In 2020, every successful artist or aspiring artist – writers, designers, painters, musicians, comedians, or any other art form – needs his or her own platform. They need their own blog.
Instagram, Facebook, Twitter, TikTok, Youtube, and Pinterest are all great social networks to showcase your creative works and build an audience.
Yes, regularly posting content and collaborating with peer artists on social media absolutely helps you get more clicks, shares, and even paid engagements, BUT there’s one big problem: you do not own the property.
Remember Tumblr, Blogspot, Myspace…? Those platforms created abundant opportunities for their most avid users, but what happened to them when these sites went bust?
Betting the success of your creative careers and dreams on a technology giant makes you vulnerable.
The point is this: build your own platform.
It’s better to own property than to rent it, and on the internet, nothing says ownership like your very own blog.
This guide is to help you start your art blog in a way where you have tiny downside, but extremely high upside.
Find a domain name for your art blog
Your domain name is both your brand name and your web address in one. It’s how people know you and find you. Go to a site like Name.com to find a domain name that makes the most sense for your artist or group name.
Don’t obsess over the domain extension: you can get a .com, .net, or even .me. Don’t pay more than $15, unless you’re already rich and famous. 🙂
Get affordable blog hosting
If a domain name is like your home address, your blog host is like the home itself, where all your content lives.
If you’re just starting out, hosting for an art blog should cost you between $5-$20 per month. Yes, you’re technically “renting” your server, but the ownership is in the works published, your blog design, your website code and functionality, and the equity you build in the form of social shares, and backlinks to your site.
Your blog is like your portable home you can take and host anywhere you want.
Pick a free or premium art blog WordPress theme
How do you best express your art? Is your work visual, verbal, musical? Your art form and your personality determine your blog looks, feels, and performs. Your blog theme design is the ultimate representation of you, your artwork, and your goals. Pick one suited for both mobile and desktop users.
What will capture and hold your audience’s attention: photos, essays, cartoons, comics, videos, songs, podcasts?
If you’re a painter, you’ll want a highly aesthetic blog theme with striking galleries, into which you can easily upload images as easily as you can on Instagram.
If you’re a musician or entertainer, you’ll want a portfolio blog theme that showcases your artwork in the form of Youtube videos or SoundCloud clips.
If you’re a writer…you get the idea.
When picking a blog theme, don’t make the mistakes other amateurs (in any profession) make: don’t go for pretty or cool. Form follows function. Remember this, and avoid overthinking and over-complicating this important, but not detrimental, part of the process.
Go to AppSumo.com and get an excellent deal on WordPress blog hosting, themes, and other functional plugins that’ll get your art blog up and running in less than $100. Avoid hiring web designers, developers, and consultants unless you’re well established, and need the professional touch to get to the next level.
Set up ONLY the most critical WordPress plugins
A good WordPress plugin is like a life hack that gets you the essential functions your site needs without shelling out hundreds or thousands of dollars on custom work.
Building websites is so easy these days that even for non-technical people, it can become fun, exciting, and a complete time-wasting game, especially installing and playing with plugins. Focus on your art. Get what you need, set it up the right way, and get back to work.
90% of your time on your blog should be spent on art production, content promotion, and peer collaboration. If you find yourself always tweaking your design, your plugins, you’re progressing in reverse.
For starters, here are the plugins every art blog needs:
- Security and Backups plugins: like home security and car insurance, these plugins protect you from disaster and ruin, limiting your downside. Get a host that has you covered, so you’re not spending too much time setting it up.
- Social Snap: social sharing plugins that make it easy for your audience to amplify your artwork, increasing your upside extremely.
- WP Smush: in 2020, your art blog needs to be lightning fast. Nothing slows your site speed time like high-definition photos. This plugin makes the image size smaller, without sacrificing quality.
- Disqus comments: increase your audience participation with blog comments, which allow people to engage with you, and with each other.
That’s it. That’s the plugin list. Most people add somewhere between 10-50 (yes, 50), thinking they need the perfect experience.
As your art blog grows in traffic, in revenue, in publicity, you can add new “features” to your blog, as needed, but again, form follows function.
Make it a habit to create
Domain, hosting, theme, plugins, and only the bare minimums are all you need to build your first digital property. These are literally the building blocks to starting and growing a successful art blog. The true growth however comes in the equity you build over time.
It’s a numbers game. Like Picasso, you should make it a daily or weekly habit to produce, produce, and produce, with this wisdom in your backpocket: you never know which piece of work will strike a chord with your audience, and take off.
Quantity is not more important than quality. Quantity, however, breeds quality, and creates opportunities, where luck can strike in your favor. Make yourself open to these high-upside opportunities like the most inspiring artists in your industry before you (online or offline), and eventually, it will.
Whether you end up earning the income of a part-time gig, full-time career, or a booming business, you’ll always have the satisfaction AND the high upside of starting your blog, advancing in your art work, and building equity in your digital property, without putting all your eggs in some technology giant’s egg basket.