Having an online presence is extremely important for artists who want to advertise their work and expand their patron base. Using the web effectively to showcase your artwork can be an extraordinary marketing tool. The following article was done in collaboration with Glenda Williams, a Graphic Designer and Artist. Here are some things to keep in mind as you set up your website:
-Make sure your web address is easy to spell and remember. This will help avoid confusion and sending people to somebody else’s website.
-Put your website info on all of your printed documents and link to it on your myspace, facebook and twitter pages. You’ll also want to add the web address to your email signature.
-Keep your website design a little neutral – you don’t want your website to compete with your artwork. Have you ever visited a website that was too busy or the colors were too loud? Your website should enhance the artwork, not distract the viewer from it.
-Think Simplicity - you don't want your website to be difficult for visitors to navigate through. Keep things simple, post relevant information & directions, and your web visitors will enjoy their time looking through your work.
-Make sure that the photos of your work are top notch. If you don't have a good camera (10 mega pixels or more), you may want to look into hiring a photographer to capture your imagery for you. If you can't afford a photographer right now, maybe you can exchange artwork for photographs or set up a payment schedule.
-List your prices clearly on your website and make sure that your pricing is the same no matter where your artwork is. For example, if a gallery is showing a painting of yours that is $400.00, make sure that it’s listed for the same price on your website. If not, it has the appearance that you’re competing with the gallery, which will send mixed messages to the patron and the gallery. Keep prices consistent, unless you are having a sale, and if you are, then make sure that the sale is well noted.
-Update your website with new work as often as possible.
-Once a painting sells, mark it as sold on the website, but don’t take down the pic. Having an online history of your work will help you and your viewers to see the progression of your talent and themes over time.
-Have a special section that’s just about you and keep it updated. This section can contain your artist resume or bio, personal info, info about your imagery and upcoming events.
-If you have a links page, you may want to check each link periodically to make sure that they’re all good and remove the ones that may not be working.
-Don’t forget to list your contact info on your website, such as an email address or cell number, but for safety purposes, please don’t list your home address.
-Web Crawlers (aka "spiders") are sent out by search engines over the internet. A web crawler is an automated computer program that browses the world wide web for the purpose of indexing websites to include in their search results. Make sure your home page includes a brief description of yourself and your business, so it will be easier for your website to be categorized. The text on your home page is where the crawlers look for relevant keywords - and how they come up with a description of your website to place under the link on the search results page. Your web designer can add "meta tags", which are search keywords that are hidden in the HTML code - but, the web crawlers are smart... if the "meta tags" don't match any of the text on your home page, the keywords will most likely be ignored and won't help to improve your search ranking.
-Improve your website's search ranking by getting other quality websites to link to your website. Your website will get visited more often and the web crawlers will take notice. Ask other artists or art organizations to form partnership links with you (I'll link to your website if you'll link to mine...).
-If you have a "links" page on your site, ask your web designer to program those links to open a new browser window. That way, when your visitor is finished looking at the other website, yours will still be open on their computer desktop, enticing them to go back and browse some more.
-Make sure your navigation buttons are on every page. Don't force your customers to hit the "back" button multiple times trying to find a link that will take them to another page! (More often than not, they will simply give up and try another website that's easier to use.)
-Any elements on your web pages that are in constant movement (animated buttons, blinking text, etc) will draw the visitor's eye away from what's really important: your artwork.
Do you need a website, but don’t have a big budget?
You could hook up with graphic designer friend that would be willing to take monthly payments or exchange artwork for services rendered.
Create a Myspace or Facebook account especially for your artwork. Keep the layout design neutral/not busy and make sure that your artwork photos are good (in focus and cropped) and include the art info. Example: “Oak Tree” 16x20, Oil on canvas $325.00
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