6 Common Artist Website Mistakes & How to Avoid Them

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Most artists have serious talent for visual expression, but when it comes to marketing tasks like putting together a website, discomfort ensues. Inexperience and a feeling of the need to “Sell” oneself are commons reasons for this discomfort.

In this article, we’ll discuss some common artist website mistakes and how to avoid them.

A Successful Artist Website:

  1. Introduces the artist.
  2. Shows off an artist’s work.
  3. Creates a feeling someone might want to experience again and thus, a lasting impression.
  4. Is frequently updated.
  5. Makes it easy to connect.
  6. Creates trust that if money is to change hands, art will be delivered.

Using the goals just mentioned, let’s examine common mistakes that might be preventing your current or future website from serving its purpose to the fullest:

Website Mistake 1: Doesn’t Tell the Artist’s Story

Purchasing original art is your patron’s investment that starts with a feeling. Beyond emotions derived from looking at the painting, drawing, or sculpture, much of the sense of enjoyment comes from your patron’s understanding of your story.

You don’t have to be famous to have a great story. You’ll develop fans based on where you’re from, your style, your inspiration, and what the human beyond the work is really like.

If you’re building out an ETChster website, the profile creation screen will suggest a minimum of 400 characters. If you’re struggling to write that many words, set a goal of returning to this area of your profile after you’ve seen how other artists in the community approach this.

You’ll find these articles helpful: Inspirational Artist Profiles, Tips for Writing a Great Creator Profile

Another common mistake is not posting a good photo of the artist. Since your future fans are trying to get to know you, posting a picture of yourself is critical. A headshot is a good option. Another approach is an “Artist at Work” photo, as long as your face is clearly visible. We’ll touch on the importance of photo selection again in section “3” below.

Website Mistake 2: Doesn’t Show Off the Artist’s Work (Sufficiently)

Your work is a huge part of your story. When we think about famous artists, we consider their work in periods such as Picasso’s Blue Period (Periodo Azul). For artists that are just getting started, you won’t have enough work to have definable periods, but you’ll want to show as many pieces as you can.

What might you think if you came across an artist that told you they had only completed 1, 2, or even 5 pieces? You might think:

  • This person lacks conviction
  • I can’t tell what themes this person is exploring
  • Maybe this person isn’t actually an artist, but has a new hobby

For artists on ETChster, you’ll need to have at least 16 pieces set to “Public” to fill your profile page (without scrolling) on most desktop computers.

Shelly Gu Artist Website
Shelly Gu Artist Website

Assuming you have a good quantity of pieces on your website (public Etchings), you’ll want to attach each work of art to your story via its description. Some questions to answer:

  • How does this piece fit with other creations?
  • What was its inspiration?
  • When did you create it?
  • What is depicted?

Remember: your patrons are buying a part of your story. Be sure that story is told on each public Etching.

Etching Created by Ini Brown
Etching Created by Ini Brown

Website Mistake 3: Doesn’t Create a Feeling/Lasting Impression

So you’ve created a website and managed to get a potential fan to it. What sounds like a better outcome?

  • Your visitor quickly scans the first page and leaves within seconds. Note: The digital marketing term for this is a “bounce,” someone leaving without clicking into additional pages.
  • Your visitor reads your bio, clicks on multiple pieces to learn more, checks your updates and when they leave, they remember your name, and even better, may have:
    • Followed you
    • Bookmarked your page
    • Contacted you about work for sale already

If you’ve taken the time to remove mistakes 1 & 2 above, you’re likely already in the 2nd category.

Circling back to photo selection, human beings have a remarkable ability to remember faces. You’ll make it very hard for someone to remember your name if they can’t remember your face.

For all of your photos, you’ll want to convey that you are a thoughtful, serious artist. In your principal photo, avoid:

  • Posting screenshots as photos. Nobody wants to see your phone’s clock or signal bars in a photo of a piece of fine art.
  • Photos that cut/crop out part of the work. The entire piece should be visible. If it’s a framed piece, the entire frame should be visible.
  • Distracting backgrounds. Avoid photoing your work in such a way that your visitors will see your cat, mom, broom, another piece, in the photo.

Once you feel like your website avoids mistake 3, don’t be afraid to ask a friend or better yet a stranger, for feedback:

  • How did my site make you feel?
  • What were your first impressions?

For ETChster community members, you’ll get an offer to have one of the team look over your site and offer a critique.

Use that feedback to make it even better!

Website Mistake 4: Isn’t Frequently Updated

Many website solutions require you to login and update them periodically or else you will see alignment start to break, menus stop working, or worst case, your site may disappear entirely. If you’re using one of these solutions, you’ll want to set a recurring reminder to login and update both the site and any plug-ins used.

If you’re using ETChster, you don’t have to worry about technical updates to your site. ETChster maintains the sites of the entire community.

Assuming your site is working, what would a visitor think?

  • This is an active artist doing interesting things
  • This person may no longer be an artist

You’d be surprised how many active artists are giving their website visitors the impression that they are no longer active.

To keep your site up to date, set a recurring reminder to update it at a minimum once a month:

  • Add/etch new creations.
  • Expand your bio.
  • Post a thought, an event you’ll attend, a person that inspired you, etc.

Keep in mind that patrons rarely purchase the first time they come across an artist. Give them something new when they visit your site again.

Website Mistake 5: Makes It Difficult to Connect

Congrats! You’ve attracted another visitor and potential fan to your website. What do you want them to do? If you’ve avoided mistakes 1-4, your visitor will hopefully remember you.

It would be great if they went ahead and made a purchase.

If the work they like is physically in your possession, the two of you need to discuss how you sell and deliver your work.

Easy to Contact
ETChster’s Artist Contact Form

If the work is on display at a restaurant, coffee shop, or gallery, your fan will need to go there. Where is there? When is it open?

If you want your visitors to commission you, does your website prominently say that you are open to commissions?

Unfortunately, if you post your email address on your website, it will get scraped by spammers and your inbox will start filling up with junk. It also doesn’t look very professional.

Using contact forms is the solution. Place the access points to your contact form in obvious places.

If you’re an ETChster user, your profile and Etchings already have prominent contact forms.

If you’re not already using them, be sure to put addresses on Etchings that are on public display. Your fans will thank you when they know where they can go see your work in person!

A Well-Developed Etching Description with Location
A Well-Developed Etching Description with Location – Debra Crary

Website Mistake 6: Doesn’t Create Enough Trust

If you’re avoiding mistakes 1-5, you’re already creating a lot of trust by showing a professional-looking, memorable experience to the world. If your goal is to sell to people that may never meet you or physically see your work prior to purchase, you may need to help them get comfortable with you.

Some options to consider:

  • Add testimonials to your biography
  • Offer references upon request
  • Let visitors know what forms of payment you accept
  • Tell visitors how you package and ship

Another great question to ask friends or better yet strangers:

  • Do you think you would get what you paid for from this artist/site?

If you can confidentially say you’re avoiding the mistakes above with your artist website, you’re off to a great start. Find more helpful tips at ETChster University for Creators. Interested in taking the first steps with your new website why not check out our free artist website options?

What’s Next?

Did you:

  • Have follow-up questions?
  • Have other related thoughts that might be beneficial to the community?

Post them in the comments!

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Eddie Davis

Back in 2018, Eddie decided there had to be a better way. He a baby on the way and a house full of original art from his ancestors. So he started building an art collecting app to catalog each piece and capture its story. And then he started buying (or trying to buy) original art in his home town of Atlanta, Georgia, United States and quickly discovered that nearly all artists had broken, out-of-date websites and made it nearly impossible to buy their work. So he connected his catalog app to a maintenance-free artist website. Somewhere in the middle, crypto NFTs exploded and then imploded, and the ETChster global community grew to ~15,000 artists and art collectors of all walks of life. Et cetera...