Have you ever thought about starting a pottery blog? If so, you are in the perfect spot! This is the first article in a series of posts about pottery blogging. We’ll cover an introduction to blogging here and later we will look at how to plan, set up, use, and promote a pottery blog.
Pottery Blog Series
- Planning a Pottery Blog
- Setting Up a Pottery Blog
- Best Blogging Practices
- Get Readers to Your Pottery Blog
First, what are we talking about when we say “blog?”
- a regularly updated website or web page, typically one run by an individual or small group, that is written in an informal or conversational style.
- add new material to or regularly update a blog.
So basically, a blog is like a traditional “static” website which is easier to update, automatically lets people know about the updates, and can be presented dynamically (for example if a viewer wants to see just blog posts about a specific topic or by a specific author.)
According to Google, the first “web log” or blog was created in 1994. It was not a pottery blog. But there is still evidence of pottery blogs that have started over a decade ago. Some of those pioneers of the pottery blogs are still around. Some have trailed off recently. But is pottery blogging dead? Far from it!
A peek at any Clay Blog Review will show you at least 50 fairly-to-very active pottery blogs. And you may remember seeing the top pottery blogs of the year, some that post nearly every day. Yes, even with the popularity of social media and smart gadgets, the blogging community is still alive and well.
I don’t claim to be the best blogger in the world but I scan a large number of pottery blogs while putting together the Clay Blog Review. I also enjoy learning about social media, marketing and technology. I’ll attempt to show you some things that seem to work well. And if you have any helpful advice it would be great to hear from you through email or in the comments below.
A Blog Is More Than “Just Writing”
Blogs started as online journals. They are still awesome for that. But now they are so much more. Do you hate writing? Instead of writing, you can record a video of yourself, make a podcast, share your photographs or have other people write for you. You can also write in different ways: review books, videos or pots, share resources or curate other people’s content. Your blog can be anything that you want!
Why Create a Pottery Blog?
Other social media and a static website can meet several needs but blogging has some distinct advantages. I’m not suggesting you should have a blog INSTEAD of other social media or a traditional website. It is ideal to have them all work TOGETHER. Ideally, you have a website to be a central hub or “online business card” and a blog to create your regularly updated content. (These can be, and often are, combined into one site.) Then you can use social media to promote the unique content from your blog.
Here are a few benefits of having a pottery blog:
Online Presence / Platform
Blogging is a great way to build your online presence and personal platform. Many potters have built a strong following starting with a blog. And no matter what you’re selling – pots, teaching, yourself, your point of view – a blog can be a great place to tell your story and build a following. It can allow you to prove your credibility and set yourself up as an authority so people start to trust you or believe in what you’re selling.
People say that the clay community is a strong, generous and friendly community. So it makes sense that a pottery blog community would be the same. Many pottery bloggers interact with other blogs, get to know other bloggers and even form online and offline friendships. There is a great opportunity for in-depth discussion and information sharing.
Information is Organized and Archived
The information in a blog seems much more “permanent” than other social media platforms. And if organized well, readers can find the information they are looking for easily. I don’t know how many times I’ve seen something on Facebook, forgot to save it and then struggled to find it when I go back to look at it again. Blog posts or entries can be sorted into categories, tagged or labeled to be more specific and organized by date, author, title, topic and more.
Another nice feature is that blogs are usually set up like a journal. You can look back at previous posts and see your growth over time or learn how to improve in the future.
Update Your Fans and Followers
When you start to build an online presence a blog is a great way to update your followers. They aren’t required to sign up for anything to read your blog. They can subscribe to your RSS feed and be alerted of your new content through a feed reader or subscribe through email and get alerts right in their inbox. Your alerts won’t be filtered by some algorithm which means your followers won’t miss your important updates. You can also post your new blog entries to your other social media profiles. In many cases this can be done automatically.
One of the real benefits of a blog is the chance to convert viewers into mailing list subscribers. If someone reads a few of your blog posts they may want to subscribe to your email list. These are the kind of people you are looking for! You have gained their trust. This is very important for growing an audience. In fact, some people say that you should start making an email list as soon as you start a blog.
Fresh Content For Your Website
It seems that once you create a traditional “static” website it sits there and after a while it gets stale. How many people have said “Here’s my website but it needs to be updated,” or something similar. Adding a blog to your site makes it easy to update and keep people updated on your latest work, events or thoughts. As you attract readers with your new content you can direct them to important parts of your website or online shop. And the good thing about a blog is that it will usually send out alerts through email or RSS to tell subscribers or search engines that you have something new.
Great For Search Engines
Blogs also have an advantage in major search engines. I use Google all the time. Many of the top results in my searches are blog posts. Very rarely do I find a Facebook message or tweet in the search results. I see Google+ posts sometimes because it promotes the people I’m connected to on Google+. Google seems to love blogs because they create new content and also have the space to create in-depth, detailed content that solves problems or answers questions. The kind of problems or questions that people are searching for.
Ownership and Creative Control
Sometimes you just need more space to get your thoughts out there. Or maybe you want to present your photos or story in a certain way. Having your own blog gives you control of what visitors see. You have the ability and space to be yourself. You get to decide what your blog looks like and which elements are most important. Visitors get a better sense of who you are. It can be difficult to stand out on social media because everything is structured the same way on each profile or page.
You also have more control over your content. Just recently a fellow pottery blogger was locked out of her Facebook account for a few days and had no way to contact her followers or answer questions. And who’s to say that the social media companies won’t just change the rules? For example, Facebook has already made changes so your followers won’t always see your newest updates. As one personal platform coach says “Don’t build your house on a rented lot.” Or, don’t rely solely on a platform that you don’t own to build your business.
Improve Your Thinking, Writing, Discussion Skills
Some people blog mostly as a way to improve themselves. It is a great way to work on your writing skills, hash out important concepts and record your thought process. You don’t even have to let other people read your blog.
Why Doesn’t Every Potter Have a Blog?
So, if there are so many great reasons to blog, why doesn’t everyone do it? There are a few reasons.
Blogging Takes Time
For the most part, it takes some serious effort to come up with a topic, think it through, gather resources and present it in a pleasant manner. Blogging doesn’t always have to be difficult or time consuming to but you have to create some kind of value if you want people to keep coming back to your blog.
Results Don’t Happen Overnight
Unless you are some kind of celebrity you probably won’t have thousands of people visiting your blog right away. When starting my personal blog I think my mom, grandma and occasional friend were the only readers for quite a while. It can take a looooong time to gain a steady readership. Most bloggers give up after only a few posts because they aren’t getting the same traffic as blogs that have been around for years. And they don’t get as much attention as you might on social media.
Blogging Isn’t New Anymore
Blogs used to be the cutting edge of the web. Not anymore. When Facebook, Twitter and Google+ came around people wanted to get on board and some just abandoned blogging completely. Now, with Instagram, Snapchat, Periscope, Meerkat, etc. even some of the older social networks seem to be losing their shine. Blogging may feel old. Similar to the way using the post office feels old now that we have email. But in some circumstances hand writing a letter or sending a tangible message is the way to go. Same for blogging. Sometimes it’s the best option.
Conversation Isn’t As Easy
The whole idea behind social networks is, well, socializing (and making money). Discussion, re-posting, sharing and liking are easy. That stuff is not as easy on blogs. Usually, you have to visit or even sign in to the blog to leave a comment. If you want to share something from another blog on your own blog you would have to copy and paste part of the content and then write about why you are sharing it. There isn’t a standard way to like or favorite something across all blog platforms.
More Effort to Reach New People
Another advantage to Facebook and some other social networks is that they already have the audience built in. Your content can easily be shared and you can gain new followers quite easily. Plus, it is almost no extra work to become a follower of a page or profile that you come across for the first time. You can even pay Facebook to promote your content and put it in front of new people. Blogs are way behind in this aspect. How do you get new visitors to your blog? Hope they will somehow find you with Google? Maybe one of your loyal readers will tell a friend about your blog? Then, your new viewer has to subscribe to the feed or by email, or just remember to check your blog every once in awhile. This is where it is good to have a blog and social media accounts working together. You can use your social media accounts to increase your readers and you can use your blog to create content for you social media accounts.
What Do You Think?
Have you tried blogging? What did you like or dislike? Can you add other advantages or disadvantages?
If you’ve never blogged before, you have to decide: would the benefits outweigh the time, effort and learning curve of a blog? Could you accomplish your goals easier by putting all your resources into social media, or face to face contact and sales?
If you think you’re ready to start your own pottery blog or even improve an old blog, check back in the coming months for articles to help you plan your blog, set it up, learn some blogging tips and discover ways to grow your audience. If you want a reminder, sign up for the Email List!