The Musician’s Guide To Affordable, Effective Websites
March 22, 2011
Ariel Hyatt in Effective Publicity and Promotion, Music Business Models, Online Marketing, Web 2.0, WordPress, website

I got a slap in the face in Perth, Australia two weeks ago.  I went there to talk about Apps, Foursquare, and advanced web marketing strategies.

I had many one-on-one sessions with artists and a vast majority had a big problem:

They didn’t have web sites.

When I say they don’t have web sites, I mean they’re only using MySpace and Facebook.  Which is a critical mistake. See here why: http://bit.ly/musicadiumpaper

I’m not saying this to make anyone wrong or to be righteous.   Websites, as I soon found out in Australia, are very expensive to build with local web designers. A few artists showed me quotes of $5,000 for a website. It’s not 1997 anymore and those quotes are not OK.

An effective website can be created $20 or less a month with no upfront costs.

So for those of you who need a template and an idea of how to get started on an affordable web site, and how to create an effective one, this is the article for you.

I think that most artists get themselves crazy building web sites because they have trouble keeping it simple, and this is the key.

Your web site is there to do two things.

Number one: Help you engage with and make new fans.

Number two: Make you money.

That’s it.

Here’s how to set yourself on the right path…

Step 1: You must have a domain name.  To register a domain name go to godaddy.com (USA) crazydomains.com.au (AUS)

Register the domain that you would like to use.  I highly suggest a dot com  (.com) if you can get one and no sashes or underscores if you can help it.

TIP: You should also make sure that the YouTube, Twitter and Facebook page names are also available.  You want to make sure your socials match.

Step 2: Choose which option you would like.

Pay As You Go

A pay-as-you-go option with a web site builder, can get you up and running very quickly and you won’t need a designer to build for you.
Here are my favorite 3 in alphabetical order. All 3 have excellent call-in customer service to help ease the confusion.

Bandzoogle – http://bandzoogle.com/

Their lite version starts at $9.95 per month easy to use and the first month is free!

Hostbaby – http://www.hostbaby.com/

Owned by CD Baby, Hostbaby has recently undergone a fabulous face-lift and it’s easy to use. You can store unlimited emails and send newsletters through your custom site. It costs $20 per month or $199 per year.

Nimbit – http://www.nimbit.com/instant-band-site/

You’ll need a Nimbit account (either Free, Indie, or NimbitPro all details on the site). Note: these are real Wordpress sites!  If you want a Wordpress site this is a great pay as you go option.  Easy tutorials too!

Working with a Web designer

I suggest crowdspring.com or LinkedIn for finding affordable Wordpress designers. Make sure you read the designers reviews and see examples of his work before you hire him so you don’t get any unpleasant surprises.

TIP: Don’t pay more than $500 for a basic Wordpress site.

TIP: Don’t work with an “arty” web designer who does not build in Wordpress because he will give you a flash movie intro or a complicated site. If you want artsy, buy a fabulous new outfit, or create a physical piece of merchandise using http://www.MerchLuv.com that’s really cool, and expresses who you are. But please don’t be “artsy” on your website.  On your website be clear and functional.

Step 3: Build Your Homepage

Your entire website should be easy to navigate with a nav bar across the very top of each page or down the left hand side (at the top) so visitors can see it, (not buried where they have to scroll down).

A. Be branded with your look, your colors, and your logo (if you have a logo) and of course a stunning photo of you / your band.

TIP: your socials should all match your site colors.

B. Should feature your name, and your pitch, or specifically what you sound like in a few words.  If you feel weird creating a “pitch” use one killer press quote or fan quote, which sums up the way you sound.

C. Features a FREE MP3 in exchange for an email address.

USE: Reverbnation, Pledge Music, Topspin or Noisetrade

http://www.tinyurl.com/reverbfreebribe

http://www.tinyurl.com/pledgefreebribe

http://www.noisetrade.com

http://www.topspinmedia.com

D. Link to your social media: Facebook, Twitter, YouTube, MySpace, Reverbnation, Sonicbids, Last.fm, and anywhere else you maintain an active profile.

E. Include a Facebook “like” widget.

F. Include a Twitter stream updating in real time.

G. A blog feed / news feed, or new shows updating onto the page via widgets.

H. If you like sharing photos, a Flickr stream, which ports over to your blog!

Nav Bar elements / tabs:

1. Bio/ press kit. For your press kits use Sonic Bids or Reverbnation.

TIP: Photos/ Images. Make sure your photos really capture who you are. Make sure they have clear instructions on how they can be downloaded.

2. Buy music – iTunes or a storefront

3. Your tour shows or performances

4. Your Blog

5. Your Contact Info

Make sure that you have your contact information with an e-mail address or a contact form there so people can contact you for online publicity, booking, or just to tell you they like your music. Don’t make it hard for anyone to find you online.

After your site is done make sure to keep your social media sites updated!  That means daily.  This way your whole site remains interesting and dynamic and fully updated.

For how to do that please read my Musician’s Social Media Pyramid.

Article originally appeared on Music Think Tank (http://www.musicthinktank.com/).
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