I feel quite lucky to have stumbled upon the world of internet marketing at a very young age. When I was fifteen, I created my first revenue generating website. It was really ugly though, and it had nothing to do with the arts and design world at all.
I didn’t see myself becoming an artist then. However, as I am delving deeper into the industry as a visual effects artist, I realized how important it is to have a website just for my self.
One aspect that stays the same whether you’re a seasoned internet marketer or a budding artists is branding. Unfortunately, branding is not an easy topic to talk about and has an especially broad scope.
It expands from the business name to the logo, letterhead, business cards and even as far as typography! The list goes on and on but my focus today are on domain names to brand yourself as a unique and individual artist.
If you want to skip the technical part, you can jump straight to this section.
What is a Domain Name
I know most people are familiar with what a domain name is, but not everyone. Some people use the wrong terminology to interpret the word “domain name”. Commonly confused terms are Websites, URL, hosting or IP address.
While it’s not important for you to know the technical details as an artist, I think it is good to at least know what it is generally. Thus, I’d like to take a short time out to explain what a domain name is.
Basically, a domain name is the address in which a server resides. A basic domain name consists of two parts (there’s more but I’ll leave them out to avoid confusion).
pixelbabble – This is the subdomain on which your domain name lies on. It usually contains the name of whatever your trying to brand.
.com – The top-level domain (TLD) is a suffix that goes after the subdomain. This can come in a variety of forms such as .com, .net and .org. Each year, more and more TLD’s are being offered and recently domain registrar’s have offered some unique TLD’s such as .art and .me.
How is Domain Name Different from Hosting and URL?
The hosting is the server where files for your website is stored. For a website to work, you need a domain name and a hosting (either self hosted or a 3rd party provider such as Wix).
URL is the abbreviation for Universal Resource Locator and it is exactly what the name is — an address that points to specific files on a server.
To put this in laymen’s term, you can think of the domain name as the name of an apartment complex. The URL is the address to each apartment unit in the complex and the hosting would be the actual physical building of the apartment complex itself.
Now that I’ve gotten the technical details out of the way, lets focus on the meat of this article.
Why You Need Your Own Domain Name as an Artist
Gone are the days where the only way to get recognition is to have your artwork presented in a gallery. With the Internet, any form of art can go viral with just a click of a button. If you want exposure as an artist, you need a slice of this giant pie and a good way to start is by getting a domain name.
When you get a domain name, you’ve set yourself up to be seen by the whole world. You have just bought a property on the Internet. It really does show how serious you are about your career.
By pairing up your domain name with a good hosting, you instantly have a platform to showcase your artwork. Authority radiates from artists portfolios’ that are self hosted which in term makes them look professional.
But I Already Have A Domain Name…
….that ends with any of these?
- any other relevant subdomain preset given by a webspace hosting
I will be really blunt here. Every time I see any website (not just an artist portfolio) with a prefixed subdomain like that, it unconsciously triggers an “unprofessional” signal in my mind. Even though a person’s portfolio may be stunning, a subdomain like that trailing your brand just doesn’t seem right.
Don’t get me wrong here. There is no problem with using a service like Wix or Squarespace to actually design your website. Since you’ve spent all that time designing it, and you are going to put your best works on it, why not spend that extra 10 bucks to upgrade to your own personal domain?
I’m starting to sound very opinionated here, but I can only think of three reasons why artists wouldn’t get their own domain to go with their web space of choice:
- They’re uninformed about how to get their own domain name/too hard to get a domain name
- They think spending $10 dollars a year is expensive
- They just don’t seem to be bothered about having another company’s name attaching itself to their unique identity
Think about this as an investment for yourself. It’s a very good investment, and the earlier you do it, the better.
What About Deviant Art, Behance and Tumblr…?
It is very good to have these additional art platforms to showcase your art, but it’s just not enough. You really cannot beat the authority of having your own domain.
The good new is, if you are using a service like Tumblr, you can purchase a domain name and link it to your Tumblr account. This way, you get all the treats from the Tumblr system plus a big fat pillar of authority from your domain name.
When Should I Get a Domain Name
Right now. Period. Even if you have nothing to put on it at the moment. Let me explain why.
Search engines especially the big G look for authority when ranking in search results. One of the metrics it looks at is the Domain Age (DA). The older the DA, the higher it values the website. So even though you only have an “About Me” page on your website, the domain name is going to age as time goes. When you are actually ready to post you works online, you now have a mature place to start that search engines are going to love!
Also, you have to think about the availability of a domain name. I feel lucky to have a really unique last name, hence I was able to register KevinPinga.com with ease. Unfortunately, this wouldn’t be too easy for those with more common names. However, there are alternatives that you consider which I will explain next.
How Do I Pick a Good Name?
The most straight forward name to pick would be your first and last name. CG lighting and surfacing artist, Aasha Sriram has her portfolio up at aashasriram.com, running under the Wix platform, and that’s okay! However, like I said earlier, not everyone would have this luxury of picking their first and last name as their domain name.
This is when you can start to be creative. Here’s another example. Joseph Walton has his illustration works published at joedoodles.com. This is short, sweet and out of the box creative. Joe uses Tumblr as his underlying engine to run his website, which again is just fine.
Use your creativity when it comes to picking your domain name. You don’t also have to use any part of your name at all. If it’s nice and short, people will remember it. One final example from Lighting and Shading TD, Naveen Sabesan that has his portfolio up at digitalradiance.net. Yet another Wix hosted site with a really creative domain name that’s related to his art forte.
In addition to that, Naveen also has his portfolio set up at naveensabesan.com!
This is going to be an investment for your future, so take your time to pick something that you won’t regret 5 years from now.
What To Avoid When Buying a Domain Name
- hyphens because they’re hard to say
- cliche phrases
- names that would unintentionally sound wrong – Eg, speedofart.com
- avoid certain TLDs that would not make you sound like an individual – Eg, .org
Where Can I Buy A Domain Name
There are hundreds of not thousands of domain name registrars that can provide you a domain name. Some can even provide them for really cheap.
However, I would really recommend going with a solid domain name provider such as Namecheap. They offer domain names at a rate of $10.69 per year with a free privacy protection for the first year. Plus, their support team is top notch!
Trust me, you don’t want to end up using a domain registrar that is going to screw you over. My friend Ginger at needyanimator.com had suffered a great deal when the tech support at 1and1.com showed below average level’s of incompetency!
Do your due diligence when you are picking a domain name registrar. A simple way to know if a domain name registrar is reliable or not is to search for reviews. A simple “domain registrar name + review” search query on Google will give you tons of information and real customer experiences.
Tip – If you’re also looking into purchasing hosting, you’d usually get a free domain name.
What do I do After I Get a Domain Name?
Now that you have your own domain name, it’s really up to you. If you already have a site on WordPress.org, Tumblr or any other web service provider that gives you this functionality, you can link your domain name to it.
If you don’t have anything yet, I’d suggest you still put something on it. At least an artist bio or a short description of yourself. It doesn’t have to be fancy, it just doesn’t have to be empty.
You could also purchase a hosting service if you didn’t already. This is a good option if you’re up for the challenge of developing your own portfolio site. I personally however, just use a self hosted WordPress and get a premium theme to go with it.
Wrapping Things Up
I hope this guide will serve as a resource to budding artists. I know this topic can be confusing sometimes, so hopefully this will clear things up. If you have any other comments or thoughts on this, feel free to drop a comment. I promise it won’t go unheard!