How to Sell Art Online: The Complete Guide

Contents

Introduction…………………………………………………………………………. 4
Course Overview……………………………………………………………………..7
Chapter 1. How to Become a Pro Art Blogger………………………………. 11
Chapter 2. Setting up Your WordPress Blog the Right Way……………. 44
Chapter 3. Your Goal: Become an Authority Website ……………………53
Chapter 4. How to Create a Professional and Profitable Email Newsletter… 58
Chapter 5. The Basics of Online Marketing …………………………………..77
Chapter 6. ECommerceFlowchart and Business Plan……………………. 90

Chapter 1
How to Become a Pro Art Blogger

Before we get started with the technical aspects of setting up and getting going with your art blog, I want to address one key issue that holds a lot of people back–Fear.

The beginning of this chapter helps you face and overcome your fears of writing or blogging.

You may not like to write, or you may think that your writing is not good enough. Or maybe you think you just don’t have the time to sit down and write. That’s okay. You can still be a Pro art blogger.

Starting an Art Blog: What If You’re a Terrible Writer?

Are you thinking about starting an art blog or email newsletter? Are you worried that your writing skills may not be good enough?

Let’s face it, this is at the heart of why we put off getting that art blog or email newsletter going in the first place, isn’t it? Or if we did get it started, we put off writing the kind of solid content that gets us where we want to be. We do link posts and fluff and rehashes of someone else’s good content.

Even the best writers face insecurity and anxiety when they sit down to write an art blog. And for a not-so-good writer, it can be even worse.

All that anxiety and brain damage does you no good. It won’t give you the energy to be a better writer. It won’t put fire in your belly. It just keeps you from writing. Or if you do overcome your nerves and get started, it makes your writing stilted and stiff.

Here are some tools and techniques to banish writing anxiety forever. You don’t need that heartburn, so let’s get rid of it.

Writing an Art Blog: Our Kind of Marketing is a Conversation

Blogging and Email marketing is part of a larger category called content marketing. The basic idea is that you provide a wealth of useful, relevant content to your prospects and customers, and they reward you with their trust and their business.

By far, the most rewarding way to approach this strategy is as a conversation. Now I realize it’s a little one-sided, but think of your messages has half of a conversation with your customer, despite the fact that usually you won’t be able to hear the other half.

Think about your ideal customer. You’re going to speak directly to her. You’ve invited her for a coffee and a nice chat about what’s new. You’ll give her a little bit of useful advice with your cookie content and you might let her know if you’ve got something on the shelves you think she would enjoy.

One of the nicest things about this “conversation” angle is that you can and should write like you talk. You’re not creating a college essay. You’re not writing a job application. You’re not writing to impress someone or receive a grade.

You’re writing to make a nice, friendly connection. “Conversational Grammar” is Perfectly OK

Here’s the great, wizard-of-Oz secret about writing marketing content:

It’s perfectly fine to make grammar mistakes in your art blog or email newsletter.
Spoken language follows slightly different rules from formal, written language. The stuff we learned (or failed to learn) in 5th grade were the rules for written English. They helped us get decent grades and go to college. They’re important if you want to write a book, or an article in The New Yorker.

They are not important for your art blog or email newsletter. I hereby give you permission to never spend one second worrying about whether the language in your art blog or email newsletter is “correct.” That’s not what matters.

(This is not easy advice for me to give. I’m a grammar dork. I read books like Eats, Shoots and Leaves for fun. But this is something you need to know, so I have to control my own Grammar Cop tendencies and give you the straight dope.)

Clarity, Not Correctness

Clarity is king in your art blog and email newsletter writing. Your readers have to understand you before they can really form a bond with you. If your writing is grammatically perfect but hard to understand, you have a major problem.

On the other hand, if your writing is completely clear and conversational, even if the grammar is a little “colorful” in places, you’ve done a terrific job.

Become obsessed with clarity. Take long-winded sentences and cut them into two or three parts to make them easier to read. Take out anything “clever” if it could also be confusing.

Use a tool like the Flesch Reading Scale to analyze the grade level of your writing. If your email newsletter
reads at a 5th grade level, believe it or not, it’s just about perfect.

(The ebook you’re reading now came in at 5.5 to 6thgrade, so I feel pretty good.)

It’s not that your readers are dumb–they’re not. But they’re busy. Even if they have multiple PhDs
and read about nuclear physics for fun, they’re looking for an easy, enjoyable read when they open your newsletter.
Keep It Simple, Sweetheart!

How to Write an Art Blog Even if You Hate to Write
Are you thinking about starting an art blog or email newsletter? But are you hesitant to start because you hate to write? Or are you afraid you don’t have time to write?

Let’s face it, this is at the heart of why we put off getting that art blog or email newsletter going in the first place, isn’t it? Or if we did get it started, we put off writing the kind of solid content that gets us where we want to be. We do link posts and fluff and rehashes of someone else’s good content.

Even the best writers face insecurity and anxiety when they sit down to write an art blog. And for a not-so-good writer, it can be even worse.

All that anxiety and brain damage does you no good. It won’t give you the energy to be a better writer. It won’t put fire in your belly. It just keeps you from writing. Or if you do overcome your nerves and get started, it makes your writing stilted and stiff.

Here are some tools and techniques to banish writing anxiety forever. You don’t need that heartburn, so let’s get rid of it.

Writing an Art Blog: The Faster, Easier Way

Does the thought of sitting down at that keyboard make you sick to your stomach?

No problem at all.

There is a terrific service called SpeakWrite. You might start by scribbling a few rough notes about your topic, to collect your thoughts.

Then you call the service on the phone and just say what you want to say. Remember, it’s a conversation–pretend you’re recording a voice-mail message for one of your customers.

SpeakWrite transcribes your message and emails it back to you, typically within 2 hours. The charge? 1.25 cents a word for general, nonlegal work. That’s $1.25 for every 100 words.

The chapter you’re reading today would have cost me less than $7 to dictate and transcribe. When you start to realize how much time you can save, that is wonderfully cheap.

There’s also software that can do this for you. The one most people use is called Dragon Naturally Speaking. If you love this technique, it may be worth the investment (in both money and time–you need to “train” the system to recognize your speaking voice). It’s sold on Amazon and at most software vendors.

A lot of the major “Internet guru” marketers use this technique, not necessarily because they don’t like to write, but because it saves a huge amount of time. 20 minutes of speaking is about 8 pages, which can easily take 3 to 4 hours to write.

Not only that, the writing is actually more fluid, because it comes directly from the spoken voice. Now I love writing and I still believe it has value. But if you don’t write for the love of it, give these dictation tools a try. I think you’ll find they transform your writing dread into excitement and enthusiasm.

Getting Your Art Blog Headed in the Right Direction

Have you ever thought about what was at the heart of a successful art blog? Have you ever wondered about the real essence of an art blog, what are the guiding and underlying principles that will make it a true success?

A lot of artists out there trying to start up their art blog and art website get this all wrong. I see it all the time. I look at a lot of art blogs and art websites. Every day artists write me and ask me to look at their websites or art blog. And I try to look at every one.

What I see when I look at a person’s new art blog or website always makes me think. I think about how the first inclinations that you have when you go to put up your art blog or art website are usually all very wrong.

What do I mean?

Your first inclinations, like mine were in the beginning, are to make the blog all about you. You get all excited and pumped up thinking that you are going to become a celebrity. And all you can think about is getting the show on the road, telling the world everything you think they want to know about you.

I remember when I first started this art blog. I was really excited. I was going to tell the world all about Me. It was going to be: ME, ME, ME, ME!!!!!!!

But luckily, before I really got going, I did some research and reading about blogging. And luckily, I changed my tune before I got too far along.

Nothing will sink your art blog faster than just blogging about yourself, your latest paintings, your newest work, the skiing trip you took last week.

Why? Because unless you’re a famous movie star like Brad Pitt or Angelina Jolie, nobody cares about you personally.

Nobody cares about your newest paintings, or what you did last Thursday.

Sorry to burst your narcissistic little bubble, but I’m trying to tell you the truth here.

Secrets of a Successful Art Blog:  You Only Get to Keep What You Give Away

So what is the real essence of a successful art blog? Giving stuff away, and I’m talking about mainly information here.

You give and you give and then you give some more.

Specifically, what kind of information do you give away? You give away everything you’ve got stored up there in that big, beautiful brain of yours.

You give away stories and articles that educate and entertain your audience. You share and give away all your most cherished secrets concerning your craft or art form. You tell us your secrets how you paint what you paint, or sculpt what you sculpt. You give us the secrets how you have become the success that you are today.

If you’re a photographer, you give away everything you know about cameras. If you’re a graphic designer, you give away everything you know about your tools and your craft.

Does this make sense?

In the final analysis, it’s all that really matters. It’s how much you give away that will finally equal how much you get to keep in loyal readers, subscribers, and sales.

Always remember this main key to blogging success: You only get to keep what you give away.

How to Sell Art Online: Case Study

There’s a saying in marketing: “There are riches in niches.” If you want to successfully sell art online, your goal is to correctly identify, target and dominate a specific niche.

What is a niche?

A niche is simply a group of people who share a common interest or a common set of characteristics. For example, if you play tennis, you belong in the niche of people who love tennis. If you are a housewife between 28 and 35 years of age, you could be classified into a niche. If you are a watercolor artist, you belong in the niche of people who love to paint in this medium.

You must target a specific niche to succeed on the Internet. A lot of artists out there with blogs and websites are getting this all wrong. They put up a static website or a general art blog or put their art on group sites like eBay or Etsy, hoping to attract a broad audience. And they wonder why no one ever shows up to buy anything.

On the Internet, you can’t succeed going after a general art audience, expecting to capture everyone. In marketing you have the shotgun approach and then you have the rifle approach. As an art blogger with an internet art business, you must use the rifle approach, aiming a single rifle shot at a narrow audience. Leave the shotgun approach to large corporations like McDonald’s or Exxon who can afford to do it well.

Let’s look at a case study to see how to find and sell art successfully to a very specific niche.

Case Study: Selling Horse Sculptures Online

An artist from Sweden recently contacted me about his online art business. He had spent a lot of time and money on a website, but wasn’t seeing any return for his efforts. He was very disappointed in his online venture and about ready to pull the plug on the floundering business out of complete frustration.

He joined the Smart Art Marketing Pro forum to learn how to correctly sell his art online and save his internet art business.

As part of the forum, I did a thorough assessment and evaluation of his website and online art business. I also made very specific recommendations and helped him to put these into action.

Here is some of what I uncovered about his online art business:

This artist was very talented and made high quality bronze sculptures of horses. These beautiful sculptures reminded me of the work of the famous American Western artist Frederich Remington. They were about the same size and quality of work. The quality of the artwork was not the reason for the failing art business.

This artist had a beautiful static website to sell his sculptures. It was well-designed with a beautiful gallery showcasing his bronze horses. He had a efficient and professional checkout system to process sales. The quality of the website was not the reason for the failing art business.

All in all, his website was professional and looked great. But he wasn’t getting any sales online.

He wasn’t even getting any traffic or any inquiries from the few people who did show up. His marketing strategy was too simple to be effective. Basically, he had just put up a website like a big billboard in Cyperspace, hoping to attract everyone and anyone.

His website, although beautiful and professionally designed, was failing miserably.

Here’s the fix for this struggling online art business:
So what was wrong? One thing. His marketing approach. He wasn’t attracting the veryspecific audience or niche that he needed.

So what did I suggest he do to turn things around and make the site a success? I suggested that he should start a blog.

Now, should he blog all about himself and how beautiful his sculptures are? NO. Absolutely not.

If he only blogs about himself and his latest projects or newest work, no one will ever be interested enough to read it. Why? Because no one cares about him personally. This is the wrong approach for his blog. If he blogs only about himself and his latest work, his blog will be a failure just like his static website was a failure.

So what is the correct approach here? What should he blog about?

He should blog about horses. He should blog all about how to make horses happy and healthy.

He should blog about everything he knows about horses. If he sculpts horses, he loves horses, and that means he probably knows an awful lot about horses. Right? I told him he should take his love of horses and his vast knowledge of horses and share it with the world.

So who is he going to attract with his blog about horses? He is going to attract horse lovers. He is going to grow a large following of avid horse lovers. He is going to connect to a large family of like-minded people who love the same thing he loves. These horse lovers will subscribe to his blog and to his email newsletter to learn more about horses from him. These are the perfect people, the perfect niche to buy his horse sculptures.

Who better to buy sculptures of horses than avid horse lovers?

So this artist should blog about horses. And then in a very balanced way in his blog and newsletter, he will make offers for his horse sculptures. Do you see how this works? Following this marketing strategy could easily net this sculptor a six figure income from his blog and website each year. He could dominate this art niche by passionately sharing with the world his love and knowledge of horses. In time, this website and blog could be worth millions of dollars.

This case study is a perfect example of correctly identifying and targeting a very specific art niche. Correctly identifying the perfect niche for your art products is crucial for your online success.

Here’s a Few More Ideas…..

Sometimes the niche is not as easy to find as in this case study. So brainstorm as many ideas as possible. Get together with a group of your artist friends and have a brainstorming party. In the meantime, here’s a few more ideas that will get you going in the right direction.

If you paint pet portraits, then blog all about pets. Blog about dogs and cats and pets in general, how to keep them happy and healthy. You will attract pet lovers who will almost certainly want a portrait of their beloved pet.

If you paint or take pictures of flowers and gardens, then blog about flowers and gardening. Blog about how to raise prize roses or grow bigger and better tulips. These garden lovers will almost certainly want pictures of gardens and flowers in their homes.

You can also blog about how to make a home more beautiful with art. You could become the “Martha Stewart” of home decorating with the focus on art. I have used this niche very successfully. I call the category “The Artful Home.” What niche does this blog attract? It attracts housewives who are in the age group from 35 to 55 years of age. These housewives want their homes to be warm, cozy and inviting. Art is the perfect pitch for them because it fills
this basic need.

And, of course, you could always teach lessons on how to paint or photograph or sculpt, whatever it is you do. You could share with the world all the knowledge and ability you have acquired over the years. Teaching art lessons online is a great business strategy. Your students will want your eBooks and other art information products to help them become the best artist they can be. And your loyal students will also want to buy your original art.

Art Blog, Group Art Site, or Personal Art Website? Which is Better?

Have you been thinking about joining the growing ranks of artists online? But are you confused about which direction you should take on the internet?

There are lots of directions you can take when it comes to promoting your art on the internet. Some artists go with a group art site like Etsy, eBay, or Art in America Mall. Other artists create a personal website. And some artists start an art blog.

But which of these directions is the best when it comes to selling your art online? Have you ever given it much thought? Which of these choices will lead you to a truly successful and abundant artistic life on the internet?

These are excellent questions to think about when you are trying to promote your art online. But sadly, most artists never give these questions much thought. They just forge ahead without much of a marketing strategy at all.

And sadly, most artists will fail online. It’s sad but true, 97% of all online art businesses will
fail in their first year.

So let’s take a look at each of these choices and see which is the best, which will give you your best chance to succeed online.

Group Art Sites

There are many, many group art sites online. In fact, there are too many for me to list here. But you probably know most of the major ones, sites like Etsy, eBay, Art in America Mall, and Absolute Arts.

Many artists flock to these group sites hoping to strike it rich on the internet. They think that the huge traffic that comes to these sites every day will translate into name recognition and sales for them. But sadly, this is rarely the case. In fact, group art sites are the worst place to grow your online art business.

Why I don’t Like Group Art Sites.
There are 2 reasons I don’t like or recommend group art sites.

The first and foremost reason is that you are digital sharecropping. What is digital sharecropping? It simply means that you are building your online art business on somebody else’s land. This is never a good long-term strategy.

Think about it for a minute. When you build your hard-earned art business on somebody’s else’s land in Cyberspace, you are setting yourself up for all kinds of problems in the long haul. These sites can and often do change the rules. Lots of times these frequent rule changes play havoc with your business.

You are not master of your own universe because somebody else is making the business rules.

Your business is at the mercy of someone you don’t even know.

Also, these sites can go out of business or become extinct overnight. Remember MySpace?

If they become extinct or less popular, you will too. Never tie yourself to the fate of another business.

The second reason is that it makes you look like a commodity. The last thing you want to be when you are an artist is a commodity. Commodities often sell for the lowest prices.

This is the sad truth about group sites: everybody looks the same and so the sell goes to the lowest price. Pricing on these group art sites always spirals downward as artists try to compete for the next sale. Anybody can lower their prices and go out of business. Live by the low price, die by the low price.

Personal Art Website

Personal art websites are better than group art sites but they are not the best choice. Why?

Personal websites, also known as static websites, are just that, they are static. They usually just have a few pages that do not change very much or very often.

Because your site is static, first-time visitors don’t have much of a reason to return or keep coming back. They see it all on the first visit and then click away never to return. And they forget about you very, very quickly.

It’s very difficult to make a static website interesting enough to keep visitors coming back.

Search engines, especially Google, are not that crazy about static websites and so they often don’t get indexed well.

This means fewer visitors to your site over time.

Art Blog
An art blog is the best way to promote your art and art brand online. Why?

An art blog lets you be master of your own universe. When you have an art blog with your own dot com address, no one can tell you what to do or what not to do? You make all your own rules.

This is the best long-term strategy for growing your art business.

Also, an art blog allows you to create fresh, quality content on a regular basis. Fresh, quality content means readers will keep coming back for more. And search engines love fresh, original, quality content.

An art blog that provides this will automatically keep moving up in the search engine index ratings. This means more daily traffic to your art blog, not only from organic search traffic, but from returning readers who want to learn more from you.

Hands down, the best direction you can take to grow your online art business is an art blog. For my money, nothing better will give you that leading edge and put you in that 3% of artists who willfinally share the big money pie online.

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