Working in the arts often means bouncing around between different home bases. From one month to the next you’re probably working in different spaces, on different projects, and with different people. It’s one of the most thrilling parts of a creative career, but a lack of consistency is a challenge.
So I ask: Do you Dot Com?
What I mean is: do you own YOU.COM?
I recently purchased robynlinden.com and have linked the domain to my original page, robynlinden.wordpress.com. First of all it’s wise to own the internet equivalent to your name if you can get it. Second, it gives you the opportunity to have a home base. Your fans know where to find you, and you can build and control the brand that is your personality, passion and talent.
Here are a few quick things I strongly recommend:
-Google “GoDaddy.com coupon codes” — you’re sure to find one with a decent %off the purchase of a domain name. Visit Go Daddy and buy the simplest version of your web home. If your name isn’t available try throwing in an initial, a hyphen, a verb (ex. “robynlindenwrites.com”) and make a purchase. You can pay for any number of years of ownership right there.
-Host your name on a free server. I used WordPress because I wanted a blog format, and the particular theme I chose allows me to have additional tabs so I can separate information. Weebly is great for tabbed browsing (ex. Obehi Janice’s fufuandoreos.com), which you’ll want if you need to feature different types of content. Wix is good for building a profile or portfolio — check out the lovely Melanie Garber’s page for an example.
-Talking more specifically about tabs, it’s great to offer dedicated pages with your bio, media gallery, contact info, resume, etc. I love when artists have a News tab that tells me what they’re working on. If you have favorite websites, collaborators, resources, etc. offer a tab just for links — check out Vaquero Playground’s Playmates tab for example.
-Make your contact information clearly available. Embed a Twitter widget, your email in hyperlink (hyperlink “Email Me” text like this: mailto:email@example.com), a link to join your mailing list or follow your updates in RSS format (KEY for me, I swear by my Google Reader - use Feedburner.com for help on this one), a Like button that corresponds to your Facebook fan page. I recommend having these links Above the Fold, meaning up near the top of your page so a visitor doesn’t have to scroll down to find them.
So there you have it, a homework assignment. It’s ok if you don’t have a ton of constantly changing content, but you should absolutely own YOU.COM. Give your fans a place to find you, and claim and design a space that communicates who you are and what you’re up to.
Leave questions below if you want me to elaborate or make additional recommendations. And please leave links to helpful articles and free/cheap services if you’ve had success building your home base!