(Or, Writers Need Websites Too!)

As a creatives, there is often a time in our careers that we see the need for a website. Perhaps a writer is preparing for the release of her new book, or an artist is ready to sell and display her work online. A website for creative often straddles the divide between personal and professional. Some of us aren’t making a business of our art (even if we want to), but still have need for a professional presence online to support our career. It can make us uncomfortable to think about terms like “personal brand,”  but when you create a website to share your work, you are projecting a brand. Everything from the content on your site, the images you share, and the fonts you select contribute to your personal brand, not to mention your posts on social media, the interactions you have at gallery openings or readings, and how people perceive your work when you’re not around.

When created intentionally, web branding can give you a cohesive image that matches your creative work and personality. By taking some time to reflect about yourself, your creative work, and the brand you’d like to create, you can help shape how your audience sees you, and present your work in a way that honors and best reflects it.

It’s easy to jump from the thought that you need a website to setting out to make one. But before you can begin to think about designing a website (by yourself or with the help of a designer or developer), you need to consider the content first. Before I begin designing a website, I always have my clients spend time reflecting about their reasons for needing one, as well as what needs to be part of it. Through a branding workbook I’ve designed to help work through some of the items needed, as well as emails and conversations, we’re usually able to get a good idea of what content will be necessary before we even start to design the site itself. Here are a few things to consider once you feel like you’re ready for a website. At the end of this post, you can sign up for my FREE website content planner.

Get it on paper.

Whether you think visually or with words, start mapping out what you already need to include. Write a list of the pages or sections of your website and consider it an outline for the content you need to create. I like working on post-its at the beginning stages so I can quick jot my ideas and move them around without getting stuck on small details.postits

If you’re having a hard time even coming up with a list, start with your WHY. If you know the purpose of your website, it will be easier to fill in the gaps of WHAT needs to be included in it. From your brainstorming, make a list of all the content needed including logos, graphics, and photos. Can you create any yourself? Can you find some free online resources until you are ready to hire someone to help?

Get organized.

Go through and make note of the most important elements. Rank each item from most to least important to help you organize. Think about thetype of information you need to present on your website and how it should be organized.

Remember your audience.

Even though as a creative, your website will definitely reflect who you are, just like the work you create it’s equally (if not more) important to think about who you will (and want) to reach. Who are they, and what do they most need to know? What’s the best way to present it to them? What should they experience or learn upon visiting your site, and what should they take away? Be sure to really focus on just a few things, so your visitors don’t get overwhelmed.

Think ahead.

As you begin to plan out your content, you can also think about functionality. Do you need to be able to sell your artwork or do you want the dates for your book tour with information easily accessible? What else do you need your website to do? What all needs to be included beyond what you’ve written or collected (think visuals, logo, bio photo, etc.)?