You’ve set up your site. It looks great.
But nobody is visiting.
It’s like you organised a dinner party, cooked your best dish, got all dressed up…
And no-one turned up.
There are a few reasons why. But all of them boil down to the same thing, pretty much:
You’ve made your website all about you.
You’ve posted pictures of your best pieces. You’ve talked a bit about yourself and maybe a little about what your work means to you. You’ve listed the exhibitions you’ve been in maybe.
After all, it’s your website! Of course it’s about you!
But it’s a mistake.
It’s the biggest and most common mistake I see on people’s websites – especially art websites.
Unless you’re already famous, why should anyone care?
If you want to get some visitors and have a thriving website with an engaged audience – and who doesn’t – then you’ll need to change how you think about your website.
You need to make it about them.
The two stages of building a thriving site
First, you need to change your mindset.
Second, you need to completely repurpose your website.
Let me explain:
Stage 1: Make it all about them
The “them” in this case is your visitors.
Nine times out of ten, this will be at the root of the problem, the reason why you don’t have many visitors, and why the ones who do come slide off your site like it was a frozen puddle.
Try this little exercise: go to each page on your website, even to each paragraph you’ve written on there – even each sentence – and ask yourself this question:
This artist is interested in painting plein air and catching the effects of light.
This artist has been in these exhibitions and won this award.
Do you see what I’m getting at?
That stuff is meaningful for you but not particularly for a visitor to your site.
If you can’t come up with an immediate and very good reason as to why it should matter to someone else, if there isn’t something useful there for a visitor to take away with them, it’s time to start taking a different approach.
I know, it’s harsh.
But just asking that question from the point of view of a visitor is very effective way to start to change how you look at your website.
Make it about them.
Stage 2: turn visitors into relationships
The whole point of your website is to enable you to create relationships with people.
Real, meaningful ones.
And the best way to do that is to offer something interesting or useful, in return for their email address.
You’re probably getting this wrong
What most people do is have a semi-hidden link or half-buried form in the side bar that says something like “sign up for updates”, or just “Subscribe”.
The point here is that if you want the opportunity to get to know someone who visits your site on a more meaningful level, you need to offer them something that means something to them.
What this might be can vary widely.
This is how to get it more right
Here, on my site, I offer a free mini-course on colour.
I’ve put a lot of work into it and I hope it contains something genuinely useful to the people who sign up for it.
Because if someone gives me their email address in return for learning something useful about colour that will actually help them when they’re at the easel, that’s an opportunity for me to get to know them better.
To begin to develop what I hope will be a more meaningful relationship, over time.
I’ve tried very hard to make this site about you.
Ok. But how do I Get Visitors in the first place?
I’m glad you asked.
I’m not being flippant, I really am glad you asked!
Because that’s something I’ve specialised in for a number of years as a day job. It wasn’t a day job I liked much, in fact I often hated it.
But I learned some very useful skills that I can share with you so that you can start to get people visiting your site.
It’s too much for me to go into today, I wanted to give you an overview here and to introduce the biggest shift in mindset that most people have to make if they want to get their sites working as they’re supposed to.
That’s enough to be going on with for now, because it has far reaching consequences.
What I will do now is give you a quick overview of where your visitors will come from.
The Three Sources of Visitors
- Search Engine Optimisation. Does your site show up on Google if you search for your name? If it doesn’t, I bet I know why!
- Social media: For me this is mostly Facebook and Instagram. This can be a great source of visitors because although Google will likely send you more visitors, people who come to your site from your social media feeds already know who you are.
- Other websites. If another site links to yours, some of its readers will follow the link. Whilst this will probably be the smallest source of visitors for you, they come with a personal recommendation from someone who runs another site that they read – that’s pretty powerful!
Over the next few weeks, I’m going to publish a series of posts here, one about each of those three sources of visitors and how to attract them.
I’ll also cover how you can make visitors into relationships.
But for now, start to think about this:
What can you share?
Everything comes back to this. Make it about them.
Yesterday I opened the doors to a new program I’ve set up to help artists work towards making some or all of their income online.
It’s what I do and something I have a lot of background in.
Threads is an online community with training on growing an audience online and developing your painting skills, and is delivered by private live stream with new topics every month.
The community part is a monthly video meet up for members, and a private facebook group where you can get feedback and support.
It exists to help you live a more meaningful life as an independent artist by making your living online.
Best wishes, and thanks for reading,