by Suzanne Dooley
“Great things are not done by impulse, but by a series of small things brought together.” — Vincent van Gogh
In 2018, it is imperative that you, as an artist, have a website. You should be able to have a link at the ready, whether it’s on your business card or your social media accounts. Its purpose is to project a professional image, to market and sell your art, and to maximize your exposure as an artist (and as a brand).
Your website should be user-friendly for artists and non-artists alike. Clicking through your site must be simple and direct in order to entice people to stay there. You should also consider taking steps to rank high in Google’s search engine so it doesn’t get lost in the cyber quagmire of unfrequented websites.
Read on for tips on how to build an artist website that not only showcases your artwork, but assures you the utmost visibility and most effective online presence.
What To Do
1. Pick a website template
Gone are the days when you had to learn how to code and use HTML to create your own original website. Now, you can pick a pre-designed template and customize it to your liking. Website templates tend to be clean and non-fussy, yet you still retain full control over the aesthetics by choosing your preferred fonts, background color, and image presentation. Website templates also prohibit any third-party advertisements from clogging your site’s space and detracting from your art; they’re designed to optimize your website so that it ranks highly in Google’s search engine.
Squarespace, an online website creation/management tool, is a favored option for the building and managing of an affordable – yet effective – artist portfolio website. If you haven’t already purchased a domain name – the name of your website such as yourname.com – you can do so right through Squarespace. You can even include an online shop or a blog. With the option to pay in low monthly installments or up-front for an entire year, it’s a no-brainer to sign up with Squarespace for a modern web hosting service with beautiful design templates.
Other highly recommended website creators for artists are Wix and WordPress.
Related Articles: Planning a Marketing Strategy for Artists
2. Provide an effortless way to sign up and join your email list
Don’t underestimate this cost-effective and impactful digital marketing tool. Ninety-one percent of people check their email on a daily basis, so email marketing is one of the most effective ways to reach your fans/email list in a frequently-checked, personal space: their inbox.
Also, it’s beneficial to use an email management service that will integrate your sign up forms with your email list, track the number of people who open and click links in your emails. This way, you’ll learn whether or not the information you’re sending out is getting any interest.
3. Make your website user-friendly for all mobile devices
A sophisticated site design that works smoothly on mobile devices is mandatory. An increasing number of people are browsing the web on mobile devices, so you want your website and artwork to look first-rate no matter what device is used to view them. Also, Google ranks a website higher when a search is made on a cell phone.
4. Ensure your website and social media platforms are working in sync
When you post on your social networking platforms, include links to pages on your website whenever possible. Post and engage on your social media platforms consistently. Your social media accounts are effective platforms to maximize your online exposure by driving traffic to your website.
On your website, be sure to visibly display your social media share buttons on your website’s homepage. These buttons will enable visitors to seamlessly share your content or even recommend your art.
5. Track your website traffic
Utilize Google Analytics, a free Web analytics service that tracks and reports website traffic. It tracks and reports the number of visitors viewing your website and interacting with your social media platforms.
6. Secure your entire website with https
As an extra level of security, https is a web encryption that not only protects your visitors’ privacy but also prevents interception or tampering with your site’s data.
7. Ensure every page of your website is searchable on Google
In order to get clicks to your website link in a Google search, you have to have concise yet descriptive text explanations. Search engines do not search images, only text. As such, always include details about each and every single image displayed on your site such as the title, medium, and dimensions, as well as an engaging narrative.
Always use descriptive, detailed title tags (which usually appear near the top of the browser window, not in the content of a page itself). A title tag consists of keywords that solely describe that individual page’s content. Each title tag should specifically mirror the content or image of that individual page. In other words, each title tag is unique unto itself. By utilizing this page-specific, title tag approach, more opportunities are created for your website to appear in search engine results, and potentially more traffic to be driven to your site. Always link one page of your website to a different page of your website. By linking to yourself from page to page within your own website, you can help your own pages rank higher in Google.
What Not To Do
Avoid free web hosting services
Free websites are labor-intensive for visitors and involve distracting ads and other intrusive commercial jargon and graphics. Moreover, free sites leave potential buyers with the impression that you either cannot afford your own website or that you’re an amateur, unprofessional artist.
Nowadays there are a variety of web hosting services you can choose from that have optimum performance capabilities for little cost. Web hosting space is usually purchased on a subscription basis, as your website remains available as long as you continue to “rent” the server space. A typical WordPress website can cost as low as $100 per year and features may be easily added as your business expands.
Useful Article: 6 Things You Can Do to Promote Your Art
Avoid requiring visitors to first register before being able to view your website
Requiring people to identify themselves before they can view your art is website suicide. Don’t deter them from viewing your work.
Avoid using pop-ups, animated GIFs and similar digital theatrics
Websites that use these corny features are repellent to most visitors and often result in computer glitches. It’s best to avoid such turn-offs and remember that people who visit your artist website want to view your art easily, without unnecessary distractions.
Suzanne Dooley is a freelance writer who specializes in arts & culture, travel, lifestyle & wellness, and real estate topics for a variety of publications and literary journals. Suzanne currently resides in Manhattan.