home resources "The Independent Artist" Issue 7, pg 4

"The Independent Artist"
Issue VII, Spring 2010

The Independent Artist

Website Wonders: Ten Free
(or Downright Cheap) Tools Waiting for You

by Connie Mettler, www.artfaircalendar.com, www.artfairinsiders.com

Not happy with your art fair sales, or would just like to extend your reach beyond the streets of the U.S.A.? What can you do with the least financial investment and the best use of your time? Develop your website as your international art fair booth, unlimited by show acceptances and geographical and weather limitations.

Part I of this series discussed the Top Ten Reasons you need to have a website. You can find this article at the NAIA website at this link: https://naia-artists.org/resources/Newspaper/ Issue5/Page5.htm. If you still havent built a site this article is full of compelling reasons to do it and strategic tips on how you can do it yourself with few computer skills, little money and not much time.

Part II of the series was about building your business using email marketing, to my mind the most important online tool for building your art fair business. Find that story at this link: http://naiaartists.org/resources/Newspaper/Issue6/Page4.htm

Choosing providers

Now that you have your website lets make it work smarter and look fabulous.

Are you ready to do the work of building your site or do you want to spend a little money and get a good deal of hand-holding along the way? Which way will it get done? Do you like to create and figure out new ways to do things along the way, or are you so overwhelmed with all the facets of running your business that youd like some help?

Start with choosing a web hosting company. There are over 30,000 web hosting services (a web hosting service is a type of Internet hosting service that allows individuals to make their own website accessible via the World Wide Web.) Most of them offer some version of a point-and-click site builder these days that anyone can use. You sign up with the host, get your domain name (url) and use their templates to build your site.

Your choices are to do it yourself or spend some money for help.

A. Do it yourself

This method requires you to find a host for your site then follow the directions on that site to put it together. My choice for an inexpensive, cost-effective and easy to use system is Type Pad. Type Pad offers a range of strong features important to a beginning web designer that includes easy to use customizing and editing tools and reliable hosting. Their 14 day free trial is a great way to get acquainted with Typepad. (And the basic paid version is only $4.95/month
well worth it given the systems features, reliability, and flexibility.) I like this site so much that I chose it to host my website ArtFairCalendar.com.

Why it works for me:

1. It does not require you to learn html. You can just type words into the template and it is done! Nothing fancy.

2. It has dozens of customizable templates to suit your design needs.

3. It goes up easily. When I need to change a date or a photo I dont have to ask someone else to do it for me. Login, make changes, publish!

4. It is compatible with my Mac-based computing.

5. The price cant be beat.

Con: It doesnt have e-commerce capabilities so you will have to link to another provider for whatever e-commerce your business requires.

B. Purchase a system that will guide you through the steps to building your site. Consider Site Build It.

Site Build It is an all-in-one web site building and hosting solution that will quickly guide you through the steps to turn your idea into a new e-commerce web site business. More than just a web hosting service, SBI coaches you through the steps needed to build an online business.

Its a bit more expensive ($299) but SBI is likely to save you money because it includes many tools to help ensure that your new online venture has the solid foundation it needs to make you more money online.

Make that new site look great!

Cool free tools for your website:

Plan your palette. www.colorcombos.comone of many places on the web where web designers can find the perfect color combination for your project. This site was built to help web developers quickly select and test website color combinations. The heart of the site is the Combo Tester, which allows web developers to see how different color combinations work together on the screen.

Online Image Optimizer. www.webresizer.comQuickly and easily reduces the file size of gifs, animated gifs, jpgs, and pngs. It crops photos, sharpens, rotates adds borders and more. It can serve as a fabulous and free replacement for much more expensive image editing tools like Photoshop.

What The Font, www.mynewfonts.comNeed to know what font is used in an image? Upload the file to What The Font and itll tell you the closest match in its database.

Need some art for your pages? Here are some clip art resources:
webweaver.nu/clipartover 3000 royalty free image
CoolArchive.comclipart, animations, free fonts, icons, a logo and button generator

Artists are fond of graphics on their sites, heres a great place that will tell you the time it takes for different connection speeds to fully load your page, as well as giving tips to help speed it up: www.websiteoptimization.com/services/analyze

Sitegadgets.com has offers 23 different gadgets to spice up your website! These gadgets let you keep visitors coming back, and to find out what your visitors have on their minds. Tell-a-friend is a link that your visitors can click on to tell their friends how cool your site is. Theyve also got a service to send and receive postcards, a search engine so your visitors can search your site only, an email list builder, and many more widgets to make your site sticky.
You can set up a store on your site selling not only your art but other products with your images on them. Caf Press has dozens of customizable merchandise items, including t-shirts, hats, coffee mugs, bags. You upload your images and your customers can order them directly from Caf Press who then handles all production and fulfillment.

Online business advice: Scott Fox publishes a free email newsletter with the latest tips, strategies, tactics and deals about building your small business online. Subscribe at www.ScottFoxblog.com and receive his free website setup checklist to make sure youve done all you can to position yourself for online sales. While youre there sign up for his new free Traffic Building School, 50 easily digestible doses of strategic advice for bringing customers to your site. The lessons arrive daily in your mailbox.

Not so much about making your site look good, but making it work better to bring you traffic by insuring you are using the best key words for search engine optimization:

Google Keyword Tool https://adwords.google.com/select/KeywordToolExternal
Google Traffic Estimator Sandbox https://adwords.google.com/selectrafficEstimatorSandbox
A large bunch of free tools to help with making your site efficient and search engine friendly: www webConfs.com.

A pile of search engine optimization tools await you here, a Search Engine Spider Simulator, a Backlinks Checker, a Keyword Density tester, a Domain Age checker, a Reciprocal Links checker, and more. I especially like the URL rewriting tool. It is really helpful for getting started with the perfect domain name, which, after all, this is where it all starts.

Is this just too much? Then take it one step at a time. Find the tip that seems the most relevant for your needs. Lets make those web sites shine!


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