Sunday, May 11, 2008

Rules, Schmules...

I have read one too many posts on what artists should or should not do in their blog, and/or website. Face it, as a rule, artists are not generally so in love with the technology side of the web. When we are told all the things we should be doing, or that we are doing it wrong, the first impulse might rightly be to throw up our hands and say, "Forget it. I can't do that, so why even bother?"

I do a lot of things wrong according to the rules. And somehow, this blog goes on....

Post at least three times a week, and predictably. I post sporadically. Sometimes nearly every day, and then I may go a week or more without posting. "Good blogs" post at least three times a week.

Images. Lots of images. Make sure that people coming to your blog can see your work. I have a teensy excuse on this blog, since it is not exclusively about my work. But on my crane blog, I have a scarcity of images there as well. I guess for me, the blog is the words behind the work. Both the studio work, and the other work that an artist engages in on a regular basis. My website, on the other hand, is image rich and text poor. Together they fill out the picture.

Keep entries short. Too much text turns off readers. Sorry readers, but when I get on a roll I am not going to say, "Oops, I am at the third paragraph, I better tie this up here". I write about what is on my mind. If I can do that in three paragraphs...uh, five?....great. But more often than not it takes me more than that to process the idea and communicate it coherently.

Feeds, etc. I think there is an RSS feed somewhere on the page. Is it easy to find? I don't know. I don't even really know what an RSS feed is to tell you the truth. Could I do better with this part of things? Absolutely. Is it worth my time and money? I frankly don't think so right now. It is low, low, low on the list, and the list is long. Somehow, in spite of my absolute ignorance, and neglect here, people still find my blog, and even subscribe! I love you subscribers out there!

Hire someone to do your website. Broke this rule too. But I pay a bit more to get template options with my website host. It means I can update my web page regularly without having to write code. I am not going to learn code. I am not interested. But I want to be able to update my web page fairly frequently and easily. Is the template exactly the way I want? Nope. But it does the job. I compromise on layout, fonts, colors, etc so that I can at least have images on the web.

In the end, I would rather suffer the wrath and criticism and "just do it", than not do it for fear of doing it wrong. I have made plenty of mistakes along the way. I am continuing to make mistakes. I will tweak, and play and continue to evolve as I continue to work my blogs and my website. I don't want to do it totally by the rules, because in the end, it is mine. Just like I want my art work to reflect how I see the world, I want my blog to reflect my thoughts and experiences. I use Blogger because they are easy, and Google takes care of so many things for me that I do not want to learn. I will risk the imperfection.

How much of the writing about the rules of how we engage with this technology is shutting down voices that we would all benefit from hearing? Isn't this the benefit of the Internet? The rules are still evolving and we can decide how we want it to work for us?

Are you on the sidelines? Do you have a point of view, something you want to say or share? But the idea of doing it the wrong way is just not worth the risk? Trust me, it is. Go ahead and do it wrong, if you have the inkling of a desire. Do it the best way you are able with the time, money, and savvy that you can muster. And if someone tells you that you are clueless, nod in agreement. Yup, you are. But in spite of that you are blogging, or have a website, or whatever. And each day you are learning a little bit more.

The democracy of the web depends on us being able to do this imperfectly. I would rather see some one's amazing work or words up on the web without all the right feeds and widgets, and so on, than have them stay away because we built the technology wall too high.

Being open to learn new things is great. But feeling like we have to do it perfectly in order to do it at all is destructive. The way I look at it, we are about in kindergarten when it comes to the Internet. There is more time for recess than for dissertations. And everyone gets a turn, not just those who are at the front of the line.


Georgia Weithe said...

Judy, did you write this entry just for me? The timing couldn't have been more perfect (and you, of course, could not have known that). This morning I am preparing to launch my own blog to start a discussion about facing death, because its a conversation we need to have! I checked in to your blog to see how an experienced blogger does it and remind myself of the rules, and there I find your post reminding me (us) that there are no rules! Thank you...I feel a little more courageous and am ready to jump in the water. I hope you'll visit at You're the best! Georgia Weithe (oops, forgot to check if you sign your name when you post a response; but hey, I'm doing it anyway!:)

Judy said...

Hooray for you Georgia! Making that first step is the scariest. Stay in touch with your heart and your message, and I am sure you will do just fine. Having a reason to blog, something to say, something that matters to you is more important than any other rule that anyone might have. And you have that. I will be sure to visit. :-)

Kathi said...

oops....are there blogging rules? someone forgot to tell me I guess. I have never been one to "follow the rules", I like to color outside the lines. Thank you for this post. I sure hope everyone reads it and realizes that there is no need for cookie cutter blogs. That a blog is an extension of one's creative self. I say go with the flow.

artandtea said...

Thanks for your wonderful post, Judy. It was those very "rules" that stressed me out when I first started my blog! I'm not one who posts on a regular basis either. I post when I have something that I'd like to share as it happens with the rhythm and flow of my creativity and my life. I'm a lot more comfortable with that now than I was at the beginning.

tammy vitale said...

oh, hear! hear! especially the length thing. I'm mouthy/wordy. And to curb that would be to curb the energy flow (IMHO). Great post!

catherien said...

I think there's opportunity for both freedom and balance when it comes to blogging. Those who recommend following the rules haven't picked them out of thin air... there's a certain amount of legitimacy to what they're saying, because the proof is in the stat numbers. So for someone who is really intent (as in it's high on their priority list) to maximize the volume of their readership... well then probably the rules would be right up their alley. The rules give them a structure to build their readership by.

At the same time, I think those rules are really just more-or-less generally fuzzy guidelines for the vast majority of bloggers. If their interest in blogging isn't necessarily to build a blogging empire, but to just share what's on their minds and hearts with friends and family, then bucking the rules is probably the best thing to do.

Judy said...

So many wonderful comments.

I think the rules are bad when they get in the way of action. But you are right, Catherine, the rules do have some basis in reality. And they can serve as a general guideline. But, if the motivation lies in the stats, that can be a dangerous trap too. It is hard to stay connected with our inner voice, if we are constantly checking the stats to see if people are reading and responding or moving on. Not every post will resonate with our readers. But if we have a reason for a blog, beyond "we should", and we do our best to write clearly and more than once every few months, our audience will eventually find us. Rules without content are empty and will never find an audience. And maybe that is fine. Sometimes the simple act of writing nurtures us in ways that nothing else can.