Last week I dove into the world of online promotion of your brand as a DJ, but I only covered social media and email. While those mediums are handy tools, a website is an essential if you want to go further as a DJ.
You look at any serious DJ, and they have a website. Even I just finished a redesign and revision of my own website, which I’ve had for the last 11 years. You need a central point around which all your other online efforts revolve.
Why a social media profile isn’t enough
I’ve had debates for years with many DJs and even some businessmen who believe a Facebook profile or page along with fileshare sites like Zippyshare or even Mixcloud is enough. I beg to differ. Anyone remember MusicV2.com? For those who don’t, it was an online service aimed at DJs and music artists to have a profile, post music or mixes, and even promote themselves. In only a few years the site was finished because its owner could not maintain enough finances to keep it going, even though he charged people US$30 for a lifetime account. I remember how many DJs grumbled at how they lost their online presence. The same kinds of things happened with people who made their MySpace page as their “official website”, and even more recently when some DJs try to use SoundCloud in that manner. File sharing sites like MegaUpload and RapidShare have also cracked down and made it harder for DJs to use them as free hosting.
Can you imagine the day Facebook will die? Maybe one day it will…
Yet again I’m bringing up marketing and how important it is for you to have a brand. A website is your central online location for all things “you”. It’s the “Rome” that all roads should lead to. I cannot stress how important it is that you have a website as your primary online repository of information and such about your DJ efforts.
Social media pages only are there to supplement your marketing. You post that you have a new mix, but link it to a page on your website where people can download it. You post that you’re playing somewhere, but link it to a page on your website with the full details. Whenever you hand out demo CDs, your web address is on those CDs so promoters can find out more and even download a digital press kit (if you have one).
Websites are not hard, nor expensive
Outside of my life as a DJ, I am a web designer/developer as my career. I’ve heard many speak and believe that a website is some massively expensive item that the average person can’t afford, or people lament on how they can’t make graphics or write code. I would partially agree with those ideas if this were the mid-to-late 1990s, but in 2011 literally anyone can have a website for a very small cost. How does roughly US$10 per month sound? You pay that much for half a dozen tracks off your favourite MP3 site.
To get a website, you need two things: a domain name and hosting. The domain name is your web address, like d-jam.com or digitaldjtips.com. It’s important of course because you don’t want to hand people an IP address like 192.168.101.214. The second part is hosting. This is the actual web space where you will put your files, mixes, images, pages and so on. The domain name is connected to your hosting account and thus anyone who visits you gets to the main index page you designate. It’s that simple.
I currently use 1&1 and DigitalDJTips is hosted on Media Temple. Other hosts you can try are HostMonster and GoDaddy. Building the site of course is a different beast. You can try doing it all on your own if you know something about HTML, but now most of these hosts will come fully loaded with complete site-building tools at your disposal. The easiest solution is WordPress. (Digital DJ Tips is a WordPress site.) You would simply press a button in the hosting admin control page to install WordPress, and you’ll be handed back a web address with username and password.
Inside WordPress’s back-end control panel you can not only set up pages, sections, and use blog entries as content entries, but also easily install additional plugins for added functions (like an audio player) and themes to change the look of the website. No coding whatsoever.
Two tips to help you avoid problems
Now there are two big tips I want to share that will save you some grief. The first tip is to get your domain name from a place separate of your host. I usually use Dotster for my domains.
I know it seems easier to just do the domain and hosting in one spot, but imagine a year or two later you decide you want to change hosts. It will become a lot of aggravation to get your domain free of the old host so you can transfer it. Plus you might end up paying added fees. Keeping your domain separate means you simply change two pieces of information on the domain service. It’s that easy.
The second big tip is to not use any free hosting services. In the past there were free services like Geocities and even now with Wix. I know it seems tempting to save that $7 or $8 a month, but trust me, a free host will only limit you. They will put banner ads on your website that will only annoy your patrons or even drive them away if those ads are laced with viruses. You’ll hit file size limits and even see your website go down here and there. The free spaces are for some girl’s Justin Bieber fan page, not a professional DJ. Make the investment in paid hosting and reliability.
What to put on your website
Now that you’re all set up in terms of hosting, domain, and even a back-end, the hard part comes – content.
The bare basics of a DJ website would be a news/events page. A bio is also an important page, and of course a page to post mixes and/or tracks you produced. Finally, a contact page where one can get in touch with you is necessary. Outside of those bare basics, other possible items you could add are event photos, a blog, links to other websites, or even to your social media connections.
Social media widgets are helpful as well as the means for others to share pages around on social media. If you end up going with WordPress, explore the plugins available and customise your site to fit your needs and desires.
Next week we conclude this series on how to succeed at DJing with how you as a DJ can go beyond just making demos and handing them out. We’ll explore other possibilities and how you can “make your own gigs” through different avenues and thus build your exposure and fan base.
• D-Jam is a Chicago nightclub and rave DJ by night, and a branding expert by day. Check out his website
Check out the other parts in this series:
- How To Succeed At DJing, Part 1: What Type Of DJ Do You Want To Be?
- How To Succeed at DJing, Part 2: Play the Popularity Game
- How To Succeed at DJing, Part 3: Get Involved in Your Local Scene
- How To Succeed at DJing, Part 4: Join an Entertainment Firm or Promotion Crew
- How To Succeed at DJing, Part 5: Make it a Full-time Effort
- How To Succeed at DJing, Part 6: Accept This Is the Music Industry
- How To Succeed at DJing, Part 7: Market Yourself Like a Pro
- How To Succeed at DJing, Part 8: “You Only Get What You Give”
- How To Succeed at DJing, Part 9: Get a Demo & Press Kit
- How To Succeed at DJing, Part 10: Hit the Street
- How To Succeed at DJing, Part 11: Promote Yourself Online
- How To Succeed at DJing, Part 13: Think Beyond Gigs
Have you got a website? Are you thinking of getting one? Have you had a website on a service that discontinued? Do you think a website is unnecessary these days for a DJ? Let us know your thoughts please in the comments.