Artist Website Best Practices

You are an artist or a photographer and you want to grow your business.

You know you need a website to do that, so you're doing your homework.

So what exactly does your website need to do to help you grow your art business?

You ever notice most artists and photographers tend to bounce around from some combination of marketplaces to website providers to portfolios sites to making their own websites to some other website and back again?

All that moving around yet nothing in their businesses ever change.

They weren't selling very much before and nothing has changed since.

You ever wonder why?

They must be solving their problem wrong or, what if, they are actually solving the wrong problem?

You don't have a website problem you have a marketing problem

Most artists and photographers approach their websites and its primary function like this.

  • My website needs to represent me and my work in a clean and professional manner
  • My website needs to offer a pretty portfolio of my work
  • My website needs to serve as a fancy online resume of my shows and accomplishments
  • My website needs  represent a design aesthetic that appeals to my creative eye

After all of the above is accomplished nothing in the business changes though.  They are the wrong needs solving the wrong problem.

Here is what happens when you invert your thinking, and you start solving the right problem.

  • My website needs to make it easy to capture leads and collectors
  • My website needs to make it easier for me to work on my marketing art
  • My website needs to save me as much time as possible with ordinary business tasks so I can spend that time working on my marketing
  • My website needs to make it easy to effectively run sales and promotions
  • My website needs advanced selling features so I can maximize the revenue from each and every sale I make.
  • My website needs features that take advantage of the latest and most effective forms of marketing. 

Once you start thinking this way you start solving your biggest problem; the marketing problem.  Let's explore what that might look like.

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The website you need to grow your art business

My goal with this post is to change the way you think about your website and its primary purpose; to change the lens you evaluate a website and its features through.

I realize I have likely interrupted you on social media with a post, you clicked,  and now you are here. 

I will keep this short and sweet and high level. We can get into the weeds later.

Most artists and photographers waste years and thousands of dollars + hundreds of hours on sites (or multiple different ones) that never change anything in their business.  

That needs to stop.

If you work on the right problem, if you ask the right questions of your website, your business will start moving in the right direction ๐Ÿ“ˆ

In order to do that I need to touch on some conceptual, some retail strategy basics, some advanced ecommerce techniques, and yes we will cover some features too.

Your website needs to mimic a retail art gallery experience

This one is conceptual but it's important.

What is best way to buy art in the retail world?

Inside an art gallery.

The website experience (your website experience) should closely mirror the retail art gallery buying experience.

Anything that deviates from that will increase friction and make it harder on your users to buy ๐Ÿ™…

Your website experience should look just like ๐Ÿ‘† 

What does the retail art gallery experience usually entail?

  • A minimalist and clean space to display the art
  • Plain white walls
  • The art well lit, front and center.  The solid focus of attention
  • A desk with a computer that can take credit card payments
  • Nothing else

Your website needs to be setup to mirror as closely as possible this experience.

Yet when you look at the majority of artists and photographers websites what do you see?

Fancy fonts, graphic design, goofy colors, animation, image sliders, obnoxious auto-play music,  and myriad of other distractions that ensure that if anybody actually does see the art or photography for sale, it would be a miracle.

Stop trying re-invent the wheel with your website, instead mimic the ideal art buying experience, which is a retail art gallery.

Want a personal tour of what this looks like? Let us show you on a private zoom
๐Ÿ‘‡

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You create, we do all the technical stuff that makes it sell.

Your website needs a proper range of products and pricing

This one is a retail basic that a great many artists either don't realize or simply ignore.

Pricing and products is a complicated topic and the good news is we have already written a comprehensive guide on it ๐Ÿ‘‡

Advanced Pricing Strategies for Artists and Photographers that are already selling
Everything you wish you knew about pricing that nobody ever told you, how to solve your pricing woes, and how to set your pricing for maximum ROI on your marketing efforts.

Read it ๐Ÿ‘ˆ (I'll wait here for you, take as much time as you need)

In succinct summary of the article above your website needs to make it easy for you to cover the following list.

  • You need items priced from; 0-$100, $100-$1000, and $1000+. When you have the range you are setup to capture all types of buyers and price ranges. You have something for everyone.  This maximizes sales and revenue as well as lead capture.
  • You need to have non wall art (merch) as part of the lineup. Not everybody is ready to buy art today.  Yet they like what you do.  When you have other items (tote bags, postcards, calendars, etc) then you will still make sales for these customers.
  • You need to properly markup your art so you can negotiate + run sales. We recommend a 250% markup on all of your prints as a general rule of thumb. On originals set the price higher than you really want to get.  

The trap is that artists often think because they are selling art or photography they are immune to the basic rules of retail sales.  With our websites we are just copying what we know works in the brick and mortar retail world.

If you want to have a business you need to act like one.  

Having a range of pricing, non wall art in your lineup and the proper markups set on your website gets you properly setup to achieve the maximum ROI (return on investment) from your marketing activities.

Side Note: With us, you upload your images, flip a switch and BAM; you are able to offer prints on all media types (paper, canvas, metal, acrylic, wood) as well as any merch you might like to offer (calendars, greeting cards, coasters, bags, iphone cases, etc)

It literally takes 5 minutes and you are in business.  Want to see what it looks like ๐Ÿค”

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Your website needs to be setup for eCommerce

This one is pretty self explanatory, so we can keep it short and sweet but it needs to be mentioned.  

Yes. Your website needs to display prices, have a shopping cart, allow for visitors to put in their credit card info, checkout and purchase your work.

No. Asking visitors to inquire, or fill out your contact form, or message you for pricing, or contact your agent is not the most effective way of doing things.  It increases friction and as a result your potential buyers will leave.

This is settled science.  You need to have it.  Let's keep moving.

Email Pop-ups are super effective.  Step 1 you need to have 1, step 2 it needs a compelling offer.

Your website needs to be setup to capture leads (email addresses)

Not everybody is ready to buy art today.  

So your website better be effective at capturing email addresses and this needs to be dead simple to setup and deploy and it needs to be up and running for you always.

Capturing email addresses all year long is fundamental to growing an art or photography business and without a website nobody ever does it.  

You need to capture leads and then market to them regularly.  When they are ready to buy wall art they need to know you exist. This is much easier to do if you have their email address.

There is a reason 99% of ecommerce stores out there use these things(pop-ups).

They can be annoying yes but the reality is they also work and are an established norm of ecommerce sites.

You will be surprised how effective they are when you just simply ask for the email address.

Most artists are not even asking!

Once you start capturing the emails the business starts growing. Moreover, via automation it opens you up to things like ๐Ÿ‘‡

It's not rocket science its just basic marketing.  Let us give you the tour and show you what happens when you actually start capturing emails.

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You create, we do all the technical stuff that makes it sell.

Your website needs to make it easy to be able to run sales and promotions

One of the most predicative metrics of what an art or photography business will do in terms of revenue is the number of sales run per year.

Just about every business on the planet runs sales and promotions and runs them often; yet a great many artists and photographers think that this basic retail rule somehow does not apply to them or cheapens their brand.

Total nonsense.

If you want to have a successful art business then you are going to run be running sales and promotions.

Yes the big holidays of course; Black Friday, Cyber Monday, Christmas, Prime Day, Mothers Day, etc.

Yet also on a ton of other occasions; Live art shows, in conjunction with retail shows, one-off sales, local sales, etc.

If you website is not properly equipped to make running a sale easy then most artists just don't end up running them.

When its time to go into sale mode you need the ability to quickly do thing like;

  • Easily setup coupon codes. Whether the sale is store wide, or on a single product category, or a specific media type. This needs to be easy to setup, turn on , and turn off.
  • You need an announcement bar / hello bar. If you are gonna be running a sale everybody that comes to your website needs to know about it immediately. These top of site bars are extremely effective at doing this.  

Today its newsletter signups, tomorrow its sale, the its back to newsletter.  This needs to be easy to switch.

  • Adjust markups on your inventory to account for the discount. Sometimes ahead of a sale you need to adjust prices. Does your site make it easy to do that?  It's important.
  • You need to be able to quickly change your email pop ups to reflect the sale. When a sale is running everything needs to adjust to let the maximum amount of users know about it.  Can you do this?  How may apps does it take to login too?  It needs to be quick and easy.

I work with thousands of artists and photographers a month.  One thing I know for certain;  they don't like running sales.  

If the process, as a result of their website tech limitations is difficult, they are just not going to run the sales. 

It needs to be quick and easy.  

When it is the sales get run and the art and photography sell as a result.

Also, yes, the little things move the needle.

When artists and photographers get our of their own way, and start using the eCommerce basics that marketers have been running for years the results are they start making sales. With us, all of it, get's turned on the moment you signup and perhaps better still, we build the website for you. Interested?

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You create, we do all the technical stuff that makes it sell.

Your website needs to have POD (Print on Demand)

POD or print on demand means the artist or photographer can offer a range of prints and merchandise on their sites without having to carry physical inventory or be subjected to minimum order quantities.

Orders come in, the artist gets paid, the printer gets paid, the order gets printed and shipped to the customer;  the artist touches nothing!

It's honestly one of the most revolutionary changes this industry has ever seen.

Not only does it minimize the upfront and ongoing costs to an art business but better still, it completely eliminates the admin an artist or photographer would normally have to go through to print, ship and fulfill orders.

You create the original, then you can offer all of those options and it does not cost you a dime!

No running to the printer, looking at proofs, answering emails, sending tracking numbers, or following up.  You get all of that time back.

That is time the artist can re-invest into marketing and growing their business.

You are about to checkout and they ask you if you want to add to your order; This is an order bump.

Your website needs to have advanced selling features

Here is where things start to build, and again, another example of just copying what works in a physical retail context and duplicating with our websites.

Everything we attempt to do digitally with our website is just to take what is already working from the brick and mortar retail world and apply it.

In this case I have to introduce two web terms, that I despise, but are the common terms; one-click up sells and order bumps.

Both of them represent what is already working in the real world; let me explain.  

You know when you are in the hardware store and are waiting to checkout?

What you are greeted with is a myriad of additional items for sale; duct tape, and cell phone chargers, and waters, and fly swatters, etc.

Then when you go to checkout, and have already put in your credit card, the hardware store clerk says "Just to let you know we have 409 on sale, do you want to add some to your order?"

When they try and sell you something before, that is called an order bump and if after a one click upsell.

Regardless of what you call them they work incredibly well in both worlds.

Your order is now complete, your cc has been charged, do you want to add to it? This is a one click upsell.

Retail has been doing this forever.  Most of the advanced eCommerce merchants as well.  

Artists and photographers... yeah not so much.

This needs to change.

Employing both of this tactics will drastically improve the AOV (average order value) of the art business in question.

Side Note:  These are EXACTLY the classes they SHOULD of taught in art school or photography school.  Want to make it as a creative?  Have a business instead of a hobby? Let's talk advanced commerce tactics!

๐Ÿ‘‡ What happens when you take that class

Does your website offer this feature?  Do you have to buy a plugin? How much extra does it cost? With us its free and we turn it on for you.  Let us show you.

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You create, we do all the technical stuff that makes it sell.

Your website needs to make it easy to setup ad hoc sales sites

This one leans more towards the cutting edge of marketing.

So much so it will be easier to just explain via video.

Watch below and I will both explain and show you what this looks like.

BTW if you have never heard of, nor run, a live art show before don't worry.  We have you covered.  Read this.

Ok we can wrap things up.

Summing it all up

As you approach and contemplate your website; whether starting your first, evaluating your current, or contemplating your next, it's imperative you solve the right problem.

You have a marketing problem and that problem is not going away.

The minute you start putting your website to use to help you solve this problem is when the business starts to change. 

This post was not meant to be the all comprehensive guide.  There is a ton to still cover.

Most artist and photographers just never realize how important these things are.  

Yet if this post changed the way you think about your website, about the problem you need to solve, then I will be really happy about that.

The difference between being a hobbyist with a dream and an actual art business has a great deal to do with starting to think this way.

If this different way of thinking resonates with you and you want to see what a website solution that does all of the above looks like then hit the button below and we will show you.

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and FREE Social Media Help

You create, we do all the technical stuff that makes it sell.

Once you get the site sorted ๐Ÿ‘† starts happening which is awesome.  

More importantly you start in on your marketing and you are now actually working on solving the right problem.

In case you were wondering Art Storefronts has everything you need to start, run, and grow a successful art business. We are coming up on our tenth year in business and ๐Ÿ‘‡ is how our over 13000+ customers feel about us. We have been reviewed over 2000+ times on Trust Pilot, Facebook and Google.

If you made it this far down the page I am impressed.  Let me reward you for doing so.

We feel so strongly about helping artists and photographers succeed that we have recently taken things one step further.

Not only do we offer websites for artists and photographers but now we actually build the website for you. Not kidding, the whole thing, our team builds for you.

Last thing any of you need to be doing is building websites.  You need to be working on your marketing.  

To find out more hit the button below and we will show you.

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You create, we do all the technical stuff that makes it sell.

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