3 Big Mistakes Artists Make With Their WordPress Websites

There are 3 big mistakes artists make with their WordPress websites over and over again.

3 Big Mistakes Artists Make With Their WordPress Websites

BIG Mistake NUMBER ONE: Choosing a WordPress theme that competes with your art.

An artist’s site should be all about the art. There are literally 1000’s of WordPress themes to choose from but it is difficult to find one that’s suitable for fine art.


A theme with tons of tripped-out functionality, busy graphics or way too many options just creates a learning curve that’s complicated and way too long. Your time is better spent in the studio producing work than it is trying to turn yourself into a web developer because you need a short course in CSS and HTML in order to use your theme.

Artbiz is all about WordPress, it’s an easy platform for artists to manage themselves. Once WordPress is installed you can simply pick a theme and start uploading images and start adding your content.

KISS it = Keep It Simple! 

It’s all about your artwork. If you want to enhance your site; try making your thumbnails larger or adding a slideshow, and provide substance in your text content.

BIG mistake NUMBER TWO: A lack of substance in the content.

It’s important to create a great theme that makes your site visually appealing.  What really makes for a poor visitor experience is lack of substance in the content. By lack of substance I mean, thinking that people will know all about you and your work by simply looking at your images. You must have text on your home page and image portfolios.

People want to know who you are, how you do what you do and why.  

Art is full of hidden meaning that may not become apparent until it is pointed out. People have told me that they didn’t truly understand my work until they read my series statement.  It is our responsibility as the creators of our work to educate people about it.

But it’s not only people that look at your images and read your texts; search engines also crawl your site looking for content to index.

Search engine robots can’t see your landscape painting, you have to tell it that it’s a landscape with words.

Why is your work so magnificent; tell us. People want to get to know you and what makes the creative mind tick. It’s really fascinating to other artists and non-artists alike. Provide substance!

Here’s an entire blog category dedicated to helping artists formulate their content, free for the reading.

BIG mistake NUMBER THREE: NOT resizing and optimization images for your website

Artist sites are mainly about the images; we know this. Fast loading images of exceptional quality are paramount to a good user experience especially if there’s no text (see big mistake #2).

Studies have shown that a visitor to your site takes an average to 6 to 8 seconds to assess whether or not to stay and go deeper or move on.

If your image takes 30 seconds to load most people will have left your site by the time it finally shows up.

This is the most challenging part of managing your website. Photoshop is not only expensive, you have to learn how to use it; yet another learning curve. A lot of artists don’t know that you don’t need the full blown version of Photoshop to manage images. Photoshop Elements will do the job at a fraction of the price.

If you don’t want to use Photoshop there are a number of online resources to resize your images for free. You can’t embed meta data into the jpeg as you can with Photoshop but you can watermark, resize and rename with these four…

One final note about renaming images; always, always rename your jpeg’s with your name and the name of the piece. Like so: “your-name_name-of-piece.jpg”  There is nothing worse than having your images indexed by search engines as “img_1234.jpg”.

Remember your website is all about your art, chose a simple theme that puts the emphasis on the art not the site design. Provide content substance by writing about your work and good quality, fast loading images.  Do this and you’ll avoid these 3 big mistakes artist’s make with their WordPress websites!

Guest artist/author: Kim Bruce is an accomplished artist and designer specializing in the entire implementation of a WordPress based website including installation, theme design, upgrades, unique customization’s and ongoing site maintenance.


You can visit my WordPress art website,  LoriMcNee.com, and let’s meet on Facebook  Fine Art Tips Facebook Fan Page, on Twitter, Google Plus and on Pinterest. Be sure and check out and my fine art prints and notecards on Fine Art America.! ~Lori




  1. Frances Vettergreen Visual Artist March 11, 2013 at 1:30 pm

    I’ll vouch for Artbiz; Kim is a talented artist and designer and very, very helpful. Nice to see her featured here!

  2. tom howard March 11, 2013 at 8:34 pm

    Most excellent ideas on the 3 big mistakes one can make when setting up a WordPress website. The video I watched on mounting your linen to panel was very informative as well. Thank you Lori, for doing this.

    • Lori McNee June 11, 2013 at 7:30 am

      Hi Tom! Fun to see you here on my blog. Glad you enjoyed these posts… Hope you have a great summer of happy painting!

  3. Elisa Choi March 11, 2013 at 9:52 pm

    Thank you Kim Bruce and Lori for this awesome article. It makes me assess my own website. I normally write about my feelings for a certain painting that I do. Sometimes I write about my process. Sometimes though I have nothing else to write! Good tip on the naming of the image part. However I have difficulty in thinking of a name for my painting. Any tips on that?

    Lastly, Do you guys know of any good plugin for gallery? I use next gen but i find it slow to load and quite difficult to navigate and it sort of clutter my site. Maybe I just don’t know how to fix/code it. Any good to use plugin that you recommend?

    Thanks so much! 🙂

    • Lori McNee October 24, 2013 at 9:26 pm

      Hello Elisa, naming paintings can get difficult. Sometimes I am inspired by music, nature or feelings. The subject matter helps with the naming too. As far as a gallery plugin…check out this post http://weppot.com/gallery-plugin-wordpress/

  4. Jose Jimenez March 12, 2013 at 2:03 am

    Great article thanks for sharing. Another mistake that artists do is not optimizing their archives and getting penalized for duplicate content. You are use of the Genesis framework right? And if you are, how do you like it?

    • Lori McNee June 10, 2013 at 5:18 pm

      Yes, this is Genesis and the Lifestyle theme. I really like it a lot! It’s very customizable and easy. Thanks again

  5. Jan March 12, 2013 at 7:48 am

    Terrific post, Lori…and timely…I literally just installed WP to start building a new website! So glad to find your content-rich website…and I am eager to learn from you. Best wishes to you from Florida 🙂

    • Lori McNee June 10, 2013 at 5:13 pm

      I bet you will enjoy your new WP site. congrats!

  6. Kathleen Thoma March 12, 2013 at 8:32 am

    Great information for artists! Thanks Kim and Lori!

  7. Barbara Muir March 22, 2013 at 3:10 pm

    Thanks for this. I agree. I’m going back to my own Blogger site to check out my possible errors.
    Lots of images presented all at the same time, or all of the topics for the past week at
    once seem to be a new WordPress feature I find very confusing. I like to see one good size image,
    and read either about the image or the artist’s life on that day.

    Take care,


  8. Julia Sydnor March 26, 2013 at 9:39 am

    You can also use keywords in your image names for an added SEO boost.

    Let’s say you painted a series of portraits with names like Jane, Emma, John, etc. An image name of “your-name_jane.jpg” doesn’t really describe the piece. If someone Googles “oil portraits” your lovely work wouldn’t show up in the search results. But if the image had a name like “oil-portraits-jane_your-name.jpg” it would be much more likely to appear in the search results.

  9. Liberation Iannillo March 31, 2013 at 2:26 pm

    All good advice, especially the naming conventions. Art portfolio sites tend to be low on page copy and the copy that is there isn’t always the most SEO friendly (ex: Untitled #92). Make sure each page of your website has a custom meta description tag, use dashes when naming files and not underscores and include alt tags for each image.

    Julia’s suggestions are good too, especially for photographers who shoot specific people, places and things. I shot a well known abandoned hotel last summer and I rank pretty high on Google for it because I used the correct keywords in my page titles, meta descriptions, image names, image alt tags and page copy.

  10. Dawn LeBlanc April 23, 2013 at 8:03 pm

    I essentially agree, but the first point is overly simplistic. The main concept behind WordPress is to keep content and layout separate, not dependent upon each other so that one can theoretically slip from one theme to another, but the reality is that most themes don’t offer that simplicity, and users with no knowledge of web design, html, and/or image optimization quickly find themselves out of their depth.

    While I would agree that simple changes of text and additions of new images can often be managed by most artists, very few are equipped to set up a site from scratch, even with WordPress already installed, nor are they equipped to deal with the security weaknesses inherent in WordPress, or the plethora of plugins, which are necessary.

    Because of all this, I think it is misleading to suggest that most artists would be in a position to set up and manage a site on their own.. There are too many pitfalls, and when a problem arises, as it will, they will not be able to solve it.

    • Lori McNee May 1, 2013 at 10:27 am

      Hi Dawn, thanks for sharing your additional points made about WordPress. My own sites are customized, so I have my webmaster help me from time to time. As a busy artist, and part-time blogger, there just are not enough hours in the day to learn it all!

      That said, there are some simplistic templates for WP beginners such as the service offered by the guest author of this post. I do believe that Kim Bruce offers support to the people who chose her blogging platform. But, once the new WP blogger starts to add all the goodies like ‘plugins’, that’s where the problems can arise!

      But, I still love WordPress!

    • Kim Bruce May 29, 2013 at 7:02 am

      Hi Dawn (nice to see you here)

      Yes WordPress is a great tool for artists to manage their content once it is all set up. And yes, as Lori pointed out, they can get into trouble with things like plugins (and premium themes). I agree Dawn, there’s more to it than just one click installation. The site needs to be updated and secured ongoing.

      More and more artists are coming to me saying that they don’t know how to use the $80 theme that purchased. This is a problem for a lot of artists that find themselves having to learn code in order to use their theme. That’s exactly my point – don’t use an overly complicated theme. Unfortunately most people don’t know this until they install it and try to work with it.

      There are lots of resources available to help with WordPress, including the forum at wordpress.org and online resources and tutorials at my site and others.

  11. Lorena Bowser April 30, 2013 at 10:18 pm

    Excellent!! I want to change to Word Press but have hesitated because my current site took so long for me to design. However, my current site is just a “pretty face” with no brain. Your site has encouraged me to make some huge changes and do it right this time. “Time!” yes, that’s the one thing I have little of, but this must be done! Thank you.

    • Lori McNee May 1, 2013 at 9:42 am

      Great news Lorena. I am happy I have helped you. Thanks for letting me know and good luck!

  12. michael kors iphone 4 case May 1, 2013 at 1:25 am

    Do you mind if I quote a few of your articles as long as I provide credit and sources back to your weblog?
    My blog is in the exact same niche as yours and
    my visitors would certainly benefit from some of the information you present
    here. Please let me know if this alright with you.

    • Lori McNee May 1, 2013 at 9:41 am

      Hello Michael, I am always happy to share as long as people use excerpts of the original article and link back to me. Please don’t post the whole article because that will hurt both of our websites’ rankings. Thanks!

  13. amper June 21, 2013 at 12:30 am

    this is the first time , I read about this article. it is great. wordpress is a good way to put articles about your business and promote your website . but have very many tips to do this . we need to learn much more

  14. Nicky Jameson January 2, 2014 at 10:09 am

    Hi Lori – thank you for this great article. My Artist Blog is also set up with WordPress – and I use the Genesis framework – I started with Lifestyle but switched to one called Newspaper (I think). I have used WordPress for quite a few years (and have tried others like photocrati but came back to Genesis) so I am very familiar with it and I can say that it can still be challenging if one doesn’t know what they are doing. Not all the themes are set up to display art and sometimes it is a question of trial and error and knowing what you want to do. I wanted my images front and centre and so I kept the design very simple… however I also like to write stories about them so that this would support my SEO, so I am glad you mentioned including content and context. I often see artist’s sites with only images… and no alt tags at all.

    Given that I dislike all but the simplest coding and my time is better spent creating art I have a web developer who helps me upgrade and maintain my site regularly. I have been with him for several years now and having him deal with anything technical is well worth it – and it isn’t expensive. There are many wordpress designers out there who can help. In my opinion if just starting out with WordPress you can find some excellent free themes that will do for artist blogs – and don’t really need to have a paid theme until you’re ready – and are prepared to understand how and take the time to customize it. The key really is the content… and actively driving traffic to the site.
    I hope this helps others – thanks for a great article.

    • Lori McNee January 20, 2014 at 12:01 am

      Thanks for your great additions to this post! Maybe you would like to share a guest post sometime? Let me know if you are interested. Yes, content is so important for rankings and getting found. Images are great too, but a story going along with it is even better. Happy blogging, Lori

      • Nicky Jameson March 2, 2014 at 10:09 pm

        Hi Lori – Thank you – I’d love to share a guest post sometime! I’ll drop you a line via your contact. Happy blogging, Nicky

  15. Cristina March 5, 2014 at 12:08 am

    Heya are using WordPress for your site platform? I’m new
    to the blog world but I’m trying to get started and create my own.
    Do you need any html coding knowledge to make your own blog?

    Any help would be really appreciated!

    • Lori McNee March 23, 2014 at 7:33 pm

      With a WP site, you will need to understand some html code. However, much of it is pretty easy to learn on your own. I have a webmaster help me with the more complicated tasks. I use BlueHost as my hosting provider and have been very happy. There is a link on my blog in the sidebar where you can learn more.


  16. Anand August 31, 2014 at 8:34 pm

    A very interesting post. I am glad I stumbled on it when I am just starting my art blog. I do write content to accompany my art, but I must be more conscious of SEO. Thanks.

    • Lori A McNee May 1, 2016 at 2:35 pm

      Anand, many apologies for the belated reply! Thanks for the feedback and visit. Getting behind on comments is one of my biggest mistakes!!

  17. Jewel Howard January 19, 2015 at 8:00 am

    Hi Lori,

    I am writing about my brother’s art, who is now deceased. There is a festival that wants to feature a piece of his art at a Jazz Festival. In return, they will give $1000 for the use of the image on T-shirts and promotional items. They will also give me access to a tent to promote and/or sale some of his works. I am not an artist and I am new to this business. Can you give me some pointers as to how I go about the contract along with making sure the work is only used for this function and not use for other activities. Your assistance is greatly appreciated.

    Jewel Howard

    • Lori McNee February 8, 2015 at 12:14 am

      Hello Jewel, what a nice honor. I bet you are very proud of your brother. For a Jazz Festival, this sounds like a fair price. They must be using your brother’s image on posters and T-shirts to promote the festival, correct? I would want to be paid up front for that right. Is it a one-time usage? Don’t sign over the copyright. Are they taking a commission for any of the other sales of his works? Good luck with it all!

  18. lucas July 9, 2015 at 6:16 pm

    great tips! Thank you very much.

  19. Rodrei Dizon November 25, 2015 at 8:20 pm

    Thanks for this article, very helpful for people like me who’re just are very new in blogging, esp. for artworks.
    God bless!

    • Lori A McNee May 1, 2016 at 2:04 pm

      You are welcome. Thank you!

  20. Ann November 27, 2015 at 2:07 am

    Those are great tips, thank you for writing them! Also I wanted to suggest another little detail, having exposure on the social media is important of course; but having too many buttons feels a bit aggresive. Many artists websites have several rows at the top, left, right, bottom, the ones that follow your scrolling and the pop out windows. I recomend them to have only two rows for the site to be clean and letting the eyes concentrate more on the content instead of the bright red and blue of the social media.

    • Lori A McNee May 1, 2016 at 2:03 pm

      Yes, I agree. Luckily there are quite a few choices now to customize your site to compliment your design. I find popups annoying too!

  21. David March 5, 2016 at 8:34 am

    Hi Lori

    There is no doubt that almost every blogger or webmaster do these WordPress mistakes once in their life.

    & These mistakes help them to learn something new again and again with time.

    You have listed here almost all the major WordPress mistakes which bloggers do including me.

    I have also did so many mistakes in my WordPress blog. I can remember when I started my 1st blog, I never created any BackUp of my WordPress site. One day, by mistake I deleted the database of my blog from Cpanel and It created a major issue in my site.

    I didn’t knew anything about it so I started my blog again by re-installing the WordPress.

    That was the unforgettable mistake because It contained hard work of almost 2 months and I completely losed it by deleting the database.

    After that day, I always take complete BackUp of my each site.

    Thanks for covering such a nice article so that people can learn about these mistakes and also can avoid them. 😀

    • Lori A McNee March 5, 2016 at 5:56 pm

      I still make ‘mistakes’ …haha! In fact, I just checked on this post and noticed my images had disappeared. Being a blogging is an ongoing education!

      Thank for sharing your experience. Believe it or not, I’ve been hacked twice! Luckily, I had double backups. Even so, I had to have help restoring it all. I’m glad you enjoyed this post! 🙂

    • Lori A McNee March 31, 2016 at 11:13 pm

      David, thanks for adding your thoughts to this thread. I’m glad you enjoyed this post! I’ve learned many things the hard way too. 😉

  22. Amylee March 6, 2016 at 12:37 pm

    VERY interesting and so true, as usual!! Bravo Lori!!!

    • Lori A McNee March 31, 2016 at 10:57 pm

      Hi and thanks Amylee! Thanks and I’m glad you enjoyed this…

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