Being a web designer and a marketer is not normally something which us belly dancers are. There is though a definite benefit to having your own belly dance website if you are looking to promote our own local classes and lessons. Google seem to be putting a lot more emphasis these days on showing local results in web searches and if you hold classes in a specific city, let us say ‘Brighton, England’ then having a website which shows your address as being in Brighton and with a site which mentions your classes and the local venues, will help you to show in local searches. Certainly if you have no website at all, then you will not show at all in website searches. Searching online is now one of the main ways belly dance students find classes, although notices in local dance venues (and being on their classes list) and word-of-mouth still certainly hold great value as marketing techniques.
The great thing these days is that it can be very affordable to develop your own site and for this reason I thought I would write this post about designing your own belly dance website. The following tips might be helpful to get you started in building your own site to showcase your teaching.
I am going to assume that most of you are at a fairly basic level technically given that any of you who are more advanced, already have your own sites or do not need help. So let us get started.
1. As a belly dancer looking to promote yourself, you will NOT need a large site. You might only need 1 page or perhaps 5 – 10 but certainly you will not be looking to design a dance site with hundreds or thousands of pages. So a simple design and a basic set-up is needed.
First of all you need a domain name. A domain means the URL or put another way, the www address. This can be anything you want it to be as long as it is available. You can often also choose the suffix such as a dot.com or co.uk or any number of other endings. A good place to start is www.name.com where you can search for available website names and also buy the address. If you hold classes in the Uk then go for a co.uk. If you hold classes in the USA buy a dot.com.
2. Next you will be needing hosting. You basically need somewhere on which your website will sit and you normally need to use what is called a hosting company. One of the largest companies and which I often use is Bluehost. CLICK HERE TO SIGNUP FOR BLUEHOST.COM
3. Once you have bought your website name and have the hosting, you then have to connect the two. When you buy the hosting you will receive an email and on the email will be listed the ‘Nameserver’ information. There will be two or more lines of this information. Go to your domain name settings and then add the nameservers. This then points your new domain name to the hosting. It is not as hard as it might seem. On the email with your hosting you will have the information listed for what is known as ‘Cpanel’. Through this easy to use interface, you should be able to find the ‘WordPress’ installation option. WordPress is a blogging platform but which can also be used for websites (this site runs on WordPress) and there are many free and many excellent inexpensive templates if you want something more professional. The place I recommend for cheap and professional templates and which will give you a website which looks good on mobile phones, the internet and on the iPad is Themeforest.net. Here is a good example of a good template and which is responsive (meaning works on all platforms).
What you will want to do if you are holding local classes or lessons is to show up on Google Maps and in natural listings when people search for local dance classes. Google are now putting a lot of focus on showing local results and they tend to allocate a percentage of the top 10 results these days, to local results. This means that if you have your own dance website (even if it is only 1 or 2 pages) and you have verified the business as being a local business with Google, then you have a decent chance to show in the results. If you live and hold classes in a city such as Brighton, England, and have a small site which has the address on the site and you have validated through Google Local Business Centre then you should show.
It can also be worth making your own Facebook page and creating a Google Plus page for your dance business as a teacher or events organiser to gain a greater presence online. Most WordPress template make it quite easy for you to integrate the social media buttons with the website. If you go to the ‘Widgets’ area on the ‘Appearance’ menu when you are logged in on WordPress, you will (depending on your template) see a social media widget which you can drag into your design.
If you are just looking for something cheap and simple just to have at least some form of online presence for your dancing then WordPress is probably one of your best options. Here are some belly dance sites which use WordPress and some are very simply designed and some more intricate, They all though do the intended job and having a website does not always need to be so difficult or complex: