If you’re an artist or craftsperson you probably know from experience that one of the most challenging parts of your job is marketing your work. If you have tried various forms of advertising and marketing then you already know that it is expensive, and consuming of both your time and energy. Unfortunately, investing in a website is often a path that few artists venture down.
You don’t need a big e-commerce website where people can buy your works, although you can setup an online store to sell your works if you want. All that you really need is a website that displays your work and portfolio with pictures, provides people with an easy way to reach you, and has information about upcoming shows, exhibitions, or locations and galleries that showcase your work. Of course the more content you have the better, such as a newsletter, but at the very least you should have an online presence.
Why is Having a Website so Important for the Success of My Business as an Artist?
Recently I went to a local art fair in Ottawa, Ontario and I had found a booth where a young couple were selling custom made jewellery. While they did offer traditional styles of necklaces, bracelets, and rings it was their unique hand-made amber jewellery pieces. I decided to invest in one of these stunning pieces to give as a present for an upcoming birthday, and I was more than happy to take a few of their business cards to pass around to my clients and keep as a reference.
A few days later I decided to lookup this company to show a colleague. To my surprise there was only a phone number and no website or email address.
I wanted to find out more about the company and I had several questions running through my mind. Do they make custom jewellery customized to my liking? How long does it take to make their jewellery? How did they get started and what is their company history? Do they sell other products?
Unfortunately, all I had was the phone number and I hate talking on the phone for the most part. Of course I could have called and found out the information I wanted but it would have been much easier to simply search for another similar company online. It is very frustrating when you find an artisan who makes a product that really peaks your interest and there is no website for you to visit and order products from or find out more information.
If you do not already have a website you should really consider investing in one because if you don’t have a website it is going to annoy some of your customers and there is a really good chance that your competitors already have a website up and running. A website is an easy and effortless way for your customers to find out more information about you and your products or services. If you don’t have a website you are not providing your customers with an easy way to find out more about you or your works. Not everyone is willing to call you or even email you to find out information or answers to their questions. Nowadays people generally expect companies to have a website and you are missing out on new and repeat business every day that goes by without a website to showcase your work.
Artists and other creative professionals are no exception.
Getting a Website for My Business as an Artist
Getting a website isn’t as hard or expensive as you might think. There are several website design firms that can build you a website with a portfolio, profile, contact form, and a few other pages for around $300. Add to that a domain name and a hosting account to store your website files on the internet and you are officially online.
When considering the price of a website, most people do not compare the cost with other forms of advertising and business expenses. As the owner a website design firm I stress to my clients that a website is probably the most cost-effective business tool on the market today.
Most artists and creative professionals have their work showcased in a gallery that takes a significant portion of your sale price. When you pass out business cards or direct clients where to find your work you are actually advertising for the gallery and not for your work alone. Now, imagine that you open a website to showcase your work. You will put in the same effort to market your work however you keep 100% of your sale price and your work is showcased 24 hours a day 7 days a week. That sounds like a huge advantage compared to being limited to a gallery’s operating hours and receiving less than your full sale price in your pocket.
I do see the advantages that come with showcasing your work in a gallery, especially for artists who are just starting out, however owning your own website allows you to capitalize on both while increasing the traffic your website. Additionally, a website is like a gallery with an unlimited square footage for your work. You are not limited in the number of pieces you showcase, nor are you limited in the information that you provide on each piece.
Adding that one line to your business cards provides your customers with a place to find out more about your products or services, a place to revisit at anytime and anyplace to order more products or services, and a reference point that they can now pass on to friends, family, and colleagues.
By now you probably have a better understanding of just how powerful a website can be for artists and creative professionals.
Should I Hire a Website Design Company or Do it Myself?
If you are concerned about the cost of hiring a website designer than you might consider the “Do It Yourself” approach to designing your website. Before you begin creating your own website, consider a few things before you get in over your head. There are several good books and online tutorials that will help you put a website together although it may be quite challenging and will require a significant time investment in order to build a proper website. Not only will you have to learn HTML and CSS but you will also have to learn the difference between good and bad website design. Ask yourself how much time this will probably take you and how good the quality will be of the completed design. You should also consider the cost of the software required to build your website. Then of course you have to consider particular issues that you will face such as browser compatibilities (how your site looks in different browsers like Firefox as opposed to Internet Explorer), screen resolutions, strange formatting quirks, load times, search engine ranking, and more. After thinking about these types of issues and the amount of energy, time, and money required to embark on such a mission you probably see the advantages of hiring a website design company.
Hiring a website designer is a very easy process and can be very affordable; however finding a good website designer at an affordable rate is slightly more difficult. You will probably come across several website design firms that offer incredible service and prices that are too good to be true. At this point you should not rush into any kind of website design agreement without doing some research and company comparison. Of course the cost of a website increases with the level of complexity and the features you would like to have on your website, however there are several qualified and professional companies out there that will design you the website of your dreams at a very affordable price. Before jumping into anything you should be asking as many questions about the company, their website design process, their pricing structure, future maintenance, and the end product (what you are paying for). It is important to research website design, what should be included in websites for your industry, average costs of getting and maintaining a website, and anything else you can find. The more you involve yourself in the process the better your chances for creating a successful online presence for your work.
The main advantage of hiring a website design company is that you will have a professional, feature-rich, and well-designed website without the headaches.
This article barely touches the surface of website design, finding someone to design your website, or all of the advantages of getting a website. It does however point out a very serious issue among the artist and creative professional communities. There is no shortage of artists and artisans, yet there is a significant shortage of artists and artisans with an online presence.