Four Years of Pottery Blog!

How it All Began

It’s a bit of an anniversary for me… It’s been 4 years since I first started writing PotteryBlog.com. It all started about 4 and a half years ago at NCECA – Indianapolis. I had attended a number of panel discussions and lectures given by writers, editors and publishers of both books and magazines. I found myself inspired by the words I had heard throughout the week and the conversations had, but I wasn’t quite sure where to go with it. I knew that I wanted to write, but the time lines for traditional media didn’t appeal to me. Magazine articles usually took about a year to be published, and books could be 3-5 years. I wanted to go in the direction of something less formal and with more immediate feedback, for now.

On the trip home from Indianapolis, a conversation started with my friend Brian Boyer (programmer, writer and potter). He really felt that a blog was the direction to go in with my post-conference energy. Ian and I had many conversations at home and he had been urging me to start a blog throughout the previous year. My hesitation was that I didn’t know any other potter that was writing a blog about clay. A huge part of blogging was the connections with other bloggers writing in the same field. Blog writers are great blog readers, and when you begin to link to each other, your audience can grow exponentially. But after the conference, and my conversation with Brian, I realized that it was what I was going to do. And so I went home, registered the domain name: PotteryBlog.com, and soon I began to write. I had no idea where it was going to lead me, but I knew it was were I wanted to be at that moment.

A Slow Start

When I started this blog, I had to do a lot of educating. The question that I got from most of the clay folks that I talked to about my writing endeavors was “What’s a blog.” I guess it’s a question that I still get, but in the beginning it was the question that I got from everyone that I talked to about it. I continued to write for the next 2 years. Not on a super regular basis, but regular enough. A couple of years into it, I had that nagging feeling that maybe no one was reading my blog. A large part of writing a blog is personal, so theoretically, I would continue to write with or without readers. But when you send your words and images out there, you do hope that someone is reading them.

Why do I Blog?

The other top question that I get on a regular basis is: why? Why do I spend my time and energy into writing this blog. Why do I “give away information for free” (their words, not mine)? The answer is pretty simple: information is free. I would love to give away pots, but it’s not the most sustainable business model. Ian (my significant other of 12+ years) is an open source programmer. He’s rubbed off on me over the years. The idea with open source is that the programming code and/or the process of writing it are open for others to see and use and that by making it public, the larger community will benefit from the sharing of information and collaboration. With programming, you can easily do this regardless of geography. With clay, it’s not so obvious on how to do it, but I think blogging is has been a good way to do “open source ceramics”. If I give you a pot, now you have a pot and I don’t have that pot. But if I give you an idea then we both get to keep it.

The open sharing of ideas might be the overarching reason on why I write, but I’ve discovered many more benefits to blogging. I have found that writing has greatly impacted my work. The conversations I have with myself about my own work have grown and evolved, affecting the aesthetic decisions I make daily about my pots. As a visual artist I’m used to falling back on the thought that my work will speak for itself. I hope it does, up to a point, but there is something to be said for backing it up with words. And obviously not everything I write is that profound (like instructions on covering your remote with plastic). But when I have to be more serious and thoughtful about my words, like when writing an artist statement, it comes easier than it ever has before. The habit of writing makes writing easier.

Getting Re-energized

Two years after I began this blog, I once again found myself at NCECA (Louisville) and throughout the week had some amazing conversations with people that “knew me” from my blog. I suddenly realized that my blog posts were not just disappearing out there, but they were being received on the other end by ceramic artists that not only knew what a blog was, but were excited to be reading one that focused on clay! Once I had the knowledge that people were out there across both the US, but also around the world were reading, I was energize and completely dove into the blog.

When I got home I started writing more regularly. I also started to pay attention to the statistics on who was reading my blog. And I set up an email list so readers could automatically get an email with each post. Knowing people were out there on the other end really pushed me.

Some Nice Side Effects

I’ve had a website of my work, in one form or another for the past 9+ years. I used to be conflicted about having pots online. They are 3-dimensional and tactile; things that don’t usually go so well with the internet. I think that a blog helps add other dimensions to the piece. You can show the pieces in progress. Talk about the process of making. Show the pieces in use. Talk about inspirations and frustrations in making. Some of the blanks begin to fill in and the connection between maker, pot and user has grown stronger. Stronger than I ever could have imagined way back when I began my first adventures online.

There have been some great and unexpected side effects of writing my blog. It turns out that it is the best kind of publicity: it’s publicity as a side effect. I get to put my efforts into what I want to do: write, teach, share my work, and connect with others. And it just so happens that it’s publicity. I’ve been lucky that I’ve been asked to be in a number of invitational shows where the curators, jurors and gallery managers have found my work and gotten to know it through this blog.

It’s also allowed me to keep up with regular customers. They can check in and see what I’ve been up to easily. The email list, RSS feed and blog reader instructions have been really important. I wrote a while back about the concept of 1000 True Fans. I’m far from it, but my blog helps me on my path.

The Ceramic Blogging Revolution

Ever since my return from NCECA in Louisville 2 years ago, something really exciting is happening! The number of clay focused blogs has grown exponentially and an incredible international community of clay bloggers has developed. It’s a community that I feel very lucky to be a part of, to have these relationships with my readers and other pottery bloggers. I’m learning a lot, both technically and personally.

What’s Next

I have at least 6 other posts in progress, and another dozen ideas in my head, but if you ever have any suggestions, I’m glad to hear them and respond to them. I find that the more I write, the more I want to write (like this past week).

I will continue to have tutorials, studio updates and show announcements. But I’m also expecting the unexpected, just like when I began. You never know where life (or a blog) is going to take you.

Thank you for reading my blog. Please share your thoughts about pottery blogging with me and the other readers in the comments, it’s an important part of the process for me. It would be quite a different experience entirely for me if I wrote without comments. The posts would become static. This post doesn’t end with this sentence, it ends with the last comment at the bottom of this page.

30 thoughts on “Four Years of Pottery Blog!

  1. Emily, congratulations on four years. I helped out when Ian asked for links to get your blog to the top of “pottery blog” searches, and I remember for a while my post was on the first page of results. It’s very cool that now that page is full of genuine pottery blogs: you’re on the leading edge of a movement!

    I’m also a software guy who encouraged my S.O. to start blogging (http://susansenator.com/blog), and she’s now much more prolific than I am!

  2. Emily,

    Although somewhat a new blogger, I, too have been realizing the impacts from writing about my work as a potter. It is good to be able to clarify my thoughts. Already a lot of unexpected benefits have come my way, and it’s been so nice to know that I actually have an audience out there!

    Joy

  3. Hey Emily, I agree with all that you have said here. I get so much out of blogging about pots. It has opened door after door for me. I have made friends all over the world through my blog. Someday maybe I’ll meet some of them in person. I have also had gallery contacts and folks call me on the phone wanting to order a pot or two. The information exchange is great too. I have learned a lot over the past few years of blogging and hopefully I’ve shared some things that have helped others. I have always been excited about computers, I remember when my friend Tom Gray first got his internet connection, he was the first potter I knew to have a pottery website and he was blogging before anyone knew what a blog was. He’s been a huge inspiration, as have you. Anyhow, I can see that this comment is working up to a post on my blog so maybe I’ll leave it here for now.
    PS I went out and bought “WordPress for Dummies” last night so I may be joining you there in the near future. See ya! Ron

  4. Congrats on the anniversary! Your blog is truly an inspiration, and has been very helpful to many potters out there, myself included!! Thanks so much for keeping at it!

  5. WoW! You’ve definitely inspired me and I hope you will keep on truckin’. You are the gold standard for pottery bloggers.

  6. I only make pottery as a hobby, but I enjoy reading your blog immensely. Your posts are well written and so full of great information that they are consistently a pleasure to read.

    Happy anniversary –it sure is for us readers.

  7. Emily,
    I have to agree with everyone that your blog is very well written and always very interesting. I started blogging just as a need to journal all my feelings about being a potter and a mother. I have gotten so much back by putting my thoughts out there and had many good contacts from keeping up with my posts. I’m so curious about all these new “idea’s” you have been writing about. I’m not I’ll be able to jump on board but I”m sending out a high-five to all of you that do!
    Way to go! Jen Mecca

  8. Ned, Thanks! Your help was appreciated when the top search results were just not very helpful.And thanks for sharing Susan’s link. Blogging is a nice thing to have in common with your S.O.! There are many parts of what Ian does that I can’t understand, but it’s a nice place of common interest.

  9. Joy,
    As I think I mentioned before, I’m really glad you’re blogging! The unexpected benefits will keep surprising you. Good luck, I look forward to your future posts!

  10. Ron- You’ve been such an inspiration to me! I always feel like a slacker next to your daily posts (this week is an exception for me!).
    I’m excited that you’re excited. We’re going to have to start a Blogger to WordPress support group for all the potters out there! Cynthia will be our counselor. I’ll be in touch!

  11. Ben, Thank you! I’ve really been enjoying your blog too now that I’ve ‘discovered’ it! Thanks for reading! I look forward to writing many more years of pottery blog posts.

  12. hi Michael! I finally got my Studio Potter issue. Congratulations, it was wonderful. I had written most of this post when the issue arrived, and it helped me look at things from another perspective. Thank you for the article and for your wonderful blog!

  13. jbf- Thanks! I’m so glad that you’ve been enjoying my blog. It’s been such a pleasure to write it, and so much of the joy is knowing that it’s helpful and enjoyable to the readers out there. There’s much more to come!

  14. Hi Jen! Thank you! I didn’t realize when I began how important it was going to be for processing my thoughts.
    I love your blog. I think it’s so important that you’re writing. Your perspective on being a potter and a mother is invaluable to so many women potters out there! I always look forward to your posts! They’re always interesting and informative.

  15. Hi Emily,just found your blog thanks to Ron. I was having a quick look while I had my breakfast but I’ll need to come back later to read it properly else I’m going to while away half the morning reading. Looks like there are some very interesting posts on there so I’ll be back soon.
    Best wishes,
    Hannah

  16. I love reading your blog – its an addictive ritual at the start of my day – I sit and eat my cereal and sip coffee while checking to see if you have added to your blog. Congrats on four years.

  17. Hooray !!!!!! I’m so glad you write this blog Emily. One thing I really hope for in the blogging world (apart from all the great stuff you have already mentioned) is what I call “bringing the blog to earth” and meeting potters I’ve already met in cyberspace in the real world. There is a National Ceramic Conference in Aust next year……………

  18. hey super post emily, your writing is so fluent I do enjoy dropping by to see what you’re up to it’s just like popping in to a friends studio, thanks so much..

  19. Happy anniversary, Jen!

    Pottery Blog was one of the first blogs I found and started reading.
    I’m still getting started, but your blog was one of the motivators that got me out there and blogging.

    Wishing you another 4 great years, and many more after that.

  20. Emily, I’ve always enjoyed and found inspiration in your blog. But the recent posts have been especially stimulating for me. I expect that my blogging will be greatly affected. Thanks for your generosity of time and talent! Gay

  21. HI Emily,
    Yes, thanks for creating this path. I have really enjoyed your blog and now I just started too. I always worried I wouldn’t have anything to say but as you say, writing helps you to write. Thank you for all your inspiration. Here’s to many more years of sharing.
    Caroline Douglas

  22. I’m off now to Germany… I am thoroughly enjoying everyone’s comments! I’ll be able to read them during the trip, but writing will be hard. I’ll respond when I return!
    Thank you!

  23. Hey congratulations. I just found your blog recently. I’m new to clay and find your information very useful. Thanks so much for sharing.

  24. Happy Blogaversary, Emily!

    Your blog is truly an inspiration and I remember when I started blogging back in spring of 2006, your pottery blog was #1 in all my searches for pottery or clay related blogs. I can’t remember if I commented back then or not. I’m guessing not since I was new to blogging and a little shy to post comments. I lurked a lot though. :D

    This is a great post and synopsis of blogging and the benefits.

    I’ve been trying to get the members of the Colorado Potters Guild to allow me to start a blog for them, but they don’t know what it is and many don’t even read email. I’m on the tech team, but since I’m a new member, I’m not the web builder and many member don’t understand the benefits.

  25. I’ve known Emily for 8 or 9 years. If you can’t already tell by the words on your screen let me assure you — she’s a beautiful person inside and out. Always helpful, thoughtful and patient, she’s a great asset to her students, studio mates and now the global pottery community. She lives as she preaches and I am happy to be a member of the choir! Thanks Emily! I can’t wait to pick your brain in person sometime this fall!

  26. I want to thank you so much for your blog. Until recently, you were my main connection to the pottery world. I’ve been working with clay in my basement for 13 years. It’s what kept me sane while raising my three children :)!! I’ve just this past month ventured out into cyberspace!! You’re so inspiring and I’ve learned so much from you. THANKS SO MUCH!!!

  27. Well Emily, I have to thank you for your blog, since your blog was one of the reasons I started my blog. And I seeing from your blog list that so many others working in clay have blogs too, made me enter the blog world and I am glad I did. Thanks for a great blog.

  28. Thanks for sharing your thoughts and congrats on 4 years. I have also noticed the growth of pottery blogs even in the past couple years. I also agree that information is good to share. I am always amazed at those who think of knowledge as property. Cheers to you!

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