SEO Basics for Creatives

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You’re a creative. Musician, writer, visual artist or actor who’s trying to break out in your industry. You have passion, a stack of business cards, an awesome website and a manager (your cousin who’s never managed anyone before but he’s got a car so …), but there’s one more thing you should consider adding to your list of many talents: basic SEO knowledge.

SEO (search engine optimization) is the umbrella term for all the methods you can use to ensure the visibility of your website and its content on search engine results pages. So basically SEO helps you get noticed in web results. Let’s say you are a photographer for hire in the Chicago area. By utilizing SEO, when people do a web search for photographers in Chicago your goal is to have your website show up in some of the first search results. This will drive more business your way which is always a good thing (that whole “starving artist” thing is so overrated).

I’ve narrowed it down to three SEO basics I think are important in helping push any creative to having their most efficient web presence possible.

1. Your name

Once you’ve decided what kind of creative career you want to pursue one of the first things to consider is your name. Let’s say you decide to use your real name. This can be difficult if you have a very common name like Ashley Smith (ahem). SEO is about optimizing search results but if your name is too common you will get lost in a sea of people with the same name as you. If you decide to use an alternative or “stage name” there are three things to keep in mind. First try to use more than one word. Names with more than one word help diminish some of the general terms, allowing artist distinction. Second avoid special characters. Remember when Prince changed his name to that weird symbol in the 90’s? It worked for him because he was already an insanely popular artist and internet searches weren’t prevalent (Ask Jeeves wasn’t even a thing yet). But now things are different. When choosing a name you should pick something that can be typed easily on mobile devices. Special characters are very difficult to type, which compromises some of your SEO value. Lastly, use misspelled words with caution. Keep in mind that Google auto-corrects misspellings, especially when the artist isn’t widely known or searched often. So putting your own spin on the names of already popular artist will probably backfire.

2. Timeliness and quality of website content

When people use search engines they are looking for the most relevant and current information possible. If the information on your site is old and inaccurate it only makes things more difficult. If your site has an email address that doesn’t work how are people supposed to book you? The same goes for the timeliness of your content. Let’s say you are a singer and a fan of yours wants to know more about your music. They do a Google search on you and the most current results are gig videos and music links from five years ago. Even though you’ve released more current work if you don’t update your web content people won’t know. Staying relevant is one of the most important things for creatives. Understanding SEO basics can help with that. Using the proper tags can also increase your chances of a searcher clicking on your result. Tags are used to tell search engines and visitors what your site is about in the most concise and accurate way possible. A lot of artist have websites or blogs but don’t utilize keywords or tags. Hashtags can help you stand out as well. Using one unified hashtag across all platforms will make it easier for fans to find your work.

3. Social

As a creative, you know the importance of building a buzz. The best way to do this is through social media marketing. Although this is non-technical SEO, it’s still one of the most important and cost efficient ways to get your project out into the world. When creating social accounts try to keep your usernames as concise as possible. If you’re JoshThePainter on Twitter and Snapchat but JoshRobins on Instagram people who want to find your work now have to remember two names and for a lot of people that’s too much effort. If you’re looking to build your brand in the digital world you need lots of content and mentions to boost SEO and search result relevancy. Once your name is out there search engine algorithms will adjust in your favor. Lastly but most importantly in social media marketing it’s important to interact with people. Using social media as a channel and genuinely interacting will show people you are human and relatable. Relatability is VERY important, no matter what your talent is.


Love is for suckers: 4 films to watch on Valentine’s Day

If you’re single, cynical or simply have no plans on Valentine’s Day here are four films I’ve chosen to get you through the most romantic day of the year. These stories are about love and longing in all of its twisted, dysfunctional and beautiful glory. Enjoy! 

1. Blue Valentine (2011)  


A perfect contrast to “The Notebook”s Ryan Gosling, Blue Valentine is no storybook romance. The film sharply cuts back and forth between the sweet beginnings and the heartbreaking end of Dean and Cindy. This film shows the dim realities of love. The ups and downs and realizations that sometimes it just doesn’t work out. The performances are so raw that at times it makes the viewer uncomfortable. Like they’re watching some private moment that wasn’t meant to be shared. Blue Valentine is honest, intimate and the perfect film to watch on V-Day while you cry over that asshole who left you before Christmas. 

2. The Virgin Suicides (2000) 


One of my favorite films, the Virgin Suicides is hypnotic. It has this beautiful sadness that is perfect. It’s about the Lisbon sisters who float through life living under the strict control of their parents. The youngest of the sisters takes her life and sets off a chain of events that are oddly romantic. A group of neighborhood boys become obsessed with the sisters and become involved in something much bigger than themselves. The Virgin Suicides is about infatuation and disappointment in reality. It examines love and the fragile nature of adolescence. 

3. Gone Girl (2014) 


Nick and Amy are a normal married couple living in Missouri. Until the day of their fifth wedding anniversary when Amy goes missing. And investigation begins and as it progresses the suspicion that Nick is involved increases. To save his own name Nick uses the clues that his wife left as a cute anniversary scavenger hunt to try and find out what exactly happened to his wife. Gone Girl is a psychotic thriller that will leave you side-eyeing your special someone. On a day when love is in the air this film will suck all the air out of the room. Smart and dark, Gone Girl is a winner. 

4. Requiem for a Dream (2000) 


Based on a novel by Hubert Selby Jr (one of my favorite authors) Requiem for a Dream is disturbing, artistic and sensual. It follows four addicts through their drug induced utopias. We see their hopes and dreams muddied and are given a front row seat to their demise. Their is a love story within the plot but just like real life addicts, the drugs win above all else. Requiem for a Dream is an escape. It might literally be the most unromantic film ever but the cinematography is perfect and the acting is amazing. 


Entertainment: Broad.Fucking.City

For the most part I’ve given up on television because of how women are represented. We’re either overly sexual, weak or complete bitches and that’s not real life. I don’t know any females who act like the girls on HBO’s Girls but if I did I’d probably punch them square in the vagina.
One dimensional female characters bore me which is why I’m so happy Broad City exists. The show, which airs on Comedy Central, is a heightened version of Ilana Glazer and Abbi Jacobson’s friendship. The two UCB alumni started making webisodes about their lives in 2009 which are so funny and can be found on YouTube (my favorites are “The Commute” and “Date Night”).
Ilana and Abbi are just two 20-something’s living in New York. They have shitty jobs, weird roommates and they smoke a lot of pot. The girls write, produce and star in all the episodes with Amy Poehler as Executive Producer.
Alessandra Stanley from the NY Times called Broad City “more linear, unpolished and narrowly comedic than Girls on HBO” which in my opinion is a good thing. Life is unpolished. I want to see women on tv I’d want to be friends with; women who are smart and funny and un perfect because that’s life.
Hannibal Buress also has a recurring role on the show as Lincoln, Ilana’s friend with benefits. Buress was such a good choice for this character, he’s oddly hilarious without overshadowing Ilana and Abbi. The show has had cameos from Fred Armisen, Janeane Garofalo and tonight season finale featured Amy Poehler herself.
Broad City is Comedy Central’s highest rated new show since 2012. Averaging 1.2 million views per episode it’s no surprise they’ve been picked up for a second season. If you haven’t seen this show yet I definitely recommend binge-watching this entire past season right now, you’ll thank me later.



Entertainment: Andre 3000 to star in Jimi Hendrix biopic

Since I was 12 years old I’ve always thought Andre 3000 from the rap duo “Outkast” was the coolest dude on the freakin planet. So I was excited when I heard last year that he would be playing Jimi Hendrix in the biopic “All is by my side”.
Based on an original screenplay from John Riley (“Red Tails,””Three Kings”); “All is by my side” is the story of Jimi Hendrix being discovered, falling in love and becoming Jimi. The movie takes place in England in 1966-1967 when Hendrix recorded “Are You Experienced”. Production began in late May of this year in Ireland where the producer claims it is “easier to recreate the look of 1960’s England”. The film is based on interviews and archival materials from that time.
Jimi Hendrix fans have waited years for a biopic but Hendrix’s estate is resistant to support. His estate, Experience Hendrix LLC, has no plans to support the film “All is by my side”. This means the film isn’t allowed to have any actual Hendrix music.
The film will feature songs Hendrix covered in his early years such as tunes from The Beatles and Muddy Waters. I’m excited to her Andre’s new recordings for the film. He’s hands down the best choice to play Hendrix.
Producers are hoping to take the film to Sundance and release it in theaters next year so keep an eye out for it.