Well, I was determined to find out how this crazy Net thing worked. I learned all on my own with minimal investment on how to be seen from California, USA to Tokyo, Japan. Here’s your opportunity to pick my brain and learn all of my secrets!
This is not for the web newbie. This is if you already have a web site going and you the need traffic!
Let’s Get Started!
Web Page Basics – A list of do’s and don’ts.
DO make sure your site is compatible with most of the browsers out there today. Make sure Netscape and Internet Explorer users, down to at least 3.0, can see your stuff.
DO organize your site into separate categories. Have a list of navigation links on EVERY page. DO NOT cram all your paintings onto one loooong page. People will not wait for it to download. Separate your images into appropriate categories. Place all your awards on one page, your links and banners on another, your bio on another, your web rings on another, etc.
DO tell your visitors who you are, what you are about, what your page is about and what you want. Be clear, concise and to the point. Spell check everything. Have friends and family test it out and look it over for broken images or misspellings. Ask them if they felt anything was confusing to them. Just because you know what you mean, doesn’t mean everyone else does. Finally, run your pages through the great free services at Web Site Garage!
Promotion Basics – The simple things.
Add META TAGS and a TITLE to your html. Meta tags aid search engines in finding your site.
Note that they are placed between the <HEAD></HEAD> tags, which is before the <BODY></BODY> tags. Have at least 25 keywords and start with the most important ones in the beginning.
Add yourself to the following Search Engines BY HAND once you have added your Meta Tags: Lycos, Yahoo, InfoSeek, Alta Vista, Excite, WebCrawler, and HotBot. There are countless numbers of other search engines out there, but these are the ones that matter. Yahoo especially. It may take several attempts to get listed with Yahoo. Here’s a hint: Try adding yourself to the Regional section. They’re more apt to give you a listing. Give each search engine at least two weeks to have your site listed. If it’s not listed by then, add yourself again. Finally, if you’re pressed for time, you can use the automatic URL submission service I provide at the bottom of this page. I still am a fan of adding my URL to each major search engine by hand, though.
Trade links with other artists and galleries. Do this a lot. Do this all the time. Ask them nicely and compliment their work, but be clear that you want them to link you as well.
I don’t recommend those free banner exchanges, like Link Exchange, even though I’m using them. You get very MINIMAL traffic and the banners can be annoying and/or distracting to your visitors. I place them on my link pages. People expect links to other site there already. I do, however, recommend exchanging banners as links with other sites that have the same theme as your own site. This can generate more traffic than those free generic exchanges.
The Good Stuff! – Tricks of the trade.
E-mail. Create a signature file with your URL and a short description of your site. Some people create little pieces of ASCII art to go with it. This is your internet business card.
Newsgroups. Find topics relating to your works or interests via a search at Deja News – http://www.dejanews.com. Then, go to these Newsgroups and read some of the conversations that are going on. If you feel you could contribute to a conversation, introduce yourself. Your signature file at the end of your e-mail posting will be enough to get traffic to your site without seeming like you’re pushy. It’s rude to simply butt into a newsgroup and say “Look at my site!”. It’s like interrupting a conversation. The one place where you’re allowed to say “I have artwork for sale” is at alt.art.marketplace.
DON’T SPAM! Newsgroups or e-mail – ever! It’s not worth it. Your reputation will be ruined and you can’t afford that. You will receive hate mail and e-mail bombs that could erase your hard drive and cause everyone on your server to lose their e-mails! Ultimately, the servers would have to add more connections to deal with all the spam and pass the cost on to all of us. Here is a better way: Newsletters.
Start your own free newsletter by having a SIMPLE sign up form on your site. Explain what they’ll get if they sign up. I say they get to see my latest works, discounts on my stuff, and announcements of upcoming works. Mention your newsletter in appropriate newsgroups. Encourage people to join if they want to know what’s new. I have about 1000 people who are part of my newsletter. It took about 9 months of promotion to do it. However, now I have a VOLUNTEER CAPTIVE AUDIENCE in which I can “spam” to. These people WANT to know what I have to say cause they asked me for it, therefore they are not offended with my art promotions and sales.
Get a referral program started. I got a great free one from BigNoseBird.com. This simple cgi program allows a visitor to recommend your site or page to several friends via e-mail. Nothing brings in traffic than a good referral.
Start a contest. People LOVE free stuff! Raffle a print or a service. Set up a simple form and post the rules and the deadline. Add if they want to join your free newsletter while they’re at it. Offer everyone who wasn’t the winner a discount on something in your gallery. That way, everyone’s a winner. Add your contest to http://www.onlinesweeps.com. Watch your traffic skyrocket!
Check out Virtual Promote! I found lots of great tip, tools and tutorials there on web site promotion.
Down the road. – When you have some cash.
Get credit card capabilities and accept them on-line. I got mine from Total Merchant Services. They were good because their bank readily accepts on-line business as legitimate, whereas most traditional banks do not – yet. I’m not totally thrilled with the software they provided, but after a lot of searching around, I found that they’re pretty good compared to what’s out there. You’ll pay at least $35.00 a month for the credit card service plus you can lease the software for $40.00 a month or opt to buy it outright for about $1000.00. I know you’re going “Ouch!” right now, but nothing beats immediate gratification if you’re an impatient surfer. Otherwise, they’ll have to pay by check or money order. Which means, print out the order form, fill it out, get off line, write the check and mail the order. Too many steps there in which one can become lazy and forget all about it. With on-line credit card capabilities, you fill out a form and press a button and that’s it. Not only that, but paintings can be expensive. People tend to charge things over $500.00 or more.
Place some paid advertisements in traditional magazines and newspapers. Choose a magazine that is into your genre. I place ads in fantasy and wildlife magazines because that’s what I paint. Cost for advertisements can range from a $12.00 classified to thousands of dollars for a one or two page ad.
Find a web site that is related to your artwork and gets LOTS of traffic. Ask them if they would accept your banner on their main page if you paid them a monthly fee. I got one site to do this for me by just giving them a print! I get tons of traffic this way.
Use a great on-line promotion company called The Internet Marketing Center. I recommend the site highly! Lots of great tips and tricks!
PROTECT YOUR IMAGES FROM COPYRIGHT VIOLATORS! Go to http://www.gamacles.com and buy their Image Protect software. This is the secret to my java applet images of my work that you can’t right click on to save them. You also can’t link to them and steal my bandwidth! A GREAT ARTISTIC ASSET!
Buy attractive and professional business cards and brochures with your web site address printed on them.
My last piece of advice is stick with your promotions for a long time. Don’t just give up if one thing doesn’t work. Change your strategy and try again. Surfers see web pages come and go and they don’t take someone seriously unless you’ve been around for a long time. Stick with it, even through periods of no sales and low traffic. You must decide now to be in it for the long haul or you will fail. There is no overnight success and don’t let anyone tell you otherwise. You’ll have to work hard and be thick skinned.
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