Articles & Columns » State of the Arts Tech Talk

I write a Tech Talk column for the bi-monthly newspaper State of the Arts, published by the Montana Arts Council. My latest is Free Site Builders. My archives are here and you can subscribe to my RSS feed with your feed reader or by by email.

State of the Arts for November/December 2008: Online alternatives

If you’re an artist and want a web presence for getting your name out and marketing your work, one of your first decisions is how far you want to go with that presence.

That may seem like a fine distinction if youre starting out, but it can be important down the road if you want to change. The decision is: do you want your very own website? Or do you want to be listed on other websites that list other regional artists or those who work in the same medium?

The easy choice is to use a portal or artist listing service. Listing services and portals can be inexpensive and can be good destinations for people searching for different kinds of regional art or artists from Montana.

But such services can also be limited. You might not be able to get your listing updated quickly or images of new work presented in a reasonable time frame. Free portals can shut down or change ownership overnight, and your listing can be gone and internet searches for your name or work will come up empty.

If you switch from a listing or portal to your own website, people searching for you and your work might draw a blank unless you can forward web traffic from the portal.

If you want a presence on the internet that you control and can design the look and feel of, then you need to go with your own website and domain. Youll have a stable presence and over time, youll place high in internet search engines for your name and work.

First, youll need to get your own domain at a domain registrar like GoDaddy.com, and use their website builder or find a professional consultant to work with on your site.

Your website is your only representation, so be sure it looks professional. This is more expensive than a portal or listing, but your own site will give you the most options and you wont have to upgrade in the future.

Selling your artwork directly from your website or listing is another consideration. Some portals and listing services offer e-commerce services. Or, you can use a system such as Google Checkout to process credit cards and email invoices in exchange for the usual processing fees. Google Checkout will work with either a portal or your own website and will help you keep track of sales and shipping.

Even if you go with a listing or portal instead of a full website, you might want to register your own domain (see the July/August 2008 issue of State of the Arts, www.art.mt.gov/soa/pr.asp?ID=1050). You can own a domain (i.e., thisartist.com) without an associated website or email address, so its a good to be proactive and reserve your own name on the internet.

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