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Call for Artists, Making Money at Juried Art Fairs, Craft Shows and Festivals

How is that website coming? Is it working for you? Does it help promote your business, do you market it, or is it a time suck, or just another job that doesn't get done?

People (even artists) do use their sites to promote their business. You can build that site, there are so many tools and helpers that can get it up and running for very little money. Then it just sits there and doesn't do anything for you! Annoying.

Help is on the way. We can help each other here, looking at each other's sites, but a quick and inexpensive way to get it more operational, better designed, and promote your sales online is available. Expertwebsitereviews.com is run by my son, Scott Fox, an Internet marketing expert. He has worked with me and has given away these reviews in the pledge drive to artists.

It may be time to get that tuneup and get that site working for you. Scott "gets" our business and has great tips for artists.

Curious? Check out fiber artist Candiss Cole's review here: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=IO_G-z67lGY

Ralph Sharp's review: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=EZvnJQLgJnI

Printmaker Lori Biwer-Stewart's review: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=8jmTDCpeFBQ

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I started my website in 2012 and I dumped the first person recommend to me for building it (a real jerk who only understood mass marketing and who bought my original domain name for himself). I did my own research for a local professional in the Denver area. I have been with my guy for 12 years. He visited the studio and has always had a sense of what I wanted to accomplish with my site and art work.

My advice: if you are a professional artist, hire a professional who listens to you.  When I look at sites of other saddle makers and leatherworkers, the homemade ones are usually a real turn off unless the artist is also a computer jock.  The web page is an extension of yourself and your work, and I have always wanted to come across at a high professional level, not as some cowboy saddle maker doing leatherwork in his spare time.   My web page brings in business for custom work year round from the US and around the world.

There are no online sales from the site because most of what I do is one-of-a-kind. However, in the last two or three years posting of works-in- progress on my Facebook page, it has been bringing in more business than the webpage. You can check out my web page at www.sherersaddlesinc.com

Your experience with the "real jerk" reminds me of what Nawal Motawi said about the web designer she spent big bucks with to get her site going, only to have it not meet her needs. You're lucky you found someone who understands your needs and can interpret them. 

Definitely, that's a very nice website, Richard.

I chose to do my website myself after several years of having someone else do it for me. When the other fellow did it, he had great ideas and used the specialty software very well. But when it came time to update the site and make changes, I still had to do most of the work preparing images and text and that's what took most all the time anyway. So why did I need someone else to do an hour or two here and there and who had my site so nicely designed with expensive and complex web development software that I didn't want to learn how to use nor did I want to purchase.

So I got lucky one day, or I feel that I got lucky. I found Fine Art Studio Online, a.k.a. FASO. It was designed by an art gallery owner with artists in mind. I do agree with Richard that a website is an extension of me and my work. If I employed a designer who understands me an my work, that person or team of pros would be able to tailor the look specifically for my personality. But it would also cost quite a little. My first guy did a great job with some graphics and personality matching, but it cost me.

FASO makes it easier and it looks just fine despite it not having too many frills. It's straight forward and shows the work. FASO has well designed templates that the artist can figure out quickly how to use and design. It just makes since to do it yourself in my book. I can tweak and change and edit and amend all day long. I mean even the slightest adjustment can be a problem when an artist employs a webmaster who will make the changes for them.

So my argument is in favor of doing it yourself entirely and have an independent professional website. FASO hosts my domain name that I own for $26 per month. Your site doesn't have to look exactly like mine or other FASO users since you can change the layout and the colors. My wife and I are partners, and that's why we didn't name it after her or after me. Usually artists do best with name recognition by using their own name for their site and by also choosing a dot com rather than a dot org or dot info or other extension. 

Check me out on merglennstudios.com at THIS GREAT WEBSITE LINK.

I used to have to tell people that my website is out of date and make apologies for it since something always needed adjusting. Now I do it all myself whenever I see a need. And that's often. And when someone asks me if I have a website, I tell them, "Yes, I have a great website." WOOHOO!

Very nice Barrie, I like the cats on your home page. 

Both of these are such cool sites. Thanks for the sharing, Richard and Barrie.

What is immediately apparent is how different they are from each other and that is so cool. They reflect the individual's behind them. 

I totally agree Barrie about the freedom you have about doing your own work. You can imagine that with my calendar website a misspelling, a date change, a change of venue does not need a pro to drop in there and fix things. I love doing the sites myself (well, Jacki Bilsborrow does most of it on AFC for me) and being able to fix and update in a few minutes.

One of the reasons I started this discussion was to get people to click on one of those links for artists sites just so artists could see the necessary things that will turn a static "business card" into a true e-commerce site. 

When your site doesn't seem to be working for you instead of putting off getting it to work (you know it really can if you follow the pros suggestions), or ignoring having a site totally, just do it! Then get someone like Scott to come in and show you how to take it to the next level.

What should an artist's website have? Looks like Dick and Barrie have most of it in place, but if you listen to this podcast, Scott talks about the necessary components: the top five things the site should have: http://www.blogtalkradio.com/artfairs/2013/05/23/4th-annual-artfair...

Thanks for the kind words, you two. And thanks for breaking up my long ramble into four distinct paragraphs, Connie! 

I listened to that podcast back in the summer and do remember employing some of the tips from it and then considering the others. I think Scott said something about the home page should have a picture of the artist(s) on it so that viewers can immediately identify with the artist, or something like that. And that a biography page should be more than what I know I have in place on our site.

I'll have to go back and listen again since I'm SO in favor of re-examining all the basics. Everything starts out in a simple way, like 2+2=4. The simple stuff all combines to make everything more complex. Re-examining the basics is fact-checking.

(hope you don't mind that I did that, Barrie. I do it pretty often because frankly this is not like reading a book and I want people to read it!).

Revisiting resources is a solid idea. Usually Scott has so many ideas he makes me dizzy, so I'll implement one or two, and then go back for the others when I'm not so overwhelmed. And just those few things make a difference.

Richard, I went back and looked at your site again. Spent quite a bit of time there. That printable brochure is certainly a nice touch that also shows the gun leather and other goodies besides saddles. I'm sure saddles are the ultimate experience to make and much more fulfilling/actualizing maybe. I didn't find any of the smaller goodies elsewhere on the site or details of your tooling and silversmithing. I tend to show details on my blog rather than website, but on occasion I've posted details on the website for a special reason.

Thanks for taking a look. The smaller stuff is in the shopping section. Actually building a complex case is more rewarding than a saddle with the exception of sewn floral and inlay work on trick saddles.

Yes sir, that's fine work, Richard. Glad you straightened me out on that. Love that custom Colt pistols dual holster with silver and semi-precious stones, and much more besides.

Sometimes I wonder if people see everything on our site in our portfolios, or at least something more than just the page showing the portfolios. Sometimes even with the simplest design, stuff gets overlooked and missed.

I can view the analysis of what visitors are doing on our site, and that info is interesting and telling. How many people come in a day, usually their location in the world, and what pages they are viewing.

I had been considering starting my own thread about what visitors from AFI to my website are viewing. 90 percent of the people who go to my website from AFI only look at the EVENTS CALENDAR and ABOUT US pages. Some get to the ORIGINALS & REPRODUCTIONS page, but seldom look at the work beyond that. Artists from AFI are mostly interested in seeing where I'm going and where I've been since they also access the link on the bottom of the EVENTS CALENDAR page called VIEW ARCHIVE OF PAST EVENTS.

That makes total sense. You are prominent on this site. You have lots of opinions and experience, so the artists go to check you out. Are you legit? Are you really doing those shows? If they are good enough for you maybe they should check them out. I'd guess my visits to member's sites is just about the same. I want to know "about", I want to see what shows they are doing. 

Those pages are crucial for us to "know" you, but they are crucial for your making that connection with your buyer also. Right? 

I consider other's artwork first. Another prominent member on AFI mentioned something about that here when a newbie asked about certain shows. That seasoned pro suggested the person be familiar with someone's art before trusting advice about a show. If you respect the art, their advice about a show might be more meaningful.

My website analytics indicate more AFI'ers look at the EVENTS CALENDAR than those who look at ABOUT US. I think only a handful of AFI'ers have looked at my RESUME page, and that page lists shows and awards from present day to way back when. I think most AFI'ers are merely satisfying curiosity rather than wanting to "know" me.

How can someone check me out by only seeing what shows I'm doing? Seems that would tell them less about me than by seeing the work. AFI members also seldom view my Linkedin page or my blog. I suppose most get their fill of me by seeing the shows I'm doing and those listed in the archive. Since my FASO website is only a few years old, there aren't very many shows archived in the system. But the RESUME shows 'em.

Prints sell from the website, but normally to previous buyers. Original art buyers buy at shows no matter if they are first-time or returning customers. They might see it on the website or in a note card I've sent, but they want to see the actual real thing first.

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