Smoking cigarettes' and watching Captain Kangaroo has been my Thursday. Just kidding. Like most days, I'm busy being savvy and to answer the imposing title question of this article -
Yes! You absolutely should.
In 2017, I created my artist website, www.savvypalette.com to showcase my artwork and myself as a professional working artist. I'm a strong advocate for branding and self-promotion and a website created for and owned by the artist is the perfect way to meet these needs.
But I have Facebook, Instagram and Pinterest for My Art You Say?
That's great, but social media platforms are simply not enough, these may be helpful for promoting your work, meeting others with similar interests, gaining feedback and if you are lucky, selling work via word of mouth, or automated systems, such as print-on-demand, but these sites should complement, not replace, your own website. They should be used as a marketing outpost to drive traffic to your own website, not as a substitute for it.
1. You need Total Control Over the Appearance and Design.
Stand out from the crowd. Be proud. Brand Yourself.
Aesthetics are important and websites should showcase your creative work professionally and communicate style and individuality. You won't be able to achieved this desire with a standard page on a free site, using a template that looks like a million others.
Instead, I suggest you jump in and make the investment your work deserves by owning and creating your own website. There are platforms where you can select a great design theme and customize this to match your brand look..
I personally recommend using WIX. Why?
WIX is a powerful cloud based website design program that is FREE to use. However please note that once you're ready to launch your site it is best to purchase a paid plan with your own domain name. WIX is affordable and makes the entire process straightforward and easy to navigate getting your material online under your own brand.
Hiring a professional web-designer you can easily expect to pay between $1,200 to $2,000 for a website. That's a hefty investment that quite honestly most artists just don't have sitting around. Instead, teach yourself WIX and you'll be ahead of the game.
2. You Need to Have an Awesome Website Name, NOT yourname.freeservice.com.
A website name is the starting point for your brand. For as little as twenty dollars a year you can create the illusion that you are a professional worth investing in. If you take your work seriously others will too. With domain names costing so little, there is no excuse for not having your own.
My domain is www.savvypalette.com
I choose this name because I brand myself as the Savvy Artist who helps and encourages young and new artists with their journey into the arts as well as it fits my style of work. I paint in a expressive contemporary abstract style known as Spontaneous Realism.
Points To Keep In Mind When Choosing Your Domain
Easy to read and remember
Be mindful of how words run together
Shorter is always better
Incorporate key words
Avoid numbers & hyphens
Think big picture and plan for the future
Your domain is an asset and retains monetary value that you could eventually sell. Out of curiosity, I looked up my domain and currently it is assed at $1,208.00. Not shabby considering I bought it three years ago for $20.00 a year.
If your interested in knowing what your domain might be worth, go to godaddy.com domain appraisals. For those who don't know, there is a whole business just on domains. People purchase them and squat on them in hopes that they become valuable over time.
Let us escape fantasyland for the time being though...
While you're purchasing your domain name you should also purchase a matching professional email address as well. You can purchase and set this up directly through WIX. I choose my email as firstname.lastname@example.org to match my brand and domain name.
Currently professional emails are running about $50.00 per year.
Note: it looks unprofessional to have a business email with an extension of gmail, hotmail, yahoo or whatever. Please take your art serious and make the investment needed to brand yourself and become a professional you desire to be.
3. You Need to Optimize Your Website So That It Ranks High In Google.
Analyze and study your website.
I do this daily with my site. It's mind numbing work, but essential in your efforts to know what and where you should be focusing your marketing materials and who is checking your stuff out. Unfortunately it is a never ending game and becomes part of your daily business routine.
In fact, I'm often asked how I spend my days as an artist. Well honestly I wake up, make coffee and watch an hour or so of the morning news just so I have a baring on what is goin on in this crazy world. As I'm sure you've noticed, times are defiantly getting weird.
But I must digress.
I spend my first two to three hours writing emails, answering quote requests and penning blog posts for my site. I also check Google analytics and try see how the numbers are doing. I then order supplies if needed and of course promote my art via social media. All of this before I step foot into my studio and do any painting.
Let's get back to analytics though...
Your first and most important step for SEO is to analyze your website to determine what changes, if necessary, should be made. This process includes assessing your sites context, and overall cosmetics. Once you've determined common issues (e.g., lack of site traffic on a specific page), you can proceed.
Remember that search engines look at domain names, title tags, and header tags to assist them in ranking the website according to relevance. Thus, it is important to maintain consistency in text with the subject of your site.
So for example if you are a abstract artist, I would suggest that you write all your copy and titles with the word, or words abstract artist within them somewhere. It will also help to put in a location. For my site, I put in Oklahoma as that is where I live, but I also tagged United States to broaden my aspect and my potential audience over time.
Find and review your closest competition's website(s). By studying and knowing your competition in the industry, you will gain a better understanding of what exactly needs to be accomplished. I would suggest 5 to 7 sites that offer close to the same service, or products you are wanting to offer. It truly boils down to be a savvy business person vs. an unknowable artist wishing they were getting the same results that their competitors are getting.
Now of course with that said, you don't want to copy your competitor's website outright, but knowing their strategies will help you identify weak points in your own plan.
Another important aspect is to identify keywords related to your site's content. These can be popular search terms that lead people to your site, words related to your overall topic, and the topic of a specific page, or blog post. If you're not sure which keywords are popular search terms, there are services online that can help you evaluate keywords, many of them with free trials.
Search Engine Optimization (SEO) is impossible on most free websites and social media. To make matters worse, Google knows whether your website is created using a free platform, and may perceive your website accordingly: as less professional, less serious, and less important. Don't let that happen. Invest in your brand.
4. Control How You Make Money From Your Website.
If you have your own website, earning opportunities are controlled entirely by you. You can sell artwork, products, or services directly from the site; add advertising; seek sponsors; recommend affiliate products; embed print-on-demand items; or simply concentrate on building your brand, popularity, and fame.
Social platforms and free website builders often place inappropriate advertising alongside your work, or have strict policies governing the way you operate business upon their platform. It is very common for free platforms to plaster their own branding all over your website, attempting to direct your visitors back to them.
Yikes! You don't want that.
5. You Need the Ability to Build an Email List.
Vital, but a very slow process unfortunately.
A few years ago, Facebook changed their newsfeed algorithm so that each ‘status update’ made from a Facebook business page was shown only to a small percentage of their followers. To have your posts shown to more fans, you have to now pay money to promote, or ‘boost’ these – even to those who have chosen to follow your page. Not cool if you ask me.
Social media platforms are businesses that prioritize their own interests. If you have the option for your audience to safely share their email address with you, you don’t need to be at the mercy of third parties: you can contact your followers whenever you like.
However it's important to not be over zealous with this approach. Only send out email when you truly have an important update, or a monthly newsletter to keep your audience updated.
6. You Need to be Able to Easily Move Your Website Files From One Location to Another.
If you start your business on a free platform and then later come to the realization that you should create your own website as you most likely will eventually you'll have to relocate all of your materials and this can be frustrating and very time consuming process.
Whatever method you choose to create an online presence, it needs to be portable. Moving, downloading, or backing up material from your own website is simple – you have access to every single one of your files and can export these with a few clicks.
As always my friends, be savvy! Be creative. Chase your dreams with relentless vigor.