So you just launched your new art website—that’s fantastic! You’ve worked for days (maybe weeks, even months!) or you’ve paid someone to make everything perfect, and now that your new website is live you’re ready to start selling your art!
But. . . it’s been a few days, and nobody seems to be visiting your site. What gives?
Beautiful, but no traffic? No problem. Keep on reading.
First, don’t panic; everyone with a website faces this problem. Second, here’s the hard-to-swallow truth about every art website:
An art website isn’t enough. You also need a marketing plan.
Thankfully I’m not talking about a business-school marketing plan with graphs and numbers. I just mean a simple “To Do” list that you can work on for 20 minutes to an hour each day.
I follow a plan like this myself. Ever since we launched NUMA (our online gallery for original art) I’ve been working on my To-Do list as often as I can. Here are 10 things that I do—which anybody can do, by the way!—that I guarantee will help:
1. Add your art website to Google’s Search Console
Google’s Search Console is a fairly simple way to keep track of how Google views your website. It allows you to “add” your website to Google’s search index, and most importantly, shows you if your pages are being blocked or there’s an issue with your site.
Sometimes the reason you’re not getting traffic is simply because there’s a little error SOMEWHERE in your website, and it’s making your entire website unfindable online.
So first things first, create an account, add your website, and (if you can) add your sitemap as well. If you’re not sure how to add your website’s sitemap, ASK someone—your web designer, a programmer friend, or anybody on a tech-help forum.
Once you’ve added your sitemap then Google knows exactly how many pages are in your website, and it’ll start to add all of those pages to its index, which means that people will start being able to find your site in Google searches.
It’s worth the time/money it may take to get this done. At Foliotwist, we do it for all our Website PRO artists, and I did it for NUMA the first day we launched. Don’t put this off for your own website!
2. Pinterest like mad
Hopefully you already have a Pinterest account—and hopefully you already use it all the time! But even if you’ve never “pinned” anything before, and you’ve got to start from scratch, I still recommend it.
Why? Because Pinterest is perfect for artists who want to promote their art without being overbearing or pushy.
Here’s how it works: in short, you can save (pin) anything you like that you find online, and those “pins” get saved to your Pinterest profile as images. Over time your profile collects hundreds or even thousands of those pins, and creates a sort of “digital collage” of your favorite things.
Other people on pinterest will have the option to “follow” you, and start seeing the things you pin, too. They can re-pin your pins, or click through to see the full website you pinned from. Oh, and when they re-pin something you’ve pinned. . . their followers will see it also!
So if you’re an artist, I suggest pinning art you love; specifically, art that has similarities to your own. AND, of course, go to your new art website and start pinning some of your art from there, too.
The more you pin, and the more followers you have, the easier it is to use Pinterest to bring visitors to your website.
3. Ask friends to spread the word (online and offline)
Tell your friends you’ve launched website—it’s big news! How many of them have a website? (Not just a rhetorical question. . . if they’ve got a website, why not see if you can help promote theirs, too?)
Use Facebook to post a link to your new art website, and ask your friends and family to share or “like” it. If you meet someone in a coffeeshop, give them your card, or just write down your domain on a napkin.
Be proud of your website. Your life as an artist is fascinating to people who don’t create art themselves, and I guarantee they’ll be intrigued. Plus, you never know who may be looking for a unique work of art for their home!
4. Got a blog? Link to your website, pronto!
There are several ways to do this, and I like to do a little bit of everything when I link to NUMA. First, if you can, add a link somewhere important on your blog—up high, on the home page, so it’s very prominent.
This is a great way to make sure people see your link and visit your site. (You can also pair this tip with #6 below, to REALLY get people interested).
Second, I recommend going back to your older posts and editing them to include links to your new art website. Try to make the link relevant to the topic of that post, of course, but I don’t think you’ll have much trouble doing that.
For example, if you’ve ever written about a particular artwork that’s now up on your new art website, add a link to it! Or, if you’ve written about a style, or technique you’ve used, go to those old posts and edit them to include a link to any of your artwork that illustrates what you were talking about.
I guarantee if you’ve got a blog that you’ll find plenty of ways to add links to your website—it may take a few days, or weeks, and that’s OK. Just keep plugging away on those older posts, and you’ll start seeing more results the longer you work at it!
5. Claim your free Adsense/Facebook ad money
Both Google and Facebook tend to give out free money so you’ll try their advertising platforms. Google usually sends an email and a coupon inviting you to try Adsense a few days after you add your website to Webmaster Tools, but sometimes you can find coupons online just by searching.
You should also check to see if your website host has any Google Adsense promo codes. Shopify did, and since they’re the website host for NUMA, that’s how I got mine this time.
In fact, as I write this, I’m spending $100 of free credit at Adsense that I “earned” by creating a Google Adsense account and then spending $25 of my own. So while it wasn’t TOTALLY free, it was still a great deal.
Facebook offers coupons sporadically (they used to do it a lot more) and my best advice there is to just keep your eyes peeled. You may also want to check out the Facebook ads page and start playing around with their ad creator. Put together a few ads, but don’t start using them. My guess is that they may send you a coupon once they know you’re interested.
(You might be wondering if I plan to advertise after the free money runs out. . . honestly, it depends! If the clicks generated by my ads bring in qualified art buyers to NUMA, then yes, I’ll continue. For now, I’m trying out different ads and stretching the free credit as long as I can.)
6. Offer a limited time incentive
Hoo-boy, this one’s tough. I haven’t figured out a good solution for my own situation, but then again, NUMA is composed of a group of artists, so I can’t just go around giving discounts without asking all of them first!
But, if you’re running your own show, then why not offer 10% off for any purchases within the first 72 hours of your website launch? At the very least, it’ll bring people over, and if it works out (and people buy something right away) you may even want to make a monthly or yearly event out of it!
7. Figure out “your” search terms
Remember how you added your website to Google Webmaster Tools? Here’s where it pays off, even more.
When you log into your Webmaster Tools account, you can click on the “Search Traffic” link on the left side of the page, and see exactly where your website shows up when people search for certain terms.
This gives you fantastic insights into the kind of searches that people are doing related to your type of art, as well as the top search terms that your website ranks for.
It may surprise you what kinds of searches lead people to your website. . . but the benefit is that you can start narrowing in on the top few search terms, and try to improve your ranking in Google for just the best 2 or 3.
For example, if you’re a Western artist, maybe you’ll find out that you’re ranking very well for “cattle paintings” or “lasso and saddle art”—or numerous other searches. Perhaps you never realized exactly what people were searching for when they found your website.
Now that you know, you could start adding some additional words or phrases to your home page that “target” those searches. If you’re ranking in the #5 spot, you may see your ranking go up to #4 or #3 just from a few changes.
In short, knowing “your” search terms is a great way to start optimizing your new art website to get the MOST visitors possible. And if you want more details on exactly how to do that, check out our SEO articles here for more nitty-gritty.
I hope this list has helped (or at least inspired) some of you to start getting more traffic to your art website! Remember, spend 20 minutes a day, or even just an hour a week on some of these methods, and you WILL see results!