Tuesday, November 01, 2011

Help or hindrance. What does your blog do for you?


 Eifuku chimneys - in progress
10 x 10   oil

Have you noticed the bloom fading from the blogosphere over the last year?  Is it me or is there a lack of postings, a lack of interaction, an overall malaise that's taking over?

I know there is a lot more competition with blogs besides just the physical numbers of blogs that have appeared.  There are also the social network sites that turn everything into bite-sized pieces so that communication is done in half sentences, often just a word or abbreviation.  Attention spans and interest levels become fleeting as one thing or another draws our attention then we discard it for something brighter, prettier, more controversial.

I have been blogging since 2006.  That is a lot of posts and a lot of time invested in the action of writing, considering topics, sharing, venting - and painting.  My original purpose behind my blog was to goad myself into action and make myself accountable to produce more art.  And it has done that and I have met many good and creative people along the way.  Now I wonder if that tool is required anymore.

Looking through stats, I see that Illustrated Life is classed as being in the top 75 art blogs.  What does that mean?  It means if you talk enough and post enough for long enough, you attract attention.  Is it the right kind of attention?  Who knows.  Its not led me down the road to fame and riches.  That sliver of the pie I've had to cut out the good old fashioned way in real life networking, marketing and showing art.  Yes, some online contacts have been made, but ultimately they lead into the real world to become effective.

Interaction.

I am not a comment junkie.  I produce art whether anyone reads or comments, its simply what I do.   I occasionally look at statistics but aside from telling me that the world loves my post about gummy bears and that tutorial freebies are the crack cocaine of budding artists, they give me little practical insight into being a better artist.  A better insight into marketing yes. 

I've been thinking back to pre-internet days.  Remember those?  Well, some of you will.  I produced art then, I shared in visual arts circles.  No, not so instantaneous in either sharing or receiving input, but that could be a good thing. 

Pre-internet I wasn't influenced by a thousand painters imitating a thousand painters.  Everything seems so predictable these days. If I see one more slap happy painting of a pear I will vomit. The daily painting movement, while it increased production and practice for many, also increased the number of really horrible paintings too.  Churning out pieces daily doesn't work for everyone, but many seem to want to go in that direction.  A lemming race perhaps?

So I wonder what I want from this blog now and what it does for me as an artist and a person.  Has it become a habit or is it a necessity in the sharing and marketing of my art on a personal and business level?  Do I let the blog slide and rely on my website or keep it going?  What is the relevance of a blog in 2011/12?

Eifuku chimneys They satisfy my need for bubbles, blues and water.

23 comments:

Ann said...

I have been pondering the same thing Jeanette. On one hand, being accountable to regular posting on my blog has kept me more productive than I believe I would otherwise have been. But then there is the responsibility that goes along with that, as it is a "social" networking tool, that I feel should go both ways. Plus there are other art networking sites competing for attention, groups on facebook, flickr, etc. I don't know what the best solution is - which I'm sure is different for each individual - but I'll be interested in the responses you get!

Rose Welty said...

I think many of us have been thinking about it. Recently I have been commenting on more blogs (mostly new to me) - to see if there was interaction, but usually not - which certainly wasn't the case years ago.

For me, I'd say the positives are: accountability (as Ann said), forcing me to speak about my art (just working on talking/writing about it), it's good for my website rankings (SEO - my blog and site are one), and it gives me a place to say more than I would on FB (I do get click thrus from FB).

I think if I didn't blog, I would have a tendency to wallow and grow insecure about my art. Oh, and one more positive - several people approach me in real life after seeing my blog (from an email line, from someone's FB, etc). They don't comment online, but they do come up to me in person and "leave a comment."

I'm not as far on the path as you are, so probably several of these things don't apply to you, but I thought I'd share my thoughts.

Michelle V. Alkerton said...

I would miss your blog if you stopped publishing it. I have MS and my world has become smaller and smaller with my mobility issues and lack of strength or energy to actually go out into the world. I am no longer able to work, to take in the museums and art galleries or belong to writing groups or take art classes. To me, the internet and yes the blogosphere as you referred to it is a critical part of my emotional well being. It is my connection to the outside world that I no longer inhabit in any meaningful way aside from brief trips to the grocery store with my hubby.

My reason for blogging is to share my art as that is really all I have to contribute anymore. I always find your work amazing and sure hope you'll continue letting people like me glimpse and enjoy your talents.

Stay inspired!
Michelle
Brain Angles - Invisible Ink

Susan Liles said...

I have also noticed the slow change in interaction amongst the bloggers. For me it is not the decrease in desire to paint and post, but the economy has forced me to work outside the home. The future of the economy also causes one to question whether we are wasting our money and time on painting even though the creative juices are still there.

Felicity said...

I would agree with all the points Ann has made. I'm hanging on to my blog by my fingernails. It seems a shame to let years of blogging go so I may just leave it up if only for myself. My artistic journey is different to yours, I think your blog is wonderful and I'm sure your buyers and admirers think so too so I very much hope you don't stop.

The main disappointment for me is lack of communication. Blogging was a wonderful tool for bringing artists together but those that are only chasing comments and popularity are chasing every new shiny thing and leaving blogging behind (not that I miss that lot ;)!) The artists blogging community has become fragmented which is such a shame as it's a solitary existance. I find myself nostalgic for pre-internet days too!

Pears? I have the same reaction to gorillas or tigers in colour pencil! :)

Katherine Tyrrell said...

Jeanette - I know you much better as a result of your blog. It could be coincidental but IMO you've made much more progress with your artwork since getting the blog.

Bear in mind I knew you in pre-blog days and I can say with certainty that who you are, what you like and what you do comes through much more clearly in your blog. It's the "single voice" thing.

Think of it a bit like a solo exhibition compared to the group exhibition which is a forum or Facebook - where things can seem a bit disconnected at times and it's more difficult to pick up and follow themes when there's a huge variety of people involved

IMO Facebook is replacing forums not blogs.

Facebook is also splitting the places people can comment - and I think a lot of views and comments are going from the blog to Facebook.

People have been announcing the demise of blogs for a long time - but they're still here and those of us who keep going will IMO just grow our audiences. I think there's still an appetite to read even if the appetite to contribute and comment may be diminishing. I know I'm getting more visitors than ever.

I think the amount of dreadful painting around is probably about the same as pre-Keiser days. It just tends to have "daily" in front of it irrespective of whether or not it is. However there have been some very good painters who are well worth following which have emerged from that movement. I do agree about the lame pear paintings though - but twas ever thus!

All in all - I think you're reaching the turn of the year "Where am I? Where am I going" moment a bit early this year. The good thing is that it is always good to question what we do - and sometimes to try new things. However I'm not going to be dropping blogging any time soon....

I'd really miss your blog if you stopped. I like knowing it's there. It's thoughtful, it has good content and it's certainly one of the quality art blogs on the Internet.

Sandra said...

Well, I have been a quiet follower of yours for a long time and I am always in awe when I visit. Even though your blog is no longer inspiring you the same way as it once was, it certainly inspires me. I started blogging not quite a couple of years ago and I posted every day at the time. Now I realise that I was spending so much time on the blog and on other peoples blogs, that it was taking up much of the time I should have been spending actually painting! These days my posts have slowed right down. Mainly because I want to post work that I am pleased with rather than to post every single thing I do, good or down right awful! But then when I do post, I like to spend time on making it an interesting one :0)
I love the interaction part, but that does take up a lot of the time doesn't it? And then I feel guilty if I have missed someone's post who I would normally comment on! So, often I come by, look at what you have been up to and quietly disappear again, but I am ALWAYS inspired! I would certainly miss your blog since it is genuinely one of my favorites!
And I feel that if there is a post that needed a comment, this is the one!
By the way - I have only been painting for four years and have certainly produced more thorns than roses, but I have never painted a pear ;0)

RH Carpenter said...

I, too, have been blogging for almost 5 years and it has changed. For me, it has given me an audience I would not normally have; it has created friendships I would not have had; and it has opened my eyes to the artwork of other places (not just my own area). I don't comment as much as I used to on blogs I visit, especially if they already have a dozen comments and I can't really add anything, but I make it a point to reply to every single comment I get on my blog. To me it's a give and take, not just a "here's my painting, tell me how great I am" kind of thing. I enjoy your blog and your newsletter; I do agree everyone wants us to go to Facebook now and I have never joined. The blog is enough for me and I've cut back on other online groups. But I often find new bloggers/artists from blogs I visit when I have time to check their sidebars or who is commenting. I think with Blogger you can create a relationship with your viewers, if you try.

Janet Pantry said...

Interesting question this, one which I'm always asking myself but there are no easy answers. I blogged regularly for a year but then promptly abandoned it for another year. I recently started the blog up again as I missed the contact with others of like mind and similar artistic tastes. I work solely with coloured pencils, a minority medium, and so blogging is a way of connecting with others using them too. I do not seriously market my art at present so can't comment on that issue.

Also, I post my work as stages of progress through a piece and so writing about each stage really helps me to record the processes I went through and reflect on them. I often go back through my blog and revisit those processes and the comments people have made, it helps me to improve on future efforts.

I don't use FB for my art, don't like it all - too confusing, too 'flip' and I can't see the point. If people really want to see my art they can find me on Blogger or one or two other forums I choose to subscribe to.

You're obviously a seasoned and very successful artist blogger, Jeanette. Perhaps the only way to find out what you'd really miss about blogging is to stop blogging for an extended period and see how you feel ...

jane minter said...

.. very interesting post jeanette i've wondered the same ....you've been blogging long enough to see all the changes ..... having your site blog and social networking linked as you do gives a good balance ..... all are different and play an important role...social networks such as FB are very frentic ...so it's good to have all your content in a blog which is linked to your site ...i think artists time is split between blogs networks and forums so interaction is diluted ... i've only blogged for a couple of years .. my blog is networked ..i see alot of artist blogging less and prefering social networks ... understand why you are asking .. i think blogging has a valuable place ..all be it different from when you started ...your blog is excellent jeanette hope you keep blogging .

Anonymous said...

I'll miss it.

Lydie said...

Big question ... my blog has not yet one year.

What have I retired after such a short time?
- More assiduity in my practice of watercolor and drawing
- Some progress if I look back
- More confidence in me (I discovered watercolor for a little over 3 years and have taken art classes via the Internet a year later)
- Improved my English (I'm not bilingual, write or respond to comments requires more time and effort, but I seem to find my 14 when I had a lot of penfriends throughout the world)

why this blog:
- First to show what I do for the family and friends who are not close to me
- Because I don't have the opportunity to easily expose (3 childrens and a husband who works shift hours and often on weekends)
- To exchange outside the small sphere of the French forums

commercially:
- I think about it and do not know how to do it or whether it's worth. At the moment I see what others have set up

At the moment it's my feedback, so thanks to have ask the question.

suzanneberry said...

wow! that was quite the post! i haven't been blogging as long as you have so my thinking may change, but right now i am downright delighted with it. i love posting my work and i love receiving comments and leaving them. not sure if i'm a junkie though. i would continue to post if they stopped coming. and, if a comment left helps someone to feel better about themselves and their work i'm happy to have left it. some artists don't need comments, some do. some never acknowledge them, some do. i make it a point to thank each leaver for taking the time to tell me how they feel about my work. i appreciate it and it helps me to feel my work is appreciated. those who don't acknowledge or leave comments have simply chosen not to, and that's fine and certainly a choice they have the right to make. if a piece of art moves me to comment i will, the artist's acknowledgement of that isn't really necessary. the comment thing can take up a lot of time that one could be working. it's whatever works for the individual. i began working out of my home when i lost my job in '04 and without the internet, blogging and the daily painting movement i doubt i'd be fortunate enough to supplement our income painting each day. i'd probably be at a supermarket on the express line register which is good honest work, but i'd much rather be painting at home with my pugs. i've made more friends and learned more about creating art because of blogging than i have in my lifetime up to the time i started. there are skill levels of every kind and because it's online, we're free to look at it or leave it alone. as long as there are people painting, either trying to make a living or just for pleasure, whether it's a pear or a pig, whether they're incredibly or marginally gifted, the internet has given everyone a chance and i think that is amazing. i'm sorry that you're feeling blogged out, but it's understandable. perhaps you will quit, perhaps not, but i for one will miss you if you do. for me it's an integral part of my success. i post my work on FB and on my site. the more eyes on it the better. i've always wanted my work to be seen. that said, i'll be sure to visit your website if you leave the blogging world behind.

Lisa Le Quelenec said...

Wow this is an interesting discussion…. I started blogging as a way of recording my work and methods. Marketing wasn’t a priority; it was more a way of engaging with other artists. In a short time I started to ‘meet’ other artists that I would never have met otherwise. Now when I sign into blogger it feels like I’m popping over to a friend and colleague’s house, sitting around their kitchen (or studio) table with a mug of something hot for a catch up. I enjoy being part of this online community and the sharing of knowledge and discussions that ensue. (One very popular blog that I read every Monday morning sees me with a notebook and pen in hand, it’s my weekly business meeting where I can get a round up and the heads up of what’s going on the industry. – I’m glad she says that she will keep blogging.)

From a marketing point of view I have been contacted and have sold work as a result of it. (A couple of people have been repeat customers as a result of seeing new work posted.) I don’t tweet and have the most basic FB page that links straight to the blog. They both seem just a little too impersonal to me, so I have no experience of them as a marketing tool, although I can understand why they would suit some people better.

I’m not sure if less people are blogging, looking at the links in sidebars there seems to be lots of new faces popping up. It may be that the posts are less frequent but maybe they are of a higher quality?

If you are quitting blogger (which imho will be a crying shame) I will just have to pop over to your website and will be waiting eagerly for the next edition of your newsletter. I guess it comes down to how much time you have and whether you are achieving your goals with the blog format. Sorry to have waffled, as you can see I’ve gotten quite comfy sitting at your kitchen table. …any chance of a top up?

Erin K. Nolan said...

I don't blog for others, necessarily, I blog for myself. I have such a horrible memory that I can't remember all that I've done, but when I look back and read there is proof that I am productive. Plus I can go back over the years and visualize my growth as an artist.

I also like the comradery of fellow artists. I work by myself and enjoy another take or a constructive critique of my work. Sometimes, not often, but sometimes, I get to form an online relationship with others.

Plus, I am able to view others' work and find inspiration in their view of life, nature, art, etc. Where I live in the rural midwest, there are so few people that think the way I do. The internet has allowed me to see that I belong somewhere. There are men and women who process the world similar to me.

Thanks,
Erin

Anonymous said...

A very interesting blog post and string of comments on blogging! As a non-blogger, I have very little knowledge (actually, none) of how to set them up, though am toying with the idea of going on a course next week. Too little, too late maybe! I love the amount and varity of art blogs out there - it's been a revelation - but as I work from home and have to keep down my distractions, I limit myself to how many I follow, so as not to spend the day reading blogs!

I like blogs that link into my email account - I always read those. The ones that seem only to want to go into an RSS feed sadly don't get read so often. I tend to comment on the ones that are easy to comment on - that is, just add a comment at the bottom and submit. That said, I'm not involved in any artistic debates via blogs and I can certainly see how a blogger might feel that they are talking 'to the void' and that the work put into the blog is not reaping rewards.

I do paint and I do sell some work locally. I'm not sure I would expect a blog to increase sales of art, at least not exponentially. That elusive item, the art buyer, is probably not going to be following masses of blogs. (That said, I've bought two of your paintings Jeanette, so they were sales purely because of your blog - but of course that's not made your artistic fortune!)

I didn't know that the art cyberspace focus was shifting to FB and I can't say I'm too wild to hear that. I am on FB but in many ways it's a pain and I've resolved to delete anyone who plays Farmville constantly and thereby blocks up the FB comments - WHY would I be interested and how come anyone's got the time to doodle away on something like that?!

Anyway, hopefully this flurry of reaction will inspire you to keep blogging, but, if not, I've certainly enjoyed your posts and have always marvelled at your incredible time management and ability to fit so much into your life!

Now, let's hope I can post this... I will probably have to be 'anonymous'!

Jennifer (England)

Jeanette said...

I wrote a long post in response to this last night, but Blogger ate it.

To summarize, thank you all for your thoughtful responses and insight into blogging and its impact on you. I agree with all you've said.

Sometimes my thoughts spill out into my blog - my rants, as I call them and maybe this was one of them.

Blogging has been good to me on many levels and it can be frustrating too. Art production is such a solitary business and we need to know there are others out there who think and feel the same as we do.

From a marketing stance, blogs are a good tool for visibility for collectors, galleries, and browsers as well as other artists.

There is such a push to be all things to all people and at times I am overwhelmed. Besides my art, I also work a very hectic full time day job. The art balances it out and perhaps is my escape in some ways from the craziness that happens during the day.

The need, be it real or perceived, to be active in so many areas is something I need to come to grips with in the next year and decide what is important and vital to the business and production of art and what is not.

I am grateful for the friends I have in the virtual art blog world, who are as real as any that I have in daily life.

I believe that blogging is evolving. Learning how to evolve with it and still have the enriching experience for me and for readers is what I need to understand.

I don't think my blogging will stop, I'm too entrenched in it and have invested too much time to discard it.

Rose Welty said...

So relieved to hear that you'll stick with it Jeanette...I would really miss your posts. It certainly is healthy to think about what you want the blog to be, for yourself and for others.

Stacy said...

Jeanette, I am coming late to the discussion, but I wanted to add my 2 cents anyway.

I have been blogging nearly as long as you - since the beginning of 2007. And like you have noticed a slow down or reduction in interaction through blogs. It does make me wonder often if I am just talking to myself.

As an artist we have so much to balance - business responsibilities, marketing responsibilities, framing responsibilities and let's not forget creating the art! And we all have other things we must do too - be it raising a family or working at another job or even just keeping the pantry stocked and doing the occasional load of laundry. Only you know what is the right balance for your life.

For me I had to put aside the notion of posting three or four times a week. It just wasn't going to happen. So I committed to once a week and that is what works for me right now. Maybe you will find a new schedule that fits more comfortably with your other committments.

No matter what you decide, I wish you the best of luck. And please add me to the list of people who would miss you if you stopped blogging. I may not comment much, but your blog is a regular read.

Janice Skivington said...

Hi, I have just discovered your blog for the first time! I followed a link from "Making a Mark". Interesting post and answers about blogging and it's purpose. I started a blog 3 years ago and still feel as though I am talking to myself. However it is a tool for myself to learn more about expressing myself and to track my own progress. It is basically a journal which I would not keep so well if I didn't "show" it publicly.
Keep posting, your writing and viewpoint are interesting and provide a needed connection with artists all over.

Jeanette said...

Rose, and Stacey, thank you. I need that input and need to ensure my needs are met, not running to a perceived need for me to post all the time. I'll find the balance.

Janice, welcome to the blog and one of my rants. :) I think we all feel a little like we're talking to ourselves in blogs, but I, like you, need that edge of expectation to keep me on the level and producing.

Paula Pertile said...

I'm glad you're staying too, Jeanette. :~)

I can say 'ditto' to so much of what you and others have said. (And I hang my head in shame to admit that for a brief while I almost kinda sorta tried to be a daily painter, although I never did it every day and OK, I did do a couple of pears.)
{heavy sigh}

But I soon figured out that wasn't "me", and have gone back to just posting things whenever I get them done, and just use the blog as a place to talk and think out loud to myself.

I post less frequently, and visit and comment on other blogs less than I used to. Although I do like to see what people are up to. I 'do' Facebook, just to feel in step with what's required to be in the swim of things these days, but have a real love/ hate relationship with it. I have a 'page', but don't see the point, really. I refuse to sign up for Google+ or anything else. ENOUGH ALREADY.

I'm feeling a real pull lately to unplug from it all. I wish had the guts. Maybe, someday ...

Jeanette said...

Paula I think we all explore various avenues for work and marketing. Some work out, some don't.

Information overload is a part of my angst I believe. The wealth of blogs and Facebook and Twitter and Google+ and the push, whether real or perceived, to participate in them all, is there.

I know there is a need for online presence in the current world and I know its down to me to set my own limits of participation. I believe I've come to terms with that now and the pressure is less. I too, see the need to just walk away from it all, but know that its part of the fabric of being an artist.