Rising Star Systems

websites, Internet marketing

Websites and the Artist Entrepreneur

Internet Marketing Part Deux

In last month’s Newsletter, I talked about the importance of not only having a presence on the Internet but having a presence that would be easily discoverable by your prospective customers, clients and fans. And that the trick to being found is through the use of good key words and SEO principles.

But first you have to have a website. It amazes me that there are still people who think they can get away with a MySpace, Facebook, or ReverbNation profile as your primary internet presence.  Using your Facebook page, or whatever, as your landing page on the internet is a mistake for several reasons including:

  • You have no control over your content – because you don’t OWN Facebook, MySpace or ReverbNation.
  • These sites can shut down with no notice or just shut down your profile/page with no notice and you will lose everything.

But beyond that – it communicates to the industry that you’re just not that serious. You aren’t willing to invest a few hundred dollars (or less) to set up your own website.

I also don’t recommend the template options that are abundant out there. For example, if you’re a musician or band, you can build a template website on Bandzoogle, Nimbit or Hostbaby to name a few. And it can be useful as a quick and dirty shortcut. But I don’t think you save money in the long run and you run the same risk as using Facebook, MySpace or ReverbNation for your website – you don’t own it.

I recommend using WordPress to build a site that you host on a web host like Hostgator. This way, you own it. And using WordPress will allow you to update it, edit it, and even change the look and feel of the site as often as you need to without spending thousands of dollars to do it.

OK, now that I’ve convinced you that to grit your teeth and create your own website – what should you have on it? I recommend 5-6 main pages – some will have more, but I don’t think you want to have fewer:

  • Blog
  • Bio/About
  • Store
  • Calendar of Events (If you never play out or show your work – you can skip the Calendar/Tour page)
  • Press Kit
  • Contact

You can use either your Blog or the Bio/About page as the landing or home page (I hate the flash entry pages). The store can also have music samples, your art images, etc. as long as it also has a way to purchase those items. You can call that tab “Store” or you can call that tab “Music” or “Art”, it’s up to you.

Some websites have “Video” as a separate section – but you can also just build it into your blog – which becomes a vlog. Actually I would recommend posting the video’s first to YouTube and then using the YouTube code to pull it into your website – but I digress…

I recommend that the Contact page be a form rather than your email – it’s still too easy for bots to steal your email and flood you with spam. I also recommend using your website domain in your email address (name@namemusic.com or whatever). This promotes your domain with every email. If you don’t want to use your host’s server for email – and there’s a lot of reasons why you wouldn’t, you can create a Google Apps account for free with 7 Gigs of memory.

In addition, the Theme or Frame must be built with a sign-up for your mailing list and links to all your social media, so that they appear on every page and post.

If you are tech savvy – you can probably figure out WordPress in a few days.  Several of my private clients have done it in a weekend.  But if you’re like me, NOT tech savvy or with other things to do with your time, I recommend hiring a designer.  Then you can get them to give you a quick tutorial on WordPress (I learned the basics in an hour).  And you can add your copy and blog posts yourself.

“The confused mind doesn’t buy.”

Andrea J. Lee, Author of Multiple Streams of Coaching Income and Money Meaning and Beyond

Here’s the bottom line about your website.  Less is more.  The purpose of your website is to engage, entertain, and develop prospects into customers, clients and fan.  If it’s unreadable people won’t stay.  If it’s too cluttered, people won’t stay.  If they can’t easily and quickly find what they’re looking for, people won’t stay.  So:

  • Use larger font
  • Light type on a dark background is impossible to read – if you want a cool dark frame, that’s fine – but use a lighter color for the background of the text box and a dark font
  • Make the navigation easy and simple to follow
  • Don’t be mysterious about what you do – be ridiculously obvious – state it in the frame, so it appears on every page and post.

What are your biggest questions about your website and internet marketing?  What are your biggest pet peeves when you land on someone’s site?  Please share with us!



12 Responses

  1. Hey there,David here, CEO at Bandzoogle.

    Couple things:

    On Bandzoogle (and HostBaby, too actually), you can either use a template, yes, (and we have hundreds), or, you can use our custom style editor to completely customize your design. Use your own artwork, pictures, backgrounds, fonts, etc. This makes it even more flexible than a free WordPress theme.

    4 years ago Bandzoogle was a template website platform. Not anymore.

    A website should cost you about $200/year max. With no up-front fee. That’s it. And that includes everything I’ll list later in this comment. Plus maybe a little extra if you need a graphic designer to get started, but anyone that says a website is worth over $1,000 is looking to steal from you. Or, they work at a major label.
    On Bandzoogle your content is all yours. We do not own any of your content and we do not make you forfeit any of your rights. The website itself is built and hosted on our proprietary platform, that’s true. And our templates, if you use them, are copyrighted by us. But you can take your all of your content with you at anytime, should you choose to leave us. That includes your mailing list, and all media.
    The same is true of building a WordPress site. Unless you host it yourself, you have to find a host. If that host goes down, you lose your site. And you can’t take your WordPress site and rebuild it on Tumblr the next day or something similar. Unless you do straight html, every platform has restrictive elements to it.Bandzoogle has been around since 2003. We are growing, profitable, independent, and not going anywhere. Your site is safe with us.
    That said, we are big fans of WordPress and if you know what you’re doing (or can afford someone who does), it is an extremely powerful and flexible blogging platform that can be turned into a kick-ass website. Some of my favorite artist websites are WordPress sites.
    Our approach with Bandzoogle is to offer a simpler “all integrated” and musician-focused alternative. You build the site on our platform, host it with us, host your media, get or transfer your domain name. Then add tour dates, photo galleries, a blog, podcast, fan forums, etc. We have all that, all included in our pricing plans. You can also add any outside widget, or player, with our html feature. No need to fool around with widgets and plug-ins.
    Same goes for your name-of-band.com e-mails,  mailing list management and e-mail blast tool, website stats and analytics, and, most importantly, our no-commission (0%) store features, that let you sell (or give) your digital music and sell CDs and merch. We are integrated with Topspin (2 clicks), with more integrations coming.
    All of that, plus live chat and e-mail support from our team (all musicians and singers), for a very reasonable monthly fee. If you e-mail me (david – at – bandzoogle – dot – com). I can give you a 6 month 100% free trial.
    So, I’m not saying that musicians shouldn’t consider building a site on WordPress. It is an incredible platform. But you need to ask yourself these questions when weighing your options, to estimate the Total Cost of Ownership (TCO) of your website:
    How much of your time do you need to spend, researching, learning, building, etc. (and what’s your hourly rate ? and cost of opportunity vs. practicing, songwriting, etc.).
    Do you need to hire a designer, or developer ?
    Do you need to buy a theme ?
    Do you need to buy a domain ?
    Do you need to pay for hosting ? How much ?
    Do you need to host your media (music, videos) somewhere else ? Do they provide embeddable players ? Are they free ?
    Do you need to add other plug-ins to your site, or widgets to make it work as a musician site ?
    Do you need to sign up for a mailing list service ? Is it free ?
    Do you need to sign-up for a different service to commerce-enable your website ? Is it free ? Commission-based (as in, do they take a cur of your sales) ?
    Do those different services you signed up for provide support ? At what cost ?
    MOST IMPORTANT: Can you update and modify your website yourself, at no expense ?
    I’m probably missing a few elements … great idea for a full blog post if someone want to do the work and guesstimate the dollar numbers, and total cost of building and owning a website 😉

    1. First – David, thank you so much for such a thorough comment!  I appreciate the time you took.  It does seem that Bandzoogle has become much more than a template site and I look forward to finding out more about the resources you offer!

      I also think you ask great questions.  I think an additional question needs to go in the mix – there is the initial cost of the website setup vs. the ongoing cost of maintenance.  With Bandzoogle – you are paying a flat fee monthly, yes?  It’s true with hosting that you will pay a flat fee but it’s less than Bandzoogle.  So, while the initial setup may be less – over the long term it may end up costing more. 

      It used to cost $2,000–5,000 to set up your own website.  That’s no longer true.  While that was true, the cost benefits of your service were much clearer.  I think the question has gotten more complex as the price of design has come down, because of content management systems like wordpress.

      I look forward to longer conversations about this issue.

      1. “With Bandzoogle – you are paying a flat fee monthly, yes?”

        Yes. Free trial. Then we are $10, $15 or $20 a month.

        “It’s true with hosting that you will pay a flat fee but it’s less than Bandzoogle.”

        Hmmm… maybe. But Bandzoogle Pro ($20/mo or $200/yr) gives you unlimited storage and bandwidth.  It also includes the site builder platform and themes, all the features artists needs, blogging platform, the domain name, e-mails, mailing list and newsletter, service, a no-commission digital and physical direct-to-fan store, analytics, etc. Plus, we have a support team available 7 days a week. All that for a flat fee, with no extras or set-up costs.

        It’s a lot more than just “hosting”. With WordPress, you need to add up the cost of a theme, the hosting costs, signing up for MailChimp or Fanbridge, the cost and commission of whatever you use to sell your music, signing up for SoundCloud or other media host, etc… And that’s if you do it yourself.

        “I think the question has gotten more complex as the price of design has come down, because of content management systems like wordpress.”

        … and Bandzoogle! We are in fact a content management system… focused on musicians and artists.

        1. But if I want to take my website and go to a new host – for whatever reason, I can’t do that with a bandzoogle site, can I? I would have to start from scratch, right? If you host a wordpress site using a webhost service (like hostgator and the like), you can just back up your site and reload it on a new server.

          1. I should add, setting up a Bandzoogle site, that includes your images and content, takes minutes, not hours/days like it takes to build a fully featured artist website on WordPress. In our opinion, the setup time is a far more relevant number, because you would only want to leave with your site if you’re unhappy with the service (and we’re happy to say that we have thousands of members that we’ve kept happy 6+ years now…).

          2. Sorry I think my first reply never got posted…

            What it said is that you can indeed move your content, your mailing list, your domain name and pretty much everything to any platform or host. The only that remains “embedded” on Bandzoogle is the underlying design (theme). That is because we are a 100% hosted platform, which means our users don’t have to search for different hosts and pay extra for them. Our servers are extremely fast, reliable and backed-up, This set-up is also more secure, whereas many WP themes and plug-ins, especially the free ones, have many well documented security and upgrade flaws (easy to google).

            It’s true that you can “move” a WP site from host to host pretty easily if you know what you’re doing, but it’s not true that you can move a WP site to a platform like Bandzoogle, or to another open platform like Drupal or Joomla. In fact recently we have been helping a lot of artists move their WP sites to Bandzoogle and we have to do it manually, like you would for the reverse switch.

  2. I’ve never thought of using WordPress I may check this out. I use Hostbaby and they’ve always been great to me (amazing customer service) I only wish a few things on the templates were different. I’ve yet to find a host that has everything. Hmmm WordPress. Does WordPress let you have a lot of file space to upload pictures and audio files and/or allow you to have an email with your domain address? Will have to check out.

    1. Just to be clear – WordPress.org is a platform or a program that you upload to your webhost.  It is NOT a webhost or alternate template site like hostbaby – I am recommending against ALL template sites.  WordPress (the platform) determines how your website operates.  Your web host would determine the file space and so forth.  I’ve been really happy with Hostgator (affiliate link in the post). 

      WordPress.com is a free blogging site and I have the same problem with that as with all the other options I mention in the article. 

      Uploading pictures is really easy.  Playing audio files and video files generally requires a plugin of some kind.  The WordPress.org forum is a great place for getting tips about these kinds of questions.

    1. You mean the free wordpress themes?  Yes, I agree.  Purchasing a theme is well worth the money for a lot of reasons.  They tend to be a lot more robust.  And the customer service is certainly better.  This website is built on Genesis.

      What I love about wordpress, though, is if you just need to get something up fast, go ahead and use a free theme.  And then upgrade.  Because changing theme is simple.  You don’t have to go into every page and post and edit the html.  You upload the new theme and bam!  There it is!

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