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  • I Won’t Disappear! I Promise!

    The Ultimate Blog Challenge is Ending, But I won’t Disappear

    This is the last day of the Ultimate Blog Challenge, I’ve managed to blog on this site every day during the challenge. I’ve taken part in this challenge before, but I think this is the first time I actually wrote a post every single day, and in the past I’ve had a tendency to vanish once it was done, to stop blogging, or do so only sporadically.  I am not going to let that happen this time. I have a plan.

    The Ultimate Blog Challenge is Ending, But I won't Disappear Click To Tweet
    Bullet Journal Calendar View Februrary
    I still have more events to add to this calendar, but for now it tells me when to post on each blog, which days nothing is auto renewing on Etsy (indicated by the letters “NAR”), which days I have painting classes scheduled (Saturday Slams), which days I work a regular shift in the studio, which days I do a complete reset in the studio, various committee meetings, the days I clean houses, and Birthdays. I also have the first week of my dog walking job scheduled, and will write in the rest week by week, and I’ll write in the Art Slam board meeting also, once I verify the time.

    I have blogging Schedule

    I’ve been reading a lot about how to get more visibility to your blog, and believe it or not, from what I’ve read, it is good to give each post a day or two to sit, and gather more views and comments before posting again, this also gives the blogger a chance to enjoy reading and commenting on other blogs.  However, it should only be a day or two, or at most three days between posts, longer than that and people assume you’ve dropped off the planet.

    I also have three blogs that I would like to maintain, though I actually do have more blogs, the time for posting on some of those blogs is past. I no longer have really young children, so the “mommy blog” I used to keep is pretty much over, other blogs I just didn’t care for the hosting site or whatever, but currently I have three that I really would like to maintain.  My Weight Loss and Lifestyle Blog, My Devotional Blog, and My Art Blog (the one you are reading).

    I decided that the ideal way for me to blog would be come up with a schedule for each blog, so that I am not trying to post on all three every day.  The Weight Loss and Lifestyle Blog needs to have at least one post every week, on the day that I weigh myself, which is Monday, so while it is okay for me to post more often if I want, I scheduled that blog for every Monday.  I decided to take Sunday off of blogging, though I might do some planning and blog reading that day. So with Sunday and Monday off the table for the other two blogs, that left me five days each week to write the other two blogs.  I decided to alternate, so one week the art blog would be Tuesday, Thursday, and Saturday, and the Devotional Blog would be Wednesday and Friday, and then the next week they switch, so that the Art Blog is Wednesday and Friday, and the Devotional Blog Tuesday, Thursday, and Saturday.  I put all of this information into my bullet journal calendar pages for the month of February.  After February is done I’ll evaluate and see if I need  to make adjustments.  The devotional blog may be difficult to post on that often, because I have to prepare and study quite a bit for each post, so if it proves too much I might end up picking one day a week to post on that and post on my Weight Loss and lifestyle blog more often.

    I also have an Etsy schedule.

    Along with all of this blogging information, my work schedule, doctors appointments, birthday’s, etc. my bullet journal has my etsy posting schedule for February, which is basically a list of dates that nothing auto renews, so if I have new listings to post, I should do it on those days.  And I do have new things to post! A lot of them.  I will need to really get busy creating those listings, each one needs several photographs, plus key words selected, and a matching listing on this website needs to be made as well, so each listing ends up taking 1-2 hours to create.

     

    Ultimate Blog Challenge Results

    I thought I’d also show the results as far as my site stats go, for this Ultimate Blog Challenge.

    This shows my stats by week from sometime in July until today. I believe the spike in July is from the last UBC
    This shows my stats by week from sometime in July until today. I believe the spike in July is from the last UBC I took part in. You can see that the increased views continued for a while after the challenge ended, even though my posting dropped off. This time I’ll keep posting, and we’ll see if the increased views continue longer.
    This Shows my stats (views) by month, from around the time I started my blogs, you can see noticeable spikes with each UBC I took part in, most of that is probably due to other UBC participants viewing my blog, but at least part is probably organic views simply because I post more regularly.
    This Shows my stats (views) by month, from around the time I started my blogs, you can see noticeable spikes with each UBC I took part in, most of that is probably due to other UBC participants viewing my blog, but at least part is probably organic views simply because I post more regularly.
    This shows my top posts and pages during January's UBC. I had to cut off over half the results on the lower portion of the screen capture.
    This shows my top posts and pages during January’s UBC. I had to cut off over half the results on the lower portion of the screen capture.
    This shows my top posts and pages of all time. Lower portion of the results is cut off.
    This shows my top posts and pages of all time. Lower portion of the results is cut off.

    In addition to those charts, I can say that during the challenge I’ve had an average of 1.92 comments per day, not counting my own replies.

     


  • Questions… Questions…

    FAQ, SAQ, or NAQ

    The suggested topic for Day 2 of the Ultimate Blog Challenge was to write-up a FAQ (frequently asked questions) post.  Honestly, I haven’t been asked many questions on this site, so if I’m honest the best I could do would be “SAQ” (seldom asked questions) post, or perhaps even a “NAQ” (not asked questions) post.  So I decided that I will just post a list of questions someone might have for an artist, and do my best to answer them.

     

    My Questions and Answers

    Q. Why do you make art? What motivates you to do what you do?

    A. I make art because I need to. That may not be a very specific answer, but it is true.  I find that it essential to me to create.  If I wasn’t doing art I am sure that I would have create in some other way.  I’ve always created in some way.  Sometimes through art, sometimes through writing, sometimes through sewing or crafts.  Art is the form of creation that find the most freeing and satisfying.

    Q.  How do go about making art? Do you plan everything out, or just let things flow as they come to you?

    A.  Yes and Yes.  Sometimes, I will plan out a work carefully, sketch everything beforehand, make changes, erase and redo, before I ever begin applying paint to canvas.  Other times I start applying a color to a canvas with no idea at all of what I am going to end up doing.  Most often there is a mixture of these two extremes, I’ll have a good idea of what I want, and perhaps sketch out some of the more precise elements of the work, and then start painting, letting the ideas grow and change as I work.

    Q.  What kind of environment do you prefer to work in?

    A.  I like to have lots of space to spread out my supplies, I can work in clutter as long as the clutter is related to the work, but I don’t want to lose my tube of paint on a table loaded with a bunch of non-art stuff. I like to have music playing… usually the music I listen to will either be classic rock or christian music, either way I tend towards older music most of the time… though I do listen to some contemporary popular music.  I love to make my own playlists so that I can mix mostly the older stuff with a few selections of more modern tunes.
    I enjoy company while I work sometimes, but I don’t care for being asked a lot of questions about what I’m doing while I’m trying do it.  I also don’t want to discuss politics while I’m working, especially with someone I know will disagree with my point of view, that’s because I have no desire to argue or try to defend myself, I just want to create art.  I like to have the company of someone who is comfortable with lots of lulls in the conversation, with the occasional chit chat here and there.

    Q. How did you become an artist?

    A. As I stated in answer to the first question, it is just an integral part of my being to create, and that creativity has shown itself in different ways throughout my life.  In that sense I’ve always been an artist.  As for my current passion for painting, there is a story there I’ve posted about before, but to summarize, I accepted a blog challenge to do something creative every day for a month, and one of those days I decided to paint… I haven’t stopped since.

    Q. What are you trying to say to the world with your art?

    A.

    Every person has incalculable worth., every moment has its own beauty.
    Every person has incalculable worth, every moment has its own beauty.

    That there is beauty everywhere and in everyone, that every person has incalculable worth, every moment has its own beauty.  Even in the hard times, even in the midst of pain, there is beauty and order and purpose.  Even in the dull times, there is beauty and imagination and awe. Even in the most depraved person, there is a spark of something good, something of immense value and indescribable worth, personally I believe that is because every person is created in God’s image, so no matter how they may tarnish that image, it is still there in some form.  So I guess ultimately I am wanting to point people to the creator by helping them to see the beauty of the creation and the wonders of the imagination.

    there is beauty everywhere and in everyone, every person has incalculable worth, Click To Tweet

    Your Turn to Ask Me a Question

    Now, maybe you have a question I didn’t ask myself, maybe you were really hoping I would, but I didn’t.  Here is where I’ll say “Don’t be shy!”  Ask away!  Feel free to ask me whatever you want to know in the comments, and I’ll do my very best to answer your questions both in reply to your comment and as part of future post!

     

    Also, don’t forget to subscribe (down at the bottom of the blog) if you’d like to be emailed a notification when I write a post.


  • Looking Back, Planning Forward

    Looking Back over 2016

    For Me 2016 was a Pretty Good Year

    I know that 2016 was a tumultuous year for many in the U.S.A. and was a controversial one politically.  However, on a personal level, and an artistic level, it was a pretty good year for me.

    I have continued taking part in ArtSLAM studio, and have taught a lot of painting classes there, I’ve also taught one class off site, on my own.  The sales of my art has increased considerably, both because of ArtSLAM and because of implementing good SEO strategies for my Etsy Shop.  Now, I don’t yet know if my art income has been greater than my expenditure for the year, but I believe there is a pretty good chance that it has been, and if so, it will have been the first time since I started trying to sell me art.  Even if I didn’t actually profit, I know that at the very least, my losses will be far less this year than ever before, but I do believe that I actually profited a little.

    On a personal level, circumstances that some would see as negative have actually allowed me to grow much closer to my granddaughter than would have normally been possible, so I see it as a positive thing.

     

    There’s Always Room for Improvement

    All in all its been a pretty good year.  Of course though, there are some areas that could have been better.

    In the area of my health, I just haven’t been diligent in eating healthy and exercising, so I’ve regained weight that I had previously lost. Along with the weight regain, problems with my ankles and feet have started resurfacing.  In addition to that I injured my right arm quite unexpectedly, when all I was doing was tuning a radio!  I reached out, tuned the radio, and then, as I was pulling my arm back to my lap, I heard a pop and felt intense pain in my elbow.  My arm hasn’t been the same since, and according to my chiropractor/physical therapist, I have tennis elbow.  With the exercises he gave me for it, it has gotten considerably better, but I still can’t straighten my arm fully, and its been over six months since I injured it.  Most of the time it doesn’t bother me, but if I have to lift something heavy, or extend my arm too far, it hurts. Also, if I paint for hours, like I used to, it starts to ache.  As long as I take breaks and stretch the elbow now and then, and as long as I don’t try to lift anything with an extended arm, its okay though.

    Financially, my family really hasn’t kept a budget, also we had to have our roof replaced, and we need a new septic system.  So our debt is growing.

    As for the business side of my art, while I’ve done much better with my etsy shop and with finding ways to earn, I need to get better about keeping my books as I go, so I don’t have to do it all at year-end.  I also really need to do a better job of keeping up my website and blogs.  I also have a lot of new art that has never been uploaded to either site.

     

    Planning Ahead for 2017

    Goals for 2017

    Well, enough looking back. Now for the planning forward part of this post!

    My goals for 2017 are pretty straight forward responses to the issues I noted above.

    1. I want to eat healthier and exercise regularly. To that end I plan to once again begin logging my food on MyFitnessPal starting on January 3rd. I’ve already started walking more regularly because I’ve started walking a dog for pay.  In addition I am going to start slowly adding more walks by walking my own dogs.  I’m adding those additional walks slowly because of the problems with my feet and ankles, and because my dogs, especially my elderly dog Spunky, are out of shape and need to  slowly work up to regular exercise.
    2. I want my family to start figuring out a budget to implement, to that end, starting today I’m keeping track of what we spend at the grocery stores, for gasoline, at other stores, and online.  That way, we can figure out a starting point, and start trying to make improvements.  My goal is to have a budget on paper or computer ready to implement by March.  That doesn’t mean we won’t do anything until March, for January and February we are tracking, so we can figure out where we stand and which areas we might be able to cut back on.
    3. I want to continue fine-tuning my etsy shop SEO, and I want to get my newer art works uploaded to both my website and my Etsy shop.  To that end I am going to try to check each week to see if I need to make any changes to existing listings, or to add a listing.  One or two listings a day, either uploading a new one or fine tuning and existing one, and just be consistent in doing something with it at least two times each week.
    4. I want to start keeping my blogs up.  Especially the blog attached to my art website, but also my personal blog. To that end I want to begin posting on each of my blogs at least once a week.

    The Ultimate Blog Challenge

    To kick off this blogging year, I have once again joined the Ultimate Blog Challenge.  For the next 31 days, I will post something every day.  Now, most of the time it will be on my art blog, but I may occasionally post on one of other two blogs instead,which are my personal and weight loss blog, and my devotional blog.


  • The Ultimate Blog Challenge Draws to a Close

    July’s Blog Challenge is Done

    So the Ultimate Blog Challenge for July is done, the next one will be in October.  So I probably won’t post every single day on this blog.  I would like to keep posting at least two or three times a week though.

    I am glad to have taken part in this challenge, because it helped me to develop a habit of getting on my blog each day.  Not only that, but through another blogger I learned a little more about SEO, and adding metadata to my whole site, and also to each post.  So hopefully when I blog now, it will get seen by more people.

    I am still figuring out some of the metadata stuff, but I’m already implementing what I have learned, and I’m trying to read up on the parts I don’t fully understand yet, once I have a good grasp on everything, I’ll share on a blog post so that I can help others increase their web traffic also.

    For now, I can share that if you are on a WordPress blog, there are many plugins you can get that will let you add custom metadata, such as keywords, descriptions of the post, and what title will appear when the you share the post on social media.  The description factor is nice because if you don’t enter it, what will automatically show is just the first few lines of your post, which in some cases doesn’t really give a clear idea of what it’s about.  By adding a custom description to each post, you can let people know what the post is about in a little more detail than you can usually do in a title alone.

    You can also add metadata to the entire website with these plugins, so that if you have an art blog or artist’s website that not only sells art but also offers art marketing advice, or art tutorials, you can add those keywords to the metadata of the entire site and help search engines to find your art website.
    There are some things I still don’t understand, such as where the plugin I used (called the add meta tags plugin) asks for “site-wide meta tags” but then says not to put keywords there, there is another place to enter global keywords, but the I’m just not sure what the site-wide meta tags would be if not keywords.  I’m going to try to learn about that and share it when I know more.

    So, today is Sunday, the first day of the week, and this would be my first post of this week, if I am going to keep with my goal of posting at least twice a week, you will hear from me again at least one more time before next Sunday.  I won’t make any promises at this time of what day it will be, but unless some unforeseen circumstance prevents it, I will post once or twice more this week.

    So if you participated in this blog challenge, what did you learn?

    Also, if you know what the term “site-wide meta tags” actually means, please fill me in!  😉

     

    Hand on computer keyboard Photo by GaborfromHungary at Morguefile.com
    Photo by GaborfromHungary at Morguefile.com
  • Tell Me Why… Art Blog Part 2

    Synopsis of part 1:  My dear husband and I discussed what a blog was in general. I also began explaining what an art blog was specifically.  The conversation ended with him asking why I needed a blog specifically for art, which I didn’t answer at that time.  I answer that question here, not just for him, but for anyone who wants to read.

    So decided it would be good to explain here the “why” of having a blog for art.  Obviously, the first reason is to share my art.  I mean most artists don’t create art in the hopes that nobody ever lays  eyes on it, we create it to share.  We want others to see it, we hope they will like it, we hope they will get pleasure from it, or understand the message we tried to convey with it.  Even if they don’t care for it, we hope they will see it and come away with a little more understanding of what we were trying to say.

    So an art blog provides the artist with a way to share their art, but this answer begs the question, “Why a blog specifically for art?  Why not just a general blog, or sharing to Facebook or other social media?”

    There are a few answers to this.  First, not everyone has, or wants, a personal blog.  Many artists don’t feel any particular inclination to write, and especially not about their personal lives.  However, making a blog with the primary purpose of sharing art is something that benefits the artist, without requiring that they pour out details about the happenings of their day.

    A second answer is  that many who have a personal blog share more on it than they want the average stranger to read.  They only share their blog with a selection of people.  A blog specifically for art can be  shared with the general public.  The artist only shares those parts of their lives that directly impacts their art.   This means that people who are really only interested in the art don’t have to be bored with the story of what aunt Martha bought the kids for Christmas. It also means that the readers of the personal blog can receive  an abbreviated tale of the art related stuff, along with a link to the art blog if they want to know more.

    Third, the art blog is a place to offer art for sale, while the personal one is a place for friends.  The readers of the art blog can get to know the artist in a limited way that relates to art, and they don’t need to know every single detail.  For an artist who sells their art, it is a business as well as a passion and hobby.  Like any business, there needs to be some separation between the business and the personal life.  How would you feel if your friend sold cars and every time you saw them they started a sales pitch about the newest great deal on their lot?  How would you feel if your doctor came into the exam room and started telling you about his marital problems?  No, there needs to a separation, and when there isn’t it makes the business person look unprofessional and the friend look fake and pushy.

    Another example of this need of separation is politics.  On my personal blog I often state my political points of view.  If I am trying sell art, I want to avoid alienating potential customers because they may hold a different view than I do. On my art blog, I don’t post about politics, unless one of my pieces of art touches on a political issue, which most do not.

    As for Facebook and other social media, they have their place, but it is limited.  Its actually against Facebook policy to constantly use your personal account to sell things.  If you open a “Fan Page” for your art, Facebook’s new post guidelines hide much of what you post unless you pay to promote those posts.  Facebook also has terms of use that actually gives away some of the rights to what you post.  You don’t lose your copyright completely, you can still sell your art, both originals, prints, and downloads, but you do give up some control over anything you upload on Facebook.  You agree to let Facebook use your images, and that includes in advertising that doesn’t benefit you in any way.  Contrary to what some think, posting a status or statement revoking that permission has no legal standing.  By having an art blog, you can link to your art content without actually uploading that content to Facebook.  This allows you to retain legal control over your art.

    Now, that isn’t to say that I never post any images of my art to Facebook, I have, but when I do I am aware that people can download it, copy it, print it, even use it in ads, and legally I can’t really do anything about it, because when I agreed to Facebook’s terms of service, I agreed that Facebook could do whatever they wanted with pictures I uploaded.  I have guidelines over what and how I upload things to Facebook, which I’ll share sometime in another article.  For now I’ll just say that Facebook isn’t the best place to upload your art if you want to be able to sell or license that art yourself.  So, Facebook can be good place to post links to your blog, and to develop some interest in your work, but its best if as a professional you have your own space, where you control what is posted, what is shared, and who is invited.

    An art blog can also be tied to your art website, such as this one is.  I blog about my experiences with and thoughts about art on the blogging tab, but I have a landing page with a slideshow of some of my art, and a gallery tab where people can buy the art.  This website is still under construction, so I haven’t added anywhere near all of my art, and I plan to add more tabs also, such as a “contact the artist” tab, and perhaps a “commissions order” tab.

    On an art blog you can also run contests, post how to videos, and almost anything else you want to do related to your art, while with social media you are limited by their terms.  I would like to add though, that if you use a free blogging service sometimes you are limited to their terms as well. In general, the free blogging sites aren’t as restrictive as the social media sites though, and they can be a good place to start your blogging experience.  However, free sites do have their limits, and eventually you may find that its best to move to your own website, with your own domain name and hosting service.

    A fourth reason for an art blog is that it allows the art collector, or potential art collector, to connect with the artist.  It allows the collector to feel that they know the artist as a person, while still keeping enough distance to feel professional.

    So to recap, the reasons for an art blog are:

    1. To have a place to share your art.

    2. To help keep business and personal life separate.

    3. An art blog can be your virtual “storefront” where you sell your creations while still maintaining legal control of them.

    4. An art blog lets a collector connect to the artist, but in a way that is limited enough to still remain professional.

    There might be other reasons as well, that I haven’t thought of, but these are the reasons that stand out to me most, and that I’ll share with my husband the next time we speak of this.

    Copyright Vicki Maheu, all rights reserved.
    Visitor to the Backyard Pond
    By V.J. Maheu

  • A What? Art Blog.. Part One*

    “You started a what?”  He asked, looking confused, then turned his attention back to his cup of coffee.

    “Another blog.” I said, wondering why it seemed like I was always repeating myself.

    “Since when do you have a blog, and why do need another one, and what exactly is a blog anyway?”

    “Well, a blog is kind of like a journal, except it’s on the internet, and usually anyone can read it.  It comes from the words “web” and “log”, you know web, as in the world-wide web, and log… as in…”

    “Captains log, Stardate  41855.2…”  he interrupted in his best Captain Picard voice,  “I know what a log is!”

    At this point in the conversation, I felt like this:
    picard facepalm

    But I didn’t remark on that.  Instead I continued.

    “Okay, so a blog is a log on the internet, and I’ve had one for a couple of years, where have you been?  Anyway, I need another one because my first one is a personal blog, in it I tell about homeschooling, trying to lose weight, what I’m making for dinner, or where we went on a date.  The new blog I started is an Art Blog.”

    “Don’t you post your art on your personal blog?”

    “Well yes, but this blog will just be for art, and art related stuff.”

    “Oh, Okay.  Why?”

    At this point in the conversation, my husband and I looked a little like this:

    crusherdata

    So I decided it was best to continue the conversation another time.

    *The preceding conversation is  fictional, but is being used to convey true facts, I had to say that or my husband would object!

     

    Thank you for reading! If you liked what you see, please consider following this blog by entering your email address at the bottom of the page,  or follow me on Google+ by clicking HERE.  I welcome your suggestions on how to make this blog more interesting to you!

    Fine Art America is the place to go for unsigned Prints of all my Paintings.

     

    My Etsy shop is the place to go to buy my originals that I haven’t added to this site yet, I sell a few select prints there also, and there you can choose if you’d like me to  sign them before shipping!  Eventually I’ll move all of my fine art products to this page, and leave only crafts on Etsy, but for now my art is in both places.