Blog It For a Better Portfolio Website
Graphic Courtesy of www.akacorleone.com, Flickr
Thomas James | Escape from Illustration Island
In previous parts of this series, we’ve focused on how to make the most of your website design, image gallery, and About page. We’ve even gone a step further in making our case as a seasoned professional by including a list of recent projects and testimonials.
Now that you’ve proven your worth as an Illustrator, how do you get your visitor even more invested in your work and present yourself as a prolific, motivated, and dynamic artist?
Let’s face it. No matter how awesome your portfolio website is, for all your visitor knows everything they find there may have been created 5 years ago. Your website is a static, timeless environment that offers no clues as to your continuing activities as an artist. Also, if a potential client bookmarked your site last year only to return to find that nothing has changed, how do they even know that you’re still alive?
This may be a dramatic way of putting it, but the fact is that a blog can add a dynamic layer to the more rigid format of your site, while providing a forum to update your followers on your recent news and developments. It can also be a place where you can loosen up a bit, write in a more casual way, and even inject some personality or humor.
Without diving too deep into the topic of search engine optimization, it’s also important to point out that since blogs are generally updated more frequently than websites, they will rank higher in search engines like Google, making it easier for people to find you online.
What Should You Blog About?
Your blog posts should primarily be about your current events as an Illustrator, such as recently finished projects, collaborations, interviews, new personal work, new studio space, etc. The idea is to present yourself as a working artist who is constantly creating, evolving, and hopefully making waves in the Illustration community. If something exciting happens, take advantage of it by sharing it with your audience.
Another great use of your blog is to promote yourself as an expert in your field by writing tutorials for your fellow Illustrators. This will not only show a level of mastery of your style or medium, but will also help you to connect with other artists who find your content useful. A similar approach is to create a post outlining your process on a particular project. Opening a window to your creative methods can have the combined effect of educating and entertaining your audience, which will increase their chances of coming back for more.
Your blog can also be your place to post work that you wouldn’t normally include in your portfolio, because you’re not trying to blow anyone’s socks off here. You are instead inviting any interested parties into your creative world, which allows you to show your mistakes, your experiments, and even your failures. You might look at your blog as a slightly more personal extension of your About page, but be sure to draw clear boundaries for yourself to keep you from posting anything inappropriate.
What Should You NOT Blog About?
Assuming that you’re trying to maximize the promotional benefits of your blog, it is wise to avoid the following:
• Anything too personal, such as posts about your pets or your in-laws • Anything negative about your current or past clients • Anything unprofessional, like photos of you drinking from a beer bong back in college
I’m really hoping that this part is obvious, but for the sake of being thorough, it’s important to draw a distinction between a professional blog and a personal one. Always keep your potential audience in mind, and consider the impression that your blog is making. After all, your blog, like your website, is an important part of your brand as a professional Illustrator.
Speaking of which…