8 Apr 2010

Artist’s website upgrade – An Artist’s Story: Valerie Kent

Posted by Moshe Mikanovsky

Today is quite an exciting day for me. I have published before articles on other blogs, first on EmptyEasel, and then also on FineArtViews (FAV), as well as on Kate Harper’s blog (See the full list of these articles), but today my first article as a regular contributor on FAV was published! The article is telling the story of me helping artist Valerie Kent to upgrade her website, and some insights to the process, decisions made, and more. You can read it at FAV (and subscribe to this wonderful blog), as well as right here.

Stay tuned for more articles to be published on FAV. Feel free to comment or send me ideas for blog posts that you would love to read about. I am always on the look for those…

An Artist’s Story: Valerie Kent
by Moshe Mikanovsky on 4/8/2010

A few months ago, while my blogging days were still in their initial steps, I had taken my two oldest daughters to Richmond Hill, our neighbor city, for a quick tour of their Artists Open Studio Tour. During the tour we met a very special lady – Valerie Kent, the president of the group, a Canadian landscape artist and art teacher in her soul.  

Following some of the online advice I read for networking, introducing oneself, and what I would call “schmoozing”, I started talking with Valerie about the group, about the possibility of becoming a member, and then gave her my business card. This is all while my daughters are admiring her artwork.

A few weeks followed and Valerie contacted me, impressed with all the online technology I had setup for my art promotion. She asked me if I could help her with her own site and getting on top of the social media wagon. Of course, I was happy to oblige.

Valerie Kent, Sun Kissed Falls, Watercolor on paper

Valerie Kent, Sun Kissed Falls, Watercolor on paper

After a bit more time had passed by, Valerie was finally ready to initiate her website redesign. But, she wanted to stay within the budget she had in mind and also wanted something she will be able to extend later by herself.

I decided to go with the approach of showing her some of the options with the existing sites out there. In the beginning we started with my list of 66+ sites for artists, but that was way too overwhelming, so I narrowed it down to 3 options – FolioTwist, FineArtStudioOnline, and WordPress.org.

These are quite different from each other, but they all had these advantages:

  • Quick setup time
  • Affordable initial setup and ongoing maintenance cost
  • Out-of-the-box, yet configurable, user interfaces and themes
  • Ability to expand in the future to add an online store
  • Ability for Valerie to take over and maintain her own site

After some review and deliberation, and comparing the available functions, look, feel, and prices, Valerie decided to go with FineArtStudioOnline (FASO). One factor that really helped this decision was that FASO provides 60 days free trial where we can build the entire site and it’s completely operational, with no obligation.

One of the main reasons Valerie was looking to rebuild her site was the level of professionalism she needed to achieve online. Valerie had her own domain and website for more than 13 years already, quite long time for an artist, and she got to a point that she felt her site was not up to par any longer with current trends. I noticed a few things with the old design, such as hard to navigate menus, confusing galleries, no titles, sizes, medium, or prices on any of the artworks, and more. Valerie felt that art institutions and collectors were not taking her seriously, because she neglected to take her website seriously. She felt she was losing both credibility and business.  She was extremely excited to start working on the new site.

We have gone through several stages of defining the look-and-feel, defining the main menu, creating the collections and the artwork within them, importing information about all the seminars and courses Valerie is giving in the next year, as well as art tours she is leading in Europe, and much more.

Reach for the Top, Acrylic on canvas

Reach for the Top, Acrylic on canvas

Once the site was ready, Valerie submitted a quick email to 3,000 of her contacts which she collected throughout the years, asking them to review the new site and give her feedback. The results were wonderful! People love the new site, and within the first couple of days Valerie sold 2 paintings and had one person interested in attending her trip to Tuscany.

I think this is quite amazing result in such a short time. Since then, Valerie started writing her blog, and is planning many more updates, including a news letter, ability to purchase directly from the site, and more.

It is also important to note here how happy we were with FASO and their customer services. They helped us promptly and diligently with every request we had, and I am sure this will continue with all their other efforts, like marketing and improving the system.

And the bottom line is, that now Valerie achieved her goal, in short time and within budget, and she has a website she is proud of! So check out her site, and send her a note, she would love to hear from you.

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