Why you need an artist website
Of course viewing a tiny thumbnail image online will never compare to the feeling of seeing an artwork live in a gallery setting, but why do so many artists still ignore the importance of online presence?
In this digital age your online identity is every bit as important as your reputation in the real world. I’ve spent countless hours searching for artists to interview, many times coming to a virtual dead-end thanks to the artist in question being either unGoogleable or on a third-party website with non-existent contact details.
In this article we’ll take a look at the fundamental reasons why having your own artist website is an essential tool in the battle to get your work seen and why you may be missing out on potential opportunities if you don’t already have one.
The art world online
The art industry has been much slower to join other creative industries on the net but with the online art market growing by an estimated 20% each year (Ref: BBC – Art ‘sold more online than in galleries’) it would seem we’re in the process of evolution.
While sites such as Saatchi Art, deviantART and Etsy are leading the virtual charge with their marketplace style platforms, these overcrowded spaces make it difficult for an individual artist’s unique voice to be heard above all of the noise.
Analytics experts have stated that on average 50% of visitors will leave a webpage within the first 8 seconds, meaning that if you’re competing against 100s or even 1000s of other artists on the same site, these distractions are always just one click away.
Stand out from the crowd
Having your own space online means you break through the interference caused by other artists and a domineering host brand, giving you and your work a much better chance of making an impact. The positive effects of an informative, well-organised artist website extend much further than just being seen – it can also influence the way people see you, how you interact with your audience as well as how you sell to them.
5 essential benefits of an artist website
1. Building your artist brand
A website gives you the creative freedom to express your individual artist identity exactly the way you want to – customising colours, fonts, layout and content to help showcase your work in the clearest way possible. This will help you build a stronger online identity which in turn creates awareness of your work, fosters the growth of your fan base, elevates your credibility and enables you to gain trust with potential galleries, journalists and collectors.
To learn more about building your artist brand online be sure to read our free web series ‘The Ultimate Guide: How to build your own artist website’
2. Professionals vs amateurs
The unfortunate reality of a free domain name like www.artistname.freedomain.com is that because they’re targeted at the masses, they’re often associated with amateurs. Using a free domain can send an unprofessional message to first-time visitors and those who are unfamiliar with your work.
A custom domain such as www.artistname.com (ie. www.elisabethrutt.co.uk) gives you a professional identity that inherently instills confidence. Thankfully paid hosting has come down in price dramatically over the past few years and trusted services such as Bluehost offer domain name registration and hosting for as little as $4.95 per month.
One final point worth noting is that if you’re pricing your work in the £100s or even £1000s then using a free domain will send mixed messages to potential buyers.
3. Open 24/7
Your website is a permanent promotional tool, available 24 hours a day 7 days a week for those who want to find it. This means your work can be viewed on the other side of the world while you sleep and your gallery show is closed for business. It’s estimated that Google receives an average of 6 billion searches every day and while only a small percentage of these are for art, the internet opens up the potential to reach an audience of gallerists, fans, collectors and journalists who are already searching for artists like you.
4. Understand you audience
Creating a personal relationship with fans through your website will help strengthen your connection and enable you to promote your exhibitions, share your creative process and get all important feedback from your audience – this will lead to a greater appreciation and understanding of your art.
By combining a regular Newsletter with analytics on your site you can gain further insights into your audience including the number of visitors, their age, sex, which country they’re in, which pages they visited and for how long, and which websites your traffic is coming from. This data can be used to grow your audience and inform future decisions.
5. Cut out the middle man
Although selling work online comes with it’s own pitfalls, in 2013 online art sales were judged to have been in excess of £2.3bn, around 5% of all global art sales (Ref: The Guardian – International art market 2013). Ready-made services like Shopify mean starting your own eCommerce store is now easier than ever and has the added advantage of eluding the hefty commission paid to gallery owners and agents.
If you’d like to learn more, don’t forget to check out our free web series ‘The Ultimate Guide: How to build your own artist website’
Have you had doubts about investing in your own artist website? What’s stopped you from making the move online? Let us know by leaving a comment below.