I know a lot of people don’t think art and business go together but I’m (obviously) not one of them. I take my art career pretty seriously and am continually working to grow and expand what I do. And I think being a successful business person is an art in and of itself.
I posted to my Facebook page that if I had to offer an opinion on the one thing I’m happy I spent money on in my art business, it’s this website. I thought I’d expand on that a little bit as to why this is one topic I feel really strongly about.
Let me preface this by saying that I know not everyone can afford to hire someone to build a site for them. I get that. I was there for a long time myself. If you’re in that position and need to do it yourself, there might still be some ideas in there to help you style your own.
So here’s my two cents for what it’s worth. 🙂
1. Tidy. My old site (which I did myself) was ok. Just ok. Got the job done but well, never thrilled me. Plus I had my blog on a different site so I was scattered. Always felt like how I do when my studio is a mess, everything is there but it’s not easy to get around. I wanted to consolidate and get that nice warm fuzzy feeling when that matches the thrill I get when I can finally see the floor that used to be covered in a heap of fabric.
2. I know what I don’t know. There are a lot of good template sites out there for basic sites. When I decided to hire Holly Knott (the web guru who built this site for me), I was working on my book. The list of things I wished my website could do for me grew ridiculously long and there was one thing I was certain of: I had no idea how to code a site for all that. And what’s more, I didn’t have the time. I needed help and that’s not an easy thing to hand over control for something that big. But I did. And I’m happy for it.
3. Only one chance for a first impression. Since I want to continue to build my business, I knew I needed a professional looking site. I wanted it to be clean and cool but not cold. Not an easy balance to achieve. The truth is, your website is your virtual handshake to people who are finding you for the first time. I wanted to offer a strong howdy-do.
4. More visitors. Do I get more traffic to my new site? Yes. And the reason is a little harsh but here it is: I like it better so I am happy to send people here. My old site always kind of came with an apology – “Here’s my website but it needs work.” The words always popped out before I could stop them. See? Bad impression. No one is jumping up and down to visit a site that even the owner doesn’t like. Now I wave my cards around like a kid hopped up on sugar. So I get more visitors.
5. Easy to update. Holly took all the work out of figuring out the hard stuff. I got a site that allows me to update it myself and I made the conscious effort to not add so much to the site that it would become a beast to keep up with. Which means it’s still dependent on me parking my behind in front of the laptop to do it but it’s so much simpler now. I’ve got Holly if I get stuck, no worries about having to figure every single thing out for myself. Less stress equals more creativity which equals a much happier artist.
None of this is meant to make you feel inadequate if you’re in the position of not being able to hire someone to do your site. Far from it. It’s just some stuff to keep in your back pocket if you’re moving forward with your art career and this has been on your mind.
How do you choose a designer? That was the hard part. I did a lot of research and narrowed it down to three people. In the end I chose Holly because she had everything that I wanted. And I loved her portfolio, she has a consistent style but everyone’s was unique which means she listens to what you want. (She did, it was awesome to work with her.) Make sure the designer has a portfolio so you can see his/her work and ask for references from people that have worked with him/her.
And for the record? Hiring a web designer does not mean you get to just hand over some cash and she does all the work. It’s a collaboration. You have to participate in the whole process so that you get what you want. Makes it easier on both sides if you go into it with that understanding.
That’s what I know! Hopefully it gives you some food for thought and if you ever have questions, I’m always happy to help where I can. 🙂