A website can be a great idea for any artist looking to improve their professional image, provide additional income streams and to showcase their artwork in general. In this article I will cover the pros and cons of owning a website.
Did you know, this post is the first of several – all of which explore artists and their need for websites!
What’s The Point
Firstly, take a moment and seriously ask yourself “why do I want a website?” Write down the reasons. Hopefully this guide will help you answer whether a website can fulfil those needs. If it doesn’t, leave a comment below and I’ll do my best to answer any questions.
Many people think that once you get a website to call your own, money will just start rolling in and visitors will be practically knocking down your door. Spoiler alert: this isn’t the case. Just like a brick-and-mortar store, it takes time to build a reputation and to let people know that your website even exists.
There are truly so many great reasons to own a website that if you were to ask me whether I would suggest you get one, the very short answer would be yes.
A website will show that you are serious about your work. Investing time to establish a brand-identity and a hub for all your work shows that you are more than just a hobbyist; you are serious about creating and selling artworks.
A website can establish your image as a professional artist; which can be great if you are trying to run a business. Despite how easy it is for anyone to set up a website, they are still seen as a way to establish an identity. Have you ever been interested in a business, only to be find you couldn’t find a website, contact the or even make a purchase? If you had to choose between two similar products where one had a website backing it, and the other not, which would you choose? So often the answer is the one with the website.
A website can help you project a quality image of your hard work. The wrong frame can ruin a gorgeous artwork. The same can be said for displaying your work in dimly lit rooms, or besides several undesirable art pieces. We all want our artwork in galleries and museums, and when we imagine this scenario our artwork is hanging besides legendary pieces. You can display your artwork however you want on your website; the details are all in your control.
A website is a centralized hub of all things you. With contact forms and links to social media accounts it can make it really easy for potential clients and businesses to contact you. You can put photos of all your artwork on your website, allowing these prospective customers view all your work and know your style before they even contact you. You can even tell customers what your standard fee rates are for comissions!
And speaking of sales… you can host your own online shopping cart that allows you to sell originals, prints, and services. A correctly configured website can allow you to charge subscriptions (e.g. monthly and yearly), and offer once off pay-to-access content such as courses and lessons. Selling on your own website means that you don’t have to pay any of your profit to third-parties either; no more listing fees, no more selling fees…
You can control your own marketing assets. You can’t always control how adverts appear to your customers (or if they even appear to the right ones). If you pay for advertising, sometimes there is no way to ensure that your competitor’s ad doesn’t display along-side yours, or even on the same page. You don’t need to show your competitor ads on your site (unless you specifically want to).
You can interact with your customers, your way! Advertising on social media and with third-party applications is great way to find customers, but can be disastrous for maintaining long term. Heard of the company Zynga? They used to produce highly-profitable online games, hosted on social media sites like Facebook. However when Facebook changed their terms and conditions, those companies greatly suffered.
Not everyone has the same skill level when it comes to computers, and setting up a website can be daunting. Learning any new skill has a bit of a learning curve, and learning how to install and use a website is included. Good news is there are a lot of lessons online on how to set one up – and I’m making one too for a future post. There are also businesses that you can pay to set one up for you, some of which let you skip the entire setup part (a bit like installing the software) and go straight to adding your content.
The costs of setting up a website can be daunting. It’s easy to see quotes for setting up websites up in the $1000’s. But its not that bad (seriously just don’t pay that much…)! These sorts of quotes are aimed at people with little skills at computers, or who need a very specialized or customized website. You can actually start a website for only a couple dollars a year! In upcoming posts I will discuss how much I spend on setting up my own site, and how you can spend as little as possible yourself.
Security can be a concern, especially if you are processing credit cards or collect user information (such as emails). Many hosting providers offer security features as part of your basic hosting plans, and most “software” that lets build websites also include security features. If you keep your site software up to date, most of the time you won’t need to worry.
The time involved can also be a bit scary to anyone. There will be things to learn if you’ve never set up a website before, but its all part of running a business. In the end the ROI will be far greater to have set up the website, than the risk of never approaching it in the first place.
You will need to keep your site maintained. Many platforms let you automatically update the software on your websites, including security improvements, but sometimes you might need to log in and confirm updates have installed. You will also need to reply to comments or emails, upload new product descriptions and photos. Most of this falls under business time-management.
Are you an artist and have a website? Share your site with us! Let us know what company/service you use, and if you’re really generous how much it costs you per month/year!