Website advice for artists

Website advice for artists

If you are an artist and want to display and sell your art online, it’s widely accepted that a website is the place to start. Having a website not only adds credibility and elevates you above being seen as a hobbyist, but also provides a number of ways for you to get noticed and sell your art. In addition, it provides a base for all your other marketing efforts, allowing you to promote your other sales outlets, social media channels, exhibitions you may be taking part in and so on. Done well, this can all lead to commissions and sales of originals/prints, if that’s your goal. However, done badly, it can lead to very little, and prove to be a waste of time, and money. So today, I thought I’d write up some website advice for artists. This is a huge topic, and one thing leads to another, but the aim here is to at least give you a firm foundation from which to start. 

In this post, we’ll cover the following sections:

  • The reasons artists need a website
  • Artists’ website – what’s involved
  • What is the best website platform for artists?
  • What should an artist’s website include?
  • Tips for art websites

Let’s get to it.

The reasons artists need a website

You could argue that artists managed perfectly well before the internet, so why bother now? Well, times have changed. Nowadays, many people look to see if an artist has a website so they can read about the artist, view their portfolio and potentially buy the art. More and more people buy their art online, and it would be a shame to miss out.

Some artists have their art only on platforms such as Instagram, Facebook and Etsy. That’s fine, but what if those services change their business model or worse, close down? Having your own website gives you ownership of your assets – it gives you control and flexibility.

Owning your own website gives you the ability to offer a whole range of sales and promotional tools, such as running a shop, offering commissions, having a newsletter, blog and portfolio – all under one roof. All this helps build your profile, bring in visitors and generate sales.

As mentioned earlier, having a website adds credibility, and not having one may even make people a touch unsure nowadays. This all depends on your target market of course, but in general, having a website is something I’d recommend.

Artists’ website – what’s involved

Let’s just start with the basics assuming you have no, or very little knowledge of websites. In a nutshell, to have a website you need the following:

  • domain name: that’s the thing people type into the browser to find your site. Typically it will be something like your-name.com or your-name.co.uk
  • web design: you need the website designing, or you can use a builder and/or template Your website will contain your portfolio, bio, shop, etc
  • content: this is your copy (your text), photos, logo, etc
  • content management system (CMS): this is basically a website interface that you log into. Once logged in you can build your site, update and edit your content as you wish
  • ecommerce/checkout system to allow customers to securely buy your art
  • hosting: this is a place (called a server) where you effectively store the website on the internet
  • security, maintenance, software updates, etc
  • analytics: some sort of stats and analytics, to keep track of how you’re doing.

Sweating yet? Relax – help is at hand.

What is the best website platform for artists?

What is the best website platform for artists? Quick answer:I’d recommend artists should use a ‘DIY’ website service, such as Squarespace, Wix and WordPress.com. 

You’ve probably heard of website services, such as Squarespace, Wix and WordPress.com. For a monthly fee these platforms handle everything for you. This includes domain name, hosting, website design templates, ecommerce, maintenance, software updates, analytics, marketing and security allowing you to effectively choose a pre-designed template (and templates do exist specifically for artists), upload your content and away you go. 

There can be a steep learning curve with these platforms, particularly for ‘non-tech’ people, so if you do want this type of service and don’t have the time, interest or skills to do it yourself, drop us a line as we can do everything for you… and yes, that is indeed a shameless plug!

What should an artist’s website include?

Here are the key elements most artists’ websites should include:

  • top quality photos of your artwork
  • portfolio
  • bio 
  • ecommerce / secure checkout 
  • commissions section
  • social media links
  • contact form 
  • blog 
  • website essentials – privacy policy, T&Cs, etc.

Tips for art websites

What’s your strategy?

Before you get started, think about a website strategy. You need to know why you want a website, what you want to achieve from it and how you’ll do that. You need a plan of action as to how you’re going to drive potential customers to your site. Don’t just get a website because Janet at the art club has one. 

Take professional photos of your artwork

Make sure you have beautiful photos of your artwork that you will use on your website. If you need to, hire a professional. Remember though… whilst you want top notch photos, make sure they are then optimised for the web, and are not colossal files that simply won’t load.

Go with a ‘DIY’ website service

Sign up with a website service such as Squarespace, WordPress or Wix, then, if you don’t want the hassle of doing it yourself, you can ask a business like ours to set everything up for you.

Domain name

Choose a domain name that is suitable for your art/brand/name, and that is also available for the social media platforms you plan to use, such as Instagram. It’s not great when a business has a mishmash of names because the name they chose for their domain was not available for their social media accounts. 

You’ve all seen it: 

Web address: PetersLovelyArt.com

Twitter: Pete-loves-his-art47

Email: SexyPete48@hotmail.com

Instagram: Peters_Lovely_Art50

Etc.

How is anyone supposed to remember any of that? Plus it doesn’t come across as very professional.

So run a check first to try and choose a name that is available across the platforms you plan to use. There are sites that can help with this, such as namecheckr.com.

Choose a template that is made for artists

Think about the design and the look and feel you want to create. Choose a clean modern design that has been created with artists in mind. It will then likely have the <sections you need>, such as portfolio, shop, bio, etc. Make sure the template you choose looks good on all devices – mobile and tablets. Finally, make sure your website is fast and loads quickly. 

Choose an appropriate colour scheme

Choose colours and a website design that reflects and matches you and your art. Don’t choose a pastel colour scheme and then populate it with photos of your gritty, inner-city graffiti. Well actually, that might look quite good, in an alternative sort of way! You know what I mean though.

Create a portfolio of your artwork

A really good portfolio is absolutely crucial for an artist. It’s your showcase. It needs to be slick and to function beautifully.

Create great copy

If you don’t enjoy writing, get some help. Professional website copy goes a long way to helping your site come across as professional. Make sure the tone of voice matches you and your art. Inject a bit of personality in there. You’re not selling accounting and tax services, you’re selling pieces of artwork that tell a story and that you’ve lovingly created. Get that across in your website copy. For example:

Write: “Oh I really loved creating this piece. The inspiration came from a blustery walk I did in Snowdonia one wild, autumn afternoon…”

Rather than: “This is a painting of some hills in North Wales. It was done in autumn 2020 when I had covid and felt like shit”.

I’m not saying make up whimsical stuff… just get a bit of feeling and personality in there – and be yourself.

Finally, keep blocks of text to a minimum. People don’t want to wade through paragraph after paragraph of text. They’ve come to look at your art. They will be long gone before they read anything lengthy. I’d suggest you keep lengthy text to a blog.

Consider having a blog

A blog will allow you to write about your artwork, your processes, your inspiration and anything else you wish to convey. It can help drive traffic to your website and give you another string to your bow in terms of marketing.

Make your site easy to use

Think about how website visitors will use the site. Create an easy to use website, which neatly flows from portfolio to sales, commissions and social media sharing. Don’t have stuff all over the place. Keeping your menu uncluttered and easy to follow will help the cause.

Link artwork in your portfolio to your shop

Ideally, link the items in your portfolio directly to your shop with ‘buy now’ buttons. So, if someone views an item in your portfolio and wants to buy it, then can click there and then be taken to that item in your shop. It’s a bit annoying for a customer to have to come out of the portfolio and then try and find the item they liked in your shop, particularly if you have a lot of items for sale. Remember, always make it easy to buy. 

Use social media share link in your portfolio

Ideally link your portfolio items to social media using social share links. That way, if someone likes one of your photos they can immediately share it on their social media account, such as Instagram. This is free promotion, so don’t miss out.

Use a professional ecommerce system

If you are using ecommerce, choose a secure reputable platform. Nowadays, people are always in a (somewhat pointless) hurry and expect instant results. They are very familiar with shopping online and expect even the smallest ecommerce stores to perform quickly, efficiently and securely. Shoppers demand convenience, consistency and ease. They expect to get to the shop page, see the products listed with prices, make their choice, hit the buy button and complete the order – all within minutes. Even if a user is just browsing, they may actually impulse buy something if it is really easy for them. 

Search Engine Optimisation (SEO)

We won’t get too into SEO in this article, but there are a couple of bits and bobs that are good practice. Two key things you can do to get started with SEO:

  1. The first thing is to make sure your website is in good health and that it is crawlable and indexable. This means your content is then available to search engines and that they can technically feature your content in their search results. 
  1. Create great website copy, particularly copy that works well for search engines. For example, ensure your website copy contains the right ‘keywords’. Keywords (in this context) are words/phrases people enter into search engines when they want to find content. An example will help explain this: If you create watercolour puppy portraits you need to make sure the words, ‘watercolour puppy portraits’ are included in your site headings, copy and relevant blog posts. That way, when people search for watercolour puppy portraits, your site will have a better chance of being in the search results (there’s a whole lot more to it than this, but this is a good start). Write all website copy with this in mind. It does make a difference. Don’t go crazy with keywords though – use them in a sensible and natural way or else search engines may actually penalise you. 

Utilise analytics

Get some analytics on your site, so you can keep an eye on where your website traffic is coming from, what pages are performing well and what’s working for you (and what isn’t).

Add Testimonials to your site

Testimonials and reviews are really useful for building brand trust and helping drive sales.

Only have a newsletter if you’re going to write one

Don’t bother with a newsletter, unless you plan to write one! It’s more of a commitment than you think, so you need to be the kind of person that loves writing and wants to connect with users in this way. 

Keep your website up to date

Add and remove content regularly to your website. Keep it looking fresh. This includes the copyright date at the bottom of your site. 

Sustainability

If you use sustainable, eco packaging make sure you give details on your website. Potential customers look for that kind of thing nowadays, and rightly so.

Pricing

Use clear, competitive and consistent pricing across all your products.

Website essentials

Ensure you’ve got the website essentials such as contact details, terms, privacy policy, delivery & returns, copyright/year, etc. Placing this in the footer is often good practice. Ensure your website is using HTTPS. 

Get help

If you don’t have the skills, time or interest to create a website yourself, reach out to someone experienced for help and advice. 

Related: Do you have a pop-up on your homepage? Make sure you get the timing right. Check out our How long to wait before showing a pop-up to your website visitors article for some quick tips.

Conclusion

Hopefully this website advice for artists article has been of use. It is a huge topic, and I’ll perhaps get time to look at various elements in more detail at a later date. Try not to be too daunted by all this. I know there’s a lot to think about, particularly if you are unfamiliar with it all, but most of it comes built in with services from companies such as Squarespace, Wix and WordPress.com, which is why I recommend these types of platforms for artists. Finally, if you want any help or advice regarding this topic, or you want someone to do it all for you, get in touch. We can also check out your existing site and give an appraisal of what you already have, and suggest straightforward improvements.