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5 Essential Ways To Market and Promote Your Photography Portfolio On The Internet
Does the phrase 'art marketing online' scare you!? Perhaps it sounds like pretty much the exact antithesis of everything you enjoy doing as an artist/photographer!? Well don't worry - I truly believe that the internet is a magnificent place for artists and photographers to promote themselves, reach customers and, basically, make money.
There is a lot of advice here on Photography Art Cafe about small business marketing specifically aimed at artists and photographers. In this article I want to introduce you to some basic facts - 5 key areas that you need to get right.
4 Home Truths:
I'll just start by saying that all the 'noise' and talk about internet marketing for online businesses is usually a distraction from a few fundamental home truths:
- It takes time and patience to build up a worthwhile online presence.
- All art/photography marketing is pointless if your main concern is not to attract people/traffic to your online presence. No traffic = no business.
- To get people to see your work on the web (or to put it another way, to get traffic) you need to be prepared to create 'content' of some form.
- Just a small amount of knowledge about small business online marketing will put you ahead of much of your competition. You really don't need a PhD!
1. Do the 'Website Thing'...Properly!
Often enthusiasm at getting a website up and running for the first time can lead to a fatal lack of planning. It is exciting! But postpone the satisfaction of seeing your website 'live' for a little while, and you won't end up the only person who does actually ever see it!
Of the many millions of websites out there, only a relatively small proportion get respectable visitor numbers. The rest? Sadly they sit there in a lonely corner of the web, never quite getting off the ground. But it's not sad for you - because that's your competition!
I first began understanding how the world of online business works when I started reading the educational resources provided by 'Site Build It!'. 'SBI!' is a full blown online business building toolkit for 'the rest of us'. I used it to build Photography Art Cafe.
It makes things easy to understand for everyone. Check out these success stories to see how people have used SBI! to conquer the web from home and free themselves from their day jobs (starting with no knowledge)!
Essentially, what you'll learn pretty quickly through SBI! is that any website needs to have some content on it to attract traffic. Content is king! Without it the search engines, like Google, will find it hard to notice you and won't be able to tell searchers to visit you.
Creating content is fun! It will likely be about something you're passionate about, will dispose visitors well towards you and will be beneficial for the search engines!
You don't have to be Hemingway! Just write about you and your art. Perhaps offer tips, do some brief interviews with other artists/photographers or set up a blog. It might seem odd at first. But you'll start to enjoy it and it will bring people to your site who you can then direct to enquiry forms/order pages.
Another important thing to work on is one-way links. These are links to your site from other websites, to whom your site does not link. It's a vote of confidence that tells search engines your site is valued by someone.
To get the ball rolling you can 'build' a few links your self: URL signatures in forums, answers in Q&A sites, guest articles on other sites with a link back to yours. Do this a bit to begin with as a momentum builder. Then just start contacting other artists and website owners, politely letting them know about you and your site. Links will come naturally in the end, as people want to share your awesome content.
The 2 most important things about links to your site are: They should only be from high quality websites and from websites of high relevance to your own (art/photography based). I won't go into anymore depth about building a site here. But here are 5 other articles on Photography Art Cafe that will really help you out when it comes to creating a website:
- How to Create a Successful Website using SBI!
- Photography Website Templates from Squarespace
- How to Increase Web Traffic: 12 Top Tips
- 5 Small Business Online Marketing Slip-Ups
- Top Tips For An Online Photography Business Plan
Give yourself a big headstart selling stock photos by learning from a seasoned pro!
Social Networking...Don't Be Shy About Business
Everyone bangs on about social networking all the time. It's easy to block it out as a constant white noise and wonder whether you're really missing anything very much. Unfortunately (I'm by no means a born social networker!)...you are!
Facebook, in particular, only seems to be getting bigger and more important for photographers. It's responding more and more to the huge potential that businesses - from limited companies to individual artists - have long seen in it.
Set up a Facebook Page (as opposed to a personal timeline). This is a fan page for your business. People can 'Like' your page, comment on posts, share posts or contact you directly. All of this activity spreads, via their own timeline, to their contacts. The growth becomes exponential.
You can encourage this process by going out and chatting / 'liking' / generally interacting on Facebook as your Page. Plus you can, and should, promote your Facebook page on your website itself, to develop the social side of things and potentially create viral growth.
What's more, the popularity of Facebook pages - directly connected with associated websites - is becoming more important to search engine rankings. So, like it or not, Facebook really is mega-important for art marketing online. On which note, check out my page here!
Create a Top Notch 'About' Page (Build Trust)
I think the 'About' page of an artist or photographer's website is really important. It's an opportunity for visitors to 'meet' you, get know you and, hopefully, trust you enough to think about making a purchase. So this is an important part of art marketing online.
Trust is a huge part small business online marketing. Most people will come to your site having never heard of you before. There are large, established, trustworthy places online to view and buy artwork and photography. Why risk parting money with a small individual's site?
Show people that you are credible. Having plenty of content elsewhere on your site is an important part of this. But the 'About' page is especially crucial. It's often one of my first ports of call whenever I discover a new website.
I recommend dividing your About page into 3 sections:
- An informal, friendly section about you and your website.
- A professional CV - if you're a full time artist - written in the 3rd person.
- An artist's statement, written in the 1st person.
In this DPS guide, professional photographers and magazine photo editors walk you through how to publish and sell pictures. It's 91 pages of hard-earned knowledge and advice.
Protect Your Work From Copyright Abuse
I'm sure you're more than familiar with this issue. But nevertheless, it is something that seems to put people off art marketing online. The web is seen as a place where plagiarism and theft of all varieties is rife.
This isn't true, but you do need to take measures to protect yourself. A few simple things will ensure you don't fall victim to the small minority of people out there who have no respect for other people's work.
- Register your portfolio with your national copyright service. No doubt you have already done this. But when showing work online be sure to specify the website on your copyright certificate. Indeed, you should register your entire website, including written content, with a copyright service.
- Add a logo/watermark to images displayed in online galleries. Strike a balance between something that prevents images from being usable, but still allows them to be viewed clearly.
- Include a credit line next to images. Give your name as the creator, title of the image and size of the piece.
- Use password protected galleries if you're really eager to keep your work safe. But remember, the value of the internet is that it puts you in connection with huge numbers of people, so don’t be too guarded!
Explore A Range of Outlets
In addition to your own personal website, it can be worth distributing your work through a small range of other online outlets. There are a number of really good services that host galleries by thousands of artists, which are entirely customized. One of my personal favourites is RedBubble.
( RedBubble screenshot )
You simply upload full sized digital images to a gallery, which takes minutes to create, and set the prices for a range of sizes of prints. You can select the style and appearance of your galleries from pre-set options.
So what do you have to do when people order prints? Nothing! That's right, all the back end stuff of printing, shipping and dealing with possible returns is done by the host website.
As a result your profit is slashed a fair bit, but it's still a great way to make more sales. The same rules of all art marketing online apply to these galleries. You should promote them independently, through linking to them and so on.
For photographers, stock photo websites represent another great way to diversify. Here are my guides to using them:
- Stock Photo Websites - Introduction
- How to Sell Stock Photography Like a Pro
- 12 Quick Tips for Selling Stock Photos
Plus here is an article on using sites like Redbubble and Smugmug for art marketing online:
I'm really keen to tell you about the resource I've used to create and promote Photography Art Cafe.
Site Build It! contains all the info and tools you'll need for effective art marketing online.