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Adwords for Artists - my journey. Part 1

Are you an artist looking for someone who's tried Google's Adwords program to sell their art or promote their art web site? Well this article (or what looks like will be a series of articles) is for you.

Before we go any further, if you're looking for a step through, blow by blow account of the Adwords process then I highly recommend Dan's series of five articles on his site, Empty Easel. I made a point of reading them first before starting my journey because I trust Dan's insight. He does a superb job of explaining everything and recounts his own experience of using Adwords to promote his site.

However Dan's site isn't an 'artist' site as such. It's a collection of articles and resources all related to art and selling your art. This is where my experience can supplement what you read there.

I'm an individual artist running an artists web site. I maintain a blog, sell my own art on ebay and I have a Cafepress shop. All common pursuits of modern web 2.0 struggling artists.

So... back to me. I'm a complete noob at Adwords. I've studied everything I can on the other side of the equation - which is Google Adsense. You can see Google ads all over my site, placed where you'll be tempted to click but Adwords is all new to me. So let's stumble through this together.

Obviously succeeding with Adwords is all down to keywords and choosing the right keywords to bring targeted traffic to your site. People who you know are interested in your art because they were either searching, using keywords that describe your art, or they saw your ad on a site that shares some common themes, subject matter or keywords with yours.

With this in mind, before I signed up for anything, I went to look at my sites visitor stats (which I monitor using Google analytics) relating to search keywords. I discovered that I really have a problem and it relates to my blog.

My web site, each month, brings in around 700-900 visitors, approximately 60% of which comes through search engines. My most popular keyword sets for the first half of June 2008 was 'Krippin Virus' - What the..? (I am Legend fans will know it). The second most popular keywords were Hazel Dooney - great, female Aussie artist but... not me. Both keyword sets come from posts in my blog.

If you've read a few articles in my blog you'll know it's an eclectic mix of topics from movie opinions to humorous personal observations on life along with art commentary and more. My problem is that most of my search engine visitors, once they've read the article they followed a link to, rarely stay on and browse. Many never see my art or visit my shop. I can tell this because of another stat called 'bounce rate' - the number of people who leave my site from the same page they arrived.

The lesson here: If you're writing a blog for the benefit of attracting search engine traffic, make sure you are writing about your art, how you create it and more importantly the subjects and themes your art covers. Otherwise you'll be like me with an eclectic mix of traffic, most of which is only interested in the specific article/post they clicked on.

I have very little interest in writing about my art. Not only that but it took me a long time to warm to the idea of writing a blog in a way that would fill a creative void for me. I have no intention of changing tact now. I like my eclectic mix of articles - they are another aspect of my creativity and not simply something I write to get search engine traffic.

My solution has been to write about each artwork in my Cafepress Gallery shop in the hope that search engines will start to pick up on that text over there. It's early days yet so it'll take a while to see if that strategy is successful.

This is why I'm considering Adwords. Adwords seems like it works best when you can target a specific subject or theme. Since the majority of my art is related to whimsical cat paintings I'm thinking Adwords might be a great way to get seen on other web sites relating to cats and the people who like them.

From selling my art on ebay, I know my cat artworks are bought mostly by women, often mothers with young children, particularly girls. Quite a few of my artworks have ended up on children's bedroom walls. However my art doesn't just appeal to children. Cat lovers everywhere enjoy my artworks and a few take pride of place in lounge rooms too.

If you're thinking about Adwords then, given that it is going to cost you money, I think it's important that you establish a specific profile of who it is you're trying to target. I've read a few stories on various forums about people who say Adwords is a waste of money. At this point that could well be true if you don't at least start with a notion of who you'll be writing your ads for.

So the next step is to sign up with Adwords. Looks like I'll be writing about that in part 2.

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