Setting up a website for your band has never been more important.
If you are serious about growing your fan base then you need to start growing your mailing list and the best way to do this is through your own website.
Luckily it’s never been easier to set up a website. Thanks to platforms like WordPress that make adding and editing content simple. You no longer need to find a friend who can code when you want to add new pages to your website or publish a new blog post.
WordPress is the most popular website platform in the world, powering 24% of all websites.
It has achieved this by being easy to use and inexpensive. And by inexpensive, I mean that you can install WordPress for free!
First you will need to install WordPress with your own domain.
You can follow my simple guide: How to Launch a WordPress Website in 5 Minutes
Themes are another word for designs. They are a pre designed templates with specific colours and layout.
Once you WordPress site is installed, you can select a theme for your site. Go to Appearance in the side menu and select Themes.
Here is where you can manage your themes. You can use one of WordPress’ default themes of your can click Add New and choose from a selection of free themes.
You can select a theme based on colour, layout, custom design, etc… You can preview the different themes before selecting the one you like most.
If you want something more suited to your band you can buy a premium theme from Themeforest.
Once you’ve purchased and downloaded your new premium theme you can go back into Appearance > Themes > Add New and click on Upload Theme. Here you can select the Zip file you downloaded and upload it to WordPress.
Now that you’ve chosen a theme, go ahead and start adding pages to your website:
Select Pages on the left menu and click Add Page.
On the left you can enter the page title and enter whatever content you like, be it Bio, Tour Dates, Videos, Contact etc..
On the right of menu you can choose whether you want the page to be public, private or even password protected. You might want to keep a page private while you work on it and adding a password to a page is great if you only want a few certain people to view the page. This way you can email them the password.
You can also make it a sub page, for example if you wanted a page for your new video, you could set up an overall videos page and then set up sub pages for each individual videos. This is a might better way to display your videos then embedding them all on the same page.
Below that you can choose a different template. Templates allow you to have different layouts for various pages. Depending on the theme you are using you should have a few options. The most basic will be to choose between the Default (Usually Main content on the left and a sidebar on the right) and Full Width (No sidebar). The latter is great for visual pages like videos and photos, but I also like to use it for Bios as it removes distractions.
A widget is a small block that performs a specific function. They are a great way for you to easily add custom content to your sidebar and other widget enabled areas. Again different themes have different widget areas. The most common is the sidebar but you will also find some for the footer or even specific areas on the home page.
You can add different widgets to your sidebar, from email sign up forms to twitter fees and recent blog posts links.
To edit content in your sidebar you need to go to Appearance > Widgets
One of my favourite widgets is the Text widget. This is a basic text box that you can paste Youtube videos, music players and even event listings. I strongly recommend this for two reasons.
Firstly, it’s easier and cheaper; WordPress restricts the size of file that you can upload.
Secondly, it’s good practice to keep all your media in one place. Eg. Upload all your videos to Youtube, that way you will know exactly how many times each video has been viewed without having to add up all your different sites. The same goes for audio and tour dates. One of the biggest frustrations I had with the internet was having to keep inputting concert dates onto different websites, now I use one site that links to all my sites.(see below for linking up sites.)
Note: Remember less is more! You don’t want loads of useless distractions in your sidebar. Limit your self to three (Email sign up form, music player and tour dates).
Plugins are bits of software that can be added to to add and improve the functionality of your WordPress site. Think of them like apps for your phone. Each have different functions; some are very simple and others are very advanced.
Below Appearance you will see a link for Plugins
This is where WordPress shines. There are thousands of plugins built for WordPress.
Click Add New and search to the type of plugin you are looking for.
Note: Plugins should follow the same rule as widgets Don’t go over board adding plugins, as having too many on your site will cause it to load slowly and will open your site up to cyber attacks. Think about what you need and be ruthless.
You’d be surprised just how many bands have no contact details on-line. If you don’t display them you can’t be contacted. And don’t think that you’re that amazing that anyone is going to ring around to try and get a hold of your, because they won’t. Make it clear and simple.
This is very important! The more people you can get to sign-up to your mailing list, the more you will get to, not only buy your album and concert tickets, but to spread the word. There are some great mailing list management sites that you can use to both collect e-mails and send out mass mails to your list. (see below)
There are some great social sharing plugins; some free, some paid. Simply search Social Share in the plugins section and see which one suits what you are looking for. You can also get Facebook Like, Twitter Follow, Youtube Subscribe and Spotify Subscribe buttons that allow your fans to follow you on other platforms without leaving your website.
This is another important part of having your own website. Again there are many ways of doing this but I recommend you use Google as it’s free and extremely powerful. Depending on the theme you are using it can be easy to install but, if your theme doesn’t have a Google Analytics code input in its settings page then you should search “Google Analytics Dashboard for WP” in the Plugins section. The great thing about stats is that you can see what pages or posts are more popular. You can also see where traffic is coming from.
So you’ve got your site, time to sit back and watch the crowds flock… Not quite! You have to coax people to your site and to do this you’ll need to create content; News updates, blog posts, videos and new recordings. Then link these new posts to your Twitter and Facebook, to your mailing lists and out to blogs. This will drive traffic back to your website and from there on to your e-mail list. At first this will seem like a slow process but, in time, if you’re posting quality material then things will start to snowball and before you know it people will indeed be flocking to your site. You should also reach out to bloggers to share your videos and music.
If you’re serious about making it then you need to put in the hours, both in your music and building a following. The web is a great tool, but only if used properly, with constant attention. Check out my resources page for the best tools to help you gain success: Resources page