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My blogging history
When I started painting – long time ago – I immediately dived deep into blogging. I had joined a 30-day-painting-challenge and was encouraged to create a blog to present my work right from the start. So I created a blog right from day one, which made it possible for other participants to follow my work in progress.
I felt shy and awkward as I posted my first paintings, but I soon got the hang of it. And I loved it! Posting my work made me take my painting process more seriously and gave me the chance to see the progression over time. A lot can happen in a month!
It was also fun that I got visitors on my site—other artists who took part in the challenge. It made me feel part of a community. Painting can be a lonely endeavor—you are usually painting on your own in your atelier or home. Sharing my work with other artists felt good.
Blogging also kept me accountable. Since I posted every day in the 30-day-challenge, I felt bad when I missed a day. However, even after the challenge was over, I kept blogging. The act of photographing my work and writing about it was rewarding in itself. It helped me to see my progress, and it was nice to see my work in an ordered row on the screen, instead of in an unorganized pile in my drawers.
The blog also helped me to keep going after the challenge was over. I was creating a body of work, and I felt that was worthwhile. I recognized that I should cherish my painting practice and not let go of it too quickly, even if nobody was looking at it.
I was lucky, though, that one visitor stuck around, Dotty Seiter. Over time she became my best art-friend, and we kept supporting each other on our art journeys. Somebody who follows and supports you is so important! You are not making art on your own, and that makes all the difference.
A shy start
As I said, when I started painting I felt very shy. I first created a blog under a pseudonym, using my birth name and the last name of my mother. On this website, you can find my first year of daily painting.
Starting under a pseudonym felt comfortable. The daily painting was new for me. I was happy that I could experiment without any of my friends or family knowing about it. Sometimes I shared what I did with somebody, but not often.
A free website
At that time I used a free Weebly website (Now Wix). This way I had no hosting costs and I did not have to buy a domain name. A Weebly site is very easy to manage and has a very intuitive dashboard so that I could start straight away.
Right now, I would not start my blog on a free Weebly site anymore, but at that time it felt like a good option, and it still can undoubtedly be for many people.
The drawbacks are twofold, though. A Weebly site is free, but the domain name has the name of the company in it. In other words, my domain name was gwendawaterink.weebly.com. If you want to remove the word ‘weebly’ from the domain name, you start paying for your site, which is fine for the services they offer, but then a Weebly site is not inexpensive anymore.
A more critical drawback of Weebly is that it is not easy to transport your Weebly posts to another blogging platform, in my case WordPress. Technically you can do it, but it is a hassle, so I finally accepted that the first year of my posts would stay on my Weebly site. I continued blogging on my new WordPress site, but my blogging journey is not complete on it which is a pity.
In spite of those two drawbacks, Weebly (now Wix) is still an excellent choice if you don’t want to pay for your blog, if you just want to try out blogging, if you don’t care about the word Weebly in the domain name, or if you don’t want to dive into WordPress.
Getting out of the closet
I continued blogging, and a year after I started I was ready to stop hiding behind my pseudonym. I more and more felt like I was ‘lying’ about myself, so I started to blog under my own name. I felt vulnerable at first, but it also felt good to let go of anonymity.
Choosing a blogging platform and hosting provider
Starting a site under my own name felt good, but I also wanted to get the word Weebly out of my domain name. I changed my blogging platform to WordPress and left the Weebly site behind. I am still happy that I made the change since it gives me so much more possibility to shape my site exactly the way I want.
Another important step for me was changing to another hosting provider, in my case Siteground (affiliate link). My old hosting provider had such horrible customer support that, in the end, I did not even dare to call or email them. They treated me like I was stupid because I could not understand the ins and outs of DNS, SMTP, SSL, and the like. I felt super stressed when I had to contact them with a question. Eventually, I was so sick of it that I decided that I wanted to change, even if that might require quite a bit of administration.
After some research, I transferred my site to Siteground, and am still very happy with it. The difference between my former hosting provider and Siteground could not have been bigger. The members of the support team answered every little WordPress question in detail for me and were super helpful. I never felt treated like a dummy, even though I probably was. 😉
Choosing a domain name
Choosing a domain name was another big decision. I thought about it a long time. Should I use my own name, or should I create another more generic name—for instance, a domain name with ‘abstract art’ or ‘creativity’ or ‘daily painting’ in it? Such a title would maybe make the subject of the website clearer. Finally, I chose my own name, mainly intuitively. Because my website is very personal and close to my heart, it felt best to write under my own name.
Choosing a theme
One other important thing in the whole blogging process is the WordPress theme that I chose. I did a lot of research beforehand. Because I knew I would be in it for the long run, I wanted to buy a well-coded theme with a good support service behind it. It did not want to go for a free WordPress theme that might be unreliable in time.
Finally, I found a theme called Divi, created by Elegantthemes. I was immediately enthusiastic, so I bought it and am still so happy with it. Divi has a very intuitive WordPressbuilder, and working with it is a pleasure. I can’t recommend it highly enough.
Extending the scope of the blog
At a particular moment, I felt that I wanted to blog about more than my daily painting; by painting every day I had learned so much about creativity, daily art-making, materials, and tools that I wanted to share that information. So my blog got a new dimension. I now combine my blogs about the daily painting process with thoughts and insights about art and creativity.
My painting and blogging adventure continues to evolve every day. I hope you enjoy my posts, and that you feel inspired to start daily painting and blogging yourself! I would love to hear about your experiences in the comments below.
Bye & have fun painting!