Having your own website as a designer or illustrator protects you from the constant changes in social media algorithms, makes Google aware of your brand, and exposes your portfolio with professionalism to companies and individuals considering hiring your services.
Why Artists Need a Website
If you think you don’t need to have a website as a designer and/or illustrator because “exposing your portfolio on social media is enough“, you need to remember this overused, but actually true, saying: “Tomorrow never knows.”
As a designer or illustrator, you shouldn’t ignore that. Especially if one of your goals as an artist is to make money.
Come to think of it: what if the social media platform you rely on shuts down unexpectedly? Your customers wouldn’t be able to contact you anymore.
Okay, I know this is unlikely to happen.
But you know what’s not at all far-fetched at all? That a new algorithm change in the social media platform you use drastically reduces the reach of your posts.
No, wait! This has already happened. Multiple times. It happens several times a year in reality…
To protect your work as a graphic designer or illustrator, you need to have your own domain name & website and work on getting sustainable organic traffic from Google.
Because the attention you get for your art and creative work from social media is unstable, and momentary, and requires you to spend more time pleasing an algorithm (and possibly trying to feed your ego) than being creative and earning money with your talents.
You may not be aware of this yet, but investing some of your time into building your own website as a designer or illustrator can get your art seen by the right people. People who are actually interested in your content and services — not random people who are just spending time scrolling the feed.
My point here is to show you how you can do things more efficiently and earn money — instead of obsessing about how many followers, likes, comments, and stuff you get from social media. Because that’s all beautiful garbage, to be honest.
Besides, most of them won’t ever convert anyway.
Okay! But how do you do so? Where do you start? How can building a website as a designer or illustrator increase your brand awareness and earnings?
Don’t worry, I’ll give you a hand. Keep reading, that l will show you how!
Top 7 Reasons Why You Need a Website as a Designer or Illustrator
#1 Having your own website as a designer or illustrator shows professionalism and commitment to your style
It’s like when you dress for a job interview, you know? You wouldn’t do so wearing pajamas, right? Except if you were auditioning to be a nanny in a movie or something.
Either way, what I’m trying to say is, whatever you’re trying to do, you have to dress accordingly. And so does your website.
I mean, it has to look a certain way because people need to feel like they’re looking in a mirror, metaphorically speaking.
Not that they don’t like to be surprised. However, most of the time, people only connect to things that reflect their inner self.
And that’s the point: as a designer/illustrator, your website needs to communicate with your target audience, whether you’re trying to sell services or anything else (like merch or online courses).
But how would you do this on social media? Could you separate your portfolio into categories that target different audiences on social media? Or have a professional contact area designed for maximum efficiency in negotiating with clients?
No, you couldn’t. Since your social media account isn’t self-hosted, it doesn’t give you autonomy.
Therefore, you need to follow their guidelines.
But what about your own goals? How can you communicate your UVP (Unique Value Proposition) to your potential customers and/or fans by following other companies’ rules? I mean, you can’t even write more than around 80-150 characters on your own bio!
As a designer or illustrator, your website must show off your amazing skills and portfolio
Also, it must include a professional email address @ your unique domain name.
And, of course, a contact page stating when you are willing to negotiate prices with your clients.
Otherwise, people won’t even know how to hire you.
The easier it is to find the information they need on your art website, the less they will try to find it elsewhere.
And we don’t ever want the latter to happen, right? No, we don’t – or then the money will be sent to someone else’s bank account than yours.
As soon as you look reliable, you’re good to go.
#2 You’ll be more likely to be discovered on Google if you, as a designer or illustrator, have your own self-host website with a blog category
Social network services don’t allow you to create accounts on their platforms because they want you to reach your audience and become a recognized artist.
Instead, they do so for their own reasons.
Therefore, your posts don’t show up on people’s feeds — thanks to the algorithm — which makes it nearly impossible for your followers to see your content.
If you create your own website as a designer or illustrator, on the other hand, you can be found in Google searches by people who may be actually interested in your work. Even though they don’t even know you yet!
The only thing you need to do for that is to add a blog to your website.
“But I’m an artist! Why are you telling me to start a website and become a blogger?”
You ask me.
Well, social media, in general, expect you to become an influencer. And your prize, when you follow their rules, is closer to nothing. Zero. Nada.
That’s not what happens when you create a blog.
Let me explain something crucial about blogging to you.
First off, when I tell you to create a website as a designer or an illustrator, then start writing blogs, I’m not telling you to become a blogger in that fashion sense you might be imagining. (You know what I’m talking about, those people who are flaunting their glamorous rich lives on the internet).
Nah. What I want you to understand is that you will have a more stable and sustainable future as an artist/designer/illustrator if you promote your work using the pro strategies that the big companies use.
But I’m not referring to spending thousands of dollars on advertising either.
Even the big brands don’t want to do that!
That’s why the big guys are relying more and more on writing good, informative, SEO-friendly (SEO stands for “Search Engine Optimization” and it’s the language that Google loves) pieces of content in blog formats to get free organic traffic from Google, aiming to create brand awareness and get new customers.
You, having a self-hosted website as a designer or illustrator, can do the same to promote your brand!
And the best thing is that, unlike social media whose post has a lifespan of just a few hours, this will bring you sustainable monthly traffic to your website. That is, traffic to your art and creative services.
And you won’t have to worry about likes and followers. Just write informative and evergreen content that you’ll get free traffic for years to come. (Note that you may have to make some changes and add some extra information after a while to keep your posts always fresh and relevant).
So, do you see what I mean? You need to stop begging for likes on social media and respect your own art and worth, and market your work as a business person would!
That’s the best alternative because then you’re more likely to, say, sell your art using POD services or offer whatever you do to monetize your designer/illustrator talents.
Just don’t forget that, as mentioned above, you must add a blog to your website. And if you really want to master Google SEO and attract a lot of visitors, you should use a keyword research tool, because then you’ll find out which of your skills is in high demand, so you can write posts that are accurate and aimed at a large audience.
After all, what’s the point of putting effort into creating content that no one or just a few people care about?
#3 Having your own website as a designer or illustrator is another way to earn extra income itself
Creating your own self-hosted website as a designer or illustrator is an efficient choice for many reasons, as you may have noticed by now.
One of these reasons is that there are indirect ways to make money as an artist with your website. Ways that go beyond selling art prints and merch to your fans or being hired by a client.
But understand that these options only exist if you add a blog to your website as a blog is both a tool to get free organic traffic from Google and a money-making tool in its own right.
Let me explain it better.
Have you ever considered sharing your knowledge with other artists? For sure, many people would like to learn from you, think about it.
For instance, how about the techniques you’ve developed using different pencils or drawing tablets to draw? Or is there any coloring app that you consider a must?
Trust me, I’m an artist too, so I can tell. There are secrets about my creative and production process that I learned by myself. Therefore, I am the only one who can share it, because no one has spent as much time working on my own art as I did.
I bet you have your secrets, too!
Check out this basic plan to make some extra money (and even make a living) by having a website as a designer or illustrator:
- First, you need to create informative articles to post on your blog. This is the beginning of everything!
- In these articles, you will focus on your target audience, which is likely to be other designers or illustrators (many of which are just beginners looking for tips from more experienced artists) and companies and individuals who need the services of designers (i.e. brands needing to develop a design for a package, couples looking for professionals to illustrate their wedding invitations, etc).
- Your articles aimed at clients (not particularly fans, but companies/individuals who might need your services), in addition to being informative, should highlight the advantages of hiring a professional like you.
- Your articles aimed at other designers/illustrators should teach some of your secrets, including the tools you use. Yes. Because you should apply to the affiliate programs of the tools you use or a place that sells most of them like Amazon. You can become an affiliate for Adobe products (Adobe pays quite attractive commissions!) or Amazon, for example, where it’s easy to find a lot of art supplies such as inks, pencils, drawing tablets, sketchbooks, etc.
After adding your affiliate links to your posts, you’ll receive a commission anytime someone buys something through your recommendations!
- After some time has passed in which you are posting to your blog regularly (around 1.5-2 years or less depending on your posting frequency and content quality), your blog will probably have enough monthly pageviews to get you into a Premium Ad Network, which means you can display ads on your site and earn more extra income. Note that some people make a living exclusively by displaying ads on their sites! So you shouldn’t ignore it.
- The articles aimed at other designers/artists can include a call to action for your courses (if you create one to teach your techniques to other artists).
Don’t worry about looking like a “sell-out” just because you’re gonna monetize a website as a designer or illustrator!
The only reason you worry about looking like you’re “selling yourself out” just because you’re going to monetize your website as a designer or illustrator is that this world doesn’t value art or artists as it should.
You know what I’m talking about. How many times have you dealt with people wanting you to use your talent to create/give them things for free?
Not to mention that many people are often offended when artists charge for their art and services, as in their minds the artist’s time and skills have no value since it is not a “traditional profession”.
Also, how many artists do you know who have 50k followers on some social media, yet cannot make any substantial amount of money from this account?
Well, know that if you put the same energy that it takes to get 50k followers into growing a blog for your website as a designer or illustrator, you’ll be able to join a Premium Ad Network such as Mediavine and make from $750 to $1500 depending on your RPM (Revenue Per Mille — a.k.a. how much money you make per every 1000 pageviews) every month with just pageviews! Think about it.
And remember that social media doesn’t pay you anything to spend hours and hours of your day creating content just to please an algorithm.
Besides, as long as you make clear what is the main subject of your website, you won’t hurt your image.
#4 Having a professional website as a designer or illustrator helps you build your brand
The best way to guarantee a professional and effective online presence for your brand as a designer or illustrator is by creating a proper website, period.
If you want to communicate your style and tell your story so people can learn more about you and your values, then you need your website.
Or would you rather have your art censored or deleted out of the blue? As far as I can see, as mentioned above, you could even be kicked off a social media platform at any time if they decide you’ve “disrespected” their guidelines.
You need an email list to build your brand. But how do you grow an email list through social media, where people’s attention span is so sparse with all the distractions?
And if you think you don’t need to grow an email list, you should stop and think twice, because your email list is just like your fan club.
A fan club, or an email list, is a more private and intimate way to get in touch from time to time with the people who enjoy your content. It’s a way to approach your fans wisely.
Your chances of conversion are much higher if you approach your fans in this way.
As a designer or illustrator, you’ll build your brand by creating a professional website with relevant and quality content.
Grow an email list of loyal subscribers that care about your brand and let Google know your name — because is Google that will give you sustainable and quality traffic.
#5 As a designer or any other type of creative professional, you shouldn’t blindly trust either social media or your followers
Seriously, ask yourself these questions: Do people even see your content when you post it on social media? And if so, does receiving approval (likes, comments, etc.) from people compensate for the time, effort, and dedication you spend on your art?
Be honest with yourself — you don’t need to tell anyone about it. If you don’t, you’ll never be happy and satisfied as a creative person and professional.
I mean, are people subscribing to your Patreon, even though you’ve got thousands of followers on social media?
If the answer is “no”, know that you are not alone. Believe me, many artists are struggling with the same thing right now.
It feels awful, isn’t it? It’s like being literally betrayed by the people who supposedly care about your art and work.
After all, why are they following you in the first place if most of them don’t want to support you and your art/work?
Even if some people actually support you by buying from you, compared to your number of followers on social media, chances are that the conversion rate is really small.
And I’ll tell you why that happens: people are used to getting things for free. Mostly from artists.
Therefore, when they see a designer/illustrator or any other creative type like you on social media, they think you’re just another artist that, for some reason, they are entitled to steal from without remorse.
That’s why you need to take my advice: creating a website as a designer or any other creative professional is the best way to do what you love and get paid fairly at the same time.
#6 If you have a website as a designer or illustrator, you can easily integrate an online store within your website
So if you don’t want to deal with the inherent hassle of having a social media account, or signing up to POD (Print on demand) sites, then self-host your store.
POD companies that offer a marketplace, while coming with many pros, also come with a lot of downsides.
For instance, they put a lot of pressure on the sellers by displaying how many likes their products get, the number of sales, followers, and so on.
Marketplaces offered by some POD companies can be depressing environments for creative types, for sure.
After all, many people prefer to buy high-demand products. So if you’re just starting out and haven’t made many sales yet, this can really make your art look less attractive in the eyes of superficial people (and we know they come in droves), even if your work is amazing.
Why? All because of the damn numbers, just like with social media!
Furthermore, POD services that have a marketplace generally do not allow you to have any contact with the person who purchased your art. You can’t even collect the customer’s email to keep in touch! Not to mention that you often have no control over prices, can’t provide custom coupon codes to your fans, and have to deal with other people’s art being recommended to people who are considering purchasing YOUR art!
But don’t worry about having to produce and ship your products yourself! You can still use POD services such as Printful or Printify. But the biggest difference with these companies is that they allow you to have your own store integrated into your website.
So, to have better control of your business as a designer or illustrator, you’ll be better off building your own website and integrating it with an eCommerce platform.
Also, you can connect your entire collection of products created with Printful and Printify to your online store with just a few clicks!
#7 Having your own website as a designer or illustrator is something to be proud of
Having a website as a designer or illustrator that you’ve created to expose your entire portfolio professionally will bring you immense satisfaction.
Trust me, while sitting at a desk managing it, you’ll be constantly amazed at how awesome your website has become.
But most importantly, you will be working on something that will be a sustainable source of income for you as a designer or illustrator!
That’s why you need to work hard on it. Building a website as a designer or illustrator is a strategy that guarantees you better results than spending hours creating content for social media and trying to be an influencer (which is what social media platforms expect all of us to be).
The Costs of Building Your Own Website (Including Additional Tools) to Promote Yourself as a Designer or Illustrator
Are you asking yourself how can you create a self-hosted website as a designer or illustrator, have your own domain name, professional email @ your domain name, and start promoting yourself with a blog without spending too much money on it? Even if you don’t know how to code?
In fact, just because you need to have your own website as a designer or illustrator doesn’t mean you need to invest a lot for it!
The annual costs of having a website and blog are not high, especially if you are just starting out.
Of course, I am referring to a self-hosted website. Because, while there are platforms that allow you to create a website for free, they’re limited. That is, you won’t have the freedom to monetize and customize your site the way you want.
To create a website over which you have full control, the best option is to choose WordPress.org — which must NOT be confused with WordPress.com.
WordPress is a free CMS (Content Management System) platform, but you will have to pay for a web hosting service to host it.
I recommend hosting your WordPress website with DreamHost, which is a web hosting service officially recommended by WordPress.
By choosing their Shared Unlimited annual plan, you will get a free domain name + domain privacy, as many emails @ your domain as you want, WordPress pre-installed for you, a free SSL certificate, and a lot more for only $35.40 per year.
Check out DreamHost here, and don’t forget to choose the Shared Unlimited plan (not Starter, because this plan comes with a lot of tools missing).
To customize your website design you can hire a web designer if you have no experience with coding, or purchase a WordPress Theme that allows you to easily make your website look the way you want through toolkits that do not require coding skills.
If you prefer the second option, check out Ashe PRO by WP Royals.
Ashe PRO is a Premium WordPress Theme that is extremely easy to customize, even for WordPress beginners, has integration with WooCommerce (in case you plan to create your own online store), and is SEO-friendly.
To get Ashe PRO, you will be charged $29.99 (USD) one time (no other hidden fees, no monthly or annual payments). Then you’ll receive Lifetime Theme updates, security updates, new features, and premium support.
That’s it! As you can see, it’s very easy to have your own website as a designer or illustrator. With a web hosting service that pre-installs WordPress for you and comes with a professional email and domain name + a Premium WordPress Theme, you will have a truly professional website integrated with your online store and blog!
Why You Need a Website as a Designer or Illustrator — Conclusion
As you know now, creating a website as a designer or illustrator and, mainly, integrating a blog as a tool to promote your brand is a better strategy than begging for likes on social media platforms.
When you have a website as a designer or illustrator you are your own boss. There’s no need to ask for anyone’s permission before doing something, let alone fear having your social media account blocked, suspended, or worse for no reason (which happens a lot, by the way).
Social media can boost your ego as a creative professional, but it will hardly increase your bank account and allow you to make a living as an artist.
So think carefully about where you are going to invest your energy and time.
- How to Blog As a Non-Writer and Make Good Money (5 Tips)
- Blogging or YouTube, Which One is More Profitable?
- Is It Worth Starting a Blog? Can You Actually Make Money From It?
- 5 Things You MUST Know BEFORE Starting a Blog
- 7 Reasons You Can Never Be Productive At Home
- How Can You Stop Being Lazy and Unmotivated? 5 Life-Changing Facts