First of all- I have done this.
As a matter of fact this entire website was built for free- exactly the way I am descrrbing it to you.
I eventually decided to purchase a domain name and pay for my own hosting which I now know was totally unnecessary. I bought the domain name for the 'easy to remember' URL (MidGaLive.com) but I didn't have to....with all of the tools and resources available, having an easy to remember domain name is not nearly as valuable as it used to be.
So let's get started.
First, go to Blogger.com and sign up. Yes. It's a Blog. Who cares? Does MidGaLive.com look like a blog? It can be a Blog about your band.
It's free, except you'll have to have a gmail account. There are other free blog services out there...WordPress appears to be very popular, although I have no experience with it; So, for the purpose of this article I'll focus on the one Blogger.com offers.
You can make it appear any way you want, but I suggest using the templates available and just dressing it up with your own color schemes. It's VERY easy. On the 'layout' window, you can move things around or add 'widgets' these are the tools (or toys) of your site. The calendar, the Contact Form, the advertisments, the 'flyers' you want to post, etc. ...are all added here. Copy/paste/done.
Once done, you can add 'pages' which are the tabs at the top of this screen. Here are some suggestions for yours...
This can give a history of your band....how you met, your influences, your aversion to mustard sauce on your sardines, whatever. Regardless, MAKE IT INTERESTING. Stretch the truth a little. People will forgive a little stretch of the truth for the sake of entertainment.
Reward your most active and 'fanatic' fans by giving them a shout out on a page of their own. Tell them you love them for loving you.
You can show pics of the merch you have for sale. Show pics of your T-Shirts, your CD's, koozies, keychains, calendars, condoms, panties, coffee cups, pens, pencils, water bottles, athletic supporters, etc.. You would of course need to go ahead and order one or 2 (I use vistaprint....I get my Tshirts for $5 or less.) Sign up for a PayPal account and then go to the merchant services tab to create a 'button" for your purpose. It'll give you an "HTML code" that you can copy and paste to your page. You have to pay a very small percentage for every transaction- 2.9% plus 30 cents for each transaction. If you sold a ten dollar CD.... your take would be $9.41, not bad.
Your Bands' Merch Store? Done.
I got mine from Brown Bear software. It's free, but you can pay them for a more advanced version later if you want. It's a brillliant thing to put on your website. It gives you options that you may not realize you have.
For one, you can make a contest among a small group to get you gigs. These people will compete with one another for a prize of your choosing. The prize could be a free concert at their house, or a lump sum of cash. The contest can be restarted as often as you like. Each person in the competition can have a color coded 'label' that shows up on the calendar telling EVERYONE who booked it....The one with the most bookings will be the winner.
It has a hierarchy style of password protection, which means you can set it up so that several people can add gigs, but only YOU can delete them.
Oh- and it's a great way to show your fans where you are playing.
A site like this gives you easy, consistent promotion because it's always in the same place. Share the link with everyone everywhere online. You can make a QR code that links to your website and then put that pic on EVERYTHING. All your merch should have it.....All your business cards, mailers, posters.....stickers....The QR code should be everywhere. It's too easy and too effective to ignore. NOT familiar with it? Check out the tab above labeled QR Code Generator.
You can collect email addresses of your fans (if they want to give them to you). Just by adding a 'Contact Form' like the one on this page.
When you write posts, you can add your latest video, or pics from last nights gig, or a link to your Reverbnation, Facebook, Twitter......whatever.
It's a great FREE tool....and I don't understand why you had not started using it before now. If you have any difficulty.....let me know....I'll help out. Once you get it going, let me know....I'll add a link to your website from your MidGaLive.com page.
Please know that your page here on MidGaLive.com can be turned into a single page website! I can give you access to your own page and you can put anything you want on it. Merch, Links, whatever....
MidGaLive.com averages 2000 pageviews per month....and costs you nothing.
So, if you're nervous about building one from scratch.....The offer is there....just let me know....Send me a message and say...."I want to use MidGaLive.com as a home for my bands single-page website." I can only do this for 82 more bands so, don't wait long....
Ok.....Breaks over....and your excuses are dead......Get to work.