Micro-tribe marketing and free websites for artists offer excellent potential for beginner visual artists.
— Barney Davey
With the sheer number of free-of-charge social media platforms and free websites for artists, it’s reasonable to wonder if all visual artists need a paid website today. My short answer is it depends, as each serves its purpose well. Decisions are about the artist’s needs and ambitions, and no choices are permanent.
The answer is complicated because it relies on the requirements and desires of the artist. For example, if you are a hobbyist who seeks an outlet to sell your work and create a side income, a free website may be all you need.
However, suppose you are more than a hobbyist, a Sunday Painter, as the saying goes, who mainly sells original art directly through their social and network connections. In that case, a free website to garner royalties from prints and merch is a viable option. But so is a paid e-commerce-enabled website or a custom glam vanity site. The solution is what best meets the artist’s need rather than the usual— and not helpful— one-size-fits-all advice.
How Do Websites for Artists Work?
A website gives artists an online showcase to display their work and connect with potential art buyers and patrons. Any artist who is serious about selling art needs a website. You’ll need one even if you are starting because having an online presence in the form of a website is validation most buyers expect.
An artist’s website does many things for their business. These include promoting their name and work, selling, and displaying their work through their online art storefront, and serving as a conduit for artists to interact with people interested to learn more about their work and connect with the artist.
Keep It Simple and Economical.
My motto for life and business is only to buy what you need and only pay for services you use. There is everything right about being wise and frugal. It’s not just money you save. Every level of sophistication requires more knowledge to set up and more time and expertise to keep running.
While it’s usually not overwhelming to build and maintain a website, paid or free, websites for artists have a learning curve and require time and effort. Talk to your artist friends and community to learn what they are doing. Find out what works for them and what decisions they would make if they started over. Taking your time to do valuable research will help you make the right choice for your art business.
My AMTP (Art Marketing Toolkit Project) group helps artists first learn what they want from their art business. Secondly, it steers them to learn about and choose the most appropriate art marketing tools and helpful strategies such as micro-tribe marketing to meet their needs and sell their art. Finally, the AMTP is a worldwide community of artists who range from beginners of all ages to savvy veterans with established profitable art marketing operations.
With such a wide selection of artists, I see it all. That includes free websites built using Pixels.com, a brand of the gigantic FineArtAmerica site. More than one hundred thousand artists use it for a website, online art sales, and to market a vast array of art-related merchandise, including iPhone cases, apparel, home furnishings, bags, blankets, beach towels, and more. Some use a combination of custom artist websites with their Pixels store embedded into it. Other art-centric, print-on-demand online galleries include Saatchiart, RedBubble, Society6, and Zazzle, and there are many more.
Free Websites for Artists Builders May Be All You Need.
Depending on the artist’s needs and marketing plans, a free site such as Pixels.com may be satisfactory. This notion of free sites being acceptable for certain artists is an evolved opinion due to developing a more open mind later in life. I realized it’s not an opinion because it’s a fact that countless artists find their FineArtAmerica or Pixels website ample to suit their needs for various rational reasons.
When you see the proof that a free website is the current best solution for artists, you seem foolish, pedantic, or ill-informed to claim they are making the wrong choice to use a free website builder. A better answer is to help artists decide what they want to do and then encourage them to start with the website platform best for them now. Nothing is set in stone, and something is better than nothing.
Free Websites for Beginner Artists.
If you are just getting started and unsure what to do and what kind of paid website to build, starting with a free website is a viable option. For instance, a free website may be sufficient for occasional artists or those who sell their work through galleries, publishers, or licensors — with the caveat that some galleries take a negative view of a free artist’s website. Debates about the efficacy of free websites for artists and the reasons to use them or not are endless. What matters is for artists to do what works for them by listening to advice, researching, and taking control of the final decision.
While the Pixels brand is perhaps the largest provider of free websites for artists, many other websites for artists’ platforms offer free websites. However, it’s essential to check for restrictions on the features or limits on the number of pieces on display and the many different ways site builder marketers employ to entice users to upgrade to a paid website. It pays to do up-to-the-minute research because conditions, prices, and offers can and will change.
An AMTP member read this post and provided this helpful feedback. “I have a free website with Weebly. It includes e-commerce with Square and has a blog option. Very happy with all of it!”
Website Owner Responsibilities and Expectations.
Without a clear understanding of how the marketplace works, many artists using a free websites builder expect that spinning one up will automatically generate sales of their artwork. They don’t understand that free website providers are online galleries with tens if not hundreds of thousands of artists using their service. And as such these free sell art online platforms have no means to promote each user.
Sites are like life in general in that you reap what you sow. The artists who make steady sales from their website, whether gratis or paid, take the responsibility to promote the site and the effort to drive traffic to their site. To succeed, the providers advertise the overall art marketplace and rely on their artist users to bring visitors through independent marketing efforts. A concession for the free site vendor is showing links to works of other artists. Nothing is really free.
I’m Not Confused, Honest!
An artist is someone who can hold two opposing viewpoints and still remain fully functional.”
— F. Scott Fitzgerald
So I find myself in that opposing viewpoints category. Although I staunchly believed every artist with plans to sell their work needed a paid website with a custom domain name pointing to it, I also wrote this post, How to Sell Art Without Online Marketing Tools.
And even though I still maintain a bias toward a paid website for all artists, I realize that I was discounting thousands of artists who are satisfied with their free website for artist platform. In their case, it’s all they need. There is no reason for them to feel bad about their decision to use a free artist’s website builder when it does the job they need to get done.
Today, I won’t argue with an artist’s decision to use a free website. But I will encourage them to regularly revisit their decision and keep an open mind toward moving to a paid website when it becomes evident that the benefits of using a paid artist website builder outweigh the negatives.
How Do Paid Websites Benefit Visual Artists?
There are good reasons why artists want to use a paid website to sell their work. The most obvious reason is that a website can have more features than a free website or a social media platform.
Paid website builders give artists the tools they need to create a solid online presence and opportunities to sell their art through their e-commerce-enabled artist website. Additionally, paid websites offer more options and robust features to help sell art online.
Reasons for Artists to Use a Paid Website.
If an artist has plans to build a full-time business or even generate steady sales as a part-timer from selling their art, then a paid website is appropriate. Other reasons to have a paid website are the artist seeks to:
- Present an online presence as an accomplished artist.
- Build a brand and grow a reputation.
- Land a distinguished grant.
- Acquire art gallery representation.
- Get juried into a prestigious show.
- Gain acceptance into an academic program.
Depending on an artist’s plans for their career, using a site that includes portfolio hosting, business tools, and marketing is vital to implementing their plans. And while free website builders allow artists to create a website, they don’t offer all the useful apps and features in paid artist website builder platforms. However, there are valid reasons to choose a dedicated-to-artists provider like FASO and ArtStoreFronts. You can find proof that an Etsy or Shopify site is perfect for some artists.
How Do Artists Know If They Need a Paid Website?
There are good reasons why artists want to use a paid website to sell their work. The most obvious reason is that a website can have more features than a social media platform. Most artists want to sell their art everywhere, and they wish to integrate their website with an e-commerce system to create their art storefront.
Many website builders also offer features such as blogging, social media integration, and email marketing from within the platform as part of the service. They typically offer other features, including uploading extensive collections of images and videos, building custom pages and galleries, and even creating online communities. These are excellent reasons for choosing a paid website builder over a free platform for artists.
Please remember don’t get starry-eyed and buy way more than you need because it happens all the time.
What I’m saying is if you have 50 subscribers don’t buy the 5,000 subscriber plan with all the bells and whistles. You’ll grow into it when you’re ready, if it’s meant to be because there are other paths.
What Is the Best Website Builder for Artists Platform?
The question of what platform for artists is best is the subject of a long, well-researched article that is beyond the scope of this post. That’s because the number of choices is exhaustive, as you will see in the results by searching for “What Is the Best Website Builder for Artists Platform?” and “What Is the Best FREE Website Builder for Artists Platform? There is so much to sift through and choose from it’s confusing for anyone.
The Best Quick Choices for Websites for Visual Artists.
To simplify the process, and in case you can’t decide, I offer these suggestions. For a free website for artists’ platforms, use Pixels.com, and for a paid website builder for artists, I recommend FASO.com. Both vendors are exclusively committed to visual artists and have extensive experience providing an impressive array of tools to help them sell their artwork online. And although we all hope to choose wisely the first time, there is comfort in knowing change is always possible.
PS. Four Domain Name Bonus Tips.
Buy a .com domain name with your name. Find a combination of studio, gallery, fine art, or sculptor. It’s part of your online brand… and how we find and remember you. I use Google Domains. They are not the cheapest but are the most reliable and consistent.
- Check if your free website allows custom domains. If not, then.
- Forward your custom domain to your free website URL. Your domain registrar will help you.
- Get a Gmail with the domain name. for example, [email protected]
- Start branding using the domain name to begin building recognition.
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