Continuted from Part 3
Part 4: Business Card Sites
Most artists most of the time actually want a "bcard" site, and want to handle sales via a phone call. Running an actual online store requires a lot of work that most of us are not prepared to follow through on; I know I struggle to keep my online store inventory updated.
There are several inexpensive places to host your bcard site, starting with your domain registrar. Many of them, including Gandi and GoDaddy, offer static website hosting included your annual domain fee, making it effectively free. However, the "site builders" included in such services tend to be very primitive, so if you want a good looking website you may need to know HTML and CSS. Google provides a better, but still "free", site builder called Google Sites. Like Facebook, though, this has the disadvantage of tying you into the Google advertising system, whether you want it to or not.
If you want a better looking bcard site, you'll likely want to use a sophisticated site builder like Squarespace or Wix (more on these in Part 6). These have the advantage of not only letting you create a really beautiful webpage without knowing code, they also provide options for expanding into a full online store or even "virtual studio" experience later. They do, however, cost between $10 and $30 a month.
As mentioned in the social media alternative, online photo galleries can also make excellent bcard sites. Smugmug, Flickr, and Instagram all offer you space to put contact information as well as photos of your work.
If you like writing about your art, another option is to set up an online blog using Blogger, Tumblr, Medium, Wordpress.com, or similar services. These have the advantage of letting you create a stream of updates that will attract traffic (and customers) to your site and an outlet for your announcements and artistic ideas. I had a blog at fuzzychef.org for years before I had an online store. Be realistic about your ability to keep up a stream of updates, though; a blog that hasn't been updated in a year is a virtual "out of business" sign.
One tip for bcard sites: if you don't have an online store, you can still take credit cards online for phone orders by generating invoices using Square.com, Intuit, or Paypal.
Now, let's move on to one of the most popular online sales options for Part 5: Etsy.