Creating a Website, from Concept to Web
An ArtsWORK exclusive by Kendal R. Miller
Frames, Phrases, and Photography by Kendal, LLC
Creating and maintaining a web presence to showcase your artwork
is essential for today’s artist. When unavailable to show your work in person, having
the ability to say, “You can find it on my website” is priceless. Often time clients
like your work, but want to see a larger variety.
Thanks to an Individual Artist Program grant from the
Indiana Arts Commission (IAC), I was able to update my Photography by Kendal website (www.photographybykendal.com) from a site limited in space and inundated
with advertisements. Not only did the
upgrade make my company look more professional, but allowed for 24/7 on-line
ordering of my fine art photography prints. It also contained elements to create
on-line portfolios for clients and to promote my writing services.
Having outgrown a “free” ten-year-old website, it was
embarrassing to respond to inquiries about an on-line presence. Hosted by Tripod.com, I originally selected this site because
of the large amount of photographs that I could display at no charge. Through
the years I used up the allotted space, preventing me from adding new images
and information about my photography and services.
As with most free websites, the requirement for utilizing the
host services is having advertisements displayed on your pages. In my case, not
only did the ads appear on my home page but became larger and more numerous
over the years. To make matters worse, the majority of the ads contained information
on area photographers.
With the convenience of displaying images on the Web, most photographers
started offering prints on-line and presenting customer’s portrait/event sessions
directly from their websites. Unable to offer these same services, I began
losing business. With limited resources to re-do my site, I applied for the IAC
grant with a primary focus on building a new website.
is the fifth of six pieces written by artists affiliated
with ArtsWORK Indiana. We'd like to hear what you think, so go to our Facebook page and tell us! Check out other articles in the "View from the Field" series, published monthly.
If developing or upgrading a website, I recommend deciding what
is and isn’t important to you and your business. Determine the goals of your
site, and the financial investment that you can or want to make. Research and
asking questions are essential to your project.
Some questions to consider are:
- How much can I afford to spend on my site?
Even if you’re not at the stage
where you can purchase website space, obtaining free space is better than
no website at all. Although I
had complimentary web space for nearly ten years, I purchased my domain
name and a forwarding service that directed my domain address over to the
free site. I also purchased a more professional e-mail address rather than
using a free e-mail address such as Yahoo or Gmail. Through Network
Solutions, I spent around $70 a year to keep my “Photography by Kendal” domain
name, a forwarding service, and the email@example.com e-mail
address to match my website. Had I made a longer commitment, I could have
reduced my costs over several years.
- Will I want/need to include lots of copy/photos on my site?
number of images and amount of copy to be displayed will determine how
much website space you’ll need. Purchased space can be month-to-month or
by the year(s). The more that is bought at one time, the less the cost per
month. Copy may include an artist’s statement and bio, upcoming gallery
shows/events, services, and contact information, as examples.
- Do I want to learn how to create the site myself or can I afford
the services of a web designer?
Keep in mind that “creating” includes website
design and copy writing. If unable to design or write, consider the
services of a web designer. Another expense may be having your artwork
photographed for your site. Ask a potential designer if their services include
copy writing and photography, or if you’ll need to hire a writer and
photographer. While space and design elements are limited, free sites
often include easy-to-use website building tools and templates.
- Do I want to learn how to maintain my new website or can I afford
to have my designer do it?
a website includes being able to change the photos and copy yourself. Consider
your time, talents, and willingness to learn versus paying someone to
create, design, and maintain your site. Some designers charge a flat fee
for each time you make changes to your site.
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- Do I want/need to purchase a domain name? A personalized e-mail
Whether you are a part or full-time artist, maintaining a
professional image is attractive to a client. It is also a personal
reflection of you, “the artist” and “businessperson.” In my opinion, purchasing a personalized
domain name with matching e-mail address shows clients that you are serious
about what you do. Domain names are relatively inexpensive, and depending on
what website service you select may be discounted in a package deal. Even
if you don’t start a website straight away, purchasing a domain beforehand
may prevent your preferred name from being taken by someone else in the
- Do I want to sell artwork off of my website?
Showing photography through art shows,
festivals, and galleries, maintaining an on-line gallery was attractive to
my business. While potential customers may not buy during an event, a
website is a great tool for future purchases. Living in a very rural area of
Indiana, I believe that having the on-line selling option on my site is essential.
- Will I accept credit cards on my website?
If you’re going to
sell your work on-line, be sure that credit cards numbers are handled
securely. Many website hosts such as Go Daddy offer secured credit card processing.
Your local bank is a source for independent processing services such as Sage
Payment Solutions with an on-line “virtual” terminal. Mobile credit card
processing companies such as Square Up are also becoming more popular. Depending
on which service you choose, processing expenses should be figured in your
budget and the price of your artwork and/or services.
charge a flat annual usage fee, a yearly compliance fee and monthly
processing fees whether or not you have a sale. In addition, a percentage
of each sale is collected each month. Recently, an additional merchant monthly
reporting fee requires processing companies to report the gross amount of
their merchant customers’ payment and third part network transactions to
the Internal Revenue Service. The cost of providing this report is another
fee passed on to merchants. It is especially helpful to read the “small
print” when it comes to merchant credit card processing.
After research, establishing website goals, and creating a budget,
utilize this information to move forward on your website. Whatever you decide—to
do it yourself or hire a designer, writer and/or photographer—surf the net for website
ideas that can be incorporated into your new site. If you approach potential designers,
ask for written quotes, timelines, and links to sites they have created. Also
question whether or not their quote includes future changes and/or additions.
Do not hesitate to ask for website design referrals from
friends and colleagues, both in and out of the art realm. Networking is not
only good to obtain information, but is a great way to promote you and your
business at the same time.
Kendal R. Miller
is an award winning photographer and writer residing in rural southern Indiana. Kendal juried into the highly competitive Indiana Artisan program as one of
only eight accepted photographers in the state. Kendal has a degree in
business and a background in tourism and marketing. Visit the Photography by Kendal
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