17 Surprising Ways to Lure People to Your Website

The darnedest thing about having a website: just because you build it doesn’t mean people will come.

Creating a website is just the first step. Now you have to get people to visit it, and driving traffic to your site is an ongoing task. It should always be top of mind.

©John-Michael Korpal, Twig Balloons. Mixed media, 6 x 8 feet. Used with permission.

©John-Michael Korpal, Twig Balloons. Mixed media, 6 x 8 feet. Used with permission.

See if you could add some of these ideas to your marketing mix and get more eyes on your art.

Best, Basic Practices

1. Write a newsletter article with a hook, which requires recipients to visit your site to read the end of the article.

2. Tell people why they should click. What’s in it for them?

3. Give something away to people who visit your site and sign up for your list.

3. Mention your website address on your voicemail.

4. Add your website address to the back or underside of your art. If you have a hangtag and it disappears, the website will still be with the piece.

5. Blog regularly.

Social Media Strategies

6. Ask a few bloggers you admire if you could write a guest post for them.

©Julie Gowing Hayes, Party Barge. Oil on linen panel, 20 x 30 inches. Used with permission.

©Julie Gowing Hayes, Party Barge. Oil on linen panel, 20 x 30 inches. Used with permission.

7. Make sure your website is a link and visible to the public on your personal and business profiles on Facebook, Instagram, Pinterest, and LinkedIn. I’m surprised at how many artists don’t do this. (See more about this under One Final Lesson at the bottom of this blog post.)

8. Become an active member of a Facebook or LinkedIn group for your niche market.

9. When you pin your art to Pinterest, pin it directly from your site so that your URL shows up with the pin. If you upload images to Pinterest, type your URL into the image description.

10. Leave thoughtful comments on blogs with an avatar that is an image of your art. Get your universal avatar (for all WordPress blogs).

Stop Sending People to Your Home Page

Can we agree that almost every other page on your site is more interesting than your home page? If so, then why do you keep encouraging people to land on your home page? Instead …

©Patti Vincent, Staged. Oil on panel, 6 x 6”. Used with permission.

©Patti Vincent, Staged. Oil on panel, 6 x 6”. Used with permission.

11. Switch out the URL in your signature block to point to a specific page or piece of art on your site. Right now, my signature block advertises my Art Biz Makeover event and, after that, it will probably promote the new edition of I’d Rather Be in the Studio.

12. Send tweets that entice followers to explore the interior pages of your site and blog posts.

13. Use QR Codes on exhibition labels that lead art viewers to a description of the piece they’re looking at.

Crazier Things Have Been Done

Let’s face it, the best way to get people to your site is with some kind of online communication because it’s easier for people to click than to remember to type in a URL in their browser.

Still, you might consider ordering custom items with your website address printed on them, such as:

14. Bumper stickers
15. Tire covers
16. T-shirts
17. Baseball caps

One Final Lesson

The artists featured above (with the images linked to their sites) appear here because they left a comment on my Facebook page, and I could find their websites quickly.

It took me at least an hour to find these 3 images when it should have taken about 15 minutes. I clicked on so many artists’ names that led nowhere. I wasn’t “friends” with them, so I couldn’t see their site (if they had it posted). Also, my requirement of “no watermarks” limited my choices.

If they commented as a business page, it would have made it even easier because I would have known that I could access their information.

How do you get traffic to your site?

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83 comments to 17 Surprising Ways to Lure People to Your Website

  • As I was reading this article I was thinking about adding watermarks to more of my images, especially in my Etsy store. Than I saw the “no watermarks” rule statement and wondered when you think they are appropriate (if ever).

    • Lori: It’s just a policy that I have. There’s no sense my featuring art if people can’t see the work under a giant watermark across the image.

      On the other hand, I don’t mind them at all at the bottom or on the side.

      I’ll respond to Carl’s comment below – related.

  • Lori, that kind of depends. Allyson might not want to put up your images because of watermarks, but are watermarks helpful? Depends, do you worry about your artwork being copied by others & you not get any pay? Have heard of other artists having their art ripped off by artists of other countries & reproduced. On the other hand is this a real concern?

    If you want a workaround for this, try using a photo program & instead of using 72 dpi as the standard for your photos run the dpi down to 5 or 10. That way when someone trys to steal your work & blow it up, it becomes pixellated very quickly. This also makes the photo KB’s smaller so the webpage comes up more quickly (I know poor English). A plus for folks still on dial-up (yes some people are still on dial up).

    Using smaller dpi can help prevent fraud & also allow you to not use those annoying watermarks. Besides, the folks who will steal your work will do it regardless of what you do. Saw an instance where a blogger wanted a picture of a “C” level celebrity couple. The blogger had to resort to stealing a color photo with the photographers’ name run in white, diagonally across the photo, about 25 lines worth. Was real attractive.

    Alternatively, Allyson could drop you an email to get the image. Might not work for Allysons’ time alotted for that task, but it is your image.

    • Carl: Yep, I could email people, but I don’t have time to wait and guess which people will email me back. So I find the image and then ask permission.

    • Since I’m a potter I have less worry about someone stealing my artwork from an image. My thought was a small watermark in the bottom corner of a picture. My thoughts are that if someone pins my image on pinterest, or uses it on their blog that my name will be seen.

      Thanks for the very detailed and well thought out answer, I appreciate it.

    • Mary

      Carl… I will experiment with the lower dpi… seems like a good tactic… does it hinder the quality of the image as seen on our website? I guess I will find out when I try it.

  • Great article Alyson, and timely as I just got my website up and running last week. Could you clarify your last statement a little, I’m afraid I don’t understand what it means to “access their information”. Also, I was going over my ABLO notes about setting up a fb page and I can’t remember why you reccomend making a business page vs an artist’s page. Thanks again for the post!

  • I’m experimenting with a new incentive for art lovers to subscribe to my list – a downloadable PDF portfolio of paintings. I just implemented it. I’ll let you know how it goes. http://bmc.me/art/portfolio-promo/

    • Interesting. Yes, do let us know, Brennen!

    • Mary

      Brennen… your PDF is beautiful and seems like a brilliant solution to the freebie. I would love to hear how this works for you.

    • Brennen, that sounds a fantastic idea. Your PDF portfolio looks an enticing gift. I have been trying to build up my subscribers list by adding Hello Bar(http://old.hellobar.com/) with coupon offer on my website but I have not seen much growth yet, and I have started to thinking of freebie ideas recently. I am looking forward to hearing your update on the experiment!

  • I wouldn’t classify this as a surprising way to lure people to your website, but how do you lure people to your website who have never heard of you? By optimizing your art images with alt tags. People search not only for text based info, but images and especially so for art.

    Describe the image, not the title of your painting. An alt tag of “Nature’s Interlude” won’t do you any good. No one will search for that. Be more descriptive.

    Here’s an example of some results in a Google image search and the returns I got for images associated with my website.

    realistic bluebonnet painting
    23 images first 24 rows with 8 being in first two rows

    realistic bluebonnet oil painting
    20 images in the first 10 rows with the first row showing all of my work

    realistic landscape oil painting texas
    24 images in first 9 rows

    realistic oak tree oil painting
    10 images first 17 rows

    By having my images this way resulted in acquiring a $7500 commission for a 36×42 oil painting that featured bluebonnets and Indian paint brush. My new client who had never seen my work before found my work by using similar search words. The quality of your work can be a lure, but not if you don’t have a descriptive alt tag for your images. They won’t show up in the results. It’s like a fisherman throwing out a line with no bait on the hook.

    • William: Absolutely ! Great reminder and thanks for sharing your results.

    • Mary

      William… thank you for the alt tag advice and showing us the results. I will put that into immediate use.

    • Thanks, William — I actually never thought of this, so really appreciate it.

      • Mary and Julia, glad the alt tag advice will help. It’s also similar to using a more descriptive title for each page of your website. It’s what you end up seeing in your browser’s tab. For example on your available works page Julia your title tag simply says Available Works. Maybe consider changing it to fabric and mixed media collages. As another example on my website I have a few giclee prints. The title for that page is: Giclee Prints on Canvas | Landscape Painting Reproductions. I Googled the phrase “giclee landscape painting” and that page showed up on the third page. If it was simply giclee prints it’s too broad a term and likely wouldn’t have been found in the results. It’s the same principle as the alt tag for images, but this is for people doing a web search and hopefully a page within your site will show in the results if it has a good descriptive title. A web page title of “abstract landscape giclee prints” is better than just “prints.”

    • Never thought about the alt tags this way, William. Makes so much sense! Now I want to update mine. I do that in the image editing screen on my web site, yes? I use WordPress.

      • I believe you can update your Alt Tags in your WordPress site by going to your uploaded images in your media library, select the image and a screen should come up whereby you can update the image info. At least that’s how I can do it on my blog, which is also WordPress so I’m assuming it’s the same.

        • ULA

          So much helpful and thought provoking information. Thank you ALYSON and thank you All.

          William Hagerman – I have a wordpress site. Just now when I went to take you up on your suggestions, i see in Media library, in each image, ALT TEXT, to the Right Under Description…. nowhere do I see ALT TAG among my uploaded images. Is that the same place where one would add tags? great suggestion. Looking forward to your reply. Thank you.

          • Ula,
            Yes, the Alt Text is where you would place the description. If you’re unfamiliar with what it stands for it’s Alternative Text. It was designed for accessibility for those who cannot view images. Therefore in place of an image on a web page they will see the alternative text which should describe the image. It also helps with SEO for providing a place to use relevant keywords. But you don’t want to abuse that by stuffing a bunch of keywords in it, which is a spammers practice and could get you penalized by Google. Again, the alt text is essentially designed for people who can’t see the image in their browser for whatever reason or for those who are blind and using a screen reader which is software used by the visually impaired to read the text that is displayed on the computer screen with a speech synthesizer. The alternative text is read where the images would be.

    • thanks for the examples William very helpful; it’s no good telling me something I need showing – thanks again best ashar

  • K

    The only thing I disagree with is the web address on the back of the painting. If you are selling through a gallery they will not be happy with this.

  • And remember once you have got them there don’t let them out with links to other sites…unless they are yours!

    And all those quick internal links from one area to another…have them open in a new window…that way they always stay on your site, that little bit longer.

    You make references to your website wherever you can…perhaps visit & comment on the contributors here?

  • 11. “Switch out the URL in your signature block to point to a specific page”

    I just realized this the other day when I looked at my website stats and it dawned on me that people were going to the home page then leaving!!! So in the future I decided I was going to change things up a bit, just as you suggested…

  • My home page IS the least interesting page on my site!!!

    I can’t believe it took you an hour to find those three images. Thanks for your dedication :), but we should all really make it easier for you!

  • I have to concurr with the blog comment angle. I recently left a comment (I think it was from one of your blog entries, Alyson) and got an online art magazine asking for my opinion on early career art marketing and what’s worked for me. They are now following me on Twitter and offered for me to be a guest blogger sometime. It works!

  • You give the best advice!! I had noticed that I get a lot of hits on my Home page but not as many on other pages…so I am going to redirect people right to my artwork page!!! I can’t believe I didn’t think of that!! I have taken away so much great and practical advice from you…thanks SO much Alyson!!

  • Mary

    Thanks Alyson for the always-great advice!

    The Home Page… I made my homepage more interesting by including my art on it. It seems simpler to make the home page more interesting than send people to a different (and longer) url. Just my opinion, perhaps wrong? It seems my art website is constantly changing as I continue to learn and trends change.

    • Mckenna

      Mary, you have a partial solution, but in general, you can use any length of a website address and not have it be “long”.

      In an email signature, you can simply put “click here to learn more” and then link the address to that phrase. Just in the same way that you would link on a website.

      It can come in quite handy if you are wanting to send people to a page dedicated to a specific bit of news; new work, new gallery, new…? If you are having an open studio, a page that was all about that event would be a welcoming and time saving way to get your message out.

      The average attention span is plummeting. Sending anyone to a home page and making them hunt for the “meat” of your art could be costly in the long run.

      OH… almost forgot: you can also shorten any URL by using free tools like https://bitly.com/ OR http://tinyurl.com/

      This is especially important to know when you tweet!

  • Mary

    Alyson… thanks for the tip on the Universal Gravatar. I just updated mine.

  • Alyson, I just wanted to stop by and thank you for all the tireless work you do if providing us with such invaluable information. I never tire of reading your posts and always learn something new. I really love that you do it in easy, bite sized chunks so that it never becomes overwhelming either. Ruthie

  • Alyson, thanks for all the great tips. I have a FB business page and I blog (http://www.janellmithani.com/blog) once a week, so I have had pretty good traffic to my websites, but it could be better. Also, the one place I am lacking lately is growing my newsletter list. (I have been concentrating on my blog followers.) Thanks for the free gift for signing up idea! Great idea! Thanks, Janell

  • Alyson, I’m with you on the watermarking. Thing is, stealers are going to steal. I think putting time into trying to stop them is counterproductive, mostly. If the same energy is put into finding new collectors, or developing compelling art, that will produce better results and less stress, too.

  • Carol Harlan

    When do you change the dpi for pics, before shooting or
    In a software program? New to posting and blogging.
    If any one is interested, can you take a look at my blog and make any suggestions.
    Thanks, Carol

  • beth

    I never put anything on the internet without a watermark.

  • Thank you so much Allison for featuring my painting but mostly for all the great marketing advice you give. I appreciate the easy ones, like changing my web link to a more interesting landing page. Brilliant and painless!

  • Hi Alyson, I have a question about putting the website on the back of our paintings. All these years, I’ve been writing my website on the back of my paintings, just after the title, medium and signature. No one has ever mentioned it being a problem for them. A few months ago, I sold two paintings to a new collector, who emailed me that doing that is not appreciated by art collectors. He made me feel like I had fouled all my paintings. So do you think he is out of line and I should just ignore? I think it’s good to do, because people could lose the cards but the website will always be there on the back. It’s safe and secure. He seemed to think it was crass. All the artists I know do it and they said ignore him. He indicated that he would be interested in future works.

    • Christina: I understand. It probably isn’t what he’s used to – especially if he’s been buying art at galleries.

      Here’s the thing – something I’ve learned the hard way – you can change to accommodate the preferences of a single collector or you can do what you think is best for you for the long run.

      I’m curious, though. What did you say in response?

      I say ignore him.

    • Christina, you absolutely should continue that practice. It is in no way crass. I adhere a printed tag with my name, title of the piece, email address, and website address on the back of all my art. My intention by doing so is to make it as easy as possible for the owner of that piece to contact me in the future, should they desire. I think most collectors would understand that, especially if purchasing directly from us. As Alyson eluded to in the post above, we do ourselves a disservice as artists by not making it easy for people to find us. Putting our website addresses on the backs of our work is the least we can do.

  • Another question, how do you make a photo show in these comments?

  • I think I figure out the photo avatar in the comments. I hope it worked.’

  • Interesting point about the home page being the least interesting one on a site…soooooo…..Surely another blog post topic? How to make your homepage zing!

    P.S. I love you’re captcha questions Alyson but the devil in me was so tempted to pick ‘pilot’ today instead of ‘curator’ 😉

  • Julie Thompson

    Great article, Alyson! Your advice on pointing to other parts of one’s website and NOT the home page is especially a gem! I’m going to start using that immediately. 😀

  • It goes without saying … and yet, here I am, Alyson! I know you have blogged a great deal about making sure there are sign-ups on people’s websites, but I saw the one comment here about the “hello bar” and I kind of winced.

    Once we make it our goal to get people to our sites, it is imperative that they don’t leave without signing up to get our emails. A hello bar may not be enough.

    While it was mentioned – give something away to get sign ups – I want to emphasize the rest of that action: put sign-ups (like Alyson did at the very top of her sidebar) in more than one place. And every once in a while, put one in a different and more prominent spot, like at the end of a blog post: “Like what you read here? Sign-up … etc….”

    People who visit a site for the first time, might not see your one and only spot! Or they see it, but read the blog and then forget to return to the top of the page. Out of site – out of mind?

    And as Alyson is always reinforcing: having them “voluntarily” receive your news in the future is powerful for growing your business.

    • Is it an imperative to get them to sign up to your news letters…and to hell with the rest of your website and your art?

      I prefer to be happy knowing its about my art and me and not a lemming-like thrust just to get an email address.

      Personally I find all those please sign-ups down the side to be an irritation. Respect the privacy of your viewers and let them contact you if they feel the urge. And if they do respond today with a personalised email.

    • You always have juicy tidbits to add, Mckenna. Thank you.

  • Thanks for all the great tips. I can see room for improvement on the way I title and list artwork.

  • So many great tips here. Thank you Alyson!

  • As a beginner blogger it is great to learn from others. I hope to get my site looking more interesting and am on the lookout for tips and ideas. Thanks

  • Fabulous post! Thanks, Alyson!
    On the downside, man, I still have lots of work to do.

  • Thank you for these pointers. I noticed you visited one of my pages – here’s another one 🙂


    I plan to pick up your book this week as it keeps me focused.

    I enjoy and am inspired by your writings. Writing for someone else’s blog sounds like fun – now to find one for this cryptic writer.

    Thank you!

  • Alyson… thanks for sharing, I get traffic to my blog by using wisestamp, join twitterchats, use stumbleupon for sharing and wenn i have got time for it, I send visual follow ups at Twitter

  • Barbara Muir

    Hi Alyson,

    Thanks for this. I am going to bookmark it and read it many times.
    Such great information.

    XOXOXOXOXO Barbara

  • Thanks once again Alyson, great advice as usual. I have tried to make my home pages on my blog http://www.asharart.me.uk and website http://www.asharart.co.uk as interesting as they permit; but will now send them to other pages.
    I am dithering about getting one of those popup sign up plug-in for my blog, what are your views on them? I cannot decide! – best ashar

  • Yes they annoy me too, that’s why I haven’t yet gone for it – still on the fence I#m afraid – best ashar

  • yes very true may take another look at them this week – best ashar

    • There is some “middle ground” to consider: A “slide up” from the bottom only on certain pages – like your about page and your blog. Those two pages would be populated by people with deeper interest in “you” and would likely see that slide up as they get to the end of reading about you or your blog. This is a subtle nudge, but with a poignant placement.

  • thanks Mckenna, that seems like a good compromise do you have a WP plugin you would recommend? – best ashar

    • I do not, Ashar. I am reworking my own site, so I will eventually know this information. Try googling it?

      But I wanted to add another thought in regards to pop-ups and any sign-up boxes: make them creative!

      If one is considering a pop-up or slide up, just be intriguing, enticing, and irresistible. Content people, like Alyson, have it easier – we just offer some information and people who land on our pages want that so it’s a easy carrot to dangle.

      For artists, you need to consider the “value” that each name has to your future. It might be worth it to offer a free 5×7 (unmatted) open edition print of their choice or a set of 4 note cards or something else that is not too costly to you, but might mean a lot to your collector or future collector.

      One artist I know has a monthly raffle and gives a more valuable prize: small original painting. She gains several dozen new subscribers each month. She has watched her sales grow as a result and her quarterly open studios are a big success. We designed her sign-up box (a pop-up by the way) as one of her paintings and to the right it says something like: “I am giving away art! Sign-up for my emails to be entered to win one of my paintings in the next drawing. Plus you will get updates on all my new work and so much more.” She also points out in smaller font: “You can always unsubscribe if you get tired of seeing my art in your inbox.” Her webmaster did the rest.

      Creating a compelling reason for people to sign-up is very important.

      • opss… I just went back to the article and see that Alyson had (of course) already mentioned this concept. It’s been a while ago that I first read it, so pardon my introducing an idea already discussed!

  • Barbara

    I love your advice and am going to try it. I am using some of you advice. I am hoping to make more sales.

  • Alyson, My heart sank as I discovered that my images had been taken. The site advertised “download all you want” and there was a charge per work. I didn’t figure there was anything I could do. I need to do what you have recommended concerning to redirect homepage. I wish you could view my site sometime when you have an idle moment…:)and tell me what you think! I would like to be more consistent with blogging. I do keep a Journal maybe I can use information in the journal for a blog.

    Just wanted you to know that your book IRBIStudio has been so helpful to me and supercharged my confidence in knowing what to do to move ahead with my dreams. After teaching visual art to high school students for 33 years, so much has happened with your tips from your book.(last 5 years) Artwork published this year in SPLASH 16: Creative Solutions, 5 Signatures, National Awards, selling work,TN Crossroads featured artist, etc.—THANK YOU…I mentor several artists and always tell them to get your book!

    • Tuva: Thank you for your kind words and referrals. I am so grateful you are here. And I’m sorry to hear your images were stolen. I don’t really understand how this happened (not clear on that) but you seem to have a good attitude going forward.

  • My paintings are all on my home page of my website so they are seen.

  • Hello Alyson! Great article 🙂 I see a lot of visitors from my Facebook Business & Personal pages. When I have a new blog post, workshop scheduled or newsletter published, I put a link on my professional FB page. Then I share that post from my personal page. Sharing other people’s content (like Alyson’s and other artists) helps my page stay fresh looking… not just repetitively saying ‘look at my work.’

    This holiday I decided to offer free downloads of my Christmas Card to new or current newsletter subscribers. So far I have had good responses!

  • Penny overcash

    Thanks Alyson. Really great information – I am hitting the social media this year with a true effort. I always forget to add my website on google, instagram etc. I will correct that right away. My website is still being worked on every day by me and will continue to evolve. My blog will start – hopefully – this week.
    I love the information about lists. Just when you want to dump FB YOU find another way to make it work for us!
    Much thanks

  • I have several websites, all of which need visitors, but for my rock climbers t-shirts(and other items) site, I have big magnetic sins which I have on my van door panels. It has a gorgeous image of Yosemite Valley, which is recognizable to most people, and gets climbers hot and bothered.

    In short – they look at the image, and then the sign, and want to know what this is all about, this business that features Yosemite.

    People DO stop. I have been lounging in the van(I am on a road trip half the year, and live out of the van)and hear them talk… They often mention my business name, and take note of the URL. Some take pictures. On occasion, a climber knows about me and tells their friend “Oh, that’s so and so…”