10 Website Mistakes that Kill Your Art Sales

by Carolyn Edlund

Looking to increase sales of your art? Then you are most likely trying to drive traffic to your website. But what happens then?


Lisa Goesling website

Artist Lisa Goesling uses a slider presenting striking images of her art on her Home Page. A photo of the artist and easy navigation make this site a pleasure to visit.


I frequently review artist websites and take a close look at the experience they are providing for their visitors and potential customers. Here are 10 common mistakes that can cause your reader to click away, perhaps never to return:

1. Boring Home page

Although your Home page may not always be the first page that visitors see, it must be structured to make a strong visual statement to draw in the visitor. I always recommend that artists wow their website visitors with incredible photos of their work right up front that creates an irresistible draw to see more. A slider can be used as a dynamic way share a series of pieces from your collection.

2. No visual relief

Is your website full of endless text and long paragraphs? Most people surfing the internet have a relatively short attention span. Be concise and considerate of their time. Break up written content into short paragraphs, leaving lots of negative space, so the reader is not overwhelmed. Otherwise, they may find it easier to click away than to read anything – leaving you and your work behind.

3. Confusing navigation bar

A simple menu on your website is best, taking up no more than one line below the header. If you want to break up your Gallery page into categories for instance, use a drop-down list to organize your images. Clear and concise wording on your navigation bar is best – About, Gallery, Press, Shop, FAQ and so forth, so they know what they are clicking. Don’t make them guess, or they may decide your site is too confusing to bother with. Then, it’s goodbye.

4. Poor images

There is no excuse for using substandard images on your website. This is a real sales killer, making your site look amateurish and sloppy. Blurry photos, poor lighting and glare are unacceptable, and despite how good your skills are, your work will look terrible. Don’t do this. Is your artwork incredible? Share that fact with amazing photographs and plenty of them, including detail shots and in-situ images, too. Your competition has a professional presentation. If you want to compete, you need the same.

5. Content not customer-focused

What interests people most? Themselves. So when your website is full of  “I, me, my” it does not interest them nearly as much as when you address your website visitor, and talk about their needs. Invite them in. Share why your work makes an amazing impact in an office or residential environment. If you want to sell, think like your customer. What do they want to know?

6. Failure to collect email addresses

Are most sales made on the first visit to your site? Nope. And those visitors will probably never come back unless you have a sign-up form on your website to collect their email address and stay in touch with email marketing campaigns. Bring interested prospects back to your site again and again via email marketing to cultivate their business and make the sale when they are ready to buy. Without a sign-up form, you are wasting a tremendous amount of time and energy and leaving all kinds of business on the table.

7. No descriptions or prices

If you don’t describe your artwork adequately, telling about the technique, the materials, the size and more, are people likely to buy that work anyway? Answer: No way. If they have no idea of your prices, are they likely to call you up to find out how much you want for your art so that they can purchase? Answer: Of course not. Are you kidding?

8. No shopping cart

Not all art websites need a shopping cart, because it is highly unlikely that anyone is going to choose a $20,000 painting and click ”Buy.” But if you offer work for sale that is perfect to sell online – like that beautiful necklace perfect for Mom and priced just right, and if Mother’s Day is coming up – you are missing out if you don’t make it super easy for your customer to buy from you. Otherwise, when they do shop online and purchase a gift, it will be from someone else. Someone with a shopping cart.

9. Lack of contact info

Don’t make it hard for a website visitor to get in touch. A simple contact form without your email and phone number seems anonymous and won’t allow the customer to reach you quickly if they have a simple question but are otherwise ready to buy. When that happens, you miss the sale.

10. No FAQ

An informational page on how to buy your work belongs on every artist website, but I seldom see them. A confused customer won’t buy; avoid that problem by providing all the details about becoming a collector of your art. Make sure you let them know about shipping, insurance, guarantees, turnaround times, installation information, special requests, commissioning work, and everything else that applies to your business. This goes a long way to building customer confidence, which is a major factor in saying, “Yes” to the sale.


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  1. Great article, thank you!

  2. I enjoyed your blog and being fairly new to this way of marketing my work I’m going to put some of your 10 website mistakes that Kill Your Art Sales to the test thank you for your energy.
    I will let you know how I get o,n thank you for your energy.
    Peace Size Barnes.

  3. Hi Carolyn,
    As ever an excellent summary of what the business artists’ website should be about. And as you say it must always be regarded as a work in progress.

    I retired my website and myself last year and its now a very personal artists’ website about me and my art.

    Just check your website out on an iPad or similar [make notes of things needing to be changed] and do the same on an iPhone [or other smartphone] with a view to making your website more user friendly.

    Consider the visually impaired black type on white backgrounds is always readable. Nothing flashing and no music!

    • Thanks Phil for the excellent suggestion to view your own site on devices other than your computer. It can be a revelation!

      And yes, no music, no splash page – and no white type on dark backgrounds (a big mistake.) Actually this list could have been a lot longer than ten mistakes!

  4. Excellent article and a good reminder to think more like a consumer when creating a site. After reading #8, I wondered if a link to Etsy in the menu or an Etsy mini in a side bar meets this must-have or do you feel more is needed?

    • Thanks for your comment, Sue. If you want to link through to an Etsy store as your shopping cart, that would certainly qualify as a good way to do some e-commerce! I would suggest you set the link to open in a new window so that the reader doesn’t go off-site, not to return.

      It’s better to use Etsy as your shopping cart and have your own separate website than to use Etsy as your only web presence. Your website is so much more than just a shop!

    • Do not have outgoing links on your website…you won the battle to get the viewer there in the first place.

      Do not encourage them to escape.

      But do put inbound links to your website every time you post something somewhere.

      Always open internal links on your website to open in a new window it keeps them inside your site!

    • Sue,
      Bylocalartists.com is another great and brand new site to increase your visibility! Like Etsy, your customers can purchase directly through our site and you can provide a link back to your own site in your Bylocalartists’ profile. Bylocalartists is also free to sign up and post your art, there is a 3% transaction fee on all transactions. Being integrated with PayPal (PayPal’s fees vary), so your customers can feel secure making payments with a company they fully recognize.
      Best of luck Sue!


      Thank you for all your great advice! Being an artist myself, I am already taking notes. Thank you!

  5. Thank you for a great article! I’ve spotted one or two items that would help improve my website. Very helpful information.

  6. Hi Carolyn,

    Thank you for the great article. I will mark it to refer as a guidance to make sure my website looks visitor-friendly. By the way, I am working on collecting e-mail by adding a newsletter sign up box on my Facebook page, blog etc., as well as adding Hello Bar on my website, but I have not seen much growth on my subscriber list. I am wondering what would be a good Lead Magnet to implement for visual artists… a free download, a discount coupon…. what would you think?

  7. Thanks so much Carolyn! I have taken every one of your suggestions to heart and have completely re-done my website (working on a better online store, next up very soon.) I even started a blog and after reading your great email marketing PDF I am now starting an email list too. I am finally learning that bringing fans to MY site is far preferable than simply going to them (on Facebook for instance.) I have plenty of fans there, but because it’s not my site, I have no control over what they see, or even whether they see my posts. So thanks for the kick in the pants – I appreciate it! 🙂

    • Sarah, I know that your “inbound” marketing efforts will pay off, and as you develop trust and a relationship with your fans, you will be the artist they think of when they are ready to purchase, or recommend you!

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