Everybody says artists need an internet presence. Sometimes that’s just a website, but a lot of experts also say you should blog. Search engines (and readers) love new content and a blog is ideal for producing new content.
You want to do the right thing and you want to promote your artwork, so you started blogging. But maybe it’s been a while, and so far your blog just doesn’t seem to be working.
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Perhaps you’re starting to wonder why you even bother. It takes a lot of time to write and edit articles, and if you’re promoting them on other forms of social media,that takes time, too. Time you could be using to make more art!
So you’re thinking about chucking it all. You tried it; it didn’t work. Time to move on. . . Right?
I’ve had a website for nearly thirty years, and a blog for almost fifteen. Many’s the time I thought about pulling the plug on the whole thing. But there are reasons you shouldn’t quit just yet. Plenty of them, as it turns out!
So if you’re struggling, here are 5 reasons you shouldn’t stop blogging:
1. It takes time to build an audience
In this day of “immediate” gratification, waiting for anything can be frustrating and discouraging. But when it comes to blogging, waiting is important.
Building a blog audience takes time. It was nearly eight years before my blog started getting a lot of attention (more on that in a moment).
If you’re expecting people to rush to read your blog the moment you publish the first post, you will be disappointed. It takes time and persistence to create enough content to bring people to your blog, and keep them coming back. So if you’re still in your first year, it’s too early to give up!
2. It takes time to grow a following on social media
Writing and publishing blog posts isn’t enough. You have to let people know what you’re doing and where you can be found. That usually means social media.
You don’t have to do everything (and shouldn’t try, since that’s a fast track to burn out). But you should be on social media somewhere. I started with Twitter, then added Pinterest, and have most recently started Facebook. I tried each for six months, then continued with those that produced results.
Even if a social media works for you, it still takes time to grow a following. Six months is the minimum testing time, and you need to be consistent for all of those six months. That means posting regularly, and sharing content that helps those you want to reach.
Here’s an example.
I opened my Pinterest account sometime in 2014. I didn’t do much with it for the first few months, then started working it more consistently. People started following me little by little, but it wasn’t until March of 2016 that Pinterest really started to produce. That month, one of my six-month-old posts went viral on Pinterest and it’s still the top performing post on the blog.
And once a post goes viral, it’s a gift that keeps on giving. The last time I checked, that post had over 125,000 views, and it’s consistently the top performing post on a daily basis. As a result, my overall blog traffic is much improved, too.
The point is, this is one of those things that takes time. No form of social media will draw readers to your blog if you quit too soon.
3. It may take time to find your focus
Remember I said there were special circumstances regarding my blog? In a word, those special circumstances were focus. For the first five or six years, my blogs had no focus. I talked about portrait drawings (finished and in progress), horse racing, life as an artist, and personal things. My posts were all over the place!
I published regularly (once a week on Saturday) from the start, but readers never knew what they’d read from one week to the next. So I hovered around 100 views per post for years. And those were only the best posts!
Then came that March 2016 weekend, and that led to realizing where my focus should be. As it turns out, people were more interested in reading about how I made art than in my life as an artist.
I shifted my focus from portrait work to teaching, and my average monthly views went from 1,500 in May of 2014 to a high point of 62,500 in June of 2017.
If your blog isn’t performing as well as you’d like, maybe you need to take a look at your focus before pulling the plug.
4. You need practice in order to get good at blogging
If you’ve been an artist for any length of time, you know it takes practice if you want to hone your skills. That’s just the way it is. The more you draw or paint, the more you understand your medium and can create art when and how you want to.
The same is true for blogging.
Writing does not come naturally for a lot of artists. For many of us, we’re just better at visual communication, and that’s okay. That’s what makes us artists!
So chances are, if you want to start a blog, you’re going to have to learn how to write. Then you have to learn to write well, in a way that accurately communicates to others what you want to say.
It was a good thing I didn’t start with a lot of traffic when I started my first blog. The years I spent blogging to a small audience gave me time to improve my writing skills.
They’ll do the same for you, too.
5. Your blog will never succeed if you give up
I know, I know – this really does sound trite. A meaningless encouragement because I couldn’t think of anything else to add. But it isn’t trite. It’s true. You may fail if you keep blogging, but you most certainly will fail if you pull the plug too soon.
Bottom line. . . it takes time to get any venture off the ground. An art career. An art blog. Anything. If you’ve been blogging for a year or less, and you aren’t getting the kind of traffic or following you’d hoped for, it may simply be a matter of time.
If you’re getting any traffic at all (by that, I mean you’re averaging 100 view a day,) then you are doing something right and your blog has potential.
So give it a little more time.
And consider each of the points I made above. Improvement in any one of them will improve your chances for success. Make even small changes in all of them and you could very well be surprised by the results.
If you’re really looking to improve, I recommend searching out and following some professional bloggers who write about the art and science of blogging. (And yes, they exist. I like Darren Rowse at Problogger.com but there are others as well.)
Find a few you like, and study up on the act of blogging.
The time may come when the right thing to do is pull the plug on your blog, but don’t be hasty. Just imagine if I had given up on blogging in February 2016—I would have completely missed my blog taking off the following month.