Monday, August 24, 2015

5 Steps to Create Your Professional Website


These days, it just doesn’t make sense for a performer not to have a website. I was reminded of this recently after seeing this Facebook post from an influential "power-that-be" in our industry:


Make it easy for people to find out about your business! After all, singing is a business. Your website serves as a central locale for audio/video clips, photos, your performance schedule, and more. Gone are the days of needing to carry around a flash drive with your press packet materials at all times – simply hand new contacts your business card with your website and they will have instant access to all of the information that could land you your next gig! Create a website you can be proud of by following these easy steps.

1. Do Your Research!

When designing your website, it is important have plan. Visit the websites of other singers to get some ideas! Scour the sites of your favorite singers and those who are at a similar place in their careers as you. What appeals to you? Consider things like color scheme, site layout, and what content is included. If you know what you like, you will already have some choices made when it comes to designing your own site. This will save you time and keep you from making snap decisions. Take notes, draw sketches, and have at least a rough idea of what you want your site to look like before you ever start creating it.

2. Pick Your Platform

Luckily, it is no longer necessary to have an in-depth knowledge of HTML code to create a professional-looking website. You can choose from several different web services that can help you build a website from scratch, no coding required. My favorite is Wix.com. With Wix, you create your site by adding elements (text, images, menus) and placing them absolutely anywhere on your page with a simple drag-and-drop interface. This is great for customizing your site and making it look exactly like your vision (from your research in step 1, remember??). You can start with one of their ready-made templates, or for ultimate flexibility, start with a blank template and let your imagination run wild!

For something with a smaller learning curve I recommend Weebly.com. With Weebly, start with a predetermined template and customize it by adding your elements, which will snap to a grid ensuring perfect alignment. Weebly offers less flexibility with color and layout customization, though if you are willing to delve into a little bit of coding you do have the option to edit your template’s code.

via Wix.com and Weebly.com
Don’t forget to consider cost when picking your platform, as you will need to have a premium account with either of these sites to get rid of their ads. With Wix it costs about $13/month to connect a custom domain and get rid of ads. They do offer discounts for paying for a year at a time, and upgrades go on sale often so keep your eyes peeled! Weebly allows you to connect a domain for free, but you must upgrade to get rid of ads (starting at $3.29/month). Don’t forget to consider the cost of your domain name in your calculations. Generally it is much cheaper to go through a site like GoDaddy than purchasing a domain through Wix or Weebly, and each site offers step-by-step instructions to connect it.

I personally use both sites: Wix for my singer website at www.rachaelcolman.com, and Weebly for my design website at www.rachaelcolmandesigns.com. I do not recommend using ClassicalSinger.com or YAPtracker to build your site. You have far fewer customization options, and it can cost much more.

3. Add Your Content

You should already have a good idea of what content you should include on your site after looking through other singers’ sites. Remember that your site serves as a tool to get gigs when you cannot be there to audition in person, so include anything you might bring in to an audition. Basic categories could include any of the following:

Biography – keep it up-to-date. It’s not a bad idea to include a line at the bottom stating the date of your last update. This will help you remember when you last updated things, and give your contacts a point of reference.

Resume/Repertoire List – you may also wish to include a link to a downloadable version of your resume or full press packet

Reviews – as long as they are legitimately about you and portray you in a good light.

Headshot/Production Stills – try to avoid an overwhelming amount backstage “candid” photos, which can come across as unprofessional

Performance Calendar – include your upcoming performances and past performances as well, if you wish. Linking to the companies with which you are performing gives your visitors a chance to click through and find out more about the company.

Media – audio samples, YouTube videos, or other links.

Blog – A blog can be a great, personal way to keep up with your site visitors. But make sure to keep up with it! Nothing says unprofessional like one “Welcome to my new site!” blog post on a site that hasn’t been updated in years.

Contact Info – Your visitors will want know how to contact you. Use a contact form, or include things like your contact email, phone number, or links to social media. Remember that you are posting this on the web for the whole world to see. Use your best judgement, and NEVER publish your mailing address.

4. Publish and Get the Word Out


After all of your hard work in creating your perfect site, tell everyone! Post it on Facebook, Twitter, even Instagram a screenshot. Include your website address on your resume, business cards, and at the end of your biography. Be sure people know how to find you online, as your website should be the most up-to-date representation of your career. Which brings us to…

5. Update Regularly!

It is crucial that you update your website as regularly as possible. It helps no one to know what your upcoming performances were two years ago. I have a reminder set on my phone to update my website on the first of every month. You may not need to update that frequently, or you may find that you need to update much more often to keep your visitors up-to-date. Learn what works best for you, and make sure you stick to it regularly! Remember this: a website that needs polishing but is current always trumps a fancy site that is out of date.

Follow these steps and you’ll have your website up and running in no time!

Be sure to sign up to participate in our Comprehensive Branding Webinar coming September 12, 2015! Rachael will be available to answer your specific branding questions. Sign up today!

~SexiSoprano was not compensated in any way by Wix.com, Weebly.com, or GoDaddy.~

Rachael Colman is a mezzo-soprano and graphic designer based out of Kansas City. She loves to help her fellow singers improve their audition portfolios, offering services from resume editing to headshot retouching to website design. She is currently on roster with several professional choral groups across the country, and maintains an active opera presence, most recently performing as Nancy in ALBERT HERRING with Opera Breve in Wichita Falls, TX, and as the title role in LA CENERENTOLA with the Midwest Institute of Opera in Bloomington, IL. For more information, please visit www.rachaelcolmandesigns.com and www.rachaelcolman.com.