Every artist needs his or her own website for credibility. And, it should be a website that is free of pop-up ads.
DOMAIN NAMES AND HOSTING SERVICES
GeoCities and Fortune City may be great places to start, but to look professional and really earn money, you need your own domain name and your site should be professionally hosted.
- How to choose a domain name
- Choose a name that’s easy to remember, but makes your URL stand out. Amazon.com‘s name has nothing to do with books, but everyone remembers it. Yahoo and Google are also quirky names that everyone remembers.Among artists, Lesley Riley uses LaLasLand.com, and I never forget that name. Claudine Hellmuth has CollageArtist.com, which serves her well at search engines.
If you don’t have a clever name in mind now, start with your own (offline) name (such as JaneDoe.com) and sort things out from there.
- How to register a domain name
- To buy the use of a domain name and get hosting, you can start with www.GoDaddy.com because they’re cheap, reliable, and fun.(To register domain names, I also use DirectNIC.com which is more expensive, but offers different features if you’re a pro at this. I also like NameCheap.com for absolutely basic registration.)
- Website hosting
- Who should host your new website? Get recommendations from friends. A hosting service that is great now may be hugely disappointing in six months.Many new webmasters use www.GoDaddy.com .
However, I also use HostGator for most of my websites. Their fees are low, and their tech support people are American, intelligent, and speak English.
When I want speed and reliability–at a slightly higher price–I use Omnis.com.
I’ve had websites since 1995, but I can remember how overwhelming it seemed at first. For example, I remember how excited I was to learn how to change text colors.
When you’re starting out, there is no need to learn HTML.
You can use a WYSIWYG (What You See Is What You Get) program which allows you to create a webpage with no HTML skills at all.
I like a free program, Nvu, which offers WYSIWYG features.
You can also use Netscape Composer. It’s free, too.
Download Netscape install it. (You don’t have to use Netscape as your browser; you can leave it inactive.)Then, click on Start–>Programs, and find Netscape; in that folder, click on Composer. It’s pretty easy. The code isn’t as clean as I’d like, but the whole idea is to get online ASAP. You can learn HTML later.
(Mozilla browser users already have Composer with their browsers. Mozilla is the company that develops Netscape’s programs. This is also the foundation of Firefox, which I use.)
There are many resources for learning HTML when you’re ready. One is the website, HTML Goodies, but there are many others. Use Google to find them.
If–like me–you prefer to have a printed guide in one hand while you’re learning something like HTML, I like Dummies-type books. I’ve linked to two of them on the right side of this page.
Later, when you are learning HTML and using it on your pages, the older HTML editing program, 1st Page 2000 is good, if you can find a free copy. It has Beginner through Expert levels, which can help when you’re learning. This program saves time if you write your own HTML, as I do.
I used 1st Page 2000 to write almost every webpage at every website from 1999 through 2007. I still use it to rewrite code for many of my sites.
Or, if you can afford it, many designers say that nothing beats Dreamweaver. But, Nvu, linked above, comes pretty close… and it’s free.
I like clean, easy-to-navigate websites. Some artists want a site that’s not so tidy, but gives an overwhelmingly “artsy” image. There’s probably a happy medium.
I also loved the free, navigational flow chart featured at PrecisionArts.com, but — as of early 2010 — it’s gone now. (You may be able to find it at the Wayback Machine, or elsewhere.)
FTP – GETTING YOUR SITE ONLINE
FTP means “file transfer protocol,” and it’s how you get your new webpages from your hard drive to your hosting service’s computer. There are many free FTP programs that work very well, such as Smart FTP, FTP Commander, and CoffeeCup Free FTP.
Your browser may already include an FTP program, or if you’re using Mozilla’s browsers, you can get a free FTP extension for it. In Firefox, get the FireFTP plug-in.
Your new hosting service will tell you how to set up your FTP program so that it sends files to your new website. It’s easy. Really.
BELLS AND WHISTLES
SHOULD YOU HIRE A PRO?
Maybe. Decide if that’s an effective use of your time.
I mean, if you can make $35/hour for your regular work (writing/art) but pay your webmaster $15/hour and he/she is good at it… it’s hardly worth it to do the work yourself IF you are working full-time.
But, chances are you aren’t making $35/hour and working a 40 hour week. So, follow my advice and create your own website right away. Once you’re making good money at it, you can hire someone to maintain your site in the future.
Really, if you don’t have your own website yet, start one now. Don’t expect to learn everything overnight. Try to learn a little more each week.
It will take you a while to get a good spot at the search engines such as Google. We’ll talk about that later. For now, just get your website started. The sooner you start, the sooner you’ll be making money from it.