Last March, I applied for a SC State business license to open C Campbell's Fine Art in South Carolina. My initial competitive analysis had turned up only a limited set of outlets for selling my paintings this area, so one of my goals was to broaden my market through selling my paintings over the Internet.
In California, I had had a small website devoted to plein air painting built for me. There were so many outlets for my work in the Southern California market, that my website was primarily for professional image and only secondarily for sales. I had kept up the license for the domain after I moved to South Carolina, so that I didn't lose the right to the CCampbellsFine Art domain name. But I hadn't made a single update to the sites simple design. Clearly I was going to need something more sophisticated if I intended to actively sell over the web.
I began the update project by researching a wide range of other artist websites. Some seemed highly appealing but were so sophisticated that I suspected they were being maintained by the website staff of a commercial galleries representing the artist.. Others were equally attractive but were clearly home grown. I made notes on what I liked and did not like, and what I thought were most effective features of each.
I also read everything I could find posted on sites like Empty Easel about selling on the Internet and comparing that information to what I was finding on the other artists websites. Eventually I came up with a list of things I wanted to include on the website.
That was just the beginning. Next I had come up with a physical design (the easy part) and then choose / learn a software application to implement that design (Aaaarrrrgh). I eventually settled on MS Frontpage web building application. There are more sophisticated applications but (#1) we already have a license (which I've now upgraded to MS Share point) , and (#2) it was similar to other applications that I already know so the learning curve was less steep. I worked on the simple pages first ( Bio, Contact Me etc.) Then began tackling the inserting the pages for the paintings themselves.
Simultaneously, I began photographing all of my new series, scripting each of the paintings descriptions , and finalizing a pricing scheme. One thing I learned from my research is to 'keep it simple and consistent'. By clustering the paintings into related themes, and pricing based upon the low end of what the average painting of that the size is going for in my area, I could sell in both galleries and on the web without channel conflict. Granted, I will have less profit from sales in galleries, but that's my problem.
Last but not least I set up a Pay Pal account and linked each of the paintings on the pages to the Pay Pal Account.
Of course then I had to:
- Test it locally on our home intranet.
- Remedy any formatting or link errors.
- then upload it to the Network Service provider
- Repeat steps 1 - 3 on the Service Providers intranet
- Pull the site up on the www and test (etc).
You can go to it my clicking on the title of this post.