Anatomy of a Dynamic Website

By Carolyn Edlund

How important is your website? If you’re an artist trying to make a living from your work, it’s essential to have an online presence that will attract visitors and convert them into customers.

 

Susi D Website Front Page

 

How do you present work effectively and professionally, and take advantage of every opportunity to make sales? I recently spoke with jeweler Susan DelVecchio of Susi D Jewelry after being impressed by a visit to her website. It’s uncluttered, user friendly, and has numerous elements that make it easy to become her customer.

What makes her site exceptional? It has many features that work hard to create business.  Here are ten that you may want to consider when building your own website:

  1. A clean, clear background and use of professionally shot images
  2. A shopping cart (this is a must)
  3. An “About” page that has a photo of Susi and tells her story
  4. Five different “capture” pages. These invite the visitor to enter their email address, and do so to receive coupons, list their name on a  birthday page, participate in a bridal registry for bride, bridal registry for shopper, and guest book
  5. Easy-to-order gift certificates
  6. Testimonial page for raving fans to give feedback
  7. Wholesale page (password protected) for retailers
  8. “Track My Order” page. This helps instill confidence in customers, knowing that they have some control in the ordering process
  9. FAQ page, with definitions of her materials and info about ordering
  10. Search Features – with three ways to search – by stone, color or collection. Pages for bracelets, earring and necklaces also make it easy to view just what you want to see

 

Connection Collection, Susi D Jewelry. See how she put together an effective website at www.ArtsyShark.com

 

This is just the beginning of Susi’s efforts to grow her business and cultivate many return customers. She uses that email list for marketing by sending out newsletters and promotional messages. While we were speaking, she checked the analytics on her last email blast, which revealed that 967 recipients had opened her newsletter.

Susi has also tied a very personal and passionate cause into her marketing efforts. As a cancer survivor, she designed a “Connection Collection” offering a personalized message on a card which accompanies a charm or necklace gift. Twenty percent of the purchase price is donated to the Starlight Foundation charity. The foundation promotes her jewelry as a part of their agreement, creating a win/win relationship. Susan’s battle with cancer is presented as an upbeat story, with photos, giving an authentic feel to her experience. Every Connection Collection customer can feel good about their purchase.

Speaking of publicity, Susi has hired a publicist who is always searching for opportunities to spread the word. Her work has been featured in regional publications and magazines. She also has a Facebook page and invites you to visit and become a fan. Susi states that she spends about 20% of her time making jewelry and 80% of her time marketing and selling.

Growing up in East Germany before the wall came down, Susi didn’t “discover” great jewelry until she moved to the U.S. Her background is in hotel management, not crafts, but she fell in love with the creative process and decided to go into business for herself.

Originally Susi had an Etsy shop, but upgraded to her own site and domain name a few years ago. She gave it a professional appearance, stating that she did not want “handmade jewelry” written all over it. Why? Susi explains that some sites which provide templates for artists and craftspeople are limiting and often don’t do justice to the products. She wanted features that would provide an appealing shopping experience and make it easy to buy.  Currently, her website is in it’s third incarnation, and she has hired a web developer who works on it as she no longer has time to devote to this task.

 

 

What’s next?  Susi is planning a high-end jewelry line which will be available to wholesale buyers only. She hopes to connect with the wholesale market on a larger level, do trade shows, possibly hire sales reps and will be developing a second website for this endeavor. Susi describes her perfect job as working on the “Connection Collection” exclusively, supporting cancer causes with all of her handmade jewelry.

Here are her recommendations to create your own successful art or crafts business website that delivers and grows:

  • It’s important for beginners to price their work properly. Undercutting the market on prices only brings everyone’s profits down and devalues the artist.
  • Hang in there – this is huge. Don’t give up. Keep pursuing your dream.
  • Seek out a mentor who is doing what you want to do and ask for their input and support.
  • Search for ways to create more value for your customer. Create an experience that keeps them coming back.

 

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Comments

  1. Thank you, for sharing this great article.
    There are lots of good tips here and it covers all of the most important aspects of designing a good arts and/or crafts business website.
    I have only one thing to add; not only should a website be designed to be user friendly, it should also be designed to be search engine friendly. Having a great site won’t help you, if no one visits it.

  2. I think it’s also important to watch those testimonials. Too many “raving” good testimonials come off as suspect. It’s really brilliant to include negative testimonials that have been made right. This reflects psychologically to how well customer relations practices are managed and problems solved. Far more effective than the standard glowing review.

  3. @Jason: I agree that is one area I still have to work on, so far I am driving all the traffic to my site. Website optimization is one of my big goals for 2011.

    @Terri: That is a great tip. I just finished working with a costumer, where I had to exchange the stones because the color was not the right shade of red. I will contact her and see if she can write a testimonial.

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