Friday, June 3, 2016

Does an Artist Need a Website?

I had a conversation with a friend the other day, about whether a professional artist really needs a website.

Kira asked: "Rita, may I ask you a side question? Does a professional artist need a website? How can I argue that I really need one? My husband is software engineer, so I can use his help, but he is not sure that a website is more useful than a couple of social networks."

I replied:

Kira, that's an excellent question! I suppose one's attitude might depend on one's budget. But in my opinion, an artist can't afford NOT to have some online presence where they can showcase their work. That doesn't necessarily mean you have to pay for a professional site. There are many free or low-cost options including blogs, etc.

(Tip: Google "free or low cost websites for artists")

Another important point is that if, as an artist, your goal is to sell your work and make a living as an artist, then you will do better to take advantage of ALL avenues of exposure that are available to the limit of your budget and time. After all, as marketing genius Eric Rhodes (of Fine Art Connoisseur and Plein Air Magazine) says: "No one will know who you are unless you tell them!"

In this day and age, if an artist doesn't have a place online where prospective clients can go to see their work, they're missing out on a huge chunk of possibility, because really, where else is someone going to see your work without traveling to a gallery, a show, or your studio? ...The internet is the queen of convenience!

Another thought... professional sites such as FASO.com may seem expensive to someone who's never paid much for a website, but a site like this pays for itself in the life of a professional artist by saving time, ease of use, and a professional image which many collectors respond to.

As for a couple of social networks being more useful... Personally, I think blanketing the social media sites on a consistent schedule (daily! or almost daily) is a LOT more valuable that just having a website alone. But I also think having a place where people can go to see all of your work easily in one place is a valuable tool. I think that could be done with a blog too... I've seen blogs that have various 'pages', but I've never looked into that with mine (from Google Blogger) since I also have a website. I think most blogs are free? I know Google Blogger is free and very easy. 

I think a website is like a business card. It's something to give people (a link to) where they can see your work and contact you, but also read about your accomplishments, see what you're up to (like the sites that have integrated blogs), and even sign up to receive emails (newsletters, or website updates) from you.

You should be the judge of where you are in your career and whether it would be justifiable to add the effort/expense of a website. You may want to start a blog at least. Lots of people like to browse through blogs, and that can also be a way to interact with your public with demos, and casual conversations about art and how you do what you do. Prospective clients love being able to get into the mind of an artist, through writings that you can make about your work.

I like to use my Daily Painting blog as a 'jumping-off' point for all my social media posts, and frequently include a link back to my blog so people can see progress shots of the work I'm posting that day. And then, on my blog I have links for my books, workshops, and other sites.

There's no such thing as too much free advertising, and IMO, every avenue of social media / online posting/sharing/blogging that there is, is one that you should to try to fit into your schedule.

As an added reference, you might want to read another of my posts, which includes a run-down of most of my marketing habits...

Good luck!
:)

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