• Website Content Blueprint: The About Page

    This post, is part 4 of our 5-part blueprint, we’re going to discuss the biography or about page.

    Your about or bio page is typically the second most viewed page on your site, so we’re dedicating an entire lesson to creating a great online bio for you or your organization.

    A bio can be a hard thing to write.  It’s about you, but it also needs to connect your skills, your personality and your passions to the needs of your patrons.  You want to take that extra step to make a personal connection.

    Let’s face it, you are just one very tiny tiny part of the online world. There are literally millions of people clamoring for attention every single day.  How you explain who you are can open or shut the door to the potential relationship you can have with your visitors.

    You want to capture who you are, but how much do you share?

    You want your bio to be unforgettable, one that stays with your readers.  One that wants them to find out more.

    I hope that in this lesson we will touch on some of the cornerstones to building a great bio.

    Key ideas for writing a great bio

    Write for your audience

    You need to tailor your online bio to your niche.  Who is your music’s ideal consumer?  Write your bio like you are talking to that person. If you do this, your bio will be an incredibly useful tool.

    Tell a Story

    Your stories are what makes you who you are.  Let your readers in on these stories – these unique experiences will help you stand-out. Plus a well formed story will help your readers remember you.


    Keep it simple!  No one wants to spend time going through your degrees or your story since birth.  If your training is important – sum it up in a sentence.  If you want to have a more detailed story about yourself, you can link to another page on your site with more content.

    Include some Relevant Accomplishments

    Often people want to list in their bios everything they’ve done and all the degrees they’ve earned, in chronological order.

    Things Not to do on Your About Page

    When you are crafting your about page, look at it from a storytelling angle instead of a fact sheet, choose relevant things to share but don’t share everything.

    Don’t make your about page a copy of your resume. You want laser-focused information here. Make your accomplishments fit who you are serving and why you are doing what you do.

    Leave them Wanting More

    Leave your readers with a small taste—and an appetite for more. Make them curious about you. The only way to satisfy their need to know is by reading more of your content or contacting you to continue the conversation. Which brings me to the next point.

    Make it Easy to Connect

    Whether it’s a hyperlinked “email me” message in the text, a “find out more about me” with a link to a “Things I Believe” page, a formal contact form with check-off boxes for different inquiries, or a combination of these, the best about pages and online profiles have ways for visitors to engage with you.

    Bio Photo

    You can use the bio page as a place to use another photo to help support your brand.  Most websites feature a landscape header photo, your bio page is a place where you can use one of those portrait photos.

    Some fun facts

    The memorable bio writers are not afraid to show us a little bit of their souls. They might share something they have done in their lives that makes them truly unique. Or maybe they are passionate about a cause or had a childhood ambition that is directly connected to their life’s work today, and they tell us about that.

    Don’t be afraid to have a little fun with this—if it fits your personality

    I hope that these tips help you on the path to getting started at writing a great online bio.  

    In the next lesson we are going to talk about blogging for musicians, why you need to consider doing it and some options that aren’t just writing.

    Have a question?

    I’d love to hear from you.

  • Website Content Blueprint: The Home Page

    In the last post of this series we talked about all of the different pages for your site.

    In this installment of the website content blueprint, we are going to focus on the first page that people usually visit.

    The home page.

    This page needs to capture the attention of your visitors.  We will discuss some of the vital elements to make that happen.


    Within the first few seconds of visiting the site you want your visitors to know what your site has to offer.  For a lot of sites this could be your name, but you might want to think about how to be more descriptive.  Most of us are not famous enough to be recognized by name alone.


    Also referred to as a Sub-headline you want to offer a brief description of what it is that you do.  What is it that you offer?  You want to zero in on what makes you stick out.

    Main Header Image

    The header image on your site is going to set the tone of your entire website, it might be the most important thing on your homepage.  You want an image that represents what you do.

    Short Bio

    If someone came to your site and has no idea who you are or what you do what would you tell them in 10 seconds, this is known as an “elevator pitch.”

    Call to Action

    When I first started learning about sales and marketing, I was always like “a call to what??”  I like to think of it like this “Hey you, yeah you visitor to my site person. I want you to do this.”  This could be: sign up for our email list, donate to our organization, get tickets for our concert, or sign up for our workshop.  The typical way to do this is with a box of contrasting color containing some directive text and  a button directing the visitor to the action you want them to take.

    Social Proof

    Also called Testimonials, social proof is a powerful indicator of trust.  Include just a few of your best short quotes on your homepage, you can link to full articles if applicable.  Adding a name and photo will make the testimonials more credible.

    News Items

    Use this area to feature your most recent activity.  Pick just a few of your most major items such as new recordings, upcoming performances, awards, etc. These can just be excerpts with links to full articles on a news page.

    Social Icons

    We all know the importance of Social Media, but how do we incorporate these into our site?  There are two main types of Social Media buttons- profile links and sharing links.  What you will want to put on your homepage are profile links which when clicked will take the visitor to your profile page on that social platform.  The standard places to put these icons are either in the upper right hand corner on in the footer of the site.


    This might seem obvious, but you want to make sure it is simple to get around your site from your homepage.  Make sure the navigation is visible at the top of the page, and make it simple and easy to find.

    You want to keep in mind when deciding what to put on your homepage that simplicity is important.

    Now that you understand what to put on your home page, in the next installment of the blueprint we will dive into the about/bio page.

  • Website Content Blueprint: All About Pages & Navigation

    This post is part 2 of the Website Content Blueprint.  In the first post you covered why you need to have a website.

    In part 2 we are going to figure out what pages you need for your site and how we are going to organize those pages within the site.  As you probably know, we use menus to help the user navigate their way through our site.  So, whether you call it a menu, the navigation, or nav they all refer to the way you get from page to page on a site.

    Most sites feature a main menu navigation bar horizontally across the top of the page.  This is usually above or below the main image, sometimes it is over that image.  Due to rise of mobile usage, sites with vertical navigation in a sidebar have grown out of fashion, you can have a site with one, but it needs to be carefully designed for an optimal experience.

    Number of Menu Items

    When it comes to the number of navigation items on your menu you will want to have between 7 and 9.  Research regarding short term memory shows that the average number of items you can remember is seven, so you might want to consider optimizing your page with 7 or fewer menu items.  If you have 10 or more it will start to be confusing to the user.  Less than 5, you are probably missing some important pages for your site.

    Dropdown Menus

    If you can avoid it, don’t use drop down menus. According to usability studies from the Nilsen Norman Group, they are ineffective and don’t work. This is because as visitors, we move our eyes much faster than we move the mouse. When we move the mouse to a menu item, we’ve already decided to click…and then the drop down gives us more options. It’s a moment of friction in the mind of your visitors.

    Even worse, drop downs encourage visitors to skip important top-level pages. For example, many small ensembles have an about page with a group bio on the main about menu page. But, on the menu, when you move the mouse over “About” you get a drop down with the names of the members.  When you use this style of navigation your visitors are likely to skip the group bio and move on maybe with reading any of it.

    So, how do you fix this?  You can have just a single link to the about page and then from the about page you can have links to each individual bio.  You can make this more interesting by using images with links to those pages.

    Here is a list of the pages that you might want to have on your site. We will talk briefly about each. In the next few lessons we will dive deep into the home and about pages for your site.

    Essential Website Pages

    1. Home
    2. About/Bio
    3. Blog
    4. Services
    5. Photo Gallery
    6. Events Calendar
    7. Press Kit
    8. Contact
    9. Store/Donate

    While this list is not at all exhaustive, it is a good start for you to think about the pages you will need to get started with a great website.  You probably won’t need all of these, or you can combine some into one.

    One of the great things about your website is that you can change it.  You don’t need every item to be finished before you launch a site.

    In the next post of the series, we’ll learn about what to put on your “home” page.
    But if you’re interested in working with Forte Press to build an awesome website, you don’t have to wait for the rest of the blueprint  to get started; get a free consultation today.
  • Website Content Blueprint: Why You Need a Website

    This is the first of a  5-part Blueprint on building great content for your website.

    My goal for this series is to provide you with new techniques and approaches for developing content for your website, while keeping them as actionable and succinct as possible.

    This process of content creation will work if you are a nonprofit organization, a small business, or an individual looking to build a presence online.

    And today, we start with a look at why you need a website.

    1. Having a website shows that you are a serious and established organization.

    If you have a website it shows that you have taken the time to establish yourself.  You will be perceived as more reliable, more established, more legitimate, and as professional.

    2. It is the online hub for information about you

    Your website can be the ONE PLACE online for people to find out all the information they need about you.  Having your own site allows you to publish all of the information needed.

    If you are having an event do people need to go to Facebook, EventBrite, or Meetup to find the information they need.  Wait do they need to have an account to access it?

    Stop loosing people on the web.  Having a site will make it easy for people to know where to find the information they need to support you or your cause.

    3. You can control the experience

    On Social Network platforms you really don’t have very much control over the way your page and content looks.  You don’t really have a way to create your brand.

    On your own site you have the ability to really create a space that shows off who you are. You are able to take control of how you are viewed online.  You can tell the story you want to tell.

    4. You have control of the content

    Having your own website allows you to publish what you want, when you want.

    On Social Networking sites you don’t know if people will see your posts. You are just part of a busy feed. And also, there is no guarantee that your content will even be visible to all of your fans.

    You need to remember that Facebook is a business and one of the ways they make money is through sponsored posts, so if you aren’t willing to pay them, they are not going to help you get the word out about what you are doing.

    Facebook and other Social networks are awesome and you should use them, but they cannot be the center of your online presence.  A better model would be to use Social networking as a way to promote new content on your site and while they are visiting your site you need to encourage them to join your email list.

    5. You don’t have to worry about it going away

    Remember Myspace?  Well, if you don’t it was all the rage and then collapsed when Facebook came along.  If you have a website you don’t have to worry about all of your visitors disappearing overnight when the next ‘best thing’ comes along.

    There are many many more reasons why you need to have your own website, but I think these are some of the most important.

    In the next post in the content blueprint series, we’ll be delving into what pages you need and how to design an effective navigation menu.

    If you have any questions in the meantime, just send a message via the contact form , I will respond personally.


  • Drive engagement on your nonprofit’s website with a good Call To Action

    If you are like most people, your college training didn’t prepare you for all the hats you have to wear for your work at a nonprofit. I majored in music in college and I can tell you that I never thought about the many things I’d have to do related to running a business. I wish that I had been required to take a business course or two when I was in college.
    Particularly a course in marketing.
    I hope to share some things I’ve learned along the way building websites for myself and nonprofits to maximize your organization’s mission online.
    When I first started learning about marketing, particularly internet marketing, I just kept hearing and reading about this thing called a Call to Action. “Wait, a call to what?” It confused me. I had no idea what it was.
    Here’s what Wikipedia has to say:

    In marketing, a call to action (CTA) is an instruction to the audience to provoke an immediate response, usually using an imperative verb such as “call now”, “find out more” or “visit a store today”.
    A CTA can be a simple non-demanding request like “choose a color” or “watch this video”, or a much more demanding request. An obvious CTA would be requesting the audience to purchase a product or provide personal details and contact information.

    You might be asking, “Why does this matter to me? We don’t have anything to sell.”
    You might not be selling Books, coffee mugs, or stickers; but, at the minimum, you are selling your organization’s mission, you are making connections with the community. Maybe you want to get more people to volunteer, maybe you are trying to get more donation, maybe you are looking for more people who need your services. All of these can benefit from a good call to action.
    If you have not been getting the results you want on our website maybe you should take a look at your CTAs.

    Why CTAs matter

    Help visitors to take action

    When visitors are reading your content  you want them to know what to do. A well crafted Call To Action will guide them in the right direction.  You want it to be extremely clear what the next action is.

    Create a sense of Urgency

    Something has drawn the visitor to your site, now you need to capture them before they leave.  If your site has a clear urgent Call To Action it can be more effective.

    Let’s say you are collecting donations to feed hungry families you could have a call to action that said ‘Donate Now’  there is nothing wrong with that, but what if instead the call to action read “Feed a Family tonight.”

    Isn’t that so much more powerful?  It gets to the point. It says what the donation is going to do and it has a sense of urgency.

    Higher Conversion rate

    Let’s leave the virtual world for a minute.

    When you walk into a big box store the stuff at the front of the store changes depending on the time of the year.  If it is fall, they are pushing pumpkins or coats. In the spring they might have flowers in that same place. You get the idea.

    Whatever your organization’s most important project is should be front and center on your site.

    Now the next step is how to convert more.

    If you are having a fundraising event, a good CTA might be “Buy Tickets Today” or “I want to be at the best party of the year.”

    What makes a good Call To Action?

    It’s all about being clear and concise.  You don’t have a ton of time to get your point across, so it is important to get straight to the point. Let your audience know exactly what you want them to do – start the CTA with the desired action.

    Start your CTA with a STRONG command verb

    1. Trying to sell something? Start your CTA with words like “buy,” “shop,” or “order”
    2. Promoting your newsletter? Start your CTA with words like “download” or “subscribe”
    3. Want someone to book you for a gig? Try “book us now…” or “find out more…”

    Provoke Emotion or Enthusiasm

    You want your CTA to elicit a strong response from the visitor to your website.  If your CTA is enthusiastic, then your visitors will be, too. A small, yet effective, element here is adding an exclamation point to the end of your Call To Action.

    Don’t be afraid to be creative

    It’s important to make sure the copy on your website is fresh.  While the traditional CTA’s will definitely get you clicks, you can try using more colorful language, as well.

    I recommend that you test different CTA’s. If your audience isn’t responding as well as you had hoped, maybe you need to be more creative with the language that you are using.

    Some Example Calls To Action

    I want to show you some real life examples of Calls to Action.  I reviewed a lot of prominent nonprofits and have assembled some of the best CTAs.  For me, I’ve always been a show me and I’ll learn it kind of guy. 

    1.  American Red Cross

    American Red Cross Call To Action

    The Red Cross has a great CTA here directing the visitor to enter there zip code and “FIND A DRIVE.” The CTA is very clear and drives visitors to do what they need most, for people to give blood.  A CTA like this could be used by organizations which have multiple locations or who are serving multiple communities.

    What is your primary objective?

    How can the right CTA help with that?

    2. Teach for America

    The Primary objective of the Teach for America website is clear with their CTA.  Apply to become a teacher.  The CTA is simple and to the point “Apply Now.”

    3. Room to Read

    Focused on girls’ education and children’s education, Room to Read has a series of Calls To Action connected by a line running down their home page.  Following the line down the page is like a trip through the organization for the visitor.  I love the story that the page tells and how the CTAs let you choose how to continue learning about the organization.

    4. Nashville Zoo

    The Calls To Action on the Nashville Zoo’s website does a great job of dealing with three options, “Plan Your Visit,” “Become A Member,” or “Buy Tickets.”  For the visitor the zoo has setup a clear path to take.

    What path do you want your visitors to take?

    How can you change your call to action to lead your visitor?

    5. Boys and Girls Club

    I really like how the Boys and Girls Club handled dealing with the different groups of people they serve.  They are asking the visitor to make a choice: Are you a Parent, a Teen, an Educator?  By taking action and selecting what group best describes you, they are able to direct you to the most relevant content.

    If you have an organization that serves one group of people, like children, but receive support from another, such as parents, allowing your visitors to choose which content is tailored for them from the home page is a great choice.

    These are just a few examples of good Calls to Action.  Take a minute and look at how you are using CTAs. How could you change to market more effectively?  If you don’t have a CTA on your homepage, now’s the time to add one.

    Understanding Calls to Action is a great way  to make your marketing more effective. By focusing on CTAs, you think about your audience, your market, and your competition.