Monday, April 26, 2010
Art Advice 101-Websites
At this point in time, there really is no excuse for any professional artist to not have a website presence. However, you do not need to hire someone to create a site for a lot of money if you already know how to save and upload photos. There are many online software programs that make the creation of a website painless. I use Tripod.com which is $4.95 a month and allows for a ton of photo storage. The software also has a lot of elaborate features but it is still easy to use.
While you will need at least a few photos of you work, you also need to maintain a list of current and upcoming exhibitions and events in which you will be participating. You also must have an email address where people can contact you.
People who visit your site want to know what medium you work in and to get a sense of your style and motivation. If you work in contemporary cast recycled glass sculpture, note that on your site.
You can also go the blog route for your art and get a free one from blogspot.com. However, be aware that each new posting that you do will move the prior posting down the list and eventually archive it to an index (visible on the blog) at the end of the month. So someone may have to search your blog for more than a few seconds to find some of your work. I use both a blog (that is related to my specialty in recycled glass) and a website.
There are also numerous sites where you can obtain a free counter. I have used Bravenet free counters for years and their counters will allow you to see the last ten visitors to your site. You can also upgrade to a paid version that will allow you to see all visitors from the last year. A counter is useful if you are doing a major event and want to know if the word is getting out to the public.
While a counter will only give you the IP address of your visitor, you can paste that IP number into a free IP address lookup like Geobytes.com or http://www.cqcounter.com/whois/whois.com. By doing so, you will obtain the approximate city and state of the visitor.
So, now you have a website and you are done, right? No!!!!! You need to submit your website address to major search engines so it can be added to their index of sites. While you will sometimes see ads offering to submit your website to 400 or more search engines for hundreds of dollars, you really only need to submit it to three to five major search engines. And you can do this yourself for free and it will only take a few minutes!
For Yahoo, see http://www.search.yahoo.com/info/submit.html and for Google, see http://www.google.com/addurl/
The submission form is typically one page and asks for a brief description of your site, key words and one to six meta search tags. Remember that people may not always recall your last name when searching for your artist site, so use both specific and general terms in your site description and search tags. Once you submit this info to three to five major search engines, the smaller search engines will eventually pick up on the content from the larger search engines. However, be patient. It took at least four months for my website to be approved and start appearing in general searches (such as recycled glass Washington DC).
One way to move your website up the search rankings, is to update your content frequently. If you do this and have a counter, you will eventually be blessed by visits to your site from the "googlebot." The googlebot is not a spammer but google crawling and indexing the web and your site. My art blog is updated often and I typically receive at least one visit a day from the googlebot.