This article was originally posted in 2011, but we continue to have this critical discussion with our clients, so we’ve updated the information below.
A common complaint among independent musicians is that building a customized website is very expensive; 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 for $20 or less a month with no upfront costs.
So for those of you who need a template for how to create an effective and affordable website, this is the article for you.
Many artists drive themselves crazy building a website for themselves or their band because they have trouble keeping it simple, and this is the key.
Your website exists to do two things:
- Number one: Help you engage with and make new fans.
Number two: Make you money.
Here’s how to set yourself on the right path…
Step 1: You must have a domain name.
Register the domain that you would like to use. I highly suggest a dot com (.com) with no slashes and underscores if possible.
TIP: You should also make sure that the YouTube, Twitter and Facebook page names match the URL that you purchased.
Step 2: Choose which payment 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 the site for you.
Here are my favorite 4 in alphabetical order. All 4 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, you can store unlimited emails and send newsletters through your custom site. It costs $20 per month or $199 per year.
Reverbnation – http://www.reverbnation.com/band-promotion/sitebuilder
Reverbnation continues to te the one-stop shop for digital music marketing tools. Reverbnation’s Site Builder allows you to create a custom website that can utilize their full suite of tools, including Reverbnation’s Fan Reach (newsletter platform).
Spacecraft – http://gospacecraft.com
Spacecraft allows you to build a simple, highly customizable website with a responsive design that makes mobile browsing easy for your fans.
Working with a Web designer
I suggest crowdspring.com or LinkedIn for finding affordable WordPress designers. Make sure you read the designer’s reviews and see examples of his/her work before you hire him/her so you don’t get any unpleasant surprises.
TIP: Don’t pay more than $1,000 for a basic WordPress site.
TIP: Don’t work with an “artsy” 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.
Your website must be clear and functional.
Step 3: Build Your Homepage
Your entire website should be easy to navigate with a navbar across the very top of each page so visitors can see it (not buried where they have to scroll down).
TIP: your socials should all match your site colors.
USE: Reverbnation, Pledgemusic, Topspin or Noisetrade
Nav Bar elements / tabs:
1. Bio/ press kit. For your press kits use Sonicbids, Reverbnation, or Presskit.to.
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 connect with 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 Food Pyramid.