It's a question that has plagued diversified creatives for as long as the internet has been a thing. And given the time, effort, and expense of setting up, tweaking, and maintaining just one effective website, when, if ever, should an artist consider having more than one website as a part of their overall marketing and communication strategy?
A Tale of Two Artists
One of my podcast listeners, Lorraine, recently reached out for a little wisdom on this very topic. Lorraine is a two-genre painter, creating both flower paintings as well as custom pet portraits. As she was in the process of putting her website together, she kept running into issues of fitting both sides of what she does creatively under one "roof" on the internet.
Again, it's a great problem, and one I've been asked about many times by the members of my Created to Thrive Artist Mentoring Program. My rule of thumb on this is simple. If an artist is doing two or more creative things related to their career as an artist, I encourage them to have just one website to showcase and market their artistic endeavors.
In Lorraine's case, both of her creative genres are complementary. A good number of her pet portrait clients may likely be interested in her floral art, while a good number of her floral clients will have a beloved pet or two they may want to be memorialized through one of her custom pet portraits.
So, when should you have two websites? Well, that's simple. When your second business, venture, or hobby isn't closely related to what you do as an artist. In situations like this, you may want to consider having two separate websites. I'll use myself as an example of when to do this.
I have an artist website, where I showcase my baskets, woven sculpture, commissioned artwork, and the classes that I teach for other aspiring basket weavers. All of this information and my public persona as an artist lives under one roof at matttommey.com.
I also have a separate website that talks about my life and work as a mentor to artists. MattTommeyMentoring.com is the online portal where I talk about my books, conferences, and my Created to Thrive Artist Mentoring Program. My mentoring website also houses this blog and all the episodes of my twice-weekly The Thriving Christian Artist Podcast.
I found out early on that very few of my basketry classes or woven sculpture clients were interested in what I did as an artist mentor and even fewer of my mentoring clients were interested in one of my commissioned wall pieces. The two sides of what I do creatively and as a mentor don't necessarily complement each other or connect with the same set of potential clients.
Making One Website Work For Everything You Do
It all starts with your home page. A good home page will evoke a connection, inspire, and make your visitors curious enough to click and continue the journey through other pages on your website. A great home page will speak to the visitor's aspirational desires, bringing needs to the surface that you can solve through your skills and talents as an artist.
So, in the case of someone like Lorraine who creates fine artwork, like her floral paintings as well as custom commissioned pet portraits, I always recommend having a couple of different “doors” on your homepage so that people can quickly see the full range of what you offer creatively.
Redundant Intuitive Doors Get Opened
Now these "doors" into the different sides of your artistic expressions should be both intuitive and redundant. The secret here is to make navigating your website easy for everyone, no matter how they like to journey through a website.
So, for an artist website, that means giving your visitors access to the various sides of your artistic personality via text-based navigational links in your menu and through graphic links that clearly communicate the scope and variety of your abilities through amazing images of your work.
Optimize Your Genre Specific Pages
Once you've created that great home page that highlights everything you do creatively, now you need to turn your attention to the genre-specific pages your site visitors will be visiting. So using our friend Lorraine as an example again, she'll want to have a page devoted to her custom pet portraits and one focused upon her fine floral art.
On the pet portrait page, I would encourage her to include past work examples that tell the story of her process. I would suggest she show examples of her source materials, like the photos she used in painting a portrait, show a picture of that custom portrait in process, and then finally a final shot or two of the finished piece, including one in situ if possible. I would finish out that page with information on the commissioning process and how a client can connect with her to get a portrait project started.
Now since her floral art pieces are most likely ready to purchase, I would recommend that this page include pieces of currently available work, along with the prices, as well as examples of few sold pieces in their final homes when possible. Again, I would make sure visitors to this page on her site can easily learn how to purchase originals and prints of her art, as well as how to connect with her for a commissioned floral creation.
Finally, creating genre-specific pages with unique pictures and descriptions greatly enhances your site's ability to be found on the internet. These become anchor pages for those topics and genres on your website, making them easier for your clients to find when searching for "custom pet portraits," for example.
It's All About the People
So whether you end up with one website or two for what you do, always keep your visitor, the prospective client's experience in mind. Your site should peak curiosity, showcase your talents, inspire and inform your visitor all while providing a clear, simple pathway for them to connect to you and the art you create.
I hope this has helped. Thanks for reading.
Matt Tommey is an artist, author and mentor who is passionate about empowering artists to thrive spiritually, artistically and in business.