6 Common Website Mistakes That Cause Missed Opportunities

Website Mistakes that Deserve a Double Face PalmI follow a handful of music journalists on Twitter, and while it’s always interesting to read their completed pieces, it’s equally intriguing to get an inside look at how their articles are put together. Journalists need good source material and artists are an unpredictable lot. While there’s never a shortage of amusing mini-anecdotes about odd interviews and crazy events, artist websites are often missing the essential details that a journalist needs to publish an article about them. One of the freelance music writers I follow posted this last week:

“Having gone through dozens of band websites for a project I can safely say that musicians tend to have the LEAST user-friendly sites around.”

Now, clearly this is a man making a sweeping generalization in a moment of frustration, but it’s something to consider. Specifically: does your dedicated website house all the information someone hoping to write about your music might need?

I do some writing myself (was this article a tip-off?), and I’ve been stymied on more than one occasion by the lack of info provided by artists on their sites, including their social networks. You know what I did? I gave up and set my sights on a different artist that made it less of a hassle for me to get the job done. I think part of the problem is that artists never know when they get passed up for stuff like this, so they don’t feel any urgent need to fix something they aren’t aware is broken.

Don’t live in blissful ignorance. Avoid the dreaded “DOUBLE FACEPALM” and make sure you are not making any of these mistakes.

1.Your own website: I’ll come right out and say, if you want to be taken seriously as a professional artist, author, or musician, you need your own website ( www.YourNameGoesHere.com). A free page on a social network wont win you any points with a journalist. In fact, not having a website is a clear indication that you don’t care enough about self promotion to be written about. (No website? Let’s build one.)

2.The Basic Bio Info: Where you’re from, how long you’ve been together in your current incarnation, brief description of musical style, and the names of your band members and the instruments they play.

3.In-Depth Bio Info: This where you tell the story behind your art. Journalists love stories. Your Bio will include more detailed information, including notable accomplishments and any other info that someone who isn’t familiar with your art can use to glean some quick facts about your project. If there’s stuff that you hope journalists will focus on when writing about you, this is the perfect place to put it. You can’t control the angle that a blurb/article may take, but you can certainly steer people in a general direction.

4.Press-Quality Photos: These are photos that are suitable for print, meaning they’re LARGE, professional looking, and clearly marked as “promo material” or “press photos.” If you don’t have high-quality photos, then you could easily get passed over for someone who does. Great photos sell magazines and newspapers and attract readers. Journalists know this. If you’d like to see your picture in your local paper or weekly, you’ll need a hi-res photo they can print. Web quality photos do not print well.

5. Works / Discography : Include a history of all your published works and products as well as awards and prestigious accomplishments. Include info about current and past works, with release dates, publisher or label info (“self-released” or “self published” is also always worth mentioning), and a brief paragraph about each one that includes some key talking points. Journalists love to say stuff like “After releasing two singles, the band…” or “The followup to novel to “She Walks Swiftly up the Stairs” takes a different route than its predecessor…”

6.Samples of your work. If you’re an a poet or author make sure you have writing samples on your site. If you’re a musician make sure there are streaming MP3s of some of your strongest songs. Make your samples easy to find on your homepage, and carefully pick samples that you think might draw in someone who’s never heard of you before.

In fact, this stuff should all be easy to find. If you have wonky navigation or clever links that are hard for people to decipher, they may not bother to cover your work at all. On the other hand, if a journalist finds your site and there’s ample info for them to use, they’re much more likely to give you some coverage.

This stuff is the bare minimum. Did I forget anything? Let us know in the comments.

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