by Tommye Scanlin
I began my blog in 2007, inspired by those being done by Lyn Hart and Kathy Spoering. My blog host is blogspot.com from Blogger. It is a free blog site that’s been around since 1999. According to the information on the Blogger home page, the initial small company was bought by Google a few years ago. I have found it simple to use for quickly starting and maintaining a blog. Many templates are available to choose from for the layout and features; these may be used as-is or modified in many ways, including selecting the background color…., font style, various items to include and their arrangement on the page. Before I started my blog I looked briefly at one or two other hosting services, but at that time they didn’t seem to be as user friendly as blogspot. Of course, that may not be the case now, but I’m happy with blogspot so I haven’t tried others.
My blog topics usually focus on my artwork. I frequently discuss my design process and the weaving of my tapestries. However, in addition to being an artist, I also teach, demonstrate tapestry weaving, make occasional presentations, and take part in meetings, workshops, and retreats. So I often include descriptions of those activities in my blog postings. Since what happens in other parts of my life has an effect on my art making, it is natural that those events show up in the writings and photos I post.
I set limits on my blog topics. For example, I don’t often mention religion and I certainly don’t post about intimate matters. I attempt to not be too overt with my political leanings, although in this past presidential election my preference was stated several times in posts. I am not aware of any unofficial “rules” for blog etiquette, but in my posts I try to speak politely, as if I were talking to someone in person. For example, I don’t make statements that might hurt the feelings of others or be offensive in any way.
I prefer blog postings that aren’t too long; scrolling through a long page of text is sometimes beyond my time and attention span. I always enjoy seeing images, especially slide shows, and I appreciate being able to enlarge images from blogs. When I post to my blog I usually upload one or more images, or I include links to a website of interest. Sometimes I’m able to update my blog daily while at other times a week or more might pass before I have time to post.
How does the word get out about my blog? My blog address is on my business cards. The address is also listed on my website and on a couple of other sites where I have web pages. Occasionally I’ll receive an e-mail from someone who’s found my blog through a curious means. I joined WeaveRing and so my blog is listed along with the hundreds of other fiber related blogs through that network. My blog is linked on other tapestry artists’ blogs and I link theirs on mine. I also include links to websites. I update my blog often. To track visits to my blog I recently set up a Google Analytics account, thanks to Lyn Hart’s suggestion, although I don’t check it that frequently.
Although it takes a few minutes to upload photos, I’d much rather see images from others via a blog than through attachments to e-mails. It takes less storage space on my computer and I can revisit the images when I want to—either in my own blog or in the blogs of others.
Because blogspot.com is such a quick and easy way to set up a blog I’ve opened several. A few of these are open to invited readers only, for example those from my university classes. Others include small groups of artist friends in which everyone in the group can post. All of these others, with one exception, are closed blogs. As the administrator of the blog, I control who may read, or post, to them.
I find that my blog is an enriching experience for my art making. Writing about my design process and the resulting work has caused me to think and articulate more clearly about what I’m doing, and why. I like to share both my process and my finished works in venues other than my studio and exhibits. The title of my blog, Works in Progress, shows that sharing both process and finished product was a high priority even when I set up the blog. I can see my work more objectively if I’ve published my thoughts and working images along the way. From comments I’ve received it seems that readers of my blog appreciate my openness about my struggle to find and develop images to weave in tapestry.
From my perspective a key to a rewarding blogging experience is active and continuous participation. Either the individual who created the blog makes the effort to keep it updated so that visitors will return, or the various members of the blog post frequently so that a good interchange takes place. I continue to enjoy using my blogs as a way to share experiences, ideas and artworks with others and I’m always looking for other blogs that inspire me.