A website is an essential asset for an independent music artist to have. Without a strategically planned and executed web design you’re missing out on opportunities to strengthen loyalty and retention with your existing audience, and to gain new fans. Not to mention you’re missing out on opportunities to make more money.
The problem is sometimes artists ignore their need for a website or they invest time and money into a website that turns into an expense instead of an asset. Here’s 7 common mistakes with most musician websites. Avoid these fatal errors if you want to get the optimal value out of your site.
Note: If you haven’t yet got a website, see how to make one here.
Biggest Common Mistake 1: Your Music Website Has No Specific Goals
Your music career has problems that your website, social media presence, and online marketing efforts are trying to solve. Your website needs to be a solution. In order for it to be an effective solution you need to know what problems it is trying to solve.
Your website should have 1-3 focused goals that it is trying to accomplish. These goals should be something you can track and measure and accomplishing them should aid in solving your most important problems. A current top goal could be to build an email list. In that case you should have a quick and simple sign up form above the fold of your website and give away a free song or EP in exchange for the visitor’s email address. Another goal could simply be to get more views to one of your music videos.
Your goals could be increasing your site traffic, selling more music and merchandise online, or empowering your street team and fans with tools to spread word of mouth. Whatever your goals are, the design of your site should focus on achieving them.
This is just one of the biggest top 7 website mistakes to avoid, let’s look at the other 6 now.
Fatal Website Mistake 2: Not Branding Consistently & Not Making Your Site A Main Focus
Your brand identity, your story, your message, your offerings, and the actions you want people to take all need to be clearly and consistently communicated across your entire presence online (and offline). This is the foundation to your marketing and promotional strategies.
MySpace has become an extinct dinosaur. It’s made some attempts to Jurassic Park itself but so far they’ve been unsuccessful. Facebook continually reduces the organic reach of pages. SoundCloud has become a major player on the landscape.
Are you still planning on being around and making music in a few years? You can’t predict which way social media is going to move between now and then. That platform that you’ve worked so hard to cultivate an audience on for years might disappear.
You NEED to be leveraging social media. But if you’re not using it to funnel traffic back to YOUR website that YOU control the destiny of then you are taking a huge risk. It’s like saving all of your most important documents on the hard drive of a computer that can crash at any moment without backing them up.
Long story short, your social sites should match in branding to your main site, but your website should be your main focus. Constantly review and refine this foundation because the better it is and the better you get at getting it in front of the right people, the more successful your efforts will be.
Most Common Website Mistake 3: Not Having A Content Or SEO Strategy
Your strategy can make or break the impact of the content you release. Just producing, releasing, and promoting content regularly isn’t enough. You need to know who your target audience is and you need to figure out how you can get your content in front of as much of that audience as possible.
You also need to know why you want them to consume your content and what action you want them to take afterwards.
Lastly, you need to formulate a strategy to make all of this happen. Make sure you’re monitoring and improving this strategy and altering it as necessary.
So you’ve got your needs and goals mapped out. You’re pumping out great content that your target audience will love and you’ve got a strategy to deliver and maximize the impact of that content. Now, how do you measure the effectiveness of your content and strategy online? The best way is to use visitor tracking software like Google Analytics.
In terms of getting search engines to send more traffic to your site, you should also learn some basic Search Engine Optimisation (SEO for short).
I know the above can seem daunting and impossible to learn at first (trust me I was there). But with some research and guidance it’s actually not very difficult or expensive to optimize your website for search engines or track your website visitors. The above guides should help get you started.
Fatal Mistake 4: Not Updating The Site Enough
Nobody pays much attention to a site that hasn’t been updated recently or frequently, including search engines. I’d recommend creating and adhering to a release schedule to make sure you are keeping up on putting out new content. I’d also recommend diversifying the content you release – photos, music videos, webcam videos, singles, EPs, albums, etc.
Make sure you’re publishing it to all of the relevant platforms: your website, your blog, email, social media, wherever you have an audience online. Plus you can always curate content like fan art or videos, music you like, or relevant articles to your brand. If you ever feel like it’s too difficult to come up with enough content to deliver on a consistent schedule then think of ways you can diversify and curate content. Just bare in mind non unique content usually won’t rank as well in search engines, meaning they’ll send you less traffic.
Common Mistake 5: No Clear, Compelling Call-To-Action At The Top
Whatever you want your website visitor to do, you should ask them to do that at the top of your page. For example, if you want them to download your new E.P. or watch your new video, ask them to do it at the top of your page.
Get good at moving your site’s visitors through a conversion process by getting them to take specific, measurable actions. Figure out what one action is most important for visitors to take and make sure that there is a compelling reason and easy way to take that action before ever scrolling down your home page.
A good tip is to familiarize yourself with permission marketing and direct response marketing. A good place to start would be to Google those terms and study up on thought leaders like Marie Forleo and Seth Godin.
Fatal Mistake 6: Not Being Mobile Responsive
Once you are monitoring your audience and goals online through analytic tools there is one thing I can almost guarantee you’ll notice pretty quickly: More people are accessing your website and content from mobile devices than you thought. It’s not that unlikely for up to half of your site’s visitors or more to be using a phone or tablet.
The design of your website and the user experience it provides needs to translate well across all devices, screen sizes, operating systems, and browsers. Too many artists ignore the importance of this and their website’s success is suffering because of it.
Common Mistake 7: If They’re Hiring A Designer, They Hire For The Wrong Skill Set
There’s an endless amount of ways to get a website built at a million different price points. There are tons of services that provide easy and quick to learn “do-it-yourself” options.
You can create your website on WordPress and get pre-made themes (Editor’s note: our recommendation, as long as you can follow instructions you can do this). You can spend the time (and maybe money) to learn how to become your own web designer. You can hire a freelance designer and developer or an agency. You can find your designer through a friend’s recommendation, a Google search, Craigslist, or a hundred different freelance websites. This is just the tip of the iceberg of options. How do you know which one is the right one for you to choose?
If you decide you don’t want to quickly and easily make your own site and would rather hire someone to make it for you, the rest of this section is for you.
What most people don’t realize is that who designs the website or how should be a secondary consideration to what their skill set is. And when focusing on their skill set, make sure you’re focusing on the right skill set.
Are you hiring someone to design your site? This is your opportunity to either leverage the skills of a professional to get a better result or your chance to waste money because you didn’t make sure your designer had the right skills.
If you don’t have a real solid understand of what HTML, CSS, or PHP is then you shouldn’t waste much time considering how many years of experience someone has with these technologies when hiring them. Chops with Photoshop and Illustrator are nice, but almost all designers have those. These aren’t the type of things you should focus on especially if you don’t really know how to gauge or review someone’s ability level with them.
Instead of measuring a designer’s value based off of things you don’t understand how to measure you should be focusing on their ability to pinpoint and communicate your own needs and provide solutions. You should focus on their ability to achieve results when it comes to the things that you need to measure: how many new fans you’re getting, or how much money you’re making, or what type of opportunities and connections you’re landing. Are they displaying expertise relevant to your specific industry? Are they showing you examples of how they’ve solved problems similar to yours in the past?
You also need to understand that if you decide to hire a designer then you’re not hiring them to make art. You’re hiring a designer to provide a solution, to reach goals, to be a problem solver, to convey your message, to provide user’s with the best experience possible – all through design.
There is definitely creativity involved and I’m not saying a designer’s artistic style isn’t an important consideration. But you shouldn’t be paying your designer for artwork, you should be paying them to improve your business. You can hire a web designer that can create beautiful and artistic designs but they have failed you if those designs aren’t accomplishing goals that are improving your business and solving your problems.
A good designer will figure out what you need and communicate how they can make it happen through design and through their special set of skills. You should feel like you just hired Liam Neeson to save your child when you hire a designer to build your website.
So there you go, 7 mistakes to avoid with your music website. Do you have any more? If so leave them in the comments below.