by Aidana WillowRaven
As I posted last week, keeping your website clutter free, and your portfolio, even your online portfolio clean, concise, and compartmentalized is very important when you rely on it for business or promotion.
But there are a few handy gadgets you may want to include on your website (there are many free website platforms out there), that make it easier for your fans or customers to reach you. Contact forms are good. Guestbooks. Social network widgets (like to your FaceBook or Twitter pages). Even blogs can be a means of contact.
You want the gadget to be easy to find, yet not obstructive or overpowering, so as not to detract from your site's main purpose.
One gadget I use is Live Help or Live Chat. It allows your site visitor to see if you are available to chat, and if not, to leave you a message that goes to your email. See:
If you notice, at the bottom of my main page, I have a couple network buttons, a membership button, the PayPal verified seal, and the little grey Live Help box (which shows that I am online right now). There is a copy of this button on my bio page, and the contact page (logical places for a browsing fan to look for ways to reach you).
Imagine you're just working on your computer, illustrating or writing, and the cyber phone rings (the chat window on your end rings like a phone). You accept the chat, and it's a fan!
Maybe it's a question about your book or characters, maybe it's a prospective buyer, or maybe it's someone wanting to hire you. You can use it as a 'meet the author/illustrator' tool, or whatever. And here comes the best part ...
Yes, free, folks. If you can place code on your site or blog, then you can have a free, private chat with up to five different people at once.
It's not a forum window, though those can be fun and useful, too. And there is a pay upgrade available, but for your average needs, the free one fits right into a writer or illustrator's marketing budget.
If you think it may help your illustration or writing career, get one for yourself. Visit http://www.volusion.com, and sign up. Oh, and they offer a lot more for websites than just chat windows. Look around. If you find it hard to find, here is the direct link: http://www.volusion.com/live-chat/software/. You'll see both the free Basic option, and the Premium option (which includes a fee).
If you wish to try mine first, give me a ring on my website. It's really fun. I think your fans will like it, too.
Art Director & VP of Operations