ArtId Art Blog
Hartford Fine Art and Framing's phone and email inbox continues to fill up with "tell me more" inquiries. Most of the questions we have been getting revolve around the question, "How?" Here are several emails that sum up the feedback:
"I have a web site but I have never marketed it. I have no idea what to do and I don't know what a "meta tag" is and frankly I don't want to know or do any of this as my job is to paint, not be an IT professional. Can you recommend anyone or a company to do this Internet marketing legwork for me?"
"I'm trying to discipline myself to update my website and get it to function more for sales. I have some ideas but haven't implemented them yet. Any other suggestions that you have would be helpful."
Sound familiar? Most of our clients have websites or are thinking about doing one, but launching a successful site requires skills most artists don't have. And it's not a one time thing; a website requires constant attention and updating. Next, there's the job of "optimizing" your site so it comes up as a top level search result (the use of meta tags), and the cost and difficulties of setting yourself up to make sales (though many find Pay Pal works well for this). All said...it's a hassle with lots of daily To-Do's.
So what's the next best option?
There are hundreds of turnkey options where "you can build a site in a few minutes online." Some of these services are quite good, but at the end of the "creation" step you are still left with the same day-to-day hassle. Next, all of the related marketing to drive traffic to the site becomes your new To-Do list. That's why so many sites are created only to go untended after the initial excitement wears off.
There are numerous online sites built specifically to display art and help make sales. There are a number of considerations when evaluating. The first question is, "What do you lose by becoming a member of one of these online art sites? Won't my work get buried beneath hundreds - even thousands - of other artist's work? Isn't my own site better? After all, it's all mine!"
All true. But art is so individualized for both the artist and the buyer. The job of attracting buyers interested in your work is the real job that needs to be done.
!IMAGE120!That's where the online art sites shine. They are constantly working to bring traffic to the site. Once the traffic arrives, most of the sites have fairly good search tools to allow a site visitor to quickly find your work. Good search tools are only the beginning of what these sites offer. Many of the better sites provide attractive tools to display your work and present your credentials. Others provide valuable advice on topics of interest to artists including artist blogs on "hot topics". The best way to pick the site that's right for you is to visit them and see what "fits" with you and your style of work.
There are some things to look for during these visits.
How much does it cost? Most sites charge between $10 and $30 per month for a membership and a gallery; usually, the more work you display, the more the monthly cost.
How good is their search tool - that's how buyers will find you!
What will your online studio look like; is it how you would like to see your work displayed?
Read the comments of current members to see if they are satisfied.
Is the site cluttered with cheap work and poster art - if you are selling original work for hundreds or thousands of dollars, the site is probably not for you. Do they take a commission in addition to the basic membership fee? Many do and you should avoid these sites. Otherwise you've just taken on a new rep. who will take a big chunk of the sale price!
!IMAGE119!How personalized will your online studio be? Some sites include your name as the site address, for example www.artontheweb.com/yourname. This allows people to find you on the Internet. When they enter your name as a search term, up pops your online studio page.
What other kinds of support services and opportunities to collaborate does the site offer?
Make a scorecard on what marketing tools the site provides to help you promote your work.
Next steps? Visit the sites. We have several, but we like one in particular, Minds Island. They were one of the very first online art sites in the business. They offer a range of gallery options from a 6 image gallery presentation for $6.95/month to $14.95 per month for a 6-page gallery (36 images), and they take no commissions. The site has hundreds of artist listings, but no cheap poster art or amateurish work. Their search tools are top notch and they promote the artists on their site in a variety of ways. Finally, we talked with the MI folks recently and they are in the process of upgrading to allow artists to include their name in the site address. Minds Island is a good all-around choice.
!IMAGE121!As a final piece of advice, don't buy the hype! Any site that promises you "lots of web traffic and sales" is over-promising. Yes, they will generate traffic and sales, but the key to success lies with you. And don't pay commissions on top of your membership fee. You want a good-looking site with a beautiful presentation of your work. You want a site that helps you communicate with past and prospective customers to bring traffic to your gallery. And if you already have a website, use your online gallery listing as a lead generator by including your full website address on your gallery page. The focus of our next article in this series will be on-line galleries and their potential for selling your artwork.
Hartford Fine Art & Minds Island wish to thank Nick Ceppi for his contribution to this article.
Hartford Fine Art & Framing Company provides art, picture framing and related services to corporate, residential and trade customers. To contact Hartford Fine Art, call 860.528.1409 or e-mail firstname.lastname@example.org.
Photography throughout this article is from the studio of Dennis Frates .