Multiple Websites for Multiple Businesses

From my inbox . . .

Rebecca Finch asks:

I work primarily in fine art paintings, but I also do graphic design and portrait photography. Do I have to create different websites for each? Should I have one landing page from which to choose of the three sites? Should the look/feel of each site be different yet unified?

Should I then have a separate blog for each art form, or can each site point to the same blog?

In I’d Rather Be in the Studio I write:

3 different styles of art = 3 different audiences = 3 times the marketing effort [tweet this]

I’m sure this probably isn’t what you want to hear, Rebecca, but this is you. You have 3 different businesses and, therefore, 3 different audiences.

Rebecca Finch art

Rebecca Finch’s current portfolio page showing painting, portrait photography, and graphic design together.

The people you promote portrait photography to are different from those that you want to share your paintings and graphic design with.

There might be overlap among them, but, in general, you confuse people when you send them to see your portfolio page and they see three different businesses.

If you create one landing page for choosing among the three (which is really what you have with the above portfolio page) you add to the confusion. Not because of the landing page itself, but because you are sending people to a page where they have to decide how they are going to relate to you.

The Shortcut

The better option is to send targeted audiences directly to the type of art that interests them. Promote the photo page to people who might be interested in portrait photography and the graphic design page to those looking for help in that area.

Rather than creating three different sites, you could create one site with three distinct areas:

  1. Rebecca Finch Paintings
  2. Rebecca Finch Design
  3. Rebecca Finch Portrait Photography

Since you’re a graphic designer, you could figure out a way to unify them on the home page.

But here’s the key: Don’t give people the home page URL!

If someone inquires about your paintings, send them to a URL specific to your paintings page. Ditto for either of the other art forms.

Yes, this means that your list is clearly segmented. But that’s another post.

I’d like to see you at least have separate URLs for those other art forms, which you can use to promote to the specific pages.

For example, if I send you to OrganizeYourArtBiz.com, you will find that you land on artbizcoach.com/organize-your-art-biz. I don’t send you to my home page if you’re only interested in that particular class. And the distinct URL makes it easier for me to promote.

Problems with the Shortcut

There are at least two downsides of the shortcut, but they’re biggies.

The first one is that you should have three different About pages for your various businesses.

I hear you saying, “3 About pages? That’s nuts!” But it’s not. Think about it.

An About page is for establishing yourself as competent and authoritative in a particular area. If you put all of your businesses on a single About page, you appear scattered.

The second problem with the shortcut is that, presumably, you would have menu tabs for the all of the art forms. Again, this leads to confusion because the additional businesses would always be visible to visitors who, most likely, came to be enlightened about a single aspect of your work.

The Solution

The clearest solution is to have three separate sites, although they don’t have to be huge sites with lots of content. If painting is your primary focus, make that your juiciest site.

website makeoverElements such as colors and fonts can unify all of the sites so that you don’t feel like you are designing three different sites. You design one site and apply that design to the others.

On your About pages on all three sites, you could mention the other sites – at the bottom, after you have established your authority for that body of work.

And the best news of all . . . You only need 1 blog!  BUT (big But) only if you don’t want to become known a THE #1 EXPERT in one of your media.

If you do want to become established as an expert in an area, a focused blog on that topic is far preferable to a blog comprised of a little of this and a little of that.

Otherwise, it’s okay to mix up your art-related topics on the blog. People understand that artists are creative and inspired by many different things.

In order to unify your blog entries, try to write about common threads among your media whenever you can. That’s my challenge to all artists in your predicament who are lucky have so many talents.

There’s more about improving your site’s look and functionality in the audio program Website Makeover and Cynthia Morris and I teach how to improve the health of your blog in our Blog Triage Self-Study.

 

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17 comments to Multiple Websites for Multiple Businesses

  • It also depends on how long you are…I mean, wordy…I just keep running out of space…I only added new sites & blogs because I had a need…organic…But don’t fix it if it ain’t broke…After about 100 blog posts I start to sense the blog provider is getting a little weary of me…Since I tend to be polite, instead of overburdening them, I politely drift over & start a new site where noone knows how wordy I am & they let me reinvent myself…
    Also…Eventually, sometimes, there is synchronicity…You get older, & the fine art merges into the graphic design merges into the photography & you spring forth with your specific specialty special just to you-You discover you are great at baking gluten free donuts! You make that your big money maker…Your focus…Everything else was just training for that moment…When that happens calls me…I’m interested…

  • Alyson, thank you so much for your very thorough answer!

    It, of course raises some more questions… that have not yet formed because my head is spinning just a little bit. :) The repercussions are sill filing through my brain. Thank you for your wise advice – it know it will make me better. What of my Facebook page? Is this the same idea as my blog? I love showcasing all art forms and resources for fellow artists.

    Thank you for your time,
    Rebecca

    • Rebecca: I get the feeling you knew the answer before you wrote to me – just by the way you phrased your questions.

      I’d like to share what you wrote on my FB page because I love the way you phrased it: “My skills will flourish better if they have room to spread out into their own website. Like a plant that needs to be split – or better yet three plants that need their own individual pots, they aren’t as healthy stuck together as they could be. They will thrive better if I force them out and give them their own space. My photography will be better if it isn’t always under the shadow of my paintings, etc.”

      Such a positive insight!

    • And, yes, I’d have the same answer for your FB page as your blog.

      However, if there is one part of your biz you’d really like to grow, I’d home in on it or give it another page on FB.

  • I have this issue, too, and decided that I’d much rather have separate sites just because of the reasons Allyson discusses – dealing with totally different audiences most of the time. On my main site, the focus is on my painting. There is a link to my graphic design page in my about section, but nothing too overt.

    I also have a teaching page that I just created for when I might need to submit links to student work applying for college-level teaching jobs. I don’t list that anywhere else and only send the link to those who need to see it.

    I have one domain, amygreenan.com, and two sub-domains: design.amygreenan.com and teaching.amygreenan.com, and they all operate as separate sites. It didn’t take too much effort to get the subs set up and the sites designed – I use Weebly.com to make that very easy.

  • Rebecca I went with two different sites. I use FASO for my painting website and WordPress for my online color classes site. At the moment I am getting a whole new branding/look done so that there is more consistency in the look between the two sites (my newsletter and FB pages).

    I also find it easier, in my head, to have the sites separate. Though more work, one is more formal than the other as well.

    Good luck!

    PS This stuff does get muddy. ;|

  • I talked with an architect yesterday who posed this exact same question. Should she simply add her art as a few pages to her existing architecture site.

    My instinct said it wasn’t a good idea.

    A gallery owner once told me that a gallery wants to see that the artist is dedicated to their art and has a single focus no matter what they may do to make a living.

    Having a website with more than one focus may dilute the impact of both practices.

  • Thank you everyone for your help and examples, if you know of anyone else who has done this well, would you mind to post their website? I’m trying to visualize what it would look like to have a different feel to each site (soft for paintings and more clean/contemporary for my design) but still keep them unified.

    • Hi Rebecca

      I am an artist as well as a designer. I have two distinct sites – http://artbiz.ca and http://kimbruce.ca

      At my fine art site I link back to Artbiz.ca in my menu but I keep it discreet. At Artbiz.ca I link back to my fine art site on my about page and also show an RSS feed to my fine art blog in the footer widget area.

      Also when I write a blog post at kimbruce.ca I will sometimes create a link blog post at artbiz.ca to send people there to read. I don’t do this for everything I write about at my fine art site, only posts that pertain or cross over in subject matter.

      The other advantage of having your practices split into different sites is that when you link to them you will be increasing your SEO rankings. Search engines give weight to linkbacks.

      I think at your analogy of the potted plant really sums it up perfectly.

      Hope this helps
      Kim

  • Rebecca, hire Kim…Kim Bruce above…

  • Why not have 3 disctinct sites for your distinct target audiences but also have a overarching pages to link the 3? This makes SEO much easier but also allows you to target clientelle.

  • By “overarching pages” would you mean something like the contact page being the same exact page/web address for all three pages? etc. Sorry, I’m trying to understand and examples help me best. Thank you.

  • What a juicy question, with a thoughtful resolution laying out the pros and cons. I’ve got to agree that it’s necessary to have different sites, or at the very least, different landing pages for the varying audiences and distinctive marketing. I’m committed to my fine art and photography website, http://AustinDetailsArt.com/ with its distinct section for my http://VanishingAustin.com landing page (among others), and two blogs — one for each topic and audience. In addition, I have a marketing/design website that’s completely unique and unrelated to the fine art sites. It is one heck of a lot of work to keep them all current, and to post regularly to two blogs, and to continue to actually make art, paint, photograph, design, write, etc — all of the talents you so cleverly describe as common to “all artists in your predicament who are lucky have so many talents.”

    What is my takeaway about this? Focus. Looking back, if I could begin again, I’d simplify all of this in some way. Connect it more, pare it down, make less marketing work for myself so I could spend more time creating. That’s my recommendation, anyway—be careful what you commit yourself to! Of course nothing is forever. Things can be changed. Creatives are always all about experimenting with shiny new things. So we have to get more focused about what really counts, too.

  • I was researching your website because I had a similar question to Rebecca’s and found this so helpful. I am a fine artist, but I love many forms of art and even subjects. I specialize in flower oil paintings, but recently I’ve been painting acrylic dogs on the side (pretty random, but I got inspired and am having fun with them!) Two totally different audiences, so I didn’t want to merge them. I’m for sure going to create separate websites, but was wondering about my Facebook page too. People are pretty used to seeing flowers and things there, I wasn’t sure if sharing the new dog work would shock people or cause them to know I’m more well rounded then just flower paintings. I think the struggle is we want people to know that we have other talents so that if the particular art we are showing doesn’t suit their needs, maybe another style or subject we do well at would. Also, as artists, it’s great to have a focus, but also we don’t want to get stuck in a box. It’s the balance between being open and free as an artist to share the full bodies of work and not feeling like you’re living a double-life (flower painter by day and dog artist by night). However, then also being professional about things and not causing confusion to those who may visit our websites. So much to think about as an artist! Thankful for all this great advise, thanks Alyson!