How to Start an Art Blog

How to Start an Art Blog

Learn the Basic Steps to Start an Art Blog.

how to start an art blog

Congratulations! You have made the decision to learn how to start an art blog and are now trying to understand what do next. There are choices you must now make to get setup with your new art blog.

Announcing a New, Free podcast How to Write an Effective Blog Post for your Art Blog.

How to write a post for your art blog

Here is the recording from the podcast.

Starting with Art Blog Basics

Should You Use a Domain or a Subdomain?

A domain name is a human readable address that identifies the digital address of your blog on a web server. ArtPrintIssues.com is the domain name for this blog. I bought and began using it in 2005 when I wrote and published the first edition of How to Profit from the Art Print Market.

While it is an excellent blog title for talking about the art print market, it is not the best for the type of content I publish today. That is because I write about art business and art marketing that covers the entire art market. As such, my domain name pigeonholes me to some extent. If you only see the title and decline to investigate the content, you may choose not to read or subscribe to my blog. In other words, my domain name is a marketing problem for me.

You are “The Brand!”

Just as you, the artist, are the brand, so am I as the blogger and art marketing expert. Nine years ago, I did not have the wisdom to understand the importance of personal branding. Had I known then, I would have created my blog using a subdomain. My blog title would instead be blog.BarneyDavey.com. Your name, and mine, are important. It is a valuable asset.

The same advice applies to purchasing a domain name for your website. That is, include your name in the domain name. If you are like me and are so far invested in your current domain name that you do not want to go to the hassle of changing it,  and losing the Google ranking associated with it, you must accept the situation and lost branding opportunity. When you work hard at creating content that is captivating and compelling, you will overcome this setback.

Buying domain names.

If you need domain names, you can get them from OptimaWebTools.com for only $9.99 new and renewal prices. I setup this company to help artists get low prices on domains and web hosting services. As such, I promise you will always receive competitive prices and the best 24/7 support available. Domains are a commodity. There is no reason to overpay to own them. If you have seen your domain renewals rising, you can transfer your domain to OptimaWebTools.com as a way to help you keep your domain renewal prices low.

Choose an art blog platform.

Your next most crucial decision to choosing a domain name is whether to host your art blog yourself, or use a free blogging service that will host it for you. There are both free (hosted) and paid (self-hosted) services. I suggest using a paid service for reasons outlined below.

Hosted Blogging Services (Free)

Let’s face, nothing is truly free. There are always strings attached. The Blogger hosted service offered by Google is the most popular free service. The first problem with a free blogging service is you don’t get to use your own domain. Your URL will look like barneydavey.blogspot.com, making it a subdomain of blogspot.com.

This means you share your domain with millions of other Blogger users. It also means you are not the owner of the blog. You do own the content, but not the actual blogging software itself, or the primary blogspot.com domain name. Your blog, as a subdomain, means moving the content somewhere else will have difficulties because all your links connect with the primary blogspot.com domain name.

You can do something called domain mapping, but it is tricky and less than satisfactory for many reasons. There are other restrictions about how much customization you can do on your free service, what kind of advertising you can do. Most importantly, you are not in full control of your blog, which over time will become one of the most valuable tools in your marketing arsenal.

Free blogging services are better than nothing is. To be fair, there are some notable art blogs hosted on Blogger. In addition, if you are truly tech challenged, a free dumbed down service may be the ideal solution for you.

Tumblr.com is a free blog service, recently purchased by Yahoo. It is an image serving type of service, meaning you ordinarily would use it to post pictures. Some artists are finding it to be useful. I only recommend it as a secondary adjunct to a standard blog.

Self-hosted Blogging Services (Paid)

I suggest self-hosting because it offers you all the flexibility and freedom you need. When it comes to self-hosting blogs, what you are paying for is the hosting service. In nearly every case, you will be using the WordPress platform. WordPress is an open source product (meaning free) software available to anyone who wishes to use it. Currently, nearly 20% of all new websites built in the U.S are created using WordPress. It works as both a blogging and a website creation tool.

Seven benefits to self-hosted blogging.

With a self-hosted blog, you can:

  1. Use your own domain name.
  2. Exercise complete design freedom for layout, themes, and color schemes.
  3. Sell advertising or include affiliate-marketing links, as you find in this post.
  4. Move your content to a new hosting provider, easily.
  5. Incorporate any plugins you choose.
  6. Tweak your WordPress files, CSS, PHP, and your server settings to improve performance.
  7. Have FTP access that allows you to add and edit your files.

Which hosting service should you use?

There are numerous companies offering shared hosting with easy-to-install WordPress tools.  You can so your own research. I suggest the following two options for you. When you choose to use either of them, you help support this blog. I think they give you the best price, service and value.

WordPress hosting is available as either a self-hosting or managed hosting service. With self-hosting, you buy and setup your hosting account, and then use the hosting provider’s WordPress install tool. This is an easy task even for novices. With managed hosting, WordPress is pre-installed, so you only need to add your domain, create your WordPress login username and password to complete the setup.

WordPress is a dynamic and evolving platform.

The difference in your options comes after your site is setup. Because WordPress is open source, the development community adds new features and security improvements throughout the year. This requires the site owner to login and update the WordPress software.

Additionally, because of its popularity WordPress sites are the target of hackers on an ongoing basis. This means keeping upgraded to the newest version is critical to site security. Making current backups of your WordPress files and database is the only way to know you can restore your site if it is hacked.

Self-hosted site owners bear the responsibility to keep their WordPress sites on the latest version and perform regular backups. Neither of these is hard to do. However, for many site owners, finding the time and having the discipline to stay on top of these tasks is difficult. One option is to use a premium (paid) plugin, such as Backup Buddy, to automate the backup tasks.

Advantages to managed WordPress Hosting.

Managed WordPress hosting is alternative to self-hosted sites. The servers are optimized for hosting WordPress and as such typically get faster page loads making them both visitor and search engine friendly. The sites are also set up to help prevent security attacks on the servers. More importantly, they offer daily backups of your site.

Until recently, the top three services were WP-Engine.com, Synthesis and Pagely.com. All offer excellent services and rate well on reviews. The monthly prices for hosting a single site runs between $24 -$29 on them. GoDaddy.com is now offering managed WordPress hosting at $6.99 per month.

For artists who need a managed hosting solution, I recommend Go Daddy managed WordPress hosting because it is a fraction of the cost of its competitors and includes these features and more:

  • Nightly backups.
  • Redundant firewalls, malware scanning and DDoS protection.
  • Automatic WordPress core updates.
  • Temporary website address.

Choosing a WordPress theme.

Themes give your WordPress blog or website a distinctive look. When you install WordPress, it comes with a free default themes from the developer. As with hosting, you have both free and premium paid themes. It is worth it to take your time to find a theme that gives you the feeling you would like to have for your site.

Keep in mind, a theme is just a starting point. Many come with color theme and style options. There are thousands upon thousands of themes available. I suggest choosing a premium theme for several reasons. As previously mentioned, WordPress is regularly updated. This means your theme developer needs to keep your theme updated to match the current version of WordPress.

Not every new version of WordPress will affect your theme, but anyone has the potential to break your theme if it is not current with the new WordPress version. It makes sense developers with a paid audience have skin in the game to encourage them to keep their themes updated. Moreover, premium theme providers are more likely to have both lively forums and customer support when you encounter a problem or need to modify your theme.

ArtPrintIssues.com runs on Studio Press theme. I have used iThemes, Thesis, Envato, Elegant Themes, Theme Forest and Theme Monster themes in the past. There are many other premium theme providers to from which to choose. Look for a developer that has been in business for a few years and has favourable reviews for their themes.

Plugins for WordPress.

Themes change how WordPress sites look. Plugins are scripts or applets that you install to let you perform all kinds of features and programs on your blog or site. They run the gamut from helping you with Search Engine Optimization (SEO), such the free Yoast WordPress SEO plugin to helping you setup an e-commerce store on your site.

There are ten times more plugins than there are themes. Anyone can develop a theme or plugin for WordPress. As a user, you need to make sure you choose plugins carefully. Poorly developed plugins can wreak havoc on your site. Choose plugins that have been downloaded many times, have excellent ratings and ideally have been published for years.

Suggested plugins to add:

  • Akismet for fighting comment spam.
  • Yoast WordPress SEO for search engine optimization.
  • TinyMCE Advanced for an easier and more full-featured editor.
  • WP-Optimize to keep your database in tip top shape.
  • Wordfence to help guard against malware and hacking attempts.

There are too many specialized plugins to discuss here. Just remember, every plugin you load decreases your page loading speed. The slower your page loads, the less happy are your web visitors and Google dings you for slow loading pages in its page-ranking algorithm, too.

The advice here is to use plugins only when you need them. Keep them updated. For the best security, delete them, rather than just deactivate, if you are not using them.

Get started now.

You have a solid starting position now to evaluate your first steps towards creating an art blog to help you effectively communicate with your collectors, fans and friends. There is more to learn, and I will post more advice on ways to get the most from blogging for your art business in future posts.

Learning tips on how to write a blog post is essential information. My broadcasting partner, Jason Horejs, and I have event scheduled for this Tuesday, April 8 at 4 pm Pacific time. We are covering how to write an effective blog post for your art blog. Join us and bring your questions. Can’t make the live show… no worries, a recording is always available.

How to Write an Effective Blog Post for your Art Blog.

How to Start an Art Blog

Creating a winning blog is arguably the best way for artists to build a following and to communicate with his or her collectors and fans. Producing quality posts is a the heart of every successful blog.

In past broadcasts, we have explored the overall question of whether an artist should blog, how often to blog, options for various platforms to use, and lots more.This broadcast is more specific – the anatomy of a blog post. We’ll show you how to pick a topic, how to write a headline, and how to use proper SEO techniques to help get your posts ranked higher. We’ll also discuss how long your title should be, how to write an informative description, and how to write headlines that get results.

Join us for this free broadcast on Tuesday, April 8, as we jump into the topic of how to write an effective blog post. We will show you how to incorporate tested theories and techniques for effective blogging.

——————
This broadcast features art marketing experts and co-presenters, Jason Horejs, owner of Xanadu Gallery and publisher of RedDotBlog.com and Barney Davey, author of numerous art marketing books, and publisher of ArtBusinessBlog.com.

Guerrilla Marketing for Artists - Order Your Copy Today!

Some links in the post may be “affiliate links.” This means if you click on the link and purchase the item, we will receive an affiliate commission. Regardless, we only recommend products or services we believe will add value to our readers.

About Barney Davey

I am an art marketing author, consultant, blogger and podcaster. I enjoy helping others understand and reach their potential. Follow me on twitter.com/barneydavey.com and check out my art marketing e-store at barneydavey.com/products

Comments

  1. Tanya Beyer says:

    I wish I could understand what this piece is even talking about. I yearn to be able to support myself with art sales only. As it is, I live in a rural area with satellite internet. I have no smartphone or portable internet and make $9 an hour at a day job. I blog on blogger.com but on environmental issues and how they are connected with the art I do. Your suggestions and terminology sound to me overly about being media-savvy and most of the terminology including the different services and why they are so advisable and the likelihood of getting hacked is going straight over my head. I don’t know how this piece, meant to be so helpful, could be made to fit an individual who would like to make as little investment as possible in new gadgets or social media. I have ordered a copy of Guerilla Marketing for Artists but hope it will not be clamoring on about how I need to have the latest in high-speed connections and portable internet. I carry around enough stuff without having to worry about a laptop or tablet, etc. I would like to be able to make do with my desktop computer and its stumbling connection speed, being one who resents how our time seems ever more all about how fast things are able to run.

    • Dear Tanya,
      Thanks for your comments. Blogging is a good way to meet new potential buyers and stay in touch with those who are interested in you and your art. That said, it is not for everyone, perhaps especially for those who are not inclined to invest in technology or social media. All these are tools for those who have the desire to use them. In the Guerrilla Marketing for Artists book, you will find a chapter on online marketing, but there is much more information about how to network and engage your local warm market to find buyers for your work. Whatever you decide, I wish you the very best in achieving your goals.

  2. Larry Richardson says:

    Good info, Barney. Artists need to be more “business savvy” in order to succeed. That includes technology that helps us get in front of those other computer users who are potential buyers. Instead of waiting for the breaks, you have to make your own. Blogs and other web tools will help people discover you! Good timing on this article for me since I’ve just started looking into blogging for a new painting project. Thanks!

  3. I will not be able to listen to the live broadcast and so will ask a question here. Why does a “blog” have to be on a separate platform (probably not the right term) than one’s website? I write a periodic paragraph or two on my website which I title “Musings”. When I do this I send out my “Occasional Newsletter” at the same time, to my email list, and will include a link to my Musings page. I don’t really want Musings to be interactive (with questions and feedback) as I don’t have time to keep up with casual comments. If a person has a question they can easily and quickly reply back either to the emailed Newsletter, or through the website “Contact Me” link. Why would it be better to have a separate “Blog” (for reasons other than the ‘Leave a Reply’ function of normal blogs)? By the way, my website is on WordPress, designed by a web designer, not me, but with my input and art direction. Another sort of related comment is “Please don’t forget the visual, artistic quality of your blog and website”. So many galleries and artists use common, ordinary and graphically inferior templates which seem off-putting to me and perhaps other visually discerning potential clients as well. (Once I phase out of my part time job at a gallery and into full time attention to my art career, I may be able to consider the interactive potential of a blog.) Barney and Jason, thanks for all your valuable information.

    • Hi Kay, I will try to remember to bring up this question tomorrow. What you are doing is okay, a blog will work better for lots of reasons, including the way it archives your information, spreads your posts to search engines, generate new subscribers, and yes, interaction with your followers. I think you are looking at comments and keeping up with them in the wrong way. First, the chances of being inundated with so many questions you can’t answer them is slim, especially for new bloggers with small distro lists. Secondly, if you do get an overwhelming response to what you are publishing, this is a good thing. It should generate enough income for you if that happens that you can afford a virtual assistant to help you manage your blog. The more you can do and the more you can get someone else to do things for you, the more you will grow you business. You are the bottleneck. Think about how many ways you can increase the size of the bottleneck and how many ways you can get help to deal with the volume. Turn your thinking around that way, and you will take your business to levels you had not previously imagined. The multi-year international bestselling business book, “The E-myth Revisited” is all about finding ways to let go so you can truly grow your business to its fullest potential. I recommend it to all reading this comment.

  4. Rabiya Khan says:

    As far as I think how to beat your competition in art blogging is of more importance as compare to “How to Start an Art Blog”. There are many platforms one can use for blogging but very little know about rankings above their competition. Would love to have your next blog on this :)

    • First, you cannot beat your competitors unless you have blog. You have to start somewhere. Second, focusing on the intent to beat your competitors is a waste of time and energy. As an artist, you need a relatively small number of buyers and galleries to have a successful career. Making a blog that helps you target your best prospects is the key to success. Reading other artist’s blogs for inspiration is worthy. Stressing about beating them is not.

      • I am working in the belief that to sell your art and blog about it you have to present your whole self and the variety of motives that send you out where your art is inspired, etc. I had started out thinking that to blog as an artist I had to analyze my technique for readers. But that doesn’t interest me as a writer; the places that inspire the art and in some cases reading or broadcasts that connect with the subject for the art and its motives do. So these are the things I am blogging about. I don’t however know if that kind of blogging will sell art, except if the right collector comes in touch with it and grows curious and wants to know more. But there is nothing I want to do, really, except this combination of art and writing about why I do the art, the ironies and sadnesses and heartbreaking beauty encountered along the way.

        • I thought that at first. I blog regularly and only rarely talk about technique. In fact in one of my recent blogs I mentioned that I really have no interest in talking about the “how” of a particular art photograph, I am more interested in they “why.” So that’s what I talk about. I blog what moves me and what makes me happy because that’s the only way I can be true to myself. So I talk about my inspiration, the history of my craft, the history of the places I photograph and I bring in a learning the famous photographers who’ve inspired me and their thoughts that resonate with me… all linked to my art. I find many photography blogs blog about technique. I have no interest in that because it’s like watching paint dry and probably only of interest mostly to other photographers, who, let’s face it, are not my target market. I use my blog as a way to share something of my personality and my photography and to drive interested people to view my art for sale.

          • Thank you for your incisive and insightful comments, Nicky. You are spot on with what I believe is the best way to use a blog to communicate. Put a little of you into the post and add information your target audience would associate with. Nice going!

          • My pleasure Barney.This is a really good topic. It’s my blog that gets me found these days.

        • Dear Tanya, What you doing, the concept you have for your blogging content sounds great. You are working to connect in an emotional way about your art with your readers. I don’t think anyone can expect more. I wish you success with your blog and your career.

          • Well thanks Barney; I appreciate all you’re doing and the generous urge behind it. I love what I am doing in art and in writing but haven’t had a sale in months. I have just begun reading ‘Guerrilla Marketing’ and recognize a shortage of time spent promoting myself and–a chronic problem all my life–over-sensitivity to the responses or the lack of response I am getting when I try. I live with artists who spend all their time growing their business and I see how one of the pair spends full days, nearly, in the barcalounger promoting and making contacts. I feel right now as if I will never even sort my preferences as to how much time would I like to spend doing those things versus…jogging, birding, the things I do for good health. How much of that would need to be abandoned? The biggest thing I would have to sacrifice to really clear time for my priorities is the full-time job, which is 48 miles away. Would I quit my job so I can do and sell art full time? I think I could never earn enough to live on and would live in constant worry of bankruptcy. I lack the courage of other artists and entrepreneurs.

          • Tanya, taking honest stock of your situation is the first step towards meeting your goals. Making art full-time is a commitment, and nearly always starts with challenging times, mentally and physically with sacrifices for the artist and his or her family, too. There are other ways to enjoy a satisfying career besides being full-time. Read this post for more perspective from me:
            When Greatness in Your Art Career Competes with Your Full-time Job All the best!

          • Another thing, I have always struggled with the notion of setting goals. I’ve completed your first four chapters in the book and was just checking back on S-M-A-R-T. If goals are to be measurable it implies numbers, and as I’m sure you understand if a person doesn’t know what’s possible, only remembers a meagre set of past successes, goals can best be set in terms of ‘I would like this new category of sale to happen’ or ‘to improve my earnings from last year to this year ‘ since so far there has been nothing to go by. Sales have all dried up for 2014. I don’t know how to set a measurable goal or even a specific goal without expecting to be disappointed. Also in the realm of art sales numbers have always felt arbitrary. So I set three, very general goals. Is it possible to set goals in terms of ‘increased regularity of sales’ rather than ‘this many sales by that period’s end’? Isn’t the anxiety of having to live up to a numerical goal often not worth having the goal? Don’t some businesses prosper just by gusto and not by goal-setting? Yes, if you don’t make your goals you just set new ones, so then why have them in the first place since you’re likely to forget them while you get on with your strategies?

  5. You really need to commit to the blog once you start it. I find myself being lazy and not updating it as much as I should.

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