Every artist needs a website. It’s the way you become visible, display your work, promote yourself, make connections and enter the world of global networking. Your website is your home base in the fast-growing online world of commerce.
Whether you’re just starting out, or want to improve an existing site, here are some important tips to make your own art website work well for you:
1. Your own domain name. This is crucial. Using your own name is best, but if that URL is not available, add “art” or “studio” or other key word into the name which makes sense and will help with search engine optimization. Showing your work on another site (such as Deviant Art or Etsy) is fine, but do that in addition to your own main website, where you have complete control.
3. Word Press is a great free resource. Although you can blog on wordpress.org, you should download WordPress software onto your own site, which can easily be done. If you want to make a simple art website in just a few minutes, check out this article from Abundant Artist on How to Build an Artist Website in Ten Minutes with Word Press.
4. Start with good basics. Should you have an intro or splash page? Actually, no. People tend to become impatient with slow loading pages, and are more likely to click away than stick around. They don’t like to wait, or be annoyed, which is why it’s also inadvisable to have music playing on your website. Quite often the visitor is already playing their own music – which means they don’t want to hear yours as well.
5. Put your work front and center. A gorgeous, professionally-shot portfolio image right on your home page is a good move. In fact, you may want to have numerous images of your work on that home page, or even a gallery which can be shown as a slide show.
6. Make it memorable. One of the most visited pages on any website is “About”. Use a photo of yourself (people will feel that they know you), and carefully craft your bio or artist statement. Tell about yourself and what inspires you. Share your story.
7. Ease of Use. Your website should be organized, easy to navigate, straightforward – and fast loading. Remove barriers by making it easy and fun to view, and to buy. Listing prices for your work, and using a shopping cart will encourage purchases.
8. Add extras. Videos of a work in progress, an interview with you, etc. is an excellent way to tell your story and make a connection with visitors.
9. Critique your own site. Are links working? Is spelling and grammar correct? Are you showing a cohesive body of work with your own signature style? Be careful before putting everything you’ve ever made, or multiple mediums on your site that may look confusing and less professional. What you leave out is just as important as what you add in.
10. Publicize. Create website pages for press releases and announcements of upcoming shows. Also, add a blog if you have time to write about your art on a regular basis. Blogs help with your website ranking, but they have to be updated frequently. They also allow you to sign up blog subscribers, keeping you in touch with your base. However, if your last blog post is six months old, that’s a bad sign. Blogs aren’t essential, but many artists use them effectively.
11. Include contact information everywhere. Your name should be on every page, with as many ways to contact you as possible.
12. Lead capture. This is part of your marketing plan. Create an area in the sidebar or on every page for visitors to sign up to receive your newsletters. These can be sent on a regular basis (for example every two months) through Constant Contact, Mail Chimp or other provider. Regular follow ups with your fans, and links back to your site increase exposure and sales.
13. Make it sharable. Using WordPress plugins (such as Sociable), you encourage visitors to tweet links to your site, share on Facebook, Google+ and elsewhere. Open your own social networking accounts to connect and network with others.
Your art website is a great asset in representing you and your art to the world. It says you’re serious and puts your work on display 24 hours a day to a global audience. Take a look at a variety of artist sites to get more great ideas on how to create your own perfect art website.