I get a lot of questions about how best to use the web to promote your art. The truth is that there's no single best way - the internet is a big place and the answers it holds for your success are limited only by your imagination. Out of all the methods to market your work online the standard painters website is perhaps the one thing any artist shouldn't be without these days.
Again, I'm only speaking from personal experience, but my website www.newzealandartist.com is by far the best marketing tool in my bag of tricks. When I first started out with it back in 2001 (gosh!) I admit I expected that people would be pouring into my site from all over the world to buy my work. I soon found out that that's not really what it's good for. What it is, is often the first or second place people will see my work, and THEN they will come and see me personally in the studio. Turns out people aren't all that comfortable with spending a few grand on a painting they haven't yet seen in the flesh.
So that's the website's first task - to show people my work and get them interested in purchasing. My website's second and almost as important task is to GET THOSE PEOPLE ON MY EMAIL LIST! That's so critical it's really the foundation of what your website should do - get people interested, and then KEEP them interested. Eventually all those little emails you send out showing your latest work and news of exhibitions etc WILL work. There's a buyer out there for every painting, but sometimes they need a little nudging.
So that's the basics. There are plenty of ways to put together a website of course, but I've found over time that like everything, you tend to get what you pay for. It's easy for me having previously been a web designer and marketer, but it's pretty bamboozling for 99% of everyone else jumping into the internet. So for years now I've kept my eyes open for the best website service for artists wanting to make a start online, and I've noticed one company again and again who has consistently made good artist websites and has continued to improve their products so that they're now at the top of my list. Now when people ask me who to go with, this is where I send them:
Here's what I like most about what they give you:
1. You can edit your website yourself.
They make it really easy to do this and it means that you can upload your own photos every time you do a new painting. (Much better than paying a webmaster to do it).
2. Contact form
This makes it easy for people to contact you.
3. Built-in email newsletter system.
Like I said, this is critical for building your client list and keeping people interested in your work.
4. Built-in Blog.
People can register for this too, which gives them even more frequent updates of your work.
5. Built-in Ecommerce System.
People can buy your work directly from your site through Paypal, paying by credit card or Paypal account.
6. SEO (Search Engine Optimization)
Basically means you can enter all your relevant keywords easily into the code of your website so that you get ranked higher in the search engines for your particular keywords. eg. 'painting, pets, dogs' etc. (Honestly, they make this simple).
7. User Statistics
Lets you know how many people are visiting your site and details about them like location etc. This seems pretty small but in fact when you're working in the vacuum of the internet it's nice to know that all your work is paying off when you see a graph with a squiggly red line heading UP. Very encouraging for techies like me, but you should already see the payoff in increased contact from prospective buyers before you see that squiggly red line.
8. The Price
Very reasonable considering you get everything you need all in one package, saving you from opening a technical can of worms by trying to arrange it all yourself.
Here it is again: