If you want to be taken seriously, your band needs a website. Period. The good news is that anyone can make a killer band website these days. Let me show you how easy (and cheap!) it is.
Whether you’re a band, solo artist, guitar teacher, luthier or a small business, it is essential that you have your own site. A Facebook fan page isn’t even close to being enough. Did you know that unless you pay to reach more people, your Facebook posts could be hitting as little as 2% of your followers?
A good-looking website is a crucial, central-hub for your band’s online presence. Fans can go there for the latest news, photos, touring information, behind the scenes blogs, band merchandise and much, much more. Plus fans and people in the music industry will see you as a more serious, professional outfit for having one.
The great news is that building a sleek band website is incredibly easy. You don’t need any design skills, coding ability or complicated server knowledge. If you have a mere 5 minutes to read through this article, I guarantee that you will be able to create a killer site in no time at all.
Band-In-A-Box or, Gulp….FREE Options
First of all, let’s get this out of the way. I’m not a fan of free website solutions, or products specifically aimed at bands which claim to take the hassle out of creating a website. They may seem like a great solution for the thrifty or for the non-tech savvy, but let me explain why I wouldn’t use them personally.
A site which costs nothing doesn’t exactly portray professionalism does it? Your website address will be something along the lines of ‘www.myband.freebandsitemaker.com‘ – awful! Plus, the provider has to make a profit, right? So your site will be peppered with ugly banner adverts and self-promoting links, which slows down performance, and let’s face it, makes your site look very cheap and amateurish.
It will also lack a lot of elements, with the features it does have being very limited. If you require extra functionality, or outgrow restrictions, you’ll have to pay to upgrade.
Considering how low the cost of hosting your own site is, you’d have to be a ridiculous penny-pincher to opt for this route.
Band In A Box
Many site builder companies exist which have pre-built templates specifically designed for bands and artists. I don’t personally recommend using these because they are way more expensive than hosting your own site, and they are incredibly restrictive unless you pay for the high-tier packages.
Here’s a further worrying problem. What happens when the band-in-a-box site you’ve chosen becomes bankrupt, or is sold off? You lose EVERYTHING. Or consider this. What are your options if your band website outgrows the limited capacity of the band-in-a-box provider? You can’t just transfer to a traditional host since the site is coded around their own in-house platform. So you’re forced to stay and pay through the nose for premium features.
It seems that going the self-hosted route is a complete no brainer, right? So why do bands and artists willingly fork out a lot more money for far less features and control?
They believe that building a website is beyond them. Pssst….it REALLY isn’t…
Anyone Can Make A Band Website
Thanks to modern website platforms such as WordPress, anyone can have a beautiful site up and running literally within minutes – and with no previous website building experience required. With WordPress, you simply pick a layout design that you like and then add your own info, photos, music etc.. Anyone can do this.
Let’s break the whole process down. These are the 4 simple steps required to make a band website happen.
Step 1 – Register Your Domain
Depending on the route you take, you will probably be able to skip this step. In most cases, when you sign up for hosting you will be given a free domain name as part of your package. This will be something along the lines of ‘www.yourband.com‘. Much more professional than ‘www.yourband.ididntpayforthissite.com‘ right?
Step 2 – Sign Up For Hosting
You need somewhere to store your website so that people around the world can view it.
As a band or artist, your website has no need to be absolutely blazing fast, so the most affordable option will be perfectly fine. The beauty of going this route is that you can easily upgrade later on if your band blows up!
The most affordable type of hosting is called ‘shared hosting’, which means that you share a server with several other websites. The benefit of sharing a server is the much lower monthly cost, which in the package I recommend below is just $3.95 per month!
THE WEBSITE HOSTING COMPANY I USE AND TRUST
I’ve used Bluehost for many years and trust them implicitly. I love their customer support, live chat, and reliability.
Bluehost just works, which gives me amazing peace of mind!
I highly recommend using Bluehost to make a band website, and you can get it starting at $3.95/month!
If you have more than one band, or have a need for extra websites, you may like to consider a multi-site package. For just a few dollars extra you can add the ability to host additional separate sites on the same package. This means that when you want to build a new site, rather than paying for more hosting, you simply register your new domain name and add it to your current package. Handy!
Step 3 – Install WordPress
This step is super easy. When you log-in to your host’s dashboard, there will be an option to install WordPress for you in just a few clicks. If you decided to go with my recommended host above, click here to watch a video that shows exactly how to install WordPress with Bluehost.
WordPress is very easy to navigate around, and absolutely zero coding knowledge is needed to get a great site up and running. If you can use Microsoft Word, you’ll be fine.
Step 4 – Pick a Theme Design
These pre-made templates will determine what your site looks like, and what features it will have. WordPress themes are big business, which means that there are literally thousands to pick from. You have the option of using a free theme, or premium versions will come with extra features, frequent updates and support. Premium themes are generally quite inexpensive ($20-$60 on average), so I recommend going for one of these if possible. Once you find one that you like, simply download it, log in to WordPress and upload it to your ‘themes’ directory to activate.
Good band themes will come with built-in music players, stores to sell your music and merchandise, and should have a mobile friendly design which adapts to any screen size.
If you head to the premium theme link above, try typing in ‘wordpress band‘ to get some relevant results. The two I’ve posted screenshots of above are called ‘Eprom‘ and ‘Soundboard‘, but there’s literally hundreds more to choose from depending on your needs.
Now all you have to do is add your band’s logo, upload a few photos and write up a few pages. This is the most time consuming part, but it’s a lot of fun and very rewarding once complete.
If you need extra features (e.g. a merchandise store), WordPress has an endless number of plugins (mostly free) which you can add with one click. It really couldn’t be easier.
Need Help With Graphical Elements?
If your band doesn’t have any artistic members it’s super easy to get help via the web. Sites such as Fiverr are chock full of affordable freelance designers who can help you with things like logo design, album artwork, gig posters, tshirt graphics, or even adding more complex functionality to your new site. I’ve listed below a couple of websites that offer these services.
Canva is a great free resource if you’d like to do it yourself. Easily put together eye-grabbing posters, or social media graphics using their pre-made templates and elements.
At the top of the page I mentioned that your Facebook fan page updates could be seen by as little as 2% of your followers, unless you pay to boost the post. If you have an important upcoming gig, you want as many people there as possible, right? This is why you need to start building an email list from the start. If you do it right, an email will reach damn near 100% of the people you send it to. Plus, while Facebook and other social media networks might disappear, your email list won’t. Powerful stuff!
Although you can build unlimited email lists through your host’s control panel, I don’t suggest going this route on a shared server. The ‘interface’ is generally clunky, you won’t get interaction statistics, and it is likely that a good number of emails will end up in your fans’ junk folders.
Personally, I use a dedicated service called MailChimp, which lets you create beautiful emails quickly and easily. MailChimp offers a free service which has capacity for 2000 people – more than enough for most bands! Many WordPress themes will come with built-in MailChimp widgets to allow you to easily start collecting email addresses. You can also install the free MailChimp plugin for WordPress.
Voila. You have a home-made band website, which cost you peanuts, and which you have complete control over.
Sounds easy, right? That’s because it is! Take it one step at a time and you’ll be up and running before you know it.
Now, get to work! If you have any questions leave a comment below, or feel free to drop me an email.