As some of you know, for the past few months we’ve been working on a big new feature at Foliotwist, our service that provides high-end websites for artists. Today, it’s no longer under wraps, so I’m going to tell you all about it—what it is, how we got the idea, and why it’s awesome. Read on. . .
First, a little history
Every art website service or online gallery promises the same thing, don’t they?
“When you sign up, you’ll get more exposure, more visitor traffic, and more sales!”
It sounds great, so you do it. You pick your favorite (or the one with the most features, or the cheapest) and you join.
But once you scratch the surface, all of these places are pretty much the same. Despite the promises, that traffic never materializes. Pretty soon you realize that getting traffic isn’t guaranteed for any website. The potential is there, sure. But going from “potential” traffic to actual visitors is a mystery.
We knew this problem existed when we first launched Foliotwist, so naturally we tried to solve it. We included features specifically made to draw in visitors—like an integrated blog, an email newsletter, social networking buttons, etc.
But a year after launching, when we surveyed our artists about what they really wanted, they all said the same thing:
More traffic. More visitors.
It was puzzling. With all the marketing features we’d included in Foliotwist, I knew for a fact our artists should be able to get more than enough traffic to their websites.
After all, here at EmptyEasel with just a blog and a newsletter (and a pretty ugly design to start off with) I managed to get around 137,000 visitors in my first year.
So I knew it worked. . . or could work. . . but it just wasn’t happening for our artists.
As disappointing as that was, it was exactly what we needed to hear. Since it wasn’t working well enough, we needed to fix it. And when we went back to the drawing board, we only had one question on our minds:
“What do we need to do to make sure our artists get more visitors?”
And then, during a weekend of brainstorming, we came up with a crazy idea. . .
The inspiration, the idea, and the solution
Do any of you remember this poll that I published on EmptyEasel in January? At the time, I was considering writing an eBook, and wanted to get some feedback on what I should write about.
Based on the initial poll results, I was leaning towards writing a step-by-step guide to SEO and blogging, but I kept running into a big problem:
With all the different website providers and blog options out there, there was no way I could write one comprehensive guide that would work for everyone.
Then I thought, what if I wrote ten, or twenty, or a hundred SEO guides—one for every option out there? I could write a guide for WordPress, another one for Blogger, even guides for sites like Imagekind, or Artspan or Fine Art Studio Online.
The idea was appealing to me (I’m a sucker for huge tasks) so I started working on an outline. My goal was to include all the techniques that I personally used here at EmptyEasel to grow my traffic.
But when I finished the outline, I came across another problem. I realized that about half the SEO techniques I used on EmptyEasel weren’t even possible on many of the website providers I looked at.
So I shelved the idea, and forgot about it—until that weekend of brainstorming, and that one question:
What do our artists need to get more traffic?
A lightbulb came on. I already had the answer—they needed that eBook! I couldn’t write it for everybody, but I COULD write for our own artists. We built Foliotwist websites to be search engine optimized, after all.
Then, the idea grew. “Why stop at an eBook?” I asked. “Let’s take it a step further. How do people learn best?”
“Step-by-step instructions. Hands-on learning. Mentoring.”
“Well. . . why can’t we do that?”
Introducing the Traffic Booster training course
It may sound crazy, but now, when you sign up with Foliotwist, not only will you get your own artist website, but you’ll also get an entire year of mentoring, coaching, training. . . whatever you want to call it.
We’ve built a system that allows us to email each of our artists, individually, every week, with an SEO lesson and personalized tips and advice just for them. We even review that artist’s website as we write the email.
The beautiful thing about this is that it’s NOT an eBook. . . you can get online marketing eBooks anywhere, but they’re never written just for you. They’re kept vague enough to make sure they work for everybody.
With Traffic Booster, it’s like we’re at the computer with you. And we’re still there to answer questions after the lesson is done.
Yes, I’m a little terrified because of all the work involved, but I’m extremely excited to finally do something which I know will work. In fact, we’ve already launched the Traffic Booster system for some of our current artists, and the feedback has been fantastic.
It’s going to be a busy weekend for me getting everything ready, but if you have any questions about Traffic Booster, please ask. I’ll make sure to respond.
As many of you know, in April of 2009 I launched my artist websites service over at Foliotwist.com. My goal was to create a system where artists could manage their own websites, free of hassle, with no hidden fees or artwork upload limits.
Since then we've been slowly improving our core service while adding some entirely new features as. . . read more
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