their hobby or have a rant. There were plenty of WYSIWYG (what you see is what you get) website builder tools, and for some people they finally had a chance to showcase the skills they had been taught in their school computer class.

Many of the blogs and journals of the time had been created to serve a fleeting glimpse into the interests of those who wrote them. Many of the original writers soon lost interest in updating them just as they do today. The reasons for not updating sites still hinged around sites not making money quickly enough and I think also back then because the internet just wasn't very good. 

Some bloggers who persevered and carried on making updates continue to update those sites even today, and internet treasures like the Way Back Machine will take you on a trippy journey through the bygone days of the real internet.

The Internet Archive has been archiving the web for 20 years and has preserved billions of webpages from millions of websites. These webpages are often made up of, and link to, many images, videos, style sheets, scripts and other web objects. Over the years, the Archive has saved over 510 billion such time-stamped web objects, which the site terms as web captures. You can start a long journey into the once familiar right here

Blogs didn’t really start to become an internet thing until the early 2000s. According to various lists of the time, there were a total of 23 blogs on the internet in 1999. By around June 2006, there were somewhere in the region of 50-million according to Technorati’s State of the Blogosphere report. Interestingly, the most popular blogs back then were political and what is interesting is that if you want a site that you can monetise more easily than art, politics is still one of the best subjects to cover but it is also the one subject that needs you to grow a very thick skin and it is fraught with pitfalls as a subject, not least because of all of the election issues from rogue nations. The first blogs about creating blogs started to appear in 2001 and the WordPress platform appeared in 2003 which started to make blogging even easier. The rest, as they say, is history.

The sites of the nineties and early millennium were mostly built out of passion. Not many people had knowledge of SEO and they didn’t keep checking up on the number of hits. Everyone just got on with it, they were writing for themselves, people were authentic. I can’t even remember a time when we would use the internet to say, hey the weather is so dang hot today, here’s what I ate for lunch and do you like my new Gucci watch, now go and buy my art/album/book/vitamin pills. It happened but it felt much more authentic than some Insta-celebrity posting that kind of stuff today would.

Today an influencer on Instagram can write about lunch and accumulate two-million more followers so they can continue to fake their glamorous lives and get paid to promote something they most likely don’t really believe in at all. Personally, I would be ecstatic with a few art supplies or a pencil as a reward because I am the kind of person who gets excited to receive free pens and keyrings at exhibitions! The question I always ask because I am sceptical, old, and remember the real internet is, would these influencers still be as interested if they weren’t getting free stuff and being paid tens of thousands of dollars for every post?

Back in the early days, the internet seemed to have more of a purpose despite the garish colours, strobe-like GIFs, and comic sans. Maybe it’s just me but didn’t people who were online back then seem, just, well, a bit more authentic and interesting and real? The advent of artificial intelligence (AI) seems to be dehumanising much of the experience today and whilst that technology has a place, I can't think of a valid use for it on an art-related website unless it is handling something like e-commerce. 

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A Blog Life

So we need to be real when we blog then?

We hear a lot today about the need to be real and become more authentic when we are online. There are plenty of websites that say that having both of those qualities are essential ingredients in making people want to connect with you, your brand, and your content. Real and authentic we are told, are the keys to driving and maintaining engagement. I have said it many times, but artist sites have to be real, real, and real authentic.

In the 90s, people didn’t have to try to be either of those, they just seemed like they really were. Let me explain, back then if you found a website with an expert opinion there was a good chance that it would have been an expert sharing that opinion. People really did believe back then that serious things needed to be discussed by serious people with a list of letters after their name.

At the beginning of the internet, the experts all wore white lab coats and worked in computer science labs. Maybe this is how we now perceive things and we can’t remember the exact reality, but authentic back then is definitely different from authentic today. As an artist, the single best piece of advice I can ever give to you if you want to test out the waters of blogging is to become the expert of you and your art, share your passion, and keep it real. That's how art has been sold for centuries and the internet doesn't change that. 

Today it is hard to imagine a time when you couldn’t just Google anything at all because Google didn’t exist. The best you could hope for was asking a well-read friend or having a booklet on the subject to hand.

Our world changed, our behaviours changed, and what you could get away with back then, you really can’t get away with today. Back then, no one would call you out for using garish colours and GIFs. Today we think it’s a quaint retro vibe when we see a website replicate a website from the 90s. But the thing is, this modern take on the retro vibe, well, it isn’t truly authentic. It is manufactured authenticity, just like we see on so many Insta and social posts. With art-related blogs there simply is no need for gimmicks, it should be about you and your art, and you have to provide enough value to a reader to keep them coming back.

Here's another reference photo for use in your own art projects!

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Free Reference Photo captured by Mark A. Taylor

Why do artist’s blogs fail so often?

We hear about bloggers giving up and we see remnants of their dreams resting all over the web but it does make you wonder how many gave up just because they were focussed on the numbers way too much. Sure numbers can be important, but they have to be the right numbers and they have to represent quality within the audience. Just as with social media, engagement matters when it comes to blogging.

Whenever I speak about metrics in both my world of art and working with new artists and students, and in the other part of my life which is the day job, I always ask the question: “Is it better to have 500 views in a month and 10% engagement or is it better to have 100 views in a month with 50% engagement such as responding positively to your calls to action?”

The answer becomes more obvious when you start to figure out that both have an equal number of people taking a call to action but take the one hundred view scenario and your audience demographic is significantly more engaged than the higher number. When the audience is more engaged and there are quality metrics starting to appear that demonstrate that people are not bouncing straight off to another website, the blog or site becomes more relevant. All key triggers to get a positive response from search algorithms. The issue is that for too many bloggers they don't see that the quality metrics even if they appear lower are the most important metrics, all they see are how many people clicked the link, or how much did I not earn from AdSense this week.

The thing that new bloggers need to remember about the numbers is that if you are starting out then art bloggers need to forget about the numbers entirely, and especially in the beginning. Art is popular but it’s not as popular as Taylor Swift or the World Cup, or a million other subjects, you simply won't ever get millions of hits every day. Any new blog is one amongst the many hundreds of new ones that appear every week. You just have to make yours a tiny bit better and then you have to market it all way harder than you market your art.

Art as a subject is popular, very popular, but in global search terms, it is relatively speaking, not as popular as some other topics. Break the niche of art into further niches such as acrylic pouring, or some other not quite so currently popular hot topic or subject, the audiences your site attracts will reduce each time you break the niche down further. Art blogs either do really well or they generally don't do anything at all, there really is no middle ground.

But what you are left with is a niche audience, and that’s the one you need to serve. The numbers may be much lower but this is a good thing because the people who found you and follow you are significantly more likely to be engaged with both you, your work, and what you write. When you are online and competing for eyes on your content, you’re not just going up against other artists, you are going up against everything else that’s online too, including the most popular topics and trending keywords and big organisations who have teams of writing and editorial staff. You though are the expert in you and they can't get that from anywhere else.

Some new bloggers see what look to be disappointing numbers and are too quick to give up. That’s not always a bad thing, some blogs are written purely out of vanity and serve no value or purpose, or even worse, they are set up solely with the intention of getting you to buy into some program with the promise of a free e-book in return for your email address and after you agree to be bombarded with spam. Personally, I avoid those sites like a plague because I just don't need the spam and especially when there are so many great art websites that offer what they have without having to jump through hurdles. I have never been interested in offering mailing lists for mailing lists sake because the moment you stop offering value you become another nuisance and the recipient will move away with a bad taste. If you are going to do this, be prepared to offer something that consistently keeps people coming back and wanting more.  

There are other reasons why so many bloggers fail. Perhaps not all of them fail so much as they become abandoned. Abandoned websites if they’re linked to what you are focused on doing online right now can affect what you are doing today in many ways. That abandoned website might be the first place people look for you, they see it hasn't been updated in the past decade and then they immediately figure out that you gave up and then they move on. I think it was Woody Allen who once said that 80% of success is making sure you show up. That goes for blogs, the internet, and social media too.

There is another reason that blogs fail and it is one that no one likes to talk about. It is the angry gorilla in the room that everyone ignores until it’s too late. The gorilla or in this case the reason that blogs fail is that the least successful sites are the ones that don’t have anything at all to say so we see text like this: “I like to work with the colour purple. It reflects me, I also like daffodils which are not purple, I am a purple person, here’s a pretty picture of yellow daffodils.” I don’t think I have read one that is quite that bad, but oh, hang on, yes, they are out there. 

Most people aren’t interested in the fact that purple is your favourite colour. They are interested in the person you are. People read what you write because they have an interest in what you have to say or how you approach and create your work, it connects them to you and leads them somewhere they want to go even if they don't always agree with you. If the blog or the site doesn’t lead, it becomes a real struggle. I know because I built those websites too in the past. To be a blogger means that you have to take on the role of a leader and not a participant, participants are those who follow your lead and a lot of new bloggers fall into the trap and never quite become the leader, the authority, the first place that the followers go. 

Most new blogs start off well enough, there’s a buzz, an excitement in the air, promises of great content, and then the numbers get in the way, the blogger becomes disappointed that his or her ad revenue is the equivalent of a web welfare check that can’t be cashed for ten years because there are not enough people clicking on the ads to trigger the threshold for payment. Get used to it because those clicks will never come. Trust me on this. Ad revenue on blogs is on the wane and has been for a few years, VPNs, Ad-Blockers, the fact that you need to comply with lots more legislation, are just a few of the reasons why I will be removing my ads on this site very soon. Instead, you need to monetise by offering a value that no one else can give, or if they do then you need to make it better. Revenue can come through multiple channels but the real revenue will come through increased sales of your art. Time for another free reference photo!

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Free Reference Photo captured by Mark A. Taylor

When bloggers start blogging there will have been a fleeting moment of time when the author was excited enough to start the project and had levels of the motivation they never knew they had, but as soon as no one came that motivation dried up as did the content. If you are on the verge of starting an art blog then you have to keep having that motivation and drive and you have to never ever give up. 

There is no secret sauce that will guarantee masses of hits. Even a mention or two on a popular website or a celebrity endorsement might only give you a temporary increase in visitors, this is something I know all too well but the fifteen minutes of fame usually lasts for about 30-seconds. If there was a secret at all, it would be is that you should take that buzz, excitement, and eagerness that you had on day one and then continue having it, day after day, consistently.

It can take anywhere between three and eight years for a blog to start making you any money at all or even for the blog to just become popular enough that readers return. There’s often a misconception that blogs can be monetised quickly and can earn the blogger huge financial rewards. They can, but they tend to be unicorns, it’s certainly not the norm. But that's really not the point here, you need to expose your art and blogging is still one of the best ways to do it short of being represented by galleries or going outside your front door.

There are lots of blogs that continue to grow and develop that don’t have a direct revenue stream at all. But revenue is not always what it’s about. This blog that you are about to write is about you and your art, and it is going to be another tool in your toolbox that will help to elevate your art just that all-important inch or two more. It becomes a marketing channel that informs and connects people, the money is earned indirectly. If you are thinking of giving up because monetising is hard, then start to think of other ways to increase your revenue by using the blog as the window into you and your work.

Is it worth it and will it make a difference to art sales? Those are the questions that really can’t be answered easily at all. There are websites that will tell you that a blog is a key tool for marketing and others that say that blogging is over. My take is that yes, it is absolutely the key tool if you are serious about increasing sales but it also depends on other factors like do you already have an audience. I said earlier that you kind of need an audience before you start blogging and that's helpful but if you don't, you definitely need to know who you want that audience to be and then you need to go after them.

If you avoid the pitfalls as best as you can and you offer something that provides some value to the readers, then it is worth doing. Blogging can raise your profile and draw attention to your work, and yes, it can make a significant difference to your sales - eventually. 

My own sales are around 1500% more than they were before I started this website and before this blog, I did the gallery thing and exhibited too, but how much of that upsurge is purely down to this site is difficult to gauge. What I do know though is that whenever I write a new article my engagement on social media goes up and more people get to see my art as a result. Last week I missed a week through being on holiday and both my engagement and sales tanked. That I think has more to do with the 80% turning up analogy I used earlier. People forget as soon as you stop reminding them. 

But some of this is about what you want to get out of blogging. You have to ask yourself if you are committed, what you want to get out of doing it, what do you want to cover, and do you have the patience and determination to continue doing that alongside everything else that you do. If you are going to blog because you think it is a hip thing to do or it will look good on your CV, don't do it. If you think you can share your passion for your work and continue to sustain it, or you want a channel where you can raise your profile just a little more, then yes, do it right now. Time for another coffee and another free reference photo!

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Free Reference Photo captured by Mark A.Taylor

Alternatives to a full blog site…

You might want to consider not going down the full-on blogging path and instead use some of the tools you might already have access to. Facebook is a social media platform, everything seems to be there to create a blog post on the fly, but Facebook is not a blogging platform, and to an extent, it is not a sales platform either, yet it gets used for both. It quickly becomes limited and there is no easy way to monetise the content and not everyone is on Facebook. Bloggers on Facebook just don't seem to do very well at all and it becomes even more difficult when you have to start being mindful about what you say and do, and how frequently you do it. 

If you are a premium member of Fine Art America, your Pixels site has a section where you can blog. The good thing about this is that it’s already on the site that you want people to visit, your art store. I need to be using this much more than I have been doing because it makes sense to have everything in the same place. You can also do some basic editing which might be enough for short posts. Editing a blog such as this one, uploading it, testing it with different views, and making sure that all the links work, can take sometimes as much as a couple of hours, then you have to factor in the time it takes to promote it and that's after you have written it.

If you are one of the millions of artists or photographers who subscribe to Adobe Creative Cloud, there is a great option that comes free with even the basic package and that is Adobe Portfolio. The templates are all designed to be used within the creative sector and the interface isn’t complex to understand. This is the service I use for the sister site to this site at which you can have a look through for inspiration. There is a collectors only area on the site which you need a password to access but everything else can be explored. With Portfolio you can add pages and news items as well as embedding your HTML pages from print on demand websites, and it works well for blogs too, although you might want to go with a specialist blogging platform if you are serious.

There are also platforms such as Blogger which is part of Google, and there is also WordPress which is probably the best one, but that’s not necessarily the best platform for complete beginners who have never blogged before. There is a learning curve but it’s not too steep if you have some basic IT skills already. You can also host your own blog and eventually that is the ideal place for you to aspire to be, but that adds yet another level of complexity but will afford you much more creative freedom. 

Networks such as Tumblr are specifically created for blogging and the Ello network is a community of creatives. It very much depends on where your audience already hangs out but my advice is that if you are going to test the water, test it on something like Blogger and when you decide to self-host or move across to Word Press you will be able to take your content with you. That's something you can't do on platforms that are not set up as blogging platforms. 

So what can we do?

Firstly, take the plunge. Blogging might be full of pitfalls and traps and it can seem like a heap of hard work because it is. There’s no dressing that bit up, it takes patience, determination, and you do have to be regimented in your approach, oh, and you might find that growing a thick skin helps at times too. But blogging doesn’t have to consume you entirely, it depends on how often you feel you can make a commitment to updating it.  Once a week, which is exactly what I do, or more frequently. If you are after higher numbers then you should be blogging at least three to four times each week, ideally more and especially at the start. 

The problem with blogging every day or every other day is that you need to be prepared to spend a lot of time every week just writing articles in advance, and they all need to offer value to the reader. That’s a hard thing to do because you might be scratching around some weeks for content and the risk is that you start to post filler material which has no benefit to the reader at all. Less frequently is easier, but the more you put into blogging, the more you will get from it.

As an artist, you will want to do the right thing and you will want to do the right thing in a beautiful way. Blogging is another tool in the toolbox that will allow you to promote your work and you and without the need to solely rely on social media. As I have said before, social media is a tool to use in your marketing strategy, it’s not the only tool that you have and it isn't a tool for everything. A blog is another tool where you can expand on what you do on social media and it gives you a base away from the twitters and Facebooks of the world.

Perhaps you have tried it in the past and what I have written today sounds familiar. Perhaps you gave up after a few days, months, or a year, maybe you tried it for longer. There is no immediacy in blogging. It’s not a quick way of promoting what you do, it is simply another tool in your marketing strategy, but it can be an essential one if you want people to connect with you and your work.

You do have to build the foundations in the beginning so that people can find something to connect with. A blog site won’t encourage readers to stick around if there is only one article, you need a foundation of content so that people have plenty to keep them busy until the next time you post. Before you start, prepare the groundwork and take your time because this really isn't going to be a race. 

Instead of focussing on those numbers focus on creating a good level of useful content that can add some value to anyone who spends a few minutes reading it. Value can be a tip, some advice, a gift, an experience, or some humour. This is the single best thing you can do from the off but you do need to be careful that you aren’t doing too much. The best advice I can give anyone is to avoid burn out, this isn’t a sprint, and it’s not even a marathon, blogging is a really long and heavy haul. Save some of that initial energy that you have and pace yourself. Go slowly and you will get there quicker.

Go into blogging with the right expectations. When I set up my previous retro computer website I did get some initial numbers even from the very few metrics that the platform I worked on gave me. I will always remember that in the first month I had a total of about seven readers, and three of those visits to the site would have been from my wife. When I eventually shuttered that site to focus on my art, my readership was around a couple of thousand readers every month. Not bad considering that it was only ever updated periodically and this was almost two decades ago when the internet wasn't really a thing.

Find your core strengths…

You will be good at blogging about some things and quite the opposite with others. In the beginning, your blog might be all over the place. It could be that last week you uploaded works in progress, then you uploaded photos from the short break you took, and then you listened to the news and decided to share your opinion. That random combination of subjects might suit a particular style of blogging but consistency is key. When I started this site it was always with the intention of sharing knowledge and the many mistakes I had made over the years with other artists who are trying to make a living selling their work.

But the early days were often a jumbled mess when I look back. Sometimes I would do exactly what I described above, then I would maybe miss a week and then write two posts the following week. At one time there would be a post on a Saturday and a Wednesday. Two posts every week equated to a chaotic life. The minute you start to feel blog stress encroaching is the time to move away, change to one post a month or four posts a year, as long as there is a pattern it starts to matter less, but more is always good. 

After a while of running this site, I had to refocus when my Crohn’s disease started to take a firmer grip. That was a good thing for the blog because I re-evaluated what the blog should be. I made a commitment to tighten up on the subject areas and try to come up with a new tip or reflect on some past experiences rather than trying to cover everything in one post. At the same time this made some aspects of blogging easier, but coming up with a new subject week after week can often be challenging. I usually have anywhere between 30 and 40 pre-written articles ready to upload, but often some of those never see the light of day and I frantically start to think about new subjects even just a day or so in advance.

In my experience with this blog and from talking to other bloggers, the best kind of blogs for artists to create are the ones that focus on the artist themselves. People want to know what makes you, you, and how you create. Ultimately if your goal is to sell more art then the blog should be about you. Hence the reason I set up a new site last year where the focus is on me rather than delivering articles about the business of art.

blogging tips, blog advice, increase traffic to my blog, mark taylor,
You will fail if you don't at least try...

What you absolutely always have to do…

There are similarities in being a blogger and being an artist. The way humans engage more readily is through reward. If you constantly find yourself in a state of forever being unrewarded no matter how hard you try, at some point you will find it hard to push through and carry on. If there are a couple of takeaways today for both being a blogger and an artist they would be to keep pushing on, keep doing what you do, keep trying, and remember that you don’t have to be massively better than anyone else, just 1% better or even 1% different is enough to give you an edge.

The second take away is that you will get frustrated with blogging in the early days and that frustration will probably grow the longer you do it without seeing a reward. Maybe those early days will last for months or even a few years, you have to be prepared that you might not see that reward for a while. 

The important thing is that you start out with expectations that don’t set the bar at some totally unachievable level, to begin with. When I first started out I was convinced that I would be able to retire within a year and looking back this was never going to happen. Even today with the increased readership that I see, retirement still looks a long way away. But that’s not the point of this blog, it just took me a really long time to figure that bit out and I am still working it out.

Good Luck…

There are a heap of things we could cover with blogging, we only briefly touched on the platforms and we didn’t mention making sure that images load perfectly regardless of the screen they will appear on. We didn’t cover search engine optimisation or getting your blog seen, and that’s because these are skills that in the beginning will just get in the way of producing really good content. They’re concerns that you will need to address in time, but they are equally things that aren’t that important right from the off. What is important is that you start to get comfortable. As I said earlier, this blogging thing isn’t a marathon, it’s much longer than that, but making a start is without question the single biggest barrier you will need to overcome.

Whilst there's so much more to share on the subject and not enough time in the day, plus I know that right now you already have a lot to think about so I just want to round up by giving you a few takeaway snippets that might convince you to give it a try or move on.

  •  Forget about the numbers when you start out. Breaking a hundred viewers can be a difficult goal but it seems like a sensible one to start off with. Over time you will get the numbers as word spreads, but expecting millions of hits is going to do nothing but put you off.
  • Have a think about writing a couple of guest blogs on an existing blog. That way you can test out the water and the heavy lifting will be done for you other than writing an article. Just make sure the content is related to the blog you wish to post it on! You would not believe how many enquiries I get every week and only around 1 in 1000 are even related to the arts or the art of the art business! You can even consider writing one for inclusion on this site and I will support you however I can!
  • Sign up to an online service such as Grammarly. Even their free plan will give you some much-needed pointers on using the correct grammar and spelling. 
  • Don't be tempted to write a deep-dive like the ones I write on this website every week, they are just going to make the process more difficult than it needs to be especially at the start. 
  • Use humour, use it wisely, and try not to offend anyone. Unless that's the intention of the blog in the first place but if it is, grow an even thicker skin!
  • Don't be tempted to read the lists of a hundred topics to blog about. Every blogger is reading those lists and every blogger is writing those topics.
  • Build up a content library of your first months' posts before you go live. Keep them in the drafts folder on your blogging site so that each time you want to post, all you will have to do is click on the publish now button and then start on the marketing.
  • Use Alt-Text and titles in your images as this will help the search engines to search your blog and your photos.
  • Make sure any labels and metadata that you add are directly linked with what you are writing about. AI spots keyword stuffing at fifty paces and down-ranks your content.
  • Always complete the search descriptions for every post you create. It helps with SEO.
  • Never get too tied up in SEO at the start. You will get at least 50 emails every week offering SEO services from people you can't even find on Google and who promise to get you to the top spot on Google within a month. Good SEO is organic, try not to stuff keywords into places they have no right to be. Think about what the algorithm thinks about!
  • Forget the ads. I know it is tempting when so many YouTubers seem to be making millions, you are not a YouTuber with sixty million subscribers and the ad revenue will be the occasional penny if that.
  • It might be a long haul but pace yourself. If you are not ready, don't go live. No one is going to be facing a life or death choice between cleaning a brush one way over another. Put yourself before the blog. If you miss a week or a month, don't sweat it, those numbers will either diminish and return eventually.
  • if you are blogging because you see it as a stepping stone to write a book, just go ahead and write the book instead. You can blog about the book later rather than blog about the promise of a book now! Everyone will forget you are writing a book in about, oh, they already did minutes time.
  • If you get ten viewers or a thousand viewers, it doesn't make a difference until they start buying your work. You might get more sales with fewer more engaged viewers but here's the thing, make the blog about what it is that you want to sell. Don't covertly try to wrap a sales pitch up within a blog post, be open about it. I want someone to buy my art, that's how direct you need to be!
  • Don't even think about going it alone. Ask an existing blogger if they would be happy to guide you a little and become a mentor. Most good bloggers will be happy to help out. Blogging is a community just like with art.
  • Never sell your soul for influencer type benefits if you don't believe in the product. Influencers are a has-been and they are on their way out, micro-influencing is where it is really at right now. Look at what is happening with fake reviews, I am convinced that the same thing will soon start happening with major influencers too because there is already some noise being made. Social media regulation is currently big news and my guess is that this will extend to the influencer community too.
  • You need to be authentic so just do what you can and do it in the way that you already are. Never try to be anything other than you if you are trying to sell you.
  • Make lists of content topics and be flexible to change them frequently. Pre-prepare articles and get any images ready in advance of the post. 
  • Be regimented in your approach to writing and remember that there is a golden rule for blogs that are more personal in that they should ideally have a seven-minute read time at most. If you want to create a deep dive style blog like this one, work out how you plan to keep it up before you start.
  • Choose a subject and stick with it. If you want to write about another subject, create a second blog unless you can tie that subject into you or your art. 
  • Ignore the hundreds of emails asking you to subscribe to blog listing services. They simply do not work. There are plenty of free listing services that are just as good and the only way to keep readers coming back is to give them that all-important value.
  • Proofread until you memorise the words you have written and then ask someone else to have a read through. 
  • Never give up, just take a break and make a promise to yourself that you will get back to it tomorrow. 

If you decide to have a go at blogging about you and your art, let me know by leaving a comment and a link below. I will pick out a few at random and will give them a shout out on this site. If you get stuck with anything, leave a comment and I will try my hardest to help! Blogging is a brilliant tool and yes, it takes some hard work and determination but eventually, it will pay off. Just remember that there really is no immediacy when you blog but every time you share something new, your exposure climbs just a little bit more!

That's all for this week! This weekend I have a scan arranged to see why my back isn't being quite as back-ish as it was when I was younger. I went for this scan a few weeks ago and completely freaked out because I am the world's worst competitor when it comes to the extreme sport of being in a confined space and the scan had to be abandoned because I wimped out. So hopefully this weekend I will be able to calm my nerves just enough for the ten minutes that I know it will take. If you have any tips to calm me down while they pop me in a tube with ear defenders on, I could sure use them!

About Mark…

I am an artist and blogger and live in Staffordshire, England. You can purchase my art through my Fine Art America store or my Pixels site here:  
Any art sold through Fine Art America and Pixels contributes to the ongoing costs of running and developing this website. You can also view my portfolio website at

You can also follow me on Facebook at where you will also find regular free reference photos of interesting subjects and places I visit. You can also follow me on Twitter @beechhouseart and on Pinterest at

If you would like to support the upkeep of this site or maybe just buy me a coffee, you can do so right here. Every penny supports the work I do and contributes to maintaining the site, paying for multiple subscriptions and all of the equipment that I need to maintain to continue to produce it. Without your continued support, I wouldn't be able to do any of this. Thank you!


  1. Replies
    1. You’re most welcome Cliff! Thanks for reading it and hope you are having a great week.


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