Quick and easy website setup for new artists
UPDATE: Information and links to Flavors.me have been added.
When you’re getting your business started, you probably can’t afford to pay a website designer thousands of dollars for a custom website. Since we recommend not using Facebook or Myspace (does anyone still use Myspace?) as your main website, here are some steps for a quick, easy and cheap temporary solution to you started with your web presence:
1) Register your domain for $10-ish per year (yourname.com or yournamemusic.com). Do NOT use Godaddy!!! I recommend DreamHost or NameCheap for registering your domain. Choose a domain that is easy to verbally tell people, along with being easy to remember. “.Com” is always best to go for as a default extension, but since the one you want might not be available, try adding “music” to the name, or use “.net” or “.us”. And obviously it would help to have your domain registered with the hosting service you might use down the road, but you don’t have to.
2) Use a free service like Flavors, OneSheet or Bandcamp to create a page with your music and links to social media, your blog, etc. Use music, photos, bio, and videos to provide some content - even if you just have a single landing page starting out.
4) Go to http://www.google.com/submityourcontent/website-owner/ to tell Google your site exists so people can find it in search results. The idea is that potential fans will google your name once they get home from seeing you at a show, or after they hear a friend mention your music. Google searches are typically the number one way that people will find you online. IMPORTANT: If you are forwarding your domain to OneSheet, etc. make sure you also submit the http://onesheet.com/yourname URL since yourname.com is not actually hosting any files.
5) Once the site is set up, use Facebook and Twitter to spread the word, linking to it and asking your friends and family to share it so you can get some traffic. Top search results for your name/band will only happen if your site has traffic along with other sites linking to it. You obviously want your website to be at the top of the search results.
A couple other more advanced options that are still relatively easy compared to building your own website from scratch are WordPress and Bandzoogle. The latter is great because it’s custom-tailored for musicians including an online store to sell your music and merch, as well as email database managment and newsletter functionality for your fans. And their lowest tier is pretty much the same price as a regular hosting service where you have to build your own site. They also throw in a free domain, so you can save $10 per year. Another reason I recommend them is because their user interface is very intuitive and easy to use for non-computer geeks. Bandzoogle is a completely viable option for a professional music website that you can do yourself and have long term. And their tiered options allow you to expand your website and fan contact management as your business grows.
WordPress is super popular, and if you are a moderate computer geek you might have fun building a site with them. You can host a free site on WordPress.com and set up a custom domain like for the other options listed above (for a yearly fee), or you can download it for free and install it on your own paid hosting service (around $10 per month average) such as BlueHost.com and DreamHost.com. One thing to be careful of: since it is the most popular CMS template web system, it is a magnet for hacking. I like to call it the Windows of the web. So you have to stay on top of the system, theme and plugin updates.
When you get to the point that you can afford to upgrade to full-featured custom website, we’ll be happy to help.