Last year while I was in Sydney on a holiday, I met up with Liz Steel and we talked for hours on blogging and social media.
Liz told me that some artists don't see how blogging can help their career as artists. Indeed, there are artists that I know and admire who don't even have a website, much less a blog, or any form of presence online.
If you're an artist and don't have a blog, you're missing out big time. There's a huge opportunity cost that you're not seeing.
Blogging is one of the most powerful tools for marketing, and with the internet it is now so affordable and accessible to any artist.
Let me give you the reasons why you should blog as an artist.
You grow with your blog
Whether or not you're a professional artist does not matter. If you're someone who's a beginner at art, it will even be more beneficial. By posting your work online, you'll be able to keep track of your progress and grow from there. It's called practice. The more you draw, the better you get. When you use the blog as a record, you can see how much you have improve and where else you can improve.
If you've afraid of posting your so called crappy work online, then join a forum where there are those work-in-progress pages where you can post your art to. Or you may want to start two blogs, one for your rough sketches (maybe on Tumblr) and one for your more professional looking work.
When others see your work, they give comments like how you can improve, or give you ideas you have never thought of. Like when I post my sketches, sometimes people ask me about my techniques, or even correct some of the things I say.
Let people know that you're still in business (aka put your art out there)
How on earth are people going to buy your art or commission you if they don't know you exist? If they don't know you exist, they won't even being to type your name in the Google search box. That's why it's important to update your blog with new artworks often.
This is how advertising works. They basically plaster print advertisements everywhere on the streets, public transports and in shopping mall, and also run online and TV campaigns. They all do these so that the more you see the ad, the more you'll remember their brand. Same applies to blogging online.
Your blog is different from your online portfolio though. The blog is meant to be like sort of a visual diary of what you're doing, basically to tell people what you're up to. You can post new artworks on your blog, but collect them into another portfolio page so that visitors can easily see your curated gallery.
A blog helps to promote and sell your art
As you post regularly, you'll build up an audience. Some of visitors might turn into leads and buy stuff from you, or commission you.
I don't know about you but for artists who I follow, whenever they release an artbook, I feel compelled to buy and support them. That's just how it works. You support the people you like.
One important thing is to make sure you say somewhere that there are things for sale. For example, Carol Marine updates her blog everyday with paintings for sale. Mattias Adolfsson would post news of his new artbooks in the posts or by the sidebar. And when Pascal Campion launched his Kickstarter campaign, he got $106,000 in terms of response (below). All these artists have build up their audience over the years by updating blog regularly and connecting with their audience. You want a good online presence, just follow what they are doing, post regularly.
Your audience want to connect with you
If your audience somehow knows that you exist, they will seek you out online. They like to know what you have been up to.
When someone follows your blog, they are actually following you, the person, because they like your character or who you are. It's actually less about the work.
Audience wants to feel connected. With a blog, they can be updated with what you do. Guess what happens when these followers find out you have a gallery opening or new book coming out? They will support you at the gallery or get your book. I have seen this been proven over and over again. See some of the comments below for Steven Reddy's first Kickstarter campaign for his book.
I hope you did not miss the part that says "I don't think I have ever been this excited about an impending credit card charge!"
If you post your artworks on the blog. That's good. If you write something about your process, about how your day when while you're sketching, that's great. Check out Shari Blaukopf's blog where she blogs daily and her audiences respond with many comments.
If you don't know, it's difficult to get people to comment online. And she has 60 comments?!?! And that's for a post where she talked about the new video course that she's doing with Craftsy. Guess how many of her audience signed up for the course. Go see.
It is SO MUCH EASIER to sell your art or whatever you're selling when you have an audience that you have been building up for years.
It's incredibly difficult to sell stuff if you don't have an online presence. If you have an artbook you want to launch in a few weeks times, do you think a lot of people will know about it if you don't promote it?
This applies to Youtube channel too. Artists like Mina Petrović, Alphonso Dunn (above) and Mark Crilley are sought by publishers to publish book because of the huge audience they have on their Youtube channels.
Speaking of Alphonso Dunn, Go check out the reviews on Amazon for his book and see how many of those got to know of the book through his Youtube page. This applies to blogs as well.
A blog gets your more web traffic
That's assuming you write something together with the art you've just uploaded. That way, Google has text to index, and when people search for that text, hopefully your website shows up in the search results.
If you just have a static website, basically an online portfolio that you update occasionally, then it would be difficult for people to see what you have updated on your website.
If you update every quarter, then people only have to visit your website 4 times a year. If you update more frequently, you give people reasons to come back and check out your stuff more frequently.
If people know that you've a static website, they may not want to come back again. After all, they have seen everything. But if your blog is constantly evolving, you can build an audience from those who keep coming back.
A blog makes you an authority
Let's say if you use markers for all your artworks, people will then start to associate you as someone who's good at Copic markers, assuming your art is decent. And guess who they will think of when they have questions relating to markers?
An authority is something that you establish over time. People start to notice the tools you use, or even stuff that you write. If you write tutorials on digital painting, then over a period of time, you'll grow into an authority on digital painting.
A blog helps you diversity your earning avenues
A blog helps you diversify your earnings avenues.
You can earn money from selling original art, prints, crafts, or even your service as an illustrator or tutor. Some websites sell T-shirts, books, mugs and other merchandise. Every little bit adds up.
You can also run some Google Adsense ads to earn some passive income. The ad revenue from Google is not going to be a lot, but after a year, it's likely you will be able to buy some art materials with the money, assuming you have been updating your blog regularly.
Or you can write sponsored posts. I know some blogs do that. Manufacturers send them art products to review. Most of these gigs aren't paid. But you get the web traffic when people look for reviews for those art materials.
My parting tips
Focus more on your blog than social media. The blog is where you have control over what your audience will see. You can even put payment plugins to automate purchases which is something that social media sites can't. Also, you don't know when social media sites will go away, or fade in importance. It's also easier for people to do a search on your blog than on social media pages.
Success comes to those who work for it. When it comes to art, there's really no such thing as overnight success, whether you're talking about techniques or creating a career.
Start a blog. Update it regularly. You can do so very easily with Bluehost web hosting (with automated blog setup) and Wordpress.