Many years ago I set up my first website. If you could see it now you would laugh, and I would cry. Fortunately it disappeared when the free hosting service I used at the time went bust.
I learned a lot along the way from that site to my current ones, and am still learning all the time. (sometimes just re-learning because I forgot how to do a particular thing and have to look it up again.)
You’ve formed a band and presumably you hope that it will become successful in the future. Therefore you really should get a website sorted out.
You need a website because
- People expect a band to have its own site, it looks more professional
- Google will eventually start to index the site and the longer it is running the higher it will rank (all other things being equal)
- You can advertise on your website and make money.
- You can control the content and how it is displayed better than any other.
- You can sell your music, and merchandise via the site, and promote your music across the internet.
- Every bit of web presence adds to your overall reach making it more likely that if there is another band with the same name then yours will be better known.
You also need pretty much every social network site you can get set up but that is another story.
The four ways I know of, to get a website up and running are,
- Create it completely from scratch
- Use a blog or free webspace provider with templates
- Pay for a ready made website template
- Pay a professional web designer to create the site for you
I would recommend the DIY route for two reasons
- It is the cheapest option
- You have complete control
To set up any website you have to have a URL* such as www.surrogatesuns.co.uk
To find out if your band name is available as a URL just visit a web host, I use www.pickaweb.co.uk because they have served me faultlessly for nearly ten years. They are competitively priced and they provide a huge amount of support and features, all included in the price.
Just type the URL you want to use into the search box and you will find out if it is available.
You should already have done this when choosing the band name of course but in case you didn’t, now is the time.
If the name is available then you should register the .co.uk and or .com names.
You need to get both if you plan to be a big band since others will register domains to try and capitalise on your success with fan sites.
Cost of registering is (including VAT)
.co.uk 2 years £12
.com 1 year £11
Other domains are worth considering but you could spend hundreds of pounds just taking up all the .org .net .biz .eu .info etc names and then what about hyphens, underscores, and definite articles?
So register the one or two most important domains and then you are ready to start building the site.
Cost of hosting ranges from £3 a month up to a little over ten pounds a month but the most basic package should be enough for most people’s needs.
Even if you decide to use a blog like Word Press which is, of course, what I am using for this blog you would still need a domain name and service provider to host it. Word Press is included with Pickaweb’s hosting and can be installed pretty easily. If you get stuck then tech support will do it for you.
If you really can’t tell your URs from your L-bow then you may need to use a paid for, ready made solution.
Since writing this article originally I have discovered Bandcamp. So I am adding some info about this superb site and how it can help you.
Bandcamp is a fantastic way to sell your music online. Even if you have your own website you can tag Bandcamp on to it (this feature is free and is one that I strongly recommend) but if you are just starting out and don’t have a website then this could be the answer you desire.
For around ten dollars a month you can get your own domain name e.g. yourband.co.uk and hosting. The set up is easy enough and has the added advantage of Bandcamp’s music selling feature. You do need music to sell, and of course it can’t be covers unless you have the full rights from the owner of the original recording, in writing.
For those who are unable to code their own site or who don’t want to rely on a blog there is the option of using a free website builder such as WIX. There are several around and they usually make the process of creating a website incredibly simple. The big disadvantage with them is that they usually place advertising on your website to pay for the cost of creating the software, and also you are limited to their layouts offered by the WYSIWYG editor. Another less obvious problem is that some of these editors create very code heavy sites which load slowly and that can put off visitors.
Although Wix is free for a basic site you do have to pay to get some of the premium features.
BANDZOOGLE offers a ready made solution for bands needing a professional website. It is not free with plans starting at ten dollars a month rising to twenty dollars a month but then again that seems to include the hosting so it could be pretty cheap at that.
They also include all sorts of band specific features to make it easier to interact with your fans.
*(uniform resource locator)