Trial & Error

 

This may surprise you but creating this website has been one of the most challenging parts of my musical journey. Here's why.

 

When you visit a website, you totally take for granted all the work that went into it. The average web user visits dozens of websites every day. Let's be honest: we rarely appreciate user interface and web design unless it's really good or really bad... But the truth is, creating a site and putting your work out there is a real challenge for a lot of artists—myself included.

 

First, you expose yourself to criticism. Ever heard of online trolls? If not about your art, it will be about your website. Second, that's not necessarily what you are. You're not a web designer. No, you're an baker, a musician, a painter, a photographer—and creating a website maybe isn't your art. It's not what you have spent thousands of hours practicing. Yet, people will click the back button if your website isn't optimized and they may actually never see, hear or watch your art. 

 

That's what this post is all about. I'm here to tell you how I've managed this and how you can too. I have personally used a Wix for a several years now. And let me tell you... If someone had told me how much time I would spend making this site, I would have probably never started. But I've also learned a lot in the process.

 

My first goal was to organize and centralize all my existing music. Some of the albums I had recorded had never been published anywhere, like the first album of Keona—for which I struggled even finding a physical copy. Once the music was online, it was cool to be able to say "just go to sylvainpasliermusic.com and you can listen online" although in retrospect... I should have chosen an easier domain name to spell out!

 

From the beginning, I have wanted to make my music accessible for free and so I uploaded the entire albums to SoundCloud and BandCamp. There was no question about it and it was not about making money, I just wanted to share the music and to be generous about it. 

 

As anyone would expect, my website didn't get much traffic for a long time. It's what an author I like named Jon Acuff coined "the power of invisibility". This means that when no one visits your website, you can experiment, make mistakes and they will go unnoticed. Little by little I learned.

 

Now my website gets roughly 5,000 new visitors every month. It shows up on the first page of results for relevant queries. It's fun! So, I'd like to share my favorite tools to help you grow your website.

 

1) Moz

 

Moz is a tech company based in Seattle centered on web marketing and SEO (Search Engine Optimization). There is a wealth of information on their blog. The founder Rand posts "whiteboard Friday" videos every Friday where you can learn a lot of best practices of online marketing. My two favorite tools on their site are MozBar for meta data and Open Site Explorer for inbound links.

 

2) Google Analytics

 

GA is a must if you're creating a website. It will help you not only track but also understand your traffic. For instance, you'll know which pages perform well and which don't. Or what people search for when they click on your site on SERPs (search engine result pages). Also check out Google's Search Console (formerly webmaster tools) for search analytics and site indexation.

 

3) HemingwayApp

 

The Hemingway Editor helps you write better. That may sound silly... but if you're a photographer, a musician or a painter, you don't necessarily know how to write web content! This tool will let you know when your sentences are too long and it will suggest simpler words.

 

4) Paletton

 

That site is all about colors! It generates color palettes or suggests complementary colors to the ones you're already using. It will help make your website beautiful! 

 

5) Onpage.org

 

I use this site to do audit of my website's meta data (title tags, meta descriptions, URLs, H1, H2, etc...). Their tool suggests the ideal character length and keyword placement for these different webpage elements, but also flags duplicates and more. With a free account you can crawl your site once every 30 days. 

 

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