As an artist or creative professional, having a website or blog that shows off your portfolio is an absolute “must-have” these days.

Where many artists fail, however, is in making sure that their website also has a clear set of actions that they want their customers to take once they get there. In other words, a reason for being, beyond just a place to show your work.

These are called “primary calls to action” (or CTAs) and are the most important steps in your online marketing process. Typically, these are things like: Buttons to click to buy your art, to contact you for a commission, to follow you on Facebook, etc. Basically, actions you want someone to take that result in you making money.

If you want these calls to action to have the most impact, it is also important to make sure that they are optimized for the different types of people who will be going to your website as well, as the different types of actions they will most likely take.

So, who are these people and what do you want them to do?

There are basically 3 different types of people (aka potential customers) who go to your website:

1. Fans:

“The people who love what you do” – Your fans are obviously the people who love your art. They are the people most likely to buy your work, hire you for commissions, pay to go to galleries or conventions, get tattoos of your work or share your work online.

Optimizing for your fans includes:

  • Adding New, Cool Stuff – Making sure that there is a regular supply of new art and interesting content to keep them excited will insure that they stay fans and continue to return. Use your blog!
  • Sell Stuff – Making sure that there is art available for purchase, as well as any other products or services you offer. Provide a shopping cart or simple Paypal or Gumroad buttons to be able to accept credit card payments.
  • Social Media – Making sure that they follow you on social media, join your mailing list and are encouraged to share your work on places like Pinterest. Have big obvious social links, icons and newsletter subscription forms.
  • Contests – Offer contests or giveaways so that your fans are encouraged to engage and have the opportunity to get something special from you.
  • Different Price Points – Have items that are priced for different types of fan income levels: Some smaller inexpensive stuff (e.g. posters, stickers, accessories on Zazzle) as well as some rare, outrageously expensive stuff like one-off prints, autographed copies, etc.

2. Other Artists

“The People who want to do what you do” – The second type of website visitors are other artists. Sure, they can be fans too, since artists check out other artists to be inspired, but more importantly, they want to learn new skills. In addition to selling your art and art services, you should also consider creating products to teach other artists how to do what you do.

There is an old marketing saying that goes:

“During a gold rush, the ones who make the most money are not those who dig, but those who sell the shovels.”

Think of it this way. The digital art market is crowded. Regardless of how good you are, or how original you believe your work to be, chances are there are probably quite a few people out there who are just as good, doing something similar. (aka. the gold miners)

If you draw traditional manga, for example, chances are the competition is fierce and selling your work can be difficult.

Teaching people how to do what you do, however, (selling shovels) is a much more lucrative approach, because there is much less competition and a very high demand. If you have a unique style or technique that people want to desperately learn (and you can bare to part with) you have many more opportunities to make money by teaching people your mad skills.

Personally, I have had a lot of success by doing this. I offer design and marketing courses for a lot of my online businesses and sell them to the people who are looking to jump on my game and learn my skills.  I sell a video course called “How to Make Amazing 3D Pinup Art” and it has been really successful.

I actually make more selling courses than I do selling my art.

Optimizing for other artists includes:

  • Sell Courses – Selling courses (videos, books, ebooks, coaching or appearances) that teach how you do your type of art. People who want to learn certain skills will pay a lot of money for them if they know it will benefit them, have an advantage or they can make more money from it. Courses can sell for $100 to $1000 if there is enough value in them. Sell a monthly membership to courses and you’ve got recurring income!
  • Free Tutorials – Offer free tutorials (blog posts, videos, etc) that discuss how you use certain types of products or software, then refer sales using links to the products where you could earn a percentage of the profit as an affiliate. Creating passive income with affiliate sales is something I will be talking about a lot.
  • Affiliate Program – If you have art that is really popular and sells well, start a your own affiliate program and get other artists to sell your art. For example: you can make pretty decent money having other Zazzle users refer sales to your Zazzle store.

3. Businesses

“The People who want you to help them make more money” – If your art starts to gain popularity, there will eventually be businesses who want to partner with you for promotional opportunities and sponsorships. This is especially apparent in digital art, where there are so many software companies, blogs, magazines, publishers, marketplaces, print on demand platforms and other resources.

If you are open to partnering or affiliating with a business, this can be a great way to get some attention & maybe even get some free stuff! I personally do a lot of business partnerships and it has worked out really well. They don’t always pay but are great promotional opportunities.

Optimizing for business partnerships:

  • Make Your Intentions Know – It is important to make your intentions clear. In your blog sidebar or About Me section, make sure you include a part that makes it clear that you are open to and interested in these types of opportunities.
  • Contacting and Mentioning – If there are certain companies you are interested in working with, you could try contacting them directly. Discuss how you use their products in blog posts or social media. Mentioning them on twitter or facebook is another great idea. This way, you get their attention in a positive way and they can get an idea of how well you might work, should they decide to partner with you.

Tell Them What To do

When optimizing with calls to action, don’t just add buttons and hope that people click them. Use text that instructs people what to do. Use instructive wordage such as: Click Here, Follow me on facebook, Join my mailing list , Fill out the contact box below, etc.

Sometimes people want to do something but they consciously don’t know it. Use instructive wording to put the thoughts into their heads and help them make their decisions.

Connect First, then Sell

One final tip to remember. The internet is so full of distraction that it is becoming harder and harder to be heard and get noticed above the noise. People are so addicted to social media that they rarely have the attention spans to actually click on something, leave the page and go to another website.

Because of this, it is very important to make sure that when you do get someone’s attention and they go to your website, your first priority should be to connect with them. This means to get their email or get them to follow you on social media. By doing so, you always have the ability to contact them again.

My strategy has always been:

Connect first, sell second.

  • Getting people to click your “buy button” is great, but if you don’t have a way to contact them again, you may never sell them something else.
  • Getting people to click your “connect” buttons is better, because you will always have a way to communicate with them and sell them lots of things.

So to summarize, making sure that you understand who is going to your artist blog or website and then optimizing it so that all of these people are provided with a primary call to action, will ensure that your website is working to get the most from your customers.

Wait! Where Are My Calls To Action?

How about: Listen and subscribe to the “Grow Your Digital Business Podcast” and don’t forget to follow me on instagram, facebook and twitter!

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Sean Earley

Sean Earley is an American digital consultant, podcast host, speaker, publisher & music producer. He advises Fortune 500 companies, entrepreneurs and organizations on innovation, new technology, strategy, communications, marketing & design. He is the host of several podcasts and makes regular appearances on international media platforms where he discusses the latest trends in technology, culture, business and politics.