I have spent the past week desperately reworking my online presence. It is time to get my art out into the world and, along with, it would seem, every other artist on the planet, I am about to fight for my little corner of cyberspace. I have built a number of websites over the years for different projects – hell I’ve even been paid to design a couple of them! – so you would think that it would be a breeze wouldn’t you? But no! Each time I come to design a site, the nature of the web has changed and I have to learn a whole load of new stuff. This time I decided that I would build a WordPress site and for the first time try my hand at eCommerce. Well the good news is that there is a lot of really useful information out there on the web on how to build a good eCommerce site. I particularly took great encouragement from Roos Schuring, whose YouTube videos on how to grow your art business are full of excellent ideas and tips. Roos is an excellent Plein Air painter and her website at http://www.roosschuring.com/ is well worth a visit.
So armed with a head full of new ideas, I set to building my perfect web presence. The good news is that you can do most of this really really cheaply. WordPress is open source and as such is free and there are a load of great themes out there that you can use to make your site look great and work really well without parting with any cash at all. As I am doing this entire project on a shoestring, with the aim of bringing my time as a starving artist to an end, this is great news. Te first thing that I learned is that there are two types of WordPress site. There’s wordpress.com which I had used a couple of times to build simple websites with good results, but when it comes to adding plugins for eCommerce wordpress.com won’t hack it: you have to have wordpress.org! The two may look the same but they’re not! WordPress .com hosts everything for you and if you just want a gallery to show off your work it’s great. WordPress.org on the other hand is self hosted and as such you need to claim a little section of cyberspace as your own to make it work.
Here’s where I made my first glaring mistake!I forgot the old adage “There’s no such thing as a free lunch”. There are companies out there that offer so called “Free” webspace and, as I had no money at the time and wanted to get started, I signed up with a company called FreeHostia on what they call their Chocolate plan which gives you enough space to build a basic site for free. Two frustrating days and two sleepless nights later I was ready to hurl the computer out of the window in frustration. Everything was either funereally slow or the other half of the time not working at all. After two days I did what I should have done before I started and googled it – the browser window exploded with people complaining about exactly the frustrations that I was experiencing. So what to do? Resorting to Google again I found a new web host that was getting 5* reviews from everybody and duly signed up for 12 months hosting for £33 – OMG what a bargain – the same software now runs like a dream. It’s fast and it hasn’t given me one error. I managed to do more work yesterday than I’d achieved in all the days before put together. I am now flying through the process with the help of a great guy that I discovered on YouTube who goes by the name of wpSculptor, his lengthy video tutorials take you through all the processes that you need to undertake to build great WordPress sites in real time. If you want to get started with WordPress he’s well worth checking out at https://www.youtube.com/user/wpSculptor.
So now I’m underway and what you see here on this site is the result of my labours so far. There’s still a lot to do and I will keep you posted of my progress as I stumble through the obstacle course of promoting my art online. Please take the time to browse my site and leave any suggestions in the comments to this blog post and, of course, any help that you can give me in promoting my endeavours would be most useful – sign up for my newsletter – like me on your facebook page – share me on Twitter, Facebook, Google+ anything else that you might indulge in – help me get this thing off the ground – oh and of course, I almost forgot, BUY A PAINTING!
Until next time,