Like my friend Terry, I had a pretty strong reaction to a recent blog post by quilt artist Dena Crain in which she sets out what she believes quilters should and should not do in their blogs. I disagree with Dena on many of her specific points, but as the subject stayed on my mind, I was more and more bothered by the overall message that anyone, quilters included, are blogging "improperly." So, I replied to Dena in a comment to her blog, and here's my comment:
I find your take on quilters' blogs interesting, but I disagree strongly with the overall message in your post that there are "right" and "wrong" ways for quilters to blog. One of the many wonderful things about blogging is that a blog can be whatever the blogger wants to it to be. You have many excellent suggestions for a quilter who wants to use her blog solely as a marketing tool, but I find it unfortunate that you have not directed your comments to that limited segment of bloggers, and indeed that you are so critical of bloggers whose aims may be very different from yours.
Many quilters do not blog for the sole purpose of marketing and selling work. I'm the founder and manager of the Artful Quilters Blog Ring which links over 400 blogs written by quilters who focus on art and contemporary quilting. Some bloggers use their blogs primarily as marketing tools, but most blog more broadly, about their art, their lives, their opinions. The blogs express who they are as people, not just as quilters. It's clearly a matter of personal taste -- and it seems that yours and mine are quite different in this regard -- but what I love most about reading quilters' blogs is that they introduce me to people who share my passion. They inspire me when they share their processes, their frustrations, their mistakes. I marvel at the variety of lifestyles we quilters lead. I'm reminded of a blog entry from an Australian quilt artist who wrote an entry bemoaning how kangaroos traveled past her house each day, disrupting her garden. That, to me, illustrated what I love about the broad-ranging topics of many quilters' blogs -- that woman and I share the same art form, but in other ways her life is as different from mine as I can imagine. Many, many friendships are formed through the blogging experience, and largely because we share so much of our whole lives in our blogs -- and yes, that includes who is coming for lunch, what we're cooking, how we felt while we cleaned the house, what our political views are, etc. If that's what's important to someone, the blog is hers for her to express that.
To me, there are significant differences between a blog and a website. I see the website is the promotional tool for specific focus on the art and the artist's thoughts about it, her teaching, her art-related travel schedule, her biography, the techniques she wishes to share, and of course the vehicle for selling. I (and, I think, most blog readers) view blogs as something quite different and decidedly more personal. As I read your post, it seems to me that you want quilters' blogs to be what I consider a website disguised as a blog. And, if that is how you want to use the medium, that's great. Go to it! And your giving advice to those bloggers who want to use a blog in the same way may prove enormously helpful to them. But please, don't tell us that if we're not doing it your way, we are making mistakes and blogging improperly.
I don't want to read blogs that are as one dimensional as the sort you describe. For the blogger whose only goal is to market herself, maybe following your rules will get her exactly the results she wants, and that's a good thing. But to suggest that other quilters who blog are doing something "wrong" or "dumb" or "making mistakes" attaches a negative perspective on a communication device whose strength is that it allows individuality and creativity. For many of us artists and quilters, having a space to share the whole of our creative lives is a delight and has brought us opportunities and connections more valuable than selling a quilt. In my view, it's not for anyone else to tell us that we're doing it wrong. Why should those of us who enjoy sharing our lives, and not just the quilting parts, be relegated to the one-sentence/140 character world of Twitter and Facebook?
Like art itself, blogging provides a realm for unlimited creativity and personal expression. How you choose to use your blog, and how you choose the blogs you follow, is up to you. If you don't like blogs that discuss personal lives, then don't read them. It's that simple. It's not anyone's place, it seems to me, to impose "rules" on how quilters should be blogging. The quilt world has its share of "quilt police"; we don't need "Blog Police," too.