Should I build my own website?
Things to consider . . .
What does an artist need from a website?
Realistically, an artist would generally need the following:
A Bio page outlining the journey the artist has taken to get where he or she is today.
A gallery page showing the work the artist has created and may wish to sell.
A contact page where a potential buyer can get in touch to discuss a sale.
Possibly a video tutorials page, maybe.
Ok, I want my own website. What next?
I’ll try and keep this as short as possible:
1. Domain Name
You will need to register a domain name e.g. http://www.yournewsitename.co.uk approx. £6 to £10 per year.
2. Website Hosting
When building your site you will need an ISP (Internet Service Provider) to host it for you. Costs vary wildly. You can get started for about £5 a month (most ISPs will offer introductory prices) but these often rise sharply after the initial period.
They are not all the same and some will and some won’t include essential services such as SSL (Secure Socket Layer). When you see the ‘Lock’ icon in a website’s URL address area then the site has SSL installed. This provides the security for handling credit card payments etc. These days every site should have this feature installed whether handling credit cards or not.
3. Software used to build your site
If you’re new to website design then the easiest and I think the best platform is WordPress. This site runs on WordPress. There are a number of free ‘themes’ to get you up and running and for a basic site this is perfectly adequate. When you sign up for your website hosting, you will usually be able to install WordPress with a single click from your hosting admin area. Many ISPs will do this for you if you are unsure.
I won’t go into the ins and outs of learning the software as this would fill a book on its own however, once you are ready to launch your site there is an easy-to-learn process of pointing the nameservers to your site. Whoever you registered your site Domain name with will provide you with an admin area that allows you to change (point) the nameservers to your ISP. Once this is done, your site will be available online. Bear with me, I’m trying to simplify this as much as possible.
One last thing about WordPress. The software functions by installing various ‘plugins’, some free, some paid for. For instance, if you want to add eCommerce facilities to your site then you find a plugin that fits the bill. WooCommerce is a well-known favourite with many and is free. For those interested – ArtShowcase runs on a variety of commercial and technical plugins, as well as some free ones, and uses a commercial theme called Magazine Pro running on the Genesis platform.
4. Ok, I’ve now got my site up & running. I guess I can now sit back and watch the orders flood in?
If only! At this point is where the hard work begins. There’s an often-used phrase in the internet community – ‘You can have the best looking and functional website in the world, but if no-one can find it, then it’s useless’.
SEO (Search Engine Optimisation)
There are literally millions of websites that were started with the best intentions but now just sit there in the ether gathering dust. The term that covers website promotion is SEO, (Search Engine Optimisation). SEO is a huge subject and hundreds of books and many thousands of articles have been written on the subject. It’s a fascinating area of web development with the basics easy to understand but with a steep learning curve if you really want to attack the subject.
To help you understand the concepts a little let’s take the main search engine Google as our example. Google displays search results in 2 main ways.
Paid Search (Red Box)
The first (and the way it makes its money) is by paid search. When you do a search, you’ll notice the first couple of ads at the top, and possibly down the side will be ‘sponsored’ ads. The people who pay for these ads ‘bid’ on specific search terms – the more popular a search term, ‘car insurance’ for instance, the higher the price they will have to pay to get listed near the top. (Some companies spend thousands every day!)
Organic Search (Green Box)
The second way Google displays search results are what we call ‘organic’ searches. These searches are not influenced in any way other than what Google deems to be a relevant site for a particular search term. This is where SEO comes in, the way you build and structure your site in a search engine ‘friendly’ way, and also what active promotional work that is currently being done all influence your ‘ranking’ in the search index.
Google ‘reads/scans’ every page a site publishes and determines the subject or keyword of the page. So if you have a page that sells ‘blue widgets’ for instance, then Google will list your page with the thousands of other site pages that are selling blue widgets. At what position Google puts you in the search list, only Google knows!
A new site can take years to achieve good organic search results and if you get an email in your inbox from a company stating they can get you on the 1st page of Google, then take it with a pinch of salt. At best, they will be doing it in a ‘spammy’ manner that might even get your site penalised (banned) by Google. It’s happened to thousands of sites previously!
I’m going to leave the subject of SEO there as I’ve hardly scratched the surface and don’t want to send you to sleep!
5. I don’t have the time, or inclination, to get involved with SEO so what are my options?
Social Media!! – Facebook, Instagram, Pinterest, Twitter, Reddit etc. etc. is where it is all happening now. If you’re an artist, artisan or photographer, in fact any creative, then if you’re not using social media to promote your work then you are really missing out. It’s easy to get started and you may even make some great friends along the way. The subject of how to promote yourself on social media I will leave for another article, so check back on the site every now and again.
6. What about Shopify, Wix and similar websites?
Shopify and similar selling models operate in this fashion:- you are provided with the tools to ‘build’ your website (within their template constraints) with everything you need to get up and running and then you pay them a monthly fee for hosting the site.
As of writing Shopify currently charge £24.50 a month. This will provide you with the 3 main pages you need, as an artist. Bio, Gallery & Contact details. Promotion of your site will be down to you and if you go this route I recommend you get busy on social media. Shopify et al have a portfolio of thousands of sites so can not offer you any personal site promotion, this will be entirely your responsibility.
7. I can see where this is going. What can ArtShowcase do for me?
Well done if you’ve made it this far!
We think our biggest selling point, apart from the ridiculously low monthly price of £4.50, is the fact we actively promote every subscriber around the 3 major social media sites, Facebook, Instagram & Twitter. We also encourage subscribers to ‘get involved’ wherever they can, as it all adds up to more people seeing their showcases and hopefully making a purchase.
As of writing we have a paid Facebook advert running around the UK which is bringing in lots of interest in the site and subscriber showcases.
We’ve had tremendous feedback from our existing subscribers and more people are contacting us with a view to join. The site was only launched a couple of weeks ago so the future is already looking bright.
So, once you’ve completed uploading your Bio image & content plus up to 20 gallery images you can then sit back and let us do the work and put your art in front of thousands of people.