Websites and Online Portfolios

  • Pro SVS OG

    @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 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.

  • Hi @smceccarelli, I agree - Wordpress isn’t as hard as some may believe. What’s hard is completing amazing portfolio pieces (at least for me!).

    For the record, I’m using Wordpress with Elementor and it was pretty easy. I had some issues at first with SSL for security, but that was Namecheap, not Wordpress.

    This episode and forum topic is timely since I’m in the middle of creating my own site.

    Thanks y’all!

  • @carolinedrawing I'm not sure what you mean by people that are hiring illustrators look at your IG and expect it to be streamlined to the level of a portfolio. If you were applying to a job you would provide your website or portfolio, if I were doing the hiring process I wouldn't then also look at your instagram and be like "oh he has old student work on here" and not hire you. I would base it on the portfolio you sent in? Or are you just talking about someone looking to commission an artist and doing so through their instagram? In which case, if you aren't trying to get a job right now, I'm not sure why it would matter?

    As for what you can post I think that they talk about that in the podcast on social networks. But you can post student work, saying you're an aspiring_______. And people will follow because they want to watch your journey.

    I have my website and portfolio linked right now, but I need to add a call of action to my website which I don't have. So right now it's just arttips and art pieces on my instagram, and my official portfolio and contact on my website.

  • Pro

    @Lee-White I don't have anything against people that use SquareSpace or find value in their service 🙂 I know a lot of people like it and if they are satisfied, that's all that matters... That's why 99% of the time I hear about SquareSpace or Wix I stamp down on my initial reaction and just don't say anything, even if my eye starts to twitch every time I hear the name haha! I dislike how much misinformation there is about Wordpress, and how most people who haven't used it are led to believe building a website on Wordpress is complicated when it's not. All their marketing and copy writing leans into that perceived pain point. There's only one reason people are lead to believe that: so companies like Wix and SquareSpace can make money selling supposedly easier tools - which are in fact, the same tools available for free on Wordpress...

  • @NessIllustration does wordpress give you a free personal domain name or do you have to pay for that?

    I setup a shop website with Shopify, which is well expensive. But I wanted their dropship facilities so I don't have to deliver my own large prints. I have a Squarespace too. Now though I'm trying to cut down on costs. I think the most likely outcome is to move my portfolio site to adobe portfolio as I'm paying top dollar for Adobe CC. They have a portfolio page built into the subscription.

  • Pro

    @sigross I have my portfolio with Adobe's platform and love it!
    As for Wordpress, you have to pay for your hosting and domain but that's all. Hosting on Siteground starts at $3.95 a month for one website and a domain on Namecheap is $8-12 a YEAR, so less than $1 a month. Wordpress' ecommerce system, Woocommerce, is free and can integrate with many dropshipping services. My favorite is Printful, they have great quality large prints and it integrates with Woocommerce. Basically anything that Squarespace can do, Wordpress can do it too, but cheaper. By switching your portfolio to Adobe and Shopify to Wordpress, you're looking at reducing your costs to about $5 a month for everything, which is nothing to spit at!

  • @NessIllustration Thanks for the info, sounds good, I'll defo switch to adobe to save some money.
    I had no choice with Shopify as The Printspace (printers) uses them, they don't do woocommerce right now but may in the future. I know they are setting a printshop up in the US too. I want to remain loyal to them as they are lovely people and quality printers, plus I can go in and see them as I like to be able to sign some editions. I've also found a factory round the corner in London that'll print fabrics and wallpaper and I can add dropship with Shopify through them. Where I make a saving is on worldwide shipping as the printer only charge £6 ($7.50-8). Which makes shipping simple.

  • @Lee-White I agree with @NessIllustration. To elaborate her point a little more. The main issue I have with places like Squarespace and Wix is the long term offer. Yes setting it up is quick and you can band out a website, services like these are always tiered and limited. Meaning once your website is up and running, sooner are later you are going to want to add some integration or functionality and then that's when they say please upgrade your account so you can have this new feature. So it could be a payment gateway or a newsletter feature or even a better way to showcase your gallery or you could run out on the number of pages you are allowed. This is how these services work, they get you hooked in at entry-level and then when you well invested, you feel obligated to move to the next tier of payment and before you know it what was once cheap is getting more expensive.

    Wordpress does not have these limits and there is literally a free plugin for every extra solution you want to an addon or a once-off payment for a premium solution, either way it is much better to invest in the right platform than to have to redo everything from scratch when you find out that your current service can longer help you or it costs too much to maintain.

    I wish I could be a lecturer on SVS to show people just how easy it is to set up a website using WordPress. The only costs for the student will be the cost of a domain and their monthly hosting which is really cheap like between 5 to 10 dollars a month. I could show them ....

    • How to get started, buy a domain, set up a blank WordPress install

    • How to add pages, posts, and media

    • How to properly prepare and plan your website

    • Best practices for each page and understanding effective layout

    • Understand basic SEO principles,

    • How to maintain their website and keep it safe from hackers

    Just a thought, I have 8 years working with WordPress, there is a lot I could offer on this subject. best of all they won't need to know any coding at all...

  • @Geoffrey-Gordon You could do a youtube channel. and we will totally follow you :-). Thank you so much for the tips and advice on image SEO.

    Personally, I think Squarespace vs WordPress is a minor question in the process of making a website. I think the bigger question for with website for illustrators is what Jake talked about "the purpose".

    But that said, saving a bit of money to run business by using a quality free platform is always welcome. So more knowledge of Wordpress is definitely useful for illustrators.

  • @carlianne I think you could work under Carlianne, alone. Or make it into a full first and last name - Carli Anne.

  • Pro

    @Geoffrey-Gordon Agreed! I looked at Squarespace's pricing and while the cheapest tier is only $12, that covers barely anything 😕 Unless all you need is a basic portfolio with no other features whatsoever, I wouldn't recommend this. You don't even get an email! (and $12 is if you pay for the whole year upfront, month to month will cost you $16...) The next tier will get you an email and basic shop options, bit still limited AND with transaction fees. In order to get very useful features that I've always taken for granted, such abandoned cart recovery, real-time shipping fees calculation, applying discounts automatically to qualifying orders, gift cards, etc, you'll need the HIGHEST tier. Those are pretty basic features you can get for no additional cost in Wordpress!

    Perhaps most disappointingly, in order to make their service as user-friendly as possible and completely idiot-proof, they have removed the incredible treasure trove of options and choices you get with Wordpress, leaving you with only 20 something basic themes that make their websites all look the same. If you want to do anything slightly original, forget it... While I agree with @xin-li that the platform isn't as important as the purpose and content, it's always a bit disheartening to me to see pros go straight to recommending Squarespace and Shopify, further propagating the myth that those are the only user friendly options that exist. The cost of these platforms are nothing to a pro, but for a beginner who's having trouble making ends meet every month, dropping $400-500 a year on their fledgling shop and portfolio that's not yet attracting any visitors (let alone any sales) is a serious handicap.

  • Moderator

    I use Portfolio Box. Free domain name and hosting, plus e-commerce (0% commission). No email, but they can integrate one.

    $10/month. Unlimited pages and 1000 images.

    There is a free option as well so you can play around with stuff.

    The best thing about it is that it's built for images and galleries, and centered on creatives. You're not adapting a suite of generic plug-ins to make them work for what you want. I like their page layouts and options, and the capacity for adjustments is powerful enough for me to feel like I've created something I feel represents me.

  • @Geoffrey-Gordon I'd be interested in a tutorial on that whether you taught it here or wherever! I did the Wix free site recently and even that confused me lol. Seems that you have a lot to offer.

  • @Coley i have been toying with putting an online course for this exact purpose for some time perhaps its time to do it, but maybe niche-based, like just for artists....

  • SVS OG

    What’s the difference in a domain and a website? And I do like squarespace. I want to learn as little as this stuff as possible. I’ll pay someone who knows what they are talking about when I make real money. For now I’ll give squarespace money so I don’t have to think about it.

    My website is if you guys want to see it. Critiques and input are welcome. However, if it’s too complicated about the site, I probably won’t do it. Any about the artwork, feel free to rip that to shreads. I can handle that input.

  • @Geoffrey-Gordon Hey Geoff. I am also a WordPress Developer (8yrs) I would love to help out if you do. I've been thinking about working on a niche style wordpress theme and development resource for artists for awhile now. My current portfolio ( which lacks good SEO because as a developer i hate working on my own web projects. Takes forever! lol Let me know if you wanna chat off site in msg or something.

  • @NessIllustration There are some boilerplate and bootstrap WordPress themes out there where you can determine your layout and content and adding plugins like Elementor or Beaverbuilder to add content and site structure without getting bloated with stuff you don't need for an Portfolio website. My site using it. Its not 100% but I keep building it out as I go.

  • @carlianne Oh I love your full name! I was thinking how lyrical your name is! It matches well with your sweet illos.

  • @carlianne I think it actually works in your favor. People are going to be more likely to remember it and the word "tipsy" has funny, but pleasant connotations rather than if your last name was "Drunk". 🙂 Art directors and agents are humans and as adult they would find it amusing enough to recall your name: a plus over more generic or harder to pronounce names. Its not the kids you have to sell to but adults.

  • @carlianne Thanks, yeah, I don't know why IG would detract from a portfolio (like why would anyone be checking up on all your accounts?), but that was the idea I got from a friend that had a portfolio review from someone at 3X3 magazine. Somehow I only looked at your website from the featured student thread and missed your IG account, so I'm pretty happy to see how you balance the two in such a fun way. I need to find a way to relax about sharing my work because almost all of the time, my work isn't anything I want to share.

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