I have yet to meet an artist who does not want an amazing website. However, not many actually achieve this goal. I get it. Trust me. Developing a website requires planning, organization and maintenance. It is more challenging if you are not comfortable with technologically and have no computer science or web design background. However, as an actress turned producer with no computer science or website development education, I believe that if I can learn how to build a website development then any artist can learn it.
If you are ready to start your very own website then this digital guide is for you: Website Development for Artists: A Simple & Relatable Guide to the Basics of Websites.
To make websites more comfortable for us to understand, in each step of this guide, I will explain the various parts of websites by comparing your website to a house. Like houses, websites have many parts that do different things and, because a website is not something that you can touch, using the analogy of a home is useful for this guide.
This is the first article in this series. Here, I will start with the basic by explaining two elements of creating a location online for your website: domain name and hosting.
1. DOMAIN NAME: 123 MAIN ST.
Your domain name is like a street address. This is the location of your website.
2. Select Your Artist DOMAIN
Consider these things when selecting your domain.
While you don’t usually have the opportunity to name your own street address, on the internet you can select your own domain name. Provided that the name you’d like to use is not already taken, you can create any address you like. Domain name’s are purchased from a domain name registrar, an organization or commercial entity that manages the reservation of internet domain names. For more about domain names, check out this article.
If you know the domain name you’d like to buy, enter it here to see if it’s available. Otherwise keep reading for thoughts on how to select a domain.
1. Legal Name
Artist entrepreneurs usually select a domain name that is either the same as their personal brand name or their company (product) brand. If you have incorporated a business with your secretary of state, county or city, then it would be best to select a domain that matches the name that you used to legally register your business. This approach helps to establish your credibility and provides a consistent message concerning your business identity.
If you have not incorporated your business with your secretary of state, visit your secretary of state’s website and search the current database of registered businesses. If your name is not being used (awesome!) then purchase the domain and register it with your secretary of state. To get the proper information for registering your entity in your state conduct a Google search for “secretary of state” + “your state name” i.e. you can search for “secretary of state North Carolina”. If you are in California, check for your name here.
2. Personal or Product
If you do not have a product or company brand then you can purchase a domain that is simply your personal name, i.e., artistname.com. If you have a company or brand and you aren’t sure whether you would like to sell your work under your personal or company name take some time to think about the content that you want to share on the website. (We will discuss content in Step 4 of this guide.) For example, will you have blog posts and social media pages? Will you share personal or product related information? Will you have both? Who is the audience that is going to purchase your work?
For artists who plan to sell personal work to personal contacts, a personal website may be best. Depending on your profession, industry, audience and overall brand strategy you may want to keep these separate. For instance, you may purchase artistname.com and artistcompany.com. Think this through and consider what your business will be like 5 years from now and how you would want to organize your business and content.
3. Domain Extensions: .com .artist
.com is the traditional extension for websites. Having a .com is like having a home address that ends with “street”. But there are other options: court, place, boulevard, way, etc. So, if your .com domain name is taken, then you might consider using a domain that ends with an industry specific extension.
For instance, one of hundreds of new domain extensions, .photography focuses on photography studios, photo sharing websites, print shops, retailers, publishers and photographers of all kinds.
Other domain extensions available to artists include:
For a detailed list of new domain extensions visit domains.com
Finally, as you consider all of these options, you ultimately want to select a domain name that reflects your personal, business or product brand the best. When I first incorporated Run On Productions LLC in California, I didn’t realize that the domain name was taken so I opted for www.runonproductionsca.com to represent the location of the company. In hindsight, I regret the decision because, while I started my business in California, I’ve produced plays all over the country and have operated the business in various locations across America.
- Consider the ease of typing and remembering the domain.
- The spelling of your domain should match your brand name.
- Consider abbreviations or acronyms if your domain is taken.
Find a home for your digital content with a trusted host.
Once you have a domain you will need a place to store the digital files that will make up the website. Why do you need a different place to store these files? It’s simple. If you want to open a document on your computer, then you can simply go to the location of that file on your computer, for example, the desktop, and open it. However, you won’t be the only person accessing your website, right? So, that means your files need to be available globally, 24/7. If you want anyone in the world to be able to access your website then its’ files need to be stored somewhere where they can be accessed globally, right? So, in this case, your computer may not be the best place to store those files. This is where web hosting comes into the picture.
Web Hosting Companies
Web hosting companies provide the service of delivering the files that make up your website to your website visitors 24/7. Web hosting companies provide space on a server for your content and they ensure that that content is available
Let’s continue with the analogy of your website being like a house. If the domain (address) is the location of your house, then your hosting plan is like the land where you will build the house. In other words, like the land under your house, your web host essentially will determine the capacity of your website.
There are various types of hosting. In this guide I will focus on shared hosting. Let’s say you are considering building a home and want to know more about the land where you want to build. You would consider the square footage, zoning rules, on-site sewage, common facilities, electrical power, water etc. In short, you would want to know:
- what you can build there;
- can the land sustain what you want to build; and,
- what services you will be provided to maintain what you build.
This is exactly what you want to know about your shared hosting plan. In the same way, your hosting provider determines the size, speed, and the amenities, in general, that you can have on your domain.
We can think of shared hosting as purchasing one house in a neighborhood with shared resources. Each house on your block uses the same pipes to get water and depends on the same electrical wiring for power. With shared hosting you won’t know who your neighbors are so it is essential to know the quality of services offered by the hosting provider who is managing those shared services. The best shared hosting providers seek to make sure that adequate resources are provided to each website.
In this guide, you will learn how to build a self-hosted website. Self-hosting means that, for the most part, you control your website entirely. Where it concerns the freedom to design your website as you wish, self-hosting is like the difference between building a home and renting an apartment. An apartment is prebuilt and has predefined limitations for making changes to its size, location, color etc. A house, however, can be adapted as the owner sees fit, within reason. For more details on this click here.
4. PURCHASE A DOMAIN & Hosting
Begin the journey to your online presence and purchase your domain and hosting today.
You can start a website featuring your artistic work by purchasing a domain and hosting today.
InMotion has, in my opinion:
- The best customer service team, hands down.
- Excellent uptime (meaning your website is always available!)
- Fast, reliable content delivery.
- Free SSL.
- Free data backups.
- Excellent library of over 400 applications (that other hosting providers do not offer.)
- And more!
I have built websites for others on GoDaddy, BlueHost and NameCheap. Each have their ups and downs.
- Namecheap.com I highly recommend Namecheap.com as a domain name registrar. They have the most affordable prices on domains and they are easy to integrate with other services like InMotion Hosting.
- Bluehost is a popular domain name registrar and hosting service provider that many bloggers and artists trust.