Have you ever thought about staring a blog? I have made some big mistakes getting started blogging-please LEARN from my mistakes while starting your own blog!
It doesn’t matter if you are starting an art teacher blog or some other type-these lessons apply to ANYONE starting a blog!
Why I started blogging?
I was led into teaching 13 years ago. I was a full-time artist and had an art degree, but I had little teaching experience. My school had lost their art teacher one week before school started (she quit on them) and they needed to hire someone immediately. Well, I went in for the interview on a Friday and was hired on the spot to teach Prek-12th grade. I have no doubt that this was all in the hands of my Father! I started in-service the following Monday, then school started Wednesday.
The administration had no clue where the previous art teacher had placed any of the curriculum and had NONE of her lessons (we never found the lessons)! Excitement led to frustration…Needless to say I was desperate for help and turned to the internet for resources. There were many good resources out there, but a lot of bloggers just showed pictures of projects not full lessons or instructions. Since I was teaching SO many classes with NO curriculum I just didn’t have time to figure out how they did them, I didn’t even have any art books (other than some of my own) to draw information from. This predicament is what led me to start my own art education blog. I wanted to provide quality, ready to use lesson plans to other art teachers and home school parents. I have a friend who has an amazing blog called MomFabulous who inspired me that I could do this blogging thing! Four years later, with MANY mistakes along the way, we have Create Art with ME! ME stands for Michelle East BTW 🙂
PLEASE Learn from My Mistakes!
Mistake #1: Choose the Right Blogging Platform from the Start!
First answer this question–why are YOU going to blog? Do you want to share “life” with friends & family? Do you have new creative ideas to share with the world? Are you hoping to make a little money along the way? I think secretly almost every potential blogger hopes their blog is successful and they can provide some supplemental income along the way. Don’t let anyone tell you or quilt you into thinking that making money blogging is a bad thing! Thank goodness for the internet and this crazy new venue of running a business!
Consider this very carefully:
- If you have absolutely no intention of ever monetizing your blog use: WordPress.com or Blogger
- If you hope to eventually monetize or make a store on your blog use: WordPress.org (you must have a hosting company to host your blog, I use Nestify (changed from Hostgator). WordPress.org is more involved to get set up, but you can monetize, add shopping cart systems, add PayPal-everything you need to possibly make some money from your site.
Mistake #2: Choose a Theme that will Do ALL you need it to! (Customize, Galleries, Video, Store, Ads, etc)
I spent HOURS & HOURS looking for just the right theme! The important thing to remember about the theme is making sure it has ALL the features you want & need:
- How customizeable is the theme-can you easily change the fonts, layouts, etc? (this was very important to me)
- Does is show featured images (how do you want these to show up or be displayed-in a slider?)
- Does it showcase video (if you plan on showing videos/tutorials)?
- Is it responsive so it will show nicely on a mobile device (I’m still working on fixing this one with my theme-not happy with it)?
- If you ever plan to have a store on your blog, you MUST find a shopping cart system that is reputable and WORKS WITH YOUR THEME–I can not tell you how important this is!!! It will save you HOURS of headaches and redoing posts/products if you just do it right to begin with. For example, if you want to use woocommerce (that’s what I use & am mostly pleased with it), then make sure the theme you choose works with woocommerce (or whatever shopping cart you decide on).
- I use the Repose Theme* from My Theme Shop both on my Create Art with ME site & my personal artwork site Michelle East Art.
Mistake #3: Pick a Name & Stick to it!
Spend the time to decide on your blogsite name–it will set you back BIG TIME if you choose to change your blog name after you have started! I started out as Michelle East Fine Art Blog (I showed my personal work along with art lessons), then later changed to Create Art with ME. In the long run, Create Art with ME fits me and the purpose of the blog much better. I wish I would have thought of that name when I was just getting started.
I LOST tons of traffic when I did this and really messed up my Pinterest pins that couldn’t link back properly to my new blog name. I’ve spent HOURS going back into Pinterest & trying to find my old pins to edit them. SO…Pick the right name in the first place & DON”T CHANGE THE NAME!
Mistake #4: Edit & Watermark Your ALL Photos & Headers
There are 2 main purposes for this-to have visually appealing photos with graphics that will grab viewers attention and to PROTECT your images for thievery! ANYONE can steal your pictures and call them their own-I have had this happen & it is hard to fight against!
One BIG way you can prevent this from happening is by adding a watermark to your photos. It’s VERY EASY to do & 100% worth the time to do it! The majority of my photo editing and graphic building is done using PicMonkey. There is a FREE option for using the site that has limited fonts & abilities, but I have a yearly paid subscription PicMonkey: crazy-awesome photo editing*! The price is very reasonable especially for ALL you can do with it. Plus it gives you access to tons of trendy fonts (which I love!). They have an AWESOME photo editor and then you can do all kinds of things with the photos-make collages, make graphics, edit photos, add cool filters & text to photos, add customized overlays and watermarks, and SO much more! I LOVE PICMONKEY!
Mistake #5: Social Media, keep it separate from your personal accounts
Make sure you have business accounts for the social medias (& PayPal). This is something that hurts to change later!! You will have to regain those followers if you change and create a new account later!
Also, Don’t kill yourself trying to update ALL the social media sites out there. Stick with the major ones that are best suited to your genre of blogging. For art teachers it seems to be Pinterest (BEST!), Instagram, Facebook & Twitter. I know that is still a lot, but keep updates simple & be regular about pinning to Pinterest. I focus on Pinterest, Instagram & FB.
As a result of these lessons learned, my site has grown greatly in traffic and provides extra income for my family. There is ot more that I have learned along the way, but that will have to be for another post! Just remember these 5 mistakes I have made and you can start off successful from the beginning!
If you choose to use ANY part of this post (written, graphic or photo), please link back to my blog Create Art with ME!