I began this process with a question:
“How do I start showing and selling my work online?”
I find one question leads to many more. Here are the ones I asked, and you should too.
1. What are other artists doing?
It is not simply research. Is is discovering success in your field. Successful artists and art marketing gurus almost guaranteed have a sweet blog that will give you tips on how to start your own business. They want to share with you mistakes, lessons, and tips discovered along the way. Read their posts = save time and money.
And they often link to other artists and blogs that have MORE great tips. Sweet deal.
Do not stop here. Take the next step.
2. What is my brand?
To build your brand, you must consider:
– Who is my audience?
– Who is buying my stuff?
– Who am I trying to help?
Narrowing your audience creates focus. You may think, “But I can do everything! How do I narrow it down?” Yes, maybe you can create wire sculptures while designing hardcore music websites and sewing quilts for newborns. But are the mothers going to come to your hardcore website to buy a blanket? Probably not. Focus on what demographic you want to market to. Do you want to interact with up-and-coming musicians? Mothers and crafters? Indie artists? Businesses? Make sure your website design reflects this.
3. How do I create a hub website?
Purchase your own domain name and link it to a blog site. Avoid the addition of .blogspot.com or .wordpress.com on your web address when you obtain a domain with yourname.com or yournameartist.com, etc. so that people will recognize YOU. You can use WordPress to create your site (definitely expedites coding) but find a low-cost host like BlueHost or GoDaddy. Choosing your personal domain name will make you professional.
4. What should my site contain?
A. Info about who you are.
Have you ever found a site with cool stuff and, as you browse, find yourself saying, “Who in the world is this person?” No bio, no picture, no “About Me” spiel, nothing. It makes you wonder if they are a real person or a scam. Same for your site. Create a page with a quick paragraph introducing yourself. You can always go back and edit it later. People want to see your smiling face and know they are communicating with a living, breathing human being.
B. Info about what you do.
Your site should always have a portfolio or link to a gallery. Period. Update it regularly.
5. What else should my site link to?
Include or link to your blog so your followers see updates on your work, thought processes, and events. Link to your Twitter feed, Instagram, Facebook artist page, Pinterest, Linkedin. Choose which of these social media outlets are professional and which are personal. Social media should enhance your online presence not detract from your professional image.
Also, give people a way to contact you. If you accept commission requests and provide an email. (Tip: include it as an image, not as an actual typed web address. Otherwise it will attract spam.) Feel free to use an email address from your internet provider to contain your site name, i.e. firstname.lastname@example.org. If you do not feel like posting your email address publically, include a contact form to be filled out and sent through your site.
6. How do I increase traffic to my site?
Add keywords to your post titles for search engines to find. Use specific words to describe your portfolio pieces. You may want to link to other blog posts you have written so visitors will stay longer on your site. On sites that do this well, I have spent hours jumping from post to post. Link to articles you recommend and comment on other discussion boards. Interview other bloggers or artists and link up to their work. Share someone else’s stuff, and they might recommend you back.
7. How do I add an e-commerce page to sell my work?
Use WordPress plugins like Eshop, Paypal buttons, or a link to a third-party like Imagekind or Etsy or Big Cartel to sell your artwork and prints. Display prices clearly. If someone has to contact you for the price of your print, they more than likely won’t.
8. What about newsletters?
This is an easy way to update your followers on your life as a successful artist, give out art tips, and talk about your most recent work. Mailchimp offers a great way to create lists and send out newsletters. Decide how often you want to send this out – you don’t want to spam people by sending it out every day. Once a month may be a good place to start.
Don’t forget to put a sign-up form on your site!
As you post, focus on giving rather than shamelessly plugging yourself 24/7. Post an equal amount of painting progress updates, helpful links, and sharing tips. Help people. Visitors to your site want to know things about you but also how to improve themselves. Talk techniques, list helpful links to resources or other blogs (who may link back!), make yourself indispensable.