Starting any business on your own can seem quite a big mountain to climb, especially when you’re busy creating music and trying to learn the best techniques of marching alone.
To make this process easier for independent musicians, I’ve pulled together 10 of the best tools out there that’ll make your online marketing a lot easier.
These are fundamental areas you should complete in order to have a well-oiled machine that will cover everything you need when starting out.
I strongly recommend you take some time with each of these tools and learn the ropes of how they work, what they’re good for and how you can utilise them for your needs.
Website Tool: Squarespace
A very common question I get asked from musicians is: “do I need a website?”.
I cannot stress this enough… YES. Yes, you absolutely need a website.
Social media channels are great (obviously) but they’re also getting harder to achieve visibility (without paying for ads). And also, the platforms own all of your data and can do what they want with it.
Having your own website allows you to keep all the data for yourself as well as providing a central hub to keep your whole brand together in an easy to access format.
If you’re thinking big about your business around your music, then it’s even more important you get everything together and present it on a website.
Think about it, you’ll want to have a space where visitors/fans can see your music (and where to buy it/stream it). You add an area for your merchandise (and any other products you offer). Make sure your main social media channels are embedded on the website too. Et voila, your entire online presence is in one place with all the information anybody could possibly need.
Think of your website as the home base where you move most of the traffic from your social medias and streaming channels over to your website. Always link back to your base. If somebody wants to know more about you, they’ll hit that bio link (or wherever you’ve set up a link) and check out the full breadth of your business.
Whether you’ve written a new blog post or you’re selling a tshirt – this will all happen on your website. Your website is also a fantastic place to start collecting email addresses (check out the next tool on why you should utilise email campaigns).
SquareSpace is one of my favourite web builders because it’s cheap, easy to use and the templates are beautiful. Anyone can create a website using SquareSpace these days.
Simply purchase a .com (or similar) domain through GoDaddy and you can easily connect this in your SquareSpace account. Your site can go live in minutes its that easy. You can purchase a domain through SquareSpace but it can become a bit of a hassle if you want to start using another web builder down the line.
It really does not take much time to figure out how to use the tool. There are also tons of great videos on their website to help with anything you might get stuck with.
There are even some great templates that are for musicians. Just select the one you like and follow the easy to understand editing tools to make it your own and add your content.
SquareSpace is the go-to for building your first website. Eventually, you might want to migrate over to a more advanced web builder like WordPress. But at the beginning when you just want to connect all of your socials and information together; SquareSpace is the one.
Email Marketing Tool: MailChimp
Collecting email addresses is a very useful strategy that you should begin doing right away. By having the power of your visitors/fan’s email address, you own it completely and you can market your products/services/content much better than shouting into the social media sphere.
Due to social media platforms only showing your posts to a limited percentage of your followers, not everything you put out there gets seen by everyone.
Sending out emails to people that have already opted in by providing you with an email address creates an easier space to communicate.
Email is the best way to convert sales and it has a much better open rate than social media.
By sending out regular emails you are continuing to build trust and loyalty with your email list. Providing value in the form of videos, blog posts, news updates, and behind the scenes content – you’re giving something to your fans. On top of this, you can include a product or service that you’re trying to sell (after you’ve given them some value for free).
Try to create the community vibe through email, make them feel that they’re part of an exclusive club where only people inside of it get the value that you give. What value can you share through email that people want to click on when they see it arrive in their inbox?
I use email to share lots of value and tips to my subscribers. However, every 7th email or so, I run a promotion or sell something and it always generates sales. Every single time.
So, the name of the game here is to grow that subscriber list. Naturally, every time you send out an email, you’re going to lose subscribers. So you want to make sure that you’re growing that list every week. Slow but steady always works best.
The best way to grow your email list is to give away something for free in exchange for an email address.
Typically, this is free music/beats or a tutorial on how to achieve x, y, and z. You can get creative here. If you’ve got merchandise, you could offer “free giveaway to 5 new subscribers this month” or similar.
I give out lots of free products from ebooks to Instagram courses. All in exchange for visitors’ email addresses.
Every email you send out, make it worth reading, and you’ll start seeing the loyal fans stick around while the deadwood unsubscribes. It will naturally begin to filter itself so you’re left with a strong subscriber base that is likely to purchase something from you.
With MailChimp – you can sign up for a free account – which allows you up to 2000 email subscribers.
It also easily integrates with SquareSpace so you can create forms for people to leave their email addresses on your website with ease.
You can create multiple email lists within MailChimp. So you could have one for website signups, one for people that have attended your shows, etc.
You can even create lists for people by location. Meaning, when you’re next touring you’re able to fire out an email to people in specific places letting them know you’re in town.
To begin with, start small, collect email addresses, and begin testing out different formats of email campaigns. See what works, ask for feedback, and continue to improve bit by bit.
Rome wasn’t built in a day and neither is a solid email list.
Content Scheduling Tool: Creator Studio
I’m guessing it’s likely you’ve already got Instagram, Facebook, YouTube, and Twitter accounts set up. You might even have TikTok or Twitch or some other channel too. Soon, you’ll need to go into around 10 channels a day to post and engage.
There are tools out there that’ll gather lots of these platforms together and allow you to post to multiple channels at the same time (phew).
HootSuite is a great tool for this – but it’ll cost a monthly fee – which startup musicians probably want to avoid… So – the best (free tool) after HootSuite is Facebook’s Creator Studio.
This is a tool where you can schedule in your Facebook and Instagram posts.
Manage, post, monetize, and monitor videos across all your Facebook Pages and Instagram accounts from one central location.
Try to set aside one day per week where you create and schedule in all of your content for the week. Do it directly from your computer – do not use your mobile device to post on your feeds.
Content Design Tool: Canva
In order to post lots of nice-looking content to your social media channels, you need to create content.
Canva has lots of free templates that you can edit to level up your content. It’s an easy drag-and-drop platform that is simple to use. Anybody can be a graphic designer nowadays.
The first rule of branding is continuity. Try to choose two to three fonts that you’ll use across all of your content. Then perhaps you might want to stick to a colour scheme too. Again, around three colours are ideal.
Canva updates their template list with new stuff daily. If you want to create carousel posts on Instagram, Canva is a great place to make them. Similar to what I’ve done here:
The best thing about Canva is that it’s free. Yes, there are better options of templates and more functionality with the paid account version – though it’s not completely necessary.
There are premade templates with the correct sizing available for Instagram, Facebook, YouTube, Facebook Ads, etc. which makes creating content so much easier.
Video Content Tool: Veme.ly
If you’re creating video content (which you should be) – you’ll need to size it differently for individual social media platforms. I recommend adding subtitles to any video since a huge portion of social media scrollers don’t have their sound turned on.
To do all of this – and more – then Veme.ly is the tool you need. It’s free to use but has paid options too.
I created a tutorial dedicated to this fantastic app that lives on your mobile device. Check it out here in my ‘freebies’.
It’s as simple as selecting a format (Facebook, Instagram, etc.) then inserting your video into the premade template and editing the text. You can add subtitles, progress bars and all sorts of visual layers.
You can create a ‘repurposed’ video by downloading a clip of your choice, then add title elements to it where you add your own value. Then share it to your social media. That’s easy content that shares a lot of value for your followers.
This is an example of how I do this – to catch people’s attention I use bright colours and clear titles…
If you’re not doing a lot of video content on social media right now, you absolutely should start giving more time to creating video. All the big platforms are heavily investing in video content and they’re rewarding content creators using video with better visibility.
Adverts Tool: Facebook Pixel
If you’re ever planning on running ads on either Facebook or Instagram in the future, you should install the Facebook Pixel on your website ASAP. Even if you’re not ready to create ads soon, you’ll want to have this in preparation.
The Facebook Pixel is a small piece of code that you enter onto your website which connects Facebook with your site. Every time somebody visits your website, they are likely already logged into their Facebook account. This piece of code collects the Facebook data of the visitors to your site.
With this data, you will be able to target Facebook or Instagram ads specifically to the people who have already visited your site (which means they’re interested in you already) or Facebook can generate ads to target strangers on the internet who are similar to the people who have already visited your site.
For example, if you sell a sample pack on your site, you can make the Pixel track everyone who lands on the product page but does not purchase the pack. Facebook Pixel allows you to target that person(s) and advertise the sample pack to them on Facebook (the more times we see something, the more likely we are to purchase it).
The more data the Facebook Pixel can collect, the more refined and better the adverts you run will be.
Performance Tool: Google Analytics
Even though most web builders (like SquareSpace) have some basic analytics inside of their platform, it’s best to know indepth details about what people are interacting with on your site and how many people visit, etc.
Google Analytics is a free tool that gives tons of information about what’s happening when people visit your website.
You can set up specific things you want to get reports on too.
Ever wondered what somebody searched in order to find your website? Google Analytics does that.
You get figures on which pages are performing the best, where your visitors are from, how long they spend on your site and so much more.
Google Analytics can be easily integrated into SquareSpace too – so tracking the behaviours on your website is super easy.
You’ll be able to understand what is working well for your site so you can do more of it and you can use the data to understand where to focus more of your efforts.
Organisation Tool: Trello
If you work with a team to assist with your marketing, you should give Trello a shot. It’s a tool that helps to organise your content pieces and strategies.
You’re able to manage projects and keep up to date with your team on every detail. This is sound advice if you want to keep your digital marketing stress-free.
Let’s say you’ve finished your new music video. You share it with your team in a designated area on the platform and use that space to go back-and-forth to discuss final changes. It’s a much more efficient way to manage individual projects rather than using email or Whatsapp groups.
If it’s just two people in your team, then of course, stick with email. Trello is for larger-scale operations. So as soon as your team grows, move your communication over to Trello.
I always used this tool with my developers in my startups as it’s great for product management. However, it has grown a lot since then and is now being used by a lot of content creators with teams.
You can start with a free plan to get all that you need to begin with.
Content Ideas Tool: Buzzsumo
When you are investing more time into creating lots of content, using a tool like BuzzSumo will be very useful.
You should be aiming to create some viral content per week. BuzzSumo is a platform that displays everything that’s popular on the internet.
See what other similar influencers/content creators are sharing that’s going viral as well as content ideas that are viral on Google.
Use this tool to understand your competitors too. See what content they’ve shared that ranks well in Google and YouTube. So you can recreate it in your own style and hopefully achieve some nice views/engagement.
BuzzSumo has a 30-day free trial or 100 searches before you need to take out a paid plan.
Test it out, see if you find any content ideas, or check out what your competition is up to and whether you can get some inspiration.
SEO Optimisation Tool: UberSuggest
This is Neil Patel’s tool his team has built. He is one of my marketing gurus and I really admire his approach (and basically everything he does).
Neil Patel has created a tool that helps with the SEO on your website.
UberSuggest is a free tool to begin with where you get lots of options included.
You can get a full SEO report for your website which lists critical errors you need to fix which will help your website rank better on Google.
Also, you’re able to spy on your competitor sites and run a keyword search to find out what’s trending so you can use them on your own.
You’re also able to see how your website is doing in comparison to your competitors.
The tool also helps you with backlinking. This is a strategy that will rank your website even higher in search engines. Basically, if other credible websites link to your website, you’re creating more mini-entrances into your site across the web. The more of these you have, the higher Google ranks you in the search.
Neil Patel has tons of free content on his blog, on YouTube and free courses for optimising your SEO.
So, take your time with these tools and get to know them. Over time you’ll figure out improvements and how they can fit into your strategy even better. Use them a few times before you decide to quit. There will come a time when you’ll need them.