Sunday, 17 March 2013

Blog Under the Spotlight: Skull-A-Day

My next Blog Workshop is on Saturday 6th April. Every time I prepare for a workshop I learn so much, partly because social media is always developing and partly because of all the new blogs I find myself visiting. I love coming across original blogs and finding out about the blogger's journey. I'm especially interested in blogs that became books!
Skull-a-Day was featured in Blogging for Creatives. It was set up by Noah Scalin, who on the 4th of June 2007 posted an orange paper skull and wrote, "I'm making a skull a day for a year". He made his 365th skull on 2nd June 2008.
The project caught people's imagination, and the following year, the blog featured daily submissions from readers. In October 2008 a book based on Skull-A-Day was published by Lark Books, featuring 150 images from the first half of the project.
The popular blog is still going strong and Noah Scalin was kind enough to stop by and tell me more about it.

Why skulls?
Initially the idea of having skulls as my focus was a completely random thought. It was something that popped into my head and since I like them, I figured it would be fun.  Both of my parents are artists, so I grew up around anatomical imagery and as far as I can tell I've pretty much always liked skulls (I still have a very nice drawing of one I did when I was six). Of course with the benefit of hindsight it seems like the perfect subject matter for a daily meditation on creativity since the memento mori is a traditional art concept of using the skull as a reminder to live each day fully. Of course I'm not smart enough to have actually chosen it consciously for that reason!

What was your motivation behind the blog?
To get myself out of a creative slump. I was really burnt out with clients and not feeling like I was making progress getting people thinking of me as a fine artist, rather than just a graphic artist.
How did you promote it?
Initially I just let 100 of my friends know about it and encouraged them to share. A lot of the initial work was done by them really! Most of the biggest early press came through friends of friends.
Did you contact the publisher or did they come to you? 
I was actually contacted by a book publishing agent who thought it would make a good book and she was the one that helped me craft a book proposal and pitch it. And she's still my agent today! 
How do you make money from the blog?
I don't really. The blog is more about building an audience and interest in my work, which then allows me to make money in other ways (books, talks, art sales, etc.). The site is now run by 3 volunteer editors, who were originally über fans of the site, and it's hosted by Blogger, so there are no real expenses (other than everyone's time) to keep it running. We do however run weekly giveaways, and that's an opportunity for the editors to get some free stuff in exchange for their hard work.
What would be your advice to anyone thinking of starting a blog?
Set yourself achievable goals and be consistent with posting. Don't try to do great things from day one, just aim for getting it done and getting it out there. The audience will come over time if you keep showing up and sharing. More than anything it's the persistence that pays off.
Visit Skull-A-Day 
Follow @Skulladay @NoahScalin on Twitter

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