Facebook is too distracting to be a serious platform for self-promotion, although it is integral in the overall plan. LinkedIn caters to too narrow an audience, and in each of these cases it can be difficult to access the page of the person you are looking for.
Websites allow for a personalized URL, an address that can be printed on a business card, linked to via emails and social websites, and allow you to provide a custom experience for your visitors.
There are free website options available, such as Wix.com. There used to be a ton of free website companies such as GeoCities, Angelfire and Tripod. They are still somewhat in business – Tripod is big in Asia but not available in the USA anymore. I am not saying that Wix will go the way of the pioneers in do-it-yourself websites, but that is always in the back of my mind. I had sites on GeoCities and Tripod – all of them history.
I created a website using Wix to learn about the ease of use and quirks. I needed a way to showcase my publishing and editing business – something to hold me over until such time as I can afford to purchase a domain name and webhosting for INFERNO Publishing. Creating the site took less than an hour, but the interface is quite clunky, and not all too intuitive.
That said, an internet savvy person can create a website with little trouble. The drawbacks however, are severe enough that I could not recommend this as a platform for a professional artist. First of all, the site has ads – discreet and innocuous for now, but they are ads nonetheless. You are selling yourself as an artist, marketing your work – you don’t need competition from your website.
The other problem, and this is huge – you do not get a domain name. The Wix domain is a convoluted and not memorable mash-up of username and numbers such as: webma9269.wix.com/infernopublishing. Try telling someone that is your web address, and they will give you a blank look, and more than likely never check it out.
If you own a domain name, you can connect it to the Wix site for around $60 a year, and you still have their ads plastered on your website. For $100 a year, they take away the ads. Also, your site cannot be backed up and moved to another server if you run into service or up-time problems in the future. Small changes are frustrating and labor intensive. If you do not plan to update your site frequently (a mistake) then this might make a viable solution for the amateur artist. However, it will not serve for a person that wants to be taken seriously by galleries and clients.
There are a plethora of artist directories and community websites – and again, like social media, these are a part of the overall plan of marketing. However, they still do not replace a personal website. The first problem is – you have other artists competing for your customer. Directories should serve to bring potential clients to your site – and your site needs to be clean and inviting.
That is where I come in. As a professional artist, I understand the market and the needs of artists. As a web designer, I can offer you a complete basic website for $300. This package deal includes registering your domain name for one year (domain names have to be renewed annually) and webhosting for three years, plus a five page website that includes a one page gallery of your work and an online contact form that keeps your email private. I also will create a custom graphic header, all included in the price.
Updates are easy too – just email me the changes and they are done promptly. Expansion? Also easy – my rates after the initial setup are $40 per hour – and after a website is designed, adding pages is as easy as using the unique template created for your website.
What’s more, the site is easily backed up onto a CD ROM or flash drive, so there is no fear of it being lost if a webhost for one reason or another goes under.
If a blog is up your alley, you just saved a few bucks. For $250, I will register your domain name, set you up with three years of hosting, and install a WordPress blog. I will customize the header and website so that you will be ready to start blogging without the headaches of a free blog site, and a lot more creative leeway in the design.
If you are in the market for a website – you will not find a web designer that is less expensive. You will not find a free service that can provide the level of support that I will.