In case you haven’t seen it yet, I finally managed to build a brand new website. I built my first one about 4 years ago and kept it for two years. In 2010, I found a new website host with interesting templates and did another refresh. Because of all the behind-the-scenes in 2012, I knew it was time to tackle my website again for 2013. I had contacted some people I know who do websites and received quotes. However, since I had paid out of my pocket for the videos attached to my book’s QR codes, I didn’t feel like I could spend the money on it right now.
I had planned to get my new website up before my book came out early January, but with the CHA and Tucson shows, the time to do this kept getting shoved further and further down my to do list. My next self-imposed deadline was before my Breaking Out of the Mold DVD was released. I had no idea mine would come in February since there are six artists this year with DVDs from Cloth, Paper, Scissors. Yikes! I missed that deadline again.
I was starting to feel some real pressure because I knew the Designer Showcase feature for Belle Armoire Jewelry was coming out for the March 2013 issue. Since I’ve built websites before, I know that starting from scratch with a good template takes me about 2-3 days to do from start to finish. The only way to get it done was to burn the midnight oil. I snuck into my studio 3 nights in a row after my family went to sleep and worked from about 10 p.m. to 2 a.m. creating it. I still had to get up by 6:30 and get the kids ready for school and drive them, so it really did mean giving up sleep to get it done. There are still some small design changes I want to do to it, but it’s 99% complete and I’m happy to have a brand new online facelift. It was very important to me this time around to include a Flash intro because a big part of any redesign is staying current.
The reason I’m writing such a long post on this topic and giving you the background is because I get questions about marketing when I’m out and about at the art retreats and shows. Often, people say they feel dejected because they don’t have the skills or money to get their businesses up and rolling they way they want to or feel they should. Making art is one thing. Everything else that goes into getting your art seen is another. I sincerely believe time and money are as much about an individual’s priorities as they are time and money. It’s not fun eating noodles and scraping together every penny to follow one’s dream, but realizing dreams takes focus. I was pretty darn tired after the third night of staying up late to get my website done, but I really felt like I had no other choice but to follow through. I didn’t want to pay for the quotes I was given — which were exactly in line with the skills and time it takes for anyone good to build a website — and I couldn’t keep letting it slip through the cracks and missing deadlines. My old website was musty and outdated. I couldn’t back off on my other work duties, so I just had to suck it up and get ‘er done.
If you are contemplating building your website, keep in mind a few guidelines that have helped me along the way:
Keep it simple. Tell people exactly what you want them to know. If you make art, say so and please don’t feel like you have to follow any highbrow kind of language if it’s not your thing. If you enjoy writing in flowery language or an esoteric style, then by all means have at it, particularly if your collectors respond in kind. I tend to keep things pretty straight forward, but I think that comes from my type of writing background.
Put pictures of your best work out there. Your website is an advertisement for you. There are approximately 7 billion people on the planet today and lots of them are creatives and creative people tend to think along the same lines. If you are worried about people copying your work because it’s on the internet, realize there are really only two options in today’s technologically-driven world: exposure or anonymity. Please do consider watermarking your images so people are aware that you are aware of U.S. copyright laws.
Present yourself as professionally as you can. If your collage niece or nephew offers to do your website for you because you’re feeling overwhelmed by it, ensure that he or she really has the design and writing skills it takes to put your best face forward. If not, hire someone to do it for you or barter if you can. It is a tax write off for your business. A good website should help bring people and opportunities to you, which should pay for itself in the long run.
Remember that it’s OK if you don’t have all the answers. Your first attempts at websites and blogs aren’t always graceful. They’re learning experiences about your business. Each time I’ve done a refresh I’ve honed my skills and learned something. I’m sure that will never change because life changes, technology changes, social media changes and so do we! My website is still far from perfect, and that’s really OK with me. It’s the very best I can do at this time. I teach my children to always do their best, so that’s my motto.
I hope you find bits and pieces of this advice helpful. If you get a chance, please take a look at my new website.
Here’s wishing you a truly Artful day!