The Art of the Business

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

Announcing.. June 12, 2009

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

Gulp.

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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: http://www.facebook.com/profile.php?id=604312470&ref=name. Ugly, right? I could never say to someone at a networking event, “look me up on Facebook, I’m http://www.facebook.com/profile.php?id=604312470&ref=name.” 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: http://www.facebook.com/rebeccacoleman.

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

Reassessment

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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How to be a better blogger June 5, 2009

Filed under: Blogging — Rebecca Coleman @ 12:27 am
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Ah, hindsight, how I love you.

This post is my 100th.

I started blogging as The Art of the Business in January, 2008, as a regular, monthly contributor to The Next Stage.

Funny thing about launching a blog. It’s not hard to do. Pick a topic, pick a name, pick a platform (I’m WordPress through to my core), and go. What’s hard is finding your voice, and sustaining it.

I don’t know if I can help you find your voice. Eight months after launching my blog, and committing to (mostly) 3 posts a week, I am still very much finding my voice. I started out writing about tips and tricks for marketing your theatre production or art practice, but have often written about social media, specifically in the context of marketing. My most popular posts to date involve Twitter, and the loss of the mainstream media (and some ideas about what to do about it).

As I continue to blog, I’m sure my voice will grow and change–it’s just inevitable.

I feel like I am in a bit of a reassessment phase right now with my blog. I’ve been doing it for a while, and  I’ve established a readership. Things, in other words, are cooking along as they should. But there’s always room for improvement, and it is my intention to reassess my blog over the coming weeks, and start to make (hopefully, positive!) changes.

Let me share a couple of really wonderful resources I’ve found recently on blogging that might help you to do the same, if you are so inclined (or to finally take the plunge and start that blog).

ProBlogger is an an amazing resource. Recently, Darren Rowse, who is THE dude at ProBlogger, started and ran a challenge called 31 Days to a Building a Better Blog. Really good stuff–concrete, lots of practical advice and exercises. And now that I have a bit of spare time, my plan is to go back and walk through the course. You can do the same, or you could just buy the e-workbook (it’s a steal at $19.95).

You know how I’m always harping on about how you need a plan for blogging? How you need to post consistently? Andy Wibbells shared this lovely spreadsheet/blogging plan the other day. I’ve downloaded it to my desktop for future use.

Finally, I want to ask your opinion (which is clearly much more important than mine). What kind of posts would you like to see in the future on The Art of the Business? Which ones were your favorites? Should I update something?

The comment section awaits with bated breath…

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Twittering from the Dragon’s Den June 3, 2009

Filed under: Marketing with Twitter — Rebecca Coleman @ 7:42 am
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I make no bones about it: I love The Dragon’s Den. Ever since my small business instructor/mentor, Scott Armstrong, introduced me to it a couple years back, I have faithfully watched this CBC show, “where aspiring entrepreneurs pitch their business concepts and products to a panel of Canadian business moguls who have the cash and the know-how make it happen.”

I was thrilled when my friend, Laurel Bailey, got flown to Toronto last year to pitch her Naked Soapworks business expansion plan to the Dragons (her pitch, sadly, didn’t make the final cut, but her business is doing well).

Last year, I wrote a blog post about the show, and at that time, none of the Dragons were on Twitter. Now, most of them are, and today, they tape the last day of the fourth season of the show. It has been lots of fun (and a sneak preview!) to read the tweets coming out of the Den.

@cbcdragon (the show)
@DianeBuckner (the host)
@WBrettWilson (the newest Dragon, Calgarian Wilson made his fortune as an investment banker, and since, has invested in energy, sports, entertainment, and real estate.)
@KevinOLearyTV (Kevin is the sarcastic one, possibly the toughest of all the Dragons. He made his millions in high-tech)
@ArleneDickinson (the lone female of the panel, Arlene is my favorite, because she is a woman, and because she made her fortune in marketing. She also really gets Twitter.)

As of yet, Robert Herjavec and Jim Treliving don’t seem to have jumped on the Twitter bandwagon. Season 4 is set to air early fall, and Season 3 repeats on CBC starting June 17.

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I am in love with Naomi Dunford June 1, 2009

So, I just discovered this new blog, and I’m totally in love. So much in love, that I need to shout my new affection from the rooftops (ie: my blog).

Ittybiz is a blog written by Naomi Dunford. A gal who paid her dues in the marketing departments of large corporations, a couple  years back, she chucked it all for a home-based business, and is doing pretty darn good. She now consults with micro-businesses (less than 5 employees), and writes a blog of tips and thoughts on same. Plus I love that she works with her husband, and has a baby. Oh, and did I mention she’s funny? It’s like The Blogess was writing small business advice.

Through Naomi’s blog, I have discovered Dave Navarro. His blog is called Rock Your Life. Navarro is a business launch coach, and his blog is all about becoming more productive without losing perspective.

Used to be, if you wanted to learn how to be (or how to be a better) entrepreneur, you signed up for a course, or read a few books. Now, all you need is Google Reader.

Follow them on Twitter:
Naomi: @IttyBiz
Dave: @RockYourLife

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