Cyber Corner

Maximizing your online presence: The value of blogs.

By Libby Kyer 

Originally appeared in The Botanical Artist – Volume 18, Issue 1

 

Are you thinking, “FaceBook. Twitter. Websites. Now blogs? Really? Another one? Do I need this?” Since the answer might be, “Yes!” let’s take a moment to look at blogs. 

What is a blog? The first known use of blogs was in 1999, and the term is short for “web log.” It started as a personal website to contain your online journal with reflections, comments, and images. 

How is “blog” different than a “website” (a www address)? In some ways it isn’t. You can view both with a web browser and blogs can look a lot like websites. They are different in some ways. Websites have been more static. Recently, a number of sites offer website design tools that promise to be user friendly, which is changing expectations of websites. In business, the “www” address is still viewed as more professional. Importantly, you have to pay for a website to be hosted. 

Blogs grew from online journals, so viewers expect them to be updated regularly, or the blog loses relevance and readership. Blogs generally have a personal tone, so writing entries (posts) can be more informal. Blogs are interactive: viewers can post comments and lively interchanges can ensue. Blogs are set up so that posts run chronologically, and it’s easy to follow a thread of conversation. And, you can create a blog free! 

So, a blog is a type of website with a few differences. Is it better or worse than a “www” address? No, it’s just different. It’s a tool for you to use as you like! 

There are a number of free blog hosts available online, and they walk you through the process of creating your blog. You’ll need two things: a commitment to keep your blog current with regular updates, and a few basic computer skills – entering text, handling a picture file, understanding your computer filing system. Tasks are simplified to meet even a computer novice’s skill levels, to help you create a vibrant blogspot. 

Here are a couple of hosts for free blogging. 

www.blogger.com/home: This is Google’s hosting site. It gets a #1 rating from almost all reviewers. The learning curve for using the templates, adding elements, making posts and other design decisions is relatively easy, and there are good help texts. 

en.wordpress.com/features: My second favorite, and interestingly enough, rated that way by blog reviewers also. Learning curve is a tiny bit longer than for Blogger, and I find it a bit limited in design, but it works well for a huge number of folks. 

And here are a couple of blog sites worth looking at: 

artplantaetoday.co/: In support of Artplantae, an internet based business featuring all things botanical art. Great interviews, images, links and more. 

rmsbartists.blogspot.co/; An ASBA chapter blog site, it includes lots of information and discussion designed for members. Individual gallery pages with a separate address are available for members. There are many “gadgets” that link members to sites of note or need. 

An online presence is essential for the artist who hopes to create a business out of art. It’s a terrific tool for the artist who hopes to spread the word about the beauty and usefulness of botanical art. Hope these sites give you a glimpse into making, managing and loving a blog.