Are you frustrated by the lack of online sales for your creative business? Want to increase your online sales, but not entirely sure what to focus on first?

Having a professional website is an absolute must if you want to be taken seriously as a creative professional.

It’s the starting point where potential clients can find out more about you and your creative work, commissions or designs.

It’s also now one of the safest and most flexible (for both you and your clients!) places for your clients to buy from you! As so many craft event and design shows have been cancelled, and many galleries and shops are still closed, having a website is THE place to find out more about you and buy from you.

But, it’s not easy to stand out from the crowd!

To get potential clients to visit your site, and then to get them to buy.

There are loads of challenges on the way and hoops they have to go through before they will purchase your gorgeous items.

These 3 essential steps will help you to focus on where your website isn’t working as well as it could, and give you loads of practical ideas to work on your own website to increase your online sales:

Step 1: Is your website as good as it could be?

Many creatives are a little embarrassed about their website and often haven’t looked at their own website for many months (or years even!). They know that they could do better, that their website needs a little TLC with some new images or pages, or a bigger overhaul even. But somehow, they put this job always to the back of the queue.

But the BIG problem is that if you are not proud of your website,

then it’s very unlikely that you are inviting any potential clients happily to your website either.

Plus your existing visitors will very likely be aware too that you are not giving it the attention it needs, so they are a lot less likely to buy from you online.

And the fewer online sales you get, the less interested you are to polish your website and increase your online sales …

It’s a self-fulfilling prophecy.

Time to do a quick website review & take action!

When was the last time you had a good look at your own website (through your potential client’s eyes)?  Make some time now (30-60min is often enough) to do a quick website review. Get yourself pen and paper, go through your website or Etsy shop, and write down at least 5 specific actions that you will do to improve your website (this week, or with a specific deadline):

  • Is it immediately clear what you are selling on your homepage? Have you got a so called ‘hero image’ that really shows what you do? The reality is that most of your website visitors will spend less than 3 seconds before they move on, so you have got very little time to make that great first impression and get potential clients clicking further into your site towards your gorgeous work.
  • Does your website show what you really want to be known for? And does it connect with your ideal clients? Don’t just think about WHAT you sell (e.g. your gorgeous handmade jewellery, embroidered portraits or lino prints of nature and landscapes) but also how your ideal client wants to feel about your work. You are selling much more than just a product or creative work – does your website connect with that emotion too? Does your website position you correctly and does your website resonate with your ideal client and what they really want? (By the way … if your website actually puts some people off, that’s a good sign that you are working on attracting the right clients to you!)
  • Is your website easy to navigate? Do your clients find it easy to find what they are looking for? Is your navigation bar clear with words that explain what to find in each category? Are your categories organised both by collections but also per product (e.g. necklaces, bracelets, brooches)? Do you need to re-organise or simplify your categories? You might find it useful to ask a few people to use your website and just observe them and see what they find easy and difficult about your website.
  • Have you organised your work in collections or are you just showing loads of individual items? We are big fans of creating collections! Make sure that you only show your best work and that there is a clear design style throughout your work and website. If there is too much clutter and it’s confusing then your potential clients will get overwhelmed and walk away. Make time to curate your website.
  • Are all your images sharp? Is there consistency in the images, the lighting, styling and background? Are you showing your creative work in the best possible way? Do you have nice large images of your creative work, truly showing the detail of your craftsmanship? Professional photography (and increasingly video) is crucial to increase your online sales.
  • Is your website up-to-date? Do you have any old blog posts, images, seasonal hashtags (e.g. Christmas) or projects lurking around that you need to remove? Giving your website once or twice per year a good clear out is part of your essential website maintenance. Identify your 20% least-selling items, do a sale and then remove them permanently from your website. This sale will make space (and hopefully will bring in some money too!) to launch your new creative work.
  • Is your branding (your logo, colours, fonts) still up to date and reflective of the kind of clients you want to attract? A strong brand is often simple, with a clear and consistent message. Keep your website design simple but let your brand personality shine through.
  • Does your website look good on different computers or screens? What about on mobile phones? It’s surprising how different your website might look on different devices or by logging in with different browsers (e.g. Google Chrome or Firefox). Also check how easy it is to read your texts when viewing your website on a mobile phone rather than on a computer screen.
  • Do you have any automatic popups for your email list that popup before your website visitors have had any time to look around? These popups can work really well to generate signups, but if they show up too early then they can be really irritating. Make sure that you amend the time before they popup to at least 30seconds.

Write down specific actions to work ON your website this week to increase your online sales, and to make you feel proud again of your website.

It’s very easy to forget to review your website regularly as a busy creative, so make time to do your own review and to do the work.

Step 2: Do you drive traffic to your website regularly? Do you know how to?

When you are feeling a bit more confident about your website then the next step is to start inviting more potential clients to visit your website again.

The 4 main ways to get more website visitors (and therefore to increase your online sales chances!) are:

  1. SEO (Search Engine Optimatisation) basically include key words on your website so that people can find your site.
  2. Email marketing is one of the most effective ways to get online sales! When people sign up to your database then they really want to hear from you as they are interested. Are you keeping in touch regularly with short, visual, timely and relevant emails for your audience and clients? Read these 14 expert tips to grow your mailing list
  3. Social media is of course super popular, but are you indeed using it in a professional way, and include links to specific pages on your website?
  4. Other creative marketing methods e.g. sending something in the post, marketing at events or locally.

Following up after an event by email can be one of the best ways to increase your online sales as they have already seen and hold your work, and met you in person.

Especially if you are using Etsy or another popular online market place then understanding the basics of SEO is crucial. Including the right key words into your product descriptions or writing specific commissioning case studies can help you to get found.

If you are disappointed with low online sales then check how many visitors you are actually getting. Using an online tool such as Google Analytics can give you much needed data, about the numbers, but also which pages are popular, where your website visitors are from, and the keywords they used to find you. Check in on Google Analytics regularly and start to spot patterns and the reasons why you are getting more or fewer visitors, rather than checking each day!

Be aware that a conversion rate of about 3% is considered to be normal.

This means that from the 100 people visiting your website only 3 people actually purchase. However, this number and your actual online sales results can fluctuate enormously, especially if you get less than 100 visitors per day.

You can find here another inspiring The Design Trust blog post here with 10 ideas to drive traffic to your website. Because without getting plenty of visitors regularly coming to your website it will be difficult to increase your online sales.

Step 3: How to turn visitors into actual buyers?

So, you have improved your website (step 1) and you are working regularly on getting more specific visitors to your website (step 2) but you are still not getting online sales or orders?

How can you encourage your visitors to buy from you online? Some tips to increase your online sales:

  • “People only buy from people they know, like & trust”: This is our marketing mantra and at the heart of all the marketing that The Design Trust does. Building your profile, credibility and trust is super important … especially online! Is your website looking professional? Would you buy from your website? Have you included quotes or testimonials from clients or many five-star reviews (on Etsy)? Do you share a list of galleries, shops or events that you have taken part in? Do you show your expertise by focusing on a niche or sharing some of your creative process (a short video is brilliant for this)?
  • Do you really show your work from different angles? We recommend that you have 6 images per product, and show it from the front, but also the back (great to show your eye for detail and craft skills!), as an overall piece but also really up close (great to show how neatly your stitches are, the thickness of your glazes or the quality of the paper you print on). Try and include at least one lifestyle image that you could see in a magazine to add a bit of glamour and emotion too. Think about holding your handmade ceramic cup filled with a café latte for that special ‘me’ moment, or your framed print above ‘just-the-right’ sofa.
  • People need to fall in love with your products now before they will make a purchase, so do you bring that emotional feeling about purchasing and owning your creative work into your website? Images are crucial for this, but also think about using more emotional words within your product or workshop descriptions, and your commission pages. What is special about this piece? Who would it be for and when would they buy or gift it?
  • Do you make it super easy for your potential clients to buy from you? Do you know what your website visitors expect from your website, you and your products, and do you give them that info? The better you know who your ideal visitors and clients are … the easier this is! Trade clients and galleries might be looking at a list of events or galleries that you are selling to already, and they might look at your prices to see if it’s viable. Do you describe and show each product properly and do you give additional recommendations so that your clients don’t have any further questions that can stop them from buying? If you expect your clients to get in touch with you by phone or email then you will lose out, as most clients are not so sure yet or too shy to get in touch.
  • Show your expertise. Focus on a niche and become an expert, rather than trying to do too many things. Throughout your website share little nuggets of information about your inspirations or techniques, share your passion for what you do (that’s irresistible for most potential clients!) and show your packaging too (especially if it is a gift).
  • Use videos to connect better & be more memorable. Short videos can really work to show floating dresses or scarves, as well as 3D items such as decorated vases or furniture. Talk about your work as if you are face-to-face with a potential client to get a closer connection, and to hear the passion in your voice. Videos are much more memorable than texts, and especially if you find it hard to write or are dyslexic than videos can work very well to get more online sales.
  • Be patient and consistent. Focus on building relationships with your clients, rather than pushing for sales. Especially if your work is very unique and personal, or more expensive, or maybe a once-in-a-lifetime-purchase then you will need to be in touch regularly with your potential clients. You need to engage them in what you really do, show your development over time, invite them to events or organise launches or events online.

It often takes a while before you are known and that your ideal clients will remember you and your work.

One of the biggest mistakes we see creatives make is that they stop too early and worry too much about being too pushy or salesy. Clients are an essential part of starting and growing your creative business, so you need to make time for marketing and reaching out to your clients – in a personal, creative and visual way.

What will you do to increase your online sales? Let us know in the comments box below.

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