A Guide to Building your Art Website, by Swarez Art

Ed is a UK artist. He sells his one-off original paintings worldwide under his highly popular Swarez brand, working from his very own art gallery.

Here he offers his insights into how to build an art website for online success. (For more advice from Ed, see our recent post on Tips for Selling Art from the Industry Experts).

Image of Ed "Swarez" alongside one of his large abstract paintings
“My love of colour is evident in all my pieces” – Ed, A.K.A. Swarez

I am not a lucky artist.

When people visit Swarez and see what I have going on here, it’s easy to assume I’ve had some lucky break or been fortunate in one way or another – but I assure you that’s not the case.

Everything I’ve achieved so far is simply down to effort, and the determination to succeed. It’s been a lot of work and remains so every day, but it’s all worth it.

You have to treat art as a business too. It can be tough, so let me talk about one of the greatest wins you can possibly have, and yet one that can often be overlooked.

Your website

Image of the "Art for Sale" page on the Swarez Art website
The Swarez website is both visually striking and easily navigable

I’m talking about your shop window to the world. It could be the only time a particular visitor sees your work, so making their experience the best you can should be your absolute priority.

You can reach a global audience if you get it right. Imagine that for a second. Seven billion people. The opportunity for exposure is huge. It’s a numbers game.

So, how do you optimise this opportunity?

You can do it on your own terms and in the voice you choose. You can make it bright or dark, informative or aloof.

You have the chance to build something incredible. You have an opportunity to be memorable.

It will take discipline, time and patience if you really want to get on terms with sites like Houzz and Pinterest (sites that can dominate many art related search terms).

Look for the SEO guide written by Google and print it out. Learn how search works. Don’t worry, it’s not difficult. Remember all those people in the world? Go find them.

You need technical knowledge…

…but you can get it from the Google SEO guide. When building your site, the main questions to consider are:

  • ‘How do my visitors use my site?’
  • ‘Can they get what they need?’
  • ‘What keywords do I want to be searched for?’
  • ‘Do I sell online or not?’
  • ‘What would I like my visitors to do when they find me?’

My advice is to avoid the minimal style of layout. Many artists I know have an almost blank white page, and tiny grey fonts in a very small menu somewhere. Don’t do that, please!

Image of a series of paintings at the Swarez Art studios
It’s crucial to give online visitors a place to look at your art, says Swarez

Think about your visitors

Be sure to give them the following as a bare minimum:

  • A slick bio. Write it in the first person, not the third – it makes you personable and approachable.
  • A homepage with a clear message. If you sell landscape watercolours (and prints), then make your main message something like ‘Landscape watercolour originals and prints by XXXX’.
  • A well-organised menu. Give them a place to look at your art, a contact page with a map, a returns and shipping page if you plan to sell online, a link to sign up to your newsletter, a list of the exhibitions you’ve done or galleries that show your work (if you do that kind of thing).
  • Price everything. If you look in the window of a high-end shop to find nothing is priced, how do you know if you can afford it? It’s vital to manage the expectations of your visitors.*
  • Optimize your images. This requires some online research, but do it so that your images load quickly and efficiently. No-one likes waiting for images to load.

*I ran an experiment for 6 months where I removed all prices, and saw a 64% reduction in enquiries about my paintings. A small survey told me that my visitors were afraid to ask the price because they believed they couldn’t afford it. Please, price everything!

blog_banners_Freelancers GuideIt’s an evolving thing

I bought a book on HTML and built my first site from scratch in 2008, one line of code at a time. All I’ve done since then is make mistakes and learn. And I’m still learning, every day.

If you get yourself a website, it’s key to maintain it and optimise it on a constant basis for the search engines. This will make it much easier for you to be found organically.

Visibility is key. If you start learning today, you can save yourself a small fortune in paid advertising.

All the answers are out there, you’ve just got to ask the right questions.

For more expert advice on finding success in the creative industries, download our free eBook: How to Succeed as a Freelancer, and check out our latest article on How to Sell your Art in the Modern Marketplace.

Interested in studying art and design online?

blog_banners_coursesFind out more about the University of Hertfordshire accredited BA (Hons) and MA courses in Graphic Design, Illustration, Photography, Fine Art and Interior Architecture, delivered to you 100% online by IDI.

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