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Building a Shopify art store: Here's what you need to know (+ 3 Shopify art stores inspiration)

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The way people buy and sell online has changed greatly over the past decade. And the art industry is not exempted from this change.

As an artist in this age, you do not just have access to sales channels like Shopify and social media. You also enjoy the luxury of the willingness of customers to buy almost anything online. 

It is easier than ever to sell your art from the confines of your home.

A story ran by the New York Times confirms this shift.

After almost two years without a sale at a gallery where she had a nine-year relationship with the owner, Suzanne Massion decided she’s had enough and started marketing her work online.

The result? In a single month, she sold four pieces of her art, a big lift off from where she was when she depended on offline sales.

Online platforms like Shopify makes it easy for you to create an online art shop and get your work in front of more people. Like Suzanne, you might even find out that it is easier and more profitable to sell online than it is to sell offline.

If you’re willing to take that risk, this article will show you how to build a Shopify art store.

Shopify art storeBuilding a Shopify art store: here's what you need to know (+ 3 Shopify art stores inspiration) 

Source: Pexels

Outline

How to set up your Shopify store

Before we cover the specifics of building an art store on Shopify, you should first create an account on the platform.

set up your Shopify store 

The first thing you need to do is to sign up for a Shopify store. Visit Shopify’s website and click on the “Start free trial” button. After providing your email, password and store name, you will enjoy a 14-day free trial on the platform.

During this period, you can take the platform for a test drive, set up your domain name, upload product images, and get your store ready for launch. But you can’t launch the store yet or start selling unless you sign up for a subscription plan.

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How to choose the right Shopify theme for your online art store

As an artist yourself, you understand the role aesthetics play in the delivery of your work. It is not just a side note. It is how you convey the essence of your work.

Likewise on websites, themes are how you deliver the aesthetics of your brand.

Before you settle on a particular theme, there are a couple of things you should look out for.

These things are:

  • Your budget
  • The features and functionalities you want
  • Developer support
  • The number of products you plan to sell
  • SEO-friendliness

>>> You might want to see a detailed Shopify for artists guide

Your budget

The themes available on Shopify come at different price points. 

They can range from free to a few hundred dollars. Despite the difference in price range, you can always find something that works for you. So it is important that you have a clear idea of how much you are willing to spend on your theme.

Speaking of your budget, there is no wrong or right number. The amount you spend depends on the features and functionalities you want your store to have as you will see in the next section.

Free themes offer you basic functionalities that your store needs to thrive like product page, checkout page, and navigation. A premium Shopify theme offers more customization and access to advanced features like image stacking, animations, and so on.

The features and functionalities you want

Picking a theme requires you to think through the features you want in your store or experience you want to create for your customers.

Make a list of all the features you need:

  • Do you want an upsell cart feature?
  • Do you want a live chat feature?
  • Do you want your customers to be able to create accounts?

Your list will influence the Shopify art store themes you consider.

Of course, sometimes you might not find a theme that has all the features you desire on your website. In this case, pick a theme that has most of the features. And for the rest, you can get a Shopify app from the marketplace to perform the required functions.

Developer support

This might not sound like something important but it can potentially save you from a lot of headaches in the future.

Before you select a theme, make sure to vet the service extended by the theme’s developer post-installation. Read the ratings and reviews from past users to see what they say about the developer’s support. This is doubly important if you want to use a theme that is not offered by the Shopify store. 

Why? Because unless you’re a developer yourself, you’d most likely need to work with the theme’s creator any time a problem crops up.

For instance, integrating new plug-ins with the theme or upgrading the theme could develop issues that are best handled by developers.

The number of products you plan to sell

Your catalog size and the type of art you plan to sell should also affect your choice of theme.

Some themes are developed for specific niches and will look out of place on websites created for a different niche. For instance, you’d struggle to pass along your brand’s message if you use a theme created for selling automobile tools in your art store.

The reason is because your art store theme doesn’t need many functionalities, just a strong focus on visuals and aesthetics. But an automobile tools store needs a theme that has advanced search capabilities and can handle multiple categories.

The number of products you plan to sell also comes into play.

If your store will have a large catalog, then it makes perfect sense to go for a theme that is designed for large catalog sizes. Otherwise, stick with a theme whose features work best for small catalog sizes.

SEO-friendliness

23.6% of organic orders are directly linked to organic traffic.

This tells you why it is important to take organic visibility seriously while building your art store. A website that is well-optimized for organic visibility will rank highly on Google search engine result pages (SERPs). This will in turn attract a lot of people to the website, increasing the chances of you making sales.

So when choosing a theme, choose one that is not only SEO-friendly but also has built in SEO capabilities. This will ensure that your website reaches a wide audience.

Some of the things you should be looking for include:

  • Support for featured snippets
  • Customized metadata
  • Presence of social sharing buttons
  • Automatic sitemap generation

>>> Take a look at this list of best Shopify general stores for more insights

How do you showcase your artwork effectively?

Finding the right theme is just one part of getting your creation shown online. Even with the best themes, you still have to ensure that your work is displayed on your website in a way that compels visitors to buy them.

One of the main challenges artists face when showing their product online is figuring out how to stand out from the crowd. Sure, your artwork might be unique but with over 1.9 million professional artists in the US alone, it can be challenging to keep the attention of potential buyers.

So, how do you go about this?

Here are some of the ways.

  • Highlight your major works
  • Use videos for virtual walkthroughs
  • Use brief explainers or product descriptions for your art pieces

Highlight your major works

As a creative, sometimes it can be hard to admit that one of your pieces is not as good as others. But the truth is, not all artworks are created equal.

Sometimes, you might get hit by a wind of inspiration and produce something that stands out as one of the highlights of your collections. If this happens, make sure that these works are highlighted in a visible section.

Use videos for virtual walkthroughs

A slideshow with videos can be a powerful way to recreate a physical exhibition of your artworks online. Even if you are not comfortable in front of a camera, you can still make good use of video to show montagues of your work online.

Use brief explainers or product descriptions for your art videos

Explainers or product descriptions are important on your website because they give your viewers a peek into the background of your inspiration or the thought process behind your creation.

It pulls you closer to your website visitors because they feel like they can understand why you do what you do.

Some tips for creating awesome product descriptions for your artworks include:

  • Explain the inspiration behind your art: Stories sell art. So your product-description should be story-based. To elevate the appeal of your art, describe the inspiration behind your work. Do not just stop art referencing an event or occurrence. Go further by explaining how that event influenced your design, from choice of colors down to tiny details in your work, just like Marta Spendowska does on her website.

 Marta Spendowska product page

Source: Marta Spendowska

  • Use the right keyword: Remember when we said that SEO is an opportunity for art stores to get organic traffic from Google. Well, your product descriptions represent an opportunity for you to make your website more SEO-friendly. Think of some of the terms you would use to search for an art like yours and scatter them throughout your product description. But only do this if it makes sense. Remember that the main purpose of your descriptions is to elevate the appeal of your art. It can’t do that if it sounds mechanical.
  • Do not forget the details too: When creating your product descriptions, do not forget physical details such as:
    • The art piece dimensions
    • The materials used in creating the piece
    • The delivery method.

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Create engaging and user-friendly store layout

We talked about choosing the right theme for your store earlier. But the job of creating an art store website that engages your visitors requires more than just a theme.

You also have to think about how you organize your artwork into collections, the colors and fonts you use, your checkout process, and so on.

The layout of your store determines its structure. But it also does more than that. It also helps with the user experience and makes it easier for Google to crawl your website for SEO purposes.

If you are ready to create an engaging layout for your art store, here are the five elements of an engaging and user-friendly store layout.

  • Distinct and consistent visuals
  • Intuitive site navigation and organization
  • Responsive design
  • High speed and performance

Distinct and consistent visuals

A good website design requires a consistent visual language. This includes your colors, fonts, images, and icons.

Two things to keep in mind here are:

  • Avoid mismatched styles: As a creative, you already understand the importance of cohesion when it comes to your color theme. Before you build your website, decide on a color palette and font that reflects your brand.
  • Use original photography to build brand recognition: Stock photos are generic and you should stay away from them. Use original photography to help people connect imagery with your brand.

Distinct and consistent visuals 

Source: Pexels

Intuitive site navigation and organization

Every online shopper expects to easily find what it is they want on any brand’s website. The same thing applies to your art store.

Every one of your pages should be clearly organized and structured in such a way that meets your customers’ needs (and business goals too). An easy navigation keeps your visitors engaged with your website, increasing the chances of them becoming a customer.

Some best practices you can follow to make your website easier to navigate include:

  • Use a logical and relevant homepage design: The homepage isn’t talked about often when site navigation is discussed but it plays a crucial role in directing people to different areas of your website. Within the first few seconds of a visitor landing on your homepage, you must be able to fully convey what your brand is all about. This is not usually the case though.

A research by Baynard Institute revealed that “42% of eCommerce websites do not have a homepage design that enables users to accurately describe the type of site they’ve landed on”. When designing your homepage content, make sure to leave no room for confusion. Help your visitors understand what you offer without excessive scrolling.

  • Use a navigation search bar: The rule of thumb regarding search bars is this–when customers know what to look for on your website, make your search bar more prominent.

The search bar functionality autocompletes your visitors queries and matches them with the product they’ve come to your website for.

  • Use cookie retargeting: Personalization is a big deal in eCommerce. 8 out of 10 shoppers are more likely to engage with a brand only if offers have been personalized to reflect previous interactions.This is why cookie retargeting is such a great idea.

Cookie retargeting is when you use cookies to track visitors behavior on your website so that you can provide them with more relevant content or offers when they visit next. So if a visitor spends time in a particular section of your website.

The next time that visitor returns, rather than send them to your home page, you can take them straight to the section they showed interest in. This way, that visitor doesn’t have to begin their search from scratch.

Responsive design

Responsive design is another element you must take note of when creating a user-friendly store design.

When you use an eCommerce platform, your theme must be responsive.

A responsive Shopify store theme design automatically adjusts its layout so that it can be viewed across multiple devices. In the past, you needed multiple websites for different screen sizes in order to create a uniform experience for your prospects, no matter where they interact with your brand.

But the explosion of smartphones in the last decade meant that it is not efficient to create multiple websites.

With a responsive website design, you only need a single design that shrinks and transforms based on your visitor’s screen size. Shopify websites are responsive so you can be sure of providing a uniform experience to your visitors.

High speed and performance

Visitors expect websites to load quickly. If a website takes too long to load, visitors are more likely to abandon their shopping carts and leave your website.

One cart abandonment study found out that 13% of shoppers will leave and never come back if a website doesn’t run smoothly. So the speed and performance of your website is something you must really take into consideration.

Marketing strategies you can use for your Shopify art store

Without marketing, your art pieces on a Shopify website could as well be called a portfolio or work sample, rather than an online store. You need to direct people to your website so you can make money from your work.

Some of the marketing tactics you should consider for increasing the awareness around your art store include:

  • Start a blog
  • Enter art competitions
  • Organize your own art shows
  • Use social media

>>> Don't miss the chance to make money from selling crafts online

Start a blog

It’s a good thing that your Shopify store supports blogging because blogging is one of the best ways to get long term visibility as an artist.

Remember we listed SEO as one of the things you should consider when choosing a theme. Well, if you really want organic traffic to be a major source of sales for your brand, then starting a blog is another thing your must consider.

When you start a blog and talk about your work, you are able to connect better with your audience and answer questions they might have about your own digital art or art in general.

Enter art competitions

Competitions are a good way to get your work and abilities in front of art enthusiasts and potential buyers.

 Enter art competitions

Source: Art Prof

It also goes without saying that there’s a chance you win the competition and get some reward. If you’re open to taking part in competitions, some events to keep on your radar include:

  • RA Summer Exhibition 2023
  • EMBracing the Ocean
  • Wildlife Artist of the Year
  • London Art Biennale
  • Watermedia Showcase

They will help you build a reputation as a great artist and market your brand.

Organize your own art shows

Online marketing is synonymous with eCommerce business. But when it comes to online art stores, offline marketing can be as effective as online marketing.

Organizing your own art show is a wonderful way to learn the art marketing ropes—and it may be easier than you think. Here are some tips to help your show go smoothly:

  • Think of a theme to tie the whole show together. Your art show theme gives your event a sense of focus and can help you decide if there are other artists available that you’d like to feature.
  • Speaking of finding more artists to feature, you should consider making your event a group show. The more artists you can get in your show, the more marketing your show has.
  • Don’t stick to the traditional options for venues. Of course, if it is within your budget, renting out a formal gallery is great. But when you are just starting out, any place that is open and accessible could work. For instance, you can try to host your show in hotel lobbies, restaurants, and music halls.

Use social media

Leveraging social media platforms can be a game-changer for artists aiming to market their art store effectively

With the vast reach and targeted advertising options it provides, social media is an invaluable opportunity to connect with a global audience, build a brand identity, and engage directly with art enthusiasts.

What platforms should you use?

Platforms like Instagram, Facebook, and Pinterest offer visually-driven experiences, allowing you to showcase your creations in compelling ways and draw attention to your unique style. 

Focus on curating a strong presence, utilizing hashtags, collaborating with influencers, and engaging with followers through comments and direct messages. This way, you can cultivate a dedicated online community and turn your social media profiles into powerful marketing tools for your art store.

3 Shopify art stores you should follow for inspiration

Building a Shopify art store is a daunting task. Even with the information provided above, transforming your idea into a successful business is a task easier said than done.

To give you an extra jolt of inspiration, we’ll walk through three examples of Shopify stores that you can take notes from. These stores are:

  • Matt LeBlanc
  • Marta Spendowska

Amira Rahim

Amira Rahim is an artist and coach whose Shopify store is a great example of how to brand your business.

Amira Rahim homepage 

Her website features vivid and colorful fonts. And according to a customer, her work features an excellent combination of colors and imaginative abstract arrangement.

She does not only paint however. She also birthed “Better Than Art School” to teach artists how to create their own art business.

Matt LeBlanc

You can shop art on Matt LeBlanc’s Shopify store according to price points.

Matt LeBlanc price points 

When you go to Matt’s website, you’ll see that a few of the art pieces are sold out. This further drives up the value of Matt’s work as an element of scarcity is added to his product display.

One key thing you should learn from Matt is how he creates different offers for customers based on price points and uses scarcity to push people into making purchases.

Marta Spendowska

Marta uses a theme that makes it easy for her website visitors to quickly browse through her products and find the product that interests them.

Marta Spendowska quickly browse through her products 

On the side bar, you can filter your search by prices, art type (original art, vintage, bloomland), and art color. Her product descriptions are also something you can borrow from.

She doesn’t just give the product details. She also describes the inspiration behind the product so her visitors can see why she created it.

Conclusion

With the power of Shopify,you can now bring their imagination to life in the digital realm. 

In this article, we explored how to use Shopify to kickstart your creative journey and turn your talent into a business.

By carefully selecting a responsive Shopify theme for your art store, you can create a visual experience that captivates your audience. Use high quality images and compelling descriptions to allow your work to truly shine. And with a well-designed and user-friendly store layout, visitors can navigate your website with ease and discover the full range of your artistic offerings.

However, the journey does not end with the creation of a beautiful store. 

Marketing strategies play a crucial role in reaching a wider audience and driving traffic to your Shopify art store. Leveraging the power of social media, blogging, and art shows can amplify your visibility and build a loyal customer base.

So, whether you're an established artist or just starting on your creative path, Shopify can be the canvas for your own store. Create a captivating Shopify art store that reflects your artistic vision, engages your audience, and brings your artwork to the forefront of the digital art scene. You can get started here.

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