Video 2: website traffic

You can’t sell your art without awareness and desire

First of all, thank-you so much for the feedback around the last video, it’s all getting terribly exciting, but we’re not done yet.

In this video we are going to work out how to get some website traffic.

When people come for an SEO service, they want to be higher in search, and they want more people to visit their website .. that’s what we call traffic, the number of website visitors in a month or a year or whatever.

The truth is, you need website visitors, but quantity isn’t it, it’s quality you need.

The amazing, beautiful thing about that is, that’s what Google wants too. Remember Google wants to send you the visitors that you can satisfy. So you get sales from SEO by making buyers happy. You see how circular this whole thing is? Nothing much to do with tech, it’s all lovely human stuff.

There’s a small problem in that I don’t really want to talk about visitor quality until the next video. This video is about traffic. But, you know, we’ll just get through this together. It’ll be fine.

So, if you remember, in the last video we did the groundwork and saw our buyers as people on their own journey from pain to pleasure, and we worked out how we can help them on their way. Genuinely, it’s the most beautiful thing.

Thinking that way increases demand for your art, and it adds value (so you can put your prices up). Your buyers are in networks of people with the same issue, so if you can help, word will get around. See how that works? People passing around your name, that turns into traffic.

And galleries and the press will be interested in your story because you’re not just A N Other artist, you’ve done the work to be relevant, and galleries know they can get new people through their doors with your story. The press, they will love being able to talk about some common issue people have that we can alleviate with art.

I’ve been a marketer for four decades, but it was really when I came to Scarborough and met lots of local artists and musicians, and through them got to publicise the local arts festival Coastival, and Musicport music festival in Whitby, that I really took on board how much we need the arts.

Society needs the arts so much now.

An artist friend said they wanted “to be discovered”, and I guess that’s not an unusual dream. Perhaps it happened once to someone, but from my viewpoint, it doesn’t just happen. We need to engineer being discovered.

It’s not going to happen unless people are coming to your website. With zero traffic, you’re invisible.

OK, first principle: your website should be your grand central station, everything leads to it. It’s at the centre of everything. 

Just to clarify, website traffic, that’s the number of people who visit your website, wherever they come from, and whatever it is they want.

Step one is to look at how your website did over the last 12 months.

Normally, you would use Google Analytics to show you. I’m building a course on that so I’m just going to have to assume at this point that you have access to your Analytics.

I asked an artist friend to tell me their figures and like an absolute star, they actually did. 1,524 website visitors last year. 

Alright, so how many sales? £5,000 they said.

That’s really great, so that’s £3.28 for every visitor, that’s amazing. So if we double the traffic  to around 3,000 visitors, they’ll sell £10,000 of paintings.


We’ll dig in to why, later, but those figures are a great starting point.

There are two big ideas we need to grapple with. The first is buying stages.

There are probably lots of people out there who are your perfect prospects, but they’ve never heard of you.

So we have to grab their attention somehow.

There’s no point talking about you, they don’t care. You’re going to have to meet them halfway, if not further, and coax them in.

There’s an artist on this list who says they are all about bringing joy through art, and their target is homes, schools and hospitals. And their art is definitely cheery.

For simplicity, let’s pick schools, and let’s assume that it’s the head teacher who will decide on buying art. 

What a head teacher interested in? Education. Looking good to prospective parents. The effect of the environment on learning. Budgets. Staffing. Government policy.

Attracting head teachers who have never heard of us is basically a content marketing problem. What can we say that they would be interested in? In what form are we most comfortable? Writing, video, podcasts, being interviewed? And where can we find these head teachers? Where do they hang out?

At this point it’s very much worth taking a moment to gather our information because we probably know a whole lot about the effect our paintings might have in the school environment. What is obvious to us needs to be said because it may not be obvious to our school head teacher who has a zillion other things to think about.

So there we are, we have to create something that spends 90% of its time talking about the issues the head teacher is facing and how what we do helps to solve them.

Don’t be scared. I’m not saying we have to write an article a week or record daily videos or start a newsletter or anything like that. The best strategy is actually to create the very best and most persuasive piece of work you can, and push that and only that. Maybe wait a year before doing something else, assuming you’re financially stable. If not, yeah, do more.

You can take the one big-deal, best-of article that you publish on your website, and make lesser versions for different social media, with a link back to your website.

The buying process at this stage is: 

So now you have some followers, a growing email list and perhaps even a sale or two. And your website traffic is up. Great job.

The people who aren’t quite convinced, who ‘only’ followed you on social media, we want to sell them on joining your mailing list. So you’ll post half stories and temptations on social media with the answer, the full story, in a link on your website with a ‘join my mailing list’ link at the bottom. That’s traffic from social media.

Inside your mailing list you can offer preview invitations, closer, more friendly interactions and so on. Most of which includes links to pages on your website. More traffic.

So you see by the time they come to your exhibition, you’ve already sold them on reading your article, you’ve sold them on following you, you’ve sold them on joining your mailing list, and you’ve sold them on coming to your exhibition, so they are very much pre-sold.

The second big idea is that you should be able to discover / design / develop a marketing routine that is simple, easy to manage, and brings you all the sales you want. And so far it might sound like a lot of work. But really all I’ve asked is for you to write one good article or record one good video that addresses your prospect’s need.

Here’s where we can save some time.

Bearing in mind what we’ve just said about buying stages, it should be possible to look at your Analytics report and see where your traffic is coming from.

There are broad categories: social media, search, paid ads and so on. But you should be able to dig down and see which social media service, and which search engine, and even which search terms and which ads.

Being careful not to cut through your sales pipeline, you may be able to spot where you are working hard, for instance posting to Pinterest, and it’s not coming through for you. So perhaps you can stop doing that. (I really like Pinterest, I don’t mean to diss it .. but .. I like it in principle, I don’t actually use it.)

Let’s come back to my artist friend and their £5,000 of sales .. most of those sales, it turns out came from word of mouth recommendations, from social media, there was a repeat purchase from someone who last purchased over a decade ago, and a regular buyer who bought three paintings.

Actually only £775 were new sales that came through the website completely out of the blue. 

So .. two things. The value of a brand new website visitor is more like about 50p each, which is still OK.

And of course, here we see the value of relationships and repeat custom. The brand new website visitor is worth 50p in the here and now, but if we stay in touch and build that relationship, a percentage of them will turn into those life-giving ongoing fans. (Actually, don’t tell anyone, but if we get enough of those on our list, we won’t need new website visitors any more. I talk more about that on the SEO course, too.)

As I said, the next video is about conversion, which is really how we know which traffic source is best. At this stage, I just want to make the point that traffic is great, but not any old traffic. You really just need a handful of those head teachers to be persuaded by your article and to get in touch. The rest is just noise.

The time-saving part of this is .. you can push out your art as much as you like. Timelapse how you made it. Lovely. But actually, it may not be worth it.

Look at what you do from your prospect’s point of view, and talk about how you can help them achieve what they want .. that’s the business.

Talk to anyone about themselves and you are most of the way home.

You need to get in front of the right people with something persuasive and meaningful to them.

(Just in case you need some inspiration, The Arts Dividend by Darren Henley might help you look at things from different angles.)

Now I do see a problem with this. I think we established in the last video that I’m not a football fan, and as I occasionally pass into a room at the in-laws and there’s a footballer trying to explain on TV what he just did on the pitch, I’m like .. this is like trying to ask Gordon Ramsay to sing food. It’s translation. The reason this guy is a footballer is because he’s does amazing physical things with a football. He’s probably a little less amazing with words. I think we should have poets play football just so we can enjoy the after match banter.

So I get that you’ve chosen your art as your means of expression. And I get that recording a video or a podcast or writing an article may not be comfortable or easy for you. But I have been very surprised that by and large artists are multitalented and disciplined and amazing, you do after all have to write funding pitches and so on. I would just say find a comfortable way to do it. Get interviewed by a friend if that works. Or record it as cheesy prompt cards.

And I still hear you saying “But .. the effffffoooooorrrttttt. It’s like homewoooooork.”

Yes, it is. Work is work. But that’s also a great thing. Because you know how many other artists will do this? It’s rare. So that puts you in front.

Also, I just saved you a load of marketing time by helping you work out which things are not worth doing.

To recap: what you need is not traffic, but quality traffic. Yes you need website visitors but not just anyone from anywhere..

I’m going to do another video where we look at how to improve your conversion, that is .. can we have a higher percentage of your website visitors do the things you want. For instance, if each visitor was worth 50p last year, what if we can make them worth £1 this year?

And remember that it’s compound. If you increase your traffic AND increase your conversion, that can make a huge, huge difference to how relaxed and confident you are to progress your art.

Let me know what you think, ask any questions you like either in a comment below or email me at and .. I’ll see you in the next video where we’ll look at the final piece of the puzzle, which is .. how to turn website visitors into online art buyers.

See you then.

Take care, sell art 🙂

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