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7 compelling reasons why you need a blog if you're an aritst

“Words hurt my brain.”

“I’ve never really thought about writing or blogging much.”

“I suck at words.”

These are the actual words of artists. Really freaking great artists. These are the artists and crafters who are ridiculously talented at what they do. They are the experts. They’re actual, real artists.

These artists aren’t starving, but they’re not making millions. If only they could get their art “out there” or "hit that big break."

Your art needs words.

Words are art too.

The easiest way to complement your art is to wrap it in some words.

If you’re an artist and you’re not blogging, you might be missing out. Here are some reasons why:


1. Sell more art and make more money
Unless you don’t care about making money. If you don’t care about making money then you have a hobby. Not a business. There is absolutely zero shame in wanting to make money. Money supports you and your family and can help you make more art.

Customers aren’t flocking to your website and online portfolio because Google doesn’t know how to read pictures. It knows words. If you start blogging, art-loving people will start finding your website, discover your work, throw all their dollars at you and you get to be a crazy-haired artist making like a maker in your workshop til 2 am with pleasure.

2. Strategically sell your work
Maybe you have an oil painting that’s been taking up too much real estate in your workshop or gallery, and you want to get it out. You can write a series of blog posts about this piece—what you were thinking when you painted it, show the progression of your work, and talk about the meaning. Then, link to where people can buy it. You’ll have better chances of selling it this way than having it leaned up against your workbench.

3.Connect with your customers by showing off your personality
I know, I know. I’m an introvert too, and I could happily sit in Starbucks all day long typing away on my MacBook with earbuds in my ears and only glancing up at the humans around me every 20 minutes.

People want to connect with makers of things. When you can create a connection with your customers and let them in on who you are, what you care about, and little details of your personality and home life they feel like they know you. People buy more from people they know and are more likely to spread the good word to all their friends. Because they want to be associated with the likes of you and your art.

4. Explain your art
If you’ve stood at a booth at an art show, you had a great opportunity to chat with potential buyers about your work. When a passerby says, “Oh, I love that piece.” I bet you went into explaining the details about it, what it means, what was happening in your life that prompted you to make that piece of work. I know this because this is what I do when I look at art. I want to talk to the artist. When friends compliment your work that’s hanging on my walls or my necklace, I want to be able to tell them all about the meaning behind it.

There’s no need to overthink it. Even if you have a description of your work, you can go deep in any direction.

5. Writing about your art will make your art better
There’s something to be said for creative cross training. If you sing, try painting. I know I can show up at a blank page more fully if I’ve been doodling or painting recently.

6. Blogging will keep you accountable
If you have a hard time finishing paintings if you share your progress each week on your blog you might be able to stay on track and put the finishing touches on more pieces of work. You can also track your progress each day and compile all the progress into a single blog post. Your blog readers will get some insight into just how much time and meticulous effort goes into each piece.

7. You can inspire others
You’re an expert at your craft and are constantly refining your skills. Imagine you eight years ago. Wouldn’t you have loved learning from someone who was just a few years ahead of you? You have your mentors, and you can be a mentor to a lesser-experienced mentee. You can teach some of your skills in your blog and then branch out into teaching workshops and make more face-to-face connections.


If you start blogging today, you’ll be amazed by this time next year. Getting started is hard. I liken it to getting that first brushstroke on a blank canvas. As time goes on, you’ll get better, you’ll have more readers, and you’ll sell more art. And selfishly, because I love reading about artists, I want to read your blog.

Will you tell me when you launch your blog so I can be your biggest fan? Have questions about starting a blog? Email me!

How to write a sh*tty first draft

That book you just put down last night.

The blog post you read on the train.

The online course you finally finished.

They all have one thing in common. They started as a shitty first draft (SFD).

Pretty much everything you’ve ever seen written started as an SFD.

If your writing flows from your fingertips perfectly, error free, no pesky dangling modifier or other grammar offenses then you might not be human. But really, if this is you, I’d love to know—maybe you can teach me your ways.

Most writers, myself included, are intimately familiar with the SFD. This blog post was an SFD. I wrote the first draft in 20 minutes while listening to this song on a sunny afternoon while watching the chickens free-range around the backyard.

Things you need to know about the SFD:

1. Get it out as quickly as possible.
This is the point. Try not to overthink it, just write. You’ll go back and edit later. The stuff you don’t edit is the stuff of journals.

2. You're going to edit.
When you revisit your SFD, ideally after you’ve stepped away for either a few minutes, a day, or even a year, you’ll have fresh eyeballs and be ready to edit.

3. It's supposed to suck.
When you revisit your SFD, you might wonder, holy rooster, this piece of work is terrible! What was I thinking? Sometimes SFDs never see the light of day or anyone’s inbox or the pages of a book. And that’s okay. That’s the whole point.

4. Write when you feel like it.
When I get a stroke of inspiration, I’ll write a fast and furious SFD and revisit it later. Sometimes “later” means in a few months. When it comes time for me to publish a new blog post or start a big book project, I’ll review all my crappy first drafts and see what inspiration I can draw from there. Talk to any writer, and they'll tell you the gold is in the editing. 

5. It's going to morph.
Sometimes an SFD turns into something entirely different than I had planned. Sometimes it ends up as a PDF download or even an in-person workshop. Sometimes it will live forever as a draft.

6. Like the exorcist, it just wants out.
The SFD wants to get out of your head and onto the page.

 

If I go on, this post would be way longer than necessary. All you need to know is sit down, shut up, and just let the words fall out. 

 

Need to edit your SFD? Here are my favorite ways to edit my work. 

Simple tricks to be your own editor

You’ve spent two hours writing your latest blog post. You read it over like a dozen times and hit publish. You share it proudly with your readers and on Facebook, and sit back and wait for comments.

Yay! You got one, someone is reading! They pointed out that you made a spelling error.

Panicked, you rush to fix it right away and hope no one else noticed.

You proofread your work, but why is it so hard to make it perfect?

First, get over being perfect. Even though I have a process for catching little mistakes, they still end up published. Most people don’t notice, and if they do and they let you know—thank them and move on.

I write thousands of words a week for clients and my blog and book projects. I don’t have an editor or proofreader sitting right beside me to say, “Hey, can you take a look at this please?”

Instead, I have a few tricks that I’ve been using for years. Use this self-editing process on important emails, your website copy, your latest blog post, and your book. I highly recommend getting fresh eyes on your book—don’t try to go that one alone!

 

Here's how to be your own rockstar editor:

1. Drop it like it's hot, then pick it up again.
Walk away from your writing for 5 minutes, an hour, or even a week. Take a walk, eat lunch, play with the dog. When you return to your writing, your eyeballs will be fresh.

2. Amp up your spellcheck.
If you’re using Word, there’s the basic spellcheck, then there’s checking for slang and passive voice. (Hint: avoid passive voice, it waters down your writing). How to turn on passive voice checker: Display the Word Options dialog box, click the Proofing option at the left side of the dialog box, Settings, then make sure there’s a checkmark next to the Passive Sentences option.

3. Use a free (or paid) online tool.
I used the free version of Grammarly for years and loved it. I eventually bought the paid version for about $130/year. You can install a browser extension so it will check every word you write online—that’s emails, Facebook comments, blog comments, and more.

It finds more than just spelling mistakes. It’ll flag wrong words, passive voice, split infinitives, and those pesky dangling modifiers. The only downside—I use Google Docs for all my writing, and there isn’t a Google Docs extension (yet), so I just use the app to check any writing I do in Google Docs.

4. Print it out.
When we hold some text in our hands, it’s easier to spot mistakes. If you feel bad for the trees, use both sides, or reuse the back of those pages for notes and grocery lists.

5. Review it in a new format.
Try changing the font or font size—it’ll look different to your eye, and you’ll be able to spot mistakes easily

6. Read it out loud.
I do this all the time. If it sounds weird to say out loud, it probably reads funny too.

7. Read it backward.
When you’ve become familiar with the flow of an article, you know what’s coming next. Review one sentence at a time, starting with the last line until you get to the beginning. I promise you’ll catch some mistakes!

 

Take these tips and become your own best editor. If you get stuck, cleaning up word vomit (my client's words, not mine), get in touch. I can help!




 

Your opening line - how to make your blog post stand out

When you start a blog post, how many times do you write the first few words, then the first sentence, then decide you don’t like it?

I get it—I do this a lot.

The first few words of your blog post are part of your first impression. After the title, it’s what makes your reader want to keep reading. Your opening line can make or break your blog post.

Maybe you’re frustrated because you’ve just spent 20 minutes coming up with a killer title for your blog post, and now you have to worry about the opening sentence? I know, I know. I promise it gets more natural with practice.

Here are some tips to kick off your article to give your reader the momentum to keep reading:

1. Ask a question

If you got this far, I did an excellent job at getting you to dive into this blog post with the opening line. Notice how I opened this blog post? Starting your blog post with a question is a conversational way to pique a reader’s curiosity and make them feel engaged.

2. Look at the facts Jacq

Make sure your stat is both relevant and correct. The only thing worse than using a statistic to grab your reader by the shoulders to get them reading is to give bad data. If the statistic is interesting, unique, or maybe even shocking, you’ll nudge your reader to pay attention.

3. A famous or direct quote

At least when you use a quote, you don't need to come up with the right words. Digging for a quote can end up time-consuming though, so I recommend keeping a running list of quotes that have caught your eye. I use Evernote or Google Docs for this, and a plain notebook if I’m not at my computer. When using a quote, make sure it’s directly relevant to your blog post, and you attribute the quote to the right person.

4. Paint a picture with words

Give your readers a mental image to get their imagination fired up. You can do this by stating off with statements like, “imagine you’re,” “picture this,” “do you remember?”

5. Use a picture

A picture is worth 1,000 words, or at the very least, it can replace the first 30 words of a blog post. I prefer to use my own images in my blog posts and on my site. Stock photos are just so—stocky. If you have an artistic side, maybe create your own illustration. A picture should add to your story and help you stand out.

6. Get to the point

Readers don’t have time to sift through your 800-word blog post to figure out the point of your article. Do your readers a favor and tell them right away. “Wine is the lifeblood of humanity,” or “Smoking is killing you.”

 

Now, how do you end this thing?




 

Let’s talk about happy endings—how to end your blog post.

Get your mind out of the gutter people. I’m talking about your parting words, your closing line.

You get to the end of a blog post that you thoroughly enjoyed reading. It was well thought out, maybe inspired you to try something new, or it just made you chortle so hard that coffee shot out your nose and straight onto your phone.

Then it just ends.

Like a movie with a terrible ending.

And you're left scratching your head—that's it???

When you get to the end of a blog post and the ending is less than fist-pump worthy, you probably feel a little jipped.

Give your blog readers a happy ending.

It doesn't even need to be happy, it just needs to have a distinct ending. When you get to the end of your blog or article, you need to tell your reader exactly what to do next. I’m lazy—most people are lazy. Tell me what to do next, so I don’t have to think about it and waste my precious energy.

 

Here are some ideas to try out for a happy ending that fits your blog:

 

1. Ask a question

Based on all the stuff you just threw at your reader, invite them into a conversation. It’s only polite. You can ask them a specific question and ask your reader to either comment, hop on over to your Facebook page to comment, or invite them to reply to you privately in email.

 

2. Part with a memorable quote

When you can’t find the right words, use someone else’s. Just make sure you quote accurately and attribute it to the original person. You can use something here with impact and leave your readers with something to ponder.

 

3. A specific call to action    

Also called a CTA, what, precisely, do you want your ready to do next? You can tell them, “hey, if you liked this, you’ll probably like [this blog post], or [this blog post].”

 

4. Tell them where to get more

If a new blog reader enjoyed your post, ask them to sign up for your weekly newsletter. It is weekly, right? Make sure you make your ask compelling. If you’re going to be sending your newsletter people the exact same thing as your blog post, they can just read your blog post.

 

5. Ask for their money

In a totally polite way in exchange for a boatload of value. If your blog post covers a topic, you have an online course available for, or a one-on-one coaching service that can help your reader, ask your reader to check out your related offer, then click on over to your sales page. Sometimes, people are afraid to do this, but if they’ve landed on your blog for the first time and head over heels in love with you, you owe it to them to tell them how to work with you. It’s your job to just issue the invitation.


 

You can try one of these tactics at a time, or try a few of them in combination. For example, telling readers where to get some more of that milkshake combined with linking to instructions on how to work together go together like a milkshake with an oreo on top.

Don’t be scared. There's no need to be awkward. Proudly give your readers the happy ending they’re looking for.

 

Looking for more blogging advice? I've got your back: