An artist's journal.
Here you'll find my paintings and musings, where the featured subjects could likely cover just about anything.
The last 4+ years I've been caring for my best buddy B during his courageous fight to live through cancer and it's complications. I'm tickled to report, he's getting better and I'm finding small bits of painting time again.

Looking forward to a daily celebration of life's gifts by using the brightest, happiest colors in the box!

Visitors looking for 'B's Journey', click here.

Tuesday, January 18, 2011

'Hooked' 2005
18" x 24" x 1.5"
Acrylic on canvas 
Smith collection- Iowa City, IA

Thanks to my cousin Tom Hapgood for the awesome black and white reference photo of this old hook in Chad's Ford, PA.

Click image to enlarge.

Joining The Daily Painters of Arizona meant creating a separate blog dedicated to art posts only. With that in mind, I was looking for ways to make the blogging experience better for my visitors. An entertaining, informative, less cluttered, more functional, pleasant blog experience. One that will develop a good following with visitors who are also willing to leave a comment or two now and then. We art bloggers gotta admit, we love comments. They help us know we've found an audience who likes what we're doing.

So, I went to my trusty new friend, Artists Helping Artists, and found just the show to help me tidy up my blog sites. Originally aired on 4/22/2010 I found Leslie Saeta and Dreama Tolle Perry's broadcast,  How To Create an Insanely Popular Blog for Your Art. That sounded like just the ticket, so I grabbed my java and my notebook and started listening. Fun and informative! What a nice group of artists! An hour well spent!

I found tons of good ideas for improving the overall appearance, feel and functionality of your blog. ( If you have an hour, I encourage you to listen to the broadcast). In the meantime, here are the highlights. I've already started applying these suggestions, and I'm liking the results:
  • Look at your blog as if it's your very first visit.
  • Put beauty in your blog- include photos of your art. Use consistency in style and post format. Put your art photos in the same spot on each post. Make return visitors feel comfortable.
  • Talk to your audience through your blog. Your audience will probably include other artists, collectors, friends and family. Talk about your feelings, your passions, and opinions. Be yourself. Let people know what you're thinking.
  • Art is an emotional buy, so tell stories about your paintings. Use humor whenever possible. People like to chuckle.
  • Use a creative, intriguing blog post title/headline to draw your visitors in from other sites.
  • Revisit and simplify your blog's sidebars with a new eye now and then. What may have been relevant 6 months ago may not be anymore. De-clutter. Simplify.
  • Review other blogs you like. What do you like about them? Would these ideas work for your blog? Are they using widgets and gadgets you like that you could apply to your blog? Mentioned on this broadcast was the 'Link Within' widget. At the bottom of every new post this widget shows 3 links with photos to archived posts from your blog. Great way to increase visibility of past work.
  • Make your blog easy to navigate. Use labels, and links, that can take you to and fro whenever possible. Make it easy to return home to your blog from your other sites.
  • Use keywords to increase your web search engine visibility.
  • Add links to your blog. To other artists, galleries and the art suppliers you love.
  • Share the great tips, ideas and art secrets you've learned. I've provided a link on my sidebar taking visitors to my blog page how I keep those small, unruly canvases in place while I'm painting.
  • Edit your posts. Give the maximum amount of info with the least amount of words. (Ahhhh, I need to work on this.)  :O)
  • Have a contest. Give something away. Notecards or a mug featuring your art, or perhaps a print of one of your paintings.
  • Use Facebook and other social media to promote your blog.
  • Ask to be linked to other artist's blogs.
  • Leave comments on other blogs.
  • Visit other non artist blogs and sites that relate to your subject matter. I paint VW vans quite a bit, so I'm going to visit a few sites where other VW enthusiasts like myself hang, let them know I'm always looking for neat photos and invite them to send me a photo from one of their van adventures. Offer a free print if you use their photo for a painting. Or maybe they'll want to buy the original.
  • Add your blog's URL to your business cards. Mentioned on this broadcast was Vista Print, where you can get 250 free business cards online. They have quite a few freebies on their site. I'm going to order the free business cards using an image of one of my paintings as the background.
Comments on our blog posts are a way to help us know we're connecting with our audience.
Here are the highlights of the ideas and tips they mentioned to help get the comments flowing:
  • Make it easy to comment. Make sure you enable comments through blogger. It's easy to do and the settings will still let you filter SPAM. None of us like that mystery meat showing up unannounced! Enable email notification to yourself when a comment's been left so you can respond in a timely, courteous manner.
  • Find a few blogging buddies willing to comment with some regularity on your blog. They'll help break the ice for those who don't want to be the first to comment.
  • Ask a question.  How does the painting make them feel? What do they like about it?
  • Ask for suggestions. Encourage. Suggest they share their own story.
  • Ask people to help you name a painting.
  • And last, but not least, acknowledge all comments left on your blog posts. Show gratitude for comments left. Say thank-you.
Well, that's all for this installment of A YEAR IN THE LIFE. I'll fill you in along the way on how these tips are working for me. One positive sign would be an increase in my blog followers numbers (currently at 20), and more comments of course (currently about 1 or 2 a post).

Let me know if you like this chronicle along the way. Any ideas for making it better? Any idea that's worked for you on your own blog that I didn't mention? If you've been here before and can see the changes taking shape, let me know what you think of the new look... oh, and.... ahhh, leave a comment if you'd like! :O) ...thanks for visiting!


Leslie Saeta said...

Wow. Thanks so much for mentioning the show and highlighting all of the information. I had even forgotten some of those points!
Your blog and art are wonderful and I love your wonderful posts!

Jenna said...

Thank you Leslie for the wonderful AHA site that you and Dreama have! A wealth of information to be found there. I'm learning so much and I'm looking forward to what 2011 has in store for me! Your generous and gregarious nature inspire me.

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"There are days when I feel I could've painted the Sistine Chapel and, then, there are the days when I'm not sure I could trace a stick figure.... the only difference between these days is my state of mind"~ Jenna Millward Corkill