I flaked a little on websites when social media came out. I was like “why does anyone need a website when you can just have a Facebook Page?”
But a couple of things have brought me back.
The first is learning more about content marketing. (You’ll be chuffed to learn that your artwork is ‘content’.) Hey .. come back!
Alright, calmed down?
OK, the other thing is email marketing.
It’s all about ownership
You own your website. You can do what you like with it, and no-one is going to take it away from you. And you own your mailing list.
Facebook .. remember when you posted to your Facebook Page and if you had 100 followers they all saw your posts? Now you’ll be lucky if 5 do.
So you’re not in control of Facebook, Pinterest and so on. And truth be told, social media might have peaked. There are lots of concerns. Anyway.
The buyer’s journey
There’s this thing called the value journey. People start not knowing anything about you. They stumble across you. Perhaps someone shares something of yours on social media. They like what they see but they don’t know why yet. So they like, let’s say, your Facebook Page (Instagram/Pinterest, whatever). They are giving you permission to pop into their lives later.
So you do. You post more stuff and they like your other work and in the end .. we used to say that you need to advertise 27 times before you can START to assess whether your ad is working or not .. they decide they might take action, maybe they’ll come to your exhibition.
At several points through that journey, they may come and look at your website. Your goal is to get them on your mailing list.
The person who moves from following you in social media to being on your mailing list is getting close to buying.
There’s a psychological thing called ‘consistency’ where we are motivated to be consistent with our actions. If we like an artist on social media, and then we’ve signed up to their mailing list, we must want to go to their exhibition, right? And if we’re willing to go to their exhibition .. after all that .. surely we want one of the paintings on our wall.
And if you have say 1,000 people on your mailing list who are kinda ready to buy your work .. and then you email them and say “hey, I done another painting” .. that’s a good place to be, right?
So your website is central. All social media, advertising, press and search traffic comes here, and its role is to move people on. If they aren’t following you on social media, do that. If they are, get on the list. If they are on the list, come to the exhibition & buy something.
How many people leave your website without doing anything?
The first measure of a good website is the bounce rate. That is, the percentage of people who turn up and leave without doing anything else.
It can be 60%. Of traffic and sales, lost.
Your website should load quickly, and what it shows straight away should confirm to the visitor that they have definitely arrived in the right place.
To my mind, the first thing that loads should be your best-ever image.
Take their breath away. Hit them right in the feels.
If your nephew built your website in 2012 and now he’s got a career in whatever and he’s got kids and no time and whatever .. you’re driving with the brakes on.
So the question arises, What Makes A Good Artist Website.
Here’s to the doubters
And you know that saying about .. stupid people are certain, while experts are not sure. Well, I’m not sure.
So that’s the reason behind The Website To-Do. It’s a research project, really. I’m keen to find out what artists think are the key requirements for a website, and what bad habits to avoid.
I’m not saying that artists are the only people who have a say in this. Gallery owners might have a view. Website developers might give us something a bit more future-y. Buyers might have an opinion. Hey, I’m ex PR, various publics. Maybe I’ll come later to work out what they want.
But let’s start with the idea that we could decide what it is that artists in general like in their websites.
And in the end .. I know artists are not merchant bankers, there’s not a lot of money sloshing about .. and if I build a website in my disguise as a proper web development person I’d be looking for £4k or so, I imagine that’s too much for an artist, doesn’t matter how fabulous a website it is.
In the end, a better website for less money
So I’m thinking we’ll do this research, work out what makes the ultimate artist’s website, build a template, and then you can have it for more like, I don’t know, £400 or something. I’ll probably even discount it for those who contributed and did a Website To-Do.
And even if you like your website that your nephew made, the existence of a template of best practice should inspire you to make your own changes in that direction.
So that’s what I’m doing, that’s the big plan.
If you would like to contribute so the end result has a little bit of you in it .. go and sign up to The Website To-Do.
I don’t want to be pushing at this particular door forever, so I’ve put a timer on it. Sign up by I think 6pm on the last day of August (2019), after which I’ll close it, no plans to run a second one.
(I’ll be off playing a gig so I won’t know until later how many people have signed up.)
OK I think that’s everything. Go do the thing. I’ll just sit here.