Starting with the most important, I am going to list the most important websites all Minnesotan artists should be on (this is also applicable for ALL artists, just ignore #1, #3 and #4). The list is important for both new and old artists. Start at the top and go down the list, each one will help you as an artist in the internet age.
Every artist from grade school to retired hobbyist should have an account on Mnartists. The website is full of great information on art shows, galleries, grants, articles and much more. You can browse thousands of great local artists, and see what is going on in galleries around you. The forum is one of the best places to talk to other artists and get really great feedback. The other great thing is that anyone who sees your art, meets you or hears about you can visit the website and search your name. If you are signed up they can see your work, and contact you. My mnartist page continues to bring people to my website, and helps many artists I meet at art fairs, and festivals find me if they cant find my business card. If you are going to do anything on this list, sign up for mnartists, and create a good profile (it will take a while, but it is worth it!)
If you have your own personal website, then myspace can simply be a portal to lead people to your own website. If you dont have a personal website, sign up for myspace, its free and its almost as good as having your own website. I have 2000 friends on my william the canvas killer account and nearly all of them are artists. It's a great place to network and meet other artists from the Twin Cities or around the world. I post all of my art on myspace, and within a few hours can get dozens of people to see my art and give me feedback.
3. Minnesota Arts Board
If you want news and info about grants and scholarships you need to get involved with the Minneapolis Arts Board. You can bookmark it, or read through are start marking up your calender for deadlines and meeting times. If you plan to be a serious artist, start working on your grant writing and proposals. Every great artist I know claims you have to be turned down 20 times before you will get a grant, so start early, and apply often. You will get better each time. I've been turned down 12 so far, so I'm getting closer.
4. Springboard for the Arts
If you are looking for assistance in any way, springboard for the arts (who have a great new website) are there to help. I personally a few of the workers, and have had a great response from them whenever I have had questions or needed advice. I search their site for jobs, grants and also added my artwork to their site. They host business skills for artists classes, and other great tools for artists.
The artist's Ebay, is Etsy. It is by far the best place to sell artwork online. It costs 20 cents per item listed, and it goes up in your custom shop. I have sold 33 items so far from my shop, and have been very impressed with the site.
When I have enough time, I check craigslist everyday. If I need a part-time art job, this is the first place I come. I have found a number of small jobs, art commissions, and new fans on the artists section. I also post all of my art show opening here, and announce when I am selling new art on-line. I know for a fact, 4-5 people have become collectors of mine from craigslist alone. If you do not already use craigslist, simply go there and start looking around. It is a great tool for free materials in the "free" section, or for finding cheap paint that people do not want, or finding other artist to collaborate with. Almost anything you can think of, you can do on craigslist.
Many people are nervous about getting involved with online money services, since they are rumored to be unsafe. I use paypal from the library, coffee shops and local computers and it has never been a problem for me. All artists, that want to make a good home for themselves online should be using Paypal, because its the best way to accept credit cards, and instant money from art collectors all around the world. The other great thing about paypal, is you can easily set up 'donation' forms, so people can donate money to you. Paypal does take a small percentage of your earnings, but it is still a good option if you want to sell artwork online, advertise online, or buy materials online. Like when I buy all my art materials from Blick Art Materials, my favorite art supplies store.
This is one of the best free photo sharing websites on the internet. Flickr can be another great portal to get people to see your art and lead them to your mnartist, etsy shop or personal website. You may even find people who want to buy your work just from seeing it on your flickr account. Flickr makes it easy to upload many photos at once, and then allows you to post them all over the internet.
You do not need to write to be a great blogger. Many artists sign up with Blogger to get a blog to simply post their art. This blog you are reading right now is my own artist blog, and I make a few dollars selling advertising space on the side. If you are an artist who signs up for a blogger account, add me to your friends and we can trade links. You can decide how much time you want to dedicate to a blog, but its very easy to simply sign up and upload your art whenever you have time.
Create your own website! I did this a long time ago, so I may not know the easiest way to design and create your own website, but having a blog, myspace and mnartist account will get you started; converting your content to your own website is a great next step. You can see my personal artist website and get an idea of what you might want. I buy my website space from bluehost for about 50 dollars a year, and really enjoy it. Cheaper hosts are available if you search around.