Zann Makes an Art Marketing Website Part 2: AdWords for Selling Niche Art Online

Why AdWords, or Paid Traffic at All?

Heard of fake it till you make it? How about buy it while you try it?

AdWords allows you to buy traffic (and potentially customers) while you develop content in your niche, since you won’t get much organically when you’re starting out.

In a more developed business, traffic sources should be distributed fairly evenly between owned, earned, social and paid media. This venn diagram from Pear Analytics describes the relationship between these three.


But what about when you haven’t built up enough owned media to rank in Google? Or haven’t spent enough time building your social profiles to earn mentions or shares on any significant scale?

That’s where paid media shines. Owned and earned media take a lot of time, effort and experimentation to bear fruit, but at least you can buy traffic while you try out content.

My AdWords Plan

In rough terms I should be able to make $1200 per month from just AdWords referrals to my PawsByZann site. That’s not much, but it would be good enough as “proof of concept” if I could make it work.

How did I come to that number?
(Search volume) x (% of people who click my ad) x (% of those people who actually buy my art) x (average amount I sell my art for) x (what’s left of that price after my paying for the ads that brought in the sale)

So… 5000 x 3% x 2% x $500 x 80% = $1200

A detailed breakdown for my art niche and goals:
The search volume for “pet portraits” and “custom pet portraits” and “pet portraits from photos” were all between 1000 and 10, 000 hits per month. So if the average search volume for my keywords was 5000/month, and I could get a 3% CTR (clickthrough rate) on my AdWords, I would get 150 visitors a month per campaign. With a 2% conversion rate on my site, I would make 3 sales per month, again per campaign. If I wanted to spend 20% of my gross profit on advertising, and had an average sale price of $500, I could spend up to $2.00 a click on those 150 visitors. I should be able to make 2 distinct campaigns, and earn $2600/month just on paid campaigns.

The Equations:
5000 searches x .03 clicks = 150 clicks/visitors per month
150 visitors x .02 conversions (sales) = 3 sales per month
Average selling price of $500 x 3 = $1500 gross profit
$1500 gross profit x .2 (20% budget allocated to ads) = $300
$300 advertising budget/150 clicks = up to $2.00 per click

You need to figure out at least a theoretical success formula before throwing money at AdWords, otherwise you’re flying blind. With this formula, if time passed and I didn’t get any sales, I could figure out why.

For me, time passed, no sales. Ready to learn why?


At first, things looked great:

Adwords Feb-March 2017.png

People were clicking, my quality score was slowly going up (note, this could have its own blog post, both for why it’s important and the 15-odd steps it took to get there), because my QS was going up, my cost-per-click went down, and with the same budget I was getting more traffic than anticipated. Over the past month I’ve spent $237 and I’ve gotten 217 clicks. But… no sales.

My CTR (click-through rate, or the number of clicks I get versus how many people see the ad) is higher than expected. That’s good! But my conversion rate, the rate at which visitors turn into customers, is lower than expected, and that’s bad. Really bad.

A low conversion rate is worse than a low clickthrough rate: you’re still paying for all that traffic …but none of it is paying you!

I had been warned that AdWords campaigns require a LOT of optimizing before they bear fruit. I had hoped I could be the exception, but no such luck.

Why was my conversion rate so low? 

In short, people were arriving at my site, but either arriving without buying intent, or not finding what they were looking for. I needed to redesign my site. Competitive reconnaissance showed me I had two primary types of competition: multi-artist sites and single artist sites. Each of these had some things that my site just plain didn’t have.


The best place to look for your true competition is the top of the organic search results (the top results under the ads) for whatever terms you want people to use to find your site. For me, that’s terms like “custom pet portraits” and “dog portrait paintings”.

I was going to have to redo my website in order to get any return on my advertising investment.


My Early AdWords Mistakes

  • Getting impatient: spending money on AdWords before making sure my website is capable of selling my work. That cost me about $300.
  • Accidentally making a campaign with broad match keywords. This set me back a bit a far as CTR goes because I was showing up in irrelevant searches. It also cost a few bucks I didn’t need to spend.
  • Choosing keywords that were relevant to me but weren’t what my audience was using to find me. For example, a lot of people searching for “pet portraits” were looking for a photographer. Photography became the first negative keyword I added to my account.


AdWords Resources

If you’re considering starting your own art marketing business, be a glutton for information about Google and other paid search options. It’s a deceptively simple system and there is a very real risk that you will spend more than you mean to before getting set up properly.

Some sites I’ve found helpful:

Kissmetrics: How to Create a Profitable Google AdWords Campaign (from Scratch)

MarketingDonut: Nine steps to choosing keywords for Google AdWords

WordStream: 6 Steps to Building a Brilliant Paid Search Account Structure

Conversioner: 19 Powerful Tips for Google AdWords Campaign Optimization


Next Post: How I optimized my website and made my first sale from Google


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