If you missed the other posts in this series, be sure to read:
So, you started a blog, picked a name and have a great idea for your first post. Here are some tips you need to know.
1. Pay Attention to Permissions & Copyright
- Before you write your blog post, think about whether or not you got your idea from somewhere else. Did you learn about this technique at a conference? Did you see this project on Pinterest? If you did, try your hardest to give credit to the place you saw it. (By the way, “I saw it on Pinterest” is not good enough! Link back to the actual website or blog. It’s like saying, “Oh I found it on Google.”) If it’s a project you’ve been doing forever or if it is an idea that has been done over and over again (like Picasso faces), then you might not need to credit a source. When in doubt, credit.
- Can I still write about an idea if it has been done before? Short answer, yes. Long answer, art teachers have been doing variations on the same projects for years and years. If you see an idea and put your own spin on it or branch off in new directions, it is definitely great to share! There are always new ways to do things!
- I saw something I liked another blog, can I copy and paste it to share it to mine? Short answer, maybe. If you are quoting a small portion of what someone else has written, it is probably okay to quote it and then attribute (with a link to their blog) it to the person. Most bloggers are okay if you use an image from their blog IF you are clearly stating that it is from their site. I say most, because there are some people that will say this is plagiarism and get upset. Personally, I feel if you are sending traffic my way, go for it (with a LINK and proper credit). The best thing to do is ask first if you are in doubt. It is almost never okay to copy and paste an entire blog post to share on your own blog. If you are thinking of doing this, absolutely get permission. Does anyone else have their opinion to share on copyright?
- Student Work: Each school district is different, but in order to avoid problems later, I would highly recommend getting permission slips from every student whose artwork you plan to publish online. If you would like to see the permission slip I send out, here is mine: Permission Slip. I have them at Open House and I give them to all the parents. If the parents do not sign at Open House, I send the slip home with the kids. If they don’t return them, I keep bugging them. The permission slip is good for their entire time at our school, so each year I only have to get the new kids and the Kindergartners. (I got this idea from Bob Reeker at a conference session a long time ago.) If you look on my example, you can see the permission slip also covers printed publications, so I use these to submit to magazines also.
- Student Privacy: Even though I get permissions from parents, the permission only cover their artwork. I never photograph students’ faces or include their full names.
2. Write a Killer Title: The title is the first thing people use to make their decision about whether or not to read the blog post. There are lots of resources out there about writing the best title. My recommendations are keep it descriptive. Think about what someone might type into a search engine. Think about the keywords people might use to search for to find something like your article. For example, are you writing about Watercolor Landscapes? Make sure you have those words in your title! Writing vague, poetical headlines might work for some people, but you will miss out on traffic from search engines and people won’t click to read more if they have no idea if the article is worth their time. There has been research done that people are more likely to click on a post if they think a secret will be revealed, there is a number in the title (strange, huh?) or if the post will help solve a problem. Personally, sometimes those kinds of headlines (the ones like… “You will never guess what is at the end of this video” drive me nuts.)
3. Format Your Post: Nobody wants to read a long blog post of sentence after sentence with no breaks. If people see too much text all jammed together, they are likely to leave and decide it’s too overwhelming to read. Use space to give the eye a break. Here are some more excellent ideas.
Break up text visually with call out quotes, bold, short paragraphs, lists or bullet points.
4. Include Images: Pictures are a must! If you are an art blogger, pictures are even more essential. If you are a writing about something and you have no images to go along with it, use a website that has copyright-free imagery. My favorite go-to site is Pixabay.
5. End with a Call to Action: What do you want people to do after reading your blog post? If you want them to continue coming back to your blog and engage with it, encourage them to do so through a call to action. Here are some examples of a call to action.
- Encourage them to leave a comment.
- Give them the opportunity to sign up for a newsletter.
- Tell them to check out a related blog post.
- Tell them how to add the blog to their blog reader.
- Ask them to sign up to receive updates via email.
- Invite them to check out your online store.
- Encourage them to like your page on Facebook
Here are some more tips from other art ed bloggers about starting a blog.
If you’ve enjoyed this post, be sure to “Like” my Facebook page!
(see… that was my call to action.)