In February of 2018, we surveyed over 1,000 artists to ask them what their favorite website builders are. This blog post breaks down that survey and shows the most popular website builders among professional fine artists. We also break down the relative satisfaction with each provider.
Preliminary information about the survey
Nearly 20% of the artists surveyed didn’t have a website at all. That’s surprising in 2018 and reflects a reticence by artists to adapt to modern marketing. This mirrors data from other well known surveys that show that many art galleries don’t have a plan for digital marketing.
Of those who do have a website, 70% were built by website builders. The remaining 30% were custom built either by the artists themselves or by a web developer that they hired. Artists shared that their custom websites median price was in the $2000 – $3000 range, with outliers ranging into the $15,000 range.
Most popular artist website builders
Below we break down each website provider, in order of popularity. We also asked each respondent to give us feedback on a variety of questions that indicate satisfaction with their website builder.
At 23% of users, Squarespace was easily the most popular website builder. It was also among the builders with the highest satisfaction rates, at 4.6 out of 5. Squarespace offers a free trial and extensive documentation. Squarespace makes building a website very easy. The Abundant Artist offers a course that will help you plan your website and gather your branding and marketing materials in preparation for building. Check out Artist Websites That Sell.
Quotes from users about Squarespace:
- It’s easy to update, has a clean/uncluttered design and is easily customizable so it doesn’t look so generic, but I can add my branding to it. SEO is simple too.
- Squarespace has many resources if one is intuitive enough to understand the logic from their references. If challenged, their support team is very helpful with guidance, screenshots, and further resources to help one succeed with their goal to build a website.
- I had used both WordPress (designed by someone else but maintained by me) and Wix. I read reviews, chose Squarespace and couldn’t be happier. Easy to use for a non-techy person; intuitive for the most part and when I really couldn’t figure it out, great support thru chat. They do screenshot videos of your site to show you how to do the things you are having trouble with. Love it!!
- Some design elements are limited, setting up can be technically challenging (ie. Connecting site with GoDaddy or integrating with Google Suite), does not yet integrate with POD sites like Zazzle (but they’re working on it).
- It can be a little glitchy sometimes. There is no stored library of images so you have to find and upload the same one multiple times if you want to use the same image on more than one page.
There is not yet an option to have the price displayed with the country’s currency next to it. USD or NZD, for example.
- Commerce end is a bit clunky and I had to create a work around.
At 11.68% of our artists surveyed, Wix is popular for its free trial and how easy it is to use. Its satisfaction rate of 4.27 out of 5 is just slightly less than Squarespace, and this is generally because it has fewer customization options than others. Wix also had a problem with being de-indexed by Google in 2015, and many professional developers have concerns with their underlying code. That said, it remains quite popular.
Quotes from users about Wix:
- Really easy and intuitive. Tried Weebly for another site and it is difficult.
– easy drag and drop functionality – great for graphic designers wanting to fine tune the look. User friendly eCommerce with a phone app that notifies you when someone buys a product or sends a message. I also like the mail ‘shout outs’ and have swapped from using MailChimp to Wix for this too.
- With no experience I was able to easily build and maintain an attractive site. There was no pressure to do it quickly due to their open trial period which took the stress away and gave me the freedom to figure it out. I also love how easy to attach images to a link which leads to the site I sell from.
- Not enough capabilities for custom tweaks for mobile view.
- If I wanted to change templates I’d have to start all over.
- I can’t change the template. Once you pick a template you’re stuck with it. The work around is you can basically redesign it. The drawback is this takes time.
- Not easy to integrate with a POD service – like Printful. Possible but NOT easy. Considering switching.
At 11.07%, the hosted WordPress solution (as opposed to the self-hosted and more customizable WordPress software) is very popular. Its customer satisfaction rating is just 3.85 out of 5. More than 60% of responses said that WordPress.com is easy to use and inexpensive. But when we asked what people dislike, the most common responses were that there is a steep learning curve. This leads us to believe that many WordPress.com users are more tech savvy than the average user.
Quotes from users about WordPress.com:
- There are endless templates and plugins so that I can modify and enhance my site as my business grows. Initially, I did all the design and setup. Two years ago I hired a web designer and a web developer to redo my site. I stayed with the WP platform. I can go in and do easy tweaks but I now pay them to design new pages for other offerings like courses and creativity retreats but I can add blog posts, images and ultimately manage my shop (it is a WooCommerce shop and is under construction).
- Easy to use once you learn the basics. Many online tips from the team and from users. I can use a template instead of making up the whole website from scratch. It is free to use if you are just starting as an artist, but when you start to be serious about your business you can go for the paid version without ads. You can have a portfolio and a blog there and both work well. WordPress is a blogging community so you can follow and interact with many people who do art as well.
- Would like to see better integrated online store feature, and would also like better integration with Google Analytics, not just the built in stats.
- I do not dislike anything so far. But WordPress generally is for people who like to play with details and learn the settings. I learned on my personal blog all the tricks, so it was easier to stay on the same builder for my art website as well.
- Well, you have to dedicate many hours to learn how to use it. Each template comes with different things to learn. When there are problems, you have to spend a lot of time finding answers in forums or YouTube videos.
- Learning to build on WP the first time is a full time job. Hire someone if you can afford it or you will be spending all your time in front of a computer screen!
At 10.66% of users, Weebly is popular, but its customer satisfaction rating at 3.7 out of 5 is the second lowest in our survey. They were recently purchased by Square, so major changes may be in order.
Quotes from users about Weebly:
It’s incredibly easy to use, and has beautiful, customizable templates. It also has an app where I can track visitors, edit my site on the go, and most importantly see when someone writes to me through the contact form and respond accordingly.
It’s easy to use overall. Physical, digital, and services options for products make it easy for me to sell paintings, downloadable items such as e-books, and workshops and classes. And it’s easy to offer a coupon and to have multiple shipping options based on price.
Weebly is completely free if you need a simple website. It’s so simple to use, and has a blog which links to social media. I love it. I initially had a Wix site offering the same level of service but you had to pay for even the most basic level. The customer service is excellent too.
Most everything other than above is clunky and often buggy, plus too many functions are costly add-ons without important functions – for example, you can pay for “abandoned carts” but cannot get the data on what people are leaving in their carts – pretty important in my opinion. Data downloads are not good because you cannot select what you’d like to download. No image library for prior uploads. Images have to be to particular specs for particular uses. Crazy.
The website’s abilities are priced into different packages. It makes you feel like you’re being nickel and dimed for services.
That it does not have a library storage of photos I upload. If move or delete an image from 1 page, I have to upload it again.
At 8.4%, self-hosted sites using the WordPress software have the flexibility that those who like to control every aspect of their sites crave. The customer satisfaction score of 3.8 out of 5 shows that WordPress is perhaps not the best fit for every artist. WordPress, by some estimations, makes up more than 20% of all sites. The ability to control every aspect of your site, down to the code, is great, but it creates traps that many artists find themselves spending more than 40 hours to learn how to overcome. For those who like the DIY model, we’ve done an extensive guide to the Divi theme, probably the best drag and drop theme builder for WP.
Quotes from users about WordPress.org:
I’m used to WordPress now so the thought of switching and going through a learning curve seems daunting! Also, WordPress is free and that’s HUGE since I haven’t sold much yet. It gives me the time I need to get up and running. In the future, when I can afford a webmaster, I won’t care and would be willing to switch. However, I know that getting a website back that’s fancy and complicated can be a huge bomb for a business. We’ve had that experience too. So I tend to choose webmasters who use WordPress or something that’s on that level.
Enormous flexibility and support, and the independence of using one’s own choice of hosting.
WordPress is easiest to get answers when you have a problem – just Google the problem and you get 50 solves. And for any template you use, you can get a video on YouTube that can take you step by step on how to set it up.
Can be customized to do anything unlike the other site builders I have used previously. I also am in complete control of everything to do with the site and not at the whim of a company trying to get more money out of me for extra functionality.
I use a theme (Headway) that is far too complicated for my needs. When I first started using it in 2010, it was much simpler. It’s grown so complex that I dread making changes, even though I’m a reasonably intelligent and tech-savvy person. I’m grandfathered in with Headway so I don’t pay a subscription fee – a recurring fee for the theme would have been a deal-killer for me – but I’m now afraid to get into the backend because I’ll have to learn everything again from scratch, when I’ve already put years of sweat into it. And I’m overwhelmed by the thought of switching themes – what if I have to switch back and lose all my years of customization? So instead my website languishes, doing nothing. Other things I’m not fond of include managing security and backups. It can be a little heavy if too many plugins are used. It’s tough to have a lean, fast-loading site if you don’t know what you’re doing.
Fine Art Studios Online (FASO)
At just 7.38% of our users, FASO makes up a very small proportion of our survey respondents, but FASO has been around for a long time. They have a customer satisfaction of 4.62 out of 5. A big part of that is their origin as a company specifically for artists. Their templates are designed for artists and they have artists staffing their support lines. The downside is their templates can be inflexible and don’t connect well with third party services.
Quotes from users about FASO:
It was extremely easy to set up and get going. Since it was my first web site, that was a huge plus. I had been told that the back end was solid, and that was important to me. They have excellent customer service, and that has been greatly appreciated in the past when I had a question or problems.
It was easy to set up and it is easy to change things. They have a lot of templates to choose from. I have never had any problems with it. They also promote artists who use their products. They are continually making it better.
NOTE FROM CORY: there were more than two dozen responses saying this: most FASO customers have zero problems. We removed these and condensed down for ease of reading, but must emphasize the love FASO customers have for their sites.
Limitations in some templates; too much wasted white space (would love my work to be displayed much larger); integration of pages to sell prints and/or products with my work on it in pages with the original artwork (lower priced or alternative options for folks who aren’t yet ready to invest in fine art); room setting view where customers can see the size / shape of a painting / print in an actual room like over a couch or bed, in a kitchen, etc; greater options in template layout (social buttons and email NL signup at top of page, etc).
At 6.56%, Shopify makes up a surprisingly small number of sites for artists. Their customer experience score is 4.27 out of 5. This is despite the fact that Shopify offers arguably the most powerful eCommerce experience on the web. They also integrate with nearly every third party marketing tool available. See our review of Shopify.
Quotes from users about Shopify:
Shopify is a great eCommerce platform and integrates really well with my POD companies. I have greatly appreciated the analytics it offers even in the basic package, and the support has been prompt and helpful when I needed it. The website builder itself is simple to use (I think even a novice could use it, but I went in with some experience). What is nice for me is that there is ability to open up the code for the template to make changes if I don’t like something about the template. For instance, in the template I selected, my product images did not indicate if more options (sizes, colors, framing, etc) were available, so I had to add a couple lines of code to make that show up. I just copy/pasted it from the help forums!
Shopify looks MODERN and clean. I like that the template I use has options for blog posts, featured posts, featured collection, large photos… I also like that they keep up with me and send me helping emails (about how to market, sell etc). Price is not the cheapest, but after having my websites running on cheaper ones, I feel it’s worth it. eCommerce possibility is very important. I chose this platform as I looked at pages I liked and noticed they’re made with Shopify. It is also VERY important that the page looks good on iPad and on phone.
The site is easy to use. There was still a bit of a learning curve with understanding how to add customization to the template, but it was much easier than WordPress. I also like the look of the templates.
Clunky blogging platform; mediocre shipping management; proprietary coding language and process (why not just let us use CSS and html?)
The blog feature sucks and setting shipping fees is difficult, especially for international shipping.
Some advanced modifications requires knowledge of coding (Shopify uses Liquid) and would be scary for a layperson, so that means you’d need to hire an expert. That said, the templates give you a lot of options, and so far I haven’t needed to call in an expert. They also have a lot of forums and tutorials to help with set-up.
Other Builders – includes a wide variety of more than 20 website building tools, including Adobe tools, Dreamweaver, and GoDaddy’s Sitebuilder program. There were not enough of these participants to give meaningful feedback, but they are also alternatives.
What did people want most from their website providers?
Download our survey data. If you’re the kind of person who wants to examine our data yourself, please feel free to download the data at this Dropbox link.
Additional Website Builders
More website builders are being added all the time to various services. We’ll add those to this post as we find them.
Artist Websites That Sell
Need a quick prep on what to put on your website, how to decide on your branding, and what to do with your website? Check out Artist Websites That Sell, our course built with award-winning designer Natalie McGuire.
Clint Watson says
Thanks for doing this work! Very interesting data. We, at FASO, are pleased to see that we have the highest satisfaction rating of any website builder. We also see we have some areas to improve. I can see that some of it is messaging (we do have options to reduce whitespace & make artwork images much larger), and some of it is other features (shhhh – we have view in room in the works….) that we need to finish up.
BoldBrush/FASO Founder & Art Fanatic
Kelsey Woodward says
Thank you so much for stepping in and addressing FASO’s issue noted by this group of artist users. Your doing so gives me renewed confidence in looking seriously into FASo as my first website experience. I feel less terrified!
Jacqui Angela Miller says
This is a great survey! I’ve looked at Wix, and Squarespace for ease of use but I think they lack some of the art specific tools that Art Storefronts and FASO provide. I really like the room view feature, so I was leaning towards Art Storefronts. However, with FASO’s high satisfaction rating, simple pricing structure, and the anticipated addition of the room view feature, I’ll be going with FASO!
Jim Livingston says
I did a lot of research. In the end I went with Art Store Fronts and am so pleased. This article notes a steep learning curve. I am a geezer with limited web experience. It wasn’t steep at all in fact, it was super easy. Not only does Art Store Front have a room view, but augmented reality which allows my customers to look at My art on their wall via a phone or tablet. I netted two big commercial sales with the client easily seeing the art in the space they were considering. I have been so pleased with the help technically and marketing and only a month in have made some of the largest sales of my career. Art Store Front for the Artist to win!
cory huff says
Thanks for commenting Clint. FASO is definitely doing some interesting things.
Clint Watson says
I just wanted to follow up that I promised we FASO were working on a View in Room (and Zoom) feature. (Among dozens of other things coming). It’s rolling out now. It’s already live on about 6-8 of our templates with 2-3 more coming each week.
You can view it on our sample site here: https://tylersample.faso.com/workszoom/2599128#/
This feature is available on all FASO plans at all price points and automatically gets added to every artwork you upload (if you add the size).
As far as I know we are the only place you can get this feature without spending big bucks for it.
David Hyatt says
Hi I’ve been looking at FASO as solution for a beginning artist. It looks very nice but users have to choose between e-commerce and direct payments. This seems unreasonable and makes it really difficult to track sales that don’t originate a payment. For instance if art sells in any other outlet, studio, gallery, there is no way to account for its disposition. Also, if e-commerce is enabled, a buyer can’t suggest a meet-up to finalize (and keep the sale in the system.) Generally, seems like this and some other decisions are more about what’s good for FASO vs the client. However I love other parts of the model including the ease of building the basic web and at least the minimal integration.
Great summary! As I was researching platforms for a client to help her choose which one I looked closely at Squarespace and Shopify. They have an impressive clean and highly visual appearance, but the trade-off would seem to be some of the connectivity that blog-forward sites have. Where, for instance, are the reciprocal links and blogrolls, which encourage higher ranking in search engines? Perhaps I missed a few templates (would love any recommendations!) but I didn’t see templates on any sites but WordPress that allow for easy archiving and presentation of artist blogging, reviews, and community links. Also little ability to search a site for content. That would seem to limit the depth of a site and the ability of an artist to tell their story. I get a large number of my visitors from google search, linking to my blog posts which are carefully keyworded and image-tagged. Any links to templates on Squarespace, Wix, Weebly or Shopify that have link lists, easy search and a robust blog section?
cory huff says
Shopify will definitely do most of what you’re talking about. The Shopify app store is where you want to look for those extensions.
The rest of the website builders aren’t really built to be that flexible.
Catherine Desjeunes says
Thank you Cory,
Great content, and more since I am looking to build a website. Sharing!!
Krista Hasson says
Great article. I took your Artist Websites That Sell course a while back. I loved it. It really helped me improve my website. I have been using wordpress.org for almost 10 years now and it is the right fit for me. When I took your course I decided to get the Divi theme, it was the best move I have made as far as designing my site goes. They are constantly adding more feature and improving on an already awesome theme. 🙂 They also have easy to follow instructions and videos for just about anything you could want to do.
Denesa Chan says
cory huff says
I have not spoken to anyone using Wix code. Sounds interesting, but seems like more work than its worth if you’re not really into fine-tuning your site.
Ray Hart says
I use WIX mostly because I’m cheap and I’m not by any means a computer guy.
It was fast and easy to use, I even bought the eCommerce package and it was easy for me to set up a store. Also it has been easy for me to add more items to my store too.
I have an email address that matches my web site, which gives me a more pro look.
I did by my web address through GoDaddy.com and it was confusing as to how to connect the two. Luckily I have a brilliant daughter that was able to help in that department.
Thanks for this article Cory. It is well worth finding out what coding website builders use (HTML/HTML5/CSS/Flash? etc) It’s a bit of a minefield in its own right and tends to go over my head, so I don’t know if I can explain well the thoughts I have about this.
What I will tell you is that I have been using a particular website builder, building my site from scratch myself, for five years and it has done absolutely nothing for my SEO, although I used all the tools to facilitate that. They claim a lot, including the usual promises of “beautiful templates” and “optimisation”. But the website builders used to be on Flash which doesn’t spider well in the search engines. They supposedly switched to HTML5 a few years ago, but I honestly haven’t seen any difference – there were still elements of Flash which caused many problems for my site especially its SEO visibility which simply wasn’t there.
So I would say if the program is Flash-based, I would avoid it. Also, it needs to be Android-compatible in today’s age. Mine wasn’t, as someone was having to scroll from side to side on their tablet to view my site properly.
I don’t mean to sound negative (it is so difficult to tell the truth, without sounding negative, isnt’ it?…and I always seem to…) but my heart goes out to other artists and I really don’t want anyone to have to experience the same disappointment. I worked so hard for years for my website to be attractive and workable, so what I am saying comes from my heart. I wish everyone good luck in finding the platform that works for them.
Alvalyn Lundgren says
Interesting lineup. I learned WordPress years ago and rely on it for my own and my clients. A couple years ago I learned about Elementor, a drag and drop pagebuilder — easier and more friendly than Divi and Beaver Builder. I will always recommend “owning” your own website and not relying on shared, done-for-you hosting/building such as Wix, Squarespace, Weebly. The reason is if the site owners make changes, you’re at their mercy. When you host on a hosting service and create your own site you have a far greater degree of control and customization. I can build a site from the ground up on WordPress, tweak it, add features easily, blog, monetize and create a membership platform.
Using WordPress on a shared hosting platform (I use Site Ground) is less costly in the long run than a done-for-you platform, and you can add on domains without increasing your costs.
While the learning curve is greater with WordPress, you need to learn it once and then you’ve got it. In my experience and opinion, a learning curve should not be a barrier.
cory huff says
I agree that self-hosted sites will always offer a greater degree of control, but for many people, WordPress’ learning curve is simply too high.
Clint Watson says
Yes, the learning curve for WordPress is high and it’s far more than the vast majority of artists need. We (FASO) almost launched a managed WordPress service but found the only artists who really wanted self-hosted wordpress were those who had expanded into selling online marketing materials, memberships, etc. In other words, they needed things that most artists don’t and had become sort of like coaches, bloggers, etc. We decided to stay focused on our core product although we might revisit the WP idea in the future. Most of the artists who just needed a “regular” site found it overkill and confusing (at least the ones we talked to).
I’ve seen other problems with WordPress. Nearly every artist who leaves us for a WordPress solution who sends me their new website address sends us a website that is nearly unusable. Slow and clunky, poorly formed urls. Image zooms with no context (if I zoom on an image, I want the title, medium, price info of the art, plus a way to purchase). I know that WordPress sites can be fast and great, heck even invested in a managed wordpress platform, but, to work properly, WP needs to be hosted, cached, configured properly and regularly updated. I think many artists think of it as the “cheap” option and throw it on a $5/mo hosting plan.
I don’t think Wix, SS, Weebly (or FASO) having control is really a huge threat – it would work against their self-interest to do anything “negative” to their users sites. Yes, the platforms do exercise more control than a self-hosted WordPress installation. However, that control also comes with benefits – monitoring, hack/spam/scam protection, new features roll out automatically (SSL as an example) and in the case of Art specific builders – we are talking with artists day in/day out and back porting what we learn from our custom website clients (yes we do fully custom sites) to all clients.
Like everything, there are pros and cons to both options.
Clint Watson says
To add, I always think of WordPress as the “windows” of the modern world and other site builders like the “apple” of the modern world. Back in the day windows was the huge, biggest market share platform that you could do anything on but was more complex, confusing, etc. Apple exercised more control and focused on a smaller market….but was more elegant and simpler. May not be an apt analogy but it’s how I think of it.
Have you heard anything good or bad about http://www.otherpeoplespixels.com. ? I had an art professor recommend it for an project we needed to build an artist website for class but I wanted to use a website that would continue over after graduation and work to sell and promote my art. Thoughts?
cory huff says
Very few artists use OPP. I would not recommend them at this time. They haven’t updated their platform for modern website functions.
David Love says
I do not see SmugMug listed here at all. I have been using them for several years, but have wondered if something else is more to my needs. I live in Canada and would love to have a “buy print” option with a lab based in Canada.
cory huff says
SmugMug is not really a website. It’s a marketplace with a storefront.
I disagree with that general characterization of SmugMug. I find the platform flexible and capable of building a very nice artist’s website — largely because of its primary focus on presenting images beautifully. Template-based, and highly customizable (especially if you know some HTML & CSS). Its only real deficiency is a blogging tool, but they’re reportedly working on that.
Brett Ossman says
I’m curious what folks expect out of their website. Is it simply a “commercial” or can folks buy directly from it? Also, do you fill your own orders, such as print and frame, or have someone do it for you. I’m on Fine Art America, simply because they fill any orders. I don’t have the time or resources to fill myself. However, pondering a custom site with a link to FAA, or other processing site.
Sarah Wimperis says
Hi Cory, have you looked at Artlook for Artists, its a completely integrated system, inventory, website, digital portfolio, client lists etc, all in one package, I have been using it for a while now and think it is brilliant, the website that you create with is is so easy to manage and keep up to date that it does deserve a mention in your guide for Artists.
cory huff says
We have not evaluated their platform. They did not come up in this survey.
Alyson Stanfield says
This is great, Cory. I’m slow getting here, but anxious to share. Surprised that ArtSpan didn’t come up either. I wonder if they’ve been losing people.
Thanks for doing this work.
Audrey A. Tucker says
I recently published my site with ArtStorefronts. I could not be happier! Everything is geared toward artists. The site design is clean and easy to use. I had my site evaluated by a top New York art editor two days ago to see if I was on the right track and she was absolutely amazed by the features I had been able to get published on my site in just 2 weeks. I have used a number of the other vendors that you mention in your article. They did not provide me the functionality, flexibility nor the support that ArtStorefronts does. I also had previously designed my own site. While I did have the functionality and flexibility that I desire, the ongoing maintenance did not leave me with the time I want/need to focus on my art. ArtStorefronts provides me with all that and more. Additionally, ArtStorefronts ongoing support is outstanding. Not only do they provide ongoing technical support, but they assist (every day) in marketing efforts and best practices … again, all geared toward the artist. A recently available feature, augmented reality, is sure to be huge assist in upscale purchases. A smartphone or tablet can be used to show how an artist’s image will appear on the specific wall that the customer wants it on. It can be sized in real time so the customer knows exactly how it will look on their wall! This is a perfect example of ArtStorefronts ongoing initiatives. They listen to what their customer wants, implement new features and watch for market trends. I personally can’t imagine using any other company!
Weldon Skirvin says
I’m a retired architect (now watercolorist)…On the fence with Art Storefronts.
They seem overly complex….unnecessarily so, yet their intent appears honorable.
Their organization has patterned themselves after engineers (not architects…)
the site is (from my view) for left brain people.
I’ve been into it several months…with daughter and a good friend’s work.
I’m not giving up…..yet…..but wondering if there might be something out there more intuitive more remunerative and less demanding of one’s time.
Rhett Regina Owings says
I have worked with Dreamweaver to upload my own website for years. It has been a difficult process as I am not a programmer at all, but through lots of frustrating work, I became comfortable with it. But it will not do some of the things I want it to do, or at least I don’t know how to make it do and converting from my old Mac computer to a new PC was even more frustrating. After years of dealing with it, I wanted new options.
I came across Daily Paintworks. This site is run by working artists and is easy to upload artwork, make links to Fine Art America, eBay, Etsy, PayPal, etc. I have full control of my content, unlimited artwork upload, two images per artwork, ways to organize my work in categories, links to my blog, website, etc. I can put work up in an auction if I want to or not. I can write descriptions and stories for each painting. Clicking on a painting enlarges it. If I have a problem, there is good support.
They have a Facebook page and send emails out to thousands of buyers with new work every day. They have featured artists, contests, tutorial videos, and challenges which are fun for artists to try. There are other features for artists such as statistics by media, subject, visit statistics, etc. Sales are made by the artists themselves, so there are no 3rd parties and you can get their address, etc.
I sell note cards of my work to gift shops and the buyers go to my DPW gallery to make their orders. They also have a widget which I put on my own website and blog which has a rotation of a few paintings with a quick link to my DPW gallery. There are more features I still need to explore.
For me this has been a good option at a good price, although I am still considering FASO.
Another great article! Thanks Cory! Despite concerns raised on this site, I’m still taking a hard look at artstorefronts.
I like being able to view the prints on different media, the room view feature, and the option of showing wall colors. ( It seems that POD sites have such an advantage over artist sites with these features but they don’t allow direct contact with collectors, which seems critical.)
I also like the idea of being able to combine print-on-demand with my own various products on the same site—splitting self-fulfillment and automated fulfillment in the same order (similar to Amazon). Do any of the other companies that you’ve reviewed offer that option?
My only real hesitation is cost. And, though this is probably paranoid, I’m spooked by the consistent (and weirdly thorough) high praise I see on TrustPilot and Facebook. It almost feels as though the artists are getting some kind of reward for leaving a positive statement. I’d really like to hear more from your followers about their experiences with the site. Thanks to anyone who is willing to comment.
Bjorn Brondsted says
Hey badmonkeyart (super cool name),
I just signed up with Art Storefronts 2-3 months ago and my site has been live since October, so it is fair to say that I am new with them.
I completely understand your concerns, I had exactly the same concerns myself: cost + is this too good to be true.
Now I can tell you that yes, we artist are getting a reward for leaving a positive review: the reward is knowing that we are on the winning horse, and the reward of being able to share that good news.
See, I don’t really care whether you believe me or not. All I care about is that I am super happy having signed up with ASF.
Why? Because they offer something that is better than anything else out there, in my opion.
1 Their software is pretty dang good. Back end is easy, and more than that, you can customize it near endlessly. And if you don’t like it, you tell them. Then they call you, within the minute of your appointment – every week if you like, heck, I’ve had them call me multiple times in a single week – and then you say blah blah blah and they fix it. Viola. I’ve had them go into my Mailchimp to integrate it with my site, just to mention one thing that I think is above and beyond.
Now, I gotta be clear here, I’ve got a secret weapon. You ready? It is so secret that not a lot of people on the good ol’ internet have heard about it: I know common decency and I am generally polite and kind.
That means I don’t yell at them or make stupid arrogant demands. If you did that, maybe you wouldn’t have such a great experience as I’ve had.
2 They have a marketing team hired, like a team that companies with $$$$$$ hires to run their campaigns, as in, a marketing team that I by myself could never even begin to dream of hiring. Great news is, I don’t have to, not with ASF.
This marketing team is all out focused on the single question of how to sell art online. They be pros, they have experience, and their job is making and delivering to their customers (that’s me) marketing strategies that works. I’ve had other websites/stores before, wordpress, etsy, wix, but I never knew how to sell my art. Now I do. That is huge.
The big disclaimer here is that they might tell you what, how, why and when (and they really do) but YOU still have got to do the work.
This is not an easy ride, it is not a shortcut, and I’ve already seen a few people on ASF that aren’t successful. But when I inquire it has so far in every single example come down to the same thing: They are not following the guidelines (and in most cases, they are not consistent in the efforts). They thought the good site would do the trick, or the single FB blast, they didn’t listen when it was spelled out that they are new business and new businesses take anywhere from 3 to 5 years to get off the ground… Anyway, that is neither here nor there, but you can listen to the ASF if you want the marketing strategy. I’ve listened to them all multiple times, I highly recommend.
Back on track: The point is, this is not a magic pill that will solve all your problems. It is however, in my opinion, the best solution to the modern artist’s problem: how to sell your art.
3 When you sign up you get to be part of the ASF Small Wins group with every other member of ASF. We are now a bit more than a 1000 artists that are all connected. That means that when I have a problem or a question I can post it in the group, and people answer, support and encourage. This group gives us a place to share and connect with people who are dealing with the same thing: We are all trying to sell our art. People in the group help each other out, give advice, help boost each other’s post if necessary, give tips and tricks they’ve learned along the way, and share troubles and successes along the way.
Again a disclaimer: What you give in, is what you give out. The more you participate in a positive and constructive manner, the more engagement you will experience from the other artists. If you are a pessimistic arse don’t expect anybody to jump over themselves to support you. Luckily though, I have not met anyone on there that wasn’t nice people. Most of the time it’s actually a really good vibe, and I learn a lot from my peers. Sometimes folks are frustrated, because it is frustrating business at times, but there is not negativity that you see so often in other groups online. My guess is, simply because there is no reason.
Another thing to know about the group is that the ASF marketing team is also present there. I see them answering often. They don’t guarantee that they answer, but in my experience it is more the rule than the exception.
Alright, I’ve spend way too much time on this already, have yourself a great day, and I wish you the best of luck with all of your adventures! Me, I am happy being with ASF because it is the best thing I’ve done for my career as an artist.
Bjorn Brondsted says
*but you can listen to the ASF “podcast” was what I was trying to say.
Bob L. says
Careful with WIX. Left them 4 years ago. Site is still up and causing domain name issues. Yes, they do own your site. NYC & CA offices will not answer. Don’t get tired of you template. Can’t make bold design change. Understaffed for amount of users. Looks good until it isn’t. Then you are stuck or begin anew with more $$$. Almost forgot, don’t change your email servers. This only confuses.
I wanted a website for my store but didn’t know how to do it. Fortunately, guys from https://weblium.com/ became a real find for me. They built the website, showed me everything and provided ongoing support during work with it. So, I’m pretty sure, this service is also very useful for people with small businesses.
Christine Marsh says
I have WordPress sites, but have been using WordPress for years, so don’t have an accurate perception of how hard it is as a beginner.
There are certainly some hair-ripping things about WordPress.
I was recommended Art Storefronts by a mentor.
Because I trusted her, I did not do a ton of research, and decided to go with them.
I was all around unhappy with the customer service, tech support, and interface.
I am a tech geek, and I found the interface to be cryptic, difficult to understand, time consuming, and annoying to use.
I sent customers to the site.
The buying system looked fancy and cool to me with how you can put a piece of art upon a virtual wall, but my customers I sent there never tried to buy anything because the checkout system was too confusing.
A few months before the end of my 20 month term, I FINALLY had a customer go and try to buy something.
They said they could not buy the print!
I checked and realized that the shopping cart actually was NEVER set up correctly to accept a purchase!!!
This was what I wrote to them:
Feeling sad to say that it was one of the MOST depressing and frustrating wastes of time and money in the history of my business.
Yes, part of it was me and my life being crazy for a bit, and not being able to do things, but still, I invested a huge amount of money (for me) and time in the site system, figuring it out and setting it up, and never sold a single thing.
Part of it was being sent to web pages to read and then implement fixes that did not work (a lot).
Part of it was me finding out after having the service that was supposed to be ‘active’ (that I paid an extra fee to make sure I was properly onboarded and everything was set up correctly) for over a year, that no one could even get through the buying process in the store system!
Then, being sent to the Facebook group to have someone work with me, who still did not work with me.
It was constant frustration and things not working and text walls of links being thrown at me to go read.
Now, I have all the things I spent so much time on setting up, and it all is ALSO gone to waste because I don’t want to continue with the service.
There is so much potential there, and I hope you find the means to improve upon the challenges.
They did not offer me a refund, not even a part of a refund. Instead sent me a video with more changes/corrections to make to the site that said the reverse of things I was told were good and would work during the onboarding, and a 50% off offer, all while calling me their ‘friend.’
The total cost of this was $2000, with about $500 for the onboarding.
If I pay $500 for onboarding, I expect to be on boarded to the point where my buying system actually works!
Tons of time and energy wasted.
I have waited EIGHT months to post this, so I could have time to get calmed down and not make an excessively emotional review.
It all caused me to feel incredibly depressed about my fine art business, and I have not put any energy into painting or marketing for eight months.
I don’t know if I will again.
I have now been focusing entirely on consulting and graphic design.
I rarely leave bad reviews, because I want to add joy to the world
If I can help ONE person to save that money and frustration, the world will be more beautiful.
Andy Crawford says
I tried Shopify, and just wasn’t happy. I had a lot of problems with the links not working – in fact, I lost most of my sales opportunities for my 2019 photo calendar because the purchase link wasn’t working. Didn’t find out until a customer finally reached out, but by that time the holidays were over.
So I moved to Art Storefronts in December, and I have loved the experience thus far. The system is robust and easy to navigate for the end user. I joined less than a month ago, but already have made a sale – and my customer said the process was very easy. I love the control I have over all the information – and ASF gives me TONS of data to work.
Their customer service has been excellent. They run an incredible Facebook page where questions or concerns can be posted – and most are answered within the hour. They also have a great live chat system. I haven’t used the live support yet, since I really haven’t had any issues with the backend system.
But ASF is so much more than a storefront. They also have amazing marketing advice. Here’s a great example of why I love the ASF crew:
I’m not a natural organizer, I have a busy month of travel starting in late January. So figuring out what to do for Valentine’s Day (my first holiday sales event since joining the ASF team) wasn’t something likely to happen.
However, I pulled up the ASF marketing calendar to find not only timing for email blasts/social posts but links to an entire Valentine’s Day playbook (complete with recommended copy). Man, I’ve already created my first email blast, and will have others ready and scheduled out by the end of next week. I’m also going to set up FB posts, and I plan to put some money behind those promos when the posts go live. Everything will be ready long to roll while I’m on the road.
By providing deadlines and marketing help, ASF makes it easy to get those small wins accomplished.
Kurt Wolff says
This is a very useful article, thanks Cory for posting it. From my POV most of the content here is still very relevant for users in 2019. For the record I’m a WordPress user – but I’ve been working in it for years. (And I do agree that for beginners, the WordPress learning curve may not be worth the trouble.)
One thing I wanted to note was that, if you’re concerned at all about how your website performs (e.g., how fast it loads, how easily Google can find it and serve it in search results), then you’ll want to choose your website hosting service carefully, too. It may not be worth Cory’s time to do a full roundup of hosting services, but do note that the ‘cheap’ ones can sometimes negatively affect your website’s overall performance.
I know, yet another thing to think about. But I thought it was worth adding.
Shahbaz khan says
I’ve wanted to change my website adding more things and just as I read your article gosh my mind just clicked. thanks for helping out.
What about blogger ?
Hey guys, I have found this in the web….https://www.onescreener.com/. They say it’s super quick and east to use, and acts primarily as a hub for links to your content.
Check it out. I’m curious about your feedback guys.
Michelle Spiziri says
Any words on Big Cartel web builder?
Thanks for this helpful information! I came across the article from a previous one about ASF.
Wondered if any updates on preferred site-builders to showcase and sell primarily prints in 2022?
I’ve had a Wix site over the years for photography though mainly for anyone seeking an event and portrait photographer.
Now looking to sell prints of my fine art paintings, was going to do Etsy though I see it may be too saturated for artists so folks are looking elsewhere.
Really hope to hear back, thanks in advance.
cory huff says
Hi Sue, we’re doing a whole revision of this blog post to be published in July. Stay tuned!
Beth Batton says
Has an updated blog post on this topic been published?
cory huff says
Hi Beth, we’re about to do an updated version. Squarespace & Shopify are still our top recommendations.