Steve Richardson tells how a Culture+ workshop gave him the tools to start a new venture, by building his own website.

Recently retired, with a passion for making maps, I decided to set up as a freelance cartographer specialising in digital mapping. I had various contacts through social media, and I had won a prize for mapping from the Ordnance Survey and British Cartographic Society, so I had some form. However, if I was to turn my passion into a part-time business, I needed a shop-front, preferably a web-based one.

When I searched for ‘how to build a website’, up popped The Arts Development Company’s Making your own website, a free course led by Jane Showell who aimed to have us construct a website over a couple of two-hour sessions (plus homework).

Free ‘how to’ guide

Jane gave a clear brief as to what makes a viable website. The homework focused my mind on organising the site, writing the text and doing lots of other things. These included registering a domain name, image selection, social media and email links. I used a proprietary web service (Wix) to build my site. I added image galleries and used simple ‘how to’ videos

Jane offered good advice and a critical eye. It takes a while to achieve consistency (colours, fonts, spacing, page margins, etc.) but by the end of the second session I had a decent looking site, though I still need to look at search engine optimisation. I’m hoping to make and sell some maps, and to train people to make their own.

Simple and easy

While not perfect, my website cost me about £1.30 a week to make! I now have a shop front, a sample of work for people to view and a place to advertise any training courses I run.

I feel that the goal-oriented approach was a real motivator, and the small class size (six) meant that there was a lot of individual attention. A positive experience – and free!

You can see Steve’s new website here: www.mappingis.co.uk

His first map making course is on 20 June. More details here.

 

Take a look at other Dorset Artists and Creatives new websites who have also completed the course: