How-to achieve a higher SEO ranking with Yoast for WordPress.

The Learning NEVER ends!

Hey guys! As you know, being an entrepreneur (a Music Entrepreneur, wink) means you are constantly learning about new ways to improve your business. Behind every newly learned lesson are a dozen new questions about something you’ve maybe never even heard of. This is both the exciting and the tedious nature of being your own boss. One area entrepreneurs will eventually need to focus is SEO – or Search Engine Optimization.

This article is about improving your SEO skills, specifically if you build your website through WordPress. I’ve recently just learned this and am in the process of optimizing my site for this. Here’s how:

Search Engine Optimization

SEO is pretty cool stuff. If you clicked to this link then I’ll assume you have some idea of what SEO is and how it works. I won’t drone on about it. I’ve embedded a short video below for anyone who isn’t so familiar with SEO. If you’re just learning about this stuff then I highly recommend viewing the video to gain a bit of context. This will help you understand how Yoast for WordPress can help you take advantage of how SEO works to rank your website higher.

Main takeaway from the above video:

The words and titles you use when creating online content are very important in helping you to get your website ranking high on search engines. It’s not the be-all and end-all but it’s a big part of it. The best part is that with the Yoast plugin (for WordPress) you can do a few things to help Google to recognize your website as more “legit” thus giving you a better ranking.

Using the Yoast Plugin for WordPress:

Using Yoast is pretty easy to do if you know what you’re looking for. I’ll go a step further, because I’m a huge nerd, and admit that I actually have fun retooling my SEO settings on Yoast (I need more friends). I love when it tells me that my SEO settings go from “N/A” (or “Bad”, lol) to “Good”.

I’m going to share a few screen shots below and point out some key places where you’ll need to tweak a couple of things to improve your SEO settings using the Yoast wordpress plugin.

This is my WordPress Dashboard (I clicked on posts to display blogs I’ve written):

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If these pictures are small you can zoom in!

As you can see above, the Blue Arrows indicate the column where both the Readability Score and the SEO Score are displayed. These scores tell you how your posts hits the readers eyes and how it ranks in search engines. You want your blogs, song lyrics, biography, etc to have a good score in both of these areas (and be green).

The first article, with the Green Arrow, has both a good Readability and SEO score. That’s why the little circles to the right are green.

The fourth article on this page, the article with the Red Arrow, has no Readability/SEO score. I’m going to want to improve that so that my readers enjoy reading my blog post and so that Google can find it.

My third article (“How to play gigs…“) actually has a red circle over the Readability Score area. That’s bad and I need to fix that.

How to access and use Yoast for WordPress

You need to add and install the Yoast plugin. Once that’s done it will become a part of your blog post edit page. Select the post you want to work on in your dashboard (or wherever you edit your posts). I’m going to use the example of my “The Etiquette of Listening to Live Music” blog post.

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Now this is one of my best performing blog articles. It actually has the most reads of anything I’ve written. I’m not doing it a justice by not improving the readability or SEO attributes, so let’s change that (Nice, I’m getting two birds stoned at once! Right!?).

I’ll click on the link and scroll down the page to here:

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I’ll stay on the SEO tab and improve the “Problems” Yoast is telling me I have, in Red. Most of these are pretty self explanatory. Don’t forget to clic “Edit Snippet”, which let’s you change a few very important things:

Edit Snippet

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This section controls how people browsing Google will see the title and description of your link. You have TOTAL control over this. Remember to use the focus keyword! You definitely want a clean looking SEO title (in green) such as:

“10 things friends do for one another | The Friendly Blogger”

It just looks clean and tidy. The slug (in blue) also shows up, keep it short and avoid stop words for better ranking.

The description (in Black) is the paragraph people will read. Make this to the point and informative about what the post contains.

Now you’re ready to improve your posts Readability:

Readability:

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Follow the steps as indicated by Yoast in the “Problems” and “Improvements” sections and you will make your articles flow better and be more enjoyable to read, like for instance, having really really long sentences with strange, punctuation definitely won’t help, you get the point! Also, don’t forget to create and add your posts to categories. Finally, click your image(s) to edit the details such as alt-text, etc. “Alt-text” is what the picture will be saved under for people to see when they google a word and select “images”.

Let’s see how I did:

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So now I can go back to my “Posts” page and admire my work.

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As you see, the article name has changed from what it was before. Yoast told me I needed a focus keyword so I added one. It then told me the other places I had to make sure I put my focus keyword. One of these places was the title. My focus keyword had to appear in my article a few times so I chose something that worked well as a title and could be used throughout the article. These are just some examples of how Yoast helped me improve this article.

So there you have it

Yoast is a great tool if you use WordPress for your website. Whether you have a blog on your page, or write your lyrics online for your fans to read, or whatever. You want control over these behind-the-scenes features/attributes and Yoast is your gateway to getting this done. There’s a lot more to SEO than this but this will get you pointed in the right direction (Upward, on Google!).

Excuse me while I head over to improve the readibility and SEO attributes of this article! (Always giving myself more work!).

Cheers!

Brad

What’s been up (Now that I’m moved home)? What’s new? And what’s coming soon?

The Music Entrepreneur blog inspires and educates musicians to succeed as pros.

Hi there music entrepreneurs!

I hope things are going great and that all kinds of doors are opening for you. This truly is such a rewarding field of work to be in if you are able to focus your energy, book new and exciting work, and stay busy.

What’s been up and what’s new?

Every time my life circumstances change I learn something new about how awesome this business is. It’s been about a month and a half (Already, wow) since I’ve moved back home to Toronto from Edinburgh. Although there have been some similarities to the previous chapters in my life, it’s been unlike any other phase of my career as a musician.

It’s been similar because the driving force has to be there. The passion. The do-or-die attitude that it takes to set yourself up for success as a full-time musician. That essence is unchanged, and that’s how it needs to be ESPECIALLY in the early days of finding gigs and forming relationships with colleagues in the “scene”. What’s different is the scene itself.

Since leaving Toronto for Scotland in August of 2015 a handful of local live music staples have closed their doors, unfortunately. An even greater number of venues have begun booking exclusively with centralized entertainment booking agencies. Before I left in August, I found most of my gigs myself or through the network of my music colleagues/friends (i.e. Subbing in and out with other artists/friends, that sort of thing). I also worked with a couple of independent booking agents to fill in the gaps. But now there’s a couple of large companies that have conquered most of the market, making it so less venues are available to perform in unless you can find a way into the agency.

I always felt qualified to tell you about my story and to help guide you because I left the 9 to 5 lifestyle and became a full-time musician in Toronto. I then moved to Edinburgh (as you know by now I’m sure…lol), and was very successful at establishing myself and thriving within the local music scene as well as the private music scene (playing weddings, hotels, birthdays, and even playing for the Royal Marines). I’ve learned so much from all of this and now I’m learning that my “Music Entrepreneur” idea is still evolving to encompass a new range of experiences. It’s my hope that you will benefit from these new lessons I’m learning.

What Now?

I’ve been as busy as ever, not only learning but also setting myself up for a new kind of success with playing live shows. I’ve managed to be hired by the large booking agencies in Toronto that I was talking about before. By keeping in close contacts with my network I’ve managed to open new doors (such as being placed on the talent roster of a wedding booking agency). I’m also looking to colab with other bloggers and influencers to get other opinions and viewpoints into this blog. The “Live your Dream, be a Music Entrepreneur” Video was so well received and I’m very proud of it. Thank you so much for liking and sharing it. It’s had an organic reach of about 5k people since I uploaded it about 3 weeks ago, so thank you!

More video content is coming. Look out for my articles to appear as fun and informative vids on YouTube. I’ll also be working with my mate Enzo Boldrini to record videos of us performing our favourite songs (which will be dynamic and rich with vocal harmonies as well as texturized guitar work).

What kind of articles are on the way?

In the weeks to come I’ll be releasing consistent content based off of both my old and my new lessons. I want you to know everything that has worked for me. Perhaps not everything I say will resonate with you but I’m positive a lot of it will, and that you’ll be able to apply a lot of my content to your own life. Some things I’ll be covering:

  1. How to make beats at home (Not everyone is a guitarist or singer..and I wanna give tips to you too)!
  2. How to keep busy during the day as a musician (We have tons of time during the day if you teach, play gigs, etc. Let’s maximize the daytime hours).
  3. Music and Mental health. We’ve seen a few unfortunate examples of musicians succumbing to mental health issues this last year. It’s terrible. I want to talk about managing expectations, mindfulness, stress (including financial), and knowing that there’s always someone to listen to you. You matter and you should know it!
  4. How to book gigs with venues that use large booking agencies.
  5. Increasingly your social media awareness.
  6. How to increase your chances of getting tips at gigs.
  7. A ton more!

The future holds amazing things for us, I can feel it. Believe in it and never stop hustling. You are your hustle, even if it doesn’t seem to be paying off today it will tomorrow. Keep that hunger burning and I wish you the best success. Please share any ideas for articles in the comments section below, or message me direct. I love hearing from you guys so please don’t be shy.

Bradly

Edinburgh Toronto Musician
Back Home In Toronto

 

The first Music Entrepreneur video is coming SOON! Also, prepare for TME to go YouTube and bring you great video content!

The

The “A day in the life of a Music Entrepreneur” Video (Release Date: September 2017) :

So…I moved to Scotland where I lived/travelled for two years…as a full-time musician!

Wow. That was awesome! Can’t believe it’s been two years and the story which was once “a future full of wonder” has been written. It’s had great heights as well as terrible lows (most notably the loss of Cheyne Halliday, a true gentleman and friend whom I miss sorely, every day). So much has happened.

Edinburgh to Toronto
The music entrepreneur flies home

I’m now 37,000 feet in the air flying home on the connecting flight between Rejkyavik (Iceland) and Toronto. The trip from Edinburgh to Iceland was short so I figured I’d try (and failed) to get in a cheeky power snooze. I’m not feeling any benefit from sitting with my eyes closed for about an hour. Regardless of that, I want to put down some words now that I’ve got a few hours to sit, think, reminisce, and reflect on my journey. As I scroll through the photos on my phone many feelings are coming back to me. The wonder of diving into the unknown. The excitement of discovering my surroundings as a new resident on foreign soil. The joys of cheap European travel. The pride I take from having lived by making my music passion work for me. I arrived (In Scotland) not knowing anyone in the music scene and learned that with hard work, being persistent, and being a nice person, it’s possible to set up shop away from home and create a success story. I’m heading home now, engaged to an amazing beautiful woman, excited to be back with my friends and family, and ready to tackle the Toronto music scene armed with all of my new lessons about work and life.

I’ve been quite silent in the last week or two as far as posting blogs here has gone. In Edinburgh the entire month of August is consumed by the Edinburgh Festival. It is the biggest arts festival in the world. There are pop up food stalls and bars left, right, and centre (I wasn’t drunk the whole time, I swear). There’s the “Underbelly”, the “Udderbelly”, and hundreds of other locations to enjoy live music, comedy, dance, theatre, and sooo much more. The high street is lined with buskers playing to hoards of tourists that have made their way from all corners of the Globe. It’s a rare opportunity to mingle with the world and celebrate every facet of the arts. For us musicians who live and work in Edinburgh year-round the Festival gives us an opportunity to squeeze in as many performances into one month as humanly possible. Beyond that even. In summer 2016 I performed over 80 shows and experienced the toughest grind I’ve ever faced in my adult working life. It was physically demanding, I was sleep deprived, I lost my voice, and I loved it. I felt so successful going gig to gig, sometimes playing as many as 4 shows a day. Sure, it was hard. Sure, there were times I didn’t wanna get out of bed or sing. Truth be told though, being that busy with music charged my spirit back up in other ways. Plus there’s nothing about working hard that a little vacation or two in Amsterdam won’t cure.

I did all this while living with my girlfriend (fiancé as of December 2016), making tons of amazing friends, and having the time of my life being a foreigner living as a local. I managed to save up a bit of money and also found the inspiration needed to begin The Music Entrepreneur project. There have been speed bumps like losing my voice and having surgery to remove polyps from my vocal chords, but everything worked together to bring me to this exact moment in time. This August I’ve been super busy once more, not only playing shows but spending a tone of time with the people I care about and enjoying the great city of Edinburgh. On top of this I’ve been packing away my things and getting ready to move home. It’s been hectic. Apologies to all of you for the lack of content on the Music Entrepreneur site during this time.

I always hope that this website can inspire people. That’s why I knew I had to document what I’ve experienced! With the help of the talented and bearded Mike Dodds from G6 Productions I’ve put together a video that follows me on a day in the life of a Music Entrepreneur during August (August 8th to be precise!) in Edinburgh. On that day I played multiple shows, checked out buskers/the Festival, and found time to party with my friends (and much more). I don’t want to give too much away but I do want you to know that the launch of this video marks the beginning of the Video/Vlog/Youtube aspect of the Music Entrepreneur. I’ll keep you all posted about the video launch and will post it to the website here as well as to the new YouTube channel I am building. In the weeks to come I will be sorting everything out and will be uploading regular content to YouTube.

My hope is that the video is entertaining, inspiring, and puts a smile on your face. I want you to understand what life as a Music Entrepreneur has looked like for me (and what it could look like for you). I want you to get to know me better. I love having my stuff read and I think videos will also be a great way to reach you guys with great new content. Also, in kind of a selfish way, I wanted a video to serve as a personal souvenir for myself and my friends. Kind of like a time capsule. Whatever purpose the video serves for you, I hope you are able to take something away from it that will contribute to your enthusiasm and excitement to move forward towards your life as a pro part-time/full-time musician! Stay tuned and expect much!!!

As I write in this moment I’m flying home over the mountains and tundra of Greenland, and it’s pretty magnificent!

The Music Entrepreneur writing in the sky
The Music Entrepreneur writing in the sky

 

 

My List of Live Music Faux-Pas. Please don’t do these live music faux-pas to performers!!!

Most people are great, as I’ve said. You always get those few who have to spoil it for everyone. It boils down to basic consideration. We chose to be live performers. We never chose to be treated like crap. If you’re going out for an evening with your friends then appreciate their company, the venue, the staff, and the musician that is working hard to make your night fun and memorable. Don’t do anything on my list of live music faux-pas

List of live music faux-pas

An actual conversation between a musician and an audience member;

Audience Member: “Play Some Johnny Cash!!!!”

Artist: “I don’t play any Johnny Cash!”

A.M.: “What!? You don’t!? You shouldn’t even have a guitar if you don’t play Johnny Cash”

*Artist finishes next song*

A.M.: “Mate, play some Johnny Cash”

This is an actual conversation between a musician mate of mine in Edinburgh (Shoutout to Ross!) and a member of the audience at one of his recent gigs. The fact of the matter is that often while we are performing live music we (very frequently) have to deal with assholes. This is my list of live music-faux pas.

For the most part people are lovely. Unfortunately, however, a certain percentage of the population just haven’t learned manners. This gets exacerbated when alcohol comes into the mix, which is not an excuse, but rather a word of caution to all musicians! There are several forms of bad treatment that musicians are subjected to regularly and I’d like to share with you all some of the situations I’ve encountered (or heard of from friends). Here’s a list of ways not to treat a musician who is trying to provide you with the service of entertainment.

Here’s my list of ways not to treat musicians:

Uhhh, this song SUCKS!!!

This one is a huge pet peeve of mine. When people right in front of us nag at us and feel the need to let us know they do not like the song we are playing. We are doing our best to please everyone. Bear in mind everyone has different taste and we really are trying. We aren’t going to stop playing a song because you feel the need to have an overly verbalized negative attitude. You’d be surprised how often people get my attention and say “Stop playing this song it sucks”…lol…THANKS!

Can I play your guitar?

At least once a week I have a listener in a venue approach me asking if they can play my instrument and/or sing a song. Of course this is the discretion of the artist but I generally don’t allow people to do this. This often causes said person to get angry or aggressive towards me and that is not ok. I often hear things like “ya, you’re afraid everyone’s gonna know I’m better than you!”. That’s wrong on so many levels. This persons friend also love to give me a hard time.

This is why I don’t want you to play my guitar/sing a tune:

  1. I don’t know you, and I don’t know how much you drank.
  2. If you damage my guitar or any other equipment you will just walk away after saying “sorry” (and taking no actual responsibility). Sorry doesn’t fix my instrument. I saved up and paid a lot of money for my instrument and I play music full-time. My livelihood is directly affected if you break my guitar. I’m not willing to take that chance so that you can be self-indulgent or impress your friends. (My mate had his guitar broken by a staff member at a venue that asked to play his guitar, so be really careful lending it out). By saying no we aren’t being assholes.
  3. I’ve been hired by the venue to provide a certain standard of live music. When you come up and actually can’t sing or are too drunk to sing properly (or are just taking the piss) then it reflects super poorly on me, and the venue/other listeners don’t appreciate being subjected to that!
  4. If I let you play who else is going to want to come up and play/sing? In a room full of drunken people you can lose control of the situation. Eff that!
  5. I’m hired to play and nowhere in that dynamic am I obliged to grant you access to come up and perform. I’m not being rude, I’m not scared you’re better than me, I’m just doing my job. Please respect the fact that I’m trying to get through my shift and provide my audience with a fun night of musical distraction from their everyday lives!

Hey pal can you play a song by the band “Punk Wielding Fire Pit Swell Dodgers? ….you never heard of them? Cmon play the song man!”

Uhm, sorry, I never heard of the band “Punk Wielding Fire Pit Swell Dodgers”. It’s impossible to know every song by every band ever. I try, as I’m sure most musicians do, to have a varied eclectic mix of songs. I also try to take requests where I can. That doesn’t mean it’s ok to have a go at us for not knowing a song, it isn’t personal, we just can’t play a song if we don’t know it. I’ve had the following conversation with Audience Members more times than I can count:

A.M.: “Play the song “random request” dude!”

Me: “I’m sorry, I don’t know that one”

A.M.: “C’mon man ya you do, just play it”

Me: “I can’t play it if I don’t know how to”

A.M. “Yeah you can, how do you not know that song?”

Me: “I never learned it”

A.M. “You can play it! Uhhh you suck dude” or some variation of insults designed at putting me down for not catering my performance to you and you alone.

Stranger Danger

One time I even had my life threatened. I played 2 requests for one guy and I didn’t recognize the third song request. He gave me the regular “yeah, cmon man you know it”. When I assured him I didn’t he said he was going to get his gun and shoot me. No word of a lie. He didn’t do anything but he stood in front of me staring me down as I put away my equipment after I was done performing. I wanted to deck the guy. This is a very extreme case but it is to give you some kind of idea what we deal with sometimes while trying to entertain folk. It’s a fun job but we aren’t there to take people’s abuse. To some people we are an easy target and that kind of thing isn’t cool!

I can totally grab/touch/fondle the musician, no problem there!

This one really isn’t ok. It’s pretty high up on my list of live music faux-pas.

I laugh it off sometimes as listeners approach me with their hand up waiting for a high five while I’m in the middle of playing a guitar solo. I can’t shake your hand or high five you if I’m in the middle of doing my thing as musicians need their hands to make the sound keep going. Unfortunately that is just the tip of the iceberg.

It happens to guys and girl musicians alike. We do get quite a bit of attention playing music for a crowd but some people think it’s ok to act inappropriate and behave in ways that cross the lines of what is normally considered sexual abuse. You have no right to uninvitedly touch a performer. Whether grabbing their hand, rubbing their head, or grabbing their ass. I’ve had people do all the above. I’ve had a member of a hen party try to put their hands down my pants while I was playing once.

I get it, you’re excited. But we are just normal people so stop coming up to us and grabbing us, or being creepy towards us. The same rules and social conventions of everyday life apply when you deal with us. Keep your hands to yourselves folks, my goodness.

Let’s dance!! (right into the musician knocking him/her over).

Nothing makes me see red during a performance like having dancing people forget that I’m standing there and swirling right into me. It’s happened numerous times. I try to set up my mic and stuff in as good a position as I can to give people room. If you want to dance then great but please remember that we are there.

I’ve had countless people fall into me, or knock my mic stand over (With my iPad attached it it). When this happens the microphone can smash us in the face. I’ve gotten multiple bloody lips this way and know artists that have had their front teeth chipped. If you’re dancing then for the love of everything holy, PLEASE don’t fall into us. It hurts, damages our equipment, stops the song, and is the most annoying thing ever.

We ARE allowed to stop playing whenever our shift is done.

I’m always flattered when a crowd wants an encore, but sometimes people demand more even if I’ve played one, two, or three extra songs. Again, it’s super flattering but we don’t owe you it. Some musicians play 2,3 gigs a night and we get tired too. We don’t go to your place of work and insist you work past the time your shift ends. Even if we did you wouldn’t care and might tell us where to go, seeing us as the wrong doer. Why is this any different. If the musicians gives an encore they’re a class act. If they don’t thats their right. I’ve been cursed at for not continuing to play after already offering up an encore. I don’t want to stop offering encores when I’m able so please know the flip side. Appreciate when you get one and please don’t be a jerk if you don’t.

Just generally being rude to the musician

I never understood people that go out for dinner and are just upset and pissed off the whole time. Treating the wait staff terribly. Isn’t the whole point of going out to dinner to unwind and relax and share a pleasant meal together? I feel the same way about people being rude to bar staff and to musicians.

We aren’t punching bags for you to unload your verbal abuse after a tough week, or whatever the problem is. Just the other day some man drinking in front of me went around asking everyone around if they knew the song I was playing. He then walked up to me and made the “cut it out” sign with his hands saying “mate nobody knows this song, shut it down”. What a prick! It’s especially funny since I had been playing songs like Ed Sheeran’s “Shape of you” and a ton of other upbeat covers. It was incredibly rude and showed no respect. There’s many instances where people are rude like this and all musicians should know that it’s going to happen.

Let’s help the musicians out…

We want everyone to have a good time so use your proper judgement. We all know there are those people who behave terribly in public with or without alcohol. Keep an eye out for the musicians if you see them being abused. It’s an awkward spot to be in as many musicians are scared to lose a gig if they say something rude to a (deserving) customer. Not everyone is confrontational so it’s nice when other people in the vicinity have our backs.

Most people are great, as I’ve said. You always get those few who have to spoil it for everyone. It boils down to basic consideration. We chose to be live performers. We never chose to be treated like crap. If you’re going out for an evening with your friends then appreciate their company, the venue, the staff, and the musician that is working hard to make your night fun and memorable.

These are just some of the things we go through as we try to make a living as music entrepreneurs. If you have anything to add please comment below, and share this article to spread the word about proper etiquette towards musicians. Cheers.

(For inspiration about being a pro musicians, click here to view my “Day in the life of a music entrepreneur” video.)

(For my article of about live music faux-pas for musicians click here)

I’ll also give myself a plug here, Check out my musician website here!