Linking your favorite traveling artists across the globe
I know I still operate under the Who, What, When, Where, How, and Why thought construct but it is becoming a little outdated. Though the basics are important, when it comes to websites (especially retail websites) other factors come in to play (i.e. user friendliness and organization).
Just a little. Here's why...
While renewing the database and checking up on older artisans, one thing I noticed immediately was that some websites haven’t changed in 10 years. A lot has evolved in the last 10 years of the Internet, like online shopping carts, probably the artist’s contact information, website coding & aesthetics just to name a few. I’m not sure Google is even ten years old yet!
Let’s start from the beginning. Why is it important for my business to have a website?
In today’s day and age, it is an extremely important part of running a successful business. A web presence, even if it is not an independent website, still lets the public know that you exist. Facebook Fan Pages have taken the place of newspaper ads, and YouTube has practically replaced T.V. advertisement. I’m not sure that the next generation will know what a phonebook is. These social media sites are a topic for further discussion later. In general, I feel that a stand-alone website carries an air of professionalism. Personally, I tend to take independent artists more seriously when they’ve bought a domain name at the very least.
Let’s say you put up a fanpage or a website. Now you’re getting inquiries about selling online. Folks you’ve met at Faires and festivals want to buy from you during the holidays or book you for future events. You decide its time to list your wares for online sale.
Online shoppers want to immediately see the cost of the product, images, features/benefits of the product, shipping information, and return policies. If they really like you, they’re also searching for a listing of your “similar products” and links to the aforementioned social media sites you’re on.
*Being a traveling merchant, it would be wise to feature a calendar of upcoming events as well.
This sounds almost daunting to those who are not computer savvy. How can I make all of this from scratch???
That’s where the popular online storefronts come in, like Etsy and Artfire, which basically retired eBay from the handmade seller industry. These websites offer an easy, comprehensive way for independent artists to create a storefront, upload products, and network with each other. Step-by-step processes and forms help you to include all the important information and images without the hassle of html or worry about cash or credit. Artfire got the one-up on Etsy by allowing their users’ wares to appear in Amazon searches as well.
Stand-alone websites have become easier now that we have Flash templates like Blu Domain and Wix. Personally, I advise against Flash and I speak from experience. Your site is less likely to appear in search results from, say Google or Yahoo, if you use Flash. I will elaborate on this later in an article on SEO (Seach Engine Optimization). So where does that leave you? Sites like GoDaddy, Vistaprint, and Weebly offer templates for quick websites. I’m pretty sure Yahoo is still offering web-pages too. I’m sure there are others I am missing!
Facebook Fanpages are quickly becoming the economic replacement for websites, skipping the whole domain name registration. In a few clicks you can create a page for your business, download applications that allow you to have a facebook storefront, calendar of events, and display videos among other things. You are also in a prime location on the Internet to network with customers, advertise through facebook, AND you can link your fanpage to your Twitter account. How much more connected can you get?
Let’s recap, what IS the anatomy of a good website?
For a performer- Pictures and videos are a really good idea. Contact info, Booking info, Calendar, and an “about” or “bio” section for you or your troope. Ask yourself, Who are you, What kind of events do you do, what does your act involve, Are there any performance restrictions (like fire), do you travel a lot, and so on. Testimonials and/or a press release are fine additions. Oh, and are you on Facebook or Twitter?
For the Ren Faire merchant- Pictures and detailed descriptions of your wares are awesome! If you’re on Etsy, you’re going to need more than one picture per product. You earn an extra cookie if you include historical background info! Visible pricing, shipping information, and return policies are excellent. You may wish to include something like, “If you liked this (product) you may also like…” to get more of your work exposure (When I waited tables we called this “up-selling”). Readily visible links to your social media profiles are bonuses too. I’ve seen websites include a blog or link to a blog, which I love! Honestly, I take a peek at the blog to see if the artist is active. If it hasn’t been updated in over a year, its kind of a put-off. I begin to wonder if the main site content is still up to date!
Some excellent websites that highlight these features I’ve been talking about:
Storefront forwarding to Etsy
You can’t miss their facebook link
Using a blog client
A simple website and store with bonus cookie for historical info :D
Performers effectively using facebook…they have over 10,000 fans
If the link doesn’t work, search Tortuga Twins.
Thank you for reading ;)
© 2011 Patchwork Merchant Mercenaries.
Great article War Mouse! You rock! All of this social Networking and the like takes alot of metal flexibility on the part of a person. A good book my sister found about it is "Six Pixels of Separation" by Mitch Joel 2010. We are still learning.
Having your own website, with your name and your control over what goes up on it, is a huge thing -- getting my own site was one of the best things I've ever done for my business. But whether it's through your own site, through Etsy, or through something else, you've got to get yourself out there!
My website -- if you want something similar -- is the work of Dani at Wicked Plum, and they offer a lot of really nice templates you can use, too. It's not very much a month and you get _everything_ -- blog, ecommerce, SEO, all of it. It's worth a look, if you want your own site.