This post is by Clint Watson, former art gallery owner and founder of BoldBrush, known for FASO Artist Websites, the leading provider of professional artist websites, the $38,000+ BoldBrush Painting Competition and the free daily art marketing newsletter, FineArtViews. As a self-proclaimed "art fanatic", Clint delights that BoldBrush's San Antonio, Texas office is full of original art, as is his home office. You can connect with Clint on Twitter, Facebook or his personal blog at clintavo.com
As we all adjust to the new normal after having been sequestered in our homes, we're all finding alternate ways to make the most of our time. So let's ask ourselves: How can we use this time to get better? How can we be of service and use? I know, without a doubt that great art is being created around the world at this very moment. Perhaps by you! Our entire team is focused 100% on whatever we can do to help you market and sell more art. With that in mind, we're focusing FineArtViews on sales and marketing ideas more than ever before. The following article was selected from our archives as it seems quite timely in the current situation and provides ideas we think you can use to improve your own art marketing.
In the past, I've periodically published my recommendations for the 11 Essential Elements that every artist website should contain. I've updated them for today below.
1. Use Your Own Domain
One of the main reasons to have a website is to control your own marketing assets. Hosting your website on your own domain name is essential. yourname.com is much more professional than yourname.someservice.com. We still recommend you use a .com domain.
2. Optimize Your Site for Mobile
Today, more people view websites from mobile devices than they do from desktop computers. If your site doesn’t render well on a mobile device, then you are not able to reach the majority of potential customers. Incidentally, this is why trying to achieve pinpoint control over the page-layout of your website is also a mistake. The site needs to re-flow responsively to optimize itself for each device and screen size.
3. Include An Obvious Newsletter Signup Form
The primary call-to-action of an artist website is to encourage visitors to join your mailing list. Your website must have an easy way for visitors to sign up to hear from you if they are interested in your art. We highly recommend you automate this and have the signup integrate directly with your mailing service.
4. Use High Quality Images
This should be self-evident, but you’re presenting visual artworks, so use the best quality images you can afford. They should be color-accurate, properly cropped, free of glare and high-resolution. Fortunately, modern smartphones have great cameras, so achieving this goal is easier than ever.
5. Include Contact Information on Every Single Page
Customers and fans will want to reach out to you. Make it easy for them. This is such an easy thing I’m shocked at how hard it is on many sites to figure out how to contact the artist.
6. Organize Artworks into Reasonably Sized Collections
An overwhelming number of choices, especially in today’s distracted society, actually reduces the chance of selling a piece. It’s called the paradox of choice. If you show a large number of works on your website, we recommend subdividing your portfolio into smaller collections of works. The viewer can then view the collection(s) in which he is interested without being overwhelmed.
7. Make Purchasing Easy
Your site should be fully e-commerce enabled. If a visitor wants to purchase an artwork, don’t make it difficult for them. This also means you must Display Your Prices. Surprisingly, artists still commonly ask us, “Should I display my prices or not?” The answer is yes, with few exceptions, you should.
8. Make Sharing Artworks Easy
Every artwork should have it’s own, unique web address, known as a URL, that a site visitor can copy and share via email, text message, or other means with friends and family. A common scenario is someone considering a few of your artworks and forwarding those specific URLs with a spouse before making a final decision. It’s surprising how many artist websites break this.
9. Use Clean, Clear, Consistent Design & Navigation
Your web site should be simple, elegant and make your artwork shine. Utilize neutral or complimentary background colors, simple text content and navigation. Don’t use animation or flash. Make sure your artwork is the most important element on every page. As a part of being clear, be sure to utilize easy, text based navigation menus.
10. Keep All Site Information Current and Up-to-Date
If a painting is sold, take it off the site. If you’ve won a new award, update your bio. If you’re working on an exhibit, update your bio to reflect what you’re working on and how it’s progressing. If a workshop is over, then take it off the site. If an exhibit has passed, take it off the site. People will wonder if your bio seems to have “stopped” ten years ago. If your website is not up to date, then visitors feel like they can’t trust it.
11. Serve Your Site Securely with an SSL Certificate
In the past, most artist websites served over “regular”, non-secure “ HTTP. We now recommend all artists move their sites to serve over encrypted, secure HTTPS. This requires artists to obtain and regularly renew their own custom SSL certificate. Unfortunately, this is an extremely technical recommendation, and we understand it’s a difficult one for many artists to understand. But the bottom line is this: If you don’t move your site to HTTPS, then web browsers such as Chrome, Firefox and Safari will warn your site visitors your site is “Not Secure” with a big red warning. Not only that, but site visitors have learned not to trust or purchase from sites that don't display the green lock icon. And to get the green lock icon, you must enable SSL and HTTPS. Fortunately, many web hosting companies, including FASO, can handle this switch seamlessly for you. If your hosting company can’t switch your site to SSL, you need to seriously start considering alternatives.
Until next time, please remember that Fortune Favors the Bold Brush.
FASO Founder, Software Craftsman, Art Fanatic
PS - At FASO, we've spent over the last decade becoming the leading provider of professional artist websites. FASO is the easiest way to build and maintain a professional artist website. We've simplified and automated the difficult and technical areas of these 11 elements so you can spend more time at your easel. We encourage you to give FASO a try.
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