So – for anybody who’s interested - here are some of my observations after a year of blogging amongst art and illustrated blogs. So much has occurred to me while writing this, that this post has become Part 1 and Part 2 will follow next week.
It’s now a lot more difficult to get noticed
Increasing numbers of blogs and splogs and failure to cull the inactive means that it can be difficult to find new art/illustrated blogs which are active and good. A dedicated directory of art and illustrated blogs – with tags or categories for different interests, active moderation and fast processing – is long overdue.
Blog numbers continue to increase at a phenomenal rate
- When I started, Technorati listed some 30 million blogs.
- Over the summer, huge spikes in splog (spam blogs) activity resulted in some blogging hosts or directory sites slowing down or stopping.
- At the end of October. Technorati listed 57 million blogs – after the splog cull.
- On average 100,000 new blogs are created each day
Blog attrition and spam activity seriously affects directories of art and illustrated blogs.
- “Blogs Illustrated” was a really good introduction to the illustrated blogs world when I first started (my blog is no. 296) – but the ring had to close due to spam activity. There are now 412 blogs on a closed list with 270 more that will be forever ‘pending’.
- The explosion of blog/splog numbers this summer meant that other directories and hosts struggled and faltered from time to time.
- Blogs continue to ‘die off’ fast – only 55% are considered "active" (i.e. blog at least one post at least once every 3 months!)
- Blogging on a regular basis (more than once or twice a week) for at least 3 months – my first target – means that you’re much more likely to continue. (Blogging almost daily means you have "a serious habit" and get withdrawal symptoms when you lose access to a computer and the internet!)
Art and illustrated blogs are now getting lost in blog directories.
- The owner of the Blogs Illustrated webring applied criteria for entry, weeded out unsuitable applications and created a meaningful list as a result.
- Most other blog directories offer art and illustrated blogs the choice of either a generic ‘arts and entertainment’ category or a personal category. Either way, it’s much more difficult to find a new illustrated blog. The generic ‘arts and entertainment’ category often includes masses of music / drama / film / celebrity / shopping blogs (“Shopping – art or entertainment or both?” Discuss!).
- Not listing blogs with less than (say) half a dozen posts would eliminate a vast number from the less discriminating directories.
- Directories don’t seem to cull in the same way that Technorati does – I’d like to see a big improvement in this area.
Tags are useful but awareness and practice is limited
- Techonorati tags are useful but are really only limited to finding other blogs which also use tags who blog about the same things as you do - which is how I found Ed Terpening's "Life Plein Air". This resulted in a huge bonus for me - Ed supplied a guide to plein air painting locations in northern California which I 'road-tested' for him when I visited California with my sketchbook in July this year. (see Travels with my Sketchbook)
- Technorati does not generate a lot of traffic. I don't understand why but I think it's because people either don't claim their blogs on Technorati or don't understand their tag system. And maybe just never use it to search for like-minded blogs?
- tagging should get easier Improvements in blogging software and the ease of categorisation and tagging of individual posts should help people to find other art and illustrated blogs more easily in future through the use of tags.
Blogrolls provide useful pointers to good quality blogs
- Blogrolls tend to be much more informative than blog directories. I found Karen’s Creative Journey (no. 18) and came to enjoy Cin’s Learning Daily (No. 41) through Blogs Illustrated and from there I found Laurelines. Their extensive blogrolls enabled me to find more of the same ilk and from there I started to develop my own blogroll. IMO, using the blogrolls of the blogs you like is the best way of finding blogs with good quality content.
- Developing a blogroll policy helped me to decide which blogs to include on my blogroll and to respond to the very many requests for a link which I get. I don't swop links and I don't include blogs less than 3 months old.
- My feed reader has many more blogs on it than my blogroll. Keeping me stimulated by your art (and maybe entertained as well!) is the best way to make it on to my blogroll.
Feed readers have got better but still need to improve