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Branding & Marketing

How to Turn Website Visitors into Customers for Your Creative Business

When a new visitor lands on your website, what's their first impression? Do they know you mean business?

So you’re attracting lots of visitors to your website. But if you’re a freelancer or running a creative business, you need those visitors to become clients and customers. Otherwise your site is like a bucket with a hole – draining away your time and money.

1. Work out what they really want.

Finding out what your customers want is the beginning and end of your marketing efforts. Get this right, and you can make mistakes with the rest of this list and still make sales. Get it wrong, and you will struggle no matter how well you execute the rest.If you’re a service provider working closely with clients, this is relatively easy – since clients will tell you about their problems, challenges, loves, and hates. They’ll let you know when you’re giving them what they want – and vice versa! So pay attention to what they tell you and use it to improve your service – and develop new offerings.

If you’re selling products or artworks without so much interaction with your customers, it’s a little harder but still doable. Take every opportunity to meet with your customers and talk to them – in ‘real life’ as well as via social media.

Working out what your customers want is an ongoing process that involves trial and error. Here are two questions that can help you get the answers faster:

  • Which products/services/artworks are my customers most enthusiastic about?
  • What do they buy from your competitors that you could do better, or with an original twist?

2. Show them you mean business.

When a new visitor lands on your website, what’s their first impression? Does it look professional or amateurish? Up-to-date or neglected? Popular or obscure? No prizes for guessing which qualities are more attractive to buyers.

And do you make it obvious this is a business website, where you want them to buy from you or hire you? They aren’t mind readers, you know!

Don’t say: “Hi, I’m Rachel, welcome to my photography site, I hope you enjoy the pictures!”

Do say: “Hi, I’m Rachel Reynolds, a photographer based in Boston. Welcome to my site – you can browse and buy my pictures in the gallery.”

3. Make your offer crystal clear.

What do you want people to DO when they come to your site? ‘Buy my stuff’ or ‘hire me’ should be at the top of your list. Next up is to subscribe to your blog or newsletter, sign up for a free trial, or do something else that moves them closer to buying.Make a prioritized list of these actions. For each desired action, you need to make an offer (invitation, call to action).

Particularly if you are selling a complex product or service, you need to make it clear exactly what you can do for your customers, and how it will benefit them. The more specific you are, the more believable your claims, the more of an expert you will appear.

Don’t say: “I’m available for portrait commissions.”

Do say: “I paint Vinyl Art, portraits of musicians and entertainers on vinyl records made by the subject. Instead of Elvis on velvet, think Elvis on an Elvis record.” –

At this point there’s no substitute for professional standard copywriting. If you’re a confident writer, teaching yourself copywriting skills could be one of the best investments you make. If you can’t write for toffee, or hate the thought of penning a sales page, you should seriously consider hiring a copywriter.

4. Show them how to buy.

If you’re selling an artwork or product, explain how big it is, how much it weighs, how much it costs to ship, where you ship to, delivery times, your refunds policy, and what payment methods you offer.

If you’re selling a service, give some idea how long it will take, what you will do, how you will do it, and what they will need to do. Yes, this will vary from project to project, but without some kind of roadmap, potential clients may be shy of contacting you – they imagine it will take months and eat up their schedule, whereas the reality may be very different.

Again, this is all obvious to you, but not to them. The more you tell them, the easier it looks and the more of them will buy.

5. To price or not to price?

If you’re selling to private individuals, it’s generally a good idea to display your prices. This is particularly true in the case of creative products and services – depending on the signature, a painting could cost $100, $100 million, or anything in between – and no one likes to risk looking dumb or poor by asking. Publishing your prices will reassure those who can afford it and filter out those who can’t (without embarrassing them).

If you’re selling services to small-to-medium-sized businesses, where the price can vary but you still want to reassure the right people that you aren’t out of their league, you may want to consider offering packages at different price points, or indicating a range of pricing for typical projects.

If you’re selling high-end services to corporates, luxury goods to the wealthy, or fine art to collectors, then it may well pay not to publish your prices. If they have to ask, they can’t afford it, right?

6. Use testimonials.

You may think testimonials look cheesy, but they wouldn’t be so common if they didn’t work. So why not make life easier for yourself – and your customers – by using something that works?

Ask your best customers for testimonials – you may be surprised how eager they are to help out. Get them to be as specific as possible about the benefits they received from doing business with you. Photos, URLs, and even videos will make the testimonials more credible and reassuring.

7. Promote a free subscription.

The brutal truth is that hardly anyone will buy the first time they land on your site. This is particularly true of sophisticated creative products or services – these purchases are usually not made on the spur of the moment.

So as well as making your sales offers abundantly clear, offer a free subscription – to your blog, your newsletter, your podcast, or some other form of communication channel that gives you permission to stay in touch with them over time. Once they get to know, like, and trust you via the free samples and advice you send them, they’ll be more likely to pick you when they’re ready to buy.

It’s no secret that email is still the most powerful online sales channel for most small businesses. So building a mailing list of people who have actively opted in to receive your free content and sales messages should be one of your top priorities.

What Works For You?

What has worked best for you in converting visitors to customers?

Which of these areas do you need to work on the most?

What would you add to my tips?

More Posts by Mark McGuinness

Comments (37)
  • Michael A. Robson

    “3. Make your offer crystal clear”

    Thanks for this. I’ve been streamlining and stripping out the fat on my site, and try to make the path for newbies crystal clear.. I’m still working on the ‘call to action’ part.

  • essay help

    interesting thoughts

  • vinylart

    Thanks for the positive mention! The timing is funny as I’m pondering simplifying the site. I’ve just written a new bio and statement that I’m going to incorporate. It’s great to have that description on the About page but people have to get there. My front page needs less stuff and more focus.

    I’m also going to try to lead visitors better. Create the payoff for subscribing and/or buying. That’ll take a bit of work.

    Also, I removed prices awhile back because I had prices that differed from galleries and I don’t want to confuse or frustrate them. How would you suggest handling that aspect? I’ve liked being able to be flexible also depending on the customer and my communication with them but I don’t know.


  • Mark McGuinness

    My pleasure Daniel. Re the pricing question, why do you have different prices for online/galleries? And who are you trying not to confuse – your customers or the galleries? How you present it will depend on the answers.

    E.g. If you can sell online at a reduced price because of lower overheads, then maybe frame it as a discount for ordering online. Let me know if there’s a different reason…

  • vinylart

    I have galleries in southern California and Toronto. They and previous galleries have had different senses of what to price the pieces at in their location but they also market online. So if I post my normal price I’d be undercutting them. That’s my concern.


  • Cora Coronel

    I’m building my site and this are awesome ideas for it! Thanks a lot!! 😀

  • essay writing service

    Great this is really nice!)

  • Sarah

    this is a tricky one. I’ve worked with both galleries and artists on this and I’d offer a few thoughts:

    – if your work is being sold online through several different gallery sites it would make sense to harmonise the prices across all of them
    – this is one of the challenges of working with multiple galleries who are exclusive in their relationship with you geographically but not virtually. You need to take the line that you are the one that sets the prices and not individual galleries. Not necessarily an easy conversation to have with each gallery but the only way you’ll achieve pricing consistency. If you don’t do this then the galleries will look silly if collectors notice the pricing differentials.
    – this also means that your online price needs to be harmonised with the standard gallery price. Clearly this puts up your prices quite considerably but if you’re selling direct you are not only making the work but doing the work of the gallery as well
    – if you want to sell work at a lower price than the gallery price then do it through open studio and other such sales where collectors expect a bit of a discount because they are coming direct
    – if you undercut the galleries then of course the message is that you don’t really value the contribution they are making … not a great message for you or for them!

    does that help?


  • Mark McGuinness

    Thanks Sarah.

    @ Daniel – Sarah’s an expert on pricing art, so I asked her to give you her specialist view. 😉

  • Justice Wordlaw IV

    Really good article and letting your potential customers see the price of the service or product is very important. If you want a lot of attention to your site one thing to look into is guest posting on sites within your industry to promote your free offer (ebook or audio) to their audiences to get a larger following. That is one technique I have been using this past summer with promoting my community blog and ebook and the results have been really amazing.

  • gluten free gift

    I think that the “call to action” element is the most important message here… and that testimonials (while they can seem dorky) certainly add some street cred. Mille grazie!

  • JeffreyDavis11

    Mark: Thanks for this insightful post. My team deliberately made my website unconventional and yet we’re also in the process of re-evaluating how to convey more precisely my services and price points and many other matters such as simplicity. I’ve sent this piece to my team and am reviewing your tips today.

  • Mark McGuinness


  • Mark McGuinness

    Yes, guest posting is a very smart strategy for building an audience and finding customers. Glad to hear it’s working well for you.

  • Mark McGuinness

    Thanks Jeffrey. Whatever changes you make, I don’t think you’ll have any problem maintaining your unconventional credentials!

  • essay help

    very cool post! thanksa lot for sharing! ths information was quite interesting for me!

  • ren smith

    Thanks for the great post, I am currently building a site for my online business so any tips on how to convert visitors into customers are really helpful!  

  • FONA International

    This is great! My portfolio site – – has been evolving as my business evolves. As I’m growing from an employed designer just trying to show my portfolio to a freelance designer trying to get more clients I think it’s time to add a call to action to my site!

  • Angela Jones

    This is great! My portfolio site –
    – has been evolving as my business evolves. As I’m growing from an
    employed designer just trying to show my portfolio to a freelance
    designer trying to get more clients I think it’s time to add a call to
    action to my site! 

  • Angela Jones

    Was logged into my employer’s twitter account when I posted that. Moderator, could you please delete? Thanks!

  • vinylart

    Thanks Sarah and Mark!

    I did rework from the homepage in but left that bio page the same. I trying a limited number of pieces in my online gallery priced where I’ve been selling them directly. But just those pieces specifically. I’ll see how it goes!

    I’ll look forward to a guest post at some point from you, Mark!


  • Linda

    Thanks for the informative post. I’m just setting up a new business and although I ‘know’ of these things, its good to have it in front of you to put into action.

  • Simon Geraghty

    Great post succinct and to the point.

  • Itziar Olaizola

    Really useful, sure I´ll put your tips in practice!

  • Six Sigma Training

    Great post. Your 7 point is very useful for me. I’ve really enjoyed reading your different articles. They are so informative and interesting.

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