I will speaking with at School House Craft again this year, about blogging. (Details on how to attend this wonderful conference can be found here). One thing I always get asked when it comes to blogging is "where does the inspiration for new blog posts come from?". If the idea of blogging is not intuitive for you, (which, let's face it, blogging is usually talking about yourself a lot in a public forum, that can be uncomfortable), it can seem like a bigger job than it needs to be! But whether you are an introvert or extrovert, blogging can be a useful tool if you're up for it, so it's important to have a list of favorite ways to find inspiration to write about, which is what I will be talking about at School House this year. I thought I would write a little bit about this here as well.
If you are a business blogger, your posts will be largely defined by what you promote as your business on your blog (graphic design, food, letterpress work, etc). Maybe you're are an interior DIY'er? Then you would most likely post about projects you do as well as share the process of making those projects. Or maybe you're an artist who uses your blog as an online business tool to promote yourself and your work. Maybe you'd post about your online classes or shop, and offer simple tutorials to your readers on a regular basis.
But maybe you're a maker or craftsman who has their head down in their studio all day, making stuff, feeling like you have nothing to share? These folks fascinate me, because they are the ones who are probably the most interesting people to me, they just don't know it. They are not nestled neatly behind a business blog, or on a tight, prolific DIY schedule to create editorial content based on a schedule they promised to those sponsors who purchased ads space on their site. Instead, these makers must motivate themselves to set their own parameters, privacy limits, and blogging schedule. Yet their creative lives involve them being so inside their own heads, they don't stop and look up. Blogging is usually the one thing on the list that falls by the wayside.
So why would an artist or craftsperson not blogging for direct income from sponsorship or paid posts, etc even worry about blogging in the first place? Actually there are a few reasons I wanted to highlight.
1. A blog page is fluid. An official website, like mine, is static. While it's important to have one, it doesn't change or get updated very often (unless you are a very good coder and can do it yourself). Mine probably gets updated once a year, and it involves sketches on the back of napkins, calls and emails to and from our web guy, revisions, and, in the end, a bill. A blog is consistently updated and, if linked to your official website, it also gives your website reader something new on a consistent basis. It provides a more current view of what you are about and and what you are making. There is nothing worse than seeing something cool in a magazine, then looking it up on my phone or ipad, only to see the artst's website looks forgotten and dusty.
It's worth the extra effort.
2. A blog gives a peek into your process. The back story can be fascinating! Of course, pinterest images are lovely, the boards are organized, and inspiring, but often it's the nitty gritty, behind the scenes process and story of how it came to be that makes me want that thing.
Why did you, the artist, use that color? How do you use upcycled materials on a daily basis? How do you sketch out your ideas? What's your studio like? Messy? Neat? You see what I mean? It's often the easiest part to just show the end result, but getting there can also be half the fun.
I think my friend, artist Lisa Congdon, does a fantastic job of taking her followers behind the scenes on her blog. She also wrote a very interesting entry last year on why she keeps the comments turned off on her blog. [And my thought on blog comments: A lot of folks think comments equal traffic, plain and simple. This just isn't true anymore. With all the different online forums we look at on any given day, how can commenting ever happen the way it did way back when? I don't get many comments in this space, and that used to bother me until I realized that I myself don't comment that much, if at all, these days. Who has enough time? Often, if I'm looking at a blog through Bloglovin', or on my phone or Ipad, I'm definitely reading the post, but I can't comment as easily as clicking directly on the blog, so I just don't. Don't let lack of comments keep you from blogging. It's great to have them, sure, but it doesn't mean folks aren't reading.]
3. As an artist with a consistently updated blog, you look dependable and reliable. Anyone who would potential want to buy a product from you, hire you for custom work, or buy wholesale from you wants to see that you are reaching out from behind the curtain on a regular basis. You appear as someone who is interested in your customers and clients (real and potential). You are social media savvy and not living in a vaccuum. And you are approachable online. Blogs invite conversation, especially when linked to your other online spaces (and keep your comments turned on).
4. A blog allows you to offer sneak peeks of fresh inspiration for future pieces, and that gets us excited! I love Folk Fibers handmade quilts, and it was on their blog that I first learned Maura was experimenting with Shibori dyeing techniques, which eventually because part of her line. I was excited to follow the process of seeing this collection come to fruition.
I am leaving a lot out of this list, so please feel free to add more to the comment section. Blogging is not going away (where would the pinterest images come from if it did?) but it is changing. There are ways of doing it well, and sometimes it's just stepping back and reassessing where you are at in the process to see how to do it better.
And that is exactly what I will be doing over the next few weeks. I am working on all sorts of behind-the-scenes, list-y type things that need to be done. I started wise craft as a stay at home mom with 2 small kids and an obsessive need to make things. Today? It is something totally different, but yet still the same in many ways. If that makes sense.
I will, of course, still be posting here in this space, but it may be a bit sporatic as I work on answering some important self-imposed questions. Thanks in advance for your patience, it'll be worth the wait I promise! You can sign up for my newsletter to keep up with everything that will be happening, as well as events and signings once my book is published. I also still post consistently over on Instagram.