Yvonne Branchflower's Art Blog

How to Make Your Home Page Stickier


"Autumn Patterns" 5x7 oil painting

A few months ago I decided my home page bounce rate was too high.  Google analytics showed my home page bounce rate routinely above 65%.  One month it was 77%.  This is the page the majority of visitors first land on—and I was losing them.  I did an on-line search and found many articles that helped me recognize strengths and weaknesses on my home page, and with a few modifications, lowered the home page bounce rate over 10%.  You will want to do your own research, but these tips will get you started:

Heading or Title

As an artist, your name is your brand.  It should come first, followed by a summary of what you do.  Example:  Yvonne Branchflower, oil paintings.  It should be big enough to see easily, but should not dominate your work.  (Using “artist” is too general, in my opinion.)

Subheading

This should concisely summarize the second most important facts about your work.  Example:  Small Landscape Paintings of Oregon and California.  People use search terms like these—and find me.  It may seem redundant to use “paintings” in both header and subheader, but when I used an abbreviated subheading of “Small Landscapes: Oregon and California” a search turned up lots of landscape gardeners.

Image

Changing or not changing the image is a personal choice.  I change mine every 2-4 weeks.

Call to Action

I really got hung up on this.  It is just not cool to shout “Buy my incomparably fabulous paintings NOW!”  Eventually, I decided my website is about more than selling paintings.  It includes my thoughts on art, and sharing information with viewers.  I decided on three calls to action:

  • Read my Notes From The Studio…. (my blog)
  • Subscribe to The Palette Keeper….(my newsletter)
  • See more paintings at….(my best selling gallery)

Each call to action has a link to the appropriate page on or off my site.  These calls to action improved the stickiness of my home page.

 

Readability

There are a lot of black background sites with white text.  They are very hard to read.  If you want your site read, use a light-to-medium background with black text.  Yes, black makes the paintings pop.  It also makes your text fall flat.  Keep the fonts simple and large enough to read.

 

Miscellaneous Home Page Additions

Based on web guru’s recommendations, I added:

  • My name and phone number
  • Copyright information
  • Last updated on….  (shows you keep your website current.)

Summary

I learned the hard way not to streamline my home page too much.  It is not enough to rely on one image to carry the burden of interesting viewers to look deeper into your website:   Entice the viewer with a few calls to action—with links.

I refuse to obliterate my paintings with a big copyright mark.  A general statement will suffice.

The value of “last updated on…” is up for grabs.  Some gurus say the search engines don’t see that.  I say, the viewer should, and perhaps search engines do, because I make changes often, record them, and rank pretty high in searches that don’t include my name.  It certainly doesn’t hurt to show the last update.

Make a note of your home page bounce rate for a few months leading up to your revisions, then see what happens.  This assumes, of course, that you read your analytics.  If you don’t, get with it!

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6 Easy Ways to Improve Your Art Website


"Dry Creek" 5x7" oil painting on panel

Getting the most out of your art website is crucial in today’s marketing climate.  Your website does not have to be extensive to impress viewers, but it must be current and easy to navigate.  Following are some tips for tuning up your website—go through the steps at least once every six months (quarterly is better.)

Check your outbound links

Check every outbound link on your website, including your prior blog posts.  If a link has broken, try to re-establish it (the URL may have changed.)  If it cannot be reestablished, give your reader a searchable phrase by which he may be able to find your source.

Check your internal navigation links

Don’t take for granted that your internal links always work:  They can fail for a variety of reasons.  If an internal nav link opens to a blank page, either get some interesting content on the page or delete the navigation link and page until you have material for it.

Use your spell checker

Spelling errors make you look unprofessional.  Give your entire website a baseline check.  An easy way is to copy-and-paste your text over to your word processing software and run it through spell and grammar checks there.  I do all my writing and editing in Word, then copy-and-paste to FASO’s templates. 

Use your grammar checker

This is harder for many people, especially those for whom English is not their first language.  Do your best.

Check your contact info

Sometimes we forget that the web doesn’t know we just moved, changed our phone number, or the phone company changed our area code.

Check location of your art

If you list the work’s current location in the description be sure to update the location as you move your work from studio to gallery to another gallery.  Since that is easy to neglect, make the verification of locations part of your tune-up.

Every time I give my website a tune-up I find a few quirks that need to be corrected.  Rather than commit them to memory, I make a list of what needs to be done and tackle it all at once.

When visiting other artist’s websites I do more than look at the art:  I look at presentation and learn.  Most artists maintain their websites nicely, but a large minority don’t.  Would you be favorably impressed by an art gallery that had filthy floors, loaded ashtrays, stinky bathrooms and crooked paintings?  Of course not!  You assume that if they don’t take care of their stuff, they won’t take care of yours.  Keep your website clean—take good care of it.  Be assured, you get judged by it.

Next week:  Some bigger improvements to your art website.  These may take a little longer, but they are worth it.

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Blog Habits I Love

So, you read my prior blog 3 Fun Tips to Make Your Blog Better  and you’ve begun collecting great advice and examples in your folders.  You are looking at blogs critically, deciding what makes a blog compelling.  Following, are some blogging habits I appreciate (do these ring any bells with you?):

Integrated blogs:  An integrated blog is part of the website.  Graphic design is the same, giving both blog and website a uniform, professional look.  It is true that some blogging platforms are more versatile than others, but when reading an integrated blog, your visitor never leaves your website (unless following out-bound links.) Visitors who stay on your website are more likely to browse around to see what else you has to offer.  Don’t let your visitors wander off.

Out-bound links that open a new page:  Too often,  I follow interesting links only to lose track of the original fascinating website/blog that is full of so much valuable information.  Choosing the option to open a new page (or window) for your out-bound links keeps your site available to the viewer.  If a viewer likes, and doesn't lose, your site, he is more likely to bookmark it and be a return visitor.

Out-bound links that are explained:  Do you like to know where you are being sent and why?  Most people appreciate an explanation in the text or in one of those little balloons that opens when you hover over a link.

Blogs that give me the whole enchilada:  My attention span is short.  I will read a continuous blog.  I will abandon a blog that gives me one enticing paragraph and then says, “click here to read more.”  If you get irritated by that, don't inflict it on your readers.

A story with the painting:  We all love a good story, and a good story makes a painting and the artist memorable.  Such websites and blogs are more likely to get bookmarked and stay bookmarked.  Aspire to be as interesting, and spend time examining their paintings and writings.  These artists know how to build a good on-line following.

Titles that define the subject:  Time is short.  You are looking for information and the title will determine whether or not you read the article.  Cute or cryptic titles get passed over.  Probably, search engines pass them over, too.

If your paintings are your vision, your blog is your voice.  Be clear and true.

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3 Fun Tips to Make Your Blog Better

Blogging is coming of age, and the internet is full of great resources that can help you develop a blog that people want to read.  This post will help you identify and save those resources so you can refer back to them.

Open a second “home page” beside this page so you can do a little internet sleuthing.

1.  If you don’t have a Bookmark folder for “Blogging Tips,” make one now.  Right now.  Into that folder put www.problogger.net/blog/  and  www.dailyblogtips.com  .   Both sites are written by professional bloggers, and feature articles that inform you about good blogging practices.  They are not about art:  They are only about blogging.  Read the articles that interest you, and take time to notice titles because titles capture or lose readers.  Google “blog writing tips” for more resources.  Great bloggers link to other great bloggers, so follow some of their links for sites to add to your new “Blogging Tips” folder.

2.  Set up another Bookmark folder.  Call this one “Favorite Art Blogs.”  Put into this folder art blogs that you find compelling.  You will probably save art blogs for different reasons:  Some are informative, others are inspiring or beautiful.  Some art blogs market the art while others don’t.  Collect about a dozen, (more, if you like) keep them weeded as you find better blogs, and ask yourself why you like each of them.

3.  Have a place for notes.  I keep a 6x9” spiral bound notebook by my computer for notes about my blog and my newsletter, The Palette Keeper.  Using little stick-on dividers, the blog section is divided like this:

  • Blog do’s—things I deem important to good blogging.
  • Blog don’ts—things that would probably lose readers.
  • Topics to write about—this is important!  If you don’t maintain a list of things to blog about, your brain will turn to mush just when you really need to remind the world you exist.
  • Notes—odds and ends about blogging that don’t fit elsewhere.

Check your stats a day or two after you post on your blog.  Did you get a bump?  If so, you have readers!  Over time, your stats will reveal which of your posts are most popular, and you can use that to develop a subject theme for your blog.

I did say “Fun tips” in the title of this article.  You should enjoy your blog, however much or little you write for it.  Likewise, enjoy learning how to make it better.  It helps if you like to write, but even if just thinking about writing makes your brain cramp you can still publish an interesting blog—just keep it short and to the point.  So, how is your blog doing?

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