You want to sell your art online, and you know it can be done, because you’ve seen the success stories.
You’re also talented, with a solid body of work, happy customers who love you, and have no problem selling your work in a one-to-one situation.
You’ve set up your art website and you’re doing everything you’re supposed to do – SEO, social media, maybe even Google Adwords – but you’re still not making consistent sales online.
And the sales you do manage to make are so few and far between, it hardly seems worth it to spend all this time trying to develop an effective web presence when you could be off making your art instead.
Maybe you’re even starting to lose hope that this whole “selling-art-from-your-website-thing” is even in the cards for you.
But before you give up and declare that it’s simply not possible to sell art online, let’s talk about three of the most common web copy mistakes that could be preventing you from converting web visitors into buyers, and how to fix them.
The often-overlooked, but critically important partner in your sales process is your words.
Many creatives, from fine artists to wedding photographers to graphic designers and everything in between on the “I-make-my-living-from-my-creativity” scale, make the serious mistake of assuming their gorgeous images will speak for themselves to sell their work.
They think that once a potential customer sees the talent evident in the online portfolio or shop, they’ll immediately reach out and inquire about buying a piece, or even get out their wallet and buy something on the spot.
Unfortunately, this rarely happens.
You’ve got to “use your words,” as parents of toddlers everywhere say about 3 dozen times a day.
Assuming your website design is clean and attractive and you’re getting some level of traffic to your site, the following web copy optimization tips will help you convert more browsers into inquiries, and ultimately, into buyers.
#1 Clarify What You Offer and Who It’s For
When a potential buyer or collector lands on your website, it needs to be crystal clear what you offer and who it’s for.
Web visitors aren’t typically coming to your site for leisure or entertainment purposes, they’re quickly skimming for information to determine whether they’re in the right place based on what they’re looking for.
If there’s any confusion there, they will leave, and quickly.
So you want to immediately orient people to who you are and the kind of art you create.
One way to instantly telegraph this information is through a tagline placed next to your logo or in your website header.
If you know who your most likely buyers are, the simplest formula for creating a tagline is this:
All your tagline needs to do is give potential buyers a compelling reason to stay on your website and explore, and that’s it.
It does not have to sell your entire body of work perfectly and for all eternity.
You’re not trying to convince anyone to buy anything, or to become your BFF, you just want to grab ‘em by the eyeballs long enough to get them interested in finding out more about you and your work.
Here are some examples of taglines I’ve helped my creative clients create:
- For a fine art nature photographer who also creates wearable art: “Fine Art Photography & Wearable Art Inspired by the Natural World”
- For an artist who creates high-end children’s art: “Museum Quality Fine Art Prints for Children”
- For a fine artist who paints in the realist style: “Original Art with Timeless Appeal, Created One Brushstroke at a Time”
- For a fine art wedding photographer: “Wedding Photography at the Intersection of Love, Beauty and Fine Art”
None of those taglines are going to win any awards, but each of them instantly conveys clarity about what web visitors will find on the site in question.
And if that thing is what they’re looking for – in this case, art prints for children, realist art, or fine art wedding photography – then, BOOM, they know they’re in the right place and will stick around to find out more.
#2 Write Client-Focused Web Copy
I believe this one website copy tweak can have transformative results for your art business.
That may sound way too simple, but you’d be surprised how many websites don’t adhere to this simple, yet persuasive principle.
So if you do, you will stand head and shoulders above the thousands of others selling their creative work online.
What does it mean to write client-focused web copy?
Your web copy must connect with the reader/potential customer and speak to what’s important to them as a likely buyer, as opposed to using company-centric copy that focuses mostly on the company, i.e., with language like “our goal,” “we have,” “we specialize in,” etc.
Because the edifying truth is, people don’t really care about that stuff nearly as much as they want to know how you can help them and if you have something they want.
They’re seeking the answer to the question, “WIIFM?,” meaning, “What’s in it for me?”
Just go through your website copy and honestly ask yourself – are you talking mostly about yourself, or is your website copy geared to likely buyers and collectors?
A Bad Example
An example of copy that’s mostly company- or artist-centric might say something like:
“I’m a multi-disciplinary artist, illustrator and graphic designer.
My specializations are album art, graphic design for artists, and illustrations for magazine clients. My lifelong love of drawing informs all my work; I also teach drawing at the local community college.
My work can be seen in [list of publications and/or galleries here].” (Close approximation of actual artist website copy found online.)
There’s definitely a place for that kind of thing, and it’s called the artist statement, but on your website, the goal is to connect with likely buyers and collectors, and you do that by focusing on their needs.
A Good Example
For example, here’s some customer/collector-focused web copy I wrote for an artist client:
“You might not consider yourself a “collector” in the traditional sense, but you do consider yourself an art lover. You believe in the slow pleasure of beauty, and that enhancing your environment enhances your life.
And while you appreciate all kinds of creative expression, the art you’re most drawn to is classic and timeless, and displays attention to detail, dedication to craft and a reverence for the natural world.
Hi, I’m Diane, and that’s the kind of art I create, lovingly, one brushstroke at a time. I work traditionally with both pencil and acrylics, and I love realism and detail. My preferred subjects are animals, flowers, landscapes and Italy.
Welcome to my online home. I invite you to come in, learn more about me and my work, and stop to embrace the slow pleasure of art and beauty.
Feel free to explore my website through the navigation above, or sign up for my newsletter below.”
Can you see how Example #2 is much more appealing to the potential buyer than Example #1?
#3 Create Clear and Persuasive Calls to Action (CTAs)
If you’re getting consistent traffic to your site but your web visitors aren’t taking the actions you want them to take, the problem could be as simple as adding the appropriate call to action (CTA) to each page on your website.
A call to action is simply a clear instruction in your web copy that directs your audience to take a specific action. In a nutshell, it’s the very clear and uber-specific way you tell your readers what to do next.
Examples of calls to action include:
- “Sign up here for free weekly tips and inspiration I only share with my subscribers”
- “Place an order today and take 30% off your purchase”
- “Order now to take advantage of this limited-time offer”
- “Learn more about my work here”
- And the always popular, “Buy Now”
So, every time I work with someone on their website copy, I ask them 2 key questions:
- What is the overall goal of your website?
- What is the specific goal for each page of your website? In other words, what action do you want web visitors to take as a result of reading your Home page, About page, Portfolio page, Contact page, etc?
What I find is that the calls to action on their site rarely match their stated goals.
For example, if the goal of your Portfolio page is to get someone to reach out to you for more information before they make a purchase, are you clearly and succinctly telling them to do that?
If so, your CTA could look something like this: “Questions about any of the work you see here? Feel free to email directly at [your email address here] and I’ll get back to you within one day during normal business hours.”
Or it could be something like, “For more information on my work or to inquire about a specific piece, contact me here [your email address or link to your contact form].”
What you don’t want to do if your goal for a particular web page is to get someone to contact you, is to tell them to do something else entirely, such as “follow me on social media!”
Yet all too often this is the kind of thing I see.
So determine which action you want your website visitors to take on each page of your website, then write a call to action for that page based on that one most desired action, keeping in mind your overall website goals.
Make it clear, make it compelling, and leave no room for doubt as to what you want your web visitors to do next.
Tip of the Iceberg
Of course, there’s a lot more you can do in your web copy to start getting more client inquiries and sales, such as using proof elements like testimonials and reviews; writing strong benefit-driven headlines; addressing buyer objections; removing risk with a strong guarantee, and more, but that’s for another blog post.
If you want a no-cost way to start getting better results from your website today, simply implement these three C’s into your website copy – clarity about what you offer and who it’s for, client-focused web copy, and clear calls to action.
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