Websites and Online Portfolios



  • @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 WhitneySimmsStudio.com 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 (http://jeremythomas-art.com/) 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.

    http://jeremythomas-art.com/



  • @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.



  • @carolinedrawing I mean I'm sure there are SOME people who might do that, but again unless you're actively going for a job it shouldn't matter anyway. And thank you so much! I started doing the art tutorials just on a whim and it's been really incredible the amount of great engagement I've got from it. But I wanted to still have my art there, so I feel like by doing half and half you get cool tips followed by inspiration??? But I get the feeling of worrying that your work isn't good enough. I some times don't post stuff for that reason too. But in general my personal philosophy is that I'll never really feel fully ready, but it's better to start trying and make mistakes than not try.


  • Moderator

    @Geoffrey-Gordon Start a new post and teach us. I would be interested in reading that. 👍



  • @burvantill That is a good idea let me put some thought it and write it out as a detailed post. It may be quite lengthy but I will break it down into sections to make it easy to follow. It will be purely WordPress based however, not any other platforms.



  • @Geoffrey-Gordon I am transiting from Squarespace to WordPress within this year to cut down the running cost. I would be interested in following your thread if you are doing it.


  • SVS Team SVS OG

    I think we should all go back to using microsoft frontpage.


  • SVS OG

    This was a super interesting episode. I've toyed with the idea of creating website before. And, I've been asked if I have one. To me, though, the website, much more than social media, says "Here I am, I'm ready for work." And, that's the reason I haven't built one yet. I'm not ready to take jobs or sell anything. Even if I have my 10 pieces I'm not ready to market something I cant deliver. If that makes sense... I'm just plugging away at learning and leveling up, so that when I'm ready, I'm ready.


  • Pro

    @Pamela-Fraley I think you're overthinking it a bit... For one thing, when we build a website we then have to drive traffic to it. We have to send the link with job applications, agency applications, blast it everywhere on social media. Just building the website won't automatically bring people overwhelming you with more work than you can handle. And if you get a project that's too hard for you, you can always refuse. But also, it's good to remember that there is work out there for many different skill level, from barely decent to expert. You don't have to be at Norman Rockwell level to even start looking for work. I started doing little gigs in college when I was a looot less skilled than I am now. But doing that work taught me a lot of things I couldn't have learned just practicing by myself. I looked through your Instagram and you have such beautiful work. There are a lot of professionals working in the field right, getting regular work, who are your level or less. Now normally I would just say that you can wait however long you want until you feel ready to get work... But if you're that good now and still don't feel ready, when are you ever going to feel ready? It's more of a confidence and perception issue than a skill issue.

    Not only that, I feel that the only way to become ready to work is to do work. It might seem illogical, but how do you gain the experience of working on a children book (for example) other than doing a children book? How do you get communicating with art directors without communicating with them? They're not skills you can learn by yourself. I'd wager that if you took one children book job, by the end of it you would have learned more from it than a whole year of practice by yourself. Doing these professional gigs IS practice and there's nothing else as good to teach you the ropes. In a way, by waiting to feel ready to accept work (or even just build your portfolio), you are thwarting your own progress... I see it everyday, illustrators who are SO good, like twice as good as both of us combined, yet they're not getting work and I am. It's so incomprehensible to me... But the only reason that is so is they're waiting until they feel "ready", until they feel "good enough" which will never happen because we are always improving as long as we live. They are forever creating new pieces for their portfolio but never feel it's good enough to send to publishers or agents so they sit on it, keep practicing and practicing. I would hate for that to be you, when you have so much talent!


  • SVS OG

    @NessIllustration Thank you! Its encouraging that other working artists think I have the skill to do it. I admit that confidence in my skill level is at least part of the issue for me. I feel extra behind because my art education didn't go beyond high school till I found Will Terry's Youtube and SVS.

    But, the bigger issue is more of a practical thing. I just don't have time to commit to paid art work right now. I have done a few sales events... fundraisers and some craft fairs, but its always such a big interruption to our family that it isn't a realistic option for me to be doing it consistently yet. My family is encouraging and supportive, but I co-own my husband's construction business and I do a large part of the admin things. And, we have 5 kids. No one does very well when I lock myself away in my office, so I kinda just make time here and there when I can. Its much more than it has been since my youngest started school and that's encouraging. But, I feel like I cant take work, because it would pretty much be committing to a client that my family wont need me, and that's the minute they'd all get hit with a stomach flu, or something ridiculous. I'm trying to keep at it as much as possible so that when I have the time, I wont have forgotten how to hold a pencil. I'm not wasting the waiting if I can help it. And I know that the time with my kids is precious. But, I also agree that diving into a job would probably be an incredible learning opportunity.


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