Dude, Where’s Your Website? Why Indie Artists Need To Take Control Of Their Online Brand
A funny thing happened while I was writing this particular piece.
On March 13th (2019), Facebook and Instagram were both down for the day, causing folks to head to Twitter and complain about it, myself included.
While scrolling the infinite Twitter timeline, I kept seeing the same running joke that without IG, a lot of folks wouldn’t be models, entrepreneurs, and rappers anymore.
I chuckled for a second but then it hit me that this is a sad truth for many people who rely on social media platforms for marketing and/or sales. But social media shouldn’t be the only format being utilized when it comes to building a brand, business or career.
Simply put, anyone doing business online should have a designated hub where all of their brand info is stored just in case these social media platforms have sporadic technical issues or decide to shut things down altogether.
If you’re interested in learning why you need a website to take control of your online brand, please keep reading.
First things first, if you’re an independent music artist, you need a website. Not a dope layout on Instagram first, not a viral tweet on Twitter first, not a flourishing Facebook fan-page first. You need a website!
See, although social media is the wave nowadays, there’s no way to know how long it’s going to be around, or how many times the algorithm is going to change or shift. Also, your social media is not yours.
You may be thinking, “How is my social media not mine? I created those pages with my bare hands and filled them with pics, videos, memes, and all that. How is it not mine?”
Let me keep it real with you, chief. Your IG page may be yours but Instagram as a whole truly belongs to Mark Zuckerberg, and if he decides to close it down tomorrow, he will still be a bazillionaire and you won’t have an IG page anymore. Get it?
Plus, most of the content we put on these social media platforms don’t even 100% belong to us after posting, and this clause is usually placed in the terms and conditions that none of us read when signing up.
That’s why it’s important to get a website. It’s your own little piece of the internet that nobody can take away from you, your own piece of virtual real estate, if you will.
You own that joint and can put whatever you want on it (within reason) without having to adhere to certain rules and restrictions. You don’t have to suddenly switch up the way you post or promote because of an algorithm change.
With a website, you wouldn’t have to rely so much on social media, and you would still have a way for people to find your brand, communicate with you, listen to your music, sign up for your newsletter, buy your merch, and learn about your upcoming shows.
It’s disheartening to see artists put so much energy and effort into growing their IG accounts with no website of their own to direct people to. Stop relying so much on other people’s platforms to grow your own brand. Take control of your brand and get a website.
Now, I’m not coming down on social media, it’s an extremely useful tool that you can use to grow your following, connect with people, stay up on the latest trends, and so much more.
I just want more indie artists to realize how important it is to have a website of their own so all of their important info (music, videos, interviews, etc.) isn’t spread across different types of social media pages, making it hard for fans to get the full scope.
So what’s stopping you from having your own website as an independent artist right now?
Let’s break down three common misconceptions that most people have about establishing a website.
Common Misconception 1: “Websites are mad expensive.”
The truth: Yes, websites can be fairly expensive depending on what kind of business you’re running. But if you’re an indie music artist just looking to group all of your music, videos, social media handles, bio and other things into one place, there are sites like Wordpress, Wix, and Squarespace that makes it super easy and affordable to own and build your own website.
In fact, my music blog, The Dope Show, cost me a whopping $18 to buy and build on Wordpress which includes my domain name. Of course the price varies from site to site, but if you’re willing to buckle down one day and really do your homework, you’ll find that you can create your own website for $20 or less. In some cases, even free.
Common Misconception 2: “Somebody already owns the domain name I want so I can’t build a website. That’s it. It’s a wrap.”
The truth: Just because someone may have already purchased the domain name you wanted doesn’t mean that you can’t have a website. You just have to get creative and think of a name that’s slightly different but still fits your brand.
For example, when I started The Dope Show, the domain name I wanted (thedopeshow.com) was already taken. I even reached out to the owner to see if they would be willing to sell it, but I never got a response. Instead of getting down about it, I got creative and ended up going with thedopeshowonline.com. It may not have been my first pick, but it was something I could start with. And honestly, I grew to love it. Remember the wise words of our angelic babygirl Aaliyah, “If at first you don’t succeed, dust yourself off and try again.” Not sure if that quote even fits this situation, but that song still bangs to this day.
Common Misconception 3: “I don’t have time to build a website nor do I know anybody to do it for me. Periodt.”
The truth: I understand that not everyone’s up for the challenge of building their own website, or have a web designer on hand to do it for them. However, you can tap into local resources that you already have that you may not realize. For example, there may be a guy who lives down the street from you who’s a whiz at building websites and willing to barter with you (exchange a service for a service). If you start asking around and doing some research, you’ll have your website done in no time.
Another issue that many artists run into is not knowing what direction to go in when it comes to creating their website. They don’t know how it should look or what type of content to include.
Again, this is when research comes into play. As I mentioned before, you’re going to have to buckle down and do your homework which involves clicking around Al Gore’s internet for a little inspiration.
Below are some great examples of artist websites that will hopefully inspire you to get started on your site today.
As you explore these sites, I want you to pay attention to the content and layout rather than who the artist is.
Anderson Paak: andersonpaak.com
Vince Staples: vincestaples.com
Chance The Rapper: chanceraps.com
Rico Nasty: www.riconastymusic.com
Although these websites are completely different from one another, they all have key components which include: a bio, photos, music links, videos, and social media handles. Some cool extra additions are: news updates, tour dates, interviews and/or features, options to sign up for a newsletter, and link to merch store.
Whether you go the simple or elaborate route, you can really shape your website into whatever you desire because it’s YOURS.
So instead of waiting for the next social media platform to crash, change the rules, or shut down altogether, take control of your online brand by getting a website and setting yourself up to really win this year.