7 Tips for Creatives who are building their own website
Ok, so it's only taken me since November to finally commit to getting a website up and running. That might not seem like so long, until I mention that it was November of 2015. Yeah.
It has been a lesson on perseverance and patience for sure. And I know there's still things to fix and stuff to edit and links to add, blah blah blah. But the good news is HELLO, it's LIVE! And I'm plum tuckered out. Because when I start something, I become slightly obsessed. (like the time I thought I might sell cake pops for a living. HA!)
But just in case other creatives are reading this, I wanted to share a few tidbits from a very UN-technical person that might help you from pulling your hair out if you're in the process of creating your own website.
1. Just start. I tried several different platforms and the bottom line is they all have their pros and cons with formatting and SEO (look at me talk like I know what I'm doing) but here's the thing: most of them give you 2 weeks free to just mess around and try it out without committing. You can browse the templates, see if they're a good fit, maybe watch some tutorials and then make an informed decision about which one suits you best. I ended up using Squarespace, but that's just me and I know there are other fantastic sites out there. Wordpress seemed a little too robust for my...abilities. (even after watching countless hours of skillshare classes!) And that's OK. I am not a web designer by trade so I'm really ok with giving some things up and taking the easier (for me) route.
2. When you're playing around, find the domain name you'd like to use and make sure it's available, but DON'T USE IT! Save that for the real deal or you'll have a headache transferring it later if you chose to use a different site. (they make it sound easy, but my head still hurts from getting that all sorted out.) But, if you're worried about the domain getting snatched up, by all means purchase it for peace of mind. :-)
3. Take some time before you get started organizing the images you want to use in one folder and sub-folders. This will make creating your online website galleries SO much faster and easier to download if you're not searching all over tarnation looking for that one particular photo you wanted.
4. Same goes for website copy. Before you get into the nitty-gritty of the design, take a minute when you're in a good mood (or else your "voice" might not be an accurate reflection of who you are) and write your homepage mission statement, your bio, and what you offer. This is also a good time to browse the internet or pinterest for any quotes you might like to include.
5. Rename all of your photos with a possible description (you can hide this if you don't want the text to show) so they become "pinnable" images instead of just img_423.711 or something random like that. Be sure to include your website or business name for easy tracking. I have a generic "name" for all of my photos that are spewn throughout my website "Sarah Pearl Studio | Fine Art Calligraphy" and I copied and pasted it to every single image that didn't have a special name. Copy and pasting is your friend if you have lots of photos to name!
6. Decide what pages you'd like to include in your menu and start building. Don't feel the need to give every page a header in the menu bar. I prefer simplistic websites, so I chose to have "hidden" pages here and there. "But what if they don't ever get seen?" Well, I used them for things that I really didn't care if the average client missed, and made sure there were links throughout from the main pages. For example, on my ABOUT page, there's a hidden link for random facts about me and testimonials--both of which are kind of "fluff" when it comes down to it.
7. If you're overwhelmed by the prospect of getting it all done and having it perfect at once, create a "one page wonder" website that has no menu or tabs, but at least it secures your domain and lets you work on the back end while letting people know you're in the process of getting it finished. Include a button that people can hit to get notified of when it goes live and to contact you.
So that's it! I'm sure there's more tips and tricks I could offer, but refer back to number 1 and you'll be just fine. If you have any questions or would like me to review your proto-type, I'd be happy to do that! Just contact me through my website or comment below.
Happy webbing! Sarah Pearl