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SESSION THREE: Musicians and the Internet

I was wondering if you could do a short video about making a living as a musician.
You seem to have been doing it for a long time and nobody around me personally
has been all that supportive of my interest in it as a career. They just don’t think
that I can make a living as a guitaist.

~ Mac - Bakersfield, CA. U.S.A.


Most musicians begin their online presence with creating a page on MySpace, SoundClick or Purevolume. Next, things might progress to
actually buying a .com and building an independant website. Once their CD comes out, things can expand to using online digital sales and distribution services such as; CD Baby, Tune Core or WaTunes.

This is all good and sometimes a decent following can be built from doing only those things... however true lasting success online
has to come from a very long-term approach toward the internet.

Think of the presence you establish on the internet as a storefront. If you had a physical storefront in a mall, or on a street-corner, the
store needs daily visitors. And, online having 100 - 150 visitors per day simply won’t cut it. Online you’ll need 2000 plus at minimum to see any monetary benefit. And, 30 to 40,000 (or more) visitors on a daily basis to actually be really making any decent money.

Now, that’s a lot of traffic. So the question becomes, how do you achieve that traffic? The first thing to understand is that you will need to devote several hours per day for the first few years online in order to get both a solid foundation for your website and an overall online
presence. This is why it is so important for you to be able to run your web-site yourself. Let’s look at getting the foundation together.

1). Learn about “html” code and how “css” style sheets work. If you really don’t know much about how this stuff works, you’ll have to hire someone to teach you. I use a program called, “Dreamweaver.” And, to send files back and forth to my hosting company I use a nifty little program called, “WebDrive.”

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2). Research and buy yourself a web address. It might be fairly difficult to find a .com since many of the one and two word phrases are already taken. And, by all means, definately buy your own name as a .com - if you can, since most people’s names are already purchased as well.

If you can’t find a decent two word phrase, look at trying three word phrases. And, if you cannot find anything in the world of .com’s try looking into addresses ending in .net. You also may want to buy your URL with two hosting companies in North America. One with the .com or .net suffix and also with the .ca suffix. This will really solidify your
online presence by sewing up your name within both countries. And, the cost of an address would only run about $9.00 with most companies.

3). Buy a basic hosting package (approx. $4.00) and begin construction of your website. In Canada I use a company called Netfirms and for hosting in the United States I use 1and1.com. There are plenty of others offering webhosting, but I like the prices, included services and available
bandwith offered by these companies. With any company you may experience site outages, or server connection problems, just remember
the old phrase, The squeaky wheel get’s the greasing. If your site has down time issues, or there are problems logging onto your server,
make sure you keep hounding the provider to get the problem solved. It might take daily calls and perhaps some serious complaining, but a good
host will eventually resolve your site issues.

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I should make note that I really believe it’s in your best interest to pay for webspace and control that space yourself 100% through an .html editing program like Dreamweaver - just because it simply means that anything you may want to add onto that site in the future - you’ll be able to do it! Whereas, with the free accounts, or blogger, or Wordpress etc... You might discover one day that something you want to implement on your site isn’t supported on the free platform. And, then you might really be in a bind, (especially if you have to start your site all over from scratch with a hosting company). Keep in mind that it might take upwards of 10 months to a year before your site is really chugging along and becomes all you want it to become. That’s a lot of work to have to re-do if you run into a limitation issue with one of the free platform websites.

4). Okay, so your website is finally up and running, it looks great, it has 30 - 40 pages of excellent content, and no broken links... Now what?

Now it’s time to begin going after, “Building GOOD Organic Traffic.” This means FREE traffic from other websites and from Google and YaHoo searches. Generating links off of other sites and search engine natural results just takes time. However don't rule out paid advertising in newspapers, public transportation, or radio spots.

Let's examine a number of ways to get your website up in the rankings of the search engines...

1). Get into a General Directory DMOZ (free).
Other directories include; Yahoo $299 / Best of the Web $99.00 / Business.com $299 / GoGuides $69.95 / JoeAnt $39.99

2). Niche Directories: A special area of demand for a product or service

3). Create social media profiles. One good site is “MeetUp.com” It passes along Google Page Rank with anchor text you supply. You can organize or join an existing group to meet and chat at a coffee shop or studio, write songs, form a band or just jam!

4). Link build with other like-minded artists, or companies sites. Do a Google search for your own top keywords and see which web-sites rank highest and then request links to their link
pages. Offer to write an article for their site to break the ice on first contact!

5). Write or create a Blog or Blog-site for the purpose of linking your other domains or sub-domains within your postings. And, if you don’t have the time to write a blog, then hire someone to do it freelance. There are lot’s of freelance writers willing to write posts - it is well worth the increase in links over time.

6). Create a privacy policy for your site stating what you intend do with any and all information you collect from others.

7). Create an .xml sitemap and upload the information to the various Webmaster Tool areas of; Google, Yahoo (Site Explorer), MSN (Webmaster Center). This will certainly help your ranking on organic web-searches. Plus, it will allow you to further examine your site, especially if you sign-up for Google’s Analytics program!

So, now you have invested a good deal of time toward building an initial web presence. What comes next...?

Website traffic increases into the thousands will occour in two ways... A stroke of pure luck through mass media recognition, or (more realistically), you paying for web-traffic using a Pay Per Click (PPC) Marketing strategy.

- Google AdWords / Facebook / MSN AdCenter / Yahoo Search Marketing / CitySearch / 7 Search

Associated costs would be roughly anywhere from .10 to .30 cents (or more, depending on the popularity of selected keywords you use) per-click. This would run approx. $50.00 to produce 160 to maybe 450 clicks, (visitors). This could cost you upwards of $200.00 per month bringing approx. 1200 - 1500 visitors per month.

Your Product Sales Total could reach $600.00 per month (minus the $200.00 in ads) = $400.00 profit, if your landing page is well optimized to produce customers for what you are selling.

And, if you’re spending upwards of $1000.00 per month on Search Engine Marketing (SEM), you could be very well be clearing $2000.00 in profit per month. Anyway you slice it, you can clearly see, it does indeed take money to make money online!

It's a good deal of work to get the traffic to your website, but inevitably there will be those who leave your site without buying anything! In fact truth told, there will be thousands who leave your site without spending a nickle! So, how can we profit from traffic leaving?

1). Get people to sign-up! Hopefully they’re not leaving your site without at least signing up to your subscriber base. Give visitors a FREE offer
in exchange for their name & email address. I give free online courses, videos and handouts to my subscribers monthly. It's a great way to build a following. Sure it takes some work to produce a monthly subscriber's news email, but it is certainly well worth it in the long run.

2). Advertising is another excellent way to produce income from your website. Google AdSense and YaHoo Publisher Network both provide excellent programs for web-masters. If perhaps your website has 2000 visitors/day and if even 100 of them clicked on ad’s, that could produce approx. $20. to $30.00 per day (that's approx. $750.00 per month). It's well worth it to seriously look into publisher ad's for visitors departing your website when you do the numbers.

3). Affiliate Programs - Amazon and eBay have fantastic affiliate programs. You can earn $1.50 or more in commissions on the sale of goods advertised on your website. eBay will even pay per impression as well on many of their product links and widgets. If you have 12 - 15 eBay items that you host on your site (and even if nobody buys anything at eBay) you will still receive a small payout each month for those people who have viewed the eBay items after leaving your site heading off to eBay.

There are many other great affiliate networks online too. Sites like; Linkshare and Commission Junction are partnered with large companies like; Musicians Friend, Apple, Napster, Sheet Music Plus, and many many more. Joining sites like these are excellent ways to earn up to 20% commission from visitors leaving your website.

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