Artist Website Strategies: Are You Making this Major Mistake?

by Carolyn Edlund

Visit almost any artist website, and you will see common mistakes that can easily be fixed. One of the biggest errors is failing to give enough information to your website visitors.


Questions and Answers


You’d like to sell some of your artwork online, and attract customers through your website. Perhaps you are struggling with this becoming a reality.

The truth is that customers who are confused won’t buy. And customers who are uncomfortable won’t buy. Therefore, if you want to encourage sales, you have to alleviate that situation for visitors to your art website. They will expect you to be forthcoming with clear information that addresses what they care about; this is a part of good customer service. Your customers need answers that relate to their experience. How can they easily make a purchase? What is the process and how it will affect them?

If you are selling artwork from your website, I suggest that you have prices visible, because lack of pricing is one of the biggest barriers to making online sales. But even if you do have prices listed, and a shopping cart available, that is not enough information.

Buyers have quite a few concerns when considering an artwork purchase. Here are a few of them:

  • How is the artwork shipped?
  • Will it come framed? Do I get to choose the frame?
  • How soon will I receive it?
  • What are the shipping costs?
  • Is the work insured? What do I do in case of damage?
  • Do you have a guarantee or return policy?
  • Does the item come with a Certificate of Authenticity?
  • How is it maintained or cleaned?

Answers to these questions and more should be easy to find, right on your website. Do you have an FAQ page on your site? Or do you have this type of critical information on another page that helps guide customers through the buying process?

Making yourself accessible

Of course, customers may have other questions that you cannot foresee, or they may just want to talk with you as the artist to understand your work better. Which leads to another major error that artists make on their website . . . they do not share their contact information. This information should be readily available on your website without them having to search for it. Put your email address and phone number in the header of your website, if possible. It’s that important.

Why do I suggest giving your email address and phone number to invite contact from your customers? Because they are more personal, and immediate ways of getting in touch.

I’ve seen website contact forms where the visitor is expected to fill in their email address and a question, and hit “submit.” I don’t like those forms, and here’s why: they put the artist firmly in control of any communication, rather than the customer. If your prospect needs information right away, it doesn’t work well. And it seems quite impersonal. It’s easy to imagine the message being lost or ignored.

If someone was considering a purchase of your artwork, and had a question, perhaps about drop-shipping as a gift, or how soon they could receive it, would you be willing to take a phone call about it? I’m betting the answer is “yes.” Why not make it simple for that type of communication to happen?

Companies who sell goods or services make it very easy for customers to get in touch; if you would like to sell, you should do that, too. It’s part of good customer service, which is expected these days. Offer as much information as possible to cultivate informed, comfortable buyers for your artwork.



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  1. Oops…well, there’s nothing like an easy fix! Thanks for your good work, ArtsyShark.

  2. My website has a formal contact page because people expect it to have one…

    But on every page there is a direct link straight to an email…

    • Phil, in that case you have given the email address where people can reach you separately, and that is sufficient information. The Artsy Shark website has the same. But have you ever filled out a contact form where there is no other way to reach the person? And felt that you have no idea whether you would ever hear back?

  3. A do over reply!!!!!! I am redoing my website because I was tired of having someone else do it for me…Want to be able to make changes and updates whenever I need to. I was just talking to my friend about whether or not to put the prices on the work.. I am glad that you addressed it…I tend to agree with you…

  4. In the four years that my website has been up and changing and mutating I have NEVER sold anything from the site, but it gets a steady stream of hits averaging five minutes or so and ten to twenty pages. So in 2013 I removed the ‘cart’ and prices, only showing the art from my heart. ALL of my art work sales have come from face to face exchanges with folks who had either visited the the website and then visited personally because they liked what they saw, or stumbled upon me at an art venue.
    I receive comments and praise from the ‘contact page’ but no inquires about product, shipping or any overt interest to purchase. The website has helped sales locally, not nationally or internationally. Analytics show that there are national and world wide views, I can only figure that my work is too narrow in scope to appeal to very many people.
    I will take your suggestion and place my telephone number in view … we will see. Thank you

    • Norman, you may find this article interesting; it is a guest post from Chris Maynard. The important thing that he does is give a range of prices for his work and invites visitors to contact him or get on his email list. It often takes more than one contact to sell, which is the purpose of showing your work, and then staying in touch.

  5. I just added a FAQ page because of your suggestion…thanks, I totally realized how important all those shipping questions are to have on my website!!!

    • Yes, they are essential! I sometimes ask artists to take a look at a commercial site like Everything they have on their site is for a reason. How many apply to you as well?

  6. Hi, I have a question about what I should do before I open a shopping cart? Do, I need to get a business name with a tax ID number, or separate bank acct. first?
    Thank you for your help,

    • Crystal, As a vendor you should have a retail sales tax license for your state (if they collect sales tax.) Online sales currently do not involve out-of-state sales tax (yet) so you won’t have to worry about that. But you should have your business name and any licenses that your state or city require.


  1. […] complete, and current information. Confused or uninformed shoppers do not buy. They need information that impacts them when deciding whether or not to make the purchase. What are your shipping costs? Is the package […]

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