Artists – did you know that the average cost for a developer to create a custom website is $800-$3000?
Do you want to know the secret of how I paid less than $60 a year for my website?
Throughout this article, I will share my secret!
I recently did some research and calculated how much artists spend on their websites. The study was based on the most commonly used companies that provide websites for artists, like FASO- “fine art studios” and folio links. I was shocked when I added up the numbers. The cost was an average of $283.66 a year, and that is only for the basic service which does not include all of the features. Some of the sites limit the amount of images you are allowed to display, unless of course, you upgrade to their next package, which averages $431.66 a year.
Such companies try to impress you with fancy words such as stats integration, comprehensive SEO, court website features, etc… This jargon lures you in to make you think that the company websites are high-quality, complicated, and something that you would not be able to develop on your own. In fact, the structure and features of these sites are simple and can be accomplished by plug-ins in WordPress. While I respect an artist’s right to choose who and how their site is developed and maintained, I want to empower artists to take control of their own technological publicity through WordPress.
Tired of paying hundreds of dollars a year for your website?
Let me introduce you to WordPress.
What is WordPress?
WordPress is one of the most popular blogging tools available. What many people don’t know is that WordPress is a powerful Content Management System (CMS) that is FREE and can be used for more than just blogging. With WordPress, you can build a blog, a website, or both.
There are two types of WordPress installations you can use.
WordPress.com is free to host and has the option of adding your own subdomain. If you have no budget to lend to your site, this is the option for you. You would not own your domain, and the links that point to your site will not be transferable. However, it could help establish your line of business as an artist and help you build towards a better client base and exhibition opportunities.
The type of WordPress installation that I recommend can be built from WordPress.org. You will have to host your website yourself (hire a company that hosts your website) and buy your own domain. Unlike the companies that charge artists hundreds per year, there are many hosts that offer an affordable price but have any and all features that you would desire for your site. Some great host companies include WordPress, blue host, dream host, and Go Daddy. These companies usually average about $3.50 per month. Purchasing your domain name from the companies listed above will usually run about $12 per year. A bonus to owning your domain is that you will also own the links that come with the site.
Now that we have established the basic financial advantages of using WordPress for your site, allow me to extrapolate on the six main reasons why artists should choose WordPress for their websites.
*Note: As an artist, the following are my personal reasons why artists should use WordPress.
Reason #1: WordPress is an Open Source
What exactly does open source mean?
According to Wikipedia, open source is a philosophy, or pragmatic methodology that promotes free redistribution and access to an end product’s design and implementation details.
Still scratching your head?
Don’t worry. The first time I read it, I had some questions too.
The foundation of open source is the community of developers around the world who are dedicated to making improvements and extensions for WordPress.
They must get paid, right? Surprisingly, no.
Most of these developers have a passion for the Internet, programming, and making the web more user-friendly.
How does this benefit us as artists?
It makes WordPress free! WordPress is an open source, and open source is free software.
Bottom line: Save your money. You never have to pay for your art site, blog or portfolio – there are people already working to ensure that you always have access to the open source of WordPress.
Reason #2: Content Management System
As an artist, you control each stroke of the brush or touch of color that goes into your work. Shouldn’t you have just as much control over your website?
WordPress offers just that with its content management system.
A content management system means that you add content to the site, and change it as often as you see fit. You get to select what is on the site and design it to reflect you as an artist.
“I have no experience with content management,” you might think. “So I’ll have to hire a web master, and I’ll be back to square one – paying too much for my site.”
Not to worry. WordPress is designed to be used by anyone, no matter how much or little experience they have with managing websites. The editing functions resemble those found in Microsoft Word, so the format will be familiar to most users.
You have the power to create new pages, upload images and insert text all on your own, without the assistance or fee of a web editor, or learning the complicated procedures of HTML. WordPress offers a rich text editor that is easy to learn and use.
In less than a day, you can learn how to post a sample gallery to potential customers, a video tutorial on creating a work of art, a blog entry detailing an upcoming exhibit, and more.
Reason #3: Search Engine Optimization Friendly
“So many artists have websites,” you may think. “How can I guarantee that viewers will find mine?”
WordPress is Search Engine Optimization Friendly. This means that people will find your site!
Search engines like to “crawl” through sites that have a certain platform, permalinks, and are frequently updated with new content. WordPress is designed to meet all of these criteria to be search-engine friendly, and thus appear more frequently (and closer to the top) of searches.
Since WordPress has a light structure, plugins, and is updated with fresh content continuously, major search engines such as Google easily detect and display WordPress sites.
Sounds fantastic, right? Most of the work has already been done for you in terms of search engine optimization.
But there is even more you can do with WordPress to make sure that your site in particular appears more on search engine results. You can take advantage of tools such as inbound and track-back links, which will increase the number of potential viewers.
The “extra” benefit of having your search engine optimization work performed by WordPress will save you countless hours that you would otherwise spend on the Internet, trying to get your site name to appear in various places.
Let WordPress place your name in the most prominent search engines on the Internet!
Reason #4: Extended Plugins
Interested in making your WordPress site “pop?” Wondering how to make your art site stand out in a technological world?
Your solution: Plugins!
Plugins, or extensions, are offered through WordPress to make your site unique and reflective of you as an artist. Plugins are one great way to give your site some flair!
“Great,” you think. “How can plugins enhance my site specifically?”
Some plugins connect you to social media networks such as Facebook, Twitter, and Tumblr. You can promote or import content to and from these sites.
Other plugins help you customize and test themes for your site, including special features such as constantly changing color schemes.
Want to manage your content on-the-go? There are many plugins that allow you to edit your site from your iPhone, iPad, iPod touch, or Android.
“How convenient,” you conclude. “But how do I know if my customized theme or social networking is helping me stand out from the crowd?”
There’s a plugin for that! Several plugins help you collect and track data, such as how many people have visited your site and when. Such data will help you see which WordPress design or personal art gallery people respond to the best. If you need to switch your current image gallery, there is a plugin to help you upload new artwork!
The logistics question: How do I use plugins?
The answer: Very easily.
1) Use the WordPress directory to search for available plugins. Thanks to open source, thousands of plugins have been developed for you to use free of charge!
2) Click ‘download’ on your desired plugin, and begin using it right away!
“What if I cannot find a plugin with a function that I want to use?”
No worries. Since it is open source, you can hire a developer to create a plugin that would from then on be available for WordPress sites.
However, it is almost certain that you will find both inspiration and useful function from well-organized WordPress Plugin Directory!
Reason #5: Easy to Use
“I’m an artist…I have no programming experience. How do I begin my WordPress site?”
One of the greatest WordPress resources is its free setup and installation.
WordPress also offers a Beginner’s Guide for WordPress through codex.wordpress.org. Also WPBeginner offers tutorial videos, blog tips, a behind-the-scenes look at plugins and tools, and so much more.
“Now I feel ready to begin,” you decide. “How can I make sure that I will be able to change my content and site design when needed?”
An editor-level account will allow you to alter, add and enhance content with the ease of using Microsoft Word.
An administrator-level account gives you the freedom to change the overall layout of your site and add plugins.
If you choose to have assistance with your site, other people can create editor and administrator-level accounts and easily access editing options.
“What if I still need back up?”
WordPress offers that too! Contact WordPress Forum for any difficulties…the complications will be few and far between, if any!
Reason #6: Themes
“I’m ready to begin my WordPress site! Where can I select a theme?”
Thousands of ready-designed WordPress themes are available through the site for free.
If you do not find exactly what you’re looking for, try the premium WordPress themes, which are offered at a low cost.
“I would like something that reflects me personally, and is not a theme that other artists or WordPress users would have on their site yet.”
You always have the option of hiring a developer to custom-design a theme that reflects yourself as an artist, or perfectly complements your latest uploaded gallery.
Let’s review: How is that I only pay less than $60 a year? More importantly, how can you also save money on your artist site?
The answer is WordPress.
WordPress is free, and there are tons of free plug-ins that you can use for your image galleries, contact forms, and anything else that you need.
My exact yearly expenses are as follows:
$48 for hosting my website.
$9.99 for my domain.
When I first build my site, I bought a WordPress theme for $40 which I still use today. That was two years ago. If I was to divide the $40 by the two years that means that I would be paying $1.6 every month. The longer I continue to use the theme, the less I pay per month for the design.
$48 + $9.99 = $57.99 + $1.6 = 59.59 once a year.
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