Monday, July 4, 2016

Website Building for Dummies

I have for sometime used Weebly as my preferred website platform.  Generally, I am pleased with the overall look and functionality of my website and I stay diligent on keeping it updated.  I am always thinking of ways to improve it.  My website has undergone many major changes at different times and I'm sure it will be getting overhauled again in the future.  You learn as you go and I'm committed to being a lifetime learner.

One thing I did in the past year was start researching the website of other artists.  You know those successful artists that actually make a living selling their work.  I figured these folks had money to invest in having a professional design their sites and I could learn a lot just by trying to copy their look and incorporating it into mine.  Believe me I see plenty of artist at my level that either have no online presence or it is so poorly done that I feel sorry for them. I may not have the art sales I dream of but it's not because for a lack of effort.  I believe that if you BUILD IT THEY WILL COME!

Template- Weebly has a great many website templates to choose from.  Using a template already designed doesn't mean your website is going to look generic or cheap.  There are plenty of ways to customize the overall look and feeling of your website with custom banners, unique colors and market specific apps.

Since my main focus in my artwork has a strong country and western flavor, I loved that Weebly finally has a old wooden fence background template to choose from.  It is perfect and I LOVE it for my website.  I'm glad they have added a ton of fresh graphics that weren't available when I first started my website.  I also picked a simple white to surround my artwork.  My work is colorful enough and since I love to frame my artwork with a thick black border I think it gives a nice clean look that doesn't compete with the main thing I want you to notice-MY ARTWORK!

Home Page-  You have maybe 2-3 seconds to capture your audience and that is why your home page is SO very important.  I noticed that many artist websites that I looked at had just a few works displayed or perhaps a fast moving gallery that showcased their best pieces.  Usually their name and contact information might also be reflected on their home page.  That was pretty much it. So armed with that I made some major changes.  The bio and artist statement has no place on the home page.  Just beautiful and colorful artwork to entice the viewer to take a closer look.  (Sorry for the blurry iPad screen shot photos(

This is my Home Page of my website at
           My Home Page

ABOUT JULIE- My second tab is called "About Julie".  This is important for any potential customer to be able to learn more about you in depth.  Upon hitting that tab my artist bio and statement will appear.  A side note about this bio- It is important to get a good photo of yourself.  No matter how you feel about it, you are the product and people want to know you personally as the artist.  I had taken a webinar by successful artist, Lori McNee and one of the biggest takeaways that I learned was the importance of using the same well-done profile picture on every social platform.  This profile picture was taken by a fellow photographer artist, Marie Davis.  Several months ago she offered to take free head shots for any gallery artists to use on the gallery website.  This picture turned out well enough that I decided to use it on everything.  This is called branding yourself and I can't overstate the importance of this. Facebook, Blogger, Pinterest, Instagram, Twitter, Google Plus, Etsy and this website all have the same profile picture.  I even find it very important to have this picture hanging on my gallery wall.  Facial recognition is key and I think I'm the only artist at City of the World that has a picture of myself hanging on the wall.  Sad because I think this is extremely important.

I use the same profile picture across all social media platforms

On this page I have it separated into my Bio and my Artist Statement.  Both are very important in understanding who I am as an artist.  If you don't have these written down somewhere I want to urge you today to get working on them.  There are plenty of examples and templates online to assist you and you can always edit make changes as you get more experience.  
My Bio and Artist Statement

Under this tab I have 3 tabs to choose from.
Three Tabs Under the "About Julie"

RESUME- This is a listing of awards and important recognition that I have received since being an artist.  Now most of them are pretty lame compared to many successful artist that have been on their journey longer than I have but you need to keep track and now matter how small add it to your resume list.  It is a great visual of your journey and will help you see your progress as an artist.

CURRENT GALLERY REPRESENTATION- It is important to give your website visitors the ability to visit your work in person at all the galleries that you have your work hanging in.  I've included their address, phone number, contact person and their website.  They market you and it is important that you in turn market them.  It is a two way street and you should at every chance give shout outs and tags to these establishments that let you hang your artwork on their walls.

BRAGS AND NEWS- This is the area I have designated to list quotes and comments from previous collectors or art admirers as they have talked about my art or about me as an artist.  If someone is attracted to your artwork it is important that they know they are not alone and that there are many that feel strongly about what you are doing. I also list awards, past and upcoming events that I am participating in.  Some of the information listed is repeated in my resume but this is in a more informal with colorful pictures and larger font.

GALLERY- Probably the most important tab next to Contact Info-  All your artwork showcased online in one area.  By far this is the place that takes the most work.  I am going to dedicate a second and maybe third blog on this topic.   I will try to share all the steps I go through when adding a new piece of artwork to my gallery. It is a bit involved so watch for my future posts on this subject.

Here I will just state that I have my gallery broken into a number of categories to help a visitor perhaps zero in better on what they are specifically looking for in the way of art.  9 categories to be exact.  I know I'm probably excessive and obviously one painting might be present in 2 or 3 galleries but it's not too much work to add them in multiple places and I will  talk about more in future posts.
1.  All My Available Works- "Whole Enchiladas" 
2.  Down Country Roads- My newest collection all in one gallery
3.  Landscape and Western Gallery
4.  Fur and Feathers Gallery
5.  My Sketchbook
6.  Cowbells & Country Store
7.  A Little of This and That
8.  Poems and Other Silly Things (My collection of poetry)
9.  Gone But Not Forgotten (gallery of sold items that are still available in prints)

 JULIE'S ART BLOG- Yes this blog is connected to my website and visa versa.  I spend a great deal of time blogging about my art and I think it is important that I give my website guests a chance to fall in love with my blog and the same for those blog readers.  

CONTACT INFO-  You have to let them contact you via email.  VERY IMPORTANT- you must reply in a timely manner.

SHOPPING CART- Weebly has an interactive store that allows you to sell items just like if you had a brick and mortar gallery.  You just hook up your paypal account, answer a few questions and then start adding products.  I will talk about this more under one of my future blog posts.

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