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Painters, sculptors, musicians, dancers, crafters, photographers, designers, illustrators…the internet is a mass of opportunities for artists and creative folk to sell artwork and creativity online.
There are so many great sites where you can upload your art and sell it, either direct online or as part of a print-on-demand service, where a copy of your original artwork is printed as a high quality Giclée at the size and format requested by the purchaser.
Sites like Redbubble, Zazzle, Etsy, & iStock all allow you to spread the word about your work. Your creativity can be winging its way to a buyer on the other side of the world. Networking sites like Flickr, & Twitter & Facebook allow you to connect and build contacts, discussing, sharing and collaborating with like minded people everywhere.
So why on earth would you bother setting up your own website when all these great free services are available?…
When I speak to artists setting up creative businesses on the web, I always recommend that you set up a central hub website which sits at the very centre of everything you do online and is linked to all the other free sites you use.
Your hub website is your portfolio and the central connecting point around which all your other free website presences rotate. It is the sun whilst your other free web presences are the planets in orbit around it. It is your home at the centre of your little online solar system and the focus of all your efforts. It pulls all the other elements of your online world together rather than letting them spin off into space.
There are lots of very good reasons for setting up your own hub artists website. Here are just 10 of them:
Owning your own hub website looks more professional. You can control every aspect of it and ensure that it looks exactly how you want it to look. You aren’t reliant on someone else’s template designs or constrained by their rules. Great when you are a control freak like me.
Build your own brand
You can use the design of your site to build a personal brand around yourself and your work, which makes you more recognisable online and makes your work more likely to sell.
Customise your domain
You can register and use your own domain name [i.e. www.yourname.com] and have a custom email address related to that too. No more hotmail addresses or hard to remember emails.
Stand out in the crowd
Your hub website only features a gallery of YOUR work so you won’t get lost amongst zillions of other artists, a big problem on large showcase or shop sites. Having your own site can help you stand out in the crowd.
Having your own hub website gives you a FOCUS for all your marketing and search engine optimisation efforts. You can drive traffic to your own website more successfully than to a collection of satellite sites. This central site then links to all the other sites you use but you only have to focus your promotion efforts on your hub website. Your promotion efforts, focussed on this one site, will build up over time to great results.
Build your list of people who love your work
You can build your own mailing list of people who are all interested in your work and ready to buy it when you release a new piece. This is a great way to steadily build interest in what you do. This list is yours to keep and build.
If you decide to stop selling or showing your work on a satellite website you can easily do so and you won’t lose your client list or the advantage of all the promotion you have done. It will all still point to your hub website. You are free to change shops or galleries as often as you like with no problems.
You can concentrate on promoting the site offline. If you get promotional items printed up advertising your site and work, you need to make sure the web address you are printing is going to stay the same over time. With your own website and custom domain name you can keep on promoting your work in the real world, at exhibitions and art fairs. This way you can capture sales after the event has finished too.
You don’t pay commission. Anything you sell through your own site is commission free. [Although you will have to pay a small fee to the company who handles your payments i.e. Paypal].
You can keep adding satellite websites to your little solar system and increasing the traffic to your hub website to increase your chance of sales. You aren’t tied to any one satellite site.
Setting up your own website may take a little more time and organisation but if you are serious about selling artwork online or setting up a creative business it is a crucial step that will pay dividends in the long run.