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Blog? Website? Both?

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Rock of The Westies
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It’s been awhile since I posted here . . . full time job is . . . well full time.      :tornado

I’ve been lurking a time or two.

There’s something I’ve been pondering a bit. It may pertain to writers too. As none of look at our stats on our sites:      :whistle   . . . on mine I’ve noticed a preference to my blog. I know the posts are updated frequently, opposed to my site. But even in remarks on FB, some say they really like to go into the blog to see works in progress or what pushes me along, etc.

A few of my favorite illustrators have switched from having a site and a blog to blog-only, with links to a flicker/snapfish/photo-gallery for their portfolios. I’ve been seriously considering this. It seems a good way to go as people get to know more than your finished pieces. The agent querying process would also give them an idea of who the potential client is.

Has anyone considered this option? Do you have thoughts on the pros and cons of this?
#1 - March 23, 2012, 06:57 AM
Fur Balls & Feathers & Fins, Oh My! Animals Are My Kind of People
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As of August, I have both.
I really think of them as very different animals, but this is the way it works for me. Many marketing-minded folks have said they should be stylistically similar, like a 'brand.' This may be even more important to an illustrator, who connects to their reader and market with visuals.

My website is, essentially, my 'ad.' This is the only way I can stomach what feels like an exercise in vanity. Mine is a home-made ad, and probably not effective. But I can live with it.
My blog is a coffee break with me. I will throw in my thinking about this and that, and love your thoughts coming back. It requires a lot more feeding than a website.

I hope some illustrators chime in for you. I really feel that the website's strength is its static nature. If you own your domain, unlike a blog, it is much harder for anyone to highjack it, make changes, or infect it. It's a reliable place to have your portfolio and you can make images un-copy-able if you choose.
A blog is free, but much more like setting a home in the Wild West. Updates are super-easy. It's interactive (though you can control this if you want, to some degree) and it is current. For writers it is also a place to publish easily their writings when they don't fit elsewhere. I'm not sure I would want this option with artwork, but this is what a blog does.

Many have come to use their blogging account as a 'website' by working out the dates and giving it a more static look. When money is tight, it seems to makes sense. However- websites have very inexpensive options now, and if you make any money in this business, this expense is tax deductible.

I realize I am not too helpful, just thinking aloud.
#2 - March 23, 2012, 08:55 AM
« Last Edit: March 23, 2012, 08:58 AM by 217mom »
THE VOICE OF THUNDER, WiDo Publishing Aug 2012
THERE'S A TURKEY AT THE DOOR, Hometown520 July 2011

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http://mirkabreen.BlogSpot.com

Rock of The Westies
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That's a well thought out response. With the social media, websites and blogs, it can be a lot of sources. I've friends who prefer Twitter to Facebook and urge me to keep my professional conversations on Twitter. They've set up their posts to stream from Twitter to FB. But, when I set up Twitter, there it sat. When I look at simplifying things to streamline the time online, I think of the blog and site as two entities that may work consolidated. I've seen some highly established professionals who've done this, but truthfully, I sort of miss their sites.

Thank you for the response Mirka.  :hearts
#3 - March 23, 2012, 06:05 PM
Fur Balls & Feathers & Fins, Oh My! Animals Are My Kind of People
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Hi Cynthia,

If you need help setting your Twitter account to post on FB let me know. I don't know that it's necessary and I personally found that it's better to post directly to FB. The reason for this is that you can post a picture with your FB post if you post directly to Facebook.

As for your first question I know of a lady who has her blog on her webpage. Her name is Dani Jones here is her website:  http://danidraws.com/ and her blog: http://danidraws.com/blog/. This is NOT my website (I've confused a few people when I've posted her links before so I want to make sure people know it's not my site.  :azn:)

I love your paintings! The colour is so pure and beautiful. I have a few suggestions for your website. The navigation of your website would work much better if you combined your name & Children's Book Writer and Illustrator at the top. I have a smaller screen on my computer and it's difficult to see that there are things below the page title and your illustration to view.

The less scrolling that people have to do on your web page to find the good stuff the better. This takes some time to fix, so you could save condensing the pictures for when you have more time. Also it's best to use the same fonts throughout your website. I love your blog. It has a lot of really great pictures and is nice to read. I think if you are going to have both a blog and website you have to make sure that they are of equal quality and right now I think your blog is far superior to your website.

I hope you aren't upset by anything I've said. Feel free to send me a mean note if you are :P. I think you are a wonderful illustrator and I hope the best for you!
#4 - April 13, 2012, 03:27 PM

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Thank you for the comments . . .  not upset at all! Input takes time, and well thought out input always helps.  My site needs a band-aid. :werd I've been contemplating a flash intro, but that takes time to load . . . modification is in the works for the future. Right now, the artwork is getting all my attention during my time off from my FT work and commute . When I'm happy with the amount of images (I've been pulling old ones as I add new) I'll definitely get to the website.

My blog gets most of my time . . . the stats on my site are slim in comparison, so I pay more attention to putting up my works in progress and finishes. The RSS and Atom subscribe has offered an opportunity for people to watch the posts and I finally figured it all out when I saw the information on the blog views and looked it up. 

Thank you for the offering of Twitter account help. I've got one there, but there it sits. It's funny when I get a "Follow" request as I don't have anything to follow.  :grin Facebook has it hands down for being user friendly, especially for adding images, I agree.

Also, thank you for the thoughts on my artwork. One of my influences, Eric Puybaret, uses a most beautiful palette. Though his style is far from mine, it's helped me to understand how much use of color does for an image.

#5 - April 15, 2012, 08:08 AM
Fur Balls & Feathers & Fins, Oh My! Animals Are My Kind of People
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Oh, and I wanted to add that Dani Jones Illustration is a great site. It looks like it's been done by a designer. If she did it herself, props for being a master talent at two amazing specialties.  :artist1: :artist1:

#6 - April 15, 2012, 08:44 AM
Fur Balls & Feathers & Fins, Oh My! Animals Are My Kind of People
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Just wanted to pop in and say HI!! Miss you on the boards,... but I know you're extra busy with work. Try to stay sane and ALWAYS make time for your art. Your blog is definitely fun to see the progress on your on going projects. I enjoy it! I think having both is helpful.

Keep drawing, lady!  :bellydancer (a little dance for encouragement)  OH... there goes Crouton! Better catch him!

:dog:
#7 - April 15, 2012, 08:58 AM

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Where's that FB "Like" button?  :bananadance I guess the dancing banana will have to do!

I've been coming here a bit more and more . . . there are too many great things about the boards to stay away for long! (Emoticons being one of them).  :neck

I'm off to catch Crouton!
:tigger
#8 - April 15, 2012, 10:08 AM
Fur Balls & Feathers & Fins, Oh My! Animals Are My Kind of People
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I love flash, but I hear it's bad to have for a portfolio website. I think it's mostly the time it takes to load. I'm in the process of deciding what I'm going to do with my website. I have gone to school and know what makes up a good website. I can't seem to make a whole lot of headway with my own site. It really is annoying. My own is looking pretty bad, so I might go to a solely blog format myself.

I would suggest to use Tweetdeck as opposed to Twitter itself. Tweetdeck takes your twitter account and actually makes it useful. It breaks your account off into little bits so you aren't getting everything at once. You have your private messages separated from messages from other people. You can break down incoming tweets by use of the hashtags (#). For example if you wanted to have a chat with just your friends on these boards: Everyone would decide on a specific hashtag to use like #Verlakay. You could set up your tweetdeck to show all the messages from #Verlakay and have a chat with anyone else who uses #Verlakay before their tweets. It's not  a private chat, but it's a good way to network.

Facebook is easy to use and seems to be more user friendly to artists. I'm starting to think more about the privacy issues by using Facebook, and also if I don't want to separate a professional and personal account.
#9 - April 15, 2012, 10:56 AM

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The use of flash really bogs load times down. Some devices (Apple IPAD for example) don't support flash. I was perusing illustrator websites while at a conference in Virginia City, NV. which has very slow WiFi. The load times on the sites with flash were so slow, I got frustrated and gave up. I would imagine that editors and agents often peruse submissions while at conferences so that same frustration may come into play.

Here are a couple of illustrator & author/illustrator sites I've found of a couple of talents I highly respect.

Richard Jesse Watson's site is a site, but when you want to peruse the portfolio, it takes you to a Flicker account:
http://www.richardjessewatson.com/

Jim Averbeck's site is a blog. He is both an author/illustrator and he is writing for older children as well. So the blog makes sense. His portfolio is though a Picasa account.

http://www.jimaverbeckbooks.com/

I like these two options . . . the latter (blog link to photo acct) being something I'm considering as the blog interest is a lot higher and if one desires to see all the finished pieces without perusing through the archives of the blog, they have that option as well. It would be interesting to find out what editors, AD's, and Agents think about these ways of putting things up. I've put the question out about site design and the unanimous answer is the art matters most. But, the preference towards the blog and the fresh content always keeping it higher up in the search engines has me interested in exploring the options.
#10 - April 15, 2012, 11:55 AM
« Last Edit: April 15, 2012, 12:02 PM by Cynthia Kremsner »
Fur Balls & Feathers & Fins, Oh My! Animals Are My Kind of People
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I just wanted to post a reply I received from an Art Director recently when I asked about Blogs versus Websites and which is preferred.

The answer was Illustrator Websites are a must. If the publisher/AD is interested in an illustrator's progress, they will subscribe to a blog. HOWEVER, it was made clear that the only thing they want to see on your blog is your work, both finished and in progress. Pictures of kids, vacations and other diversions clutter up what they are interested in. Point taken, written down, and hence forward, adhered to.  :slaphead: ;D
#11 - May 16, 2013, 07:53 PM
Fur Balls & Feathers & Fins, Oh My! Animals Are My Kind of People
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I think both can help but I think portfolio websites are necessary. A blog can help for networking and feedback.
#12 - June 24, 2013, 07:25 PM

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I am all over the place and it is not easy keeping up with all of it.
But I do have a website the art changes once every 6 months and any other tweaks I want to make.
 
I have a blog depending on what is going on in my life I post once or twice a week

and of course Twitter, Facebook, Flickr, and so on they get updated often 
#13 - June 25, 2013, 02:39 AM

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I think the answer may be different for writers and for illustrators.

For writers, I think a website and a blog serve different purposes. A website is mostly static and is somewhere that editors and agents can check you out. After you're published it's a place where readers can find out information about you. I know of several people who have actually acquired agents or publishing contracts because an editor  liked their blogs. A blog is also a potential networking tool because it's interactive and it can show more of your personality.

If I were an illustrator, I would definitely have a website which I would keep updated with my latest and best art samples.
#14 - June 25, 2013, 10:09 AM
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I've debated this... and decided a static website portfolio is best for me.

To stay in touch with people, or let them get a glimpse of what I'm working on/finding interesting/links to useful content, I have a newsletter sign-up.

I also don't have enough to say on a regular basis to warrant a blog, and any creative writing space in my brain should go to the projects I'm working on, not be diluted with the pressures of coming up with new posts.

And as for showing work-in-progress, I might use Instagram...

But that's just me!

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#15 - June 25, 2013, 08:42 PM

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These are all good thoughts. When I first posted this, my website subscription was due for renewal. Opting to keep my website for instant reference of my final work is where I settled. However, the blog still generates more interest. For people other than illustrators, it may be fun to check in on the process of how the finished work comes to be. Plus, I find as I do new work, I pull older ones off my site and post the most current as my style has developed.  I haven't deleted those old images off my blog though, but they are definitely deep in the archives. 

As I had discovered that Art Directors subscribe to blogs of illustrators they are interested in, I've tried to stick to the words of wisdom from an AD, and keep the illustrator blog basics to the art. Although, I wonder if agents would like to see some bumblings and ramblings to see how zany some of us can be at times . . . and whether or not that's appealing.     :thinktoohard
#16 - June 25, 2013, 10:26 PM
Fur Balls & Feathers & Fins, Oh My! Animals Are My Kind of People
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"Although, I wonder if agents would like to see some bumblings and ramblings to see how zany some of us can be at times . . . and whether or not that's appealing."

I don't think it could hurt
#17 - June 26, 2013, 03:01 AM

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Actually, I'm going to dissent here and say it could hurt you.
Especially because you'll be spending time blogging that could be best spent improving your portfolio.

From a completely objective general perspective, until you have a legit career following, nobody cares about your bumblings and ramblings but you and your friends and family. And none of them are going to give you illustration work.

(this is one reason I don't have a blog- no one is going to find my zany ramblings entertaining... but maybe I'll be one of the .1% of outliers who do use a blog to build a career?... realistically, no)

AD's and agents only care about the quality of the work.

I don't mean to be harsh, and blogs can be a useful outlet for your personal life, but if it's a question of "will it improve my illustration career prospects?" I believe it's a waste of time.

*And I say this as someone who's wasted time wanting to build a blog.
#18 - June 26, 2013, 07:01 PM

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Thank you for the pointers on ADs and agents. Should I ever present my work to one, I'll try to be prepared. Always working on improving. :paint
#19 - June 27, 2013, 06:16 AM
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I want to add to my comment above. I personally have bought art from four artists whom I know through their websites or blogs. I'm neither an agent nor an art director, but I am a person who appreciates and sometimes buys art. Networking does work in the long term.
#20 - June 27, 2013, 10:04 AM
« Last Edit: June 27, 2013, 10:07 AM by Owl »
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That's so cool Owl. I bet your walls are full of color and joy.

Having writers, illustrators, and friends in the same pursuit published and non-published is so rich, especially when you tap into one another's progress. As my blog is through Godaddy, it's frustrating. I can see that I have RSS, Atom and Podcast subsribers viewing the blog when I put up new posts. But I cant see who they are for communications. I keep it there as it's established and I wouldn't want to change that right now.

It's cool to see my illustrator friends' blogs who live elsewhere. When I went through a mentor program, I met a couple and I check in from time to time and can see how much their works have improved.


#21 - June 27, 2013, 10:23 AM
« Last Edit: June 27, 2013, 10:25 AM by Cynthia Kremsner »
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If you do want to change platforms-- I use Squarespace and highly recommend it. It's pretty easy to navigate, and I think you can google search ways to move over from other hosts like GoDaddy/Wordpress/Blogger etc.

What I really like is that under their "Stats" section, you can see where web traffic comes from - facebook, twitter, google searches, this message board, etc. Pretty useful.
And from what I've seen, their blogging platform is well-integrated, and they recently added an e-commerce option if anyone is thinking of selling directly from their site.

Oh, and FYI on my comment from earlier-- my fav example of a great portfolio site is Gilbert Ford's.
I'll occasionally peruse blogs of established authors like his, to see the works-in-progress of successful artists who I'd like to learn from.
#22 - June 27, 2013, 11:12 AM

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I enjoy the blogs of other published illustrators as well. One of my favorites, if not, my very favorite, is Loren Long. (Not that my style emulates his in any way, but there's something in his work that connects). There are some videos on youtube explaining how his stories come to be. http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=DGjAIFBilyI Video journaling ~ and there are a few other illustrators who share more about themselves and their work through this venue.

My earlier post about the different feeds that people can subscribe to to check out their favorite blogs led me to discover one of the benefits of the feeds is that they can view blogs via subscription anonymously. There are no worries about sharing information and they can unsubscribe with no alert to the blogger.  This might explain why only the stats with each of the feeds show up on my info as opposed to the email subscribers which have contact info.  :trenchguy

It's good to know about Squarespace. I like it when they make things easy to convert over as well.
#23 - June 27, 2013, 11:58 AM
« Last Edit: June 27, 2013, 01:08 PM by Cynthia Kremsner »
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If you have both a blog and website, how often do you update it?
#24 - June 27, 2013, 01:04 PM

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Hi Iyerani. I try to update with each new piece I do . . . usually in two intervals, sometimes three. Sometimes, I go into explaining a bit of the research portion as well. Recently, I think it's been about 5 to 9 posts a month. As it's an illustrator blog, I think it averages substantially fewer posts than a writer's blog.
#25 - June 27, 2013, 01:14 PM
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Just another view from an Art Director:
Q. When looking at a blog, do you care about personal posts or do you just look at art?

A. Art first. And I like seeing your thoughts too.

In the end I think you need to do what is right for you
#26 - June 28, 2013, 01:50 AM

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That's good to know Stephen. Posting a piece of art without some of my thought process is like building a three legged chair to me. (Maybe not others).

When I posed the question to the Art Director about watching blogs, the word subscription was never used in the original query. However, the answer referred to them "subscribing" to artists they are interested in.

Debi Ohi mentioned in another thread about conferences, and even if you aren't a winner or receive an honor in a portfolio showcase, you could still potentially obtain work. An Art Director also said that if they see someone's work that they connect to and it's right on the cusp but not quite there, they will take one of their cards and watch them progress until they are. Plus, it could be a year or two or three until they get text in front of them that's appropriate for the style of a new illustrator they would like to use. After hearing that at times, they watch, I made sure to list my blog address on my postcards as well.
#27 - June 28, 2013, 07:13 AM
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Actually, I'm going to dissent here and say it could hurt you.
Especially because you'll be spending time blogging that could be best spent improving your portfolio.

From a completely objective general perspective, until you have a legit career following, nobody cares about your bumblings and ramblings but you and your friends and family. And none of them are going to give you illustration work.
I don't mean to be harsh, and blogs can be a useful outlet for your personal life, but if it's a question of "will it improve my illustration career prospects?" I believe it's a waste of time.

I have to differ with this- I have both- a clean, website portfolio with my work that I put on all my postcard mailings to ADs- and I have a blog I started before I was published that no doubt DID further my career in a lot of ways-
by connecting me to other illustrators that now are my friends and have definitely been my mentors- never would have met them if not for my blog
second is Illustration Friday- that is a big reason illustrators have blog- if you don't know about it- it is a weekly theme that you post a picture of whatever it is- "Sky" or "Run", etc- on your blog and then link to their site- a site many ADs also look at- I have illustrator friends all over the world that I interact with because of it.
As far as vacation picture- they are one of the most popular post- not talking "here we are at the pool" etc- but I live in the Southwest and people, ( especially in Europe) are fascinated with the rugged west, Native Americans, our wildfires at the moment- so I do "travel magazine" ish posts with good photography- a must for blogs- and post my colored sketches of the scenery- .
What does that have to do with illustrating and writing- well- it pushes my name and business name to the top of the search engine- and it is a great way to practice writing- figuring out what the public is and is not interested in, and is the start of developing a brand- plus you meet really interesting people- including some really good illustrators.
But do I put my blog address on AD postcards- no- there is a link to it on a page on my website if they are interested. Web portfolios (are calling card)  and blogs ( are places to explore- which most artists need) serve two different purposes-
#28 - June 28, 2013, 07:47 AM

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Q for illustrators  :juggle

Does botanical illustration count as illustration too? If so, how does one go about creating a portfolio? Any suggestions will be helpful. Thanks!
#29 - June 28, 2013, 11:30 AM

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iyerani

I have a friend who does botanical illustrations as well as children's and fantastical, which she has under separate tabs on her website. If you are wanting to start with an online portfolio/website, it may help to check out some other illustrators. Childrens illustrators. com is a good reference. http://www.childrensillustrators.com/portfolio-directory/  I would imagine you may want to target non-fiction publishers with your botanical work. For children's book work, it's best to have more offerings on your website or in your portfolio. Animals and children in action, etc. There are several threads here on the boards with discussions in reference to website and portfolio content. A good start might be the threads that are tacked at the top of page one of this illustrator's section.
#30 - June 28, 2013, 04:42 PM
« Last Edit: June 28, 2013, 06:09 PM by Cynthia Kremsner »
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