In their latest Dazed column, art agony aunts Gabrielle de la Puente and Zarina Muhammad offer a step-by-step guide to how to start your own art blog
Anonymous: I love The White Pube so much, I also love writing about art. Yet I have -1 knowledge on how to go about writing a blog. Any tips?
The White Pube: We regularly get messages like this and for some reason I’ve only just thought to answer it in an advice column here > to pack all my various comments tips and tricks like i’m fitting em in hand luggage < This is something I can literally answer and that I do answer on the regular, but it’s often behind closed doors, down in the DMs. It also rly matters to me because there is so much to be written about, slow and quick drama happening in different art scenes all over this bastard england. The two of us writing for the white pube can’t have eyes and ears everywhere but also…..we shouldn’t - we can only speak for ourselves. I despo want more writers in the world, i want all the bases covered. I’ll try to give you +1 knowledge so you can get a blog together but my first question would be ‘who are you n where are you writing from (politically, physically, spiritually)?’ Are you just going to stack yourself on other writers, on top of what you see other people doing? should you emulate them (and us) exactly or is there energy and actual imagination in you to elbow out more room on the internet in order to make bigger this site of activism / thoughts / and feelings? i want it to be wide and bumpy, uncomfy and real. how can you edge it out, do it differently? break new ground bby and then get messy in the dirt.
The logistics tho? Decide a clear name for your blog. Take your time with this or as long as it takes to get it right. Check it’s free to get name.com and @name on Twitter and/or Instagram - and I mention social media bc how are you going to tell people you have a new blog post up? websites are lonely islands on the internet until you build audiences who are going to get in their boat and visit you. get all the names in the beginning (honestly, i dont mean to sound like a crazy professional person but it’s useful to get em right away even if you don’t end up using them. keep em in your back pocket for now. the whole thing could blow up and it’s gonna be bad for business if your handles r all over the place) n once you’ve done that, decide what you’re gonna use for your blog.
“my first question would be ‘who are you n where are you writing from (politically, physically, spiritually)?’” – The White Pube
For The White Pube, we use Wix. we didn’t know about Wix being an israeli company when we started and honestly its kind of too late so I would recommend Squarespace instead if you want An Intense Professional Website. Wordpress is also everywhere. There are tonnes of Wordpress themes to fit every aesthetic, and you wont realise how many websites u go on that are made using it. you could also make your own website from scratch (using Kompozer and uploading with FileZilla for ex., paying for domain and hosting for a few pound a month too / google Website Builders for more info) but all of these examples come with costs and no one wants to pay big companies for things so let’s look at all the good free shit on offer across the internet instead. Tumblr is my main recommendation bc it is easy to customise. you can copy and paste different themes into the HTML section which 1. can make it look not like a Tumblr if that bothers you and 2. makes you feel like a Myspace faux hacker all over again if u know what i mean. Tumblr makes its easy to insert video/images and if you have your own domain you can make it the URL for your blog so it’s, you know, all yours. subletting but for a long time, like you’ve painted the walls and everything. Other options include Medium, which i think is very good - and on Medium you can put your texts behind a paywall if that’s what u want. imo people who have blogs on that know their shit, and i dont really know why. just everything I read on there is Smart. Blogger is a bit more old school but i guess it’s functional - just one big catch being it is ran and monitored by Google so they can delete it if they don’t fuck w ur content. Blogspot is another one you’ve probably heard of. Do really long posts on Instagram count? Cause if so.
“don’t think about the consequences please and just write” – The White Pube
i guess it is time to write. I have 2 pieces of advice for this that i think are the core reasons i am still writing today. the first is that i actually don’t care too much about embarrassing myself (loool can u tell) which, i think, keeps the language itself crispy. it leaves the tone open to whatever mood i’m feeling that day > tonight i’m writing from bed; i’m coming down with a cold but I’m way too fuckin busy to be sick so i’m frantic. Also this question of embarrassment u can write fast and loose like a cowboy, protected by thick and thin skin all at once. my favourite books and texts toe this line and i love the way it leaves me as a reader. so after that, rule number 2 of fight club is: be consistent. i don’t mean consistent in the length or shape or vibe, but in time. The White Pube has published a new text every sunday rain or shine, in sickness and in health, since we kicked things off on a complete whim in october 2015. this is possible bc there are two of us, but i mention it because the self-imposed deadline has been very motivating in this endless space post-education. it has felt like a good law, forced me into corners and made me write for my dinner but i’m glad bc if i wasn’t writing i’d just be wasting away in front of youtube 24/7, consuming instead of creating. Maybe yours could be once a month to start with? twice a month further down the line depending on your content.
i don’t think you can hope for money rn: focus on building an audience so you’ve got leverage to make money further down the line. one last advice i would give is: i got into a lull last year because i realised how many of my sentences in reviews on the white pube existed purely as safety packaging material for the texts themselves, little polystyrene nuggets, bubblewrap and plastic, bc i was constantly qualifying every single opinion to pre-emptively stop the floods of messages from people who disagree with the most banal things. for the past 2 months of 2019 or so i gave myself a 1000 word limit so i would stop exerting myself to make boring people online feel better about themselves. i don’t care!!! i said what i said. and i hope you say what you say too. please let me know if you start a blog!!! i love to spend time on websites that aren’t Twitter and YouTube, at this point it feels quirky / like trying something new on the menu or going on a solo trip abroad. don’t think about the consequences please and just write. stay unstable & yourself, changes gears, test yourself. i wish u the best :)