Posts

Are you making these 6 art sales killing mistakes on your artists website?

Poking around the internet a lot, as I am wont to do, means that I look at a heck of a lot of artist’s websites and in my meanderings round the corners of cybespace I have found that there are some issues that come up again and again.

Without wanting to be overdramatic, I would say that there are a core of common mistakes, all of which have the potential to seriously damage if not kill the possibility of selling any art on the websites that make them.

So here in no particular order are my top 6 sales killing artists website mistakes. Check your site to see if you have any of these issues, and if you do, sort ’em out quick to ensure you are in the best possible position to sell art online.

{warning. I may get ever so slightly ranty in this post as I get so frustrated at the amount of sites and artists scuppering their own chances of success when their work is great. Don’t let it happen to you.}

1 } Hidden prices give us “The Fear”

There is nothing more guaranteed to prevent a sale than looking for a price and seeing “price list available on application”. It brings out in us all “the fear” of going into an expensive shop and dealing with a snotty assistant who assumes we can’t afford it and looks at us like we crawled from under a hedge.

Most people {especially us Brits} would rather pull our eyes out with spoons than ask the price.

If you are happy with your price structure you should be happy to show people the price. Make it clear on your site so that people don’t have to hunt for it.

How does it kill sales?

People will just not contact you for the price out of embarrasment in case they have to make an “Ummm, Oh yes that’s fine but I think I have just strangely changed my mind” kind of excuse. Just tell them.

2 } Muzak

Putting music on your site is really offputting to a visitor as the chances of them liking the same music as you are VERY slim. Then it just annoys them whilst they scrabble around to find a mute button. Even worse, if you haven’t included a mute button they will harbour feelings of deep and steaming resentment towards you that you inflicted Richard Clayderman on them at 6am when they were having a quiet surf and woke up their sleeping husband so he got grumpy at them [or maybe that’s just me].

How does it kill sales?

As well as the aformentioned deep and steaming resentment build up prejudicing sales, music also stops people having a sneaky look at your site at work.

3 } Splash screen lunacy

A splash page is a web page placed at the front of a site that contains a big image or an introductory flash animation, possibly of artwork swishing in and whizzing round.

They were popular about 10 years ago but can still be seen on some sites. I did think they were dying out but just this morning got a link to an artists newly launched site which had one.

Splash pages annoy and frustrate visitors [Have you ever watched an animated one through without clicking “skip intro”?] and confuse search engines, even if they are static by putting an extra, unnecessary and empty page between them and the content. It can make the site unusable on smartphones and just generally gets in the way.

How does it kill sales?

Splash screens frustrate the viewer before they even get to consider buying your work, driving them away from your site and off to look at other artists work.

See this post Artists Websites and the Attack of the Toddler Brainz to see why.

4 } Google adsense chaos. A site cluttered up with advertising.

It’s quite common to find a site where the work is lost amongst columns of Adsense ads [little text ads from Google] as well as flashing banner ads taking up half the space of the site. As these ads will be related to art [Google places ads relevant to your content] it can be hard to see where the ads end and the art begins.

Its very off-putting to users if your pages consist of large chunks of advertising. Its also very difficult for you to make money this way unless you have a very popular site with thousands of visits and constantly updated content. You won’t just get free money for cluttering your page up with a few ads. For most artist it’s better to concentrate on selling your work rather than advertising space.

How does it kill sales?

The advertising devalues your work making your site look more “bargain basement” than “Saatchi Gallery” This makes visitors far less likely to want to part with good money to buy your art.

5 } The anti-Zen. An imbalance between form and function.

The best websites keep a good balance between looking good and functioning well. A site that does either at the expense of the other will perform poorly.

We have all come across them. The beautiful sites that take ages to load and then crash your machine or the extremely functional sites that look terrible. Good website design should balance both elements to create a harmonious whole. [Ooh, I have come over all zen!}.

How does it kill sales?

An imbalance either way can prevent sales. Too much form can mean a deficit on the technical side and issues with the user having difficulty with the purchasing process. Too much function and you can devalue your artwork by placing it in an unnatractive setting {back to the “bargain basement” again}.

6 } Weird Navigation involving fairies

Visitors to your site just want to be able to view your work easily and quickly. They don’t want to play a game where they have to discover an invisible hovering fairy on the page and then chase it around the screen until a menu unfolds out of its tiny wings {I have actually seen this navigation, I’m not making it up!}

At this point they will have gone off to have a cup of tea and a lie down in a darkened room. Just make it as easy as possible for them to get around the site and find out more about you and your work. Don’t make them have to work for the information.

How does it kill sales?

Going back to the Toddler Brainz post, people have the attention spans of 3 year olds on the web. By the time they have found the hidden fairy menu they will have wandered off to do something else, thereby not even looking at your work for sale. Just make it easy for them to find it and then they have more chance of buying it.


So there are my top six sales killers. Removing any of them from your site should definately mean an improvement in your results and a general improvement in the user experience of your visitors.


Do you agree that these are killers? Has removing any of them improved the performance of your site? Do you have any more killers that annoy you? Please share your comments below.

You may also like

How to get loads more Google Love to your art blog or site { or 11 dead easy SEO tweaks for artists }

If you sell your art on the internet through your own website it is really really important to ensure that you have a steady stream of interested visitors looking at your work. I can’t emphasis this enough because you can have the most amazing work in the world out there on the web but if no one sees it nothing exciting is going to happen. You can’t just sit back and wait for people to turn up. You have to help them find you.

So, one of the best ways make this happen and make sure you get all those visitors popping their head round the door of your shop is to spend a little bit of time making sure that your website is as “Google Friendly” as possible. This means tweaking the site so that Google and other search engines find it easy to navigate and index. If your site is easily found via search you are likely to get a steady stream of good quality interested traffic.

Search Engine Optimisation { or SEO for short } can seem like a complex and daunting bit of the web but the truth is that there are some really simple tweaks that you can make to your site which will greatly improve it’s Google { & overall } search engine performance.

So here we go – some easy SEO that will give your site a head start.

Use keyphrases – not single keywords

Keyphrase consists of 2 keywords together – like “Abstract Art” or “Contemporary Art”. You will get far better targeted results than if you just use a big fat generic single keyword like “Art” which is too general.

Page titles – Sort em out!

The page title is the short string of words that shows up in the top left corner of most browsers and describes the page. Probably the most important thing you can do on your page is make best use of your page title and its surprising how many sites don’t. It is one of the biggest ranking factors for any page.

  • The most common mistake is to leave the home page titled “Home” or “Welcome to my website” or similar. That’s a huge facepalmtastic missed opportunity. Actually USE your page title.
  • Make sure your page title relates closely to the content of that page and the keyword you are trying to optimise that page for. See “Research your Keyphrases” below to figure out what your phrases should be.
  • Target your homepage with your main keyphrase. Every page should have a different keyphrase focus, don’t just use the same title for each page. Keep your page title short [under 9 words or 80 characters] and focus your keyphrases at the beginning of the phrase.
  • Here’s a totally made up example for a fictional photographer – “Wildlife Photographer | Martin Smith | Nantucket”
    or
    “Arctic wildlife | Wildlife Photographer | Martin Smith | Nantucket” specifically for a page of shots of the Arctic. Keep a consistent format across each page but make sure that each page title has a different keyphrase focus. {ie in this example the phrase at the beginning of the title will change relevant to each page.}
  • The title is read from a piece of code in the HTML of your site which looks like this. <title>Title goes here</title> You may need to edit it directly if you are happy working with HTML or if you use a portfolio service, research the help files to discover how to alter it.

This is a very simple and HUGELY effective SEO tweak that will make a big difference to your ranking results.

Don’t miss out on Google Image Search

Google Image search is a brilliant opportunity to show your work and get more visitors which is often overlooked. It works like this – someone is searching Google for images of Barn Owls. If you have created a painting of one and named the file correctly, they stand a good chance of seeing your work in a Google image search. You can potentially double the traffic you get if you get this right as searches for art related subjects are often visual.

  • In order for your work to show up in image search you need to name your image files properly. Make sure you include the relevant keyphrases in the names of your files.
    For example, our fictitious wildlife photographer – He may name his files in the following format – snow-goose-arctic-martin-smith.jpg or snow-goose-wildlife-photography-martin-smith.jpg ensuring his image are indexed and found easily.
  • Make sure you use the same words in the alt tag of your image and any caption relating to it. Always try and include relevant image caption text with your image as this really helps your picture to get picked up by Google image search.
  • If possible, add your images to Flickr.com with a descriptive caption. I have found this does really well in image search

Research your keyphrases thoroughly

Its dead easy to make assumptions about the keyphrases you THINK people will search for. You can spend a lot of time optimising for those keyphrases when a few minutes of research will show you that another phrase would get better results.

The tools below will help you find out what people are ACTUALLY searching for.

Google keyword tool
Use Google’s keyword tool for a rough indication of keyword popularity.

Wordtracker
Wordtracker is the industry standard keyword research tool and offers free limited searches.

Choose a relevant keyphrase for every page

Look at the content of each page and decide on a keyphrase that most closely describes the content of the page. Its no use trying to optimise your page for “bronze sculpture” if the page content is actually about “abstract painting.” Make sure the keyphrase and content match closely. The key to search is relevance.

Write natural text using your key words or phrases

When you have chosen a relevant keyphrase or two for a page, add the keyphrase and related words into your copy. This doesn’t mean cramming the word in repeatedly. Make sure you write in a natural way but make sure the keyphrases and related words are featured say 3 or 4 times, preferably at the beginning, middle and end of the text.

Use keyphrases in headers

Similarly, include your chosen keyphrase in the headers text on a page. This means the bold text that divides the body copy into sections. Words in these headers may be given more weight by Google.

Work on getting quality incoming links

There’s only so much you can do to improve your site itself. A lot of what will help your Search Engine rankings are so called “Off Page” elements. These include incoming links to your site and the important thing here is QUALITY. It’s better to have a handful of good quality links than hundreds of spammy links from irrelevant sites and directories. You want to show to Google that your site keeps good company. You don’t want your website to become the online equivalent of a dodgy shop down a backstreet on the wrong side of town with stained net curtains and a man behind the counter with no teeth. Right?

Try and secure links from sites that are related in content to yours and are well respected. In the case of our imaginary photographer, a wildlife photography forum or blog would be the kind of site to try and get a link from.
You want a site that values its links and doesn’t have zillions of other links on a page. If possible [and this isn’t easy] try and ensure that the linking site uses your keywords in the link text [ i.e. “view Martin Smiths Arctic Wildlife Photography on his site by clicking here” ]

Avoid links from directory type pages that are only there to generate links and don’t have any other relevant content, like massive business directories.

Create a signature file on forums

If you comment on any forum related to your work, create a signature file with the address of your website in it. Whenever you comment your web address will be included, possibly helping SEO {depending on the way the forum is set up} and potentially raising the profile of your site.

Research and use the SEO capabilities of any site you join.

If you have a ready made artists portfolio site for example, check the documentation and find out how to best modify your page within the system to help the search engines find you.

If you have a WordPress site download and install and use the All-in-one SEO Pack plug in.

Create quality content

This is The No 1 most important rule in SEO. Quality content will naturally attract people. They read or see something interesting and link to it. All these incoming links are a signpost to the search engines that your site is worth bothering with and will increase your ranking. This is why blogs are such a great way of getting people interested in your work.

Write in a natural style about topics of interest around your work, for example, techniques, history, exhibitions etc. Make sure your content is grammatically correct and spell checked. Use a range of keywords and phrases in order that people can easily search for your topic. Break the text into paragraphs and ensure it is well divided with headers and sub headers. Make sure it isn’t too long.

The great thing is that any changes you make to your site for the benefit of Google will generally have a positive impact on your results in other search engines too.

Please share the SEO tips that work for you in the comments below.

You may also like