Websites and my DIY philosophy

I’m sort of a “web evangelist”.  Whenever I talk to actors and other performing artists, I almost always ask if they have a website.  Most don’t.  When I ask them why, I tend to get varying responses, which can be boiled down to the following:

  1. I don’t think it will be of any use to me.
  2. Its too hard/I’m not a technical person.

Naturally, I have responses to these.

I don’t think it will be of any use to me: When someone searches for your name on Google, what comes up?  Is it a collection of sites that you have little to no real affiliation with?  Is it your facebook page?  The first thing that your website will do for you is help to ensure that you are in control of the content that comes up first in a google search for your name (unless your name is John Smith).  In addition to just helping you control your google search results, a website can do something more: it gives potential engagers a way to find out a little about your past work. I have gone into auditions, and been welcomed so warmly that I thought they must have met me in the past, only to discover that they had simply been to my website.  Having a website allowed the potential engager to see my past work, which made them predisposed to being friendly to me, which made the audition a lot smoother.  If that’s not a good reason to have a website, I don’t know what is.

Its too hard/I’m not a technical person: A few years ago, I used to work at a website hosting company, and during my time speaking to our clients, I encountered more than a few who had been taken advantage of by someone.  In most cases, they had hired someone to build/maintain a website for them and that person had taken advantage of their ignorance about websites, and was over charging them.  Once, several years ago, it was necessary to be able to write HTML to be able to create a functional website.  Now, however, with tools such as Joomla or WordPress, you don’t need to be able to write HTML.  In fact, most hosting companies offer both as one-click installs, which makes setting them up almost effortless.  Then, its just a matter of changing the template (using one of thousands of available free templates), and writing your content.  You don’t need to be technical.  You just need to spend a little time on setup.  Its also worth pointing out that I never received any training in web stuff.  I never took a course in web design or HTML or anything else.  Everything I know about web sites, I taught myself.  And believe me, if I can learn how to do this stuff, so can you.

I firmly believe that the tools have advanced to the point where anyone can create a website.  Its easy, and it doesn’t take a lot of time to do. Some of the best tools are free, and simple to use.  I firmly believe that its easy enough, that anyone can do it.  Why pay someone to do it for you, when you can do it yourself?

I’ve sometimes considered doing a seminar on creating your own website.  If this is something you might be interested in, let me know.

EDIT: Its been pointed out that this post might be interpreted as saying that you can either a)Do it yourself or b) get ripped off.  This is absolutely not what I was trying to say.  If you can afford a professional, then you should get one. There are plenty of honest designers out there who will charge a reasonable price and won’t rip anyone off.  A good WordPress template creator (or website designer or Joomla themer) can build you something truly spectacular.  However, I know a lot of performing artists who can’t afford to pay someone.  For these people, DIY is totally the way to go. They’ll get a site they can use, that looks good, and is easy to update.  All most people really need for DIY, is a little hand to point them in the right direction.

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