*I am co-founder of Broadcast Louder, a company dedicated to building and strengthening creative brands. My co-founder, Susan Newman, and I teach an 8-week course titled, Creativity + Abundance 1.0. This article is an excerpt from Broadcast Louder’s Class #4: Blogs, Websites, CMS & Types of E-commerce, Oh My! Which is Right for Your Biz?
Today a website shouldn’t be built without using a CMS. CMS stands for content management system; WordPress, Concrete5, Joomla, Drupal and more. Before you decide which CMS to use, you have to answer this question:
“How do I present myself and what type of website do I need?”
Before you even think about a blog or website, have you developed your brand identity? Because the look and feel of your website has to incorporate your branding, picking up the fonts, colors and style. You can’t present your work or create a site to offer your services that doesn’t build upon your brand.
Remember what we talked about in previous Broadcast Louder classes, and how important your brand footprint and messaging is. When you are at a craft show, trade show or exhibiting your work in a gallery, and you hand out promotional materials that display your web address, you’re asking potential clients to extend their relationship and visit your website, so the branding HAS to flow. Everything you present both in print and online should be in total harmony.
Are you going to make your site yourself or hire a professional? Let’s begin by distinguishing the BIG difference between a website designer and a website programmer. There are two very different parts to a website, the designing and the building. The issue of designer vs programmer is confusing because programmers can call themselves designers and vice verse. When you visit the designer’s website, most times, you should be able to tell if they are more of a creative or more of a technical programmer, just from the look of THEIR website. It also helps to click on the sample sites within their portfolio and read through their website, so you are crystal clear about their qualifications.
After you’ve chosen a designer/programmer, the first step is to discuss and plan out exactly what that site needs; visually, structurally and technically. You should steer clear of a one-size-fits-all attitude to a business website. Your company and mission is special and different than all the others, so your needs and wishes are different too. You will sign an agreement and included in the agreement should be the number of “rounds of design,” or edits, allowed. You cannot expect a designer to continue to edit, and edit, at your every whim. When you list the number of edits in the contract, there will be no surprises on either end.
Because you’re building a creative site, there will probably be a mass of images and or videos. When editing your photos for your website, make sure that ALL images (photos and video) used on your website are named correctly for SEO and any video should be properly tagged from your YouTube channel.
And because you make product, you may want to sell your work through your website so when it comes to e-commerce there are a few routes that you can take. The simplest is to have a business paypal account. Once created and linked to your business bank account, you can create simple transactions or create buttons, and the buttons can be added to your website to sell a product or service. The next step up would be to have a paypal shopping cart within your own site. Many use this solution as it’s quite economical to set up as well as the ease of the transactions.
You website is the Hub you want everyone flocking to. When you blog, it’s to draw traffic. When you write on twitter or Facebook it’s to send them to your latest product or blog post. When you send out a press release it has a link back to your latest product or service. It’s also important to NAME your website a name that will be recognizable and easy for the search engines to find. As an artist, you’ll probably name your website your own name as your art is your own but you can certainly come up with a clever name long as you use that website name in all of your branding and pr. Another reason to have your own website as the hub is media coverage. When your work is written about and when you’re interviewed, the article’s author will want to let their readers know how they can see more of your work or learn more about you.
Building a website can be a lot of work but it’s worth it if you want to build your brand image and sell product online as well as get your words/meanings across and build your SEO. As long as you continually update it, your site will flourish and your client base will grow because of it.