Creating a website is a truly collaborative effort. While I’m busy designing your site to have the look, feel, and functionality you need, there’s a little work required of you too in order to make sure you have the best website possible and to get it published.
The resources below should get you started and make the process as simple as possible for you.
To establish yourself as a professional and to stake claim of your little corner of the web, a domain name is essential. Your first and last name are always in style, or you can get creative. Just make sure you pick something simple and memorable.
If you’re starting a new website and are interested in Squarespace, everything is included in their pricing, as well as a domain name. If you’re using another platform like WordPress, you’ll need to purchase one.
I use NameCheap for their user-friendly interface, affordability, and good service. Depending on your domain name, this will cost you about $15-25 a year. If you haven’t already bought a domain, consider purchasing hosting first because many hosting services offer you a free domain name when you sign up (though you’ll still have to pay to renew it each year).
No matter what platform you use for your website, you’ll need some sort of hosting (though some platforms like Squarespace have hosting built in). Your web host is the real estate your domain and website will live on. Some platforms wrap it into their own fees, but if you’re using a free service like WordPress.org, you’ll only need a place to host your website.
I’ve used Green Geeks for several years with no complaint. Their prices are very reasonable and you can feel good about your choice too since they are eco-friendly. If you’ll be using WordPress they have a specific hosting package, as well as a package for other platforms.
There are quite a few options out there for hosting. Some clients already use GoDaddy, and they do offer a simple and affordable service for installing WordPress. Bluehost and Dreamhost are also known for their reliable and simple service.
No one knows better what content your website needs than you do. A designer like me can help you structure it and make sure it’s presented in the best way, but it starts with having the content written (or photographed/scanned/recorded) to work with. The branding workbook I sent you to start the design process probably gave you some idea of content you still need to create. Remember that it always helps to think about your site in terms of what information visitors will be looking for and make sure you have it in place.
If you are a visual artist, you may not have a whole lot of text on your website, but basic information like an about section and even an artist statement is very helpful for those unfamiliar with you or your work. Lists of publications, gallery showings, or events are always useful. And for any creative person, a blog can be a great tool to share about your creative process, recent news, and current inspirations. Blog posts that are well-written and have something worthwhile or new to offer get shared-and that can bring you new visitors.
Creating your content and your initial consultation with me should give you an idea of what platform might be best for managing your site.
Writers, artists, photographers and other creatives who want to stay current with trends may want to consider Squarespace, which has an online shop built in and beautiful ways to display your portfolio. If you think you may want to expand your business in the future, a provider like WordPress may be more suitable because it is easier to export your content if you decide to change providers. But for many of my creative clients whose website needs are simple, and who mostly need a beautiful way to display your content, Squarespace can be a great fit.
I often recommend WordPress.org for its open source platform, robust power, and flexibility. With just a little time spent educating yourself on the backend, you can easily manage your site once it’s been designed and trust that it will be secure and well maintained as technology changes. WordPress has a number of plugins that make it possible to do pretty much anything you can imagine with a click of a button. Because WordPress is so customizable, it is a good fit for almost anyone.
Some writers prefer to use Tumblr as a way to share what they are reading, as well as to keep people updated on reading and publications. Since many other writers use Tumblr at least for their blog, their is a social feature built in to help expand your audience. It is possible to create a website with Tumblr, though there are some limitations. If you have a lot of content and greater functionality needs, the two platforms I mentioned above might work better for you.
Wix and Weebly
If you want a simple platform to build a website yourself (with just a logo design and simple elements to plug in), you may consider Wix or Weebly. This is good if you have a very small budget and simple needs, but you may end up switching if your business grows. These options are right for some people, but not something I recommend for most clients unless they already use one of these services and are comfortable with it.
These are just a few resources to get you started as you get ready to have your website designed. I’m always available if you have questions and to consult on your specific situation. Note that the domain and hosting services are ones that I use personally and are affiliate links.