Artists: don't fear the internet. Creating a personal website can do wonders for your online profile – and it's now easier than ever to create a professional looking site. Thalia Thompson shows you how...
It’s perfectly possible to create a website yourself. You can use an off the shelf kit, such as Mr Site which costs around £20 and covers web design and hosting. Or you can use free software such as Wordpress to design your site and pay a few pounds a month for web hosting. Other free options include Weebly and Moonfruit.
Illustrator Nick White and built his own website from scratch and describes the experience as a “labour of love”. The end result is impressive but it did take almost three months of tinkering before he was happy with it.
Get the professionals in
If you haven’t got the time or inclination to do it yourself, you could get a professional to help. Asking friends or local businesses with well-designed websites for recommendations is a good way to find someone. You should be able to get a bespoke three or four page website for around £250 and reliable hosting from around £20 a year.
Writer Monica Shaw is co-founder of Writer’s Residence, a company that creates websites specifically for writers. She advises that whatever approach you take, you should invest in a professional domain name “Your writing is a business and you should treat it like one – you don't see any legitimate online shops with a generic website address. Stick with .com and .net suffixes and choose a name that’s descriptive (your name is a good start).”
Keep it simple
Don’t make visitors to your site click through endless pages to find out how to contact you with a commission. Aim for clean design and clear navigation. Check that you’re using a “web safe” font (ie a font that will display in the same way on every computer) and don’t use too many different colours.
A cluttered site can be slow to load – remember broadband speeds vary and some people will access your site from a mobile phone or tablet. Web-design specialist Dale Baxter advises, “In this day and age people don't like waiting for anything – and that includes websites to load. Try not to fill all your pages with lots and lots of images, and make sure the ones that you do use are of a reasonable size and resolution (72dpi is about right for the web).”
Make it personal
There’s no need to be bland though. As a showcase of your work, your website should reflect your style. Nick White’s site is playful, with lots to engage the visitor. He describes it as “quite busy, but that’s in keeping with my artwork… I wanted people to be able to keep coming back and finding something new.”
Keep in touch
If you’re hoping your website will lead to commissions, you need to be contactable. Your website should have its own email address and using this looks more professional than a hotmail address. You can also add a contact form to make it easier for people to get in touch.
Some people give a mobile number too – it’s up to you to weigh up the advantages of being directly contactable against risks of unwanted calls.
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Image: Gouda Loves The MacBook Pro. by 37prime, available under a CC BY-NC-SA 2.0 license.