My take on Frail... As the tortoise woke up having not moved for decades...The rabbit was surprised to see where he was living...
I am a WordPress developer and a graphic artist trying to break out of my industry and into the illustration and digital space. I have a dream of waking up every morning and just creating art to sell and just for fun and getting paid to do it.
I am based in Johannesburg, South Africa. Have a wonderful wife and just one child who is so full of energy. I love superheroes, fantasy, and creative thinking. I love to lift weights, draw, play sport and watch the artwork in animated movies. I run my own WordPress website design business so I have been working from home in the last decade.
I have aspirations of writing and illustrating my own children's books, selling prints online and just enjoying a life lost in imagination land... :)
I don't know about other industries. I think if you have any skill that is technical you will be asked for free often enough, being in the web design industry that happens a lot. Clients naturally think you also fix computers, or program or printer issues as well so they ask for help. The worst is when someone phones you and asks you how to code or they ask you to show them how to fix their website. Basically they wanna milk your time for free.
In our industry, there is so much hype that you can set up a website for free and easy. We get so many queries where someone tried to DIY themselves and then it does quite come out the way they imagined and they get stuck. When you tell them your rates to design it properly they fall off their chair... and say so expensive. But if you start with free anything is expensive after that.
So I feel you guys... it ain't easy.
I am probably going to be shot down for this, but I am a web developer breaking into the illustration realm. In the last 10 years of being in this industry, i think i have seen enough pitfuls to give some decent advice. I would use the following 3 Tools:
WordPress - Self-hosted, shouldn't cost you more than 9 dollars a month with Goddady you can also pick up your own custom .com domain for like 3 dollars. this will also allow you to get a professional email address like firstname.lastname@example.org or whatever domain you choose. They do have a special right now.
BeaverBuilder - Super easy page builder that comes with GoDaddy account as well. they have a few templates you can choose from
Woocomerce - Free e-commerce plugin for WordPress easy to install and add products.
I don't advocate places like wix and square space because there are limitations that you will run in pretty quickly, also very hard to move from a cheap startup service to a more professional setup when things get more serious. Trust me your potential hiring customers also these are the places you go when you cannot afford a decent website. You might as well put a label on your head that says " I am trying to save on costs because I am a small startup on your forehead" Destroys your credibility instantly.
If you need help navigating the waters, I would be glad to help you get things set up and empower you to run your own show.
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…..
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.
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.
@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...
Just a few pointers if I may, a little SEO wouldn't hurt:
@Nyrryl-Cadiz I hear you, I am new to this world. But perhaps for your first book it would be ok, it may not be a bad idea to get published and recognized. Then when your book does well use that as a social proof example to try something different. I would love to see what root you go, as I have only written my first book, I still have to illustrating it.
Furthermore, my illustration skills are not as good as yours, so i have to learn first then I can only illustrate.
Why not integrate amazon publishing? I have never used it, but I have hear some good things about it.
Just a few pointers if I may, a little SEO wouldn't hurt:
@Geoffrey-Gordon Did you ever make any progress on doing a tutorial/class on this? I am looking into a website at the moment and I would love to take such a class!
Honestly, I have been so swamped, I have not had a chance since the pandemic hit.....
@Nyrryl-Cadiz . yes, you can extend the storage and it works great...
For a simple solution get a USB C to USB Adapter
For more options and ports get a USB C HUB Adapter
Then you can attach a USB or external hard drive to your IPAD Pro
Let me answer your questions as best I can:
2)Yes, you can connect a USB or external hard drive if you have a USB to a USB-C connector. So for that reason, I would not go for a higher GIG model just to get more space when you can connect an external hard drive to make up the difference. Amazon sell great hubs, that extend your USB port to connect to 4 or more ports at once, like USB, audio jack, HDMI, etc...
Unless you rely on the cell service, the wifi version is the better choice to save more costs... I only use wifi anyway. The thing to remember if you have never used apple products is the device automatically backups up to iCloud which only offers 5 GigG of space and then you have to upgrade for more...
Drawing experience in Procreate is a match made in heaven, it so easy to learn and effortless to use. From a traditional art person, I found the transition so easy. Also, you can export files as a PSD to working in photoshop. There are many other really great apps like Vectonator, affinity designer, affinity photo, sketchbook, and adobe draw that can allow you to draw in vector, pixel-based, and explorer files to desktop applications to finish up.
For Ipad pro extras, I would recommend 3 things - first, a decent cover that can open and adjust to different drawing levels, second a pencil grip or silicone cover for better grip on the pencil and 3rd a matt screen protector for a better drawing experience on the screen, so it doesn't slip and slide.
As a final thought, I want to state it was expensive, but it has been the single best thing I have invested in for my art.
Great episode as usual guys. Not really for me as I never went to art school. But I have been learning online via online bought courses and SVS learn. I run a full-time web design agency that I co-own, it makes enough money to pay the bills. I cannot really quit my job as it is my own business. Being a web designer requires a different type of creativity than art does. But does help with problem-solving a lot in the artistic realm as that is what I have to do every day anyway. I have been at it for the last 12 years... So I have all the marketing skills, but lacking in the illustration skills.
I am learning slowly, but I am finding it hard to allocate time. Being a business orientated person I was thinking that maybe I should just make my own art that I can sell on places like Etsy, society 6, and red bubble until I can make the transition from web developer to full-time illustrator. Any advice for someone like me. I have just beong practing fan art and postting it on instagram for now....