Before we get started, a disclaimer: Not everyone is going to agree with all of my views on artist websites. In fact, some of them may be a bit controversial.
I've written this article with three beliefs in mind.
- I believe in marketing to the everyday person where art can be held and touched and seen everyday. Where it can make a difference to an individual or a family's lives. I would rather sell to the general public than claw for a spot in a prominent gallery or museum.
- I don't much care for middle men because I don't want to be waiting around for someone else to do my selling for me. What if something happens to their business or they've lost passion for their job? I like to be self-reliant. If I don't do well, I can't assume it was someone else's fault.
- Email marketing is super, super, duper important to any online business.
If you don't feel the same way, you may want to stop reading now. If you agree, by all means, continue!
(You can click any of the images below to see more of the artist's site.)
Home Page for Artists
Get reader to opt in
Use your homepage to get people who stop by your site to opt-in to your email newsletter. Don't make them scroll to get to the signup form, it should be the very first content they see.
(One of my favorite artist sites ever, Brenda does a beautiful job throughout with navigation, her conversational content and how she describes her process.)
If you want more than an opt-in box on your homepage, add some teasers for the important pages of your artist website - you know, the ones you want people to visit the most.
I know videos can be scary, but this one was so well done that I think creating a video for your website should be something you at least consider. I learned Kelly's entire philosophy on life and got inspired in about two minutes. Plus, she's sold over $10 mil. So, you know, learn from her...
Thoughts on the Navigation of an Artist Website
Lose the Portfolio Page
I'm sure someone will disagree with me, but what is the point in having a portfolio page AND a shop page if you are trying to sell your art online?
I've seen many sites where I am looking through the portfolio page, only to find a piece I am interested in, but then have to go find it again in the shop page. Make it super simple to buy you guys! Stop losing customers over technicalities!
If you want to show off work you've done that is no longer available, put your favs around the site as part of your site's imagery. And if they are still available, link the photo to the sales page for that piece.
If you are a commission-based artist, of course you will still need to show your previous work on a portfolio page or something similar. PRO TIP: Add the story of why the customer bought and any interesting tidbits about the piece.
Feature What You Want People to Buy Most
When you focus on one offering (commissions, prints, originals, a certain series, etc.), you are telling people what you are best at, what you like doing the most and what they should be buying. This will help you get to make more of what you love most in the future. It also allow you to charge more because that is the thing you are becoming known for and are a pro at.
You can do this by making your one thing a focus in the navigation menu. Differentiate it with an asterisk*, all caps, or make it a different color. Better yet, give it its own link and put your lesser offerings in a dropdown menu. Or only add "the second bests" to a secondary menu (these are usually displayed at the bottom of the page). Get creative!
Of course, if you really trust me, you could always just display that one thing that you love most and do best. This option is my favorite, but I know its hard to commit.
Opt in page
Add a link in your main navigation menu to a page dedicated solely to opt-ing in. Make this page a big deal! Spend a lot of time perfecting it.
Yes, you already have an opt-in on your homepage, but not everyone will visit your homepage. Plus, you really, really want them to opt-in. This does not mean you are a sell out. This means you want to create a true, lasting connection with your website visitor and you can't do that if they leave and never come back.
The example below is not linked in her navigation menu, but I still think it does a good job of showing people how to sign up on her blog and the benefits of doing so.
There is nothing wrong with having small social links at the top or bottom of your page, but don't make them super prominent on the side of a page or link them to your main menu. The point of marketing through social media is to drive people to your website. Once they get there, you don't want them leaving again, do you?
If your goal is to get them to purchase artwork on your site, don't show off the reasons they should leave!
You don't have to have a blog, but they are pretty beneficial. You can use them to explore all the art avenues you chose not to pursue professionally (for now anyway). You can pour your heart onto the page and let your website viewers really get to know you and connect emotionally with you, which is good for business! It will also help your site rank higher in Google for several reasons that I'm won't go into right now.
Keys to Sell Art on Your Site
Sell art from your site
I know it is tempting to link to Etsy (or a similar platform) and avoid selling on your site. If you want to have an Etsy shop, go for it, but I highly recommend selling work on your own site too. What if Etsy disappears one day and takes all of your customers with it?
Not only is it smart to get people accustomed to buying directly from you, but you'll save tons on selling fees.
Also, I don't know about you, but its waaay too easy for me to start clicking around on Etsy. Before you know it you've lost me to another seller - don't let this be you!
If you don't have testimonials yet, get on it! Testimonials are a great way to build trust & desire. And you won't be selling any luxury items (read: your art) without plenty of both.
Sprinkle them throughout your site or add them to your product or about page.
Add some personality to your text
The more personality you can infuse into the words on your site, the easier it will be for people to relate to you and want to buy your art.
Doesn't this product description by VersAnnette Blackman pique your interest?
Shipping and return policy
It is always a good idea to proactively answer any questions about your shipping and return policies. You can do this on a separate page that you is linked to any product pages, or add the information directly to the product page.
Having your policies clearly stated on your site will help the potential buyer feel more comfortable purchasing from someone they don't know on the internet.
Having any questions a customer might want to know the answer to displayed on your site is a smart business move. By listing them before a customer has to ask, they will feel secure in the fact that you are a professional who has been around the block, and since you are still in business, you must be successful.
Plus, you won't have to field calls and emails all day asking the most basic of questions. More time for art, yay!
More images like this
If your website platform has the capability, add three or so additional images at the bottom of each product page that link to other products for sale. This will keep your customer clicking around on your site for a little longer. The more they see, the more likely they are to buy!
Look & Feel of your Artist Website
Mix up the photography
Keep things interesting by displaying the images in different views. Use props, existing rooms, texture shots, side shots and any other creative ways you can think of to mix it up and make your art display visually appealing.
Break up your text as often as possible with short paragraphs, headings (like the one you see above this sentence) and bullet points. Your customers are busy and they don't have time to read long paragraphs of text. Make it easy for them to scan to find the information they are looking for.
Small image size
Try to keep the images you upload to your site under 800kb. Larger images will take longer to load - and trust me when I say - your website visitor is not willing to wait.
Just because you have a website doesn't mean you have to add every shiny button you think up or every piece you've ever done. Think long and hard about what is important for your viewer to see and only put the most tipy top important into your main menu.
Keep your pages simple and clean so your visitor doesn't get overwhelmed by choices and leave without seeing anything. Try to gently guide them through your site by making their choices simple.
If you need help designing, try Canva.
Canva.com has a large variety of blog heading images that you can completely modify to create your own. Many are free, but usually won't cost you more than $2/each.
If you don't know much about design and can't hire a designer, Canva is a good option. Poorly designed sites might do more harm than good.
Remember, everyone judges a book by its cover. Good design will make you look like a pro right off the bat and make viewers more apt to stick around and learn more.
Artist logo ideas
#1. If you can't afford a professional logo design, consider using your signature as an option. Your handwriting shows off hints into your personality, and this almost always looks good.
#2. Squarespace also has a pretty decent and easy to use logo design software. You can download your high resolution creation for only ten bucks.