Websites and Online Portfolios
Art by Marissa Valdez
Your website is your home online. Potential clients, fans, and fellow illustrators will look to your website to feel out who you are, what your work is like, and whether they want to work with you or follow you. This week, Jake Parker, Lee White, and Will Terry offer a comprehensive look at building a website for illustrators, how to get your portfolio site up and running, and how to organize the art in your space so that you can put your best foot forward and show your work -- and your personality -- to the world.
braydin hawlette last edited by
'Alright, Braden, It's time to redo your portfolio for a new round of postcards...' looks over at podcast notifications '...Well that's handy'.
Jeremy Ross last edited by
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@Jake-Parker has the schedule changed?
I just want to point out that you can register a domain with .art on the end if yourname .com is taken. I could not find my name so I registered my domain as www.geoffreygordon.art ... I don't have content yet as I am still learning but I wanted to reserve a domain so long. I just have my Instagram feed at the moment.
First off I wanted to say. I love all the podcasts and have listened to every single one. I have learned a lot and love this community.
With regard to this episode, I wanted to point out while there were many good points raised on this topic, there was equally just as much incorrect advice given which was relegated to guesswork.
As a web developer that has worked in this field for over 11 years. There is so much I wanted to add to this topic. I am breaking into the illustration field.... so I have a lot to learn, but as a web developer, I am a seasoned veteran that has worked with business of all sorts and sizes.... There was too much advice here that is way off the mark.
If you like I can add more guidance to this topic.
Melanie Ortins last edited by
@Geoffrey-Gordon Just curious, but what advice do you think is off the mark?
@Geoffrey-Gordon Thanks for your feedback. I don't feel like we were off the mark, but if we were I am very open to changing my opinion. None of us are web developers, nor do we want to be. We want practical and fairly easy route for illustrators to make a website which squarespace and others have made possible. Jake, Will, and I all have created websites which are robust enough to get a lot of sales and jobs and don't require a lot of upfront costs or complications. And as illustrators, we sure don't want to hire a developer which would add so much cost and effort. We had that before with the svs website and it was such a headache.
We aren't just guessing at what has worked for us, we have each built many versions of our sites and come at it from a user perspective (vs. a developer). Which is why I would be hesitant to say it's "way off" but like I said, I would love to hear your thoughts.
Let me know which parts you think were off and I would be happy to take a second look. : )
@Nyrryl-Cadiz Hi! The episodes still come out every other week, but we changed the release to a day earlier, on Tuesdays
So I agree that it's best to use your name if possible for your website, but I always worry that my name might be hard to spell and will lose people. Any advice for that?
My name, "Carlianne" doesn't seem that challenging, but I get called "carolanne" a lot and I worry that someone may misread it or struggle typing it in. But I don't want to use my nickname "Carli" as I feel Carlianne is more professional and memorable?
@carlianne I would suggest buying the similar name domains that people typically use and then pointing it to your real site (if they are available).
Oh interesting idea! I'll have to look into that.
@carlianne your name really is beautiful. Be cleaver with your logo to emphasize a clear spelling of your name. No clue how to do that. Like “carli” in a plain font and “Anne” in cursive. But still one word. Maybe?
Thanks so much Whintey! That's a good idea! Or maybe just good spacing between the letters could help?
It's funny because my last name is "Tipsey" and I worry that a publisher might want me to use a pen name in the future lol So right now I'm doing carliannecreates on all my social, email, website etc. and sorta hoping I can drop my last name like Madonna or something
@carlianne lol! You and me both
Thank you for your response, perhaps my assessment was a tad harsh. But I will put some points below to specify what I mean. I am sorry if this is lengthy…..
- Website Platform
It is important to get this part right, Wix and Squarespace are starting points. I am not going to say good starting points but they are better than nothing. If you are going to use a freebee solution... don’t think that people wont notice the “powered by Squarespace or Wix at the bottom”. Rather pay a little extra to get it removed as Jake has done. Nothing screams newbie like not investing properly in your website. You don’t want to look cheap, especially when your artwork is so amazing.
My thoughts on art station and deviant are that they are great platforms to show casework, you could even add dribble and Behance. But they are social platforms, not websites, a professional has their own website, not just a social presence. Also, consider being on platforms like these make it easy to switch from you to someone else's profile... you can be forgotten quickly, because the platform allows users to browse other artists, too. Now if you have a profile on one of these platforms and then a link to your website, that would take them to your website where the focus would be exclusively on your work
One of the points Jake raises is to collect email addresses as you cannot rely on a social platforms to always be there. An email list is gold. In the same breath building, a website on a service-based platform holds the same risk. What is Squarespace closes down... you have no longer have control over that and will lose your website? Food for thought 26 Reasons Why WordPress Crushes Squarespace Every Time
Lastly, I wanted to add that WordPress has come a long way with the birth of page builders like beaver builder and elementor. Designing your website is a drag and drop experience no coding needed is a reality. You will have way more features available to you to and it's not built on a platform that could go away as WordPress is opensource and not reliant on a service.
Good advice with regards to domains, I just wanted to add that you should secure your domain as soon as possible... don’t wait until your ready to build a website as the domain may be taken and you will be forced to register something else. Even if you don’t build a website just reserve it for when you are ready to.
- Home Page
The home page is the most important page of a website; its purpose is mainly to engage visitors and direct them to where you want them to go. So, look at all the pages of the website and then decide what elements are important, this will, of course, be shown in order of importance and will also be determined how each point should be highlighted.
Children’s book illustrator home page
Strong intro statement introducing who you are and what you do, your message must resonate with your target audience. If you are talking to publishers then your message needs to be directed to them.
The secondary focus can be a gallery of your best work but not all... just enough to give them an idea and then an option to view the full gallery on a separate page.
If you have done previous books you want to also highlight that on the homepage with a link to your books page, so they can see what you have done.
Lastly you need a call to action that entices the publisher to get in touch with you. I noticed on all your websites there is no prominent contact page. Now I know you are going to tell me you are busy and you don’t want people to bother. But for most websites that is what is standard and you can bet they will be looking for a way to get in touch with you.
I could go through examples for each different type of illustrator based on their services but that would take some time, maybe if others have questions, I would be happy to respond.
Advice on about, portfolio and services is solid, the only extra advice is you always need a call to action on your website pages. There is nothing worse than scrolling to the bottom of a page the visitor has consumed your content and there is nothing….. You need to tell them what to do next….
As far as blogs are concerned jake hit I the nail on the head… its good to have them as they help from an SEO perspective in creating depth to the website and bringing traffic in from different resources. Remember from google's standpoint it reads texts, it cannot read images unless properly formatted, but you still need enough text on pages.
Also, it is a big misnomer to say people don’t read blogs……. Well written blogs are still very much alive, the problem is people are lazy and don’t write quality blogs. But the ones that follow good guidelines are read all the time and contribute hugely to a successful website.
All 3 of you get this part wrong.... sorry guys…. Images are your most important selling point. It's how Google knows how to index you properly because it knows what the image is and where to index it for searching. By doing this correctly you can increase your traffic to your website exponentially. Here is an example…… from each of your websites…. Don’t be mad at me just pointing it out….
HotTubSM.jpg – would be more effective if it was renamed to “animals-in-a-hot-tub-will-terry.jpg
Google reads the word “hottubsm”…. The google search engine things…. Mmmmmm what is that …. let's just chuck in in the miscellaneous pile…
Illumination.jpg – yes it describes the image but not fully. “water-color-illumantion-concept-lee-white-print.jpg” is way better. It tells Google the medium, about the image, who did it and that it is a print.
headshot04.jpg - that is the name of your first image… Buy now I know you know where I am going…. Better to be called “jake-parker-illustrator-comic-author.jpg”
I am going to stop at this point hopefully this has been helpful.
xin li last edited by
@carlianne I love your last name. "Tipsey" sounds so artsy (I am not a native English speaker, I have no clue what it sounds like to English speakers).
@xin-li it is cute! But it is very close to and pronounced the same as the slang word "tipsy" which means someone is a little bit drunk. So i wonder if I'll have to change it for kidlit books? I dunno maybe it'll be fine
Julia last edited by
@Geoffrey-Gordon hello! Good summary! It took me many hours on skillshare / internet to put this information together for my small business project : I believe it does really well apply to illustrators who are also entrepreneurs. Thanks for sharing the good tips!