In this “How To” guide you’ll learn how to build a new website for your music. This is usually a service we charge thousands of dollars for, but because many new bands and musicians can’t afford that price tag, we’re giving this advice away for free. If you don’t have the money but do have the time, this guide should help you build a website that:
- Has a proper address, like yourname.com, instead of yourname.wordpress.com or .bandcamp.com
- You can fully customize and design
- Will help you rank well in Google and sell more music
We’ll be using the free “WordPress” software which is used by millions of other websites. Because of this popularity there will be hundreds and thousands of free guides and tutorials available online to help you with your new website in the future.
Although the WordPress software is free, you will need to pay for your own web hosting, especially if you want a yourname.com address. Most hosting services are quite cheap ($5 – $10 per month) and include free email addresses (e.g. firstname.lastname@example.org).
When you start adding custom designs to your site there is also the option to buy premium themes. This is only optional – there are plenty of nice free themes – and relatively cheap at $20-$30.
Let’s Get Started!
The first thing you’ll need to do is get a domain name and hosting.
For this we use bluehost.com (and that’s what we’ll be demonstrating for the rest of this post), but there are plenty of others out there:
- Bluehost.com – $5.95 /mo, unlimited space, unlimited email addresses & free domain name.
- Godaddy.com – $5.99 /mo, 150gb space, 500 email addresses & $11.99 / yr domain name.
- HostGator.com – $5.56 /mo, unlimited space, unlimited emails & $15 domain registration.
- JustHost.com – $5.95 / mo, unlimited space, unlimited emails & free domain name.
- Lots of others! Just google “web hosting”
This is the fist step and the only time you’ll have to incur a cost (any further cost is completely optional.)
Owning your own .com or .net domain name is vital for any music website that wants to be taken seriously, so pick one of the providers above (or google around for others) and register your domain name.
Once you’ve got your hosting set up, or if you already have your domain name, we’ll proceed to step two – WordPress.
Although it was originally designed as a blogging platform, WordPress is so powerful and easy to use that it now runs over 10% of websites on the entire internet!
WordPress is ideal software for building music websites – it’s quick, simple to learn, easy to update, plays really well with Facebook, YouTube and Google – and best of all, it’s free!!
On some hosting services you’ll need to do a manual instillation of WordPress. This involves downloading the files from wordpress.org, uploading them via FTP, creating a database and hooking it all together. It’s a bit of a pain and you can find full instructions here.
Luckily Bluehost have an easy to use, 1-click automatic WordPress installation. You can watch the simple step-by-step instructions here.
Finding your way around
Once WordPress is installed you should take a few minutes to figure out how it’s laid out.
WordPress.org have a great “First Steps” section on their website. If this is your first time with WordPress (or even if it isn’t) you should definitely take 15-20 mins to read it through and learn how to kick the tyres on your new site.
Making your Site Super Sexy
If you’ve read the First Steps introduction you’ll see they mention “Themes”. The theme is the template that controls the look and style of your website.
Taking the bare-bones WordPress website you have now and making it your own happens in 3 steps:
- Find a theme with the layout and general presentation style you like
- Customize it by changing some colours, images etc.
- Add your own text and content
Step 1: Finding a Theme
There are two types of WordPress Themes: Premium and Free.
There are thousands of free wordpress themes available online – but be careful! – some can contain viruses and nasty bits of script that hijack your website. For that reason you should mostly stick to the official WordPress directory (which has over 1,000 free themes).
These free themes are a great place to start, but it’s often very hard to find a great looking theme amongst all the poor quality free themes.
If you’re willing to spend a small amount of money (as little as $20) you can start looking at some really nice premium themes.
I always start with Theme Forest, especially their Entertainment category. With over 1,300 premium themes you should be able to find what you’re looking for! Other sites like WooThemes or StudioPress have a mixture of some free and some premium themes, but not as many as Theme Forest.
Lastly, if you want to have full control of the site you could use a theme framework like Thesis. This takes a little bit more time to set up (although it’s not much more difficult) and costs slightly more than the average premium theme, but it’s fully customizable to make the exact website you want.
Next Steps: Customize
This will vary depending on the theme you’ve picked, but most of the premium themes (and some of the free ones) will have “Theme Options” in the Appearance menu.
These options will let you upload your own logo image, change fonts, colours and sometimes layouts too.
You can add pages like “About The Band” “Images” “Videos” and others to let your fans see what you’re all about.
You can add posts with updates, news and any general information you want to share with fans.
You can also add plugins to add custom features to your site. Check out this great list of 25 Extremely Useful WordPress Plugins for Musicians on TightMix.
And You’re Ready!
By now your new website should be live and visible at your new domain name (yourname.com etc.).
If you have any specific problems or questions you can try google WordPress + the problem, or of course you can always leave a comment here and we’ll do our best to help.
Note: Some recommendations here give us a small commission if you click and sign up. We only recommend services that we genuinely use ourselves and of course you’re free to take the advice and not click the links. If you do want to use these services, however, it does help us pay the rent! 😀