3 Simple Steps to Creating Your Own Artist Website
STEP #1: Choose Your Website Platform
Before considering colour schemes, domain names and web hosting, you need got to decide what platform you’re going to build your website on.
So, what’s a platform? Platforms are simply the ‘easel’ your website will sit on. WordPress, Wix & Shopify, etc. have made creating a website easy and affordable and are a user-friendly platform for managing your website on.
As you’ll see below, WordPress is by far the most popular, but you may choose another for your own reasons.
Why Choose WordPress Over a custom built website?
#1. WordPress is free, with zillions of free or paid-for themes to choose from
WordPress doesn’t cost a penny to download or install and there’s a huge variety of beautiful free and paid-for themes and templates to choose from, making it easy to get going fast.
#2. It’s beginner-friendly
If you know how to use Microsoft Word, then you’re half way there to adding your own content. WordPress can be expanded with free ‘plugins’ to handle almost anything. With ‘plugins’ you’ll be able to add contact forms, subscription forms, image galleries etc. so you can get started quickly.
#3. Starter to Experienced
From a basic artist’s site to a fully fledged store, WordPress can handle just about any kind of website and will integrate all your needs including PayPal buttons and great superzoom image functions.
#4. Your site work on mobiles & tablets
The website you build will instantly be ‘responsive’ and so look great on every mobile device, smartphone and tablet instantly.
#5. Massive support community available to help you
When using platforms like WordPress, it’s easy to find help quickly when you need it. Additionally, WordPress has lots of free resources available on both Youtube and their own support forum.
#6. Changing Templates and/0r Colour Schemes is simple
If you get bored with a WordPress template or your colour schemes, you can easily change them quickly and simply to another without having to learn a whole new administration technique.
So, as a beginner, my advice is to use WordPress and it’s the format I’m going to concentrate on here.
To create website, you’re going to need two things:
- A domain name (a web address, e.g: yoursitename.com)
- Hosting (a service that connects your domain/website to the internet)
The WordPress platform (easel) is free, but a domain name (your paintbox) and hosting (canvas) will cost you around £2-5 a month: less than a cream tea, so it won’t break the bank!
Owning your own domain name is far more professional than someone else’s domain (like: yourbusiness.my-cheap-website.co.uk) and it’s incredibly affordable, too. Having your own hosting will also make sure your website loads quickly and won’t go down for hours: you pay peanuts, you get monkeys!
Where do I get a domain name and hosting?
There are many places you can buy domains and hosting, but by far in my experience one.com are hard to beat for service and price.
Some companies change separately for a domain, then charge extra for your hosting. Read the small print if you don’t want to use one.com to make sure the price you’re paying isn’t excluding the hosting and what you get for your hosting.
one.com charges are simple. The current starter pack includes 25 GB (more than you’ll need for years!) of storage, a domain of your choice, and all the support you’ll need. The domains are currently between £7 (.co.uk) and £9 (.com) per year and the hosting £1.90 a month, but all of this is free for the first year with just a £9 set-up fee. Thereafter you’ll just pay £25.96 (.co.uk) or £27.96 (.com) per year. And one.com‘s online support is free and second to none!
You can try other web hosting providers, of course, and even try to host your site by yourself, but it’s a very complicated process and often wouldn’t be capable of serving your website visitors. So save yourself some money and get a proper host that meets WordPress requirements.
When you get a domain name (and hosting) from one.com, you’ll get a multitude of personal email accounts too: You@YourSite.co.uk – way more professional than a generic Gmail or Yahoo address and much safer from hacking.
If you already have a domain and hosting, then skip to step 3 where I explain how you can set up your website.
What kind of domain name should I pick?
You want something that’s preferably small and easy to remember. At the top of any one.com page there’s a domain search bar. There you can search for available domains.
- If YourName.co.uk isn’t free try adding something like YourNameArtist.co.uk
- Don’t be too clever and avoid hyphens Your-Name.co.uk or underscores Your_Name.co.uk where possible.
Domain names usually end with .co.uk, .com, .org or .net (called extensions), but in recent months, a huge amount of domain ‘extensions’ have come out, ranging from .gallery to .art, but my advice is, unless your name is John Smith (which wont be available) use the most traditional forms like .co.uk or .com as they’re easy for your visitors to remember and to find.
N.B: The internet is font neutral so, despite popular belief, Capitals in both domains and email addresses are irrelevant. In other words, email@example.com will go to the same place as MARK@THEHARBOURGALLERY.CO.UK or Mark@TheHarbourGallery.co.uk and the same applies to domains: www.theharbourgallery.co.uk, www.TheHarbourGallery.co.uk & WWW.THEHARBOURGALLERY.CO.UK
NB: .org domains are traditionally used for non-profit organisations, so I would avoid using those where possible.
Good luck with choosing yours, but I would visit one.com (or whoever you choose) before moving on to the next stage.
Once you’ve bought your domain name and set up your hosting, you’re well on your way! Now it’s time to get your website up and running. The first thing you’ll need to do is install WordPress to your domain.Installing WordPressLuckily, if you’ve chosen one.com as your hosting, there’s a simple one-click set up for this in your control panel. This saves a lot of hassle and, once installed, you can then download your chosen template and upload it into WordPress and you’re good to go!
Here are the steps you need to follow (this should be similar/same on all the major web hosting companies):
- Login to your hosting account
- Go to your hosting account
- Look for the ‘wordpress’ icon
- Click on the ‘install now’ button and you will get access to you new WordPress website
If you’re unable to locate it, look here: https://www.one.com/en/support/guide/using-1-click-wordpress
Alternatively, use manual instal
If for some reason you don’t have the option to install WordPress automatically, you can use this manual guide:
N.B: if your host doesn’t have a 1-click-installation, maybe you’re dealing with a bad host?
Choosing a Theme/Template for your site
Once you’ve successfully installed WordPress to your domain, it will default to their basic site, like this:
But you want to look individual, so this is where your chosen theme comes in. Your chosen theme will be optimised for all formats, so will look great wherever it’s viewed. Here’s an example:
There are hundreds of thousands of fabulous, professionally designed themes you can choose from and customise for a site that’s all your own. A tip to start searching is maybe search ‘WordPress Art Themes’ or ‘Painters WordPress Themes’.
This is what the WordPress dashboard looks like:
On the WordPress dashboard (where you’ll edit all your content) everything is labelled and is easy to follow. No matter what theme you choose you will always see this page as the admin, so you never have to worry about changing your theme. If this is somewhat overwhelming, don’t worry, I’ll take you through it all.
Installing a WordPress Theme
OK, so you’ve found a theme you like and have bought it (or used a free theme). Now either download it from the creator’s website as a .zip file or go back into WordPress and click on ‘Appearance’ in the left hand column and then ‘themes’. This page will appear.
Here, click on ‘add new’ which will take you to this page:
Here you have two choices. If you have downloaded your theme to your computer, simply click on ‘upload theme’ and find the theme you’ve saved as a .zip file to your computer to upload it. The theme will automatically ‘unpack’ for you.
Alternatively, in the ‘search themes’ field, you can type in the name of the theme you’ve chosen and when it appears, upload it direct from the developer’s website. This will unpack in the same way.
Once uploaded, you may need to ‘register’ your theme before using it, especially if you’ve bought a full version (some website themes are free for the basic package but you have to buy the ‘full’ package to install other features). This will be self explanatory and will reside in the ‘edit theme’ page.
Once that’s done and your theme is chosen as the ‘active’ theme, you’re ready to start setting up your website.
Let’s quickly run through some of the basic page setups…
Adding and editing pages
You will no doubt want a “biography” page, or an “About Me” page (like I have on my menu)
1. Look along the sidebar in the WordPress Dashboard for “Pages” -> “Add New”.
2. Click on that and you’ll find a screen that looks a lot like what you’ve maybe seen in Microsoft Word. Add text, images and more to build the page you want, then save it when you’re done.
Adding pages to the menu
If you want your new page to be linked to in your navigation bar,
1. Save any changes you’ve made to the page by clicking on ‘publish’ or ‘update’
2. Click ‘Appearance’ -> ‘Menus’ in the sidebar of the WordPress Dashboard
3. Find the page you created and add it to the list by clicking the checkbox next to it and then ‘Add to Menu’.
You’ll now find you have that page in your menu!
Rather than me talk you through everything here, I’m going to suggest you watch some great tutorials on YouTube like the one below. This should give you a sound grounding in how to administer your wordpress site and I hope it will give you confidence to take your business to the world wide web!
Caio for now! Mark David Hatwood FRSA