Three Alternatives to Paying for a Website
No, you don’t need to pay for a website.
When it comes time to share a project with the world, there are a few first steps that many people take. For some reason, one of them is always custom-made t-shirts. Another one is to get a website.
Getting a website isn’t very hard these days even if you are only moderately tech-savvy. Chances are if you a reading a blog, you also know how to make one. Most people around my age know some basic HTML just from updating their LiveJournal. But for some people, the urge to go for a stylish, expensive, bells-and-whistle website is overwhelming. I don’t blame you. Pretty websites are so pretty!
As I’ve said before, the number one thing creators need to do is create. Don’t make things harder for yourself than they need to be. Here are some alternatives to paying for a website.
1) Make your home on social media
A website can be a great resource, but it’s like a store in the mall. People can stop by, you can draw people in, but ultimately it stays in one place. Social media, on the other hand, is everywhere. You can use it to go out and find fans where they exist, whether it be on Facebook, YouTube, Instagram, Twitter, or SnapChat. For some, such as writers or graphic designers, even LinkedIn can serve as a home base to tell your story.
If you sell a physical or digital product, a Facebook page is critical for its promotional tools and capabilities to link to your online store. If you are more of a performer, you can get away with simply having a YouTube channel to showcase your talents and a Twitter account to interact with fans. There are even automation tools to schedule posts in advance, and Facebook will notify you if you haven’t interacted with your followers in a while.
2) Use a portal
Like living on social media, another website alternative is creating a profile on a portal or community specific to your art. There is Etsy for digital and physical art, Bandcamp for musicians, GoodReads Authors for writers, and Fiverr for anything and everything else. You won’t have the control and customization you’d get with a website or even a social media profile, but there is something to be said for using a service specifically created to publish and market your work. Another benefit is the community – these portals allow for referrals and recommendations to drive more fans to your profile.
3) Build one yourself
Once your art business becomes more advanced, with multiple products, features, and marketing, you may need to upgrade. But if your art is still a labor of love, there’s no need to spend money on a website when there are so many ways to build one yourself, for free. I call them the WWW, because I love forced puns. WordPress.com is an excellent place to start, with their easy-to-use interface and system specifically designed for portfolio management (This website uses self-hosted WordPress.) Wix and Weebly are also reliable and free, and have a drag-and-drop interface if you’re still a little tech-shy. If you do go the website route, there is one thing I’d recommend springing for – a custom domain name. They’re around $10 a year, and even if you don’t want it now, you’ll be kicking yourself in a few years when yourbandname.com is no longer available.
So there they are, three alternatives to paying for a website. If you do decide you’d like a website and are looking for some help, I do offer design services for free on a limited basis. Send an email to firstname.lastname@example.org with a link to what you do and if I think we’d work well together, we can go from there. You can check out my design portfolio here.
What are some other social, portal, or free website-builders that I missed? Post your favorites in the comments below.