Websites and Online Portfolios
@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
Geoffrey Gordon last edited by Geoffrey Gordon
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!
@Geoffrey-Gordon Those are all good points. Although I probably would have phrased it like "Hey, here are some things you can add to what was said on the podcast" instead of "man, you guys really blew it".
Geoffrey Gordon last edited by
@Lee-White My apologies, I was having a bad day. Feel kinda sheepish now...
Please know I have the utmost respect for you guys. "I guess I got carried away with the first part of your intro to the podcasts.... " some times we are gonna agree, sometimes we are going to argue...., but every time you are gonna learn something new.
@Geoffrey-Gordon that was awesome advice! Thanks for taking the time to share. Yeah, we all fall victim to, opps, that’s not how I meant to say that.
@Jake-Parker I really have a problem with platforms like Wix and Squarespace ^^'''' I don't like them because I think they're overpriced services that are a little manipulative and exploitative. They sell us the idea that "Building a website is SO hard! You could never do it in a million years! But with us, making a website has NEVER been so easy! Buy our overpriced service and you only have to pick a theme and fill in your info, and you're done!" The thing is... That already existed and it's called WordPress, and it's free. Yeah that's exactly what WordPress does: you pick a theme and put in your information, text and images. Sure it allows you to do more, like if you WANT you can go play with the code. But you certainly don't have to. And like @Geoffrey-Gordon has pointed out, now there are even page builders like Elementor so that if you can't find a theme you like, or if you just want to tweak an existing theme, you can drag and drop building blocks into your page. Being opensource, it also means the amount of help available is enormous. You can head to Youtube and see step-by-step tutorials for anything you could ever want to do. There are even hour-long tutorials of people putting together a WordPress website from beginning to end. Yes, it can be done in as little time as 1-2 hours.
The thing that WordPress lacks is proper marketing. It's cemented in people's minds as this complicated service. Before I built my website, I was terrified to try it because I thought it was a software that helped you write your own code, basically. That is really, really far from the truth. But companies like Wix and Squarespace lean into that. They saw that Wordpress was a wonderful easy service that people were afraid to use because of misconceptions and and they thought "we're going to build something similar, repackage it, and market it as the only headache-free way to build a website!" While that's smart from a business, it's only a step away from blatant misrepresentation and lies, so it really rubs me the wrong way. Just my 2 cents!
@NessIllustration We love wordpress. And if people want to use it, that is awesome. I say do whatever floats your boat. I wouldn't say that Squarespace is "lies and misrepresentation". It's just a service and they have branded themselves as easy. And they have made it easy. They do what they say they do, so I don't think it's a misrepresentation, maybe it's just something that is more expensive. But I don't see where the lies are with them. Personally I love squarespace and think the value is high. The commerce side of it is so robust and easy. Now maybe Wordpress is right up there too. I dunno. But I literally can sell 1 print per month and pay for my square space site. I'm good with that. : )
I've had trouble posting on instagram and archived most of my posts since someone mentioned that people interested in hiring illustrators look at IG accounts and expect them to be streamlined to the level of a portfolio. My website is waiting on portfolio pieces so it's not referenced in my instagram account yet. So at this stage I'm not worried about people trying to hire me, but I don't want to put myself at a disadvantage from the start! For now, I'm going to mark my IG account as student work and try not to worry about posting lower quality work, but I would be interested to hear how everyone balances their IG and website and how that may have changed at different stages. I think Will Terry mentioned he has his IG feed into his website, but would have to listen again to be sure.
@Geoffrey-Gordon Thank you for raising some very interesting points - however critical
I have not listened to the podcast yet, so I cannot comment on anything, but I wanted to ask you a question about image names, which you specifically addressed. I recently went through a very thorough SEO exercise on my webpage where I’ve introduced alt-text and keywords for each image. I have not, however, gone through the trouble of renaming all the files. Would you say having alt-text and keywords associated with the images is enough from google’s perspective, or should I also take the time to rename all the image files?
Incidentally, I have noticed a considerable increase in traffic after getting my keywords in order....so it does have an impact.
The only thing I can comment on: my page is on Wordpress since inception and I’ve never had reason to change. It gives me a great balance of flexibility and ease and I like the thought that I can do whatever I want with it.