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The reason it feels impossible for musicians to gain any kind of following in today's world is that most of the music marketing channels are either controlled by a few powerful gatekeepers, or very expensive to make proper use of.

For radio promotion, you need to pitch your music to program directors.

To get your music reviewed by influential music blogs or magazines, you need to reach out to high-traffic blogs with the hope that their editors see your email, read it, and like your music enough to invest their time in reviewing it.

To be placed in popular playlists on streaming services, you need to pitch editors at the company to make it worth your time.

It's like every promotional outlet is an exclusive club where it's not just about how good your music is, but how connected you are and how effectively you can sell your music to these individuals.

While it's possible to promote your music using these methods, you're competing with some of the biggest names in music and leaving a lot up to chance.

Hundreds of artists and labels are plugging away at the same channels, which means it's extremely likely that any of your outreach efforts will be ignored.

So with no connections, little money, and no sales experience, how do you gain a passionate following for your music?

In this article, I'm going to show you a step-by-step process you can use to gain a loyal following online without the need to convince busy gatekeepers that your music is awesome.

An overview of music promotion strategies

There are tons of things you can do to grow your fan base online and offline. Here are a few:

  • Score awesome gigs.
  • Get reviewed on blogs.
  • Post to social media sites.
  • Get placed in popular playlists on music streaming services.
  • Upload a music video to YouTube.
  • Paid advertising.

These are great forms of music promotion, and you should definitely take advantage them, but the problem with these is that they don't all provide you with lasting, automated growth of your fan base.

If you score an awesome gig or review on a huge blog, while this can provide a short burst of growth for you, it will quickly fade, and you'll have to do it all again to continue the growth trend.

As an independent musician, you want to focus most of your time in areas that continue to create value for you long after implementation.

This is why for the purposes of this article, we're going to focus on creating and growing an online marketing funnel that will continue to automatically grow your fan base over time using the following process:

online-music-promotion-process

Let's look at how you can implement the above process to promote your music online.

Step 1: Attract visitors to your music website by blogging

Free website traffic is going to come from search engines, referral links, social media, and effective promotion of blog content.

The best way to leverage the above channels and attract visitors to your website is with a blog that provides helpful information on a subject that interests people in your music scene.

It's important to choose a topic for your blog and stick with it.

Here are some examples of what different types of musicians can blog about to get you started:

  • A punk rock band blogging about skateboarding tips.
  • A metal band blogging about music gear.
  • An indie band blogging about traveling.
  • An EDM artist blogging about party tips for college students.

These are just some examples, but you get the idea. Understand your audience, choose a topic that resonates with them, and write helpful articles on that topic. Write articles in the form of how-to's and actionable tips for your chosen topic.

Get free traffic from Google with search engine optimization (SEO)

Search engine optimization is the process of getting your website's pages to show up in the search results on website like Google and Bing.

You want to find ways to get your website's pages to show up near the top of a targeted search result in Google. If it's higher up, more people will see it, click to your website, and convert into email list subscribers or make a purchase.

The reason a blog is important is because it increases the number of pages on your website, which increases the number of search terms your site has the potential to rank for.

When most people talk about search engine optimization, they talk about on-site factors Google uses to rank content, such as targeting the right keywords and page speed.

Rarely do you hear people talking about off-site SEO ranking factors like getting people to link to your site, which seems to have the biggest influence on how well your site ranks in Google.

Google has 200 ranking factors in their algorithm, but I'll walk you through the ones I've noticed make the biggest difference.

Here's exactly what you need to do to get started with SEO, improve your rankings, and start generating loads of free traffic from Google.

Choose high-traffic keywords for your blog articles

Each time you publish a blog article, you should target a specific keyword you're looking to rank for.

When picking keywords, you want to target those with a large volume of searches so they result in lots of traffic to your site (when you rank well).

So how do you choose keywords to base your articles on?

You need to find keywords that have low competition and high search volume.

Finding high-volume keywords

There are many online tools you can use to measure keyword volume and discover new keywords, but one of the best free ones is Google's keyword planner.

To use Google's keyword planner, you do need an AdWords account, but you don't need an active ad to use their keyword tool.

Once you create your AdWords account and are logged in, click the "Tools" button at the top of the page, then select keyword planner.

go-to-keyword-planner

On the next page, select "Search for new keywords using phrase, website, or category."

keyword-planner-search-by

Finally, enter some keywords based on the type of article you're writing to get volume trends and new keyword ideas, separated by commas, then click "Get Ideas."

So, for example, if your blog is about skateboarding, and you're writing about changing the wheels on your skateboard, you might enter "change skateboard wheels," change the wheels on your skateboard," and "repair wheels on skateboard."

keyword-planner-keywords

Once you do this, the keyword planner will present you with a list of keywords with their monthly search volumes.

keyword-planner-results

Repeat this process until you have a nice sized list of potential keywords to base your article on.

Once you have your list of keywords, the next step is to check how competitive they are.

Checking keyword competitiveness

While the keyword planner has competition ratings for the keywords, these aren't competitive ratings for how easy it is to rank for a given keyword, they're competitive ratings based on how many advertisers a keyword has.

So to check how difficult it is to rank for a given keyword, we're going to use MozBar.

MozBar shows you how competitive different keywords are using 2 metrics: domain authority and page authority.

Domain authority is a rating created by Moz that identifies how much Google trusts a given domain. This is determined by many factors, but heavily influenced by how many links are pointing to the domain.

Page authority is a rating identifying how much Google trusts a given page. This is heavily influenced by how many links are pointing to the page.

So to check the competition for your list of keywords, install the MozBar extension for Google Chrome or the MozBar Add-On for Firefox.

Once it's installed, head over to Google start entering your keywords into the search bar. Your search results on Google should look like this:

moz-bar-google-search-results

When analyzing the search results, you want to look at 3 metrics:

  • Page Authority (PA): How much Google trusts the page.
  • Domain Authority (DA): How much Google trusts the domain.
  • Links: How many links are pointing to the page (this is a strong indicator of how likely the page is to rank well in Google).

I'll get more into how you can improve these metrics for your site later.

If the above 3 metrics are lower than that of your own site (which you can check by visiting your site with the MozBar enabled), and the keyword has high search volume, it's well worth writing a blog post targeting that keyword.

If your site is new, aim for PA and DA of under 30, and as few links as possible for first page results when searching for possible keywords.

Format your articles properly

Once you've found a target keyword and start writing a blog article, it's important to make sure you format it properly.

One of the factors Google uses to determine how to rank your page is the amount of time people spend on your page.

Because of this, you want to format your article in a way that is easy to read, with every line convincing your visitors to read the next.

So when writing a blog article, here are some things to keep in mind:

  • Use short paragraphs and sentences.
  • Use bullet points.
  • Use lots of white space and images.

Think about it. Which is easier to read, this...

long-paragraphs

...or this?

short-paragraphs

I bet you'd say the second one.

It's broken up in a way that allows your eyes to move seamlessly from one point to the next.

White space is your friend. Use plenty of it to break up the text of your article into smaller chunks, and visitors will stay on your site longer.

Build links to your website

After you've published an article, Google needs to find your website. The best way to get Google to find your website and increase your sites search rankings is to get more links pointing to it.

When Google sees links pointing to pages on your website, it views these as "votes" that your website is worth a visit.

This is why the more links you have to your websites pages, the higher your domain and page authority will be.

However, not just any link will help increase your websites rankings in Google. You want to get links from other high domain authority websites so you can greatly influence how much Google trusts your website.

Many people resort to easy link building strategies like directory submissions or paid links, but Google views these as spammy, and spammy link building practices can result in permanent removal of your site from Google's search results.

So avoid links that are easy to get, and focus instead on earning high quality links.

Here are 3 repeatable strategies I've used to earn high quality links to Dozmia.

Guest posting

In short, guest posting is when you write an article for someone else's site.

The idea is that by generating content for another site for free, you're giving them another opportunity to rank in search results, and creating more content for them to send out to their email subscribers that their readers may share on social media.

The benefits for you are clear:

  • You can generate links back to your site within the article.
  • Their blogs readers look up to you as an expert in your topic.
  • Targeted referral traffic floods your site.

Awesome, right?

To get started with guest blogging, the first step is to find websites that accept guest posts.

To do this, head over to Google and try some of these search strings:

  • Your Keyword + “write for us”
  • Your Keyword + "guest post by"
  • Your Keyword + “guest post opportunities”
  • Your Keyword + “this is a guest post by”
  • Your Keyword + “contributing writer”
  • Your Keyword + “want to write for”
  • Your Keyword + “submit blog post”
  • Your Keyword + “contribute to our site”
  • Your Keyword + “guest column”
  • Your Keyword + “submit content”
  • Your Keyword + “submit your content”
  • Your Keyword + “submit post”
  • Your Keyword + “This post was written by”

So if I was running a travel blog, I would search for Travel + "write for us" (with the quotes).

guest-post-search

Once you find a blog worth reaching out to where you think you can add value, come up with some ideas for articles that would interest their readers and send an email like this one:

Hey [Name],

I was on the search for some information about [Topic] and came across your blog. Awesome stuff!

I'm contacting you because I'd like to contribute an article.

I've been brainstorming some ideas that I think your readers would get a ton of value from:

  • Idea 1
  • Idea 2
  • Idea 3

I'll make sure to include information that's difficult to find elsewhere.

To get an idea of my writing quality, here's a recent article I did for example.com: [URL to recently published article]

Looking forward to your response!

[Signature]

Using an email similar to the one above, I’ve received one-in-five response rate. Before including recently written articles, my response rate was one in 10.

Once you receive a response, the next step is to write an awesome article for them. Once that article is published, you’ll receive some instant referral traffic and increased Google rankings a few weeks later for pages you've linked to in the article.

Resource page link building

Resource page link building is about finding pages online that are created with the intention of linking out to other pages - like this one.

The best thing about these types of pages is that they actually want to link out to the most helpful resources they can find, so if you have awesome content, then you're actually doing them a favor by reaching out and telling them about it.

The first step in this strategy is to find resource pages online. You can use the following search strings in Google to do so:

  • Your Keyword + “resources”
  • Your Keyword + “useful resources”
  • Your Keyword + “helpful resources
  • Your Keyword + “links”
  • Your Keyword + “useful links”
  • Your Keyword + “helpful links”

The next step is to narrow down the results to the ones with the highest domain authority, then find ones that your content would actually be a good fit for.

Once you find a site that you think your content is a match for, reach out to the webmaster with an email like this one:

Hey [Name],

I was doing some research on [Topic] and noticed that you have [this killer resource page on your site]. Great stuff!

Since you’re clearly an authority on the subject, I though you’d be interested in checking out my article on [topic]. It’s super in-depth and I think it would make an awesome addition to your resource page.

Here’s the link if you’d like to check it out: [URL]

[Signature]

It's as simple as that!

While this method doesn't generate the same conversion rate as guest blogging outreach, you won't have to create a new article for each response.

Help a Reporter Out (HARO)

This one is simple.

Basically, you sign up for an email list that sends you daily inquiries from reporters and bloggers, then respond with helpful info.

Most inquiries aren’t exactly relevant to music, but you can get creative and put a musical spin on it, like I was able to do with this article by referencing Bandsintown.

Just sign up for Help a Reporter Out to start receiving inquiries every day from reporters and bloggers of all sizes. Scroll through the list, and respond to the ones you can add value to.

Add social share buttons that you can track

You want people to share your content on social media so you can generate more referral traffic.

You also want the sharing to be trackable so that you can identify what content is performing best.

SumoMe offers a great tool that makes this easy.

First install the SumoMe plugin on your site.

Once it's all set up and you're logged in on your site, you should see this on the right side:

sumome-menu

Click the crown icon to open the app, which looks like this:

sumome-app

Click "Share" to set up and enable social share buttons, then under "Settings," drag the social media icons you want shown on your site from "Available Services" to "Selected Services."

available-to-selected-services-sumome

Then you're all set. You now have social share buttons on your blog that you can track.

To see how many shares your blog has, and from which social media sites, just check under the "clicks" menu.

sumome-share-clicks

This data can help you identify the types of articles that get shared more on social media, and which social media sites your visitors are most active on.

When selecting social share buttons, be careful about choosing too many, as this can overwhelm your visitors.

Promote your blog articles

Effective promotion of your blog posts can help generate more links pointing to your site, and more social media and referral traffic.

Here are 3 things you can do to properly promote a new blog post.

Link to other people's websites, then tell them about your article

When you write an article, you should link out to other websites that you think will be helpful to your readers.

Don't worry too much about losing traffic. If the content is helpful, your readers will love you for referring them to it.

When you do link to other websites, you should reach out to the site owner and tell them. If they like what you've put together, they might share it with their social media followers.

Here's an email you can use to reach out to site you've linked to:

Hi [Name],

My name is [your name] and I'm from [your band].

I just published a new blog post about [topic] and included a link to your article: [name of article].

If you've got time, I'd love to hear your thoughts!

Thanks!

[Signature]

You might not get a share from every person you reach out to, but if just one person shares your article, the outreach is worth your time.

Send your articles to your email list

If anyone is going to read your articles and share it with their friends, it's your most loyal followers. Be sure to email every new blog post out to your email list.

Submit it to StumbleUpon

StumbleUpon is a website where you can browse random pages on the internet. People choose topics that interest them, and click a big orange "Stumble" button that directs them to new content that they may be interested in - which can include your blog posts

When submitting your articles to StumbleUpon, you want to do it with targeted interests attached to the submission.

To do that, you must meet the following criteria:

  • Your account must be over 24 hours old
  • You must set a Profile picture
  • You must have a minimum amount of Stumbles (however, they don't reveal how many this is.)

Sign up for StumbleUpon, meet the above requirements, and submit your article to the StumbleUpon's submit page with appropriate interests attached to it.

Do this every time you publish a new blog post.

Step 2: Converting website visitors into email subscribers

The whole idea of setting up and growing a blog is so that you can convert blog visitors into email subscribers, and then convert those email subscribers into fans of your music.

Optimizing your blog for mailing list signups isn't hard, it just takes a big of upfront work effort

To convert blog traffic into email subscriptions, I use SumoMe - the same tool I mentioned above for adding social share buttons to your site.

More specifically, for collecting emails, I use these 3 tools that they offer:

Let's take a look at each of these.

Welcome Mat

You may have seen this when you first came to this page:

welcome-mat

That's Welcome Mat. 5% of people who see that sign up for our email list.

If you have a similar conversion rate, this means that for every 20 people you drive to your site, you get 1 mailing list signup.

Awesome!

Here's how to set it up.

Once SumoMe is set up on your blog, just open their menu and toggle the Welcome Mat icon to "On."

toggle-welcome-mat

Then set up your design.

welcome-mat-design

That's it!

Now you can play around with the color scheme and wording to optimize the view for better conversion rates.

List Builder

List Builder is a great way to ask for email sign-ups in the form of a popup.

While users think popups are annoying, they're effective. I've had an average conversion rate of around 2% with List Builder popups.

Pile this on top of the Welcome Mat signups, and you've got a nice inflow of new mailing list subscribers.

Here's how to set it up.

Turn it on in the SumoMe app.

turn-on-list-builder

Under the design tab, select "Email Collect" under the "Popup Mode" dropdown, and design your popup with colors that represent your brand.

design-popup

Finally, you can set it up so the popup optimizes itself for the highest conversion rate. Under "Behavior," select "Smart" under the "Mode" dropdown.

select-smart-mode

That's it.

Scroll Box

Smart Box is a nicer way to ask for email subscriptions. With this plugin, a box slides in from either side of the screen and asks your readers to subscribe to your email list once they reach a pre-determined point in your article.

To set it up, just turn it on in the SumoMe app, then once you have your design ready, you can set up when you want it to appear under the "Behavior" tab by setting the percentage.

scroll-box-percentage

The percentage you enter determines how far down the page the scroll box will show.

This is a very effective way to collect email signups because people who read through your articles are likely to want more from you.

Step 3: Turn email subscribers into fans

So you're set up for email signups, and are ready to start writing articles to generate traffic to your site.

How do you turn this blog traffic into fans?

Assuming you've chosen a topic that resonates with fans of your style of music, you simply need to leverage your email list.

This is why you need to continue writing for your blog, and email new articles to your email subscribers.

In doing so, add a button to the bottom of your blog emails that links to a newly released music video or single.

When linking to your music, send your email subscribers somewhere to hear your music where it's easy for them to share it with their friends, such as YouTube.

By doing this, you're not simply bombarding your subscribers with promotional emails. Instead, you're providing them with something of value with a mention of your music.

Definitely send an email out when you release a new music video, new merchandise, or when you're running a crowdfunding campaign, but by sending helpful articles to your subscribers - with mentions of your music - you have more opportunities to convert your mailing list into die-hard fans without coming off as too promotional.

Step 4: Get fans to promote your music for you

Once you've turned your mailing list into die-hard fans of your music, and maybe generated some sales from them, the next step is to get your new fans to promote your music for you.

People are naturally selfish, so the best way to do this is with incentives.

There are many ways you can incentivize your fans to share your music, such as having them request cover songs, submit photos for a music video - things that will have them share newly created content with their friends.

The only problem is, these methods don't scale.

You want a referral strategy that further automates the growth of your fanbase from your email list.

Think about some ways you could provide incentives for your fans to refer their friends to your music. Here are some ideas to get you started:

  • If they send your song to 10 people, they can download your album for free.
  • For every 10 people they get to subscribe to your mailing list, they get a $10 merchandise credit.
  • Send them a free T-Shirt if they get 100 people to sign up for your mailing list.
  • Create a street team, and assign points to members who take specific actions on social media. Let them use these points to redeem merchandise on your website.

Those are just some ideas, but get creative and design a referral program that works for your audience.


While this concept of blogging and SEO isn't commonly used within the music industry as a main source of fan acquisition, that doesn't mean it won't work for you.

If you can pick a topic for your blog that allows you to effectively generate a passionate following that converts into music fans, you'll begin to experience a consistent inflow of traffic to your website, followed by consistent growth of your fan base along with music and merchandise sales that allow you to invest in other music marketing strategies.

Once you have your conversions in place, growing your fan base just becomes a process of increasing traffic to your blog by continuing to publish awesome content and build links to your site.


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