Putting Your Portfolio Online
Building a Web Site
1. The first step toward putting your art online is to buy a scanner and scanning software and scan in your artwork.
I use a semi-pro flatbed scanner, which suffices for most needs and all website needs (given the slower download times for higher-resolution images). The cost was under $200. When a client needs a higher-resolution scan, the client generally sends it out to be scanned with a drum scanner. If I need a higher-resolution for print purposes, I take the work to Kinkos or a similar professional shop. See scanner reviews at ZDNet.
When scanning, I scan at 300 dpi and put the artwork online at that resolution. Web site designers will often advise putting graphics online at no higher than 72 dpi, but for illustrators' websites, when the idea is to sell people on the quality of your work, 300 dpi is better.
The next step is to create your web site's pages.
I started by outlining my site on paper. To make life easier for yourself, think in terms of a static (unchanging throughout the site and on all pages) header and footer section. Think of the header as the graphic that you might put on a business card and the footer as the text information that you might put on a business card. The body of the pages (generally the middle section between the header and footer) is the part that changes from page to page. Initially your site's pages might consist of one page for each piece in your portfolio and a page about you (or you might put your resume or curriculum vitae online here). Web sites have a way of expanding, though, so develop your site with expansion in mind, to the degree that you can. Your home page (or index.html) can either be what is called a "splash page" that is very visual or can be a site map, linking to all of the rest of the pages on your site.
A navigation bar (or "button bar") is the other important element. It might be just under the header information or along the left-hand margin and helps people to see what else is contained within the site.
I use Dreamweaver. It has a lot of time-saving organizational features and the code that it creates tends to be more compliant than other programs. Download a free 30-day trial at Adobe.
3. Find a web host and register a domain name. Once you've created the web site's pages and are ready to put the site on the web, you'll need to make a decision about where to put the site, either on what is (often) free web space provided through your ISP or, alternatively, decide on a domain name (the "www.scientificillustrator.com" part, for example, at my website) and sign up with a web host. I register domain names through Go Daddy (about $10 per year) and currently use Host Gator for website hosting (about $10 per month).
HostGator uses a straight-forward interface called "CPanel" which many web hosts use. It allows for easier administration of your website. Tread carefully when selecting a web host and registrar. The quickest test is to send them a few questions via email. They should reply to your questions within 24 hours (with more than an automated response!)
upload your site to the web host's server, you will need to learn how to "FTP" (file transfer protocol). I use Cute FTP, a trial version of which is available at Tucows.
You can also use the FTP feature provided with Dreamweaver.
Marketing your web site. After getting your site online, be sure to submit it to search engines so that people will find it. See Sites at Which Artists May Submit their Web Site for a listing of industry-specific sites for artists. Also request (via email) that others link to your site, where appropriate.
Getting income from your web site. Aside from listing your portfolio online so that potential contractors and employers can see what you've done, you might also consider offering the purchase of giclee prints of your artwork via your web site. Giclee prints are very high quality prints that can be printed on demand (versus your having to pay for a large print run).
Putting advertising on your site can also bring in some income. Examples: Google's Adsense program, Amazon's affiliate program, and CafePress
If this sounds daunting and you don't want to do so much of the work yourself, see this listing of sites at which to have your art website hosted. Some do the coding work for you and all you have to do is send them your artwork. It will cost extra if they need to scan the artwork for you (if it is not already in digital form).