RESOURCESRecommended tools to build your career
In many of the articles on this site there are custom-made templates and checklists to help you get started. They are all available for free download here, although I recommend checking the full article to be sure they make sense!
Aside from these custom resources, there are so many online tools and services out there which can help you get things done more efficiently, more stylishly and for little or no money. Whether it’s designing promo materials and artwork for social media or reaching fans and industry contacts, chances are there is something out there to make your life easier.
This page is a constantly-evolving list of tools that I am using myself and recommend checking out. If you have any others to suggest, get in touch.
CUSTOM JAZZFUEL RESOURCESDownloadable Templates & Guides From The Articles
A checklist of the key things to include & avoid when building your own website
A spreadsheet template for keeping track of your professional contacts
A word doc template to make sure you are sending a venue of festival everything they need to promote your show
A checklist with 12 ways to boost your Facebook Artist Page right now
RECOMMENDED TOOLS FROM AROUND THE WEB
CANVA: Bad news for graphic designers, great news for you!
Basically, canva.com lets you design great, super-pro online promo materials for free. From sorting out a new Facebook cover photo (DIY example here!) and Twitter header to flyers and posters, Canva has templates and a simple drag-and-drop functionality. There are ’premium’ options which are charged, but you can do everything you need for free. It’ll take no more than 10 minutes to get familiar with it and you can give your social media pages a spring clean.
MAILCHIMP: Build your mailing list for free
Your mailing list should be the most precious and useful piece of data you own. If done properly, you have a list of people who have asked to be kept updated on what you are doing. It’s pretty likely that they are fans and not only will they come to your gigs and buy your music, they will tell other people about you.
If you use a service like Mailchimp, you can automatically collect emails from a signup form on your website, see where people are based (useful for targeted mailings when you are touring) and send out mails to whole groups of people at the click of a button. If you are just getting started out, mailing lists seem a bit like saving; each bit is so small, it’s hard to see when there will be massive benefits. But take it from me, it’s never too early to start and in two years’ time, you’ll be glad.
Think of it like this: each email you have could be worth an album sale or extra gig ticket.
WORDSWAG: A graphic designer in your pocket (iPhone only…sorry Androids!)
It’s pretty well-known that images attract more attention online than text alone. The app Wordswag lets you create text-on-image squares which can then be saved or posted directly onto Facebook, Twitter or Instagram. So, instead of updating your status along the lines of ‘doing a gig here next week’ you can use a promo photo and type on top of it, with over 40 choices (check) of cool fonts. UPDATE: It now costs a few dollars to buy, but well worth it in my opinion!
GODADDY: Simple web hosting with 24/7 support
Your website should be your #1 home on the web. It’s yours forever and no big corporation like Facebook or Twitter can change how it looks. Whether you are just getting started or thinking about a refresh on your existing website, you need a company to get your domain name and to host your website.
I started out with a couple of other providers but had problems as they were either too glitchy or too technical for my limited understanding. A friend suggested Go Daddy and they have been great. 24/7 free phone support, super easy-to-use dashboard AND they do an automatic WordPress installation for you. Basically, you can go from checkout to live website in about 5 minutes.
FACEBOOK PAGES APP: Keep in touch with your existing supporters
Connect directly to your Facebook Artist Page by phone. It means that you receive notifications in real time and can respond to fans quickly, wherever you are. You can post status’s from anywhere and upload content directly onto your page. The best thing about this is that you can post photos from events as they are happening, rather than a day or two later.
DROPBOX: All your files, wherever you are
Access all your important documents from wherever you are and generate ‘share’ links to send any file immediately by email, text or WhatsApp. This means you can respond to requests from promoters or journalists for riders, photos or bios within minutes or hours, rather than days. You can also set up shared folders with your team/musicians – as soon as someone adds a file (score/chart/press cutting/video) it will be available on your phone too.
ELEGANT THEMES: Super pro and easy-to-use WordPress themes
I’m a big fan of WordPress (.org rather than the less techy .com) when it comes to websites. You have a big flexibility in terms of how it looks and, more importantly, a simple way to control the information on there. You can also use plugins so that things like gig dates, your Twitter feed and even music sales are automatically shown. I’m no expert but I have been learning how to build websites.
Buying a theme from Elegant Themes was the best thing I did, not because it looks great (which it does) but because for the annual fee, I had 24/7 online support from their experts. There were at least
30 40 times I wanted to change something on the site and I wasn’t sure how. Quick question on their forum and usually a copy/paste solution within 10 minutes. Considering I paid $89 for the year, that’s pretty good for expert advice.