So you want to be an internet star

A good online presence is focused, consistent and interesting—just like you.

Rising tide at Wadsworth Cove, by Carol L. Douglas. I selected my top Google search images for today’s blog. Seemed appropriate.

This week I’m packing for a residency at the Joseph A. Fiore Art Center. I’ll be a hermit until October 1. There will be two exceptions. The first, of course, is this blog. It runs daily except weekends and holidays, except when I’m out on the ocean. There’s no phone signal out there.

I’ll also be a panel participant in the Maine Arts Commission’s Maine International Conference on the Arts. I’ll be discussing Using Technology to Document & Promote Your Work on Friday, September 28 at 2 PM.
My success on the internet has been seat-of-the-pants. I’ve never taken a class, and whenever I start looking at online marketing courses, I get lost in the jargon. Still, this blog is a success, so I’m using this panel discussion as an opportunity to think through why it works.
A FitzHugh Lane Day at Camden, by Carol L. Douglas
Be consistent
People often ask me how to get started with a blog. My answer is that, whatever they choose to do, they should commit to doing every day. For me, that’s a strict discipline. I get up at 6 AM, write for 90 minutes, publish, and then go on to live my day.
I blogged for years, randomly, as most artists do, posting whenever I had a new piece of work or a brilliant idea. I had absolutely no traction. Then I noticed something about the internet: stirring the pot attracts people, and it has an exponential effect. The more that’s going on, the more people tend to read it.
Offer real content
If you’re looking only for a way to promote your paintings, Instagram is probably a better platform. A blog requires 400-600 words of carefully crafted content every day. It needs meat on its bones.
That isn’t as tough as it sounds. Everybody has interesting experiences, and we tell each other these stories all the time. All that really happened in this postwas that my pal got a flat tire, but the circumstances made me smile. Judging by the hits, it made a lot of you smile, too.
Parker Dinghy, by Carol L. Douglas
Find your own niche
I didn’t set out to write an award-winning blog; I set out to get rid of all the thoughts rolling around my head.
Nobody has the time to do everything, and a pallid, overstretched presence will do you more harm than good. Concentrate on what you like to do, and you’re probably doing what you do best.
Let your technology do the metrics for you
I don’t chart my progress, but I regularly check where my readers come from, both geographically and by platformsand traffic sources. I use this information to get the biggest bang out of my effort. I used to post on Tumblr; it was pointless and too much work. I’ve recently added Google Business to my daily posting, even though its numbers are small. It’s easy to do, and it promotes my physical studio.
Bathtime, by Carol L. Douglas. I don’t set out to sell paintings on my blog, but this one was purchased from a post. The buyer has become a friend.
Be patient
When I started Monday Morning Art School, I thought it was a bang-up idea. It went nowhere. I was just trying to figure out how to pull the plug when I noticed readership rising. Today, Monday is my top readership day.
The dreaded “you should”
If someone else isn’t telling me I should do something more, I’m telling myself that. They’re usually great ideas, but I also want time to paint. I keep a document on my laptop of all these “you should” ideas. I refer to this more than any other document except my packing list.