To Build or Not to Build
A Quick Word on Websites and Why They Matter in the Social Media Age
“Website? I already have Instagram, Facebook, Pinterest and Snapchat. I can get by without a website.”
You’re right. You can get by without your own website.
But you’re a self-employed artist competing with millions of others just like you. Since when can you settle for just getting by?
The ‘Why’ of it.
Because you’re a professional. Social media pages are important, but anyone can open an account and claim whatever they want. Having a professional website with a purchased domain sets you apart and shows that you’ve invested in your business.
Because you’ll have a semi-captive audience. As a self-employed entrepreneur, your social media pages shouldn’t be the final destination for potential clients, but rather the funnel to bring them to your page. As important as testimonials are, your clients still need to here your core message, free of distracting clickbait and critiques from self-appointed tastemakers. Your social media page is all about the here and now; quick snapshots of works in progress, happy customers, impromptu promotions, cross-promotions with other artists, etc. Your website is where they truly get to know you and who you are. The bio is your story, not your followers’ interpretation of your story. All the images in the portfolio are yours. No shared images, no memes, none of the general distractions. Your work. Your story. Your message.
Because it expands your digital footprint. Prominence in the digital world is all about accessibility. A well-designed website that adheres to the proper SEO protocols will go a long way to expand your presence and increase your reach.
The ‘How’ of it.
There’s a lot that could be said here, but we’re going to keep it limited to the basics for the sake of space.
Hire a damn professional. Everyone thinks they can build their own website, and to a point that’s true. You can always go the Wix route or even get a little fancier with WordPress—or you could even pass it off to your nephew who just built a page for his high school punk band. But think of it like a tattoo. Yes, you can always go to a scratcher, but chances are, you’ll just end up paying a real artist to redo the work.
Maintain a professional portfolio. Two things about this. First, photo resolution and quality. This isn’t where you throw up snapshots you snapped with your phone for Instagram. You want professional lighting, proper angles and solid resolution. Also, please wipe the lens before you shoot. Second, make sure your digital portfolio is navigable. When a potential client clicks on an image of interest, they should be able to then scroll through the rest like any other platform. If it’s set up in a way that it forces them to navigate back to thumbnails every time, they’ll lose interest quickly. Remember, the digital age has shrunk our attention span to the capacity of a Tic Tac. Make sure you cater to that reality.
Write a compelling bio. Once again, you may want to seek help from a professional for this part. But either way, when crafting this section, asking yourself this: Why should we care? In other words, what is the “it” factor that will keep the audience reading, that will help them truly connect with you? Stats are boring. Create a compelling story.
Maintain a sharp design. You wouldn’t go to an orthodontist who has teeth that look like they’re throwing gang signs. Likewise, clients generally don’t seek out artists who haven’t mastered basic design aesthetics. After all, layout and design is a facet of art. Your design should ultimately reflect you, your style and the space in which you work. Make sure it pops. Also, don’t bother with heavy media like Flash or excessive videos. No one’s going to wait for that shit to load. Remember what we said about Tic Tacs? It applies here too.
Make contact easy. Forms are what you fill out at the DMV. They can be useful for booking appointments, but for most people, they’re just a drag. When people are online, they want immediate gratification, or as close to immediate as possible. Facebook now allows you to incorporate your Messenger account directly on your webpage. We suggest you use it. It’s direct, it’s familiar, and it allows you or your staff to respond anywhere, anytime.