15 November 2012

Blogging for musicians - the basics

I recently noticed a similarity between first-time Blogger users at university and some musicians I talk with on Twitter.

They all seem to HATE blogging.

"What do I blog about?" the journalism students asked me.

"Is blogging once a month enough?"

My advice to the students was to make their blog their own. In saying that, what I mean is to create a blog that speaks about your life, your experiences, in a way that expresses your passion. If you express your passion, people will engage.

It's a similar conversation with many of the musicians I speak with on Twitter.

"Marketing is such a chore."

"I don't want to sound up myself, so I don't talk about myself very much."

"Nobody follows me or Likes my posts on Facebook, so I don't bother anymore."

So I thought - as someone who usually works in marketing and communications - I might be able to give you some advice.

Blog regularly

You need to blog regularly to maintain your audience, unless you're someone like Kate Bush whose career flourishes in obscurity.

When I say blog, I'm talking about writing posts on your website, Facebook, MySpace or whatever social platform you choose to engage your fans. (See infographic at the end of this post for ideas on which platform suits you best.)

If you're comfortable sharing your life with your fans, use Instagram to give them a peek into your every day. If you respect your privacy more, you can stick to discussing your music, but enhance it by taking photos of the music-making process, at band practice etc.

Engage your fans

How to do this? 

When considering playing in a city you've never visited before, ask your fans which venue you should play.

With album artwork, run competitions to have fans design the cover. Or run competing designs by your fans to let them choose their favourite. Ditto with t-shirt / merch designs.

Run competitions in your downtime (between albums) to reward your fans for continuing to support you.

Respond to fans on Twitter and don't hand your Twitter account over to a marketing person. Why? Because people like me will unfollow the second they discover it's not you tweeting. If I want to read stock-standard marketing spiels, I will subscribe to your PR newsletter on your website.

(Remember: Twitter isn't Facebook, so you need to treat it differently. It's all about real-time engagement.)

Take negative comments with a grain of salt

Nobody gets 100% positive comments on blog posts. Read the comments, consider if what the person is saying is valid, take it on board and move on.

When comments start getting personal or consistently negative, that's when you need to address this with the person posting them. Or you can choose to block them. Because, as The Oatmeal says in this brilliant comic...

Source: http://theoatmeal.com/comics/making_things

Don't muddle the message

If you have a few different messages to relay to fans, consider posting each message separately. This way, if someone is scanning your page, they will be able to quickly identify an issue that is of interest to them.

Use headlines that make sense.

Analyse your approach

If you have been posting for about six months and feel it's just not working, step back and analyse your approach.

Is there a disconnect between you and your fans? What type of people are they? What forums do they hang out on? Is your blog design easy to navigate? Are you naming your posts so they will be picked up by Google searches?

Never stop re-thinking your approach and tweaking it to make it work for you.

Plan content

One of the most important aspects to blogging is planning content to fill the gaps when nothing's going on. As dull as it might sound, write a communication plan for your music / band. This can be as simple as marking down on a calendar when you want to relay certain messages: recording an album, writing lyrics, band practice, creating new merch, releasing an album, competitions etc.

If it's hard for you to write a lot of content regularly, remember to use photography, video and audio to help fans feel as though they're being included in your journey. Space these out in your plan so you're weaving a balanced message, not posting a bunch of photos one week and then none for the rest of the month.

These are just a few thoughts. If you have more specific questions, post a comment and I'll respond. Hopefully the above notes will get you thinking about what you can do to help promote your music through regular blogging.


More information

Source: http://www.gcflearnfree.org/blogbasics/4.5

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