The Internet is the world's fastest-growing medium for marketing and selling online and, as millions of people worldwide are looking for web sites about art and looking to buy paintings online, it makes sense to display your artwork where all these people have a chance of finding it.
The fact is though, that despite the tremendous interest in art, it just isn't as easy as uploading your images and waiting for people to buy and then watching the money roll in. The Internet is a highly sophisticated tool and knowing how to use it properly makes all the difference in the world to whether your work is found or not, and whether it looks good and displays well when it is found.
There are several ways of displaying your artwork online, you can have your own website, you can have a page on a friends site, you can use one of the free 'photo' albums that comes with your ISP, or you can join an online gallery.
Some people decide to go down the route of having a website of their own from the very beginning, but there are several very important reasons why this may not work for you, and if it doesn't you will have wasted a lot of money.
In order for a website work well on the Internet it needs to be built by a professional who really knows how to get the website found in the major search engines. The website developer needs to know all the ins and out's of optimising the pages for the search engines as well as general website development, building the navigation so that the whole site works logically, and making it easy for visitors to find what they are looking for and then buy it without any fuss.
This sort of project will run into four figures quite easily, and then you have to wait for the site to be found and hope that people are drawn to your work and like what they see enough to buy it.
If you're a famous artist, this way could work for you because people already know your name and will search for you specifically on the Internet. But if you are not famous yet this is probably not the best way to start. Some people think it might be good idea to have a page on a friend's website, it could be cheap and seem easy, but if your friend's website is about some other subject entirely, like a kitchen gadget website for instance, then this will do no good at all. For a start it's highly unlikely that your page will be found and if it is it will seem as though it is very much a second thought, or a hobby, rather than something that you take seriously.
You might think that it's a good idea to use one of the free 'photo' album style sites that come with the hosting space given away by your ISP, but there are problems with this as well. Very often the free hosting space given away by your ISP is very overcrowded, which makes it slow, and since images take longer to load than text anyway your picture album could turn out to be so slow that most visitors just won't wait around to find out what your art is like. The types of scripts that run these albums are often quite basic and not flexible enough to allow you to display your work in a positive way, the designs look drab or out of date and fairly unprofessional, they can be pretty hard to set up and maintain too, and are often the targets of hackers so you could have ongoing security problems with them to boot.
So, unless you are famous, the best way to display your work on the Web is to join an online gallery. You will need to choose very carefully, though, because those galleries that have jumbled pages with adverts, banners, loads of inappropriate links and confusing navigation don't do your artwork any favours at all.
You really need to choose an online gallery that looks very special, has clear navigation and displays each piece of your artwork in a way that shows it off to its best advantage. When a visitor visits an online gallery they need to have the same type of emotional response as if they were visiting a bricks and mortar gallery, they need to feel confident about the place they are in right from the start, they need to feel encouraged to look around, to browse the artwork and read about the artists themselves. When they decide to buy it needs to be simple for them to make that purchase and it also needs to be secure so they don't have to worry about using their credit or debit card online.
The behind-the-scenes workings of the online gallery are important as well, because the pages need to have been built by a professional website developer who knows about search engine optimisation and can make sure that each of your artwork pieces has its own keywords so that they can be found by the search engines, It's quite a tall order to find all of this, and when you do find this type of online art gallery, you may find that it's very expensive to join.
Once you have your online portfolio there are a few things you need to remember that help your visitor to get to know you. It's a good idea to include some personal information in your bio, you could say what type of art you do, what attracted you to this style, how you first began painting or drawing or whatever you do. It's important that people feel that they are getting to know you a bit so they can make a connection with you as a human being, and to this end, including a photo or a self-portrait is a good idea because they can put a face to the name and that helps them to visualise you.
Finally, it important that the images of your artwork are as close to the real thing as possible, and so the way the digital images are obtained and how the digital image is treated after its obtained, will make a difference to how well your artwork will display on the Internet, but this is the subject of another article.........