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
Tags: ,

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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