Yes, You Too Can Make a Music Website
One of the best ways to keep you and your work in the public eye is to make a music website. This may seem like a very daunting task at first blush but with just a couple of small, learnable steps you can make a music website to showcase you and your work.
The basic steps are as follows
- register your domain
- find a web host
- install and configure WordPress
- create your content.
We will break those steps down into easy to handle tasks.
What about the free sites?
There is nothing wrong with starting out with the free sites. They are an easy and controlled way to create a website quickly. And if you have never created a website before it could be just the ticket. Sites like Blogger, Tumblr and WordPress.com offer an easy and free solution to getting your content online with minimal amount of setup. Of course, you will still have to do steps 1 and 4 from the list above but 2 and 3 will have already been completed for you.
There are some disadvantages to using the free sites though.
The first is that if you are using a blogging site like wordpress.com your domain would have to include the blogging platform name as well as yours. For instance, the domain name for this site would be sellingsongs.wordpress.com. It can distract from your name or brand.
The second disadvantage is that you give up a lot of control to the big free sites in the area of look and feel. Look and feel are a part of your branding. The big site generally have a limited amount of themes to choose from. The chances are great that any theme you choose will already be in use a dozen times. While this is not inherently bad, it does not help you to stand out from the crowd and with so many websites out there, you really want to stand out.
The third disadvantage of using the big free site building sites is the limited and sometimes non-existent use of plug-ins. Plug-ins are bits of code that extend your ability to change and add functionality to your site. If you ever wanted to create a mailing list or a merchandise store, you will have a hard time on the free sites. But there are many plug-ins to choose from that will carry out those tasks easily.
The last disadvantage is that if you spend a lot of time creating content on the free sites and in the future you want to go ahead and make a music website of your own, you will have to move all of that content to the new servers. This is not a Herculean task but it will take some time in planning and execution.
A great advantage to creating your own site is that your content can automatically be pushed to Facebook, Twitter and so on. See my post on Using Social Media to help you promote your songs the different social media platforms. What this means is that you don’t need to log in to each of those sites to post the same content. There are built-ins and plug-ins that help you get this done in a very automated way.
Registering Your Domain Name
Once you decide to make a music website, the first thing you will want to do is to decide on and register your domain name. Your domain name is your website’s address in the online universe and will become a big part of your brand.
Choosing a domain name is a task you will want to spend some time pondering. Of course if you already have a band name or a pen name or even your own name those would be the logical first names to try. Keep in mind that just typing domain names into a web browser is not the best way to see if that name is available. Sometimes a domain name is available for registration but not be in use by the owner.
To find out if the domain name you want is available you can use one of the many registries out there. We use Web Hosting Hub and type the name of the domain into the search box. Hub will tell you whether or not the domain is available even if it not being used.
What do you do if you find the perfect domain name and it has already been registered? Well the good news is that you do have some options. The bad news is that they are not always cheap and for a struggling songwriter, they may even be out of reach.
Registered domain names can take three forms:
- Registered and being used for a website
- Registered and parked
- Registered and not being used at all
The first, a registered domain name that is in use as a website, will likely be the most effort and if the owner is actively using the name they might not want to let it go at all. The second and third kind of registered domains, those that are already registered but are not actively being used, can usually be found on SEDO. SEDO is an online marketplace of domain names. There are businesses that actively buy and sell domain names and most do it on SEDO.
In the sense of transparency, the links to Web Hosting Hub are affiliate links and SellingsSongs.net will earn a small commission, at no cost to you, if you decide to use their services. We have used another domain registrar, one of the big boys, and over the last few years have watched their rates go up and their quality go down. We have moved our personal sites to Hub or to their parent company InMotion and couldn’t be happier with their prices and especially their service.
When you are ready and have your domain in mind, head over to Web Hosting Hub, or your registrar to get it registered. Web Hosting Hub will give you FREE domain for the first year with a hosting account! At the time of this writing hosting was running between $4.99 and $6.99 per month. One thing that we most like about Web Hosting Hub is these ease in which you can set up WordPress and other applications that will make your site stand out.
WordPress is a content management system or CMS for short. You use WordPress as a framework to build your site. The WordPress community is quite large and quite helpful. There are developers who create themes and plug-ins for just about anything you might need. There will be a list of a few that I have found helpful a little further into this post.
The WordPress CMS is written in PHP, HTML, and CSS. It is a very versatile platform on which some pretty amazing sites can be built. You do not need to know PHP, HTML or CSS to use WordPress, it is helpful for those who really like to get geeky and modify but not necessary for the everyday user.
The exact way that you will install WordPress for your site will differ from host to host. This video will show you how it is done at Web Hosting Hub.
<< Future home of WordPress installation video >>
Weaver II Theme
The Weaver II Pro Theme is one of the best “modify everything” types of themes for Wordpress. It is a very powerful theme that gives you access to virtually every aspect of a Wordpress site. There is a steep learning curve which will make some people feel a bit like a fish out of water but if you are the type of person who loves to fiddle with the inner workings of a website, this is the theme for you.
There are checkboxes and fields for every option you can think of. If there are options you have not thought of yet, there CSS boxes for just about everything. Want to add some custom CSS to the links? No problem. Want to include some Google fonts on your site? Not a problem. The Weaver II Pro Theme is the swiss army knife of Wordpress themes.
There are thousands of plug-ins for Wordpress. Chances are that if there is something that you are trying to figure out how to do in Wordpress, there is a plug-in for it. It is usually a good idea to check the plug-ins first.
These are some of the plug-ins that we install right out of the gate everytime we make a music website from scratch.
- Broken Link Checker
- Custom Tables
- Disqus Comment System
- Drop Shadow Boxes
- Easy Columns
- Google Analyticator
- Jetpack by WordPress.com
- Pretty Link (affiliate link)
- Visual Form Builder
- WordPress SEO
These plugins are all free to download and use. Some of them have an upgraded paid version but they are not 100% necessary as the functionality of the free version is sufficient to most needs.
Jetpack is a unique plug-in. It was created by WordPress.com and requires an account there. You don’t have to create a blog on WordPress.com, you only need the account so the plug-in can access the resources available to WordPress.com users. Among other nice tools, there is a built in stats that complement the stats you get with Google Analytics.
Make a Music Website
So there you have it. The overview of the steps it takes to make a music website. All that is left is to create your content. That last step, the real meat of your website is a much larger subject that we can cover in this article but read on! Selling Songs is here to help. There are more articles on this site that will cover all of these steps in greater detail.