As a blogger for over two years now, I know firsthand that creating a successful art blog has a lot more to do with planning and hard work than with being a great writer.
Of course, I’ve always enjoyed writing—a definite plus if you’re planning on starting your own art blog—but that isn’t enough by itself.
In fact, I’d say that 90% of my success with EmptyEasel comes from following the 7 blogging strategies I’m going to share with you today. (The other 10% is probably a mixture of luck and search engine optimization.)
So whether you’re just now starting an art blog, or you’re simply looking around for ways to improve at blogging, here are my 7 strategies for building a successful blog:
1. Create an art blog that is NOT a “personal” blog
It’s very important that your art blog is not perceived as just a “journal” or some kind of diary of your life in general.
A few personal posts every once in a while are OK, but for the most part, people are searching the internet for very specific things—so keeping your blog from being a hodge-podge of material will encourage the right kind of readers to keep coming back.
I’d suggest having a ratio of 80/20 where (at most) only 20 percent of your posts are personal or off the topic of art, leaving the majority of your blog to be about your art, your process, or about art in general.
2. Treat your blogging time as business time
This means setting working hours for your blog (the exact amount needed will vary for each person) and giving yourself a “paycheck” of some kind for each blog post. . . in other words, reward yourself for posting.
I’ve also found that it helps to make sure your spouse, your kids, your friends, and anyone else important to you KNOWS that you’ll be blogging at a set time each day, and that it’s part of your marketing plan—not just a hobby.
Explaining this early on will help clear the way for uninterrupted blogging time.
3. Be a content creator, not a content recycler
You may be tempted to create a blog that just follows current art news or popular topics that other bloggers are writing about. Don’t do it. In the long run, this is a recipe for failure, and here’s why:
To begin with, there are always many, many bloggers doing this, so it’s tough to stand out. More importantly, while a few newsy, current blog posts are OK, you should always think of them as posts that expire in a month (or less).
If the post you’re writing seems as though no one will be interested in it a month from now, make sure to write a few timeless advice, entertainment, or resource posts to balance things out. . . those are the ones that will bring in visitors year after year.
4. Keep a schedule of upcoming topics to write about
Having a schedule is great for both yourself AND your readers. Planning ahead will help you publish new posts on a regular basis and will keep others interested in returning to see IF and HOW you follow through on your plans.
This may be as simple as saying, “For the month of March, we’ll be looking at Degas’ work,” or as complex as a monthly schedule with specific titles and short excerpts from each future post so readers know exactly what’s coming. Either way can work.
5. Don’t just write about yourself and your artwork
If you’re publishing a new blog post every day, make sure that a couple of posts per week aren’t about you. One easy way to do this is to have a day where you praise other talented artists or art bloggers in your field.
The benefits to this approach are two-fold. First, a little variety is good for everyone—your regular readers will appreciate it, and visitors won’t think you’re self-obsessed. Second, saying nice things about other folks will result in many more links back to your own blog.
Sure, it may seem that by linking out to other websites you’re losing visitors, but it’s much more likely that folks will start viewing your blog as the go-to place for finding good stuff, whether it’s on your website or not.
7. Re-read and edit each post before you publish it
Before you hit the “publish” button, ask yourself a few questions:
Are you interested in the post you’ve just written? Does it fulfill a need? Is it inspiring, educational, or at least entertaining? If you answer “no” to any of those questions, don’t publish it—rewrite it!
Take another look. Are any sections confusing or ambiguous? Have you repeated yourself unnecessarily? Would your spelling or grammar get less than a “B” from your high-school english teacher? If you answer “yes” to any of those questions, spend 10 minutes cleaning up the post before publishing.
Every post on your blog has the potential to make a great first impression with a future art collector—that’s why it’s worth it to make each post as good as possible.