This is a long post - so I suggest you go get a nice hot drink and settle down for a good read. Maybe save it for later. However I'd LOVE to hear what you have to think by the time you get to the end.
|Green furry plant in need of a title | copyright Katherine Tyrrell|
Marketers think we are able to seamlessly move from one platform to another. I think they’re being overly optimistic.
Too many platforms are demanding too much attention and there’s barely enough time to get to grips with them before they all start changing them again!
The most frequent comment I’ve had from art bloggers this year is about no longer having enough time to read all the art blogs which in theory they “follow”. People also have even less time for commenting. That can have a negative impact on our perception of how our readers enjoy our blogs if for example the number of comments reduce. On the other hand if half the comments have moved into Facebook is that an issue? Who knows? However it can feel pretty lonely at times if you're not sure whether or not you're talking into space.
At a personal level I can certainly identify with that perspective. I seem to spend less and less time reading blogs as I try to find more efficient ways of looking at more and more - in an increasing number of different places. I hardly ever comment now even if I do read a blog - simply because of the time constraints.
It’s very wearing. I think 2011 will be the crunch point.
In 2011, we need to get to grips with a new model of how we need to operate for the future. I'd like to be less driven by the technology and the software and more driven by what's important to me and what seems to get the best response for the effort employed - relative to our own specific and individual aims.
I'm still absolutely convinced of the value of a blog - although I do value the way Twitter and Facebook can channel news about new posts.
This post has three parts
- what stayed the same in 2010
- what changed in 2010. In this section I’ll be reflecting on how well my predictions did and what I missed.
- my predictions for 2011
In relation to blogging art, while much of the context has changed, the perennial themes are still the same as ever
- Blogging art = improved art - it's the process which makes a difference and it really doesn't matter one jot if nobody ever reads it! Just writing it out and analysing what's going on helps us sort out how we think about our own art - or the art we are reviewing. It also helps us to be more articulate about art which in turn helps us talk to clients about our own art. It's a win, win, win situation!
- The quality of the content is still what attracts people to a blog. Whether it's the quality of the art or the quality of the information, it's the quality of the content which makes the difference. Those producing excellent art grow a following. It might be slow to start but it almost always happens after they have been found by somebody who tells others. The corollary is that if the quality of the content starts to drift so do the followers.
- The art blog is like having a permanent private view - art collectors enjoy getting to know the artist, who they are as a person and what their art is about. It helps make the art more meaningful if it's been produced by somebody you "know"
- Most new blogs - of any type - are still abandoned within 3 months - but I see a lot fewer art new blogs on my travels and more longstanding art blogs with very few posts. Speaking personally, I get more value from art blogs which are communicating on a regular basis - even if that's just once a week or two or three times a month.
- Networking and commenting on blogs remain the key to getting noticed. Commenting on blogs read by a lot of people is the best way of getting noticed fast and can mean you'll start to get more visitors! People share the new blogs they find. People who get mentioned in "who's made a mark this week?" very often comment about how many extra visitors they get as a result of the mention.
- If you like the art, chances are you’ll like the artists in the blogroll - so long as it's not an endless unsorted list and/or the links are not stagnant. Directories remain pretty useless in terms of finding the type of blog you want to read and blogrolls work much better. Be discriminating and share the blogs you like to read and the art you like to look at and you'll end up becoming part of a small community of art bloggers. I'm particularly keen on finding brand new blogs as it very often means I find a brand new circle of bloggers as well!
- Bloggers still struggle with blogging fatigure - I've just celebrated this blog's 5th birthday. I confess I flag at times - but I also have learned to take regular breaks. There's a lot of long run bloggers about - although I think most of us are blogging less than we used to. It's allowed! To avoid becoming a blogging casualty (1) find a frequency which works for you and (2) take regular breaks.
Here are my predictions for blogging art in 2010 made in Decmeber 20009. I hope I do well each year but genuinely approach this stage of the review of the year with some trepidation! However, if I say so myself, my track record in predictions for 2010 is not bad at all! At the end I identify what I missed.
Generic predictions for 2010 - and what happened
These were my generic predictions - which act as a context and background for changes to networking and art blogging. I've left out the ones where's it's unclear what happened.
2010 PREDICTION: people are beginning to expect that the Internet will be available to them everywhere and all the time ACCURATE - the mobile Internet is increasingly important as more and more sophisticated technology allows wireless access using lightweight equipment. The iPad will be identified as the most wanted bit of kit in 2010 and some 12 million will have been sold by the end of the year - one of them to me! I had absolutely no idea a piece of kit like this would be so successful!
2010 PREDICTION: the pace of change will continue to be exponential ACCURATE - the need to remain alert to how the world is being reinvented all the time remains critical to those who communicate with their customers online.
2010 PREDICTION: some existing developments will move towards the mature part of their life cycle - before they get replaced altogether. ACCURATE - Hardware: who would have thought that consumption of desktops would decline? Podcasts have proved less popular within the art world than many thought. A variety of art videos exist but are not organised well online.
2010 PREDICTION: "noise" is beginning to become a major issue - it needs to be filtered out ACCURATE - one of the most frequent comments I’ve heard this year is how people are finding it very difficult to look at all the information - and artwork - coming their way from different sources./
- Audiences are fragmenting in terms of how they consume - some stick with blogs, some consume micro digests via twitter and some are using Facebook and some are doing all to a greater or lesser degree. Some are finding it all too much and are walking away.
- Keeping your audience means making your blog posts available via all the different major social networks - including Facebook and Twitter as a minimum. There are tools which can aotumate that and make life easier. Hopefully Making A Mark also helps you digest art on the internet
- I never envisaged developments as sophisticated as Flipboard which creates a magazine format for the iPad enabling attractive and accessible consumption of Google Reader, Flickr, Facebook and Twitter. (Named Apple's iPad App of the Year and one of TIME's top 50 innovations of 2010.) see How Flipboard Turned Web Noise Into iPad Gold
2010 PREDICTION: producers must remain alert to the fact a lot of digital delivery needs be capable of fitting three screens - the phone, the computer and the TV screen - all of which are a very different size, offering very different resolutions ACCURATE - this was major in 2010. However I think this is an aspect that not all artists have not got to grips with yet. However you do as soon as you start seeing your own sites on a smartphone or iPad! Despite having a 27" screen I opted to go back to a narrower format for my blog. Blogger has this month also offered the option for the a blog to have a mobile format.
2010 PREDICTION: more people buy online than ever before - and the proportion who do will continue to increase ACCURATE - in general spending online is some 25% more than this time last year.
- ...which is why more of a focus on the local dimension is anticipated in 2010 ACCURATE - geotagging, FourSquare and use of locations became much more prevalent in the delivery of content in 2010, sometimes without people realising it!
- ...which means that blogs will become more important as the advertising revenue shifts online more and more ACCURATE
- ...which leads to professional bloggers becoming more important and more numerous ACCURATE Virtually all top ranking blogs are now run by professional bloggers and/or teams of bloggers. But not this one!
This next part covers my predictions in relation to art and the Internet and specifically art blogging and other social media communication.
2010 ART BLOG PREDICTION: as purchasing and advertising increasingly shifts online, leading artists / art bloggers will be asked more and more to review and/or endorse products. ACCURATE - It's certainly the case that the rate at which I get asked to review things has increased. With limited time, my policy is to only review items which deserve a review and those where a warning is required! I’m seeing some evidence that people are complying the rules on endorsements - but also see others who seems to be unaware of the rules.
2010 ART BLOG PREDICTION: more mini blogs will be created for marketing art. UNCLEAR The uptake of mobile blogging formats appears to be very slow. However this is now possible with Blogger (introduced this month). David Hockney certainly appreciates the scope to send a new piece of art to friends at the beginning of every day from his iPhone/using Brushes.
2010 ART BLOG PREDICTION: social networking will become more niche oriented UNCLEAR
2010 ART BLOG PREDICTION: delivering alerts to the availability of new blog posts/artwork is vital and will become a bit of a science! ACCURATE but scope to improve. The noise issue is still absolutely critical - people are feeling overwhelmed. Twitter helps us make and receive comments in an efficient way. It enables us to show our appreciation for a post (by retweeting) and allows us to be brief in our comments. Twitter lists are also great for filtering tweets from different sorts of people.
2010 ART BLOG PREDICTION: niche networks which target high income consumers will become more exclusive - and go behind paywalls. UNCLEAR
2010 ART BLOG PREDICTION: there will be an increased need to optimise blogs for all browsers.ACCURATE however I totally underestimated the need to optimise for mobile technology.
Other things I missed - in no particular order - are as follows:
- how important the title of a blog post has become. That and the first two sentences is often all we see when deciding whether or not to read a post
- the novel development of art blogs by botanical artists who are at the leading edge when it comes to new ways to use blogs to promote art
- the change in Google's algorythm which now makes speed of load quite critical - which means the size of the image needs to be optimised. Given this is a very heavy weight blog in more ways than one ;) I've cut the dpi on my images to 60dpi from 72dpi and notice very little difference in qulaity but quite a lot in terms of the size of the file
- how important stats become to provide feedback when comments reduce. If the numbers visiting are still the same as always do you really mind if the "comments to get the comment back" really disappear?
- how "keeping on keeping on" is not a bad mode of operation. Those artists which have just kept blogging on a regular basis without any particular tweks other than automating the posting of blog posts to Twitter and Facebook are maybe feeling less overwhelmed than others. After all they're not doing anything very different!
- Software Market leaders have lost their edge:
- Microsoft / Windows are beginning to look like they’re lost the leading edge.
- Flash has been shown the door by Apple and is being overtaken by developments in HTML5 - which has implications for all those running websites using Flash.
Initially I didn't think I had a lot to say about what I think may happen in 2011. Wrong!
Generic predictions - about technology, software and social media
First the context for our blogging
- Apple will continue to rule the technology roost. They’ve just had one of the best years in financial history! Their market capitalisation now exceeds Microsoft. We’re talking VERY BIG and very well resourced which will enable them to remain on top.
- You may have noticed I’ve also become not only an Apple convert but also a complete Apple fan - having bought a 27” iMac in March and an iPad in November.
- One in five Americans will buy a tablet in the next three years. Most of them won't be running Windows.
- If you’re thinking of replacing technology in 2011, I suggest you take a very long hard look at the hardware offerings from Apple. I’m less impressed with some of their applications software that I’ve tried to date but since everybody MUST now take Apple seriously that’s much less important.
- HTML5 will happen in 2011 - because Apple, Microsoft, and Google have all now spoken about supporting HTML5 this year.
- Multi-touch mobile computing will increase in importance and continue to have a massive impact on how we consume information. For non-music content, functionality in terms of the iPhone and iPad are the standards which all others seek to emulate.
- Broadband will get faster and cheaper - for those of us for whom this has not happened already
- People will live their life in a cloud - more and more applications software will be webware and documents will be created and stored online.
- Apps, Apps and yet more Apps! Apps are going to be where the innovation lies.
- mobile apps will become available on desktops
- apps which enable monetized access to resources will only work where the content is unique or highly specialise and there is no reasonable free alternative (take a look at the Times experiment for the reasons why)
- Shopping online via wireless technology (smartphones, iPads, notepads etc) will become much more secure as the technology catches up with market behaviour. Mobile ecommerce will become the big driver of buisness revenue streams in 2011
- Online advertising will take the top slot and comprehensively overtake print advertising in 2011. At the end of 2010, they are expected to be more or less on a par.
- ebooks will consolidate their expansion in sales in 2010 and continue to increase in importance in 2011
- the pace of change will continue to be exponential with the trend being towards diversification across channels - ie more of the same with many new ways of delivering content.
- Users will continue to feel overwhelmed. There’s a choice of two routes out of this
- reduce the number of people / sites you connect to
- use more intelligent filters and/or compendiums to focus on the sites you partticularly want to follow (such as Making A Mark’s “who’s made a mark this week” - which is in part based on using a filter for Google Reader subscriptions)
I didn't think I many predictions about art blogging either. Also wrong!
- Art Blogs are far from dead - but they are very definitely only part of the online picture for delivering art to consumers. If 2010 was the year when being mobile became a priority, 2011 will become the year where we catch up with what that means for each of us in terms of how we deliver and digest art and associated content.
- Expect to find more and more apps which cater for artists and those who enjoy the visual arts. Specific apps which I expect will begin to emerge / become adopted by key players include:
- The App which delivers the visual postcard every morning with associated ecommerce capability cannot be far away if not there already! Will artists make their art subscription only?
- More and more Museums will develop apps for people to enjoy their collections either on a virtual basis or when visiting the museum. Think of the saving on all those headsets for exhibitions!
- more art publications - including art instruction - will move online in the form of ebooks. At present there are not many art books online but that may change
- It’s possible that we may need to start contemplating creating websites for apps for smartphones! (Just as blogs are now developing mobile formats)
- Maps and location orientation will become much more part of the way we deliver content. Specific developments will include:
- development of maps of where artists studios and galleries are based in a town or city (eg the Axis Art Map of Cardiff)
- Foursquare for art, artists, galleries and studios might take off but is unlikely to provide a coherent or comprehensive response
- Shopping will increasingly move online - it's currently averaging 20-25% higher than the previous year in the UK in the last quarter of the year. While some artists may still prefer to sell through galleries, there’s an issue about whether the galleries are keeping up with the change in the market
- expect to see more and more art gallery blogs. Who they link to will be critical...
- expect to see more and more art societies gearing up to enable online sales at annual exhibitions
- More artists will self-publish tutorials (based on or linked to content first piloted online through blog posts) and will use a blog to build and maintain and audience for their publications. James Gurney is the leader in the field of blog to publication - and he chose his publisher rather than pitched a book.
- the publishing houses belatedly woke up to what was happening to the structural change in the publishing business
- artists need to work out what their USP is to if they buyers
- I may finish my book!
- Many artists will rationalise their involvement online. Some artists are spreading themselves too thinly - and this will trigger a move towards deciding which social media they enjoy most and get the most out of. Those who value blogging in its own right (ie as a journal / without an audience) will continue to blog in order to make a record of progress
- Some will give up on blogging. A number of artists, usually those who didn’t post frequently, are moving more towards Facebook and Twitter and online stores as a means of social communication allied to marketing art
TOMORROW - I review what's happened to art online and how the overall economy is having an impact on art and the online artist and art blogger.
PS Don't forget that the deadline for NOMINATION for the BEST ARTWORK on art art blog in 2010 is shortly after midnight on 24th December. Links to the nomination threads can be found at the top of the right hand column.
Links: If you like reading about what the past year look like in previous years try checking out the following:
- December 2006 - Blogging Art in 2006 - A Review (Part 1) and Blogging Art in 2006 - A Review (Part 2)
- Blogging Art in 2007 - A Review (Part 1)and Blogging Art in 2007 - A Review (Part 2)
- December 2008 - Blogging Art in 2008 - A Review (Part 1)and Art in 2008 - A Review (Part 2)
- December 2009 - Reviewing art in 2009 (#1) - the art blog and Reviewing Art in 2009 (#2) - the art business