9 Reasons Most Websites Fail

It goes without saying. If you’re an independent artist with career aspirations, having a website is non-negotiable. A professional without substantial web presence is an invisible one.

Of course, merely putting up a domain isn’t enough.  Not by a long shot. Browsing through an assortment of typical artist websites immediately highlights numerous mistakes: too much text, not enough visuals, missing vitals (i.e. what you do, where you’re located), counterintuitive navigation, no art samples, irritating elements (if you have to ask if something is annoying, it is!), and so forth.  

But even the “best” sites—those that follow all the “rules”—often fail to advance the career of the person they represent in any significant way.  Why? Well, here are 9 top reasons.

#1: Most websites are GENERIC

Bio—check! Calendar—check! Contact—check. Links—check!  Most artists follow the formula. It’s as if they ask “what pages are typical for an artist site,” and then they do exactly that. Here’s a better question: What content will immediately distinguish my presence from everyone else’s?

#2: Most websites are BORING

No jokes. No anecdotes. No warmth. No eccentricity. No character whatsoever beyond, perhaps, remarkable lackluster. Just fact, fact, fact…brag, brag, brag…award, schooling, accomplishment.  A website is not the place to demonstrate what makes you most like a robot. Instead, celebrate your delightful, intriguing, and quirky personality!

#3: Most websites are SELF-ABSORBED

A bio of me, photos of me, news about me. The most common word: “I.” Of course you should describe your background. Of course, you must demonstrate how you’re credible. But an unapologetic focus on first person appears narcissistic. Use the site as an opportunity to demonstrate your generosity and concern for others. Potent words:  you, we, community, collaboration, team, together, clients, eggplant (just because), students, friends, colleagues.

#4: Most websites are REPELLANT

They’re approached like a lecture, where the protagonist is a talking head and everyone else is expected sit in awe, listen passively, and somehow be moved. No opportunity for participation or discourse whatsoever. If you want to cultivate relationships and build trust, reject this unidirectional approach. Build a magnetic field. Host an interactive club.

#5: Most websites are POINTLESS

I regularly ask artists what benefit they hope to get from their site. “To get hired” is a common response. “Doing what, may I ask?” “Well, anything…”  In other words, they expect viewers to be so impressed that these folks will spend hours of their free time dreaming up possible employment opportunities. That’s highly unlikely. If there’s a main service you’re trying to sell, clearly explain what it is and why you are the best choice candidate. If not, rethink the necessity of a professional website.

#6: Most websites are AGNOSTIC

Sure, we understand what you’ve done. But what do you believe? Why does your artistry matter? What problems are you working tirelessly to solve? Accomplished artists are numerous. But those who stand for something—now that’s notebale.

#7: Most websites are SCATTERED

As artists, we live complicated lives with multiple income streams. To reflect that reality, our sites often feature multiple pages highlighting various things we do: performing, teaching, speaking, etc. But when too many independent avenues compete for attention, it gives off the jack-of-all-trades-master-of-none impression. Visitors wonder, “Is this person a serious teacher, or mainly a performer who teaches for extra income (or vice versa)?” One site should have one focus, unless a single theme weaves together various activities.

#8: Most websites are STERILE

They may provide tons of legitimate information. But it goes in one eye, out the other (websites are for viewing, right?). People don’t connect with facts or statistics. They do, however, respond to gripping stories. Paint us a narrative if you want your message to stick.

#9: Most websites are WHIMPY

Sure, you play the violin, teach piano, or compose music (like everyone else, their mother, and their pet turtle). But in which way are you the best in the world? How are you a superstar? Don’t focus all energy on proving competence! Instead, demonstrate what makes you a visionary leader.

And now the GLORIOUS NEWS!!!

The problems cited above are near universal. Which brings us to the glorious news: Even a little innovation and creativity goes a long way.  A website that’s 1) distinctive, 2) full of character, 3) generous, 4) magnetic, 5) direct, 6) angled, 7) focused, 8) narrative, and 9) bold immediately stands out, rising above the fray.

A website is not a resume. It’s the soul of your business, open to the public. Make every word count!

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