Marketing On the Internet

As much as we artists would love to stay in the studio,the tough reality it is that you must devote time to marketing on the Internet to succeed.

Unfortunately, just putting up a website or blog is not enough.  Nor is it enough to post auctions on other websites.

The Internet has been a godsend for me.  I’d never be able to say that my art is in 53 states, Canada, new Zealand, and England otherwise.  Marketing made that possible.  Marketing can be hard work. There are ways for you to make yourself more productive.  Each person’s situation is different.  To succeed, you need a plan.

1.  Research your best venues.

Perhaps you use Twitter a lot.  Or maybe Facebook is your place.  CafePress could be your best venue.  The important thing is to study the return on your time and effort for your marketing venues to concentrate on the best ones.  I keep a spreadsheet, denoting what my ROI is, but also how much time and effort goes into each venue.  Knowing the long term value of a venue, I can make good choices.

2.  Test several venues to find your niche.

There are many ways to optimize your online presence.  In todays Web 2.0 world, you must have a blog.  To drive readers to your blog, you can explore social media sites.  Don’t like Twitter?  Then become active on the forums.  The forums at Etsy and WetCanvas are quite active.  And yes, artists do buy from other artists.

3.  Let someone else do your legwork.

The scope of Internet marketing is dynamic and everchanging.  To keep up, you must invest time.  However, that can be a daunting task for an artists who is also a mother, has a part time job, and has other commitments.  Time is money.  Time away from the studio can be expensive.  Services can do your search engine marketing for you.

The decision is up to you.  You know your resources.  If you’ve done your research, you have a good grasp of how you can best allocate your time.  Whatever you do, devote time and thought into your plan for marketing on the Internet.

Follow Through With Your Keywords

magnifying glassI’ve written before about the importance of selecting keywords for your niche.  It’s not enough to write about your paintings, but rather to target your content for the right audience.

So, let’s say you’ve done the leg work.  You have selected good keywords.  Let’s say your website/blog traffic has increased.  Now what?

While you’ve done the right thing, your work is fruitless unless you do the follow up.  There are several tools available to you to do this.  Let’s start with your own website.

Many hosting companies like HostGator use the cPanel management interface.  The panel includes different log interfaces like Webalizer and Awstats.  These logs provide you with valuable information regarding your traffic, how you’re being found, when you’re being found, and what keyphrases are being used.  This information is golden.  This is where you determine what is working.

Another site worth investigating is ExactFactor.  This site allows you to enter specific keywords and track your progress with selected search engines.  Emailed reports tell you how your position fares.  Best of all, it’s free.

Now if you really want to get your hands dirty, a program like WebCEO will allow you to identify your competition and see how they’re faring with the same keywords. 

You can also track how the pages are being indexed with the search engines of your choice.  It’s not enough to put out your website and leave it.  Content must be refreshed on a regular basis to avoid the infamous “sandbox” effect where you start to drop off the search engine radar screen and lose pages from the SE index.

Search engine optimization doesn’t end with your keywords.  To keep your presence alive, you must work out and follow through with your keywords.  Photo by Brooks Elliott

Monday Marketing Meeting–Make It Easy To Buy

Okay, you spent the time to update your site.  Your code is good.  The site loads fast.  Take a good look at your site now.  Have you made it easy for potential customers to buy from your site?

The page that a visitor finds on your site, i.e., the landing page, must make it clear to them about what you want them to do.  It may seem a no-brainer to you.  You’re selling art.  Here’s art.  What’s the problem?

Remember, you have precious little time to impress a visitor and then convince them to buy.  Think about how to optimize this experience.

Error free pages are mandatory

A bad link, a missing image, a slow loading page can mean a lost sale.  Check and double check your links.  An HTML editor like Microsoft’s Expression Web can run compatibility reports and broken link reports.

Make it easy to purchase.

Don’t leave your visitor guessing.  Too many times I see artists with gallery pages telling them to email for more information.  Wrong!  All you’re doing is adding an extra step to the process, a step that an impulse buyer may not make. 

If it’s posting a price that bothers you, let go of that.  Your online presence is for your to make the sale.  If it’s too high for a potential buyer when you list it, it’ll still be too high if you email the price back to them.  Save yourself the hassle.  Post the price.

Did I say make it easy to buy?

You have art for sale.  You want the visitor to buy it.  That’s how you make it easy with a visible “Add to cart” or “Buy it now” button”.

There are many options for finalizing that sale.  Some do well with using PayPal buttons.  It’s an easy option, however, unless it’s integrated into a shopping cart set up on your site, it does take them off the site to complete the sale.  Just something to bear in mind.

If the thought of using PayPal bothers you, there are other options for credit card processing that are not affiliated with eBay.  An advantage of using a service like Merchant is the ability to also process checks if you choose to do so.  Again, you’re making it easy for a visitor to buy and are providing them with as many different ways to do so.

It’s an uphill battle trying to succeed with an online business.  Do yourself–and your buyers–an enormous favor and make it easy for them to buy from you.