Is it just me, or do you feel like September is a great time for new beginnings, too? I suppose it dates back to my childhood, when I’d eagerly anticipate going back to school (yes, I was one of those nerdy kids), or maybe it’s because my birthday falls at the end of the month, but either way I think this is the perfect time for a fresh start. And that includes our plans to market our artwork. These thoughts have inspired a new series that I’m kicking off this week called “Hitting the Reset Button.”
I have to add that I was also inspired by a conversation I recently had with an artist, who asked me quite simply, “Where do I begin?” The more I thought about that question, the more I had to consider what I would prioritize if it were me. Where I landed was on his website. To me, an artist’s website is the mother ship, the most important marketing tactic you can use. It’s the tool that communicates your message most clearly, broadcasting the beauty and awesomeness of your artwork 24/7. And it’s the destination where most of your other marketing efforts should lead potential collectors.
So, if you’d like to hit the reset button on your art marketing plan this month but you're not sure where to begin, start with your website. Whether you’re sprucing up your existing website or creating a new one from scratch, these are the elements I think are most important:
A design that matches your brand. Right from the first glimpse of the home page, I think an artist’s website design (colors, layout, typefaces) should tell visitors something about you and your style. Is your work contemporary or traditional, serious or whimsical? Just look at this example and notice how everything about this design projects an ultra-contemporary, streamlined image.
A stunning image on the home page. First impressions are everything, right? So, the image you choose for your home page should be one of your best works, and it should be indicative of the rest of the art visitors are going to find in the website. But there can also be more than one image. I’ve seen websites that have two or three big images that “rotate” around, and there’s also the idea of pairing one primary image with smaller thumbnails. And, of course, there’s always the possibility of showing an image that expresses something about you as the artist, such as a romantic picture of you working outdoors at sunset or a glorious shot of you at work in your studio.
A clear and easy navigation menu. This may seem like a trivial thing, but I’ve visited a number of artists’ websites where the navigation was hidden or got lost as I clicked around on the sub-pages. I think the navigation should be obvious, and there should always be a link back to the home page. Related to this, I think pages should be clearly named. For example, there is often a label in the navigation menu that says “galleries.” Sometimes that leads to portfolios of work, and sometimes that leads to a list of the galleries that represent the artist. To avoid any confusion, I think it’s best to find some way to make the contents of each sub-page very clear.
Personal info about you, the artist. Whether your background details are grouped onto one page or spread out over several, it’s essential to let your website visitors learn something about you. Three—in my opinion, essential—items to include are your artist’s statement, bio story, and resume. A selection of several photos and short videos make your website even better.
Fun extras. There’s nothing wrong with a straightforward website that simply shows lots of examples of your artwork and some personal details about you, but you can make your website even more robust and engaging by including any or all of the following: testimonials from happy collectors, “in situ” photos or photo testimonials that show works of your art in beautiful environments, links to any online media coverage you’ve received, links to the galleries that represent you, and finally, links to any other relevant organizations and/or interests, such as arts organizations you belong to, art materials suppliers, or organizations related to your art career or artwork.
Tools that allow visitors to connect with you. It’s always surprising to me how many artists’ websites don’t offer any contact info. Even if you’re driving website visitors to purchase your artwork from your galleries, I think it’s essential to still offer visitors the means to contact you directly, either through a contact form or by e-mail or phone. In fact, your visitors may want to keep in touch with you regularly, so it’s also useful to offer them the chance to sign up for your e-newsletters or e-mail marketing campaigns. And finally, if you’re using social media, be sure to include social media buttons that allow your new fans to connect with you on whichever social media platforms you prefer.
Next week, we’ll explore some of these items in greater depth, but for now, what tips would you like to share about artists’ websites? Let’s connect!
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