Yes, You Need a Website
Having a web site that at a minimum includes pictures (with details) of your work along with your artist statement and your CV is almost a necessity in this digital age. Your web site will allow curators and others who are interested in your work the ability to see more of what you do. If you are somewhat technically savvy, you may be able to sell your work directly from your web site. You might want to consider also having a sales-specific site from a sales-oriented venue such as Etsy, which allows you to set up your own “store” on the web and sell either completed work or solicit commissions for work.
Your website should be professional, yet still reflect your aesthetic. It should be easy to find with a simple address that makes sense to your work. Usually this means your name, but if you have a common name, it might mean you will have to get creative. Just remember that the type of work you are doing right now might not be the type of work you are doing in five years, so don’t make your domain name too work-specific.
You have basically three choices when it comes to web sites: site hosts, free blogs/Facebook page or templated hosters.
Site Hosts (if you are creating your own web site)
If you are confident programming the site yourself (through Dreamweaver/another site authoring tool or programming in Flash or CSS), or have a good friend with these skills who is willing to do this work for you, you can contract with a site host to host your site. You are then responsible for creating and updating the site yourself. These sites typically have a one-year renewal period and will be the lowest-cost site, typically running you between $50 and $100 a year, depending on the services the host offers. If you go this route (particularly if someone else sets up the site for you), make sure you can keep your site up to date yourself, and do that regularly. There are literally hundreds of site hosts—typing “website host” into your favorite search engine will net you more than you can possibly compare. Take your time, ask friends who create websites for advice, and make sure you understand what you are paying for. Most will help you register your domain (ie. http://www.yourname.com) as part of the package—if you already have your own domain they should help you point it to their site.
Free Blogs/Facebook Pages
If money is an issue, you can go with one of the free blog programs or a Facebook page. If you already blog or use Facebook, you already know how to do this. The downside is you won’t have the same resources for showcasing your portfolio (although if you’re going the blog route and are clever you can probably create something that works almost as well), and you won’t have a dedicated domain (www.yourname.com), which means it may be harder for curators to find your work. Some may also place advertising on your site (the cost of “free”). Most programs will walk your through how to create your page. Both of these alternatives work best if you update them regularly, so make a commitment to yourself to do that at least semi-monthly. You can also use some blog programs to create/update your site, but you will have to still contract with a host to host the site online.
- Facebook Pages
- TypePad (no longer free)
- WordPress.org (free program but requires a host)
- Moveable Type (free program but requires a host)
Finally, you can go with a service that offers web templates and hosting. Many of these services are designed specifically for artists, and include easy-to-use tools to get your portfolio up on the web fast and easy. They usually cost more than straight hosting, but you will spend less time creating and updating your website. Most allow you to have your own domain name (www.yourname.com). They will also frequently let you pay month-to-month, lessening the concern of cash flow. The main downside is that your site can look like so many others—but the ease of use is often worth it.