Websites For Artists – Building Your Website

In the first two articles Website Basics For Artists – Why You Need A Website and Website Basics For Artists – Elements Of An Effective Website we took a look at why you should have a website and the key elements that make up a successful website.  Now we will explore the various options open to you to develop a web presence. You can build a website yourself or have somebody else do it for you. You can also spend a little money to develop an effective website or you can spend a fortune. Before you do anything make sure you have a good understanding of why you are developing a website and who your target audience is – you can always add new features as your business evolves.

Build it yourself

As web development technology has evolved it is easier than ever to develop you own website. Gone are the days when you need to know computer coding or HTML or develop a website (unless you choose to). Some of the options available to you include:

  • Use a web creation tools provided by hosting services such as Godaddy.com.
  • Purchase a template from one of the many template providers. Beware that these may involve a lot of expertise, money and time to customize.
  • Use web development software but you may want to spend more time running your business than learning how to use the software.
  • Use the new blog platforms such as WordPress to develop your website. These are relatively easy to use and have thousands of plugins to increase your website’s functionality. They also have a great support community if you need help. If you think that WordPress is just for amateur looking websites take a look at the Wall Street Journal’s page at www.wsj.com – it was built using the WordPress platform. The blog platforms also have another important advantage in that it is easy to add content.

Have somebody develop a website for you

One of the choices available to you is having someone else develop and maintain your website. In the not too distant past developing a website required extensive technical skill in addition to a keen eye for design. The problem was that having both of these skills together in one person or one company was hard and always expensive. The major advantage of having someone else take care of your website is that you don’t have to do it yourself. While some of the disadvantages are:

  • It is expensive to have an outside firm or consultant develop and maintain your website.
  • Outside firms may not be reliable and are always changing personnel and they may go out of business.
  • When you need to change content you may need to rely on the web firm to make the changes for you. You may find yourself at their mercy.
  • Hiring a web firm may be a long term financial commitment. Make sure you thoroughly understand what you are getting into before you sign any agreement or contract.
  • Some web firms use lesser known software and methods to develop websites. If you decide to go with another web firm it may cost you less to develop a new website than figure out what the “last guy” did.
  • More web firms are using platforms such as WordPress to develop websites for their clients. I highly recommend that you take a look at this option. It will give you maximum flexibility if you decide to choose another web development firm and it will allow you to easily add content.

Tag along on others for a web presence

If you don’t want to develop your own website and don’t have the funds to have someone else develop it, you still have some great options. There are a multitude of new services for artists and other creative companies to develop a web presence. Most of these services will allow you to have a webpage complete with an online gallery, web store and a unique web address to share with your clients and prospects. Some may also help promote your work. Two examples of these types of services are Etsy, Behance. Do a web search and you will find hundreds to choose from.

Advantages

  • Low cost
  • Easy to set up
  • Many offer ecommerce and merchant processing (they accept credit cards from your customers)
  • Some may offer exposure to your art on their site (don’t count on this)
  • They provide you with a link to you webpage to give to your customers/prospects
  • You may want to use these services even if you have your own website. They can be a good way to expand your market reach and exposure.

Disadvantages

  • The amount of customization or branding you can do on your page may be limited.
  • There are setup and maintenance charges which may make having your own website a better alternative.
  • They will charge you a commission for selling your products AND collecting money from the customer on these sales.
  • You may be building their brand instead of yours. You will be driving traffic to their site instead of yours.

Each month more and more of these services are being created. Be careful as many of these firms will go out of business. Also make sure that you understand the terms and conditions regarding payments, copyrights and term of the contract before you sign anything.

In the final part of this series Websites for Artists – Building Your Traffic and Your Business we will take a look at how to drive traffic to your website through search engines and your own social media efforts.

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About Neil McKenzie

Neil McKenzie is an author, educator and consultant to artists and arts organizations. He is the author of The Artist’s Business and Marketing ToolBox – How to Start, Run and Market a Successful Arts or Creative Business available in softcover from Barnes & Noble and Amazon and as an eBook from iTunes, Amazon and Barnes & Noble. He has developed and teaches the course “Artrepreneurship” at the Center for Innovation at Metropolitan State University of Denver, and is also a visiting professor at University College at the University of Denver. Neil has over 30 years’ experience as a management consultant and marketing executive, working with some of the world’s top brands. Neil is a frequent lecturer to artists and arts organizations, a guest columnist for Colorado Biz Magazine, where he covers the creative sector of the economy, and the author of several articles for Americans for the Arts, a national arts organization. Follow Neil on Twitter: @neilmckenzphoto