We are an online artist community sharing ways to create and sell art. Join us to save big on art supplies or try our easy websites for artists.

Avoiding Scams: 9 “Red Flags” for Online Artists to Watch Out For

When your art website or art blog has a public contact page, you’re pretty much guaranteed to get some interesting offers popping up in your email inbox.

And by interesting, of course, I mean completely illegitimate scams—some of which may sound real enough to be tempting.

So if you ever run across the following statements, please regard them as “red flags” and just hit the delete button. You’ll be doing yourself a favor.

1. “We’ll submit your website to dozens of major search engines”

I always have to smile when I read the phrase, “dozens of major search engines.” Maybe there used to be dozens, but now there’s only one: Google.

What do I mean?

Well, when I look at my traffic stats for the past month, Google accounts for 49% of it. Yahoo contributes 7.5%. All the other search engines in the world add up to about 2%. These numbers are pretty typical for any website—so why bother submitting your site anywhere but Google?

Google is the only “major” search engine left as far as I’m concerned.

And yes, there IS a way to submit your website to Google. You need to create a sitemap of your website, log into Google webmaster tools, and submit your sitemap from there.

I’ve done this for EmptyEasel, but it’s not really a requirement. Google will find your pages just fine on its own, and submitting a sitemap doesn’t guarantee you’ll rank any higher on Google or get more traffic than before.

2. “We’ll list your website in hundreds of directories”

Having your website appear in a lot of online directories used to be a good idea because search engines paid attention to those directories to find new websites.

When the owners of those directories realized that their sites were important, they started charging money to applicants. This made them less reliable (after all, anyone could pay to get in) and their value to search engines went down.

These days, web directories are old and unimportant. Don’t bother signing up for them yourself, and don’t ever bother paying somone to do it for you.

3. “We’ll send thousands of qualified visitors to your website every day”

Thousands of visitors. . . maybe. Qualified? Not a chance.

What’s more likely is that you’ll be paying someone to start an automated computer script running that will constantly visit your website, making it SEEM as though you have more visitors than you actually do.

Or, if your visitors actually are real people, they’re being paid a tiny amount for each website that they visit.

4. “Using SEO, we can make your website rank #1 in Google”

The question to ask is, “Rank #1 for what keyword?”

Sure, SEO (search engine optimization) does work, but the companies who promise #1 rankings don’t give you the full story. It’s very easy to rank #1 for some nonsense phrase like “sunset doodle rice” but what good does that do you?

And you can almost always rank #1 for your own name—unless it’s something very common like “John Smith”—but how does that help if you want to attract visitors who DON’T already know who you are?

SEO isn’t about ranking #1 for a random phrase or your own name. It’s about ranking highly (in the first page at least) for multiple keywords and keyphrases that relate to your website.

And no, in most cases you don’t have to pay someone else to do it for you. EmptyEasel has an entire section devoted to explaining search engine optimization, and I’d suggest starting there first.

5. “Our e-book has the secret to selling art online”

I’ll tell you the secret—make good art and then work hard at promoting it. Heck, that’s the same formula for selling art offline, too.

Yes, you could purchase an e-book that explains ways to promote your art online. . . but you can probably get all that information for FREE. There are plenty of sites like EmptyEasel which won’t charge you for the same information you’ll find in that e-book.

So don’t buy into the hype. There’s no secret, and if there was one, you wouldn’t find it in a $19.99 downloadable e-book.

Now, besides the five specific statements I’ve listed above, here are a few other “red flags” that indicate something’s not quite right:

6. A long, single-page website full of testimonials

Have you seen these websites before? They’re a mile long (you have to scroll down forever to get to the bottom) and they’re crammed full of testimonials and repetitive urging to BUY NOW.

Sites like that are a dime a dozen, and scam artists use them because they’re quick, cheap, and easy to set up. In contrast, legitimate companies care enough about their appearance to build a legitimate website.

7. Out-of-country requests to purchase your art

These folks will send you an email expressing interest in a few pieces of your art, and ask if those pieces are still available (whether or not you’ve clearly marked them as available already).

At that point, they’re fishing. If you don’t respond, they’ll move on to the next artist.

If you DO respond, they’ll start spinning some story. The story might be a little different every time, but it usually has to do with you giving them your bank account info or some other sensitive piece of information.

These scammers aren’t hard to spot—they’re usually from another country and they always want you to do something for them. Just walk away.

8. Impersonal link-exchange requests

When an email starts with “Dear webmaster,” you can pretty much assume that their next request will be slightly self-serving.

I get these automated emails asking me to trade links all the time. . . if I link to them, they’ll link to me. They’re usually very specific too, requiring that I place a certain paragraph or specially-worded link at the bottom of one of my blog posts.

Nothing good comes of going along with these folks, and Google is smart enough to know the links aren’t legitimate—so it won’t help you in the long run.

9. Bad grammar and spelling

The final thing that makes me hit the spam button is finding poor spelling or grammar in a message. To me, bad spelling is like bad design—it shows that they don’t care enough, or don’t “have it together” enough for me to take them seriously.

I’m sure there are many more “red flags” to mention, but that’s all I’ve got—are there any that you avoid? If so, feel free to send them in to share with the rest of EmptyEasel’s readers.

*Note: this post may contain affiliate links*

EDITOR'S NOTE: Prices and information below may be out of date. Since launching Foliotwist (our sister site which provides artist websites) we no longer feel unbiased enough to continue updating or reviewing other art website services. Visit the website below for their most recent information. . . . read more

If you're looking for something else. . .
Love the Easel?

Subscribe to our totally free weekly newsletter for artists. Sign up today!

EE Writers
Cassie Rief Niki Hilsabeck Lisa Orgler Carrie Lewis Aletta de Wal Phawnda Moore

If you'd like to write for EmptyEasel, let us know!

We love publishing reader-submitted art tutorials, stories, and even reviews.Submit yours here!
© 2006-2017 EmptyEasel.com About Contact Sitemap Privacy Policy Terms of Use Advertise