Don’t tell me, let me guess—you’re looking for a good art website service. Your artwork is ready, you’re ready, and come hell or high water, this is the year you’re finally going to sell your art online!
Only problem is, you’ve just finished a few Google searches and found a LOT of options—hundreds of different websites for artists that you could choose from.
So. . . how do you pick?
Well, in my opinion, the first thing you need to do is narrow the field. With that in mind, here are 7 questions every artist should ask when looking for an art website:
1. Will I get my own domain? Or just a subdomain?
This is a very important question. You want to make sure that the service you choose won’t just dump your art onto a subdomain of their own website.
What’s a subdomain? I’ll give you an example. A subdomain of this website (emptyeasel.com) would look something like myartsite.emptyeasel.com. Notice that it has two periods in it, it’s a bit longer than it should be, and it’s not actually a real domain. It’s just a part of EmptyEasel.com.
A real domain never has two periods in it. It’s more official, it will gain authority and links from other websites over time, and if you ever decide to switch to another website host, you can take your real domain with you and keep on using it.
You can’t take a subdomain—which means that if you leave your current webhost, you’ll have to start over from scratch, and all your links, authority, and visitor traffic will reset to zero. Avoid that at all cost. . . just say “no” to subdomains!
NOTE: Some sites offer a free trial on a subdomain. That’s OK—just make sure you’ll get a real domain at the end of your free trial.
2. How many works of art can I upload to my website?
Maybe you only need ten uploads. Maybe you need a hundred, or a thousand. Every artist is different, so it’s not like you HAVE to have a web host that offers unlimited artwork uploads. (In fact, sometimes it’s cheaper not to have unlimited uploads.)
But it’s always good to know ahead of time what your upload limits are. There’s nothing worse than going to all the work of uploading artwork and customizing your website only to find out that you can’t quite add all of your art.
3. Are your websites built with search-friendly HTML?
This question is kind of like the subdomain question. It’s a bit technical, but it’s important to know!
You see, there are quite a few website hosts out there that offer beautiful, gorgeous websites. The only problem is, many of them are built in Flash, not HTML. Flash and HTML are two very different types of programming languages, and while Flash is pretty, it’s definitely not search-engine friendly!
Google loves HTML (and quick-loading, simple websites built with HTML). So make sure your artist website is built with HTML, not Flash.
4. Is there a free trial?
These days, everybody probably offers a free trial (if they don’t, just cross them off your list). You may also want to ask whether or not you’ll need to give away your credit card number just to TRY the free trial.
A lot of really big web companies (like Netflix, Amazon, etc) started this trend a long time ago. Unfortunately, some art website hosts are still asking for your card info long before you’ve decided to join.
Just from a security standpoint, that’s no good. But it’s also no fun getting stuck with a charge on your card just because you forgot to cancel your “free” trial.
My suggestion—only go with businesses that offer credit-card free trial periods.
5. Are other artists using your service?
Do you research. Ask your artist friends what they’ve heard about the service you’re considering, and look around online to see if you can find any testimonials or reviews.
If it’s a big website host like weebly, wix, or squarespace, keep in mind that most of their users AREN’T artists. These companies definitely market to artists, but they actually offer general websites instead of specialized art websites. Dig around a little to see if their sites work well for artists, too.
6. How long have you been around?
Longevity is a good sign of trust. If you followed a link to a website service, go back to Google and do a few searches for “artist websites” or “websites for artists” to see if that company shows up, and how long they’ve been in business.
7. Will you help promote my art, or am I on my own?
Always check to see if your website host will do MORE than just host your website. Again, the big sites (wix, weebly, etc) won’t be as specialized and able to help you sell your art. They’re just in the business of hosting websites.
There ARE a few specialized art website services out there, however, who take an active hand in generating leads, traffic, and sales for their artists. Look for a service like that if you want a little more help with the art marketing side of things.
Maybe you’ve just finished choosing a website host. . . if so, what are the questions YOU’D recommend asking? Is there anything specific YOU look for in an art website?