The Art of the Business

A blog dedicated to artists who are serious about their business.

Please don’t Twitter like this June 29, 2009

Filed under: Marketing with Twitter — Rebecca Coleman @ 6:57 am

I’m a nice person. My friends all think so. My sweetie tells me so on practically a daily basis.

So, just to warn you, this blog post is uncharacteristically, well, mean.

Please understand that my heart’s in the right place. I’m not writing this to be mean. I’m writing it so that you can learn from other people’s mistakes (and maybe just a little bit to vent).

As part of my Twitter routine, once a week or so, I go through all the email notifications I have gotten that week letting me know about all my new followers. I go through each one individually, and check them out, to decide if I’m going to follow them back, or not. I have pretty set criteria for who I’ll follow, and who I won’t.

Last week, while going through my new Twitter followers, I found one that had done so many things wrong, I just had to share. (personal details have blurred to protect the innocent).


Let’s start with what they’ve done right, because it’s not all bad:

  • Personalized background
  • Website URL, bio and avatar

The not-so-good:

  • Every single tweet is in all caps (in case you were not aware, all caps on the ‘net is the equivalent of shouting in real life)
  • Follower-to-followee ratio: They are following significantly more people than are following them. Not usually a great sign, because anyone can follow a great deal of people in a short amount of time, but you have to prove some worth to get people to follow you.
  • They recycle the same 4 Tweets. I’m not even going to say why that’s bad.
  • There are no personal Tweets. Everything is business. Now, I get that they are a business, and it’s their primary aim to get business in through the door, and that’s all okay. But people are interested in seeing what goes on behind the scenes–maybe something is going on with one of the bartenders, the band–things that are a bit more personal in nature.
  • Geographical location: I live in Vancouver, BC, Canada. They are located in Ohio. Why are they following me? If I was traveling to Ohio, and wanted to go to a bar, I’d be looking for them. But otherwise, why? I’m not their market.

One last please don’t do this/rant: if I follow you, I don’t mind if you send me an auto response with your website. But please don’t send me an auto response with your website trying to sell me something. I hardly know you. Let’s get to know each other a little before you try to sell me something.


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Goofing off June 26, 2009

Filed under: Attitude,Life,Planning — Rebecca Coleman @ 12:05 am

DSC_0275Yesterday, my son graduated from Kindergarten. Beside the excitement of having a son who is going into grade one, I’m also super jazzed that it’s summer vacation. I have often complained that his teachers spend more of his waking hours with him than I do, but summer vacation is going to change all that.

I work pretty hard. I have natural tendencies towards workaholism, plus I take the responsibility of running my own business pretty seriously. If I screw up and one of my clients is not happy, it could have deep and long-lasting effects on my future, as I rely heavily on word-of-mouth referrals and repeat business. So, I drive myself pretty hard when I have active contracts.

Because I’m a single parent with a young child (now out of school), it’s been necessary to plan ahead, and am pretty much taking the summer off. Oh, I still have a few things I have to take care of, but the plan is to spend as much time as possible with Michael, camping, hanging out at the pool, the park, and the beach. Oh–I also have a two-week trip to Greece planned (it’s in celebration of my 40th birthday!).

Here’s the thing: something’s gotta give. A couple of months ago, I found myself feeling pretty burnt out. The hours were taking their toll. I strive all the time for that elusive balance between my work and my life.

How about you? You’re looking a little stressed. Need permission to goof off and take the dog to the park? You got it. Cut out of work early and take a picnic to the beach? Go for it.

Oh–and one last thing: posts may become more sporratic over the next couple of months. I hope you’ll forgive me if the last thing on my mind is writing a blog post while I’m lying on a beach in Naxos (and yes, I did say that because I wanted to make you just a little bit jealous!).

For some more advice on goofing off, check out this recent post by Trilby Jeeves.

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A who’s-who of the Vancouver Theatrosphere, updated June 24, 2009

Filed under: Arts Marketing,Blogging — Rebecca Coleman @ 11:21 am

About six months ago, I wrote a blog post about who was blogging about theatre in Vancouver. I’m happy to say that, since that time, a few new blogs have cropped up, or have been brought to my attention.

Vancouver Theatre Reviewers:

In addition to Vancouver Plays, Review Vancouver, Plank, Do Something Different and Beyond Robson, here are two more:

  • Review from the House: Remember Immediate Theatre? Well, Gillian used to review for them. Now, she has her own very pleasant blog which reviews food, theatre, and travel.
  • The Writerly Life: You might know Andrea as one of the theatre reviewers for The Westender, but she’s so much more!

New Vancouver Theatre Blogs:

  • The Alliance for Arts and Culture: covers arts advocacy.
  • The Arts Club Theatre: written by my colleague, Nicole McLuckie, I’m really enjoying this blog. It strikes the right balance of fun and business.
  • An Unidentified Production: is the blog of Sabrina Everett, founder of Twenty Something Theatre. She blogs about her experience as a producer.
  • Rent In Vancouver: is the blog of Ryan Mooney’s Fighting Chance Productions, chronicling the process of producing RENT.
  • Bouffon Droppings: written by my dear friend Trilby Jeeves, bouffon and bouffon coach. About her life as “Madame Rouge” and musings about the artist’s life.

Already established Vancouver theatre bloggers:

  • Green Thumb Theatre – Green Thumb is a local company that specializes in theatre for young audiences.
  • Lois Backstage – Lois is the stage manager at Pacific Theatre, but she’s working in Kamloops for the summer, and providing us with a new perspective from there.
  • Pi Theatre – The blog of Pi Theatre.
  • The Next Stage – Simon Ogden is the number one Theatre blogger in Vancouver.
  • Soul Food – Ron Reed is the AD at Pacific Theatre, and I think, may be Vancouver’s first Theatre blogger.
  • The Theatre Department of UBC – written by that Shameless Hussy, Deb Pickman.

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It’s here! June 22, 2009

Filed under: E-book — Rebecca Coleman @ 12:29 am

You’ve heard all the hype.
Using online social networks like Facebook, Twitter, My Space, Flikr, and YouTube to market your business seems like a great idea. Everyone is talking about it, and the cost is free or low. But where do you start? How do you know that you are reaching the right audience? Where will you find the time to Twitter? And what the heck is a hashtag??

While its very true that social media is a great way to get in touch with your current and potential clients, learning the interface and the etiquette can be overwhelming. Furthermore, it’s really easy to get lost in social media, and the return on your investment of time may not be what you’d hoped.

What you need is a plan.

If you:

  • Are an artist or administrate an Arts Organization
  • Have a small marketing budget
  • Have been considering getting into social networking, or have started, but feel like you need help

Then this guide is for you!

This 42-page Guide includes:

  • Basic Principles of Marketing:
    • Touchpoints
    • Niche
    • Branding
    • Your Story
  • Social Networking
    • Basic Principles
    • Creating a social networking marketing plan
  • Basics and etiquette:
    • E-Newsletters
    • Blogs
    • Bloggers
    • Facebook
    • Twitter
    • Linkedin
    • Photo Sharing (Flickr, Picassa, etc)
    • You Tube
  • A Glossary
  • A sample social media marketing plan
  • Fill-in-the-blank social marketing plan worksheets

But wait! There’s more!

  • A 30-minute individual consultation with Rebecca via email, phone or Skype
  • Free MP3 audio recording of the guide
  • Free updates

All for just $29.95 (Canadian)!

But, because you’re nice, and I like your face, for you, an introductory, limited-time offer of just $19.95!

Why should you trust me?

I make my living as a theatre publicist, and I have been exploring the uses of social networking in marketing my theatre productions for two years, now. This guide brings together my knowledge as a marketer and my experience in social media. I don’t think you’ll find anything else out there that is like this guide–it really helps you to create a marketing plan for your arts business using Facebook, Twitter, E-Newsletters, and other social media.

Tell you what–if you are not entirely happy with the e-book, I’ll give you your money back. So that pretty much takes care of all the risks. What are you waiting for?

Click to buy my e-book: Getting Started with Social Networking for Artists and Arts Organizations.

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8 Types of Tweets June 19, 2009

Filed under: Arts Marketing,E-book,Marketing with Twitter — Rebecca Coleman @ 6:48 am
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Today, a third sample from my  e-book:

The eight types of Tweets

  • Personal: this is where you answer the question “what am I doing right now?” These types of tweets are important, because they help your followers to get to know the ‘real’ you.
  • Link tweets (direct business): Because space is limited to 140 characters, many people use Twitter to drive traffic to websites or blogs. Every time I publish a blog post, I drop the URL with a teaser into Twitter. 47% of the traffic to my blog comes from Twitter in that way. Note that, because you only have 140 characters, you need to use a link-shortening program for your links. These are readily available at sites like or
  • Link tweets (tangential business): I also post links to interesting websites or blog posts (usually from blogs I subscribe to through Google Reader) that I think people who follow me might be interested in (because I was!). Some of these blogs may also link back to my own blog.
  • Link tweets (fun): This is the latest silly YouTube video, etc.
  • Re-Tweets: ReTweeting is great because each time something is re-tweeted, it reaches a different audience. In the world of Twitter, the retweet is the highest form of compliment.
  • @Replies and Conversations: There is some controversy on Twitter about how conversations seem to be taking over, but I still do it all the time. This allows you to respond to something someone has said in their tweet, and begin a relationship with them.
  • Help! or Ask Tweets: Asking people for help from a good restaurant for lunch to technical questions to questions about your product or service is a great way to create relationships.

The book contains one more (a bonus 9th!) and suggestions about what percentages to tweet each category.

Click to buy my e-book: Getting Started with Social Networking for Artists and Arts Organizations.

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Creating a Social Media Marketing Plan June 17, 2009

Filed under: Arts Marketing,E-book,Planning — Rebecca Coleman @ 12:10 am
Tags: ,

Would you like some purple Kool-Aid?

Sometimes I think people I interact with think I am some kind of zealot. And, to be honest, they wouldn’t be far off. I’m very passionate about social media, and a great deal of the reason for that is because I see its incredible potential. Through social media, you have the ability to reach thousands, possibly millions of new clients. And all it is going to cost you is your time.

I still hear resistance to this all the time. “We’re underfunded. I need to write grant applications so we can produce our shows, I don’t have time to Twitter.” “I’m overwhelmed by the amount of email I get every day, there’s no way I can add another thing to it.”

On the other hand, you’ve been hearing all about social media applications. Perhaps your colleagues are getting onto Facebook and Twitter. You’re intrigued, but you are still really concerned about having enough time.  I get it. It’s overwhelming: how do you run an arts organization, or your art practice, and still have time to participate in social media?

What you need, my friend, is a plan.

A plan that takes into account your level of comfort with social media and the amount of time you have to devote to it. And that is exactly what my e-book, Getting Started in Social Media for Artists and Arts Organizations is all about.

So, today, another excerpt from the book.

Creating a social networking marketing plan

  • Set goals: What do you want to get out of social networking? Increased traffic to your website? A higher profile for your cause? Sales? Public relations? Try to be specific with your goals, ie: “To increase website traffic by 30%.”
  • Keyword searches: If you already are using Google Analytics or some kind of keyword tracking service, you have some idea about how people are finding you online. Put your keywords aside, we will revisit them later while making the marketing plan. If you are not currently tracking how people are finding you online, you need to start.
  • What kind of readers do you want to attract? People who are already buying your product/service, or a new audience? Conquering your current sector might be enough to start off with.
  • Choose someone to be the ‘voice’ of your company. If it’s just you, then it’s just you. But many small-to-medium sized companies use their marketing manager to be their social networking voice online.
  • Time, and the best use of it. How much time does the person who is going to be doing the social networking have to devote to it? What platforms will you participate in?

Included in the e-book are handy-dandy fill-in-the-blank social media plans that you can create for yourself or your organization. Cool, huh?

Now, can I pour you a glass of Kool-Aid?

Click to buy my e-book: Getting Started with Social Networking for Artists and Arts Organizations.

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Guide to Getting Started in Social Media for Artists, Pt 1 June 15, 2009

Filed under: E-book — Rebecca Coleman @ 6:56 am

All this week, I am going to be offering you samples from my up-coming, soon-to-be-launched, e-book: Guide to Getting Started in Social Media for Artists and Arts Organizations.

This is to give you a sense of what the book is all about, and how it might be helpful to you. Today, we start at the beginning: with the basic principles of social networking.

Basic Principles:

Social Networking is NOT direct selling. In fact, if you start direct selling, you will be shunned (or branded a Troll. Trust me, it’s bad). Social networking helps to increase your brand, connect one-on-one with your audience, create conversations, and educate. It will affect your bottom line, but exactly how may be difficult to track.

Social Networking takes time to get going. You need to build up an audience, create a network. If you are planning on using Facebook, Twitter or writing a blog, then get them started 3-6 months in advance of your art event or launch. That way, you will already have a system in place when crunch time comes.

The basic underlying philosophy of social networking
is collaboration and cooperation. What that means is, in order to be accepted in the community, you need to offer information up. It can’t be all about you all the time (although sometimes is okay). You need to participate and interact.

Social Networking has leveled the corporate playing field. Huge corporations like Starbucks have blogs and Twitter accounts, and need to manage them exactly the same way you do. Having millions of dollars in their advertising budget is not necessarily an asset with social networking.

You need a plan. I think you will waste a lot of time on social networking if you do not have a clearly mapped out plan for how you are going to conquer it. (Which, of course, is what this guide is all about!)

Be your authentic self. People are going to buy into your business because they are buying into you, your story, your passion. You need to create a balance between your personal, “real” self, and your business persona.

All social networking platforms work on the same basic principles: 1. sign up and establish your username and password. 2. create a profile that can include your name, a short bio, interests and activities, photos, etc. and 3. start to connect with others.

Think of it as an investment of time, not money: Social networking is, essentially, free, but your investment is in time. You will get a return on that investment–I guarantee it.

Click to buy my e-book: Getting Started with Social Networking for Artists and Arts Organizations.

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Announcing.. June 12, 2009

Filed under: Arts Marketing,Business of Arts,E-book — Rebecca Coleman @ 5:50 am
Tags: ,

I’m writing a book.

Okay, so not like the great American Novel, or a treatise on World Peace. But I’ve been doing a lot of work lately in social media, both in my blog, and with individuals and organizations. And for the past few months, I’ve been putting this information into an e-book, which is called Getting Started in Social Media for Artists and Arts Organizations.

In our current financial climate, it’s harder than ever to attract audiences to our work. The media, which I rely upon heavily to get the word out about the shows I am doing publicity for, is cutting staff and space for the arts. Using social media to market your business seems like a no-brainer to me: 200 million people alone are on Facebook, and 14 million (and rapidly growing) on Twitter. This is a great potential new market.

While folks might be buying into the idea of using social media to promote their arts biz, the execution of it is another thing entirely. A friend of mine on Facebook recently put as his status line: “Too much useless garbage and not enough real communication!!” (re: Twitter). Truth is, if you use Twitter properly,  it could be your greatest marketing tool.

What is lacking, is a plan. Essentially, what I’ve done with this e-book is to combine my knowledge of social networking platforms with my skills as a marketer to help you to create a social media marketing plan for your business that will not suck up every last second of your time.

Because, let’s face it, if you are in business for yourself, or you’re running an art gallery or dance company, you need to be writing grants, accounting, buying office supplies, and–oh, yeah–actually creating your art. What my book will help you to do is to create a plan that you can live with, based on the amount of time you have to spend, and to make the very most of that precious time, to get the greatest return on your investment.

I am planning to launch the book (all going well) the week after next. Next week’s blog posts will feature highlights from the book (so you can get a taste), and on Monday, June 22, I will announce all the details!

As they say on Scooby-Doo: “Yoiks!!”

I’m writing this blog post, because I need you to help me to be accountable. I’m very deadline-driven, and I have been working on this thing, and tinkering with it for months. The time has come to just put it out there (if you buy it, I will supply you with updates as they become available, because this world changes rapidly). So, today I am  committing to June 22. In writing.


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The loves and limits of Facebook, Pt 2 June 10, 2009

Monday’s post was about setting up a group for your business on Facebook. Today, we’ll talk about the pros and cons of creating a Fan Page.

Why a Fan Page?

In the grand scheme of things, a Fan Page is probably much better for business than a Group. First off, you can really distance your personal self from your business on Facebook. Any emails or invites that you send out from your group will be specifically from you, and have your photo attached. Any emails or invites sent from the Fan page will come from the name of your Fan page, and the icon will be whatever image you choose for your Fan page. The second great advantage that a Fan page has over a group is that you are not limited by the number of fans you can have, whereas a group will limit you to 5,000 (like personal friends). Fan pages are indexed by Google (groups are not) and they also have metrics build in, so you can view your page view stats. All pretty useful stuff if you have a business (and if you are Facebook, helpful to sell PPC ads).

fan page

Creating a Fan page:

Start by clicking on the “Applications” menu in the lower left-hand corner. Now click on the option marked “Ads and Pages.” In the upper menu of that page, click on the link for “pages,” and then look for an oval that says “+ create page.”

Click here for a step-by-step tutorial.

Once your page is up and running, you can add things to it, similar to adding widgets to your blog, to customize it, and allow for a better experience while your clients are on your page. For example, you can add a discussion board, your Flickr stream, etc.

Once your page is up and running, you need to get people interested in “becoming a fan.” You can invite your own personal friends in a similar way as with setting up a group (except it’s called “Suggest to friends”), and you can, the same as groups, create events to which you can invite the members of the Fan page. However, it is more difficult to do bulk invites with Fan pages than it is with Groups. You should use the URL of your page on your website, blog, and outgoing email signature, as well, to allow as many people as possible the opportunity to connect with you.

Business applications:

As limited as I know Facebook can be, I still see it being very useful as a business application. If you don’t have a blog (and even if you do!), it is a great place for people in your community to connect. They can post comments on the wall, connect with other people who like your business, and it gives you the opportunity to be in touch with them, and let them know about upcoming events. This is all quite painless and doesn’t take up much time, if you have already done the prep work and created the infrastructure. As long as you are giving them good stuff, and reasons to come back and check, they will. And, knowing that 200 Million people (and potential clients) are currently on Facebook makes its potential nearly unlimited.

Ugly vs. Vanity URLS

Facebook just announced yesterday that, as of June 12, you will be able to have a vanity URL. Let me give you an example: here is my own personal profile URL on Facebook: Ugly, right? I could never say to someone at a networking event, “look me up on Facebook, I’m” There are ways (mostly using a redirect) to make your URL more customized and pretty on Facebook, but up to now, it’s been only in the realm of those who are fairly technically inclined (which I am not). As of June 12, however, I, along with everyone else, will be able to have a Facebook URL that will be similar to their Twitter URL:

Thanks for listening, Facebook. Or being intimidated by Twitter, whatever works!

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The Loves and Limits of Facebook, Pt 1 June 8, 2009

It’s been a while since I wrote a post on Facebook. Simon and I have been working with one of our clients lately, and that work has lead to much research on the limitations of what Facebook can do. We wanted to share some of our findings with you, because this information appears to not be widely available. When I sat down to write this post, I quickly discovered that it was too much to cover in just one post, so today’s post will focus on Facebook Groups, and Wednesday’s post will focus on Facebook Fan Pages.

Facebook is not set up for business

Here’s the greatest limitation of Facebook: of all the social networking  sites out there, it is the most social. What that means, is, that as a method of keeping in touch with your old high school friends, your college roommate, or your kid’s grandma, it’s the best.  It has morphed and changed to help people with business, and is, to some degree, successful in that regard. But there are still many limitations, the most major one of which, is, you can’t really be on Facebook, unless you have a personal profile.  Many people in business that we work with don’t want  to have a personal  profile, they only want a page dedicated to their business. It is possible to do with a fan page, but more about that in a later post.

Starting a group

I regularly create group pages for my clients. If they are planning on doing more than one theatre production, I recommend it. If you are not planning on having a series of events, then the group is probably not the right tool for you. A fan page may be better suited.

To create a group, go down to the left-hand bottom menu on Facebook, and click on the icon that looks like two people. This will take you to the application to create a new group. The first page is basic information, the second page is website URL and image for your facebook icon, . Next, you go through your own personal contacts and invite people to join the group. ONLY invite people that you think might be interested in joining, don’t spam all of your friends. Give that a week or two, to allow people to check thier invites and accept or ignore your invitation, then reassess where you are at. It’s really important to start this process well in advance (a couple of months if you have it) of your event.

WTD group


Next, reassess. How many people do you have in your group? If you have over 100, you are getting there. If you still have under 100, you need to do some more work. Put a link to the group on your website, or send out an email to your newsletter list inviting them to join. It might help to sweeten the pot with an incentive–a draw for free tickets or something of the like. You have to prove that you are going to be offering value through your Facebook group. It can’t just be some dead group that a bunch of people will join, and then forget.

If you still need to build up your numbers, send emails to key people in the group, asking them if they wouldn’t mind going through their own personal friend lists and asking people that they think might be interested to join. This can help to boost your numbers in a short amount of time.

Post your event

Now you’re ready to post your event. Because you created the group, you are its administrator. You will see a menu on the right with a bunch of options, one is “Created related event”. The first screen will take you through all the nitty-gritty: times, dates, a short blurb, etc. The second screen will allow you to upload a photo or image, and set security settings (I usually disable the “allow members to upload photos and videos” option, although you want them to be able to post on the wall. Use your own judgment for your specific event.) The third screen is where the magic happens. If you scroll down to the bottom, you will see a button that says “Invite members of (group)”. Because you have done your prep work, you can now invite every member of your group (whom you know are already interested in what you are doing, otherwise they wouldn’t have joined) to your event.

This feature is specifically the one great advantage that creating a facebook group has over creating a fan page.

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