Maria Williams-Russell Art Blog
There are several ways for artists to use the Internet. One is as a virtual business card. Say someone sees your work in a group show or at an outdoor art fair. They love what they see but for some reason they cannot buy from you that day. They take your card. If the card has a phone number and an address that they don't necessarily consider local, that buyer is very unlikely to follow up and purchase something from you. But if the card also has a website address, it is much easier for them to re-familiarize themselves with your work with the click of a few keys. This is where the research comes in. They may continually come back to your site to see if there is more work, or whether you will be displaying at a show nearby in the future. It is also a good idea for you to collect visitors email addresses to send them notices of your latest work so that they don't forget that you are out there. By using the Internet, you have the ability and advantage to retain that prospective customer.
The second way for artists to utilize the Internet is by using it as an advertising tool. This means that you are using the Internet to gain new customers. This is where many businesses fall by the wayside. Since the Internet is made up of millions of websites, your work can easily get lost in the shuffle. But the good news is that there are very easy and practical ways to avoid getting beat out.
Like traditional advertising, getting yourself in the forefront of the Internet means being in a lot of places at once. You must anticipate how your customers will try and find your work on the Internet and then put it exactly where they can find it. For example, Overture.com, a major search engine and leading keyword advertising company, gets approximately 4,000 people a month that type in the phrase "art for sale". You want your work to be easily accessible when that keyword is typed in! There are several ways to do this. You may want to build your own website and pay someone to submit it with the proper meta tags each month to all the search engines. This is a good idea, but for many artists, too costly an investment. A less expensive way is to create a simple website with clear images of your work. Then get your work and personal site listed on several other websites that are on the top pages for specific keywords that fit your work. Also, list your link on as many websites as you can. There are many non-profit artist directories on the Internet. Check with your local art league or council to see if they have online directories of artists. Once your work is out there, be sure to use specific keywords when describing your work. Search engines will recognize them and bring up your pages when someone types in the same words. You will have to do some Internet research of your own to figure out where you should be, but once you've seen the field, it's much easier to play!
The third way artists use the Internet is through direct sales. When an interested customer finds you on the Internet, let them have an easy way of buying your work. It's always a good idea to be able to take credit cards to eliminate the lag time of sending a check, but if you don't have the ability to accept credit cards, make sure that you have listed all your contact information clearly beside your work. In most cases art buyers will want to get in touch directly with the artists before buying a piece. Talking to the artist about the work they are interested in will be the final point that pushes the sale through.
So, if you are in the business of selling your art, it is a smart move to use the Internet as a tool to do just that. You will have a virtual business card to allow you to retain old and potential customers more easily and you will be able to advertise to a much larger buying audience. But remember, there is a bit of smart legwork that needs to be done. You can't just put your work up in one place and let it simply sit there. As with any selling campaign, you have to be diligent.