So you’ve got a blog and a Flickr site and a Facebook page and a Twitter account, and you’re going, “No! No, no, no! Enough already!” But if you’re an artist, and if you have any desire to have your art seen by other people, you need a website, and here’s why: the people you want to see your work–editors, writers, gallery owners, event organizers, agents–whoever they are–those people are busy. Very, very busy. They’re doing a million things every day, and while they love few things more than finding a new-to-them artist and seeing fabulous work, they do not have a lot of time. They often have hardly any time at all, and so they get a note mentioning your name (and that’s a whole nother post, so stay tuned!) and have 5 minutes to see what you do. If your work is on your blog, and if you post one photo a day, they’re going to have to go back through many posts to get a good representation of your work. If it’s on Flickr, they’re going to have to go through a bunch of sets, clicking each photo or going through a slide show, to see a good sample.
But if you have a website, and you’ve got a page labeled “gallery,” or “new work” or “current work,” then voilà! There it is, all in one place. They can sit back and look at a bunch of your pieces and get an idea of whether or not your work is right for them.
That’s why you need a website.
Sure, websites can have bells and whistles and cost thousands of dollars paid to a web designer, but there’s no reason you need to go that route, at least not at the beginning and, really, not ever. You can have a perfectly functional website for less than $100 a year. I know this because I have one I created through itsmysite.com and then moved to my own domain.
And, honey, if I can do it, you can do it. You can set it up and maintain it yourself without waiting for anyone else to upload photos. There are other web hosting sites, and you can google them or get a book or check out the various blogs and even websites that tell you how to set up a simple one of your own. Here are some tips:
1) Start simple. No need for animation and flash and music. In fact, it’s better not to have any of this ever. You and your work are the stars of this show, and that’s what should be the focus. Keep it simple, keep it uncluttered, and keep the spotlight on your work.
2) Update regularly. I am horrible at this–I update my blog regularly but hardly ever go to my website. Of course, I’m not using my website to showcase art, so that’s my excuse. If I were, I’d want to get new work up there as often as possible so people would have a reason to come back. Try to update at least once a month, even if it’s just one new piece or an update to the calendar.
3) If you use a hosting site like itsmysite.com, move the website to your own domain. Think of someone telling an editor at a convention about your website. She doens’t have one of your cards, and she’s having to spell “myveryownwebsite/hostingsite/makemyownpage/42sh68/sallysmith.com.” So, so much better if she can say, “sallysmith.com.” Think about the URL and how people will share that info when they’re helping spread the word.Mine used to have hyphens in it: try spelling that out to for people half a dozen times a day.
4) It goes without saying that you want the very best photos you can get. Practice, and don’t settle for the ones that *almost* work.
5) Once you’ve got your basic website up and going, tell everyone. Spread the word, and as you get feedback, you’ll be inspired to tweak it. Have business cards made (or make your own) with the website and your email address. Give them to everyone.
6) Put your contact email at the bottom of each page: make it easy for visitors to get in touch with you. As always, make sure it’s an email address you check regularly.
And there it is, and it doesn’t sound so hard, does it? Remember, there’s a ton of help out there: websites, blogs, magazine articles, books–all offering basic information about building your own website. Start small, take baby steps, and create a showcase for your art–you’ll be so glad you did!