The Art of the Business

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

New PSA from The Alliance for Arts and Culture October 31, 2009

Filed under: Arts Marketing,Finances,Marketing with YouTube — Rebecca Coleman @ 5:32 am

I woke up this morning to this email via my Facebook from Kevin Teichroeb, who does some of the technical/website stuff at The Alliance for Arts and Culture.

Hi Rebecca,

We’re excited about a new PSA we’ve just uploaded to YouTube. I just finished it for the Alliance for Arts and Culture with editing wizard, Jenn Strom. It’s a community project that involves the photography – both time lapse and stills – of a few dozen flickr photographers. The force of social media is behind us. 🙂 I hope you like it, and will blog about it because it will give the video a real push. We want to keep expanding our reach farther and farther. If you could send this off to your contacts we would really appreciate it.

Many thanks, Kevin

It’s great. Another excellent example of using video to promote your business and cause. Please pass it on to your own Facebook/Twitter contacts.

Restore Arts Funding Now!

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Updates October 30, 2009

Filed under: E-book,interview,Life,Workshops — Rebecca Coleman @ 6:06 am
Tags: , ,

Today is an aggregate post, a bunch of links and news items about what I’ve been up to and what’s coming up.

First off, I have just finished a major rewrite of my Guide to Getting Started with Social Media for Artists and Arts guide!
The rewrites include:

  • A fully re-worked chapter on Facebook
  • A new chapter on You Tube
  • Updated screenshots
  • More exercises, which makes it feel more like a workbook.

For those of you who have already bought a copy, thanks. And I’ll be sending you the updates in the next little while. For those of you who are interested, you can purchase a copy by clicking here. It will also be available, in hard-copy, workbook format, later today at Biz Books, 302 W. Cordova St.

I did a couple of interviews last week, too.

One with another Rebecca (Krause-Hardie) who does stuff that is surprisingly similiar to what I do, only in the States.

One with Toronto’s Ian MacKenzie, for his company’s marketing blog, The Big Orange Slide.

One final reminder that Simon and I will be on a panel this weekend entitled The Power of Social Media. We’ll be joined by Angela Crocker and Ryan Mooney, and the discussion will be moderated by Sean Allen. This takes place Saturday, Oct 31, at the Making a Scene Theatre confrence at Granville Island, from 1:30-3 pm.

Finally, stay tuned to my blog next week for an interview I just did with that wonderful Canadian playwright, Daniel MacIvor.

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Video Ideas to Promote your Business October 28, 2009

Earlier this year, I wrote a post on how to use moving pictures to promote your show.

That was 10 months ago, and things are changing at a rapid pace. It is estimated that YouTube attracts one billion (billion!!) views per day. Their traffic is somewhere in range of 10 billion per month.

If a picture is worth a thousand words, then a video must be worth a billion.

I recently had a special occasion to go to, and thought I’d try a makeup technique called “the smoky eye.” I know nothing about the smoky eye, but a brief Google search lead me to several videos that showed me how to do it. I can pretty much guarantee you that anything you are interested in, or would like to learn how to do has had a YouTube video made of it.

We love video–it’s engaging, and, honestly, it doesn’t take as much work to watch something as it does to read. Plus, the medium is arguably more powerful than the written word. With the huge popularity of smart phones like the Blackberry and the Iphone, its easy to access without even a computer. I download Sesame Street podcasts onto my IPod to keep him happy during long car rides. Finally, I think its popular because it has given us the power back. Anyone with a cell phone camera and an internet connection can shoot a video and get it up on the web, where millions of potential viewers are just waiting to make it “go viral.” Who can forget Susan Boyle?

Here are some ideas to harness this powerful medium and put it to work for you and your business.

Slide Shows: You don’t even need to have a video camera to do these kinds of videos. You need photos, a voice-over or music, and a video-editing program. Drag-and-drop your photos onto your video editing program, and arrange them in the order you like. Make sure each photo is viewed for at least 4 seconds, and if you want, add transitions between, and titles with explanations. Put a rocking soundtrack beneath it all, and use that as your video. Click here to see an example of this.  You could use this technique similarly, to create a how-to video with screenshots and a voice-over.

Interviews: Simon Ogden has perfected this medium with his Video Listings service. The reason why this kind of interview is so successful is because it is simple, and people are speaking from their passion. Simon simply interviews key players and asks them one simple question: “why should people come see your play?” He gives them about a minute to answer, and, in editing, adds all the contact info at the end. You can see Simon’s VanStage listings here. I have recently been playing with this format, doing a slightly longer version. You can see those videos here. You can also record Skype video conversations if you are doing a long-distance interview, and upload that.

Behind-the-scenes videos: People are fascinated about what is going on behind the scenes. What happens backstage? How did you achieve that special effect in your film? What was it like in the studio the day you recorded that song/painted that painting, sculpted that piece? Have someone film “the making of” any given piece of art, and offer that as added value. The last two Great Big Sea albums have come with two discs: the CD with the songs, and “making of” DVD with interviews with the cast and live performance footage. They also have lots of this kind of video on their website.

How-to videos: If you are a master bohdran-player, painter in a specific technique, or you make the world’s best Veal Scallopini (hey, cooking is an art!), then you could create a video that shows other people how to do it. Better  yet, if you have  a product you are trying to sell, create a video that shows people how to use it, and maybe even show them some unconventional ways of doing so. When my son was a baby, I was an avid user of The Baby Trekker, a baby carrier. It came with an instruction manual, but it was complicated. A video like this one would have helped me out a lot.

Reviews: Do people like your work? What do they have to say about it? Film people (ask for their permission, first!!) as they are coming out of your show/concert/exhibition/film, and ask them how they liked it, and what they liked about it. Edit several of these clips together, and upload them.

Performance footage: While performance footage may be the trickiest of all video to get right, it certainly can be powerful. Remember “Video Killed the Radio Star”? Well, they may have been on to something. MTV and MuchMusic are huge. The bulk of those videos, however, are shot in very controlled studio environments. Live footage is much trickier–and I find that it often doesn’t translate well onto film.

Video Blog: Like a written blog, but done by speaking directly to camera (this is super easy to do if you have a webcam). Your topic can be on anything! Gary Vaynerchuk’s Wine Library TV is the finest example of this I can think of.

Commercial: If you are selling a product or service, you can create a commercial for it. I think the most successful commercials are those that have a sense of humour. Some of the commercials that get the most hits on YouTube are ones that are cheesy, have low production value, and are purposely over the top. I’m not certain that this is the best way to sell your business, but it appears to be successful.

Final tip:
The most important thing about using video to promote your business is to make sure that if people find and watch your video, they are able to find you. Have, at the very least,  your website’s URL at the end of every single video you create. As a marketing tool, it could go viral, but still be useless, unless people have a way of connecting to you.

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FLIP-ing out: Sharing October 26, 2009

Over the last couple of weeks, I’ve written a series of posts on how to use the Flip Video Camera. You don’t really need a Flip–any video camera that allows you to dump your files onto your computer so you can edit them will do fine. I just like the Flip for its convenience and affordability.

Now we come to what is arguably the most important part: sharing your videos.

You can have video that would make Speilberg jealous, but if he has no way to view it, what’s the point?

When it comes to sharing your video on the internet, you have three main options: YouTube, Blip.TV and Vimeo.

YouTube: It really doesn’t get any bigger than YouTube. Every day, 150,000-200,000 videos are uploaded to YouTube. If you lived to be 100 and did nothing but watch YouTube 24 hours a day, you would still not be able to watch every single one.

Google owns YouTube, so if you already have a Gmail account, you can get a YouTube account within seconds. Choose your username carefully, as this becomes your YouTube channel. Mine is Once you have your account activated, go to the pull-down menu underneath your name in the upper right-hand corner, and click on “Account.” This will allow you to customize your page with colour choices, upload your photo and bio, etc.

youtube screenshot

Once you have your page customized to how you like it, you can begin to upload your videos. You simply click on the yellow “Upload” button in the upper right-hand corner. When you are uploading your video, be sure to give it a name, a description (including a URL), and keywords so that people can find it.

You can also subscribe to other’s YouTube channels, and “Favorite” videos that you enjoy.

Once your video is uploaded and processed, you’ll notice two URLs to the right of it. The upper one is the video’s distinct URL. Use this to link the video through Twitter, Faecbook, email, or any other place you can share links. The second URL is for embedding your video. You can use this primarily for your blog. You can embed the video right into a blog post or your website so that people don’t have to leave your site to watch it.

Be sure, once you have uploaded your video, to share it around by putting it on Facebook (either in your own profile, or on your business’ Fan page), Twittering it, and putting it on your blog. The more ways you have of putting it out there so others can see it and share it, the better.

Blip.TV: Blip.TV is purported to have 48,000 “show creators”, 2.4 million episodes and 22 million viewers. What makes it different from YouTube is that it focuses more on episodic shows. What that means, is, if you have an idea for a television show, you no longer have to go through the major networks. You can create your own, and upload it to Blip.TV, and probably find an audience.

One of Blip’s strongest selling points is that it franchises your video out to multiple streams: you upload it to Blip, for example, and they make it available on YouTube, ITunes, Yahoo Video, NBC, etc…

Vimeo: Vimeo is a Video-sharing community. Built by filmmakers, it is more like Facebook in terms of its values than the others. Again, you can upload your videos and share them, but you are really encouraged to become part of the community. They also have much stricter guidelines than many of the others, in terms of being respectful, and not using it for commercial purposes. If you have a video that is a blatant “buy this!!” kind of commercial, it won’t be welcome here, nor will anything that could be percieved as an attack, hatred, or racism.

A couple of others:

Yahoo Video: if you have a Yahoo ID, this works much the same as YouTube. It’s pretty new, Yahoo is just jumping on this bandwagon, so it won’t be as populated.

ITunes: As of last month, Apple has sold a whopping 220,000,000 IPods. All of those people are using ITunes in some capacity. In addition, the IPhone is wildly successful, and all of those people are also using ITunes. Getting your videos on ITunes could be a great way for people to find you. You need to have an account, and you need to convert your video to M4V in order to upload it. You can also try to monetize your video by charging for it, but if you are using it for a marketing tool, you might want to give it away for free.

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On Going it Alone… October 23, 2009

Filed under: Business of Arts,Business relationships,Life,Networking — Rebecca Coleman @ 4:21 am

I’ve been thinking a lot lately about the business we are in and how hard it is to continuously be motivated. As artists, we are one-man-shows, chief cooks and bottle-washers. For the most part, when we write that song, sketch out that painting, work on our novel, we do it alone. The arts can be very solitary.

I talk to people all the time to who struggle with this. Forced to have a job to support themselves while they build their art DSC_0643practice, they find themselves too tired/burnt out/uninspired to focus on their art practice at the end of the day.

The answer is just to show up. To treat your art as a job that you carve out time for every day, and show up to. It works because you no longer have to worry about inspiration or quality. Just by producing your work in sheer quantity, you will eventually come up with something great, or be inspired to create.

Still, like going to the gym, it can be tough to have the self-discipline to make yourself do it. So I suggest you get an art buddy.

Find someone who does what you do, or someone who doesn’t but is still an artist, and make a pact with them: you will both spend ‘X’ amount of time on your work over the next day/week/month. And then phone each other, send each other emails, or meet to discuss how it went. Having someone to be accountable to outside of yourself can be a very powerful motivator.

I’ve used this method many times in my life. It started when I worked at the SEARCH program, a self-employment program for artists. We would regularly create “Success Teams” out of groups of graduates who were encouraged to meet after the program was over to share ideas, help and motivation. The first few times I tried to get through The Artist’s Way, I was unsuccessful, but by going through it with a group which included weekly meetings, I got through it and I got lots out of it. Currently, I belong to a small business support group. We have been meeting bi-weekly for two years, now, and this group has been a great source of assistance–both by cheering me and kicking me in the butt.

So, whoever you are, whatever your art practice, I encourage you to not go it alone. Find someone, or a group of someones who are like-minded individuals, and create your own support group.

You can learn more about how to create your own “mastermind group” here.

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FLIP-ing out: Editing: PC October 21, 2009

Fourth post in my series on using video (specifically, shot with a Flip video camera) to market your art practice. The last post dealt with how to edit your video on a Mac using IMovie. Today, I’ll focus on those of you who are PC users.

The Flip comes with built-in software called Flipshare. It’s pretty rudimentary, but if all you need to do is to trim the clip ends, add some titles and music, it will be good enough. You can even export it directly from Flipshare to YouTube or to email.

flipshare screen shot

If you want to do more finiky and advanced editing, you probably have Windows Movie Maker on your machine. If you don’t you can download it.

WMM screenshot

The disadvantage, for me, of using a PC is that you have to convert your Flip file (M4V) to a more Windows Movie Maker-friendly file (I don’t have to do this on my Mac). In order to do that, you need a file converter. Click here for the download information and how to use it. Thanks to Simon for sharing that information with me.

Step 1: Import

After you’ve converted your clip, open up Windows Movie Maker, and under the “Capture Video” menu, click on “Import Video.” Find your file on the computer, and import it.

Step 2: Timeline

Next, you can drag and drop clips into the timeline in the order which you want them. Similar to editing in IMovie, you can trim the clips to cut out the stuff you don’t want.

Step 3: Add titles and effects

Under the “Edit Movie” menu, you can drag and drop in titles, effects, and transitions between clips. Again, leave some time for this the first couple of times you make videos, as you’ll want to play around with different effects and transitions to see what you like best. You can also add music and voice over.

Step 4: Save and Export

Once you are happy with the finished product, save it. You have a variety of methods for exporting. You can export in a larger format, or smaller formats for YouTube or to send via email. These options are found under the “Finish Movie” menu.

Next up: what to do with  your finished videos, and how to share them with the world.

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FLIP-ing out: Editing: IMovie October 19, 2009

The third in my series of posts on using video to promote your art practice.

Editing can be optional. If your video is short, you may not need to edit it at all. But when I do interviews, I don’t like to have my voice on the piece asking questions, I like to cut that part out. Because I don’t have any footage of me asking the questions, I don’t like the idea of having a disembodied voice off camera, so I have been replacing me asking questions with title frames. You could also use voice over to do this.

This post is focused on using IMovie to edit, as I am currently on a Mac, but I will devote a future post to editing on a PC.

The Flip connected to my Mac for import to IMovie

The Flip connected to my Mac for import to IMovie

Step 1: Dump your raw footage from your camera into IMovie. Do this by plugging the camera in, and opening up IMovie. Once in IMovie, go to File–>Import from Camera. Slide the toggle switch to “Manual.” Now you can check which videos you want to import.

The import window in IMovie

The import window in IMovie

Step 2: Organize your clips. Go to File–>New Project. This will create a place for you to drag all the clips that you are going to use for that video into. You can copy the clips from the place that you imported them into, and then paste them into your new project. Don’t forget to give it a name!

Step 3: Edit. Watch all of the raw footage and make notes. If the subject is fumbling for words, not-so-compelling, swears, or gets lost in a story, make a note of that, as you may want to cut it out. When I get to a place where I think there needs to be a cut, I simply right-click on it and select “Split Clip.” You can also do this using Edit–>Split Clip. When I have the piece all carved up, I then drag-and-drop them into the order I want them to appear.

Editing in IMovie--titles in the lover right

Editing in IMovie--titles in the lover right

Step 4: Titles. Make sure you put the person’s name at the beginning (and spell it right–not like me!). IMovie has some great title choices, from Star Wars to very simple ones, which are the ones I inevitably go for. There’s lots of room for creativity here, so play around and have fun. This is where I add in my questions (as text) as well. Make sure you include a URL so that people can find out more information on you.

Step 5: Voice over and sound. IMovie allows you to record voice over if you want to, or import sounds or songs (to play underneath) directly from ITunes.

Step 6: Export. When you are done and happy with the final product, you need to export your movie. If you go to the Share menu, you will see all your options. I tend to export mine as Quicktime, but you can do it as an M4V file, or directly to YouTube.

The first time you do this, just know that it’ll probably take you some time to learn the intricacies of the interface. Plus you might lose yourself in it for a while as you fool around with options. Have fun!

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