Artist website builders can either make or break your art business.
Your artist website is an essential ingredient if you want to sell art online.
Think about it: someone arrives on your site, cruises around for a few seconds, and quickly decides to stay or go.
You have to capture them immediately. Otherwise, they might never come again.
Good news, you don’t have to spend $5000 on a website to start your business in art.
Rather, on your own, you can start figuring out how your site will look, what functionalities it should have, and the best ways to convert visitors into paying art collectors. After all, a nice looking website with your art displayed beautifully is worthless if it doesn’t generate art sales.
I’ll get you started with the first step in that process: choosing the perfect artist website service to build your art website.
That way, you’ll have a website that looks and feels exactly how you want, offers you the functionality that matches your level of geeky technical experience, and offers plenty of room to evolve over time.
5 Artist website services to build your perfect art website
When it comes to building your artist website, there are a variety of different options. I’ll breakdown five of the most popular ones, explain the pros and cons of each one, and help you make the decision which site builder is right for you.
WordPress.org is the most popular website builder ever. My art website is running on WordPress and has been since 2005. My website has easily evolved alongside the growth of my art business.
In the beginning, I only needed a place to showcase my portfolio to get storyboard clients. Then it had to display different galleries for different types of illustrations.
Then I needed a blog under on my site as well.
Later I started to sell my art and needed a store.
Recently, in just the past few years I started offering workshops and needed a way to put my workshop material behind a paid membership wall. WordPress was able to seamlessly grow as my needs grew.
It’s the engine behind everything from the New York Times, which gets millions of visitors every month, to smaller artist websites.
(But before I dive any deeper, I want to make an important distinction: there are WordPress.COM and WordPress.ORG and they are NOT the same thing. WordPress.COM is a blogging platform that requires no software installations or downloads; just sign up and start using it.
On the other hand, WordPress.ORG, however, is blogging software that must be installed into a web server but allows for full customization. For more information on the differences, check out this guide.) For example, my website runs WordPress on my hosted server. So I'm using WordPress.ORG.
- Unlimited functionalities. You can have ANY feature you want for your artist website by simply installing a plugin from their directory. Galleries, store, membership functionality, sell courses… anything. Just download the plugin and it works automatically.
- Customizable. There are thousands of themes so your artist website can look the way you want it to. If you have the know-how, you can also edit the look of your theme using CSS as well.
- Blog ready. The best artist website builder with blog functionality. Blogging is the best way to share your creative process and grow your audience. It also has valuable SEO benefits so you can increase organic traffic to your artist website.
- Technical. If you're a beginner at making any sort of website, WordPress can be a little technical.
- Hidden costs. While there is a free option for any functionality you'll need on your artist website. Such as a gallery, store, managing members if you offer courses. There is also a premium paid option.
- A lot of moving parts. You'll have to manage your own hosting, update to your plugins and themes, while also taking care of backing up your whole website from time to time. Not as complicated as it sounds, but you'll have to take the time to learn about how to do this (yes, it can be automated).
Price: Unfortunately, SquareSpace doesn't offer any free plans (just a quick free trial). However, they offer three plans with different levels of storefront services and features.
- Personal Plan: $8/month
- Business Plan: $16/month
- Commerce Plan: $24/month
SquareSpace many well-designed themes and allows artists to build crisp, modern designs into their art websites. It’s perfect for any artist website because it is centered around image-driven content.
- Many features. You don't need any technical knowledge to implement things like galleries and stores.
- Easy to design. Their style editor lets you quickly customize colors, fonts, widths, and images without fumbling through code and CSS. Plus they have a nice collection of videos to help you get up and running with your artist website.
- Everything is included. Everything is under one roof. From hosting to analytics, it’s all together on one platform, which makes things easy to manage.
- Limited blogging. Compared to WordPress, SquareSpace is very limited on the content-management front.
- Limited customization. Because you can’t edit code as with other website-building options, that could cause problems if you want to add advanced level customization to your artist website.
Price: Shopify charges the highest rates out of all the other artist website builders, but is worth the extra money because it is an extensive e-commerce solution.
- Basic: $29/month
- Professional: $79/month
- Unlimited: $179/month
Shopify is an awesome e-commerce platform for an artist storefront. Thousands of artists online use this Shopify as a way to grow their businesses and customer bases.
- Simple art stores. Lots of flexibility in designing your online store. You can easily track inventory, customer orders, and much more.
- Great designs. Offers a lot of great-looking, pre-built themes for your online store.
- Fast. It has some of the fastest page load times which are essential for keeping visitors on your website.
- Storefront focused. Because it’s designed to be purely an online store, there are limitations to the type of content you can make.
- Fees. Unfortunately, Shopify charges fees for each credit card transaction, from 2.4%-2.9% (plus $0.30) depending on which package you purchase.
- $$$. Pricier compared to other artist website builders. Again, it depends on the plan you purchase along with the volume of sales.
Price: Wix offers a free plan with the ability to upgrade to a variety of premium, paid packages to get even more features.
- Connect Domain: $4.08/month
- Combo: $9.25/month
- Unlimited: $12.24/month
- eCommerce: $16.17/month
- VIP: $24.92/month
Wix is one of the largest website-building platforms in the world with over 63 million registered users. It offers one of the best drag-and-drop page builders available. This is great for beginners because it eliminates fumbling with codes and finding plugins.
- Beginner friendly. The drag-and-drop site builder is a game-changer for beginners with zero coding experience. It offers simple to see, real-time changes so you can see edits as you make them to your website
- Many choices. There are hundreds of well-designed and modern-looking templates.
- Complicated to edit. You CANNOT change templates once you create your website. You will also have no ability to alter the code to customize your site.
- Hard to migrate. If you ever decide to leave Wix for a different artist website builder it's nearly impossible to export data from your site (ex. blog posts, galleries, etc.) Basically, if you leave Wix, you will have to start building your art website from the start from scratch.
Price: Weebly does offer a free plan with simple pricing plans. Basically, when you pay you're paying to remove ads and get your own domain.
- Starter: $4/month
- Pro: $8/month
- Business: $25/month
Weebly gives priority to offering an intuitive site-building experience.
Weebly is a great option for artists who want to create an art website as fast as possible. Yes, it’s easy to customize.
- Simple. Simple drag-and-drop page builder, so you can easily design your art website. Their Site Planner lets you see how the site will look, even on mobile devices, BEFORE publishing content live.
- Flexible. There are over 100 themes to pick from. Which you can customize via HTML/CSS. Unlike Wix, you CAN switch themes whenever you want.
- No customization. Lacks plugins, which limits the customizations you can make. While you can customize a site with HTML or CSS, the themes are plainer than other free website builders
- No style functions. Few styling options. Unless you’re familiar with coding, you’ll be limited with the ways you can make your site stand out.
Which artist website builder is right for you?
Now that we've gone through the most popular artist website builders, let’s figure out which one is right for you?
- WordPress. A great option for artists looking to grow their business because of the unlimited features and the flexibility of the platform — you can customize it so many ways and even turn your site into a solid eCommerce destination with the WooCommerce plugins.
- SquareSpace. Perfect for artists who would like to design an artist website around their images — because of the sleek designs to showcase your art. Also, the drag-and-drop editor is a great solution for artists who want to avoid coding to customize your site.
- Shopify. The main solution for artists with many many art products to sell. Shopify can handle every facet of a larger art store. You’ll also have control over invoices, coupon codes, inventory, and email customer interactions..
- Wix. A perfect choice for an artist who wants to quickly create a website BUT doesn’t want to worry about future modifications. Their drag-and-drop site building platform is better than Weebly, which gives you a very intuitive design experience. Unfortunately, once you pick a design for your site you’re stuck.
- Weebly. Perfect for a beginner artist who wants to create an art website as fast as possible. Someone who wants the flexibility for future customizations that is still affordable.
Getting started selling your art online
Once you're done building your art website offering your first giclee print for sale is a great first product way to earn from your art.
Also, if you aren't set up to make a giclee print, you can link most all of these artist website builders are capable of linking with a print on demand service.
Then tackling your artist marketing. Such as knowing how to price your art, knowing the right art launch strategies to make your first sales. However, you still need the right elements in your website to attract an audience, keep them, and make them a part of your art journey so they’ll eventually turn into happy collectors.