Category Archives: Blogging

Creative Juice #264

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Creative Juice #264

Halloween is coming soon. . .

Creative Juice #260

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Creative Juice #260

I didn’t set out to make this week’s offerings photography-heavy; it just turned out that way. Enjoy, shutterbugs.

Is Blogging Even Worth the Effort?

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There are lots of reasons why people start blogs. Some want to let their friends and family know what they’re up to—sort of like long-form Facebook, with lots of pictures and details. Others want a place to explore their feelings, and don’t care if their blog has any followers at all. Some are passionate about an issue or about sports or about a particular topic, and a blog gives them an opportunity to express their enthusiasm.

Some people have knowledge about particular subjects and desire to share. Others would like to develop expertise, and a blog motivates them. Still others hope to make a difference in the lives of others by telling how they overcame hardships.

Some people want a vehicle to connect with others and form a mutually beneficial network. Others have products they want to sell, and the blog is how they market them. Some people hope for the exposure an online presence can bring.

I started blogging with my critique group. We launched Doing Life Togther in 2014, feeling we could offer encouragement to our crazy world, and we believed the blog would give us and our writing greater visibility. We started out with nine of us each posting once a month. We did quite well for a few years, earning more than 5,000 views in 2015 and 2016. Then, gradually, writers dropped out until by 2018 it was only just … me. We still have 227 followers who read old and new posts, but so far this year we’ve only had 1800 views.

I started ARHtistic License in 2015 because I loved Doing Life Together so much. I wanted my personal blog to be about all the artsy things I love. I wanted to open a dialog with other creative people, and I hoped I’d gain a following so that when I’m ready to release a book, there will be people who will want to read it. I soon went from posting a couple of times a week to posting almost every day—and sometimes more than once a day.

I like blogging, but it’s a lot of work, and sometimes I wonder if it’s worth it.

The upside of blogging is that I do like it, sort of, and I have met lots of wonderful people with whom I share interests. Bloggers can be very supportive of each other.

But I still don’t have a book ready, and sometimes I wonder if it’s because I spend half the week working on my blog. Maybe I ought to concentrate on the books and give up the blog.

Pedro Okoro says that 80% of blogs fail. That breaks my heart. But he’s also talking about blogging businesses. I don’t really have a blogging business. I’m not selling anything; I don’t make money from my blog, and I never meant to.

My blog is growing, but s o  s l o w l y . I feel so invisible. If I had more views, and more likes, I’d feel like I was getting somewhere. But several times a year, I think of letting my blog go.

I know I could just scale back, post a couple of times a week. Sigh. What to do?

I’m whining. You don’t want to listen to me whine.

Okay, now it’s your turn. If you’re a blogger, do you ever second-guess yourself? Do you fantasize about quitting? Do you dream about more blogging success? If you’re an ex-blogger, what made you stop? Are you glad you did? Please share in the comments below.

Six Years of ARHtistic License

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Six Years of ARHtistic License

June 3 will be my 6th blog birthday! To celebrate, I’d like to take a look back at these first five months of 2021 and see what I’ve accomplished.

I currently have a few over 1200 subscribers. That’s a 28% increase over this time last year. I’d be happy with that growth, except that the previous year’s increase was 38%, so it almost feels like a loss . . .

I’d love to have 2000 followers by the end of this year. Could that happen? Yes, but only with your help. If you don’t yet follow my blog, but you like what you see, please subscribe! And if you read a post that you like, please click the “like” button. It makes me so happy, and it supplies valuable data about what my readers like.

My most popular posts of 2021 so far, according to number of views:

  1. When Blogging Becomes Expensive
  2. Back to South Mountain Park
  3. Ideas for Valentine’s Day During the Pandemic
  4. Smell the Roses
  5. Review of Obama: An Intimate Portrait by Pete Souza
  6. Creative Juice #236
  7. 19 More Best Zentangle Sites on the Web
  8. Flower of the Day: Yellow Mystery Flowers
  9. Which Way: Hikers on the Trail
  10. Midweek Madness: Church and Chapel

Numbers 8-10 are responses to photography challenges; numbers 2 and 4 are photo essays. Many of my readers are amateur or professional photographers who are very generous about checking out photography posts. Photographers are a supportive community. I’ve been meaning to work on my photography and post more pictures, but my time to go out and shoot is limited right now.

My most popular posts of 2021 so far, according to number of “likes”:

  1. Back to South Mountain Park
  2. Weekly Photo Challenge: Small Creature
  3. Wordless Wednesday/ Flower of the Day: One Perfect Vinca
  4. Smell the Roses
  5. A Photo a Week: All About the Scenery
  6. Wordless Wednesday/ Flower of the Day: Cat’s Claw
  7. Flower of the Day: Poppies
  8. Wordless Wednesday: Whirligig
  9. Creative Juice #236
  10. When Blogging Becomes Expensive

Unsurprisingly, there is some overlap. Also unsurprisingly, eight of these are photography posts. I’m beginning to think photographers are my peeps. Maybe I should stop pursuing writing and art and music and dance and just concentrate on photography. That’s a thought. Except I like all the arts.

I’m not as enthusiastic about blogging as I have been in the past. Part of it is my life is very fragmented right now, a situation that is unlikely to change soon.

But by the same token, it’s easier to write blog posts than novels in the small bits of time I have. Nevertheless, I’m giving myself permission to skip a day every now and then.

Now it’s your turn. What are your favorite parts of ARHtistic License? Was there a recent post you especially liked? What would you like to see more of? Please share your thoughts in the comments below.

Guest Post: Yes, Pre-Published Authors Should Have Websites, by Web Design Relief

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This article has been reprinted with the permission of Web Design Relief.  Whether you’re just starting out or a best-selling author, Web Design Relief will improve your existing website or build you an affordable, custom author website to support your author platform, boost your online presence, and act as a hub for your social media outreach. Web Design Relief is a division of Writer’s Relief, a highly recommended author’s submission service. Sign up for their free e-publication for writers, Submit Write Now! Visit the site today to learn more.

With most people spending an average of two hours a day online, it’s clear that an author website is an essential piece of any author’s platform. But what if you’re a new writer without any publishing credits? The website experts at Web Design Relief are often asked what pre-published writers should post on their author websites. Would anyone (like literary agents, editors, family, or friends) be interested in going to your writer website? Is it worth your time and money? The answer: Yes! Here are important reasons why pre-published authors should have websites.

Should Pre-Published Authors Have Websites? Here Are The Answers You Need

No publication credits? That’s okay! Every writer has to start somewhere. Having an author website in place before you have your first publication credit puts you in a good position to impress the people who can help take your author bio to the next level. Make an “About Me” page to show that you’re dedicated, interesting, professional, and enthusiastic. Offer visitors a well-written bio that will exemplify you as a person and as an author that includes: what your writing offers readers; what you’re working on right now; what inspires you; your interests and hobbies. Don’t be shy! Read this article for additional tips: 5 Tips On Writing An Amazing Author Bio If You’re Not Well-Published.

What if you don’t have a book to promote? An author website isn’t solely for promoting a novel or a collection of poetry, stories, or essays. It’s also for promoting and educating people about your writing as a whole. You can post samples of your work and the “backstory” that inspired them (just be sure that the works have already been published or are written specifically for your website before posting them online).

If you have a book in the works, it can easily be added to your site at any time. Consider a “Coming Soon” page with a teaser about your works-in-progress, and an e-mail sign-up form so visitors can be notified when your work becomes available. When your book is published, you’ll have your buyers ready and waiting!

Will people visit your author website? If you point them in the right direction, they will come! Social media is a great way to let your followers and fans know about your new author website. To learn which social media platforms are most effective for building your audience, read The Best Social Media Platforms For Building A Writer Fan Base.

What will you include on your website? You can take your author website in a multitude of directions and make changes as you gain more publication credits or add more pages. A bio or “About Me” page is always a good beginning, and, as mentioned above, it’s a great place to introduce yourself as a person and as a writer.

Many writers forgo having a blog on their author website—yet this can be a great marketing tool and is something a pre-published author can skillfully utilize. With a blog, you can give the world an idea of your writing style. It’s the perfect place to showcase your writing before being published!

What are the benefits of having an author website? Author websites act as your online business card. Even if you’ve yet to be published, you can begin building momentum for your writing career. Your author website provides a massive networking opportunity in which the number of people you can meet is virtually infinite. Then, when the time comes for you to query literary agents or submit your work to literary journals, you’ll have a substantial author platform built for agents and editors who want to know more about you and your writing.

It’s important to keep in mind that having an author website is so much more than just posting an excerpt here and there. It’s about promoting yourself as a writer and creating a space where people can come and learn about you. An author website provides the online hub you need to market your author brand.

At Web Design Relief, our tech-savvy experts specialize in creating websites that suit the specific needs of writers. Check out our portfolio and schedule your free consultation call today!

Question: Which author website is your favorite?

Creative Juice #234

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Creative Juice #234

Lots of artsy stuff.

When Blogging Becomes Expensive

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When Blogging Becomes Expensive

When I first starting blogging on WordPress, I was thrilled that you could do it for free. ARHtistic License has its own domain, so I did pay for that, but otherwise, there were no expenses.

The free plan on WordPress included 3GB of storage for images. I like to use a lot of images on ARHtistic License, and soon (I can’t remember how long it took; maybe a year or so? The group blog my critique group started in 2014 has only used up 15.7% of its 3GB so far.) I used it up. I upgraded to a personal plan for $4 a month, which included 6GB. Soon I filled all that and upgraded to a Premium plan for $8 a month, which includes 13GB of storage. So much storage, reasonable price.

Which leads me to today. I have filled all 13GB of storage. I have gone through and deleted many posts and images, but it didn’t seem to free any storage.

My next option is a Business Plan, for $25 a month. It comes with 200GB of storage.

There is no intermediary level. I’d be happy to pay $12.50 a month for 100GB. That would keep me going for a long time. But $300 a year for the privilege of blogging?

Not gonna do it.

I never had any desire to monetize the blog. I never wanted to be an Amazon affiliate. But last year I did become a Bookshop.org affiliate, because they are committed to supporting independent booksellers. (If you click on “My Bookshop” at the top of this screen, you’ll find a link). I haven’t earned a penny from it yet, because I’ve only added 16 books to my shop so far. And I’m not promoting it very much. Which is why I resisted being an affiliate in the first place—I want to write about the arts, not convince people to buy stuff.

Anyhow, I had a live chat with a rep from WordPress, and he/she was sympathetic, and had a suggestion that I never even thought of—it’s possible to embed images from Flickr. Did you know you could do that? So I opened a Flickr account.

Of course, I can continue to reuse the 13GB of images I already have on my blog, and I’ve actually been doing that for a long time.

But for some of the things I do, like my memes, I use images from other sources, like Unsplash and Stocksnap. I really don’t want to put those on my Flickr if I didn’t shoot them. So my “In the Meme Time” posts will be a thing of the past. And if I need new illustrations for a post (because the thousands I have already aren’t quite right), I’ll have to shoot them myself.

I know a lot of people abandon their blogs when they get too expensive, or they make a new blog, and I actually thought about it. I’ll have to make an “author blog” someday. (Or not. It is my hope to need an author blog someday.) I’ve known people who have moved their content to Patreon. (I really don’t want to pay to read your blog. You really don’t want to pay to read mine.)

So there it is.

There have been times I’ve wondered if it’s even worth continuing blogging. But I would miss it if I stopped.

So, I’ll continue, but it may look different.

Now it’s your turn. How do you feel about the cost of blogging? Did you ever abandon a blog—for cost or for another reason? What are the pros and cons of blogging? Share in the comments below.

ARHtistic License: 2020 in Review

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ARHtistic License: 2020 in Review

2020 has been the worst year of my life. Obviously, the Covid pandemic has ravaged the world, killing at least 1,780,000 people worldwide and destroying the world economy.

One of my sons contracted the disease. Thank God, he has recovered. It could have been worse; he also has diabetes, and whenever he gets sick, he is at risk for ketoacidosis, a life-threatening condition. He also lost his job; the restaurant where he worked for 17 years closed and will not reopen. He has not yet found a new position. But we can help him in the meantime.

That has been the extent of the impact of the pandemic on us personally so far. But worse than that, my husband’s health took a nosedive. I’ve written about his issues in other posts, so I won’t bore you with repetition. Let’s just say complete recovery is not guaranteed.

As far as my blog is concerned, 2020 was a satisfactory year. I published 647 posts this year, my record, 1.77 posts a day. I don’t think I missed a single day. ARHtistic License had 27,700 views, also a record for my blog. My followers have grown from 807 at the end of 2019 to 1,085.

For the first time in ARHtistic License’s five-and-a-half year history, the top ten most visited posts in 2020 were all from prior years. I don’t know how to take that. I would like to believe I’ve grown in the quality of my writing, and that people are eagerly awaiting each new article that I post. But maybe these articles just have great Search Engine Optimization. Maybe you will like them, too:

  1. Jan van Eyck’s Crucifixion and the Last Judgment: Painted by a Committee This 2016 article explores the painters’ workshops and apprentice programs of the Renaissance.
  2. How to Make a Meme on a Mac Step-by-step instructions, first published in 2017.
  3. 6 Creative Ways to Name Your Characters . . . by Andre Cruz This article is a repost from another website.
  4. Review of poemcrazy: freeing your life with words This book convinced me I could write poetry. I wrote the review in 2017.
  5. How to Practice Piano: Doh! Dohnányi The unplayable exercise book that is the bane of every pianist’s existence.
  6. 10 Best Zentangle Sites on the Web I wrote this in 2018. Note to self: I need to write a sequel to this article, because I’ve discovered so many other good websites.
  7. Ballet Feet They’re not cute and dainty. Ballet dancers literally suffer for their art. This article was written in 2016.
  8. About ARHuelsenbeck This is my “about” page, written in May 2015.
  9. Video of the Week #113: Jack Storms I don’t know why, but this glass sculpture video from 2017 got 153 views in 2020.
  10. Beautiful Sentences My growing collection of little snippets that knock my socks off.

My most-read posts of 2020 include many interviews with creative people:

  1. An Interview with Judy Dykstra-Brown, Teacher, Artist, Poet, Part I
  2. Interview with Photographer Cee Neuner
  3. Meet Artist Alice Hendon
  4. Z is for Zentangle Some pages from my Zentangle journal.
  5. I’d Rather Be Dancing African Folk Dances
  6. Meet Kathy Temean, Illustrator, Author, and Children’s Literature Advocate
  7. An Interview with Judy Dykstra-Brown, Teacher, Artist, Poet, Part II
  8. Meet Kathy Reeves, Musician, Quilter, Blogger, and Stitcher of All Kinds
  9. OctPoWriMo Day 3 Every October, I participate in a challenge to write a poem a day.
  10. In the Meme Time: What to Do While Self-Quarantined My most-viewed meme of 2020.

Another way to look at a blog’s popularity is to see which posts garnered the most “likes.” To my great dismay, my Jan Eyck piece, which has been viewed 2,030 times since it appeared in October, 2016, has only 11 likes. I don’t know how to take that. Most bloggers get many more likes on their posts than I do. It’s common for Cee Neuner to get more than 100 likes on a post. I’m thrilled if I get 25.

My most liked posts of 2020:

  1. Interview with Photographer Cee Neuner
  2. An Interview with Judy Dykstra-Brown, Teacher, Artist, Poet, Part I
  3. Creative Juice #213
  4. OctPoWriMo Day 15
  5. Flower of the Day: Can You Find the Ladybug?
  6. Wordless Wednesday: Little Stone Cottage
  7. Wordless Wednesday: Sidewalk Mandala
  8. OctPoWriMo Day 7
  9. Wordless Wednesday: Mountain Stream
  10. Wordless Wednesday: Dragon Slayer

In the list above, the first two articles are interviews with popular bloggers. The third is a curated list of interesting creativity-related articles from all over the web. The rest are offerings for poetry and photography challenges. The blogging, poetry, and photography communities are all very supportive of each other. I guess if I’m after likes, I need to concentrate more on the blogging, poetry, and photography worlds, less on music, art, dance, books, and quilting. Darn. I love all forms of artistic expression.

As for my other creative pursuits, I did almost no piano, recorder, or guitar practice this year. My daughter gave me a ukulele, but I haven’t played it yet, because somewhere I have a wonderful ukulele book, but I can’t find it. Handbell choir, church choir, and Phoenix International Folk Dancers did not meet because of Covid. I’ve done some painting, drawing, and zentangle.

In my writing, I’ve set aside my unicorn book and my bible study, and concentrated on a middle grades novel and a short story retelling (that’s not so short right now, so it may become a novel or a novella). I’m entering a lot of poetry and chapbook contests, and one of my goals for 2021 is to systematically submit to literary journals. My other goals are the same as every year; you know, finish stuff I’ve started and get it all published.

Now it’s your turn:

  • How did you do with your creative endeavors last year? What are your creative goals for 2021? Share in the comments below. If you’ve posted about it on your blog, feel free to share the link.
  • Have you read all of my most popular posts this year? No? Make my day and choose, say, three of the ones listed above and let me know what you think.
  • If you read a post on any blog, not just mine, that you find well worth your while, please “like” it if you’re given the option. Or leave a brief comment. It gives us bloggers such a boost to get some positive feedback. Share good articles on all your social media. Wouldn’t it be a shame if your favorite bloggers quit and took up chess instead?

Creative Juice #213

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Creative Juice #213

A dozen articles to inspire you this weekend.

Creative Juice #211

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Creative Juice #211

Lots of interesting stuff, and a bit of beauty, too.