As a professional artist myself, I’m all about embracing what makes our work unique in our marketing and branding practices. Utilizing your creative DNA in this way isn’t just smart, it’s essential. The more customized you can make all aspects of your customer’s interaction with you, the more he or she will feel connected to your artist brand. We know the look and feel of our favorite brands or companies before we even see their newest products based on how they have cultivated their presence. Tone of voice, language, color, font and style all share the details of what we can expect. As artists, we inherently understand this about our creative work. And many of us work hard to cultivate this creative voice.
Yet unfortunately, taking this highly customized approach to managing online presence is something artists can often neglect. Sure, I know lots of you spend time cultivating your Facebook, Twitter, Instagram and Snapchat as if it was a MOMA exhibition. We agonize over hashtags and make sure to like and chime in on every comment. But how many of you spend that kind of time on your website? Better yet, do you even have one?
Why in the name of Instagram do we even need websites anymore anyway? Aren’t they irrelevant? You can sell work through Facebook and Instagram, share live feeds through Facebook Live, meet new fans through Soundcloud, and use those fun bunny filters in Snapchat. So what do I still need a website for anyway?
One thing you still can’t do on the Instaface? Brand everything directly to yourself. At the end of the day, Facebook still feels and looks like Facebook, even with all the apps, features, filters, and functions you could ever have. It’s not built with you in mind. Not only are websites relevant, they can enhance and boost your social media following if they are well maintained. But left to rot in the netherworlds of the interwebz….Well, we’ve all seen those artists who haven’t updated their sites since Geocities was still a thing. Don’t know what Geocities is? You probably still need a website.
Not convinced? Here’s a list of 4 reasons you need a website (or a website upgrade for you Geocities folks) right now. #LetsDoThis
- You need a home for your work. Think of your website as your online address. Just like your real home has furniture that you love and walls painted in colors that make you feel good, so, too, should your website look and feel like you and your work. Fonts, colors, photos and logos can say a LOT about you before your customer ever makes it to your “About Me” page. Everything should look and feel like your work, and the more it does, the more your customer will connect with you. You know what I’m talking about – there are those places you like to browse or shop just because it feels good to be in their space. You like the environment. Give your customers the same feeling when they come to visit you.
- Facebook isn’t made for you – or your customers. As great as social media platforms are for interacting with an audience and sharing content, they offer a cookie cutter platform that isn’t tailor made to the needs of you or your audience. Social media platforms also don’t play well with others. Content shared from one platform to another doesn’t have the same traction as if it’s organically shared within the platform. Functionality is constantly changing. Your own website allows you to host the features and content that are specific to you are your work, without other distractions competing for your customer’s attention.
- It makes you look like a professional. Having a website makes you seem like someone who has their …ahem…STUFF together. Having everything laid out in a format that’s easy to navigate for your customer makes you seem like you have thought through their buying/experience process before. The easier it is for a customer to find the information about you that they’re looking for, the more trusted you become in their eyes. If information is hard to find because it’s between several different platforms, it’s gonna look like you don’t know what you’re doing. And buyers aren’t the only ones looking. Are you applying for residencies, grants, awards, exhibitions, shows or any other kind of work? It’s guaranteed that folks who book and work with artists are also looking to see what you look like online to know whether or not they should risk working with you.
- People want to know how to contact you. This is my biggest pet peeve with professional artists. Have you ever found someone’s work that you just loved only to never be able to find them anywhere else ever again? No cards, no phone number, no email address…nothing. You hope maybe one day you can find them at a festival around town, but that’s a longshot. Don’t be that person. Have a home for your work online and a place where people can find out how to contact you. Another word of advice? Contact forms are great, but have a REAL email address or phone number available, too, just in case. Sometimes “Contact Me” forms aren’t the easiest way for folks to send you information. And you want people to be able to get in touch if they want to know more about you and your work. You can always get a separate business email or Google Voice number to keep your personal contact info separate.
- New and different is attractive. Updating your site regularly with new information, new work, and new content helps to keep folks coming back again and again. Train your audience to use your site as a platform for finding out new information by driving traffic from your other social media accounts and email marketing. Updating your website regularly also helps to show folks that your constantly working as an artist, which inspires trust and confidence in the value of your work. Remember that Geocities artist with the website from 1998? Who knows if that person is even still working anymore? Make keeping your site up to date a part of regular part of your creative work.
Need a helpful hand to help you take the first step? Never fear, C4 Atlanta is here! A new Website Bootcamp class is starting on Tuesday, April 17, 2018. Over four weeks, you’ll learn how to build an attractive, easy to use site for yourself that you can easily update and maintain on your own. We’ll also cover some basic user design info, Search Engine Optimization (SEO), and a little content marketing to help you drive traffic to your site. If all of this still sounds scary, we promise that there is a lot of hands-on work and facilitator feedback in this course to build your confidence.
Join us for Website Bootcamp!
Date/Time: Tuesdays, April 17 – May 8, 2018 – 10:30am -1:30pm
Location: Fuse Arts Center
Cost: $125 for non-members, $100 for members Register Online Here
For more information or to register, visit: Website Bootcamp Course Page.