I have gone full circle. I started with Blogger back in 2009/10 and returned again in 2013 and for some strange reason, in between times, thought that it was better to be self hosted, to have ones own website with clever links and a shopping cart.
I am no programmer and I hate wasting time trying to figure all these things out, only to end up biting into my hand in frustration, or lashing out at innocent bystanders.
Even with the tools available on Shopify and Wordpress, I still wondered if it was too much of a project - flashbacks of chasing my tail on a self hosted WordPress site. (there is also the expense) I needed to just be writing content and painting.
(UPDATE: On further inspection, Shopify is incredibly easy to use and so I am back with them now despite it costing me, monthly, smh.)
FYI - The basic cost to have sales happening from your site is $29 per month at the time of writing. You can close your store and still have an online presence with a blog for about $14 per month.
On top of this, despite all of my efforts to be self hosted and independent, at the time of writing, any search engine result for James Murch still comes back to a 2013 blog from Blogger. So writing will directly effect the amount of people who show up to a site that contains your artwork.
I was actually writing back then, instead of messing around with webdesign. I really don't have the patience for it!
Blogger is now owned by Google, and so it might make sense for Blogger content to trump a Shopify hosted site, or Wordpress, for example, in a google search.
The caveat here, however, is that the shopping experience is far superior on Shopify - As, I suppose, you would expect.
This last decade or so has seen a huge step forward in terms of information technology and social media, making it easier than ever for people to assault the world with their inane babbling. Your welcome.
Personally, these days, I think self hosting is unnecessary for artists, it saps away time that could be spent on painting.
It's a bit like framing your own work - sounds like a genius, money saving plan (I even went out and bought some old framing guillotine and underpinner myself) but it takes a LOT of time to get it right.
As long as you back up your content and organise it, you can easily move to self hosted if you really want to, in the future. But, if your like me, having a creative brain and just wanting to paint (and occasionally write) is quite far removed from figuring out how to edit the HTML on a self hosted site, so this is unlikely to ever happen.
I'm sure there are some clever so and so's out there that can do both, and i suspect the upcoming generation are already doing it in their sleep, but I have neither the time nor the inclination.
I also think if you want to be really good at one thing, you should delegate as much as possible on other things that would otherwise detract from your goal.
Admittedly I have taken a slight hiatus from blogging on my own site (OK, I hardly ever blogged at all) and have just used Saatchi and Artfinder, in the past, to sell work.
I've had small successes with this, and will continue to use Artfinder, but, I think, in terms of blogging, simplicity is genius, and the more content relating to ones own blog, and thus artwork, is always going to help.
I, like some of you, still work a regular job, so all of my free time is dedicated to art. I want to be able to upload artwork, write a post and get on with painting.
My advice to any artist is to stick with a simple hosted blog like Wordpress or Blogger and just log in, post what you need and log out. It is, so I hear, easier than ever to sell work from there now too.
If you can, however, afford the $20-$30 a month on a Shopify store, it's so easy to use and looks great, plus you can link social media accounts and link back to your Blogger very easily.
As I said before, SEO may not be optimum this way, and if you are taking the plunge with a Shopify store, it has an integrated blog platform that is easy to use and It seamlessly integrates with your artwork, or other things you have for sale.
Another thing, less important: I remember once reading that if Blogger decided to close your blog or ban you, you would lose everything, as opposed to self hosting, where you are in control of your blog. I think this is still possible, but a backup is all you need.
Ridiculously, It was this reasoning, or lack thereof, that made me shut it down and set up a self hosted site in the first place. I also have a tendency to look back on old posts and cringe so hard that I want to crawl up my own backside, but, as I look down at my sock and sandal combo, I realise that it's really not worth caring what people think.
I don't know if its the same feeling I get with my artwork - when I look back on older pieces and feel the urge to have a bonfire. It's similar to this feeling and the reason I deleted a lot of blogging content. Now, years later, I'm regretting it.
On the plus side, I am a bit older, and wiser *tokes thoughtfully on a pipe* and I actually do care a lot less about how I am perceived. Incidentally, this attitude is another great time saver.
UPDATE: I found a lot of the old content in the recesses of my hard drive. Hooray!
Fortunately, at the time of writing some of my earlier content, I was experiencing a rare period in my life where I actually kept records of these posts, backed up, on my computer!!
I mean, I had forgotten about them, to be honest, and only stumbled across them accidentally as I thumbed, digitally, through seemingly endless piles of thinly sliced, digital wood. Or, more accurately, to continue this stupid analogy: a pile of dead leaves covering stagnant, partially decomposed leaves, the type that build up in neglected corners of unwelcoming gardens.
So, with that cleared and ordered as much as I could bare, I updated my blog posts and have begun the process of adding them back to my new blog.
FYI - I think everyone, by the time they reach 35, should have at least 2 abandoned blogs.
Like old sketchbooks and artwork, its good to keep those old naive posts, as it helps to see how far you have come. It also helps to build a sort of search engine legacy that increases your exposure to the world and ultimately points people to your artwork, which is, at least for me, the whole point.
Some of my older painting have an innocence to them, a naivety that is actually quite appealing, something that can get lost with all the learning and theorizing about painting.
So, to draw a parallel here, I think being honest, truthful in writing, as in painting, is all that matters, in the end.
Even if your writing is rubbish, like mine, it's organic, and human, and people can relate to that.
Another Reason to Blog
A lot of the reasoning behind posting and teaching, in addition to getting noticed, is that I have long believed the best way to solidify what you know, and perfect it, is to teach it, or write about it.
I believe It is also a good way to reflect on what you are thinking and gain some clarity and consistency in what you are trying to do - whether it be art, getting ready for a show, becoming the worlds best plate spinner. Writing it down, or speaking it out is a powerful tool in putting to action the things that you want to accomplish.
With that in mind I will endeavor to burden you with the unnecessary yolk of knowledge about how to paint, as time permits.
With that said, I'm off to approach some of my unfinished artworks that lurk in my studio, like squatters, refusing to leave.
Thanks for reading.