THE THREE BASICS OF MARKETING YOURSELF W/O SPENDING (a lot of) MONEY
by Ceci Dadisman
Three key things to marketing yourself that cost (practically) no money:
1. Website: Let’s face it. It is 2010. If you don’t have a website, get one. Immediately. If you already have a website, evaluate it to make sure that it is showing you in the best light.
Here are some honest tips to make sure that your presence on the web is the best it can be:
a. Stay away from websites that are built using Flash. If you’re not sure if your website uses Flash or not, go to it and click on each page. If the URL does not change, you’ve a Flash situation on your hands. There are a myriad reasons why your website should be in HTML rather than Flash, most importantly the fact that search engines don’t read Flash. Real life example: If you are a pants role mezzo and you are singing Cherubino all over the world and you’ve that role listed 50 times on your website, Google is not going to be able to see that. (Side note: if you have your resume on your website only as a PDF that people can download, search engines can’t read that either.)
b. If you have a website and you can’t update it yourself, you need to get another website. In this day and age, everyone should be able to update their own website and not have to know HTML to do it. How, you ask? That brings me to my next point:
c. Build your website using WordPress. You may think of WordPress as just a free blogging site but there is a self-hosted version (that means you put it on your own server) which unlocks tons of options for you. There are quite literally thousands of templates (the price of which ranges from free to about $50) that you can use to make your site look totally professional and awesome without paying someone thousands of dollars to create it. Wordpress allows you to have a great looking site and a super easy way to update it yourself. I know that there are some people out there who are addicted to Joomla and Drupal and other content management systems, but in my opinion, WordPress is by far the best and easiest. If you are a bit of a tech geek, learning how to create a site in WordPress is pretty straightforward. If you’re not technologically inclined, there are plenty of people out there who you can hire to do it for you to the tune of normally about $500 or less. That might seem like a lot but just think about it: a website that you have total control over which you can update yourself at any time. Also, once you’ve got your first site in WordPress, 2 years later when you decide you want a different look to the site, you don’t have to completely rebuild it. You can simply swap out the template which takes just a matter of minutes. Easy as pie. (Side note: Check out this link for examples of WordPress websites. [linked to: http://wordpress.org/showcase/])
d. Make sure you have audio and/or video clips on your site. This is an absolute must in today’s world. If someone is going to your site to find out more about you, you want them to hear and see you as well. More and more companies and agents are Googling potential singers as a first step and you want them to be able to hear how awesome you are right away.
2. You’ve just simply got to get on the social media bandwagon. Most people have a personal Facebook account and maybe even Twitter too. However, you’ve got to think about getting out there on the interwebs from a professional standpoint as well. My advice is to set up a Facebook fan page that you as your professional Facebook presence. Also, if you’re not on Twitter, I’d like to recommend that you should try it out. You may think that it is just one more thing to update but you can link your fan page activity to your Twitter account so when you post something to Facebook, it automatically goes on your Twitter as well. No double updating required! One HUGE piece of advice: be sure that you clearly separate your personal social media from your professional. Also, don’t post any vague ranting status updates on your professional page. People will figure out what you are talking about. Trust me.
3. Business cards are still essential to marketing yourself as a singer. When you are out and about in the world doing gigs and meeting people, it still is highly effective to hand them your business card. For singers, my recommendation is to ALWAYS have your photo on it as well. This may seem over the top to some people, but some people remember faces and not names. You want them to immediately remember who you are when they see your card. Also, make sure that your business card is classy and matches your website. If your website is very clean, modern, and white, make sure that your business card is that way. If your website has a purple background, your business card should have a purple background as well. In today’s world, the free business cards from VistaPrint or cards that you print out yourself just don’t cut it. There are plenty of other online printers out there who can deliver super cool business cards for very little cash. My favorite is Moo.com because not only do they have awesome card templates and it is easy to use, but they use really great, thick paper stock which automatically makes your cards look more professional. (Side note: While we’re on the subject of business cards, we should talk about e-mail addresses as well. You should always use a professional e-mail address. Most website hosting plans come with a free address that is your domain such as email@example.com which you can set up to be accessed through your existing Gmail or other web-based e-mail account. If you insist on using a web-based e-mail service, please use something professional like firstname.lastname@example.org as opposed to email@example.com.)
One last thing to remember: simple is better. If you’re questioning whether your website or business card design is too much, then it probably is.
Ceci Dadisman is the President of CeciCreative, a small arts marketing firm that provides marketing services (everything from marketing plans to websites to social media) to non-profit performing arts organizations and individual artists. A self-professed tech geek, Ceci has a penchant for social media and new technology and a mission to make those things actually work in the performing arts world. She is also a mezzo soprano specializing in early music and oratorio. Known for her down-to-earth style and real-world solutions, Ceci is able to use her background as a musician and her marketing savvy to bridge the
gap between arts and business. She is a native of Pittsburgh, PA and has a music degree from West Virginia University.