Featured image by Koosje Koene
Building websites used to be a privilege reserved for those who speak the language of html or those who could pay for the service of those that do. Luckily, there are tons of resources now for people who want personal websites but can’t build them from the ground up or afford to hire a whole team of people to do it for them. A lot of Sketchbook Skool students resort to different providers for personal artist sites. From blogs to more business-oriented sites, there are endless possibilities for websites that vary in function and customizability. Below, you’ll find a list of some favorite free and paid website services our students love to use to share their art with the world. Free Website Tools vs. Paid When you choose a free service, it’s likely that the name of the service is in your url (i.e. www.yourname.blogspot.com). Most people don’t mind this but just consider it if you ever venture to making business cards or want a web address that’s easy to say and share widely. Services also might incorporate ads for their products or those of their partners within your site so that is something to look for in the fine print when considering free website options.
For paid sites, there are many different price plans. Some of the providers listed below have both paid and free options depending on the plan you choose. When considering a paid site, don’t forget to factor in the technical assistance and helplines that usually come with them. Depending on your do-it-yourself spirit, a paid site can sometimes save you lots of time. Paid sites can also allow you to incorporate your own purchased domain name instead of forcing you to use their service name in your URL.
- Weebly has multiple plan options including a free version. Templates and design themes vary depending on the price plan you choose. It also has an option for integrating a sales page if you intend to sell art/products. Weebly is also said to be more compatible with mobile devices than some other providers.
- Wix also provides free and paid options for websites with lots of possibilities for customizing the site's look and feel. Wix sites can also integrate business platforms, social media tools, and adjustments for mobile optimization so your site looks great on any device. Sketchbook Skool artist Cathy Sutton uses Wix for her site and you can see hers as an example here.
- Squarespace mainly offers paid website services with a free trial option to get you started. Squarespace is known for 24/7 customer service and lots of help when it comes to building your site and designing it well. You can also incorporate your own designs or artwork for some segments of your site (i.e. banners and buttons) without having to mess with the html coding aspect.
- Blogger is a free blog service that provides you with the most basic form of a website. You can use a blog to showcase your work and provide viewers with your contact information. Sketchbook Skool fakulty member Brenda Swenson uses Blogger to share her teaching and sketching adventures here.
- TypePad offers paid plans for blog sites that allow you to showcase images and text. TypePad also offers tech support and flexibility with domain names while still preserving the simplicity and low- maintenance technology that is great for those who are new to websites and blogs.
- Wordpress is another provider that offers both free and paid versions depending on the functionality, template, and host you choose for your site. Wordpress sites can be integrated with tons of plugins and applications that allow your site to serve a lot of different functions. They can also essentially function as a simple blog if you aren't ready for all the bells and whistles! Sketchbook Skool artist Owen Swain uses Wordpress for his site and you can view it here.
- Tumblr websites offer blog-type sites that are free depending on the themes or templates you use. Tumblr sites are simple and involve more of a social aspect in that you can "follow" other tumblr sites in the community depending on your interests. Tumblr sites are built around images and short text so they are great for sharing artwork and contact information or linking to other artists or things that inspire you.
Are YOU ready to take the plunge and move your art from your sketchbook to the web? Let these suggestions serve as a starting point and get your work out there!