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Jerkguy's Tips for Creative Webmasters

Web site promotion for authors, song writers & musicians

© 2016

A web site can be an excellent tool to promote your financial efforts, to sell copies of your books or CDs, or just as the informational center of your activities. It is possible to maximize the potential of your site by considering a few tips on how to best present your content.

  • Make it easy for the customer to buy your products... after all, this is why you have the site in the first place. Make the link prominent and direct. I was on a site recently that I had to search over to find an obscure link to buy their video. It then took me to a distributor's shopping site and I never could find their movie. They lost a sale.
  • Make it easy for the visitors to read your web text. The text colors on your web pages should have a high contrast - white background and black text is best. If you use a dark background for some reason, then use white text. When the site is easy to read, visitors will be tempted to stay longer and take in more of your content.
  • Turn off auto-play for videos and sound clips! Do not risk offending your potential customer by forcing them to hear or view your content. This is 10x more important if some of your content is not PG-rated.
  • A good rule to remember is that not everyone has a fast new computer and a broadband connection. One of my collaborators is using a 486 on a 56k dial-up and consequently, pages with lots of graphics and YouTube movies can really slow him down! That's not to say these extras cannot be featured; they can if you use them properly.
  • Answer your emails! Put a link on the site where visitors can send comments to you and answer them promptly. This is not only courteous but also shows that you are professional and care about your site and supporters.
  • Content is king! Give the visitor enough good stuff to look at so they will have to come back again and again to take it all in. You don't have to put everything up at once but present enough info initially so that the visitor gets a good feel for your projects. Also, use the tips below on how to best present your content.
  • Keep the site neat. If you cannot do a good job of designing a page, you can get someone to help. Everyone has a friend or relative who can to help design the site for little money or even free! There are plenty of free templates available online to help you get started.
  • Even if you get a hotshot web designer, don't use flashy web tricks and extras on your site. Flash animation is cool but give the user a way to skip over it. You don't need fancy programming; give them good content with basic html.
  • After you post a page or make changes to one, load the link into your web browser and see how it looks. This will verify that it has been uploaded properly and can be seen by visitors to your site. It is also a good idea to look at your entire site with more than one browser - Microsoft Edge, Chrome and Firefox are the most commonly used. You can have all of these programs on your computer at one time and use each as needed.
  • No blinking text and no background music! It just irritates your visitors. No pop-ups. Do I have to explain why?
  • Do not use a black background! This is a sure indicator of an amateur... it is hard to read and really does not do justice to your work. Look at the biggest sites on the web: Yahoo, Google, Ebay and Amazon. What color is the background on those pages? I'll give you a hint... it's not black.
  • Photos are great content. It gives your site a personal touch that the visitor can identify with. Make the pictures small for fast loading but link them so a visitor can click to enlarge for a bigger view. Postage-stamp sized pictures than cannot be viewed larger are just a waste of space.
  • Date the changes or additions to your site. This lets the visitor know that the project is current and that there should be no problem when they decide to order something from you.
  • Movie streaming is one of my pet peeves. If you want to put a tutorial or sales video on your web site, go ahead and do it, but do not make it auto-play when a visitor hits the page. If the person has a slow connection it can freeze his computer for many minutes while the clip is being cached. You will make a lot of people happy by doing it this way.
  • Make the site professional but friendly. Keep it PG-rated even if you have content that is R. My kids are surfing the web as are many others. Place a warning on links to pages that feature pictures and text that might be unsuitable for children... actually U.S. law requires this, so be aware.
  • Do not make the visitor click a button when they leave your page to confirm that they wish to exit. This is spammy behavior and just irritates most web surfers. Don't do it!
  • Exchange links with other web sites to build traffic. It works and will also help your ranking in the Google search rankings.
  • Consider a banner exchange program. This is where you put a link on your page that displays banners from other users of the exchange program. In turn, your own banner ad is displayed on the sites of others in the program. Typically you get two displays of your ad in return for every one that is displayed on your site. LinkExchange and BannerSwap are examples of this advertising system. This will greatly increase the range of exposure of your site, especially if you have an attractive and interesting banner ad. I have to admit that this is much less effective than it has been in the past but banner links to content on your own site will still work.
  • Submit your site to the major search engines. Google, Yahoo, Netscape and other search sites all have a way to submit your page to be crawled by their indexing program. Once this happens, you are in the system and your site will pop up on the list when the right search terms are entered.
  • Sign guestbooks on other sites. Just make a pleasant comment about their site and put a link to your page below your signature without any other comment. They will likely check out your site and return the favor or add you to their links.
  • Participate in forums. Be polite and open minded. Opinions are like noses; everybody has one. Take constructive criticism without being offended - this doesn't mean you have to take a load of bull from any blow-hard that chimes in on the discussion, but give some thought to honest evaluations that are offered. Also, most forums allow you to have a signature that is automatically placed at the end of every message you post and this is a good place for the link to your site.
  • Keep the web site going! I used to review low-budget movies and probably half of the films that I reviewed recently were from sites that disappeared after a short time. It doesn't cost much to keep the web pages alive even if your project is completed. You never know what industry connection or affiliation can come just by keeping the site alive. If money is tight and you cannot afford to keep the web site current, you can likely make a deal with someone in the industry to host your site and maybe even keep the domain name active. All it takes is an email to them to ask.
Put some effort into your site and make the quality of it equal or better than your merchandise. It will add professionalism and prestige to your project and sell more for you!

Jerk Guy has been involved in online communications even before there was an Internet.

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