A Simple Structure for Creating Content

The pressure to write is among most artists’ chief concerns these days. You need content if you have a blog, write a newsletter, post status updates on social media, and more.
“But I’m not a writer,” I hear you say.
I Write graphic image
You don’t have to be a writer. You just have to write. (A nod to Patti Digh here.)
See the difference? One is a title and a profession. The other is an action verb.
You’re not a writer. You write. You also post pictures and share content from others.
You create content.

It’s Not an Option

Maybe you’ve bought into the “I write” line of thinking. Now you’re saying, “But I don’t have time to create content.”
No one has time to create content. We make time because it’s beneficial to us.
It’s not mandatory that you become a content creator. If you’re doing well in the world you have built for your art, keep going!
However, if you’re looking to expand your online presence and influence, content creation is paramount.
Content – especially fresh content – rules the Internet.

Content Drives Traffic To Your Site

Content is why people visit your website or blog. They want to read about your work, and they want to see what is new. They want to be part of your world.
Content is why people share what you posted on Facebook or re-tweeted what you said on Twitter.
Content brings people together. The artist’s life can be a lonely one. Content reminds us that we’re part of something bigger when we’re alone at our computer or in the studio.
Content also makes you a leader in your field.

A Content Structure Saves Your Sanity

Every structure you put in place for your business rewards you with peace of mind. In contrast to the usual rap that structure inhibits us, structure brings more freedom to the areas where we need it most. (Read Twyla Tharp’s book, The Creative Habit, for more about this.)
Here’s a simple 2-step process to follow in creating a content structure. If you are a blogger, some of this will be familiar, but I imagine you haven’t seen it in exactly this light.
Step 1: Create content CATEGORIES
Categories are the main topics you will write about. These might include Works in Progress, Materials, Art Business, Featured Artists, and Exhibitions. I suggest fewer than 10 categories as this keeps you from straying off topic.
Step 2: Create SUBCATEGORIES for each category
Subcategories can also be considered tags or keywords. Using the Works in Progress category as an example, you might choose subcategories by genre (Landscapes, Portraits, Seascapes, Wildlife, Abstract). Or you could separate them by media (Clay, Bronze, Marble, Steel).
You will have a lot more than 10 subcategories, but after you develop a basic structure, resist the urge to create too many subcategories. If you find yourself wanting to add yet another subcategory, think about whether or not the topic is appropriate for your goals.
Subcategories can migrate from category to category. For instance, you might write about the subcategory Clay in a Materials or Exhibitions post instead of a Works in Progress post.
Although there will be times when something fits into multiple categories, select one main category for each piece of content. This will help you create more focused content.
My hope is that you start to see how the things you come across in daily life fit into your structure and how you can make meaning of them for your followers.
I’ve only just begun reorganizing my Categories and Subcategories. I plan on posting a progress update in the future. Be sure you’re subscribed to blog updates to receive it.
Incidentally, this post is in the Category “Business Practices” and Subcategory/Tag “Writing.”

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28 thoughts on “A Simple Structure for Creating Content”

  1. When I created my first website, about..I don’t know, 10-12 years ago, my designer and I decided to put my art work into categories or in my case, Galleries. Nature, Italian, Mexican, Asian, etc and it helped me not only define my work, but as I made new artwork, I consciously thought of the category/gallery it would fit in. It really helped me to focus in and not be so ‘all over the map’ in my styles of art.
    categories for blog posts is a great idea! thanks Allyson.

    1. Alyson Stanfield

      Interesting, Jane! It not only helped you with written content, but to focus on your studio production.

  2. Marion Hancock

    As always this is great advice, thanks.
    This morning I was reading a business book which remained sceptical about the value of blogging. To do it well (the writer argued) involves all sorts of additional strategies such as posting on other sites, establishing links to your blog, etc – all things which take time that could be better spent on your main business, he reckoned, concluding with the comment ‘if you fancy blogging go for it, but treat it as a hobby rather than serious marketing’.
    Personally I am still sitting on the fence and will be interested to see what others think.

    1. Alyson Stanfield

      Marion: Please note that he is talking about blogging in order to make money at it. There are so many other benefits. Paramount: That you have content to use elsewhere AND, above all, that you become more articulate about your work. You come to know your work better.

  3. As an artist who still has a full-time day job, finding time for my art, much less updating all my social media, is always a challenge! For blog posts, the thing that saves my life is timed posts. I try to write a bunch of posts in one session and time them out to post each Monday at 8:00 am. So far it’s worked a treat and freed up time for me to work on art on other days of the week.

    1. Alyson Stanfield

      Also, Juuri & Stephanie, note that it’s much easier to write 3-5 blog post drafts at once than it is to write one at a time. Promise.
      I can’t remember the last time I didn’t schedule a post.

  4. My blog categories don’t make a lot of sense to me anymore. I’ve been itching to overhaul them, and now I see more tangible benefits of doing so (keeping myself from wandering being one of the biggest!).
    I sure appreciate you coming up with steady, helpful content, Alyson. Thank you!

    1. Alyson Stanfield

      Carrie: I come up with this stuff because I made the same mistakes. My categories are a mess and my tags are even worse. I feel your pain.

  5. Alyson, great post-you make it so do-able! I have stepped up my writing and posting because it creates so much clarity on what I am doing and why and for whom!

    1. Alyson Stanfield

      Roxane: Exactly! You prove the point I was trying to make to Marion (above). “Clarity” is a good word.

  6. Good morning Alyson – thanks for the post today. The timing couldn’t be more perfect.
    My goal this a.m. is to draft my latest newsletter (most recent and the first one in an embarrassingly long time).
    My writing practice (new blog and social media posting) strengthens my own creative adventure and allows me the pleasure of connecting with delightful people. Hooray to that!

    1. Alyson Stanfield

      Frances: I’m glad you find this helpful.
      Remember that if it’s been awhile for your newsletter, don’t try to update everyone on EVERYTHING that has happened in your absence.

    1. Alyson Stanfield

      Debra: Thank YOU for being here and reading. Now, let me now how it works for you.

  7. Alyson, I love your blog. I wanted to share one of my favorite quotes with you:
    “When forced to work within a strict framework the imagination is taxed to its outmost – and will produce its richest ideas. Given total freedom the work is likely to sprawl.” T. S. Eliot
    Artists, by nature, are content creators. Books on creativity like Twyla Tharp’s The Creative Habit, The War of Art (Pressfield) and The Artists Way (Cameron) talk about making creation a habit. Writing is an excellent way to stay in touch with your muse too. I wrote a post summarizing a presentation I did recently on this content marketing for artists. http://goo.gl/0xWIx
    Some ideas for blog content:
    Your work as content- Images, video or writing.
    Write about your work and process.
    Write about you – share you behind the scenes.
    Share resources and link to them.
    Write about what inspires you.
    Write about what you know.
    Blog posts can be short too. 300 – 800 words.

    1. Alyson Stanfield

      Thanks, Jennifer. I love that quote and I truly believe it’s true. We need parameters.

  8. I did exactly what you are saying here for my blog. But… I have lost my momentum. I appreciate the nudge to get back on track. I have a question that might be the content of another blog post — how does the content differ between newsletters, blogs, and social media? I find myself being redundant with posting a link to my blog article on social media. And my newsletter has been lost to the ethers feeling like it might be an old way of doing things.

  9. Great post! I always wonder about artists who keep blogs and what to write about & how to organize things. This post and the comments were really helpful! Thank you!

  10. Pingback: A Little Organization, Please… | heather bennett

  11. I love your blog with its great advice on helping us artists connect on- line and promote our art and its great that you retweeted this valuable advice. I a, both an artist and a writer and I think it is possible to be both. So I decided to take your advice and start a blog http://www.fromarttoeternity.com. I guess the key for me is to get people engaged so I look forward to seeing more posts on this subject. Thanks for your great blog.

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