If you are serious about selling your work online and developing a personal web site, one of the first things you should do is register a domain name that represents you. This could be your personal name or your business name. A domain name gives your web site a professional look. Domain names cost less than $20 a year. Gallery Direct members who don’t already have a personal web site can use their new domain name to directly link to their Gallery Direct portfolio allowing you to immediately have a web presence without having to design a whole new website. Domain name “forwarding” is usually available for free as an option when purchasing your domain name.
The next thing you have to do is get your work digitized for the web. The easiest way to do this is to have your work photographed and a digital image created. I can’t stress enough, how important it is to have the best digital reproduction possible. Buyers are motivated by their first impression of an artist’s work and if they see a dark, out of focus, or poor representation of your work, they will not see beyond that, which means you have lost a buyer. Lighting is one of the most important aspects of photographing your work, and you may want to have a professional do photos for you because he will know how to best present your artwork within a photograph.
If you want to save costs you can create your own digitized images by using a scanner (for flat artwork) or digital camera but you must understand how to use these tools to create your digital images. Taking a simple snapshot of a valuable artwork is not going to do the artwork justice and the whole point of showing your art online is to have the best possible, professional looking images of your art possible. Once you have your final image it can be used for advertising, postcards, art cards or whatever other ideas you can think of to further promote your work.
If you chose to have your own web site, it is extremely important to have a web site that is fast and easily navigated. I have prematurely left many web sites because the artwork takes forever to appear and the pages are awkward to navigate. This equates to one thing: poor customer service. From a design standpoint, you don’t want to have the graphics of the web site interfering with the images of your artwork. In this case, less is more.
It can be very costly to have a professionally developed site and a service that provides fast response times, not to mention any additional fees you will incur to have your web master remove and change artwork as the need arises. This is one of the many reasons we developed Gallery Direct. Our individual members not only have good search engine ranking, but also have complete control over their professionally designed portfolios without having to pay development fees and ongoing costs for updating their site.
Search engine ranking is one of your main concerns when preparing your site for the web. As you prepare your individual pages, it is important to give each artwork a descriptive title and to use words or phrases within the text that describe your work. By doing this, search engines will catalog the page, and customers who use these words or phrases, will be directed to your site via search engine results. Remember that text that appears as a graphic, and information on web pages that are done using “flash” will not be found by search engines. If you are a member of Gallery Direct, it is imperative that you fill in your searching and keyword data because that information is used internally to improve search engine rankings of your portfolio.
Deciding whether or not to have a web presence is a no-brainer. You simply need to have one. Web sites are the least expensive of all types of marketing you can do to promote your art. Potential buyers need a way to easily look at your art and contact you. Often, time is a critical element, and if a potential buyer cannot easily look at your work right away, you can lose a sale. Hearing about an artist without seeing their work is not going to create the lasting impression you are trying to achieve with your art. Often someone may mention an artist’s name to a friend, and if that person cannot easily go online to find you and see your work, your name will slip from their memory right away and you will have lost a potential sale or even many sales.
Many people think that once their work is up on the web all they have to do is sit back and wait for the buyers. This is the same mentality as having your house full of artwork and expecting buyers to be banging at your door after your first exhibition.
The first thing you have to do is put your web site address on your business cards, letterhead, and on any local advertising you do. Now that you have your promotional tools developed you will need to expand your e-mail list in order to direct clients and Galleries to your work. People who have shown an interest in your artwork in the past are the people who are most likely to buy your work in the future. Galleries that show an interest in your work will go to your web site to learn more about you as an artist and to see more samples of your art.
I can’t stress enough, how important it is to network in your art community in order to get a client list. The best place to compile your client list is at art events and exhibitions where prospective clients see your work. Don’t limit your e-mail list to only people within your art community; consider all the people you talk to each day as you go about your daily activities. Often, people that you work with and see everyday don’t have any idea that you are also a serious artist. Remember, if you want potential clients to visit your web site, you have to invite them.
While you want to hand out your business card with your web page address and email to everyone you meet, you don’t want to rely on them to contact you! Ask them if it would be ok for you to send them an e-mail with a reminder, and make sure you get their e-mail address. This means you need to be prepared with a pencil and paper at all times to record this information. Write as much information down with the e-mail information as you know, so when you contact the person, you can personalize the e-mail to them. No one is impressed when they get a “form” letter e-mail. You need to form a relationship bond with the buyer. Aggressively pursue getting this information without being obvious. If the person doesn’t seem interested, there is no need to push. Often people just need little subtle reminders to get them to go to your web site and look at your work.
Once you have this client list, send e-postcards showing your newest piece of artwork and invite them to visit your website. “e-postcards” are also good for announcing exhibitions and sending invitations to art events you will be participating in. Gallery Direct members who have used our post card feature have all reported very positive feedback from their mailings.
Linking your website to other art related sites or “art” web rings, is another way to get more traffic going to your site. When looking for places to link your site, think about the type of art you do. Often we forget that clients looking for specific artwork may be found at sites other than art related sites. Some examples of sites you may want to consider are horticultural, equestrian, automotive, travel, and home decorating.
Remember, that you are your best promoter. In art, the buyer wants to know the artist. Someone who sees your artwork at the buyer’s location and likes it will ask about it. It is probably a good idea to put your web site address ON THE ART ITSELF somewhere: the bottom of the sculpture, the back of the photograph or painting – somewhere that the person can easily find it and tell his friend how to find you!
Art is an unusual type of product. Every artist wants to sell his work, but the real value in the sale is that the artist knows someone is appreciating the work, and at some level associating himself with the artwork and the artist who created it.