Do I need to make a website?
I'm thinking to finally start a website as I only really have my Art Station page and the usual social media outlets for my work at the moment (I'm gradually working towards building my illustration portfolio which is why there isn't much aside for portrait/caricatures). I mainly want to use it as a portfolio page to help attract clients and to write a blog with tutorials and perhaps use it as a way to sell prints (in the future).
Have any of you found that by having your own website you have gained more work or a larger audience as opposed to just having the free routes? It probably wouldn't take a lot of time to build one with something like squarespace I guess, but with the amount of free portfolio websites out there is it even worth the time and money?
I feel that websites are important. If anything, it makes your name more searchable, and you can take how you want your artwork presented into your own hands. It's sort of like your own "home" while other social media and art sites are like rented spaces. There's plenty of free options, and Squarespace is simple and incredibly easy.
Amazing caricatures by the way!
Personally, I've not noticed a substantial increase in traffic since starting a website. However, when I am interested in another artist I like to search their name in google and find content quickly. Artists are often spread out among multiple platforms and I find it difficult sometimes, even when I search well-known artists, to find basic content like portfolios or products (I want to buy stuff but I cant figure out where to get it!!) A website can bring it all together and make it simpler for fans or agents to find what they are looking for.
Thank you for your help guys. I'll get started building one up :D
Actually, I have been asking myself the same question, especially since re-activating my Behance account.
I am not sure what you mean with „a larger audience“, given that a website does not promote itself and google could not care less about it until it has gained a seizable traffic (my website was listed on the third page of google search at the beginning, even if I searched with my name).
You can start a website to host a blog and use your blog to promote the website - but keep in mind that blogging at any level that interests people is an enormous amount of work and for it to have any effect on traffic it needs to drive traffic by itself - that is interesting content, well written and on a relatively frequent basis (weekly or so). I blogged a bit at the beginning and then I stopped for three reasons: a) it was too much work; b) according to stats, only a handful of visitors came to the blog: the majority went to the homepage (which is linked from my profiles on all social media channels) — may well be my content was not attractive enough though...; c) I had to disable comments because I got fed up of moderating enormous amounts of spam comments every week. The worst was when somebody hacked the comment section of the blog so that when you tried to leave a comment you actually got redirected to an outside page. I ended up disabling comments entirely, which seemed to defy the purpose of a blog.
This is only anedoctical of course - but maybe it points out that hosting a website also means caring for the security of it.
Now, from the other side, a website is the symbol of a professional. When I am looking to hire an illustrator and find out that he/she does not have a website it gives a bad vibe for me as art director. I ask myself if I can trust this person, if he/she is a legit business and works as a professional. When I see somebody who just has a sponsored website , I wonder how come he does not have the business volume/seriousness/commitment to have his/her own website. BUT, more and more I come across artists whose work is great, who have many accolades etc... but only have a Behance account or a Dribble or a Blogger home page. So, maybe it is not that necessary if you have other credentials and the work is really good.
As for getting leads - who knows. My website currently has between 50-100 visitors per day. But people who contact me seem to come mostly via Behance or social media. Maybe they start there and then go to the website to take their decision to reach out, maybe they don’t...there is no way to know...
Like @smceccarelli says, the security aspect is a big one to think about, this depends on whether you are having a database driven website or a static website. Static websites don't need as much maintenance (they don't have a database to keep updating with security patches) and if a blog isn't a requirement they are fine. Make sure you encrypt your email from the bots though.
I think @gdbee put it brilliantly. "It's sort of like your own "home" while other social media and art sites are like rented spaces." Lots of great points by @smceccarelli as well. I don't think it's as important as it once was but it has a perception of professionalism. That being said my website needs a lot of work as I've been quite neglectful of late!
Remember to get the .com. There's another Ian Summers out there and he got the .com. What's worse is he's and illustrator as well!
@ians I have the same problem Ian. There is another Tom Barrett who is an illustrator. Fortunately he is using his reps website as his portfolio and I was able to get the .com I wanted.
@Gary-Wilkinson For a newbie like me, I feel my having a website gives the impression that I am serious about my wanting to pursue childrens illustration, and, like @smceccarelli said, it makes me look more professional. Once, Lord willing, I have established a name for myself and become someone art directors search out, then a website maybe become less of a necessity. On the other hand, once you do become successful, having a website gives a place for fans, schools, or other organizations to find you. Sure they could contact the publisher, but that could be a turn off for some who have to jump thru hoops to get in contact with you. I have been a bit disappointed at times when looking for an illustrator to see more of their work, only to find that the only online presence they have is a bio page on a publisher's website. Perhaps I am over thinking it, but food for thought...