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As we head into the new year, it’s only natural that we begin to think about restructuring our businesses (and our lives) so that we can have a more balanced and productive year. Our art blogs should be no exception.

So it’s time to pause, for just a moment, to make sure your art blog is functioning at its best. . . and if necessary, maybe do a little cleaning and decluttering as well.

Is your art blog visually appealing?

The first place to start is with the overall appearance of your blog. When your customers look at your art blog, the first thing you want them to see is your art and the content you’ve painstakingly written. If they cannot see your artwork, or your blog’s content, through the dozen of buttons and flashing widgets, it’s time to do a little decluttering.

Do your pages take too long to load?

Showing off your artwork is great. Including close-up or step-by-step photos of your artwork is sure to gain interest and possible sales, but if your blog posts take too long to load, you’ll not only annoy your visitors but you’ll lose the impatient ones and quite possibly, their dollars.

Take the time to resize your photos before you load them to your blog. A good rule of thumb is 400 to 500 pixels wide, at 72 dpi.

Is your sidebar an endless list of distractions?

Your sidebar should host information that helps your visitors discover more about you and your services, not information that distracts them from your art and/or your services.

Remove any, and all, widgets that do not provide information about your services, your art, or your blog. In other words, get rid of offsite profile or popularity widgets, translator widgets, quote widgets, awards buttons, and/or badges that really only serve to bring traffic back to the “officiating” site.

Remove the blog roll from your side bar and dedicate a static page to links you recommend and blogs you admire. Then do the same for the social networks you use to connect with others.

Leave your comments where they belong-under the post they were written for. While a widget showing partial comments makes your blog appear active, it does absolutely nothing for your readers.

Is it hard to navigate your blog?

Say goodbye to monthly, or weekly, archives and hello to category listings. Categories make it easy for your readers to dig deeper. It gives them a quick glance at the topics you cover and allows them to jump right into the area of your art blog that interests them most. Just remember to keep your main categories to a minimum.

If you prefer “tags” over category listings, make sure you have some uniformity to your tags. To cut back on the number of tags listed in your sidebar, which can become quite daunting over time, use general tags for certain areas of interest. For instance, instead of placing the name of each product you review as a “tag”, simple tag review posts as “art supply review” or “book review” or “movie review”.

Do you have too many “share” or “add” buttons?

Use a single “Share This” button (from sharethis.com) at the bottom of each post. “Share This” is a free service that allows you to display a single, non-cluttering button below each blog post that when clicked on, allows your visitors to share your post with the most popular social networks. i.e. Twitter and Facebook.

Do your sponsor ads steal your business?

If your art blog is rich in educational content, it makes sense to host a few sponsor ads-after all, they’re a great way to pay for art supplies used in your tutorials and reviews. However, if you begin to notice that you’re losing too much traffic to those ads and the revenue coming in is not compensating for the loss of traffic, it may be time to rethink those advertisements. Or at the very least, limit them down to the highest performing advertisers.

Use Amazon’s aStore (at affiliate-program.amazon.com) to recommend books to your readers instead of creating a reading list on your sidebar.

With the aStore feature you’ll place a single button on your sidebar which will take your readers to an online store with your affiliate id. Once there, they’ll see your book recommendations and be able to read more details about the books you recommend.

The most important thing to remember when cleaning up your art blog is that your readers should be able to find vital information easily.

You want your artwork to shine, first and foremost; your content to be noticed second, and your advertisers (or any non-money producing distractions) to be seen last.

*Note: this post may contain affiliate links*

Have you ever uploaded an image to Blogger and later wanted to pull it but discovered you don't know where that photo is stored? Or, do you host your art blog on another service which limits the amount of images you can share with your readers?

Maybe you even have to limit the number of photos you share on your blog because you pay for your own hosting. . .

Flickr's photo. . . read more

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