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Should Artists Use WordPress & WooCommerce To Sell Art?

Why you should use WordPress and its shop plugin WooCommerce to sell your art, by UK artist and e-commerce entrepreneur Kerwin Blackburn who has done just that

Welcome to the exciting world of selling art online! As an artist, choosing the right platform to showcase and sell your creations is a crucial decision that can significantly impact your success.

As a passionate UK artist and e-commerce entrepreneur who has built their own successful online art brand, in this blog post I discuss the dynamic duo of WordPress and WooCommerce, exploring why this combination is an excellent choice for artists seeking to establish a reliable, customisable and thriving online art business.

WordPress and WooCommerce enable artists to sell their work online effectively due to flexible design, user-friendly interfaces, SEO optimisation, cost-effectiveness, and tailored e-commerce features. These two platforms empower artists to showcase, sell, and expand their global reach efficiently.

The Importance of Choosing the Right Platform

In an era where the internet serves as a gateway to a vast global audience, the digital marketplace has become an invaluable space for artists to connect with art enthusiasts and potential buyers.

Choosing the right platform for selling your art online is paramount to your success as an artist. Your online platform serves as your virtual gallery, influencing the reach and impact of your work. From user interface to e-commerce integration, each component contributes to the overall online art-buying experience of your customers.

I’ve written a separate blog post comparing key online store platforms for artists: BigCartel, WordPress/WooCommerce, Shopify and Etsy. Read this here.

Forging Your Online Art Career With WordPress and WooCommerce

Speaking from my own experience of building the online art store for my art brand By Kerwin, I recommend using WordPress, and its e-commerce function WooCommerce, as the ideal platform for your art. This is the focus of this article.

WordPress and WooCommerce offer artists a dynamic duo for their online presence. With unparalleled flexibility and a user-friendly interface, WordPress empowers artists to create visually stunning websites. WordPress began as a blogging website, and this ability to create limitless blog post pages remains central to its appeal and potential online reach.

The seamless integration of WooCommerce provides e-commerce features tailored for art sales, enhancing the overall experience for both creators and buyers. Read on as I dive into the details of what makes this platform so effective for artists.

Pop! Goes The Easel | Solo Art Exhibition by Kerwin Blackburn, Crypt Gallery Norwich November-December 2023
By Kerwin art exhibition

Section 1: Why Choose WordPress for Your Art Website?

WordPress and WooCommerce enable artists to sell their work online effectively due to flexible design, user-friendly interfaces, SEO optimisation, cost-effectiveness, and tailored e-commerce features. These two platforms empower artists to showcase, sell, and expand their global reach efficiently.

I moved my art website and online store www.bykerwin.com onto WordPress in late 2022 (from BigCartel, as discussed here). My key driver was the expanded reach and pages function that WordPress provides, but there are many appealing benefits to using WordPress:

A. Flexibility and Customisation

Ease of Creating a Unique Art Website: WordPress offers unparalleled flexibility, allowing artists to effortlessly design unique and visually appealing websites. Its intuitive interface and diverse range of customisable themes make the creative process accessible, enabling artists to showcase their work in a way that aligns with their artistic vision.

The Success of My ‘By Kerwin’ Art Website: My art website and online store, www.bykerwin.com, built on the platform, exemplifies WordPress’s successful fusion of creativity and technology. It combines fast and efficient back-end technology with a clean and vibrant front-end appearance that is easy for users to navigate.

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B. User-Friendly Interface

Intuitive Nature for Artists: WordPress boasts a user-friendly interface that caters to artists, regardless of technical expertise. Its intuitive design empowers creators to manage and update their websites effortlessly, with no coding expertise required. This accessibility is especially beneficial for artists who may not be well-versed in technical intricacies, allowing them to focus on their art rather than grappling with the complexities of website management.

Diverse Themes for Artistic Preferences: Delve into the wealth of WordPress themes tailored to artistic preferences. The platform offers a vast array of customisable themes, ensuring artists can find or create a design that resonates with their unique style. This variety not only enhances visual appeal but also provides artists with the flexibility to craft an online space that truly represents their artistic identity.

I chose the ‘Astra’ theme, which combines a great storefront appearance with fast and efficient coding – and with great mobile-optimisation too.

C. SEO-Friendly

Importance of Search Engine Optimisation (SEO) for Artists: SEO plays a critical role in enhancing the online visibility of an artist’s work. A well-optimised website can significantly improve search engine rankings, making it easier for potential art enthusiasts to discover and appreciate the artist’s creations. This organic (search engine) reach was the key driver for me migrating my website onto WordPress.

Optimising Art-Related Content for Visibility: WordPress’s website management system offers practical tips on optimising various elements for better visibility as you upload your content. With WordPress, you can create thoughtfully crafted page titles and image titles, along with tailoring other key SEO elements such tags, Metadata, and custom URLs.

By incorporating these SEO practices, artists can ensure that their art reaches a broader audience and receives the attention it deserves in the vast online landscape.

Blog pages for unlimited online reach: A final key attraction, and the singular most important reason why www.bykerwin.com is a WordPress website, is its ‘Pages’ function. WordPress began as a blogging website, and the ability to create as many individual blog post pages as required means your WordPress site can have unlimited potential online reach. (My former website, created on BigCartel, simply did not have this feature, which ultimately limited its potential.)

As an artist, you need eyes to see your work, and WordPress Pages are the perfect way to achieve this.

Section 2: Can You Sell Art on WordPress?

Introduction to Selling Art Online

Exploring the Growing Trend of Online Art Sales: In case you didn’t know already, this article, and myself, resoundingly believes in your ability to sell your art online. While the art industry may traditionally have been selective and elitist, in the digital era, artists are increasingly able to leverage the internet to showcase and sell their creations.

This shift in the art market landscape signifies the potential for artists to connect with a diverse global audience, transcending geographical boundaries and traditional barriers. The convenience and accessibility offered by online platforms have transformed the way art enthusiasts discover and acquire artwork, fostering a dynamic and expansive marketplace.

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Integration of WooCommerce

What is WooCommerce?

WooCommerce is an open-source e-commerce plugin designed for WordPress, turning websites into online stores. WooCommerce offers product management, secure payments, and customisation. Widely used, it seamlessly integrates with WordPress, offering a user-friendly solution for online business owners.

Seamless Integration with WordPress: WooCommerce seamlessly integrates with WordPress, creating a powerful online retail portal for artists entering the online market. The cohesive nature of this integration simplifies the process of setting up an online store, allowing artists to focus on their craft while leveraging the robust e-commerce capabilities offered by WooCommerce.

Tailored Features for Art Sales: WooCommerce contains many visual, art-centric features, making this an ideal choice. From versatile product variations that accommodate diverse artwork formats to customisable galleries that showcase creativity, WooCommerce caters perfectly to artists. Secure payment options add an extra layer of trust for both artists and buyers, fostering a conducive environment for successful online art transactions.

Real-Life Success Story: By Kerwin Art

I myself am a UK artist and e-commerce entrepreneur who has created their own art brand and unique style of Jackson Pollock-inspired pop art paintings. WordPress and WooCommerce have accelerated my online reach and commercial success through its features discussed above.

The WordPress platform has served as the canvas for showcasing my diverse portfolio of paintings. WordPress’s pages function has also enabled me to launch my blog, ‘Confessions of a Pop Artist’ (which you are reading now!). It’s effective WooCommerce retail plugin, which is entwined with the WordPress platform, enables fast and secure sales of my artwork – anywhere in the world (which includes original paintings, prints, merchandise and clothing).

WordPress and WooCommerce have not only elevated the accessibility of my creations but has also resulted in a significant increase in organic traffic and a broader online reach, through the creation of my blog section.

By Kerwin pop art music icons montage landscape
By Kerwin pop art music icons – who is your favourite? Explore my online shop at www.bykerwin.com

Section 3: Does WooCommerce Take a Commission on Sales?

Overview of WooCommerce Pricing

Understanding Basic Costs: In navigating the landscape of WooCommerce pricing, it is crucial to comprehend the fundamental costs associated with using this e-commerce platform. This includes considerations such as hosting fees, domain registration, and potential expenses related to additional features or extensions.

As will be discussed below, one feature of WordPress is its technical complexity, and from a cost point of view this requires paying these multiple fees. This contrasts with more basic platform such as BigCartel, in which the entire service is covered by one monthly fee (from as little as $9.99). By gaining a clear understanding of WordPress’/WooCommerce’s foundational costs, users can make informed decisions tailored to their budget and business requirements.

No Commission Fees: A distinctive advantage of WooCommerce, however, is its transparent fee structure. Unlike some e-commerce platforms, WooCommerce does not impose commission fees on sales. Sellers can retain the entirety of their revenue (minus the small transaction cost taken by your payment facilitator, in my case Stripe), making it a cost-effective solution for artists and entrepreneurs looking to maximise their profitability in the online marketplace.

There are also no listing fees for your products, unlike some platforms such as Etsy.

Comparisons with Other Platforms:

When evaluating e-commerce solutions, comparing WooCommerce’s pricing structure and capabilities with other platforms is essential. In addition to its excellent range of features, WooCommerce stands out for its cost-effectiveness, offering a competitive edge for artists.

Unlike some platforms that charge transaction fees, WooCommerce’s transparent pricing ensures that artists retain a greater share of their earnings. This affordability, coupled with its robust features, positions WooCommerce as a compelling choice for artists seeking a cost-effective and efficient solution for selling their artwork online.

I’ve written a separate blog post comparing key online store platforms for artists, covering BigCartel, WordPress/WooCommerce, Shopify and Etsy. Read this here.

Tips for Maximising WooCommerce Profitability:

For artists navigating the realm of WooCommerce, strategic approaches can amplify your profitability. This includes optimising your product listings, leveraging promotional tools, and implementing effective pricing strategies.

Moreover, exploring additional plugins and tools can further enhance the selling experience without incurring extra costs. From analytics to marketing extensions, the vast array of free (and also paid) WooCommerce plugins empowers artists to tailor their online stores, ultimately maximising profitability and creating a compelling and lucrative online art-selling venture.

Due to its widespread popularity, WooCommerce can also be integrated with many external plugins and e-commerce partners through automated APIs. This can allow you to schedule orders to automatically sync to your supplier or drop-shipper, so your orders can be actioned without you having to do anything.

Pop! Goes The Easel exhibition by Kerwin Blackburn at the Crypt Gallery, Norwich | Music pop art paintings and prints
By Kerwin art exhibition

Section 4: Disadvantages of WordPress and WooCommerce:

While WordPress and WooCommerce clearly have many excellent features as online platforms and stores for your art, there are trade-offs. The downside of being such a comprehensive, flexible online platform is that there are many moving parts to the system, and therefore more things to potential go wrong. Some of the downsides of using WordPress and WooCommerce are below:

1. Technical Complexity

Learning Curve Challenges: While WordPress and WooCommerce offer unparalleled flexibility, the initial learning curve can be daunting. Setting up and maintaining a WordPress/WooCommerce site demands a level of technical proficiency (even without requiring coding knowledge). Artists, especially those new to the platform, might face challenges in navigating the intricate features.

To overcome this, artists can turn to online tutorials and support forums. The good news is that with WordPress and WooCommerce being such popular platforms, there is a vast online community on-hand to offer support. These resources serve as valuable guides, providing step-by-step assistance and fostering a supportive community that aids in overcoming technical obstacles.

2. Security Concerns

Prioritising E-commerce Website Security: The importance of securing an e-commerce website cannot be overstated. WordPress and WooCommerce, like any online platform, are susceptible to security threats. Acknowledging this, artists must prioritise security measures.

From regular updates to secure hosting, adopting reputable security plugins is paramount (these may require extra monthly subscriptions, too). These precautions not only safeguard the integrity of your website but also build trust with customers, assuring them of a safe online shopping experience.

3. Maintenance Responsibilities

Ongoing Need for Updates and Backups: The longevity and reliability of a WordPress/WooCommerce site hinge on consistent maintenance. Regular updates, backups, and general upkeep are essential. However, these routine tasks can become time-consuming for artists focused on their craft.

To alleviate this burden, artists can explore tools and plugins that automate aspects of maintenance (again, these may incur extra costs to you). This ensures that the website remains robust and secure without unduly diverting the artist’s attention from their creative endeavours.

4. Potential Costs for Advanced Features

Navigating Additional Expenses: Artists aspiring to incorporate advanced features and functionalities into their online stores should be mindful of potential costs. While the core WooCommerce platform is free, advanced features and plugins may come with additional expenses. This could include premium plugins, specialised themes, or advanced customisation.

To navigate this, artists are advised to budget wisely and discern their specific needs. By aligning features with budget constraints, artists can optimise their online presence without incurring unnecessary expenses, ensuring a balanced and cost-effective approach to e-commerce success.

Also, adding multiple extra plugins risks slowing your website down, as there is more code and data for it to load. Not being aware of this risk, and causing your website to become slow and clumsy for visitors, can undermine your online efforts.

Pop! Goes The Easel Norwich Exhibition

Conclusion: The Verdict

While there are several legitimate concerns and risks to be aware of when making the decision to choose WordPress/WooCommerce, these platforms undoubtedly offer many key selling points for commercialising your art. It’s worth remembering that any online platform will have its own downsides too.

Weighing Up The Benefits

In conclusion, the marriage of WordPress and WooCommerce represents an effective option for artists venturing into the online marketplace. The flexibility, user-friendly interface, and SEO capabilities of WordPress, coupled with the seamless e-commerce integration of WooCommerce, offer artists a powerful toolkit to showcase and sell their artwork.

Acknowledging The Drawbacks and Finding Solutions

While navigating the technical complexities, security concerns, and maintenance responsibilities may present challenges, there are ample resources and strategies available. Online tutorials, support forums, and automated tools serve as navigational aids, ensuring that artists can overcome hurdles effectively.

Security measures, coupled with prudent budgeting, provide solutions to potential drawbacks, mitigating risks associated with operating an e-commerce platform.

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A High Overall Potential for Success

Regardless of the downsides and technical challenges presented by WordPress/WooCommerce, there is high overall success potential for artists leveraging these platforms in creating a thriving online art business. The drawbacks, when approached proactively, become stepping stones rather than stumbling blocks.

By combining creativity with the robust features of these platforms, artists can not only showcase their work to a global audience but also navigate the complexities of e-commerce with confidence. As technology and online markets evolve, the synergy of WordPress and WooCommerce ensures that artists can adapt and excel, setting themselves on a path sustained success in the dynamic world of online art sales.

The work required in establishing an online art business is significant and not easy, but the potential rewards – both financially and intrinsically – are great. I wish you every success in your own artistic venture.

What is the most helpful piece of information in this article? What else would you like to know about WordPress or WooCommerce? I’d love to hear your thoughts any other questions you may have

Read my other blog posts about my e-commerce journey and the Business of Art in my blog section here. You can explore my full range of paintings and prints in my online shop at www.bykerwin.com.

Kerwin Blackburn exhibits his By Kerwin pop art music paintings at the Barbican Centre Conservatory in London, July 2021

My full range of Jackson Pollock-inspired acrylic paintings can be viewed at www.bykerwin.com – the originals and prints of these are available to purchase, with worldwide delivery. You can follow my art progress on Instagram and Facebook.

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