I am now into my tenth year of writing a blog about Melbourne’s visual arts. My first blog post on Black Mark, Melbourne Art and Culture Critic was on February 16, 2008. It was “Faster Faster Pussycat” about Phibs, Debs and other street artists painting a wall in Fitzroy. Now over a 1000 blog posts later this is what I have I learnt about blogging.
- Motivation The first thing I learnt was that writing a blog was motivation to do more in life; I was already going to many art exhibitions but now there was more motivative to go to places, meet people and do other fun things. Soon I started to get invitations to do more things and meet more people. Blogging changed my life; although it wasn’t actually the writing, nor the taking endless photos, or the posting online that really made the change.
- No Money You are not going to make money from advertising on your blog but there are a variety of other ways that you can use a blog professionally from promotion to networking. My friend, who I met through blogging, Prof. Alison Young used her blog Images to Live By, to introduce herself. Middle aged academics are not a typical part of the street art/graffiti scene but now Alison is “Banksy favourite criminologist”.
- Friends I have made many new friends through writing the blog and that has improved the quality of my life. One reason why I have made so many friends blogging is that I mostly write about what other people are doing.
- Enemies I learnt how to deal with hostile comments, trolls and other idiots. You can’t predict what will get people to write hostile comments it could be pigeons in Coburg but I never shied away from controversy, writing posts about the persecution of Bill Henson and Paul Yore. When I have hostile comments I always remember that the person writing them will forget about it after a day or two and, if they don’t, that I can always block them from making comments, but I’ve only had to do this once in ten years. Comments are no indication of anything, no comment does not mean a bad post. Out of 1,077 post I have only had 2,099 comments, half the comments are my own because I generally reply to all comments but I avoid feeding trolls.
- Focus My blog is focused on Melbourne’s visual arts but I do post about other things on it. Having a clear focus for a blog is important but it is a balance between a very narrow focus and ranging too far. With thirteen categories on my blog I’m not sure that I’ve got it right on my blog but it is a lesson I’ve learnt.
- People watching Vox pops can make a good local blog post. These don’t have to be direct quotes, but observations on how people are reacting. I like to watch how small children react at art exhibitions; are they engaged or bored? “Why does a tree need a sweater?” is an example of how one observation of an angry man made a successful blog post about yarn bombing. Another local bloggers is the writer Jane Routley who writes about her day job in Station Stories, life as a Station Assistant.
- Book published You can get a book published from a writing a blog. In 2015 my first book, Sculpture of Melbourne, was published by Melbourne Books. I started writing and researching the book on my blog, before I started my blog I couldn’t have imagined writing a history of Melbourne’s public sculpture. I am now working on my second book about true art crimes in Melbourne.
- Stats I learnt from watching my stats the there was an interest in Melbourne’s public sculpture. What the public wants to read about art is different to what many arts writers want to write about. There are a lot of different kinds of feedback that you can get on blogs from comments to stats. Lots of stats, numbers of subscribers, views, repeat views… stats can be addictive. Here a few more stats in ten years I’ve had approximately 537,000 views from 155 countries around the world (still no views from Greenland, Cuba, Iran, South Sudan and various central African countries, you get the idea).
- Blogs can be works of art. My blog isn’t but the artist, Peter Tyndall’s blog was exhibited at the NGV in Melbourne Now exhibition in 2013 and there are other less notable examples.
- It is hard work On the plus side you are your own boss, your own editor and you make your own deadlines. Ignore the advice about blogging that you have to post regularly. Writing a blog may not be for everyone but it has worked for me and I will continue.
February 16th, 2017 at 11:01 AM
I am grateful for your blog. I am in Sydney and get value out of what you write – the stuff that is beyond just what you/ve seen, your thoughts and responses. And I’ve seen a few of the exhibitions on my periodic visits to Melbourne. Best of all is your humility. And your refusal to be esoteric in how you write. Yet you can convey wonder. Carry on, I guess
February 16th, 2017 at 12:36 PM
Thanks Phil. I don’t know how I convey the wonder but your not the first to mention it. I am determined not to be esoteric but to write inclusively because art and culture are for everyone. The humility is mostly a rhetorical device in order to appear more reasonable and so get more readers, compliments and general pride.
February 16th, 2017 at 11:50 AM
An inspiration Mark.
February 16th, 2017 at 12:14 PM
February 16th, 2017 at 4:09 PM
A long-time fan of your blog Mark. For the first eight years of your blog I was a view from the United Arab Emirates, but now I am back in Melbourne too
February 16th, 2017 at 4:36 PM
Thanks MOB, I kept on seeing views from the UAE and wondered if they were yours or some other ex-pat keeping up with what is happening in Melbourne.
February 17th, 2017 at 12:40 AM
Thank you sincerely for sharing your work and thoughts, it’s really empowering and motivating to me, as art passionate and blogger.
February 17th, 2017 at 9:11 AM
You are welcome. I hoped that I would motivate someone.
February 17th, 2017 at 7:39 AM
Thanks for the mention Mark. I always enjoy your posts. I’m glad you are still writing.
February 17th, 2017 at 9:11 AM
You’re welcome. I hope that you keep writing your blog too.
February 17th, 2017 at 11:41 AM
Having a book(s) published from a writing a blog has been the #1 success of quite a number of bloggers, yes! I cannot wait to see your second book about true art crimes in Melbourne – it is a fascinating subject.
Somewhat related, I have been sent some wonderful books by publishers, free on the condition that I read and review them fairly, usually within 3 months. Some of these books have been wonderful, but I probably would not have noticed them, had I had to pay for them myself.
February 17th, 2017 at 11:48 AM
Thanks Hels, your blog must be ten years old too. I haven’t been so lucky with the free books.
February 24th, 2017 at 11:55 PM
I wish we had one of you in every Australian city as you don’t just review art but also make us feel like we are there with you. I still haven’t found anyone who reviews graffiti and street art, so that alone is worth the blog. Thanks for the inspiration, education and unique point of view.
February 24th, 2017 at 11:58 PM
*anyone else, that is
February 25th, 2017 at 10:43 AM
You’re welcome. I still hope that I can inspire others to do the same in their cities and there are a few others from around Australia in my blog roll but it is not enough.