Out of the blue I was inspired to write a post called Why Your Band Sucks; however I did some research and read a bunch of other stuff out there about the topic. It threw me off so this is what you're getting instead - What Your Band Needs To Succeed Online.
Keep It Simple Stupid
I don't know about you, but there are times when I make things WAY more difficult than they need to be. Having said that - there is so much information out there that it's easy to get overwhelmed by what you need to do and what you need to watch out for. This post is an attempt to keep it simple, so let's do this.
#1) Your Own Website
Are you sick of hearing this one yet? I'm getting tired of saying it, but I'm going to keep saying it until everyone is doing it. If you don't have your own domain name registered with a website setup yet - what are you waiting for? There are sites out there like Bandzoogle and Hostbaby that offer lost of help for bands looking to get a site at an affordable price.
However, if you're not keen on spending $15 to $20/month on your band website - I put together my own training manual that reveals where to get hosting for as little as $3 a month. At that cheap, nobody has any excuses for not having their own website! I offer a DIY Band Website training course that spills the beans on this and a lot more - check it out.
As for where to get your domain names, right now I recommend Name Cheap. Not only do they offer great prices, they let you pay with Paypal without having a credit card on file. This is one reason why I don't like Godaddy (that and the fact that they upsell you to death when you go to make a purchase).
Do I really need to tell you WHY you need your own website? How about ownership, autonomy and leverage for starters? To me, having your own website is like having your own place to head home to after socializing at the clubs; it's where you invite people so you can get to know each other better without the noise and distraction at the club. WordPress makes it easy to have a site up in minutes.
2) Optin Page, Autoresponder, Enticing Freebie
Okay - this is technically three different things but they are dependent upon each other to succeed. Creating an optin page is probably the trickiest part - especially if you use WordPress. I've attempted to build a page using an html editor and tables to layout the page properly but had mixed results at best. There are themes like Optimize Press that do this easily with sweet graphics, but it'll cost you $100 or so and will change the entire look of your site - which might be a negative for you if you've already customized your website the way you like it. If it's not perfect - who cares. A somewhat lame looking optin page is better than no optin page at all in my books.
Luckily, getting an auto responder isn't that tough these days. $20/month gets you started with industry leading companies like Aweber and Constant Contact - however if you're just getting started and are tight on cash, again I have an alternative for you: Mail Chimp.
I've been using Mail Chimp for over a year now and have nothing but good experiences so far, it also doesn't hurt that they've gone from allowing you to collected first 500, then 1000 and now 2000 email addresses 100% for free! Not only that - but they have a free optin widget that you can install on the sidebar of your WordPress site (not as good as a dedicated optin page, but definitely better than nothing).
There are some limitations with Mail Chimp; you can collect 2000 email addresses, but that is the max and you can only mail out 2000 messages in a month. That means you have this limitation:
- Mail a list of 2000 x 1 per month
- Mail a list of 1000 x 2 per month
- Mail a list of 500 x 4 per month
- Mail a list of 250 x 8 per month
If you're just starting out, this is more than decent for free. I'd imagine that by the time you start wanting to go beyond 2000 names on your list - you'll be able to afford to start paying Mail Chimp or start up a list with Aweber that you can switch your database over to.
The enticing freebie will be up to you to figure out what you're comfortable with, a single MP3 might not be enough, an EP or full Album will garner more interest. Make sure to play up the word "FREE" whenever you can since everybody likes freebies.
#3) Compelling Content
Okay, so what exactly is compelling content anyway? Well in this case I'm referring to anything that offers value to your potential fans whether it's online or off. If you're a band - compelling content will be the music and lyrics that you write, the videos that you post on Youtube, the blog posts and status updates that you share online.
Done right, compelling content wins you fans. They get a taste for your personality and want more (hopefully) and eventually start paying for your music and merch. Compelling content adds value and helps to build traffic on your site.
To me this is all about creation - this is the work of the artist and guess what - you'll never stop working until the day that you die! You need to produce new content and material to stay relevant and let your audience know that you're still make it happen.
Some of your content will be free to attract people to sign up to your list and so that they can find out what you're about. However, you'll also need to make some money if you want to keep your band afloat, so commercial product is necessary as well...which brings us to:
#4) Shopping Cart
You'll need a way to collect money for the products that you sell; this doesn't have to be an expensive piece of software that requires a team of IT people to operate - it can be as simple as adding a Paypal button to a particular page, post or email to your list.
Are there problems with using Paypal? Sure there are - but don't sweat the small stuff, just get started and get some sales happening. Once the money is rolling in - again you may want to look into getting a dedicated merchant account or more sophisticated software that allows for affiliate tracking and all the rest.
The beauty of Paypal is that it's a low cost and low tech solution for bands that want to start selling their stuff online today. Keep it simple...remember?
So there you have it - four relatively simple and cost effective items you need to cross off your list to increase your odds of becoming a success online with you band. Of course talent, good looks and superb songwriting abilities also couldn't hurt you.
However, I purposely omitted three things that you'll need to truly succeed. Can you guess what they are? Leave you best guesses in the comments below and I'll follow up with my response soon!