I first started drafting this post about a week and a half-ago. Had Intended to post it sooner but working and life have gotten in the way. Because of an email I received today, which I’ll quote later in this post, it is more prescient than ever.
Get an effin’ website: artists, entrepreneurs, solopreneurs, makers and consultants. Nobody is trying to go through two or three steps to get to you, when a click of the mouse-key can take us instantly to your website where we could:
- Read about you, your art, your wares, your products, your menus, your process…
- See pictures of your art, your wares, your products, your food, your process…
- Get a list of your exhibits, shows, grants…
- See press clippings,videos…
- Buy stuff or book your services
- And so forth and so on
How can I refer you to any of the people from whom I receive requests on a weekly basis when I don’t have anything to show them how creative, talented, bad-ass you are? In the past three weeks I’ve been asked:
Do you know a Black caterer who could cater a soul-food luncheon for about 200 people?
Yes, I do.
As I was putting together my list, I realized that only one of the caterers I could recommend from personal experience had a website. The other two are excellent but to get a menu or pricing from them, you have to email or call them and then wait to hear back. Unfortunately, the person who asked was doing research of places to forward to someone else in a very large, corporate non-profit. They are not going to deal with someone who doesn’t have a website. Opportunity missed. Not only this time but this is a large organization that has lots of large and small events and meetings. There would have been multiple opportunities to cater but…
Get an effin website.
Another request was from a patron looking for referrals of female fiber artists and asked for websites that showed a portfolio of work. Out of the five fiber artists that I thought of immediately, only two have websites. (And one of those websites is seriously out-of-date. For real though, if you’re going to have a website, you can’t have information on your home page that’s over a year old. It makes it seems you’re not vital. It’s okay to have previous work there but your home page should be current.)
When I contacted one of the artists who didn’t have a website (I was so sure she did), she sent this email after I’d had a mini-hissy-fit:
Thanks for the photo and for contacting me about my no longer existing website. I had big issues with the website because I never learned to manage it myself. Eventually I let it go because it was costing money with nothing to show.
Sigh. She goes on to say that she will take advantage of the website designers I’m trying to find to do affordable one-on-one work with artists in a program I’m currently working with. (Interestingly, one of the other artists who don’t have a website was in a website course I offered when I ran ACT Roxbury. She started one then that has never been activated. She was given money to pay for her domain name and hosting costs for a year. This was 17 years ago.
Get an effin website.
How can others consider you a real business, real maker, real entrepreneur, really-real when, in 2018, you don’t have a web presence?
How can I refer you? Even though my word is strong and people feel my recommendations are valuable, words are not enough. Pictures are worth a thousand words. They tell a powerful story of your work, your process, your mission/vision/practice, etc.
For real, though.
When I checked emails tonight, I found this email from someone I’ve never met who was referred to me by someone else. This person from a very big art referral company wrote:
Through your amazing work in the arts and culture communities of Boston, we wanted to reach out to see if you knew of any artists that would be a good fit for this project and that we could send the request for material to. If you could send me their names, emails and/or websites, I’d love to include your recommendations in the list we will be presenting to the team next Monday.
I am not sharing this request to toot my own horn. I’m just sharing because, it wounds me, frustrates me, and causes me anguish to assemble the list, which I did, knowing that the people without a website, often some of the strongest artists, will probably not going to be contacted because the artists who have websites will be checked out immediately.
Get an effin website.
There are many things you can’t do easily. But getting a website is something you can do. You can even create one yourself following the fairly straight forward and affordable process at WordPress, Wix, Squarespace, etcetera. Follow-the-instructions or hire someone to build a simple website for you. It will cost. It needn’t cost a lot. You have to pay to play to get paid. A little bit of text, a lot of strong and well-photographed images. As you use it, the website will guide you to where it needs more work. Look at other websites and navigate them. This will help you as you see what appeals to you and how to place information on your site.
Purchase your domain name. Contact high school and college students to find someone to help you. There are scores of places in Boston that provide help – including Boston Public Library (whose programs are free), SCORE, The Center for Women and Enterprise and Roxbury Innovation Center, and various adult centers in Boston, Brookline and Cambridge, to name but a few.
Except for my dear friend who’s suffered several personal losses of people very dear to her and is bringing herself out of a funk, the other excuses I’ve heard don’t cut muster, including this gem: “I will get so much business that I won’t be able to keep up with demand” (you should be so lucky to have to figure out how to rise to that challenge)
Help me, help you and get out-of-your-own way, if you’re as serious as you say you are about making money using your creative gifts. Thank you.