Art for Art’s Sake?

Artistic Purity Is It Possible for a Blog?

Cave painting: Altamira Bison at least 13,000 years old“Greek philosopher Plato spoke about the concepts of Truth, Beauty and Love as concrete and pure ideas that are unencumbered by outside forces. From this philosophy arose the idea of the autotelic (from the Greek autoteles), which implied that a work of art is complete within itself, representing itself and existing purely as a work of art. This idea developed into the phrase, ‘Art for Art’s Sake.’  “Source “Modern Art Concept: Media Purity” at theartstory.org.

In Greek “auto” means “self,” and “telos” means “goal.”  Autotelic art has no other goal or purpose than itself.  

If you have ever felt real artistic inspiration, you have known a form of madness.  The urge to create for the sake of the art itself is pure and powerful.  Like falling in love. When it happens, you know it.

The bad news

If you blog for blogging’s sake, the chances are good that no one will see your work.

Why?

The world needs some major clues to find your site.

Whether it’s search engines or other people who find you, your blog will not be found without some effort that goes beyond creation itself.

For search engines like Google to find you they need clues.  This is called Search Engine Optimization or SEO.  If you just started blogging using WordPress, get the plugin Headspace 2.  It’s easy to use.

Other advice:  blog more than one article.  And then install the plugin SEO Smart Links.

Let your blog get older.  Being old seems to help search engines believe you are interesting. Ironic, huh?

To contact humans?

First e-mail your mom.  

Okay that’s one.

Getting strangers to view you blog is harder.

But what if my blog articles or art are really good?

Getting strangers to view even your really good blog is hard.

A method that really works.  Leave comments on other blogs.

If you go to sites with CommentLuv installed you can select the posts you want the world to see when you leave a comment.

There are other techniques to guide search engines and humans to your art or writing. Try plugins like Headspace 2 mentioned above, which helps guide search engines, and Linkwithin, which helps guide humans to related posts on your site. There are other plugins. Look around the web, try them all or just some.  It can be a fair amount of effort.

Add social buttons to let people share your posts on social networking sites like Twitter and Facebook.  I use Sexy Bookmarks.  Ultimately, people will share references to your site.  

Once you do all that, artistic expression is possible.  “Expression” meaning that your content is expressed to an audience.  And then you can get back to the art.

Is artistic purity possible for a blog?  Um, not really.  But with a little work you can prepare your site so that your new material gets seen.  I hope you will. 

Are You Running Out of Time?

Running out of time? - photo of a clockRunning out of time to blog?  

You may be doing something wrong.  Or something right!

I discovered recently that I never have enough time to blog.  

Am I disorganized?  Well, yes.  But that’s been the case from day one!

But lately I seem to be writing, commenting, replying to comments, answering e-mail, fooling around with widgets and plugins, and learning, learning, learning.  Social media?  Yes, at least enough to check posts, find a cool tip, and rush back to the dashboard to give it a try.

It didn’t used to be this way.  I wrote a blog post.  And waited.  

Now when I write a post, I rush to share it to Facebook and Twitter, and leave comments with links to the new post on other blogs.  While I’m cruising through the blogging communitiy, I read new ideas for search engine optimization (SEO), affiliate marketing, newsletter list building, or ad placement.  Great idea?  I’m back at my blog to try it out.  

Writing, commenting, and setting up methods for monetization — Content, Community and Conversion — make up the essential Blog Triad.  When you first start blogging, you should spend more time commenting than writing posts.  Later, the ratio should reverse.  In either case, you should be busy.  And running out of time.

My theory:  When you start running out of time, you are probably doing something right

Running out of time means you understand the complexity enough to be fully engaged in a task, and that includes running a blog.  When I first heard bloggers talking about how much work it is, I thought smugly, “Hmm, must be a slow writer, poor thing.”

Then I started seeing the same top bloggers popping up commenting, writing guest articles, replying to me, sending me e-mails using their subscriber list.  Riding herd on community engagement, keeping up on developments, sharing tips with other bloggers — it never ends.

Then it hit me.  You can spend every waking minute doing this blog stuff!

When blogging starts to really eat up your time, you are likely taking care of business.  And it is hard work.

Are you running out of time for your blog?  Could be that you are onto an approach that makes good use of your time.  

Remember the movies about the scientist on the verge of a discovery?  The scientist, surrounded by test tubes and electric arcs, is frantically conducting his experiment.  The concerned housekeeper descends to the cellar laboratory with a covered tray, and knocks gingerly on the thick wooden door, only to be rebuffed by the frantic wizard .  “Soon, soon I will have time to eat.”  

The scientist is skinny, his eyes are bugging out, and his hair is all messed up.  And I’m thinking, “That scientist guy hasn’t bathed in a month and probably smells like a dead badger. That housekeeper won’t be back.  He could starve.  But he’s doing Science!”

Is this you when you work on your blog?

If so, you are blogging (or pursuing some other dream) like a mad scientist!  And that’s pretty exciting.

You’re running out of time.  You may be doing something right.  Keep going!  But don’t forget to eat and bathe.  When the work is done for your dream, your science or your blog.

Why Winning Product Blogs Do Only Three Things: the Secret of the Blog Triad

 Your product blog has only three tasks.

I recently was given an opportunity to listen in on a discussion with three successful blogging veterans.  These were folks who have really made blogging work and generate real income.

The group was unanimous in being focused on only three tasks. 

Why you need to remember only the Three C’s of the Blog Triad 

Content

Simple idea.  Generate content of value to readers.  We’ve all heard the phrase, “Content is king.”  

Original, interesting content is to readers what nectar is to hummingbirds.  A hummingbird may check out a bright shirt, but it won’t stay long.  Epic content, like nectar, will bring readers back.  

The idea of great content is simple; the execution more challenging.  Litmus test:  Would you read your content?  Is it informative?  Funny? Moving?  

Would you recommend that a friend read your blog?

Has your content been optimized so that search engines can direct readers to your site?  

Community

No blog is an island.  Your blog, if it is to be more than a silent repository, must engage with readers.  

Your blog is a bustling newsstand, a bookstore, a library; a place people are willing to visit to find content.  A successful blog is a busy, noisy place.

If you fancy yourself the lone writer, creating brilliant works that someone else markets, you will need a book contract and a photograph of yourself with a pipe (or if you’re a lady, a cigar).

When you are a blogger, you must be gregarious, sociable, and outgoing. You have to get out there and rub shoulders with your community of potential readers.  

Search engines will send you some traffic, just as a phone directory might send potential customers to a bookstore in the middle of nowhere.  

The real traffic comes from networking.  Why?  Because unlike wolves, who run in packs, people tend to organize in networks.

One way to network is to visit other blogs and leave comments.  Visit blogs similar to yours and say something meaningful about other articles.  Read the articles on which you comment. You may actually learn something in the process.  This really works.

Some blogs openly encourage comments with a plugin discussed in this article on CommentLuv.  The article has a link to a terrific list of CommentLuv enabled blogs just waiting for you to participate. 

Another method of engaging with your reader community are the social networks such as Twitter, Facebook and Google+.  

Do your best to follow or friend people with interests congruent with your blog content.  On Twitter, which tolerates a cacophony of short messages, you can search for topics and Follow people interested in that topic.  Facebook takes more engagement and frankly I’ve been distracted by meeting people I genuinely like

What is the right mix of community engagement versus content creation?  

One blogging expert offered an approximate formula:  80% networking, 20% content

That’s in the beginning.  As your blog attracts more traffic the formula should gradually shift to 20% networking, 80% content writing.  But you never stop networking.

Conversion

Every blog has a product.  You may be selling an idea, or Three Wolf Moon T-shirts, or a book.  Reversing the equation slightly, you may be selling reader attention to advertisers.  

But a successful blog convert your browsers into customers of your product. 

You may want to become an affiliate for a product.  As an affiliate, when a customer buys the product, your site gets a piece of the action.  No conversion, no cash.

You may want to sell an item directly, such as an e-book or an educational course that you develop, or just about anything.  Whatever your plan for conversion, your blog should be structured to funnel potential customers toward the conversion area, sometimes called the Landing Page.  This blog currently is a terrible example for conversion – don’t use it as a model.

Making a List, Checking it Twice

Most successful bloggers advise setting up an e-mail list so you can stay in touch with readers and periodically send offers.  When the offer is congruent with your readers interests, they will actually appreciate the right kinds of notices, discounts, and the like.  

If you would like to join my e-mail list, it’s very easy and you can unsubscribe any time.  

In fact, if you act quickly, you can be among the very first charter subscribers.  Do it now so you don’t forget!

That last line was a “call to action.”  Successful product blogs always give readers a call to action.  It’s like pirates always say, “Avast matey!”  It’s a clear direction to their product.

So that’s the product Blog Triad: Content, Community,Conversion. 

The experts were unanimous on another point: successfully creating content, community, and conversion takes hard, persistent work.  But the message was clear: Success is possible if you skillfully juggle the three tasks of the Blog Triad.

What do you find is the optimal mix among the three tasks?  Are you doing all three?  Hey, leave a comment and get started on one task — community — right away!