Used to be, you would build a shop, fill it with art, and the people would come. Not anymore
The world of commerce and of buying art is very different from back in the day. We are no longer limited to our small location and locally known artists. An artist is competing with a much larger market these days. Not only do we compete with local and international artists, we even compete with forgers who undersell the real artists with their cheap knockoffs.
So how can you possibly stand apart?
With a blog of course! If you sell art online, then it should seem natural to compliment your online shop with an online blog. I’m talking about an Etsy, Artfire, or even self-hosted shop.
So you wonder, how can ‘wasting’ a few hours writing blog posts possibly help your shop? I have thought of just a few good reasons, and would love to hear any additional ones in the comments below
1 – The Total Buyer Experience
If a customer walks in shop they won’t necessarily purchase artwork right away. They will likely browse your selection, and maybe even pick up a few pieces for closer examination. Assuming you are the gracious host, they will communicate with you about your art and process, and maybe even about topics that are unrelated to your shop but rather family and life in general. In this communication you have a unique opportunity to show them who YOU are, as an artist, and as a person. When they finally decide to make a purchase they are buying YOUR art after having come to know you on a somewhat personal level.
A blog replicates this experience for the potential customer. If your customer browses your online shop, all they see are photos, hopefully good photos, but still not quite the personal experience. They don’t always know or understand the work that went into the artwork, the passion of the artist, or the person behind the multi-letter URL.
If you have a related blog, then you get a chance to post about the topics you may discuss with your customer in a physical setting. You can blog about your passion, your inspirations, and about what drives your art in general. You can blog about your process, give the reader a tour of your shop, and maybe even show a tutorial (unless your process is secret). You can also share your personal stories as you see fit.
2 – Communication with Buyers
A blog provides you with a means to communicate with your buyers. All too often a potential customer will browse the internet and come across your shop or site when not in a buying mood. They will admire your shop, and then they leave.
Perhaps a week or a month later they will think ‘hm… I saw this great handmade candleholder last week, where did I see it again?’ and they typically have NO WAY of coming back and finding your shop.
But if you have a blog, you can provide them with the means of return. The simplest means of inviting return, though least effective, is providing your reader with a means to like your blog, or follow via feedburner or RSS. I say least effective because not many check their RSS, and people tend to delete emails that come from the same sender too frequently.
The more effective and professional means of maintaining contact is via a newsletter styled mailing list, with an obvious and inviting subscribe form located prominently near your header or sidebar. This ensures that your viewer does not miss the opportunity to follow you if they feel so inclined. If they like your work, and know they will not be spammed, they are likely to subscribe.
If you use your email list wisely, you will create and maintain a loyal following over time. With a regular newsletter you will be reminding your fans that yes, you still exist, and yes, they did like your products. After all, they chose to sign up. You give them a gentle nudge and the means to return. Be careful not to spam your list though. Approximately once a month makes for an ideal newsletter mailing time-frame.
3 – Search Results
On the internet, you are no longer ‘THE’ art shop in town. Even on and art site like Etsy or Artfire, there are still many other similar shops. By having a blog filled with well written posts using target keywords and SEO, you give your buyers many ways to find you.
Search engines and ‘spiders’ constantly crawl the internet looking for new content. Perhaps you fill your shop with new items on a regular basis. Perhaps you have your core offerings and rarely add new information. If the ‘spider’ found your shop once, how will they find you again?
If you post new blog material on a weekly basis, then you are constantly ‘feeding’ the spiders. And if they learn that they are fed regularly, they will return regularly. Now when a potential customer types a related term in their search bar, your shop or blog is more likely to show up. Therefor if you keep your posts constant and your content fresh, you will be found on a regular basis
4 - Backlinks
Let’s not forget the importance of backlinks. When people click outside links to find your shop, you get backlinks. Increased legitimate backlinks helps increase your shop ranking in search engines, which then increases the visits to your shop. Backlinks help your shop get ‘ranked’ and getting ranked is a sign that your shop is ‘worth’ being found via searches.
When viewers read your blog and click on links back to your shop, you not only get a valuable backlink, but you also get a viewer who is entering your shop with a much higher interest rate. After all, if they found a specific item in your shop by following a blog link, they are looking to see that particular item, and thus more likely to purchase.
Backlinks don’t have to come only from item posts. You can discuss anything relevant in your blog, and then grab the reader’s attention with a quick conclusion such as ‘view related items in my shop’ that links to your shop. You can also have a well-placed widget, or perhaps your most popular item listings in the sidebar to get your readers attention.
And last but not least, you can have backlinks from OTHER blogs. You can agree to feature a fellow shop owner’s link on your sidebar, and they will feature your shop/blog on their sidebar. This is especially true for the Promotional Frenzy Team. Check out the sidebar to the left of this post and you will notice that we have a list of shop links for all the members of our team.
5 – Item Exposure
This is something to consider if you are feeling super adventurous. Every blog gives you the option to add a ‘page’. These are useful for about pages and sales pages, but have you thought of gallery pages?
You’ve caught your reader’s interest, great! Now make them realize that they really do want to see more. You can create a gallery page on your blog where you showcase anywhere from 5 to 20 of your best or in-season shop offerings, where each item links directly to the purchase page for the item.
If a viewer is interested enough to read your blog, view your gallery, and click your item link, they are likely interested in purchasing your item. And you have just made the entire experience a lot more personable and enjoyable for them.
Perhaps in a future post I can even show you how to create this gallery (leave a comment if interested)
But for now, I just want to leave you with this notion: We are artists, but we are also business owners. Sometimes you have to think outside the box, or shop. And if a blog helps facilitate your dreams as an artist, how can you say no?