Welcome to the Cooper studio, Jefferson, Iowa.
Just outside the kitchen window of the Cooper house, there's a bird bath. One of the old white ones, heavy as a load of bricks. But we enjoy having it there. This morning, a handsome pair of red birds were enjoying it also. I watched them as I drank my coffee, and I thought: If I didn't offer them a drink in my back yard, how far would they have to go to find water? It's not like they can just turn a faucet on somewhere, you know. The Raccoon River is the closest natural body of water, and it's over a mile away. And I think red birds are kind of nice creatures to have around, so, likely we'll just continue to make it easier for them. Give them easy access to a refreshing drink of water, whenever they need it. Have it ready and waiting, for whenever they are in the mood.
Hey all you artist-types! You know where this is going, surely? The website. Most specifically, the artist's website.
Clint posted a great article the other day, about making sure your website included prices. It fits right in with this line of reasoning. How far will your patrons have to go to find water? Oh, wait. That was the first paragraph--I mean how far will your patrons have to go to find the price of the painting they want? Will you really make them send you an email? They might just think it's easier to fly to the river and back. You just might lose a customer over that no-pricing issue.
And that front page of your website. Do you make it easy for your patrons? Is that menu bar right there in plain sight? And how many times does a patron have to click to get to the main feature, the paintings? Does it take forever for those paintings to load? If that afore mentioned bird bath was put in our garage and those poor red birds had to look in through the window to get a glimpse of it and then wait for an open garage door moment of opportunity--well, would they? Would they wait? Hunh. I think my second in line competition, the Raccoon River would get their patronage that day.
Are you enough of a gardener to know about how birds love ripe strawberries? Some gardeners will hang aluminum foil pie pans in their garden to distract the birds, keep 'em away from the berries. Or if you're not a gardener, think about the scarecrow in the Wizard Of Oz--the original purpose of a scarecrow was to distract a bird from his mission--finding good things to eat. Good things to eat that the gardener/farmer was not willing to share. What about distractions on the artist's website? Think about freebie websites loaded with advertisement. Think about those flashing, moving, wiggling things, that some artists trick out their websites with. Are they attractively showing off the main feature, the paintings, or are they distractions? Are they so confusing, that the patron just gives up and flies (er,clicks) away?
And another thing: you know how one day you have two birds visit the back yard watering hole? And the next day you get five? And then two days after that, you seem to have the entire flock splashing around out there? I guess that means the good word spreads. Unless it gets blocked. You know, if the bird bath runs dry and no one refills it, or if some crazy person lays something on top of it to keep out one of those bad birds. Are you really so worried about THAT bird (the really bad mean one) taking your "water" that you'll restrict access to your main feature? The paintings. Yeah.
Yeah. Because while backyard bird baths are nice, PAINTING is what we do. And while the main feature at the bird bath is water, the main feature at the artist's website is the paintings. And it's crazy to think we can truly offer our paintings to website visitors, with:
1. If you write me, I'll get back to you on that, or
2. Jump through these hoops for me so I can see how much you love my work, or
3. I am a techno-genius! And don't you just love all these gadgets I've given you to look at?
4. And, I have to protect myself from the bad guys, so that's just too bad for you, deal with it.
Aaah. The perfect website, don't we all want it? One that actually sells a painting or two, now and then. Does yours do that for you? Sell a painting, I mean? If your answer is no, or even, not very often, maybe it's time for an overhaul. You can re-read my suggestions. Or if you are like me, and a picture is worth a thousand words, I have a visual for that. On the FineArtsStudioOnline artists page, the one where you can search for artists alphabetically, the FASO powers that be have listed their choice of the top websites, letter by letter. (click here for a look at the A's)
Time to go paint. And thanks for stopping by.