building a website for your art

With platforms like Etsy, Bluethumb and Instagram, you might be wondering if you really need a website of your own?

Or, how much extra value does a website add? And is it worth the time and cost to set up and maintain?

While you can certainly get by without a website, if you want to establish a more profitable art business then a website is a must.

And with intuitive website builders like WIX and Shopify, it’s relatively easy (and cheap), to create a beautifully designed, professional looking website.

But before you jump in, what should you consider?

Purpose – ecommerce or showcase site?

What’s the main purpose of the website? Do you want to showcase your portfolio or do you need to sell?

This is probably the most important decision you need to make at the outset.

There are so many different platforms – WordPress, WIX, Shopify, Squarespace, Weebly etc. Each has pros and cons when it comes to usage and costs, so don’t get stuck paying for features you don’t need.

For example, WIX may be easier to use for a beginner and offer more beautiful design templates, whereas Shopify’s templates are geared toward helping you sell and the platform offers the best overall sales features.

To sum up, know your purpose and objective, then choose a website builder that ticks your boxes.

Shipping and inventory

Before diving into selling your art directly, there are business operational considerations like managing shipping, packing and your inventory.

It might seem doable initially, but if things do well, you’ll need to consider your capacity (and interest) in managing this side of things.

If the thought of this is a little too much, maybe selling through third party sites like Art Lovers or Etsy or Saachi Art is more suitable. You’ll pay commissions on all sales but it will remove the hassle of shipping etc so you can solely focus on your art.

You can still build a website, but it would be more for showcasing your work, providing information for commissions and helping to generate awareness.

Costs and time to manage

There will be an ongoing monthly cost associated with owning your own site.

These costs will vary depending on the type of site you build (ecommerce or not), if you need domain hosting, etc. So, it comes back to your purpose, if you’re not sure about selling through your own site yet, don’t pay for those features. Upgrade later.

What about your time?

Your most precious resource.

Take a moment to think about the time required to maintain a website of your own. You’ll need to allocate time to keeping work up to date on the site, changing pricing and availability, troubleshoot issues etc.

If you decide to start a blog this will require ongoing effort. Don’t start a blog if you know you won’t have time to add an article from time to time. There’s nothing worse than a blog with one article or a few articles written years ago.

Plugin to Instagram shopping

If you’re investing time in growing your Instagram following then implementing Instagram shopping and uploading a catalogue of your artwork to your Instagram page will only benefit you.

How so you say?

After seeing a product or service on Instagram, 79% of people searched for more information, 37% visited the retail store and 46% made a purchase, according to research from Instagram themselves.

Those are some pretty compelling stats.

Having shopping features enabled means you can add shopping tags to highlight products (artwork) in your photos and videos and across feed and stories.

What does this mean for artists?

People can click on an artwork and be taken directly to your catalogue where they can view price and further information.

Instagram Shop Saving a Product

For an easy integration between your website and Instagram, choose one of the main ecommerce platforms (WIX, Magento, Shopfiy, WooCommerce etc). Build a website with one of these platforms, and you can connect your catalogue easily to Instagram and Facebook.

DIY or outsource

Do you want to build a website yourself or would you rather pay someone to do it for you?

With intuitive DIY solutions like WIX and Shopify, it’s not technically difficult to do it yourself. Even for someone with little design or digital experience.

It’s more a question of time and motivation.

Time to research the options of website builders, time to figure out what you need for your art business, time to learn the platform, time to create the site, add all the content and information and so on.

This all may seem like a lot to think about, but it’s worth doing a little planning before you commit to a solution that either you don’t need or you can’t maintain. If in doubt, you might want to start small with a free website builder, test the waters and see how things go.

Related information:

Top 5 tips for artists to succeed on Instagram.
What kind of art sells most? And why you should take note.