How to approach blogging and social media before you really have a business

A guy in a business forum that I’m in asked, “What do I do if I'm really reluctant to start tweeting?”

Here’s what I told him:

Make a list of “on-program” messages you want to get out there about your biz. Look at your back catalog of blog posts, tweet those out. Make image-quotes and tweet those out. Retweet other people’s stuff, be generous.

Look at people who are great tweeters and do what they do.

Read the book Say Everything, which is about the history of blogging and talks about how you decide what’s public and what’s private.

And lastly, there’s small talk.

Let’s break those down one by one and how you can apply them today, not only to twitter but to your blog and across social media.

Make a list of “on-program” messages you want to get out there about your biz.

You may not have a business yet, as a student, and you may not have figured out what your on-program message is, but you can still share your journey, and your art form.

In fact, Jane Hamill of Fashion Brain Academy recommends taking an “audience first” approach and beginning blogging and and doing social media *before* you have a full fledged business. While this idea sounds crazy to the old school way of doing business, the internet makes it not only possible, but a great way to test ideas and find out what your potential customers are interested in seeing from you.

What’s on-program for you as a student in the arts? You can present your own work, or your aesthetic and things you appreciate in your field.

Look at your back catalog of blog posts, tweet those out.

Once you have a a back catalog of blog posts, you can help people find that excellent writing that may be buried on your site by posting it on social media. Add a photo or an image-quote to make it more interesting and attractive.

Managing what to post when can be tricky, but there’s software to help. Once you have more content ready to share, you can use something like Post Planner, Edgar, Buffer or Hoot Suite to schedule and manage posts efficiently. Being able to sit down once a week to plan your blog and social posts can reduce those feelings of being pressured to be “always on,” social media. With your automated posts going out, you can relax, knowing that some level of posts will always go out automatically, in addition to your live and/or handcrafted tweets and posts.

Make image-quotes and tweet those out (or Instagram them, or both).

Amanda Truscott does a great job of these. Amanda blogs at Creative Unblocking and she’s just written her first book, also called Creative Unblocking ( She posts image-quotes on Instagram on themes that relate to her book. Her image-quotes are beautiful and thought provoking. They promote her book, but in a subtle way, while also providing some value.

I use image-quotes to share quotes about creativity, quotes by artists or other creative people. Here’s one of my favorites:

In my speech on blogging for artists, I tell people to be interesting, be of service and be generous. We can use image quotes as we are being interesting and of service; the images draw attention to the fact or article or blog post that we’re sharing.

Read the book Say Everything by Scott Rosenberg .

Not everyone needs this book, but for those who are more private and want to really think about where the line is and where to draw it for themselves, this book is really helpful, and it’s also an interesting history of blogging.

The hard part is to be our real selves online, to be authentic, because presenting a persona is exhausting, as anyone who’s seen the movie Ingrid Goes West knows. (Or, for that matter, anyone who’s retaken a photo for Instagram 16 times.) Take some time to think about who you are, what you stand for, and how you want to express that online.

Which social media platforms are just for you and your friends and which ones are for building an audience for your creative output? Make that decision too. Being clear on those boundaries will make it easier to decide what to post where.

Small talk

Sarah Eggers posts the weather report each day and is quick with just the right GIF. Anne Dorko asks, “what was your proudest moment today?” And she asks every day. I don’t often have an answer, but the fact that she asks it makes me stop and think.

Okay, Anne’s question is the opposite of small talk.

But the idea is ask questions, answer other people’s questions, comment on their photos, vote in their polls. Be friendly and participate!

And lastly, just dive in! Choose one or two platforms that you enjoy, that you’d likely participate in anyway, and get started! Gain experience now, as a student, in finding your social media/blogging voice as it relates to your art form.

Guest Blogger: Elaine Luther

Elaine Luther is an artist with a sense of humor, an enthusiastic and kind art teacher with over 15 years of teaching experience, and a public engagement artist. Her mission is to make art that's sometimes vulnerable, and sometimes funny. Her art has been exhibited in Chicago and across the country, including at Gallery I/O in New Orleans, LA and Womanmade Gallery in Chicago, IL. Elaine has created and implemented public participation in art projects for the Forest Park Public Library and Self-Employment in the Arts Conference. She regularly gives speeches at conferences and professional association meetings. She is an Advisory Board member for Woman Made Gallery and an ambassador for Self-Employment in the Arts (SEA).

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