While there are loads of professionals out there who will gladly help you build your artist portfolio website, and even lots of places where you can pop up a template for free or almost-free, some artists simply feel the need to get their hands dirty with their own websites.
Why? Maybe the out-of-the-box solutions won’t work for your purposes and you can’t afford a fully custom website just yet. Or maybe you’re a devoted DIYer who wants to learn how a website works, or perhaps you have a specific artistic vision and know that you can implement it better than anyone. If any of these applies to you, you’ve come to the right place!
Our personal favorite artist web platform here at Punkt is WordPress. You’ve probably heard of it — according to some estimates, this formidable piece of software is running almost 1/4 of all sites on the entire internet!
Between the more than 60 million sites relying on WordPress every day and the fact that it’s open source, an extraordinarily robust community of people constantly working to improve it, and even more importantly for your website, develop cool new features. It’s easy to install on almost any hosting platform (though not all hosts are created equal — we’ll talk about that in a sec), and getting a great-looking site that runs on WordPress really isn’t all that hard!
Okay, enough with the intro … let’s dig in!
Where to Host?
Before you can get to the business of designing your web-based art showcase, you first must get WordPress installed on a server somewhere. But there are SO MANY HOSTING OPTIONS! Many of them are actively paying bloggers to promote their hosting plans, so separating the wheat from the chaff can be tough.
If you’re reading a review about a particular hosting platform on the web somewhere, check to see if the links the author is posting have a little something extra that allows them to get paid if you click through and sign up. If they do, and if the author isn’t being up front about this, look elsewhere for information on that host.
Beware of paid review sites! Customer forums are a great alternative where problems and solutions are publicly discussed.
Better yet, take a look at their customer forums to see what kinds of problems people are having, and (as important!) how fast the host responds to these requests.
We’re going to refrain from suggesting specific web hosts, but here are a few things to consider before you choose a host for your new WordPress-powered artist portfolio website:
Does the host offer a one-click installation of WordPress?
This will usually be in their sales information somewhere; if it’s not, you can always ask their pre-sales support. You probably want the answer to be yes on this one, as this will save you loads of time.
How much storage space do you get?
If you’re a visual artist who will be uploading lots of photos or a musician who wants to self-host their audio (which we don’t recommend in most cases), you’ll want to be conscious of how much space you have to work with. Beware hosts that offer unlimited plans … everything costs money, and you can bet that they’ll be cutting back elsewhere.
How fast will your new artist website be?
For a variety of reasons, it’s really hard to get an accurate read on the speed performance of a given hosting platform. Visit a few websites that are similar to what you’re planning to build. (Be sure they’re running on WordPress!) If they seem snappy and responsive, get in touch with the site owner and find out which hosting platform they use. Ask if they’re happy with them. You can also feel free to contact us directly — we’ll give you our honest opinion about any hosts we’ve had experience with (which is a lot).
Beware of the $2-$3/month shared hosting plan.
Shared hosting (which means that you’re sharing your server with a lot of other websites) is adequate for most sites — unless you’re getting thousands of visitors a day, you probably don’t need to pay for more. However, the really cheap plans are usually really cheap for a reason. Expect to pay $5-$10/month for a reliable shared hosting provider with decent and responsive support.
Tune in next time for Part 2 when we’ll be guiding you through the process of choosing and configuring a domain name and installing the WordPress software.
Until then, feel free to send us your questions and thoughts about what you’d like to see discussed here at Artist Web School! #WordpressForArtists