While many artists, designers, illustrators and photographers use WordPress as a blogging platform and showcase for their work, the vast majority still don’t. But why? Blogs provide an easy way to display and sell your art, discuss your creative processes, announce exhibits and build relationships with potential buyers, exhibitors and fellow artists.
On WordPress, particularly, you can easily produce and maintain your blog yourself because using the site requires very little working knowledge of HTML, special software or web design. WordPress is a free platform and is open source, with myriad tutorials available to teach you how to use the site and software effectively.
Why Use WordPress?
There are hundreds of DIY websites and software tools out there, but WordPress has been around for quite a while, is one of the most popular and arguably the best and easiest to use. Here’s why you should consider using it for your artist website.
It’s free to use. If that alone doesn’t sway you, keep reading. WordPress is open source software, created by people who believe in making remarkable tools that anyone can use. When you set up a WordPress account and start from scratch, you have all the creative control at your fingertips – you can make your site look exactly how you want it to look.
As a visual artist, this should be a thrilling concept for you. After all, you probably have a large stockpile of creative assets you’d like to display along with a running dialogue about how each piece of art came to be. A WordPress account can literally become the place where you can share your creative journal with the public.
The mood, tone, look and feel of the website can be changed at a whim in order to provide the best frame or backdrop for your ever-evolving art style. The built-in software includes a wide array of artistic background themes that can be applied and changed when desired – all you have to do is upload images of your art and add the accompanying text.
WordPress.com vs. WordPress.org
Yes, there are two of them: the site-hosted WordPress.com and the self-hosted version, whose software is available at no charge at WordPress.org.
If you’re new to the idea of displaying your work on a website, you can leave the driving to the experts at WordPress.com. The site offers premium hosting services, security and backups. Once you become proficient at site management, you can upgrade to a custom domain of your own.
There are countless tutorials available on WordPress.com that cover pretty much every design or software question or nearly any contingency you might come up with. You can also try out the hundreds of themes the site offers.
Popular options like sharing, stats, comments and even personalized polls are included in the native software, so there’s no need to install plugins. And once you’ve gotten your site up and running, it’s easily integrated with your Facebook, Twitter, Tumblr, and other social network accounts. In order to set up a free WordPress.com account, you must register and agree to the site’s terms of service.
The web publishing software available at WordPress.org is for those with more experience under their belts or the desire to take command from the ground up. Hosting your own WordPress site requires more time and a bit more technical knowledge.
You can download the WordPress software for free, but it must be installed on a web server before it will work. You’ll also have to research, choose and install your own themes and plugins. If you need assistance, many hosting providers offer a one-click installation of WordPress and there are also many web development agencies that specialize in helping private publishers build their WordPress sites.
While WordPress offers VaultPress for site security and backups, you’ll have to either perform all site maintenance yourself or arrange that through your web hosting company. You’ll need to install a plugin to enable sharing functionality with your social media accounts on your site.
Access to the WordPress.org support forums will be available in case you need any assistance or information. You won’t have to register an account with WordPress in order to download and use the software, although doing so will make some additional features available.
Why Don’t All Artists Use WordPress?
While WordPress hasn’t been a secret for years among professional writers, bloggers and even photographers, it’s only recently come to the attention of a growing number of artists. Why? Most artists probably weren’t aware of the potential for exposure that the platform can offer for their work.
Some may feel that managing a site is too complicated, so they never bothered to give it a shot. In reality, however, it’s not unfeasible to get an art-based website up and running in about an hour, thanks to the level of available technology and assistance that WordPress provides.
Starting and staying with a clean, simple design is the way to go when creating a website. In addition to cutting down on time spent on how the site looks, keeping it simple allows your site’s visitors to focus on what you want them to focus on – your art. Some of the sites that generate the highest traffic are typically quite simple in design. Visitors dislike complicated navigational options or overly-sophisticated user interfaces that clutter up a site. They don’t want to be awed by the site, they’d prefer to be blown away by the content.
Because of the massive number of people who use WordPress (it accounts for about 20% of all websites), there are literally thousands of themes, templates, plugins and other tools that will make WordPress do just about anything you want it to do. And if you can’t find an answer to a question on the site or in one of the forums, you can Google any type of WordPress problem and come up with a hundred possible solutions.
Give it a shot … chances are your art will get noticed. That’s what it’s all about, right?