Artists! Take photos with your website in mind

website photographyThe art of website photography

Often the secret recipe for an awesome artist website is a perfect background or banner photo. But most photos aren’t really suited for the purpose of being a website backdrop. Most photos have a lot going on in them: dozens of colors, patterns, textures,  animals, people, etc. These things can be distracting from your website content. And trying to crop, stretch, or photoshop a photo so it works with your website is a lot of work that may-or-may-not turn out very well.

That’s why it’s important to start taking photos with your website in mind. Start composing with your eyes before you hit the shutter button. Or if you’re not taking the photo, let your photographer know that you need some pictures that leave lots of room for website content. Explain exactly what you need. When taking website photos, think about where you band name or logo is going to be. Think about where your content is going to be positioned. And think about what colors are going to work best with your website. Then start taking photos that accommodate your website’s needs.

Here are ten tips for taking photos with your website in mind:

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6 things artists should never put on their websites

dont put on websiteYour website is often the place where fans will initially encounter you and your music, so it’s very important to make a good first impression. If you are a frequent visitor to this blog, you probably know we offer a lot of advice about what you should put on your website: professional artist photos, social media buttons, a band bio, etc., but we don’t always talk about what artists should NOT put on their site. So, here are our top 6 things you should not put on your website:

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7 ways to make your website wicked user-friendly

How to make a website user-friendlySome websites are just awful on the eyes; and sometimes that’s OK — if you’re trying to win the competition for Craziest Website in the World.

But it’s probably a wiser move to opt for clean design and maximum usability.

Attention spans are short these days; if you help folks quickly find what they need on your website, they’ll have more time for all those other things  you want them to do: buying your stuff, subscribing to your email newsletter, leaving a comment, sharing your content with their friends, etc.

So…

1. Use a readable font — Stylish is fine, but go with something standard and clear.

2. Choose colors that are easy on the eyes — Black text on a white background? Great! White text on a black background? Tiring. Bright blue text on a red background? Ouch.

3. Be concise — The copy on your website should be as digestible as possible. Always try to trim the fat. Continue Reading . . .

Can all your web marketing efforts fit inside this matryoshka doll?

Web marketing A friend of mine went on a business trip to Abu Dhabi a few weeks ago. I told him to get me a souvenir. What did he bring me? A set of Russian nesting dolls (or the UAE equivalent). Umm, naturally!

I thanked him, arranged them on my mantlepiece, and immediately thought about… web marketing.

You see, I’ve felt a little scattered lately: website upkeep, blogging, tending to social media, composing email newsletters, etc. 

It’s easy to just go into auto-pilot with some of these web responsibilities. It’s easy to forget how all the pieces relate to one another and how they build on one another. It’s easy to lose sight of how any one particular activity furthers the overall goal. In short: I was finding it difficult to determine where I should be spending my limited time.

Would it be better for me to compile some Instagram photos into a blog post, or to send out an email newsletter? Should I create a new header for my next Facebook event, or should I upload some video from my last show?

I’ve found it helpful over the past few days to think of web marketing as that Russian nesting doll, where one piece must fit inside another.

* The outer shell is your overall goal, to sustain or grow your career as an artist. Continue Reading . . .

10 email subject line ideas for your next newsletter

email subject line ideasThe most important part of any email newsletter are the first five words of the subject line–because that’s about all people will see when they check their email on their phone. And if you haven’t heard, over 50% of all email gets opened on a phone.

Why is the subject line so important? The subject line is what compels someone to read or delete your email. In my estimation, you should probably spend as much time (or more) working on the subject line as the body of the email itself. But before you start complaining that it sounds like too much work, here are some subject line ideas that will cut down down the work and increase your open rates:

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Web traffic is people!

web-traffic-is-peopleUnderstanding web traffic

Web traffic is people! (Well, that’s not entirely true.  Some web traffic is comprised of search bots, but people traffic should always be a website owner’s main focus). Despite this, when we talk about the people who visit our websites, we often use terminology that takes the human-factor out of the equation. We talk about “increasing hits,” “getting more visits,” “growing traffic,” “reducing bounces,” and other somewhat abstract terminology.

Thinking of website traffic as a phenomenon (rather than just people looking at your website) can cause us to make bad decisions about our website design and online marketing.  For instance, just because you put a 4 page survey on your website–doesn’t mean anyone is going to fill it out. Why? Because people don’t like filling out long surveys.

Sometimes we forget to ask ourselves, “How would I respond to this?” Chances are, you wouldn’t fill out a 4 page survey unless you knew you were going to get something worthwhile out of it. Now that you have an idea of how a real person might respond to your survey, you can create a shorter survey and perhaps offer a discount, a freebie, or other perk in exchange for the work you’re asking people to do for you.

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1 reason to put ads on your site, and 5 reasons not to

Your ad here!You’ve got a beautiful website. You’ve got some regular traffic. Now how about turning that website into a cash generating machine? What better way to make money than by doing almost nothing, right? Well, not so fast . . .

New website owners get excited about the possibility of putting ads on their website and generating some extra income. And Google makes it super-easy with their Adsense service (not to mention the hundreds of other options that are available). But, is putting ads on your website always a good idea?

5 Reasons NOT to Put ads on your website

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80+ websites to get free photos

Do you ever have trouble finding photos to use on your website that are free to use? It’s not easy. Most photos that you can find through Google and Bing are copyright protected and using them without permission could mean you’re breaking the law. Luckily the web is full of resources where you can find free photos to use on your website. Infact, with the help of List.ly and Biz.oly we’ve got over 80 sites for you to explore!

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Turn off, tune out, drop in

Offline music marketingSaving time by going offline

The Internet — it’s amazing, right? It makes most things quick and easy. Or at least quicker and easier. But there’s one thing it still can’t do very well: face-to-face interaction.

Sure, there’s Skype and iChat video and Google Hangouts and FaceTime (all of which I happily use, and often). But after taking two trips to NYC in the past couple weeks to attend BookExpo America and the New Music Seminar, I’m convinced, sometimes nothing beats an offline conversation!

You get that certain je ne sais quoi; I don’t know if it’s a mixture of body languages, or intuition, or a sense of greater freedom when two people converse in the same space at once — but I sometimes feel like I can read people better AND better represent myself when I’m right there with them (and I tend to be a shy person). Continue Reading . . .

The easiest way to keep your web content fresh…

How to update your blog on a regular schedule… is also the #1 thing people forget when they’re trying to stick to a content calendar

I have an Atlantic Monthly problem, and it’s this: every time I see an Atlantic article that someone has posted on Facebook, I click it, read the first few paragraphs with great interest, and then remember that I don’t have time to finish a fifteen-page news story right now. I’m at work. I’m in the checkout line. I’m stopped at a red light.

When I get home, those groceries need to be unpacked. My guitar needs new strings. The lawn has to be mowed. Basically, ya know, life takes over and I never return to The Atlantic, despite the fact that I just KNOW the article is mind-blowingly well written and reported. I don’t read it. I don’t share it on Facebook. Heck, I don’t even like it — even though I’d probably LOVE it.

Oh, but that picture of my friend onstage at Merriweather Post Pavilion, or the Venn diagram about art, or a two-line inspirational quote about songwriting — sure, I’ll like and share those all day long. They’re short, easily digestible, easily… summarized.

So all you content creators out there, keep me in mind the next time you’re Continue Reading . . .