Website basics?


  • SVS OG

    Hi! I have decided it's time to build a portfolio website. I had always thought I'd just eventually upgrade my old WordPress blog and start a new site through them, but then I started researching this morning and now I'm awash in a sea of info. I am so confused! 😱.

    Considerations:

    Purpose: To have a real portfolio home (not just Instagram squares), and perhaps to eventually have a shop or even an illo blog. It should be able to grow with my illustration career.

    Tech level: In-between. In the thread that goes with the SVS website podcast, some of you said not to go with Wix or Squarespace because they are too limited or too expensive for what they are. I don't think I want an "instant" site like Wix, but I don't think it would probably be a good idea to do absolutely everything myself, either. I am not at all code savvy.

    Cost: I want to think long term. I'm willing to invest in the proper tools, but don't want to spend extra money just because I didn't do my homework.

    So, though I fear I don't know enough yet to even ask the right questions, here are some specific things I'm trying to figure out:

    1. It seems like WordPress may offer everything through their site. It's a little confusing, because I thought you had to go to three different places to get domain, hosting and a site, but through WordPress it seems you can choose sponsored hosting sites that will even include the domain name for free. I'm not even sure which order to go in now! Would there by any reason not to do it all through WordPress?

    2. Is there any particular disadvantage to using the Adobe Portfolio service that comes with any Photoshop plan? It seems like an easy solution!

    3. I read that the domain name is probably the first important consideration. I read that an artist's name as domain name is a good idea, but mine presents two problems: 1) My first name ends and my last name begins with the same letter (Laura Alderson), and 2) people automatically assume my last name is Anderson. (Trust me!! It will happen!) After a bit of toying around I found that I could get a .com name that is my real name if I just put in one A between my first and last name instead of two, i.e., Lauralderson. Good idea? Other suggestions? Is the Anderson thing going to keep people from finding me on the web?

    4. Is it worth trying to do your own logo? Should I hire someone? My handwriting is terrible!

    5. Other suggestions for a website newbie who doesn't even know what all the considerations are?

    Thank you!!!


  • SVS OG

    Hi Laura! Here are my thoughts:

    @LauraA said in Website basics?:

    1. Is there any particular disadvantage to using the Adobe Portfolio service that comes with any Photoshop plan? It seems like an easy solution!

    cost-wise, I think the Adobe Portfolio is a great option especially if you're already subscribed to a plan. I'm subscribed to Adobe's Photography plan which covers Photoshop for only $9.99 per month. I figured that I'll always be using Adobe and paying monthly so if I chose to build my portfolio with adobe, all I'll actually be paying is my domain fees which costs $8.88 yearly.

    The only downside is that it's no drag and drop platform. I first launched my portfolio using Wix's free version. I always had ".wixsite.com" on my domain but laying out my site was a breeze. On Adobe Portfolio, the functions you could do is very limited. I can't add a photo or text wherever I want. You can only add elements in a linear fashion, top to bottom. I can't change my header to be exactly what I want. There is only a few template options you can choose from. You can tweak them but they can't really be exactly as you want them to be. I was planning to share my site late but for you, here's a link to my new portfolio.

    https://nyrrylcadiz.com/

    It's very sparse which is a good thing and also a bad thing for me. However, it does the job at the least cost so I'm satisfied with it.

    1. I read that the domain name is probably the first important consideration. I read that an artist's name as domain name is a good idea, but mine presents two problems: 1) My first name ends and my last name begins with the same letter (Laura Alderson), and 2) people automatically assume my last name is Anderson. (Trust me!! It will happen!) After a bit of toying around I found that I could get a .com name that is my real name if I just put in one A between my first and last name instead of two, i.e., Lauralderson. Good idea? Other suggestions? Is the Anderson thing going to keep people from finding me on the web?

    As for your domain, I think you should just go with your name. I think using Lauralderson will just complicate things. If didn't already know you, I would've guessed that you name is Laura Iderson based on that domain. Maybe you can add a dash between your name like "laura-alderson.com".

    Chances are if people accidentally googled Laura Anderson instead of Laura Alderson, your website is still going to show up in their search. So they might just have to wade through the results to find your site, tedious but not impossible. Or you can use some specific descriptors like Laura-illustrations.com or Laura-alderson-art.com so that people will know it's you.


  • SVS OG

    Thanks @Nyrryl-Cadiz! Your website looks very clean and you see the art first, which I like. Not sure it has a store option? Right now I don't have one, but thinking long term. And I would eventually like a logo of some sort.

    I read somewhere not to use dashes, but I could try lauraaldersonart.

    Here's the article I read that said not to use doubled letters or hyphens, but maybe that's if you have a choice. My name just has a doubled letter! https://www.wpbeginner.com/beginners-guide/tips-and-tools-to-pick-the-best-domain-for-your-blog


  • SVS OG

    @LauraA Thanks! I like how clean it is but I hate how bare it is. lol 😅 I didn't know that about dashes. You learn something new everyday, huh? Maybe you could also try Lauraart.com


  • SVS OG

    @LauraA I just checked namecheap. It turns out Lauraart.com is already spoken for since 2012


  • SVS OG

    @LauraA yup, there's no store option. I think you should ask @NessIllustration about this. She has her portfolio on Adobe portfolio and has her store on a different platform.


  • SVS OG

    @LauraA It kind of depends how much effort you want to put into learning to build a website. Wix and Squarespace are all-inclusive, good starter choices if you have the money and aren't interested in design/build/maintaining a website. Making a website on Wordpress has a learning curve to it, but there's tons of resources to help. It just takes more time to teach yourself than the drag-n-drop options like Squarespace. My portfolio site is Wordpress because I do freelance web design on the side.

    If you go with Wordpress, I get my domains from Namecheap and hosting from Siteground.

    A logo is not as important for a freelance illustrator. Your avatar image tends to be more memorable. It might be enough to pick out a cute font that represents your style and write out your name with that.


  • SVS OG

    @Nyrryl-Cadiz Thanks for your help! Hopefully if I put my surname in there (since it isn't Anderson, after all!), it will open up some possibilities.

    @carriecopadraws Thanks! Is a Wordpress professional site really that much harder than a free one? The free one is fairly drag and drop.

    So: You just go to Namecheap, get your name, then go to Siteground, sign up for hosting, and somehow it's clear enough where to enter those on WordPress?

    Good point about the logo. I can work on an avatar. It's probably time to update the COVID haircut one!


  • SVS OG

    @LauraA I just also checked Lauraalderson.com and it it's also taken since 2009. this is a hard one 😖 😅


  • SVS OG

    @Nyrryl-Cadiz I can get Lauraaldersonart.com. Seems like the best bet! Any reason I shouldn't? And should I get any of their other offerings? It's a safe site?


  • SVS OG

    @LauraA i think that's a good move. Somebody already owns Lauraalderson.com but they don't have a website for it. So even if people accidentally leave out the "art" part, they still won't end up on some rival website so think you're safe.


  • Pro

    @LauraA Adobe Portfolio does not have a shop or blog option, however it's by far the simplest and cheapest option of all. It creates a beautiful portfolio in no time at all, and I personally didn't miss the blog or shop (since I have Etsy). But if those are important to you, I suggest WordPress (the software, not to be mistaken with WordPress.com the company!). I have a Wordpress website for my company and I like it lots. I got my domain and hosting from Namecheap.com and used the page builder Elementor to build my site without code, using building blocks. I host the shop with WooCommerce. Elementor and WooCommerce both have free versions and the domain + hosting cost me about $30 a year.

    For the domain name, I feel you! I personally chose nessillustration.com and don't regret it one bit. If you want to avoid confusion or spelling errors, you could consider names like lauraillustration, artbylaura, illustrationbylaura, lauraillustrator, theartoflaura, etc


  • SVS OG

    Domain name done! Thanks guys!

    @NessIllustration Let me get this straight. You get WordPress software from WordPress.org, right? Which is not the same as WordPress.com, the free blog site. Elementor is a free drag and drop service for WordPress.org? $30/year is really not bad! Thank you!


  • Pro

    @LauraA Yep! Elementor is a Wordpress plugin, which you can download from your Wordpress dashboard. It's a free drag and drop page builder, that also has a pro version for extra features (that is nice but absolutely not necessary). Elementor allows you to very easily create your website visually, so it looks exactly like you want to without having to code. And yes the hosting is not bad, I love Nemecheap! I used to be with Siteground for hosting and although their service is good, it cost me over $200 a year. I switched to Namecheap's EasyWP service, which is WordPress hosting. It was really easy to set up and connect the domain, literally just a few clicks which I appreciated! Still, I only did it because I needed something specific for my website and if I only needed a simple portfolio, I'd go with Adobe Portfolio any day.



  • Oh man, website options are overwhelming, so I like it when these topics come up, so I can slowly absorb the info over time.

    I decided to start out very simply so I could just get the ball rolling, and told myself I can always upgrade to something more complex in the future. I bought my domain name through namecheap, and I just use adobe portfolio. So currently I'm just paying the $9 a year for my domain and the $10 a month bundled in with my Adobe Photography subscription. It took me a while to figure out how to get my portfolio landing page the way I wanted it, since it wasn't set up that way in any of the templates, but I figured it out eventually. I just cropped a star from an illustration I already had to use as my favicon, and used a font from adobe for my name at the top. Not very ideal, but I can always improve them later.

    My website is very humble at this point, but I just needed to start somewhere. I'm looking forward to seeing how you craft yours!


  • SVS OG

    @TessaW same


  • Pro

    @TessaW Your website is beautiful!



  • @NessIllustration Aw, thanks! That makes me feel good. 😊



  • I tried to read to see if anyone mentioned this so sorry if it was already covered - just to reiterate there is a difference between Wordpress.com sites and a Wordpress based website you'd set up on a host like Bluehost or WPEngine. Wordpress.com is it's own subscription based service and the options are a bit more limiting because they only allow specific themes or plugins.



  • I like Squarespace, but I definitely see why it would be good to reconsider a more low cost option. I made my website during a time in my life when I was really overwhelmed and just needed it to be done in a couple of days while the majority of my attention was on other things! I still feel that way, but it's on my task list to think about learning how to be more independent with the design and save money.

    For the name issue, I decided to stick with my full name. The illustrator Christian Robinson did a cute thing where he named his website "the art of fun" and that's really easy to remember and sticks in the brain https://www.theartoffun.com/ Aaron Becker did the same with his website: https://www.storybreathing.com/journey/

    I'm definitely still a beginner on this so I am interested in reading everyone's input!


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