Instagram and other social media platforms provide a simple way for artists, makers, and creatives to showcase their work online. So, is having a creative company website too still necessary?
In this blog post, we explore why a website remains an important asset for any creative business looking to reach a wider audience.
Showcasing your work
Like social platforms such as Instagram, Facebook, or Pinterest, a website is a visual showcase that allows you to exhibit your work in the digital space.
But, unlike social platforms, a website gives you the opportunity to decide exactly how your work is framed. Working with a website designer or developer can help you to create a user experience that best represents your work.
Making your work available to the world in this way opens the door to creative business growth.
Giving you a voice
Having a website allows you to do more than just display your work. It allows you to share your ethos and your insight with the world.
Publishing a blog on your website is an opportunity to create thought-leadership content and share your story. This helps to give you a voice in the art community.
Creating an online presence that you own
Social media platforms are an obvious choice if you want to engage your audience. But, many are becoming increasingly “pay to play”.
Organic reach is slowly being reduced over time. Algorithm updates change the way users are shown content, often preferring paid content over posts that haven’t been paid for.
This pushes creatives and other small businesses to pay for sponsored posts and other forms of social media advertising, to keep up with fellow artists and competing brands.
In contrast, websites are an online presence that you own and control.
By buying your own domain and website hosting (from somewhere reliable like Go Daddy or 1&1) you control your own internet real estate. This enables you to continually build to a body of your own content, without having to pay to get your work seen.
Having a website helps to build your credibility as a professional rather than a hobbyist.
People expect to be able to find the website of a well-known artist, maker, or creative. If someone is looking for your website and discovers you don’t have one, this may send the wrong message.
When you have a website, you can use this to build credibility in the digital space, and improve your real-world reputation as a result.
Over time, your website will earn links from other authoritative websites that are relevant to your audience. A link from another site is seen by search engines and users like a sign of approval. It is like getting a reference from an influential peer.
Galleries, art bloggers, and local event websites may all have a reason to link back to your website. Engaging with them on social media and sharing links to content from your website is a way of encouraging them to do this.
Keeping costs low
Websites don’t have to be expensive to set up.
Paying a local web designer or developer to create a simple landing page or small portfolio is a good option. Ask to see similar work and get a quote upfront so you know what to expect.
If pennies are tight, using a WordPress or Squarespace template to get you started works well too. You can always look to pay someone to build you something more bespoke as your creative business grows.
Once your website is set up you can start publishing content to attract your audience. Doing this well means you may not need to continue investing in costly print marketing or advertising.
Drawing people to you
Having a website allows you to publish content that’s relevant to your audience.
Publishing audience-led content on your website, and amplifying it on social media, is called content marketing. Content marketing involves:
- finding out what your audience is looking for
- creating content that aligns with this
- making this content freely available on your website
- amplifying this content on social media and other relevant channels
Doing this draws people to your website, giving them the opportunity to discover your work. In this way, content marketing uses an inbound approach. It engages your audience in a way that helps them and helps you.
In contrast, traditional outbound marketing and advertising is interruptive. It pushes messages to people who are not looking for them, and may not be in the right frame of mind to engage.
An inbound approach aligns better with people’s intentions and how they behave online. It is also much more cost effective. Research by online marketing experts, Hubspot, found that inbound leads cost marketers 61 percent less than outbound ones.
Increasing your reach
With over 3.5 billion Google searches carried out every day, a potential new fan of your work could be just seconds away from asking Google a question your content could answer.
Your website and its content allows people to access your work and learn about what you do 24/7, from anywhere in the world. A website makes your work globally accessible.
Giving you insight into your audience
Having a website allows you to find out more about how people interact with your work. This empowers you to focus more energy into the things that work.
Analytics tools like Google Analytics are free and easy to set up. Once in place, they allow you to learn about the people who visit your site, including:
- if they are using a mobile, laptop, or tablet
- which pages they are reading
- where they are geographically
- how long they are looking at your content
- whether they’ve been to your site before
- whether they’ve read more than one page on your site
- whether they have gone on to make a purchase
This data is all super useful in helping you plan your creative business and marketing strategy.
Having a website allows you to have an online store where you can sell your work.
Platforms like WooCommerce (that works with WordPress) make this fairly straightforward to put in place. Linking to Etsy or Amazon Handmade from your website is another option, that is even easier to implement.
Enabling people to buy your work through your website means sales can happen all year round, not just when you’re exhibiting.
An online store also allows you to test and learn when it comes to selling your work.
You can experiment with pricing as prices are easy to edit. You can also try selling with related products (like postcard prints or posters) or new lines, to see how well these are received.
As we’ve explored, there are many ways that artists, makers, and creatives can benefit from having a creative company website.
If you’re thinking of setting up your own and need a hand, let us know! We can put you in touch with some amazing Brighton-based website designers and developers who can help.
Our community is about supporting each other’s creative success. Find out how to join SOL Design Collective.