In class this week students will set up WordPress blogs

For a free service WordPress has excellent support, heaps of features, lots of themes to choose from, you can import an old blog easily if that blog platform allows exports, you can export your blog so you can shift it if need be and you can create extra stand alone pages.

If You Have a WordPress Problem

You can have a free WordPress blog on free help is available on the Forums and the FAQ.

If you keep a WordPress blog Lorelle on WordPress is a regular read not to be missed.

This morning in class I will be talking in class about establishing a blog, with the usual features such as categories, archives tags etc. I will be talking about theme choice and some of the widgets available with WordPress. We will also be working with images and preparing images for the web.

I will also speak about the actual process of blogging and offer some links to bloggers with sometimes a slightly different take on on it.

Set a goal

Decide what what you want to achieve with your blog and decide who do you want to reach and why? What are these people likely to be interested in that you can talk about?


Asking what to write about is a bit like asking what to draw. Many bloggers who need to look for content, but this is where those in the visual arts or designer makers have an advantage since visual artists already produce cultural artifacts of some kind. They make things. Write about the process of creating things, the design process, the techniques used and choices made in the production of studio work. Sources of inspiration, both visual and written can also be shaped to form a blog post.

This type of writing has another advantage as it will help you clarify your thoughts about your work and will improve how you write about your work.

Students have the advantage that they are in the process of being trained in their field, whereas there are many people who are interested in the visual arts are not trained. Share what you learn in the form tips and tricks. Look at what is happening in your field and write about that. What other artists are doing, what exhibitions you have been to and what you think about it.

Provide links to resources for people who are interested in your subject area or any area in the arts that is of interest to you. Linking to websites of interest not only keeps a record of sites visited for you but it also provides resources for your readers.

Many professional bloggers would advise that you write every day but they are using a blog to generate a living such as Problogger. Chris Garrett asked Do You Have to Write Every Day? and suggested that its a good idea to post only when you have something good to say.

The goals of a visual artist or designer maker and a professional blogger’s goals are different. For a studio based artist writing regularly is more important than writing daily. Decide to write something say twice or three times a week and stick to it. Make it a regular day for instance every Tuesday and Friday so that readers understand and get used to the pattern. Remember that primarily your income comes from work in a studio not as a writer.

Use the draft function and pre-write posts as you think of them. This has a number of advantages. You can write as an idea hits you and develop it into something better. Visual Arts students do very little writing in the course of their degree because students spend most of their time in studios actually creating objects of one sort or another. Using the draft function allows you can think about what you are writing, mull over what you really want to say and develop it a bit before publishing. Pay attention to grammar and spelling. I can’t stress enough how important this is. If you do not do this it makes you look bad. Full stop.

Blogs on blogging and resources

One of the things I have been missing since moving my blogs from a self hosted blog to a free hosted blog is tags. Also I found it disconcerting that often in the forums the terms tags and categories were used interchangeably as if they were the same thing which they are not. This led to confusion in the minds of some of my students, which was most frustrating!

This morning when I opened my dashboard I discovered this at the bottom of my write post panel and immediately did a little happy dance.

I don’t see using tags or categories as a “which system should I use?” question but a case of using both as both have advantages. For me categories are broad classifications of a particular subject area whereas tags are more detailed keywords. For instance if I write a post on a mixed media artist that has work in Second life, a gallery of work online and keeps a blog. OK within this blog I could select three categories to the post, Art, Blog, and Second Life but I might want to note that this particular artist is a mixed media artist yet not have a whole category titled mixed media and have it added to the categories in my side bar. This is where tags come in as I can tag them mixed media yet have a side bar that is kept in control. Tags can further subdivide categories and it is often useful to do so.

These micro categories are picked up by the big sites like technorati . On the blogs when a reader clicks a tag they see posts from all blogs but when they select a category they see you’re your posts in that category. So with tags readers can leave your blog with categories they stay in your blog. Categories are found in the side bar and tags are now just under the title of the post where it says “Posted by sharonb under”. For anyone who is new to reading blogs and there are still many people out there who are this can be confusing. Basically although I enjoy tag surfing I don’t like anything that disorientates new readers or bloggers. I would really like to tags simply listed at the base of a post.

As a side note as we discussed in class last week you can surf tags of blogs via the tag surfer and by the way if you are using a Mac the tag surfer still crashes when using in Firefox but Safari works fine.

As usual Lorelle on WordPress has covered the news well in Tags Arrive on Blogs so toddle over there for an in depth piece on the changes


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