‘How do I get more traffic to my website?’ is one of the most asked questions here at The Design Trust.
Getting traffic to your site is the starting point of building up the relationship with your potential clients. Get this right and your online sales will start to increase most likely too.
But when I ask this question to social media and online experts or successful creatives I always get a wide variety of answers … so, I decided to ask some of them to share their own tips with you here in this post.
Some advice here overlaps as many people use similar tools such as Twitter, FaceBook and Adwords Keytools, but it is really interesting to see how they all use them slightly differently. Some advice is even contradictory, but that for me shows that we are all still learning the ropes, and that marketing is more of an art form than a science! Find out what works for you, don’t just copy what others are doing.
PS Don’t forget to scroll all the way to the bottom for my own tips, and to add yours too!
Rachael is a surface pattern designer and textile artist, who has a large number of prestigious clients around the globe along with a number of successful licensed collections sold worldwide. She also runs and manufactures her own successful product label in the UK. You can find her products in areas such as stationery through to home-wares and fashion.
Rachael aims to create ‘patterns to make you happy’ and in 2009 she was awarded the title of ‘The Happiest person in Britain’. Her patterns are spontaneous, which makes them unique and full of energy. She takes inspiration from everything around her and a lots of her motifs come from her own mood and personality.
Her designs are regularly featured in the press and have even been featured on television; along with being published in 7 design books in the past 2 years. Rachael is known for her strong ‘signature’ look, with designs that are full of energy, fun, contemporary, quirky and fresh.
‘My biggest tip for getting more traffic to your website is free social media.
This includes: setting up a Facebook business/company page which sends weekly page updates including who has been following your work.
Twitter is a hugely useful marketing tool as it is so easy to share and ‘retweet’ links and pictures from a website. Alongside your twitter account you can also use a management tool such as Hootsuite in which you can flag keywords such as ‘pattern’ or ‘design’ and any tweet on the subject will be fed directly to your deck so you don’t miss anything.
Setting up a blog and sharing your work is also essential marketing, and it is also important to share other designers’ and artists’ work too. This helps create a network or community of contacts that may be useful in your career and will drive more attention to your website.
Use Pinterest on which you can now safely ‘pin’ designs and inspiration from your website and share within a supportive, creative community.
In terms of analysing the activity on your site, you can use Google Analytics, which allows you to see daily visits, the number of active viewers, types of traffic and even what countries they are from. This allows you to see what is working well on your site and what isn’t.
Another tip that has worked well for me has been to submit my work to other sites that are relevant to my industry; I am a surface pattern designer so therefore submitting my work to sites like Print and Pattern has been instrumental in driving more interest to my website and my designs.’
Folksy is the UK’s online marketplace for buying and selling handmade. Folksy gets around 300,000 unique visitors a month, more in the run up to Christmas, and there are around 10,000 makers using folksy.com to sell their work.
Emily’s top tips for those trying to sell their work online include:
‘Build relationships and links:
Social media work well but it’s important to make sure you tell a story and don’t spam.
Become known for being a good person for ‘something’, maybe it’s kooky craft projects, links to great events or your own personal story as a maker.
Search Engine Optimatisation (SEO):
Think carefully about how to describe your work and your site and use tools like the Google adwords keyword tool to find the right word combinations for you and your business.
Take the time to create a strong brand image:
Think about your shop name and who you want to appeal to. Think about your work and product imagery as a ‘collection’. Sellers that take the time to do this really stand out in a marketplace like Folksy.
Product imagery is SO important:
Why spend hours making something beautiful then photographing it on your kitchen worktop with last night’s dinner in the background? If you spend money anywhere – this is the place to spend it! Be proud of your work and show it off to it’s full advantage.
Look for online photo tips if you can’t afford to hire a photographer, play around and don’t be shy. Folksy has lots of tips online here. It’s the product imagery that makes your item stand out when buyers are scanning sites.
Work with other like minded people or organisations to do joint projects. Work together to share your story, you’ll reach more people that way.
And my Top Tip for creatives: don’t follow the pack, strike out then it’s easier to publicise your work and your story.’
Hilary is a writer and social media strategist, who writes for www.ukcraftblog.com – a basic directory of craft bloggers and a labour of love. She contributes regular blogging tips and tutorials to help members succeed in promoting their blogs and enhancing their social media skills. Hilary is a keen supporter of the UK Handmade market and enjoys sharing her skills in digital marketing to a support network for craft bloggers.
You also might like to read another Design Trust blog by Hilary about how to stop wasting time on twitter and Facebook (and make it more useful).
Hilary’s top tips are:
‘Create really beautiful and really useful, shareable content and do some homework on optimised copywriting using relevant keyword phrases. I have an article called ‘How to get to page one of Google‘ with some really useful, practical tips on building traffic from search engines.
Spend time finding great connections to network with to get your amazing blog content shared. Use social media or blog commenting as a way of informally introducing yourself to influential bloggers. If you were at a real life networking party, you wouldn’t run over, hand someone your business card and run off (well you shouldn’t!). The goal is to have your posts shared to their fans and followers – but be subtle and take time (weeks not hours) to build relationships. Once you have a good level of repartee you can comfortably tag them when you have a new post that you think is really relevant to their readership (If they haven’t already).‘
‘Ask influencers (experts on your subject or on complementary subjects) if they are interested in guest posting for you (a little like this post!). The aim is to make your blog a hub for your specialist subject.’
‘Likewise building links back to your blog from influential bloggers will help. Seek out or ask for opportunities to write posts for other blogs. The links back need to be from highly relevant sources and content. It’s not a numbers game.’
‘Guest posts are great for finding a whole new readership because both the blogger and guest benefit from the mutual promotion of the post across each of their networks.’
Claire and Polly love supporting female makers to get to the next level with their craft business through improving their knowledge and confidence in their online marketing and selling. You can read an extensive review of their virtual course and coaching programme Handmade Horizons in this blog post.
Claire’s and Polly’s top tips to get more traffic to your website or online shop are:
‘If your aim is to sell your product or service online, it goes without saying that you need a steady stream of traffic. But not just any type of traffic. You need the right kind of traffic.
Now before you start thinking we sound like a train operator in the winter (wrong kind of rain, anyone?!) let us explain. Thing is, with a bit of budget behind you, anyone could start sending droves of traffic to their website or shop. You could go out and buy a whole load of sponsored listings on search engines. Take out a high profile advertising slot.
You’d get clicks. Your website traffic would go up. But there’s no guarantee that you‘d make more sales.
Why not? Because you don’t need just anyone to click on your ads and go through to your shop.
You need the right kind of people.
Get where we’re going here?
Who are the right kind of people exactly? They’re your people.
Your target customers, in other words.
The folks who a) want or need what you have to offer and b) are in a position to buy.
Just as there’s no point hanging around gay bars if you’re straight and looking to meet the love of your life … it doesn’t make sense to spend time and money getting your products onto websites if your target customers are somewhere else.
Facebook could be a fantastic source of (free!) traffic if you sell funky jewellery to trend-setting teens. But it’s unlikely to be a massive source of sales if you’re looking to sell bespoke leather briefcases to time-starved execs. LinkedIn, on the other hand, could be well worth a look.
If you design custom wedding stationery, think about how brides-to-be are spending their time. Are they spending their lunchtimes reading the local rag? Or planning their nuptials on Pinterest and reading bridal blogs?
Once you have a clear picture in your mind of your target customer and the places they’re likely to look, the whole question of where to get more traffic from will get a lot easier. You will immediately know which opportunities and channels have most potential, and which you should try first.
If your customers are on Facebook – create a Facebook page and put together a strategy that’s focused on generating sales.
If your customers are drooling over design blogs – put together a press pack, run a giveaway, send it out.
If they rely on directories – research the top ones in your industry and find out how you can get involved.
So there you have it. As far as we’re concerned, there’s no magic bullet or one-size-fits-all. But we would like to offer some golden rules:
- Don’t feel like you have to do everything at once. Focus on one channel or activity at a time, rather than spreading yourself too thinly.
- Do have an email sign-up form and use email to drive traffic back to your shop. If you’re not doing this, you’re missing out!
- Don’t even think about paying for advertising unless you’ve got a way to track the results and follow-up. We love Google Analytics, not least because it’s free!
- Do optimise your shop to take advantage of free search engine traffic – use keywords in your product titles and descriptions, and research what people are searching for
- Don’t spend money on sponsored listings or AdWords unless you’re confident you know what you’re doing – they can be expensive and ineffective for the in-experienced marketeer.’
- Cathy is the the founder of The Anorak Press, an independent kids’ publishing house which publishes Anorak Magazine, amongst other books and magazines.
They recently revamped our site and it’s attracting an average of 6,900 unique visitors a month. Their website includes a shop which is regularly updated with new products.
Cathy’s says about her own social media experience:
‘Most of the peaks we have had in the past are due to coverage in physical press, whether in newspapers or magazines.
Social networks now account for about 30% of our traffic, with Facebook still being the most effective one. We recently joined Pinterest on the advice of our friend at Kickcan & Conkers so it’ll be interesting to see how that affects traffic.
Blogs (design & mums/dads) are fabulous too at generating traffic so we are grateful!’
Cathy’s top tips to get more traffic to your website are:
‘Say hello to design bloggers to create awareness amongst their community. There are many out there but some of the ones I regularly visit are Grain Edit, Booooooom, Design Observer, Swiss Miss, Inky Goodness and Book by its Cover.
Share and join social networks if you haven’t yet. I am a great fan of Instagram because it fits with the visual aspect of the magazine, but most importantly it’s super easy to use so it can fit in a busy day with minimum hassle. Mix self promotion stuff with stuff you like.
Renew your site regularly, and ensure you have something to show on a regular basis so there is a reason for your followers to come back to your blog/site.
Create something fun and unique that says something about you and your work. It can be an animated GIF, a podcast or a little movie, that can be easily distributed amongst your followers.’
Marenthe is a graphic and illustrative designer, working from her studio in The Hague (the Netherlands), but is increasingly working internationally.
She has worked for many cultural clients, as well as the bigger brands, commercial clients and print media. She illustrates and designs for (international) magazines and newspapers, has published her own children’s books, designed an award-winning set of stamps for the Dutch post office, and is currently launching a series of stationery items and diaries.
Her top tips for driving traffic to your website are:
- ‘Make sure you are out there and be seen.
- Have a good address book and use it.
- Try to make new contacts, contact people who you would like to work with.
- Make time to promote yourself.
- Use social media, and use it well.
- Create a professional newsletter with links to your website.
- Keep your website up to date, refresh regularly.
- Don’t be shy, don’t hesitate. Just show yourself and be sure of who you are and what you do.’
Justyna provides social media services for the design sector, which include social media management, training and workshops.
She has created online communities for the industry’s top trade events such as Decorex International and EcoBuild, building their audiences, and bringing the industry’s professionals together to network, exchange ideas and strike new business partnerships.
Justyna’s top 3 tips to drive traffic to your website are:
‘First – start your business presence on social media!
Platforms such as Twitter and Facebook are invaluable sources of website traffic, and perfect to promote your brand. They are free to use and connect your business directly with the industry, your customers and active industry professionals, who can help you promote your brand online.
On Facebook, create a business page and include your website address in its ‘About’ and ‘Contact info’ sections. Update your Facebook page content regularly – create posts every week.
It is important to link the majority of your Facebook posts back to your website. For example, you can post an image of one of your products on Facebook, and link it to the whole album hosted on your website. The more you link to your website through the posts, the better traffic your website will get.
On Twitter create an account to represent your business. Make sure your Twitter bio contains crucial information about your practice: who you are and what you specialise in.
In the Twitter profile also provide website address, and make sure that at least 50% of your tweets links back to your website.
To promote your brand, search Twitter for the media, organisations and bloggers in your sector e.g. fabrics, ceramics etc. Follow relevant accounts and start interacting with them, discussing professional topics. The more your tweets are relevant to your practice, the more ‘findable’ you will be on Twitter. Also, the more online industry relationships you have, the higher your reach of your Twitter account will be.
On Pinterest, open an account under your brand name and create mood boards for each of your projects, collections as well as inspirations. On these mood boards, pin the pictures from your website. Done this way, you are not sending people to other websites, but all traffic comes to your website.
To increase website traffic from organic search of Pinterest users, make sure you caption the images correctly, with the product names, materials, inspirations, techniques used – this way they will be very easy to find on Pinterest.’
Founder of websites Naughty Girl Media, Baggage Reclaim and the very popular kid’s design blog Bambino Goodies.
Baggage Reclaim is an empowering self-esteem and relationship site, packed full of advice, tips, inspiration and commentary inspired by Natalie’s own experiences and observations along the way. As well as the site, she writes books and e-books, and runs courses and workshops.
Bambino Goodies is Natalie working with a few partners helping to inspire parents of children 5 and under. This popular website flies the flag for design led and independent, British and eco-consious goodies. There are also workshops to help retailers grow their business.
Natalie’s top tips to get more visits to your website or online shop:
I consistently post snippets of advice and inspiration on Baggage Reclaim’s Facebook page including images. I have a really engaged audience who share the content. I switched off the RSS notification and manually post images and links on both of my Facebook pages and have seen engagement rise sharply with Bambino Goodies.
Experiment with content to see what resonates – don’t just keep doing the same thing that’s not working over and over again. Vary content.
I strongly recommend that you don’t auto-post the same stuff to Facebook and Twitter and basically all of your platforms, as not only is it quite annoying to read, but there’s no incentive for people to follow you across platforms. You can use one piece of content in lots of different ways – image with a link to it, snappy one liner, different titles etc.
Use email. Yes Facebook et all are handy but they’re not your property – your site, blog, and email list are. Cultivate them and stop being afraid of scaring people away by emailing them. Not emailing them at all is not going to bring you business.
Make your content pinnable for Pinterest and also create images which you can pin and include a link to your content. Tips, quotes, great product and lifestyle shots are very sharable. Don’t just pin your own stuff though!
Do a mini-ebook, maybe of tips and when people sign up to your newsletter, they get a copy for free – this will help you build your email list, which in turn gives you a potentially responsive audience of people who you can sell to. Other things that work include patterns, templates, recipes, catalogues.‘
Noisette Academy was founded in 2011 by Isa Maria. After being made redundant in 2009 she decided to put her 15 years of marketing and PR experience to good use helping creatives succeed in business. Over the last 3 years she has worked with countless small business owners helping them increase sales through marketing, social media and public relations consulting.
Alongside her agency services she opened Noisette Academy, a source of inspiration and DIY e-courses for creatives wishing to take the next step into making their businesses soar.
Isa’s top 4 tips to get more traffic to your website are:
- ‘Guest post on other sites. Increase your network by guest posting on popular blogs. Many blogs have submission pages showing you how you can get involved with the site. Take this opportunity to share your work with a whole new audience. Pick blogs and websites that your target market read and make sure you are able to leave a link back to your site.
- Make your work pinnable. Pinterest is a huge traffic referrer. Make your images eye-catching and take beautiful photos. Think about the composition, colour and lighting and be sure to have some images on a white background as bloggers love to use these in their moodboard posts.
- Reach out to others. Promoting your work can be daunting but reaching out to others in your community can help build your confidence and widen your network. Maybe you can collaborate on a new collection, feature each other on your blogs or exchange contacts for editors or boutiques you’ve had success with in the past. All of these can bring in more traffic over time.
- Use the right words. Put yourself in the mind of your customer. Consider what search terms they will be using to find products similar to yours and use them. When you are highly passionate about what you do and converse with others in the industry all the time, it can be easy to forget that your target market may not talk (or search) in the same terms you use.’
The Design Trust was launched at the end of January 2012. The website gets now between 30K-40K visits every month, with over 30,000 Twitter followers and 6K+ newsletter readers.
Patricia’s top tips to drive more traffic to your site are:
‘It is essential to have an online presence if you are taking your business seriously. It doesn’t need to be an elaborate site – a couple of pages created with WordPress or SupaDupa, an online Etsy or Folksy shop or portfolio on Behance or ArtsThread is all you need.
Some of you will do most of your business and selling online, so you will need to have a well-designed and well known platform to enable smooth e-commerce selling.
For other creatives their website is basically an online portfolio, where you need to show your specific skills and that potential clients can trust you to deliver. The real selling will happen elsewhere in person or on the phone, and your website is more of a confirmation that you are a professional.
Driving traffic to your own website is far harder than driving traffic to your online shop or portfolio site if it is part of a larger well-established brand such as Etsy. The most important tip to drive traffic to your specific page on competitive sites such as Etsy is that you need to stand out for your quality and specific skills or products. You do this especially through:
- Absolutely wonderful photographs of your work
- Excellent ‘tagging’ of these images. Include the material, specific colour (e.g. petrol blue), type of product (e.g. slouchy beanie hat), type of gift (e.g. stocking filler), who it is for (e.g. teenage boy) – all in the title of your product and in the description.
If you want to get more traffic to your website or online shop, then there are three main questions to be answered:
What do you do? Who is your audience and potential clients? Identify this in detail, and you can then start working on your branding of your website or the feel of your shop, the tone of voice, the styling and type of images, the colours, the fonts. So that when people visit your site or shop for the first time, they will straight away know they are in the right place – or not.
Ideally come up with about 8 words that describe what you do (e.g. your products and services) and how you do it (think here about your values and themes e.g. functional, minimal, quirky, bizarre, decorative, bohemian).
Identify what you want to be known for specifically (What are you the expert in? What is your best skill?) and then try to ‘create a picture in somebody’s head’ with descriptive words. Don’t use over used words such as ‘unique’, ‘design-led’, ‘contemporary’ or ‘crafts’. Be more specific and creative than that!
Use these key words in your tag line, as tag words for your images, in your ‘about page’ or intro on your home page, and regularly throughout your communications and your website texts. This will make it easier to find your website by people through Google searches and on very competitive sites such as Etsy and folksy.
Also, if you consistently use these words people will be able to understand better what you do and for whom. Which will make it far easier to get referrals. And getting referrals is one of the most important actions to get more and better quality traffic to your site!
Think about niche market as becoming a bigger fish in a smaller pond – you need to be known for something first, so that people start recognising you and recommending you.
You only might need 20 specific gallery owners, 30 potential clients or 10 agents to see your work and website. Getting traffic isn’t just about the quantity, it is the quality that really matters. Knowing and communicating your niche consistently will make it far easier for you to reach the right clients.
Secondly, when you identify your client groups in more detail you will get to know your audience better (which is wider than your clients) you will start to understand their needs better, what they are looking for, when and how they want to buy. You will start to learn if they are using Facebook or Twitter, Pinterest or Linked In. Start making yourself familiar with these social media tools. Sign up for them (all for free!). Learn about how they might work for your business.
Thirdly, can you answer this question: ‘What’s the reason why people should visit your website or online shop?’ Stand in their shoes for a minute and wonder what would make you click through to your website?
Are they looking to buy or browse? If so, for whom would they be buying?
What would they want to know about you to feel confident to purchase or commission?
Did they see you at a previous trade show, and now want to work with you?
Use that knowledge about their specific needs again in your tags, as it will make it again far easier for people to find you.
Make sure that on the home page (after all the most visited page of any website) you make it as easy as possible for people to find their way to where they want to go e.g. your shop, your CV or ‘about me’. Make life as easy as possible for them, as they won’t have the patience to look for a long time.
With these fundamental questions answered you can start building traffic to your site. Here are my insights I learnt from building our own successful website:
- Building up an audience takes time and effort. You need to spend time on consistently developing your website with content and images, as well as communicating very regularly to people about your website (It is more daily/weekly than monthly).
- Be patient! As I often say on this website: People only buy from people they know, like or trust. So don’t just send emails and tweets when you have got a show coming up, and shout desperately ‘buy me, buy me’. People want to get to know you, so be regularly in contact, tell your story.
- If you regularly add new products, images, news, blog posts, new projects, new clients, events etc then you have a great reason to contact people via email, twitter or a newsletter and link back to your website. (These 3 are my top tools to drive traffic to our website!)
- More than 75% of our traffic is generated through Twitter. We tweet daily and include nearly always a link back to our website. But note that this is a very high % that we can achieve as we have very often news in the form of opportunities or training listings, as well as business and marketing blog posts. But if you have a website that goes beyond ‘just selling you and your work’, and includes reviews of books and exhibitions, talks about your passions and interest in a very engaging way, and you provide ‘how to’ training videos, then you will achieve far higher traffic than if you have a more static website. If you want to learn how to get more and better twitter followers then check this blog post out.
- Make it easy for people to share your blog posts (e.g. include a Facebook ‘like’ or twitter icon link) and images (e.g. make them ‘pinable’ for Pinterest). Encourage people to leave comments or feedback on your site about your work.
- Have a ‘sign in’ box on your website for your mailing list or newsletter, and encourage people to sign up for this. This will help to build your database, to stay in touch with people, and to get them to come back to your website again and again.
- ‘Traditional’ and online marketing are very closely related now. If you do exhibitions, trade shows, get new projects or clients then put a blog post on your website, and send an email out with the link back to your website.
- Install Google Analytics on each page. I am still amazed how seeing these stats on a regular basis really spur me on to do better next week, next month, … They really motivate me! And there are days that I think nobody is actually listening out there, and then I check the stats, which makes it all worthwhile as I know I have got an audience out there!’
So, what about you? What are your tips to drive more traffic to your website or online shop? What did you find the most useful tips here? If you found this blog post useful, then please retweet it or ‘like’ it – thereby driving more traffic to The Design Trust website too!