How to Start an Art Blog for your Creative Biz

How to Start a Blog for your Creative Biz

Hi friends, this is the first blog post in a new little ongoing series I’m creating that focuses more on the business side of making art rather than the actual art process itself.  As much as I love creating art, the truth is that the majority of my time is spent doing business-related, non-art things that keep my online presence going and fuel traffic to my site and shops, which in turn generates revenue for me, which allows me to make more art! So I thought in addition to my art-focused tutorials, some of you may want to know about the business side of what I do.

I started my online marketing/blogging efforts from total square one. I knew nothing about how Internet marketing and social media works, what SEO even is let alone how I am supposed to use it, or how to even actually make a website.  I hold no degrees in computer-anything, but I’ve learned a lot.  I maintain my two websites, this one and my Stationery Shop myself and have done all of the design work myself.  And while you could totally hire someone to make a website for you, I really think it’s important to learn how to do it yourself so that you’re not relying on anyone else to update things or add things when you want to.  You can update your site whenever you want, and you don’t have to work your own business around some else’s schedule.

But enough about that for now, I’m getting way ahead of myself.  Let’s start at the very beginning and go through a step by step process of creating your very own blog/website for your own creative biz!

***please note that this post contains affiliate links, which I will receive a small commission for any sales resulting from using these links.  This is no extra cost to you, and it helps me keep this site running and the free tutorials coming, so thank you so much for your support! It’s greatly appreciated.

Why make your own website in the first place?

Before we jump into it, let’s talk a little bit about why I recommend having your own site.  With the popularity of social media, it’s totally possible (and many people have) to create an online business straight from these sites.  Your can set up an Instagram account, post pictures of your works and your process, get lots of interested followers, and sell directly to them via email/Paypal invoices or whatever other direct method you choose.  This is completely doable, but I still recommend having your own site.  Here’s why:

Your website is your home on the Internet.  By having your very own site (and I really mean you own, self-hosted site.  Not through a blogging platform like Blogger or Tumblr) you have full control over what happens.  Social media and various blogging platforms can come and go, but your website will always be there.  Maybe you want to just sell things in an online marketplace like Etsy instead? Well, it’s the same idea.  What if Etsy went out of business? Or it decided that your shop violated it’s terms and erased it. Yup. Scary.  All of your hard work would just disappear.

By having your own, self-hosted site, you have a home base.  Sure you can stretch out and use Instagram and sell on Etsy, but you should also be selling from your own shop, and using these other channels to bring people to your main site.  Then as social media changes you can branch out into other social media channels, and abandon other ones as they lose popularity.  The point is that your business has a place that it will always exist, regardless of what happens to social media channels or online marketplaces.

When should I create a self-hosted site?

If you’re waiting to take the plunge into the world of self-hosted websites, then the time is now!  Don’t wait for the “perfect moment” to start building your website, because there really isn’t a right time.  At this exact moment as I type this my 15 month old is sitting on my living room floor feeding his Cheerios to our dog, while my toddler is playing with playdough directly across the dining table from me.  The right moment is always just around the corner, but somehow never gets here.

I also suggest not waiting until your art is “perfected” or you’ve truly found your style, or you have a big enough fan base on other media channels before starting your blog.  In fact, it’s even better if you start making your website before you begin building a following on Instagram or another media channel, because the pressure will be off you.  You can play around and experiment with the design of your site and with topics to write about without worrying about anyone seeing your site in a less than pretty state.  And trust me, when you first start out, it’s probably not going to be super pretty.  My site has gone through many transformations before reaching its current design, and I’m still in the process of going back and replacing old ugly images with pretty ones.

How to Start

Alright, so are you ready to get started? Ok! The first thing you need is hosting.  A hosting company provides the servers to put your blog up on the Internet.  Think of it like the dirt to a tree.  The tree is the main thing, like your actual website, but it can’t exist without the dirt to grow its roots from.  This is what a hosting company does. I use FatCow, so I’ll take your though a simple process of setting up a hosting account with them.

First, click here to go to their hosting set-up. It will look something like the picture below, depending on the promotion they currently have going on.  Click that big Sign-Up button.

How to Start your own Art Blog for your Creative Online Biz

After getting through the required information, you’ll find yourself at a page that looks like the one below.  This is when you will choose your domain name for your website.  A domain name is the address of your website, and with FatCow, when you sign up for a hosting account, they let you choose your own domain name for free.  So for example, the domain of my site is ashleypicanco.com (makes sense right?)  Going back to the tree analogy, think of the domain as the physical street address your tree (your blog) lives at.  Try to pick something that makes sense for your business, like your business name or your own name.

How to Start your own Art Blog for your Creative Online Biz

After your domain is picked and you’ve selected a hosting plan that works for you, it’s time to design your website.  There are different programs and ways to design a site, but I personally use and highly recommend WordPress.  It’s a great interface, and there are so many design options available with it, you can really customize it and make the site you want.  So if you look at the picture below, we’ll install WordPress onto your site (it’s also free). In your Control Panel, under Website Tools, you will see the WordPress button (blue circle with a W) Click that and you can install the WordPress script onto your site.

How to Start your own Art Blog for your Creative Online Biz

Below is the screen you’ll see to prepare for the installation.  Simply select the domain you picked for your site from the dropdown (it will probably be the only option) and click the next button. (You don’t need to pay to have someone else do it for you, seriously, you can do this!)

How to Start your own Art Blog for your Creative Online Biz

You’ll then be asked to create a username and password for your WordPress admin.  Make sure you keep track of both your FatCow hosting login info and your WordPress admin login info.  After you fill out all of the needed spaces, WordPress will install onto your site, and you’re basically done! Hooray!

Now you can go to your WordPress admin and check out your site! So log out of FatCow (from now on, you will mostly be using the WordPress admin login, which I’ll explain below, instead of logging into your hosting account.  That’s the beauty of using WordPress – you can design your site from a much more user-friendly interface). So keep your hosting account login info in a safe place, and let’s visit your WordPress dashboard! Woop-woop!

To access your wordpress dashboard, simply type in the domain of your address in your Internet browser address bar with /wp-admin after.  So if your domain was “ilovepasta” then the address you would type is “http://ilovepasta/wp-admin” and hit enter/return on your keyboard.

You will be brought to the WordPress login form.  You can then put in your username and password you created when you installed the WordPress script, and after logging in you’ll be brought to your Dashboard! Hooray you’re in! It will be auto-filled with things like a post, comments, and such so you can get an idea of how it all works much easier than if everything was blank.

I now suggest taking some time and playing around in your dashboard.  Find out how it works like creating a new post, a page, looking at comments, and playing around with the appearance of your site. Get to know it, it’s your new baby.

Next time we’ll talk about how to make it pretty, so for now just explore and enjoy.  And maybe crack open a bottle of wine and cheers to your official self-hosted website for your online creative biz! I know it’s going to be awesome 🙂

I hope this was helpful, and till next time, keep creating!

-Ashley <3

My Favorite Online Art Classes!

Best Online Art Courses and Books

Hello friends! In this post, I’m going to share a little roundup of my personal favorite online art classes that I’ve taken during the past few years that I feel have really helped me evolve/improve my art and find my own style as an artist.  All of the artists/teachers I am recommending below I have personally taken courses from, and I feel like they have great value for any aspiring or intermediate artist (or anyone for that matter – there’s always something new to learn!)  As I go through this little list I’ll be sharing my own personal experiences, so let’s get into it!

**please note that this post contains affiliate links, which help to support all of the free content on this site.  Clicking on the links are no extra cost to you if you do purchase a course, and the small commission I receive helps me keep this blog running so I am so grateful for your support! Thank you!

Intuitive Painting on CreativeBug

This course was my first introduction to the amazing Flora Bowley (more things from her in this post below).  If you’re interested in learning about how to tap into your intuition and expand your creativity in abstract art, this little 3-part course is the perfect introduction.  I found it just enough to get me motivated and excited to start exploring new things on my canvas without having to dedicate a huge chunk of time to an online course.  The entire lesson (all 3 parts) are just over 2 1/2 hours, so it’s a burst of new techniques and ideas in a very short amount of time (you also don’t have to watch all 3 parts at once – each section has a defined beginning and end, so you can go at your own pace. It’s kind of like watching a super professional YouTube video playlist). Click here to learn more about it and watch a free preview on CreativeBug!

Brave Intuitive Painting by Flora Bowley

This book is like the CreativeBug lessons but in greater detail.  I loved this book, it’s visually stunning.  If you simply like to look at pretty art and beautifully rendered photographs, then get this book! The images are inspiring enough on their own.  In this book Flora introduces us to her style of intuitive abstract painting, with a focus on layering and “trusting the process”.  She describes some art basics like tools (this is an acrylic-focused painting book) and mixing colours.  I like how she breaks down the colour mixing into easy to understand groups like “colors that make mud” and “colors that won’t make mud”, and while it’s a different approach than how I use and teach color theory, I think it can be really valuable to a beginner who just wants to play with the paint without worrying about learning the color theory stuff quite yet.  This book will make you fall in love with painting, and that may be the perfect stepping stone into further learning. Click here to read the details on Amazon.

Also! Flora has a new book out called Creative Revolution that explores using her intuitive painting techniques as tools for emotional and spiritual healing and development.  I haven’t read this book yet, but it may be a good read, especially if you enjoy the art journaling genre of artistic expression

Bloom True E-Course

This is the full-blown 5-week intuitive painting course taught by Flora. If you’re feeling blocked in your creativity, if you feel that surge of intimidation welling up inside each time you stand infront of a blank canvas, if you get caught up in the minutia of painting the “right way”, then this course can really help to expand your approach to creating art. Click here to learn more about it.

Painting the Sacred Within

This lovely book by Faith Evans-Sills and Mati Rose McDonough explores a similar idea to Flora’s intuitive painting, but from a mixed-media perspective.  It’s full of different techniques to try and beautiful photos to inspire you.  It doesn’t go too deep into general art techniques or color theory, but it does promote experimenting with new media and finding out for yourself which forms and techniques you’re drawn to in your own artistic style. Click here to see it on Amazon.

Wyanne

Wyanne Thompson is a fierce woman whom I truly admire.  Not only is she a talented and accomplished artist, but she is a cancer survivor as well.  This woman is a fighter.  I’ve personally taken a few courses from her including her Paint Free workshop, and her Mixed Media girls and Art Play, which were her very first and second painting classes back in 2005! I’ve followed her art and her social media ever since, and have watched her beat her medical issues and keep on being the amazing artist that she is.  She’s one of my biggest inspirations both as an artist and as a human being.  Watching her YouTube videos of her painting process back then was what made me try to create my own art website and videos.  You can check out her YouTube channel by clicking here!

Will Kemp Art School

Will Kemp is an amazingly talented artist, and he shares his art techniques on his website here! He works in acrylics, oils, and watercolours, and offers online courses in all of them.  His classes are the ones to take if you’re looking to improve your painting compositions, paint still life or landscape, or really learn the technical side of painting.  His classes will teach you the ins and outs of painting, while the other classes and books I’ve included in this list will help you to apply the skills in your own unique way. I’m not linking to any course in particular because his site is filled with free tutorials too!

Tim Gagnon

Tim Gagnon is another super talented artist who hosts painting courses on his website.  He paints beautiful landscapes and forests, along with clouds and old buildings.  His work is beautiful and has an ethereal, fantasy-like tone to it. I took a landscape class from him way back around the time I was taking Wyanne’s courses, and back then he didn’t have the online option to his classes.  He physically mailed dvds with the painting videos on them, and I remember being so excited when they arrived in the mail! His courses are a joy to take, and will teach you the skills you need to paint beautiful scenery. You can click here to see all of his offerings.


So there’s my list! I’m so happy to be able to give back to the amazing artists that have shaped who I am as an artist today.  I hope you can see how I’ve taken what I’ve learned from all of these teachers and turned it into my own style.  I’m really starting to come into a true unique style that’s all my own, mixing abstract expression with precision detail, and it’s my joy to be able to send some more students their way, along with providing you some real value in my course recommendations.

Leave a comment if you’ve taken a course/read a book from an of these awesome artists, and till next time, keep creating!

-Ashley <3

 

DIY Travel Watercolor Palette

diy watercolor palette

Hello friends! Today I wanted to share a little DIY craft I did recently.  I have a couple watercolor palettes that I love using, but they’re all quite large, too large to bring with me during any travel, and too large to have sitting around on my dining table where I like to keep one of my watercolor sketchbooks for some random quick painting/doodling.  I’ve seen a few watercolor travel palettes on the Internet, so I thought I’d try my own hand at making something similar.  So let’s get to it!

DIY travel watercolor tin altoids sucrets

Here’s what you’ll need to make your own palette:

  • A small closeable tin.  Altoids are a popular choice, but in Canada they’re a bit hard to come across, so I used this Sucrets tin (it had some cough drops in it, found in the cough syrup aisle of my local pharmacy).
  • Loose watercolor half pans (link is an affiliate link to Amazon, to the exact ones I bought (I bought two sets)
  • Tubes of your watercolor of choice (I used both Koi and Daniel Smith Moonglow and Fuchsite) (Amazon links)
  • Double-sided tape to hold the pans in the tin

DIY travel watercolor tin altoids sucrets

I poured my watercolors into the half pans and let them sit for a couple days to harden (I didn’t want to chance handling them while they were still liquid).

DIY travel watercolor tin altoids sucrets

I then placed my pans into the tin and played around arranging them how I wanted.  I was able to fit 12 half pans into my little Sucrets tin.  I chose not to attatch them to the tin because I want to be able to swap them out for other colours here and there, but this tin just sits in a basket on my dining table.  If I was to actually bring this tin on a trip with me, I would use double-sided tape to make a permanent version.  You could try to use a magnet strip for a changeable version, but I don’t know how well the magenets would hold to the tin.  If anyone has tried it, leave a comment letting me know how it worked!

DIY travel watercolor tin altoids sucrets

…and that is literally it!  The hardest part of this whole project was finding a tin to put the pans in!! When I’m not looking for a small tin I swear they’re everywhere, full of gum, candy, throat lozenges.  But as soon as I decide I need one they seem to vanish!!

So I hope you found this little tutorial to be helpful, and thanks for visiting! Till next time, keep creating!

-Ashley <3

DIY travel watercolor tin altoids sucrets

How to Mix Purple Acrylic Paint

Hi friends! In this video I’m demonstrating how to mix purple with acrylic paint, including why purple is a colour many beginners struggle to make, and explain the color theory underneath so you’ll understand why the mixing sometimes doesn’t work out, and how to make sure you’ll mix brilliant purples from now on!

How to Mix Acrylic Paint video.

How to Mix Grey video.

Leave me a comment below if this was helpful, thanks for watching!

-Ashley <3