With the sheer number of free and inexpensive social media platforms and e-commerce websites for artists, it’s reasonable to wonder if visual artists need a paid website today.
The answer is complicated because it depends on the needs and desires of the artist. For example, if you are a hobbyist who seeks an outlet to sell your work and create a side income, a free website may be all you need. However, suppose you are more than a hobbyist, or Sunday Painter as the saying goes, who mostly sells original art directly through their connections. In that case, a free website to garner royalties from prints and merch is a viable option.
How Do Websites for Artists Work?
A website gives artists an online showcase to display their work and connect with potential art buyers and patrons. Any artist who is serious about selling art needs a website. You’ll need one even if you are starting because having an online presence in the form of a website is validation most buyers expect.
An artist’s website does many things for their business. These include promoting their name and work, selling, and displaying their work through their online art storefront, and serving as a conduit for artists to interact with people interested to learn more about their work and connect with the artist.
Keep It Simple and Economical.
My motto for life and business is only to buy what you need and only pay for services you use. There is everything right about being wise and frugal. It’s not just money you save. Every level of sophistication requires more knowledge to set up and more time and expertise to keep running.
While it’s usually not overwhelming to build and maintain a website, paid or free, websites for artists have a learning curve and require time and effort. Talk to your artist friends and community to learn what they are doing. Find out what works for them and what decisions they would make if they started over. Taking your time to do valuable research will help you make the right choice for your art business.
My AMTP (Art Marketing Toolkit Project) group helps artists learn what they want from their art business first, and secondly, steers them to learn about and choose the most appropriate art marketing tools and strategies to meet their needs to sell their art. The AMTP is a worldwide community of artists who range from outright beginners to savvy veterans with established profitable art marketing operations.
With such a wide selection of artists, I see it all. That includes free websites built using Pixels.com, a brand of the gigantic FineArtAmerica site. It has hundreds of thousands of artists who use it for a website, online sales or art, and a vast array of art-related merchandise, including iPhone cases, apparel, home furnishings, bags, blankets, beach towels, and more.
Free Websites for Artists Builders May Be All You Need.
Depending on the needs of the artist and their plans for marketing their work, a free Pixels site may be adequate. I didn’t always believe that could be the case, but I do now. If you are just getting started and unsure what to do and what kind of paid website to build, starting with a free website is a great choice. Likewise, a free website may be sufficient if an artist primarily sells their work through galleries, publishers, or licensors.
While the Pixels brand is the largest provider of free websites for artists, many other websites for artists’ platforms offer free websites. However, most have restrictions on the features or limits on the number of pieces on display and different ways to entice users to upgrade to a paid website.
I’m Not Confused, Honest!
F. Scott Fitzgerald said, “An artist is someone who can hold two opposing viewpoints and still remain fully functional.” So I put myself in that category. That’s because although I staunchly believed every artist with plans to sell their work needed a paid website with a custom domain name pointing to it, I also wrote this post, How to Sell Art Without Online Marketing Tools.
And although I still maintain a bias toward a paid website for all artists, I realize by doing so that I was discounting thousands of artists who are satisfied with their free website for artist platform. In their case, it’s all they need. Today, I won’t argue with an artist’s decision to use a free website. But I will encourage them to regularly revisit their decision and keep an open mind toward moving to a paid website when it becomes evident that the benefits of using a paid artist website builder outweigh the negatives.
How Do Paid Websites Benefit Visual Artists?
There are good reasons why artists want to use a paid website to sell their work. The most obvious reason is that a website can have more features than a free website or a social media platform.
Paid website builders give artists the tools they need to create a solid online presence and opportunities to sell their art through their e-commerce-enabled artist website. Additionally, paid websites offer more options and robust features to help sell art online.
If an artist has plans to build a full-time business or even generate steady sales as a part-timer from selling their art, then a paid website is appropriate. Other reasons to have a paid website are the artist seeks to:
- Present an online presence as an accomplished artist.
- Build a brand and grow reputation.
- Land a prestigious grant.
- Find art gallery representation.
- Get into a juried show.
- Gain acceptance into an academic program.
Depending on an artist’s plans for their career, using a site that includes portfolio hosting, business tools, and marketing is vital to implementing their plans. And while free website builders allow artists to create a website, they don’t offer the useful apps and features found in paid websites for artist builder platforms.
Most artists, especially those with a large following on social media, have a website, but some opt to use a free website for artists’ platforms because it fits their needs. However, most prefer using the services on the paid website for artists’ venues.
How Do Artists Know If They Need a Paid Website?
There are good reasons why artists want to use a paid website to sell their work. The most obvious reason is that a website can have more features than a social media platform. Most artists want to sell their art everywhere, and they wish to integrate their website with an e-commerce system to create their art storefront.
Many website builders also offer the ability to do blogging and email marketing from within the platform as part of the service. They typically offer other features, including uploading extensive collections of images and videos, building custom pages and galleries, and even creating online communities. These are valid reasons for choosing a paid website builder over a free platform for artists.
What Is the Best Website Builder for Artists Platform?
The question of what platform for artists is best is the subject of a long, well-researched article that is beyond the scope of this post. That’s because the number of choices is exhaustive, as you will see by searching for “What Is the Best Website Builder for Artists Platform?” and “What Is the Best FREE Website Builder for Artists Platform?
To simplify the process, I offer these suggestions. For a free website for artists’ platforms, use Pixels.com, and for a paid website builder for artists, I recommend FASO.com. Both are committed with long experience exclusively focusing on providing visual artists with an impressive array of tools to help them sell their artwork online.