The Best Free Website Hosts for Artists

When deciding whether you should build your own website, cost is a factor for many artists. There is no point in shelling out $250 a year for a fully-featured website that you’ll barely use. There are times that using a free website provider makes sense for many artists.

A free website can be an ideal solution for creating a portfolio of work that is to be used for applying for galleries, grants or other opportunities. It may also be an ideal backup for an Etsy artist who wants to have offering available outside of the marketplace.

In my own case, I used the free SquareUp website to add a shop to my portfolio site. I already had an extensive portfolio site that was built when it was considered taboo to sell on your own website if it was competing with your gallery representation.

Once those “rules” changed and selling your own work online became commonplace, I created a webshop with Square Up and used the menu options to link the two together. It was a fast and easy integration. And the bonus? I was able to import my shop listings to Facebook and Instagram. All for free.

Top Three Best Free Websites For Artists

I’ve done the research and checked out the following nine FREE websites hosts. But before we dive in to them one by one, here are the top three recommendations:

Square Up Square Up wins for the best fully-featured shop. It is ideal for creating a shop and then tying it to your existing website.
Google SitesGoogle Sites wins for the best free website on a fast server. Google Sites is ideal for creating a website around a specific creative project.
Mail ChimpMail Chimp wins for the best integrated e-commerce solution. Although the Mail Chimp site can be complex and tricky to navigate, it is ideal if you want all of your online marketing (website, newsletter, social media campaigns, and ads) in one place.

Free Websites for Artists

I surveyed many website hosts, and most did not make the list. For example, I did not include website providers that offered a free trial, because that’s not much use. If you take the time to build a website, you should be able to keep it until you are ready to delete it or upgrade it.

I’ve listed website providers with free websites in alphabetical order. Almost all of these plans have paid upgrades you can opt for when you’re ready. Each website lists the features of the FREE plan, the pros and cons of each, and a takeaway.

Big Cartel

Built specifically for creatives, this website company offers a free plan that provides for five listings. After that, you’ll have to upgrade.

Features of Free Plan: Functional shopping cart for up to five products, One image per product, free customizable themes, sell online and in-person, real-time stats, custom domain, offer discounts and run promos, shipment tracking, production option groups and sales tax autopilot.

Pros: Can sell online and in-person; Can use a custom domain

Cons: Free plan has limited listings

Takeaway: The free plan makes sense if you have a few items to sell, like a small grouping of prints. As an item sells, it can be relisted or a new item can take its place.

Crevado

Offering a free online portfolio, Crevado’s motto is Bravado for Creatives.

Free Plan Features: Up to 30 images, Up to 6 Galleries, Can offer prints through a partnership with Fotomoto, reporting, mobile responsive, unlimited changes/updates

Pros: Facebook/Twitter/Google + Support

Cons: No Shopping Cart for online sales of original works.

Takeaway: If you are already selling in multiple venues and would like to have a website presence that does not compete for online sales, a Crevado portfolio might be for you. An online portfolio also makes sense for artists applying for projects.

Google Sites

Google will help you create and host a custom website for free.

Free Plan Features: Google provides several professionally designed templates for portfolios, Events, Projects, and more, all with drag-and-drop features. You can also share your site and let others edit with you.

Pros: Fast website creation for portfolios or special projects that is easy to use.

Cons: No shopping cart for online sales.

Takeaway: Google Sites is ideal for a pop-up website for an event, special art project, or even as part of a grant.

Jimdo

Jimdo wants to help you unburden your business. They promise you will effortlessly create your professional website or store with the website builder thats made for the self-employed.

Free Plan Features: 2 GB bandwidth, 500 MB storage, contact form, image library, mobile-optimized, 5 web pages

Pros: Drag & Drop editing, free image library included, flexible layouts

Cons: Must upgrade for shop, or additional storage

Takeaway: Could be a good solution for a fast, easy web portfolio and contact page that you can upgrade into a shop later.

Mail Chimp

Known primarily as a newsletter service, Mail Chimp has grown up to be an e-marketing solution offering free websites. .

Free Plan Features Free website builder, free templates, performance metrics, collect subscribers and use Mail Chimp’s features to email them, promote through social posts, and ads through the Mail Chimp system. Most importantly, after you’ve created your website, you can add an online store to sell your products.

Pros: A free website and store

Cons: Mail Chimp is known for being difficult to use. It’s user interface can be confusing, even when you’ve been using their service for some time. There is little technical help on the Free Plan.

Take Away: If you’re willing to spend the time to figure out all of the features, Mail Chimp may be a great overall solution to marketing your art online. It offers a website, social media, newsletter, and online advertising in one place.

StoreEnvy 

Part website, and part social marketplace, this e-commerce solution was developed for Indie Brands.

Free Plan Features: 20 product listings, email tools, quick set up and management tools, promotion tools like discount codes, order fulfillment, inventory management, and more apps and integrations, mobile optimized.

Pros: There are enough free listings to create a storefront for a decent-sized collection of art. You can benefit from the marketplace while keeping your own website.

Cons: Limited design features

Takeaway: Store Envy could be a good solution for artists who wish to benefit from a marketplace of potential buyers while keeping their autonomy with their own website.

Squareup

Not to be confused with the other website builder (Square), this Square is the payment processor you’re already used to seeing when you check out at restaurants and some stores. Square provides a plethora of business solutions to its customers, including a free website through Weebly, which they bought in May of 2018.

Free Plan Features Unlimited inventory and categories, shopping cart, email collection, and full integration with Facebook and Instagram Shopping. Square is a point of sale system, so you can also get their credit card processor to handle in-person sales if you also do art shows. You can also use their system to send and collect payments on invoices.

Pros: Square is built with big business in mind. There are several features for managing your finances in addition to the free website. The website is a full shop, and you can list as many products as you wish.

Cons: Because Square is a point of sale solution, it functions as a bank. You will need to apply for and get approved for an account before you can access the free website feature. Also, the free website is somewhat limited in design.

Takeaway: Square is a great way to create a fully functional website and shop for free.

Wix

Create the website you want and get reliable, scalable, and free web hosting to build your online presence.

Free Plan Features: When you create a free website, Wix gives you free website hosting that includes 500MB of cloud storage and 500MB bandwidth. All plans include advanced security monitoring, automatic setup, free CDN, and 99.9% uptime.

Pros: Fast and easy to get online with a small portfolio.

Cons: Since art is image intensive, you will likely use up the 500MB of storage fairly quickly. Also, you must upgrade to sell on your website and remove WIX ads.

Takeaway: Not a bad choice for a quick and easy website if you don’t mind Wix branding on your pages.

WordPress.com

The fastest and easiest way to start a blog.

Free Plan Features: Full WordPress installation and security. You can create an art portfolio easily if you are familiar with the WordPress CMS.

Pros: You can use the free WordPress platform to build a basic website and blog, then upgrade. Alternatively, you can also move your WordPress Blog to another host when you are ready to add additional features such as plugins, speed, and shopping.

Cons: WordPress.com free plan is on very slow servers, which will make it difficult to rank.

Takeaway: If you are planning on building a fully-featured WordPress site in the future, WordPress can help you get started. Plan to transfer your site to a Host with a faster server as you grow.

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