How to Drive Traffic and Sales to Your Artist Website
Changing the Traditional Way Artists Do Business
If you have been an artist for several years, then you are familiar with the traditional method of selling art--through direct selling art shows. Artists have been selling art directly to their customers at art shows for many years. Typically the art show season starts in late spring, continues over the summer and escalates in the month before the end of year holidays.
However, with the changes in the economy, many artists are making less and less of a profit at these shows, requiring them to do more traveling spending increasing money while lowering their profit even further.
As Internet technology has continued to improve, artists are becoming more aware of the value of creating websites, but either don't have the time or the technical know-how to drive the right traffic to their sites to make money.
This page is just an introduction to some ideas to help artists rethink the way that they are doing business, and to learn how they can travel less and drive traffic to their website to bring customers to them either in person or virtually.
Getting Your Website Ready
If you are an artist and don't have a website, then that is the first thing that you should do. At the very least you can have a simple website that shows where you will be, one or two pieces of your work, and how customers can contact you. The reality is that most people use the Internet to search for information via their computer or phone, and the older ways of finding information are becoming more and more passe.
In addition to this, there are many ways to promote yourself online that are free or cost very little, much less than entering an art show, or buying display pieces for your work. If you can make half of your income online, you can spend more money on supplies and materials, and less on food, gasoline and hotel rooms.
A website can be set up via several free platforms, but I recommend buying a domain name, and setting up an operating system on it. The domain name can be yourname.com, and I recommend using Wordpress for an operating system if you are doing this on your own.
Your costs for doing this will be between $3 to $10 per year for the domain name and $4 to $7 per month for domain hosting. There are several reputable companies that will set up your operating system for you when you buy the domain or hosting from them.
Your site should include the following:
About page--similar to an artist statement
Home page--links to the rest of the site, menu
Contact page--your contact information, usually an email
Additional beneficial sections are:
E-commerce pages--selling your work
Blog--chatty day to day discussion, sort of a conversation with your readers
I Have a Website. How Do I Get People There?
Just like selling at art shows, the key to making money on the Internet is getting people to your site. Just like anything else, you need to promote your website. From your website, you will get sales of your work. Therefore, you need to create a plan of driving traffic to your website.
Facebook has turned into a very good way to stay in touch with former customers and find new ones. It is free to use, and you can link it to your website. In order to benefit from Facebook, you need to create a Facebook fan page for your business/art.
Once you create the page, you can gain followers by having friends "like" your page. This allows them to see anything you post there.
The video below will show you how to set up your page. A couple of hints, though. Mix up what you post. Make some of it funny, inspirational quotes, tell people what you are working on. Have fun with it. Facebook is meant to be a chatty, lightweight promotional venue.
Your Facebook page can include the following:
One or more feeds from blogs or sites
Albums of pictures of your work or your working
Links to other sites
Embedded websites or pages
Pinterest is a site that is somewhat a Facebook for pictures. As an artist intellectual property rights and copyright are issues we all must deal with. Some artists stay away from Pinterest because they don't want their images stolen. I have made a different decision when it comes to the Internet.
I have about 20 pictures that I use over and over again to represent the gallery and my own work. Those pictures are online in various places in low resolution format. I have decided to use those for the Internet to represent me. I don't care how many times these are copies, because they are promotional tools. The truth is that no image is safe from copying on the Internet. However, if you want to promote yourself, you will need images. They do a much better job promoting online, even for non-artists. When you are talking about art, you need them even more.
When you do put pictures on the Internet, use low resolution versions. These become pixelated when enlarged. They also load faster on everyone's computers and phones.
You can create an account on Pinterest for free, and then one or more boards (bulletin boards) for your work. Then the next step is to pin your pictures on the board. These link to your site or where ever you take them from.
Did you know that just about anyone can sell on Amazon? Well, it's true and it does cost money but only after you sell the item. You can use the incredible Amazon machine to drive traffic to your own website.
My recommendation is to do this in a small way to start off. Last year I set up two items on Amazon to sell. Both of them did moderately well, and sent customers into my brick and mortar store and to my website. I picked items that were mine exclusively or that I knew would resonate with a broader audience.
Pick items that do not weigh a lot so that you don't have high shipping costs. I also choose items that will fit in standard shipping packages.
Amazon takes their commission upfront, but they also will pay you the day after your sale via direct deposit. This works in a very similar way to selling on consignment, except the items are in your inventory.