The Art of the Business

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

My Christmas Gift to You December 18, 2009

Filed under: Business relationships,E-book — Rebecca Coleman @ 7:16 am
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Well, gentle reader, as the year comes to a close, I’d like to take this opportunity to thank you.

I am a gal that takes her business very seriously, and that means not taking for granted the folks who read my blog, bought my book, and hired me to to PR this year. So, thanks!! I’m very humbled at how well my blog has grown this year, and I really appreciate all your comments, pingbacks, and retweets.

This will be my last post for a while. I am taking a couple of weeks off of work while Michael is on vacation to (hopefully) get some rest and relaxation.

But from now until Christmas, I am offering $5 off the price of my e-book: Guide to Getting Started with Social Media For Artists and Arts Organizations. It normally sells for $19.95, but from now until Christmas, you can get it for $14.95. Maybe you’ve been thinking about buying it, but haven’t yet, or would like to get another copy for a friend (a copy just went to Australia the other day–it’s getting around!). Here’s your chance!

Click here to read the reviews.

Click here to order.

I wish you a very happy Christmas, and a wonderful and prosperous New Year!


YFrog December 16, 2009

Filed under: Marketing with Twitter,photos — Rebecca Coleman @ 7:02 am
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If you are an avid Twitterer, you probably have been know to post photos sometimes.

I use Seesmic for my Twitter client, and it allows me to post photos simply. It will also connect to my webcam, so I can take photos and upload them through that.

But if you are not using this kind of a service, you are probably using something like TwitPic to upload photos to Twitter. Well, there’s a new Twitter-photo-sharing-kid-on-the-block, and his/her name is YFrog.

Here are some of the great things about YFrog:

1. The user interface is really easy, and it doesn’t require you to have an additional account. You simply use your already existing Twitter account.

2. It allows you to upload photos and video (which we all know is where it’s going!)

3. You can use YFrog to take a webcam photo, a 5-second-delayed webcam photo, or a video, and then immediately upload it. It will also post photos from a URL, like your Photobucket or Flikr account.

4. YFrog acts as an archive. In the same way that someone can look at your twitter stream and read your older tweets, people can look at your YFrog photo stream and see your older posted photos and videos.

5. They have developed clients for BlackBerry and IPhone. I have a BlackBerry, and use a service called TwitterBerry to tweet from it. However, the TwitPic option doesn’t work, because the camera is a 3.2 megapixel, and for whatever reason, TwitPic does not shrink down the image. So it takes too long to upload to the web. I am looking forward to testing the YFrog client for my BlackBerry.

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The Face of BC Arts Cuts December 14, 2009

Filed under: Business of Arts,Finances,Politics of Arts — Rebecca Coleman @ 8:25 am

It’s now been about four months since our community experienced a huge upheaval: major cuts to our funding in the arts and non-profit sector. If you are a regular reader of my blog, you’ll know that I’ve written about this topic extensively, passing along the word about rallies, protests, etc.

Today’s post is not about any of those things. I feel like we’ve been talking about BC Arts Cuts in more general terms: Presentation House Theatre, for example, one of my clients, has lost $38,000. That is a sizable chunk of change for a small organization, but how does it play out?

Meet Vanessa Melle. I did, last week, for coffee, in Gastown. Vanessa’s young–in her twenties–and just got laid off from her first “real” arts administration job: Director of Communications for Out on Screen. She lost her job as a direct result of BC Arts Cuts.

Here’s Vanessa:

I was the Director of Communications for Out on Screen, an organization that produces the Queer Film Festival and gives anti-homophobia presentations in high schools using independent film. The cuts to the Direct Access Gaming Grants left us with a $25,000 deficit and as we head into a new year we anticipate a further reduction to government grants by as much as $50,000. As a fiscally prudent and responsible organization, to ensure that our programs can weather the devastating arts cuts still to come, Out on Screen made the decision to lay off myself and another part-time staff member. It was a dream job and I will most likely have to go on EI before I find another one.

Gordon, Campbell, if you’re reading, I just wanted to let you know: by cutting funding to the arts, you are taxing the system by causing people to have to go on EI.

I have one more for you.

Recently, the City of Vancouver decided to close the Blodel Conservatory and the petting zoo at Stanley Park. It is my belief that this is because the Olympics are causing huge cost overruns, and the City has to figure out some way to make up that deficit. The Blodel Conservatory costs only about $400,000 to keep open. And closing the Blodel will have an effect on another young company that I work with: ITSAZOO Productions. Their biggest show of the year for the past two years is an annual, outdoor, promenade-style show that regularly sells out because it’s fun and takes advantage of a beautiful park setting in the middle of the summer.

Here’s Chelsea, one of the Artistic Directors:

If the Bloedel Conservatory closes ITSAZOO will no longer be able to perform in Queen Elizabeth Park. If any of you have seen and/or been involved with one of our outdoor summer shows in the park and you know how magical they are. It would be a great loss for us as well as for the community if we were no longer able to do this. It would also be a great loss for all of Vancouver, for many reasons, if the Bloedel Conservatory were to be closed down.

Chelsea asks that folks send an email to the mayor at, asking him to please not shut down the Blodel.

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For more information on what you can do to help restore arts funding, click here.


What are people saying about you? December 11, 2009

I just turned 40. I’m told that one of the best things about being 40 is that you stop caring about what other people think about you, and making decisions based on that. While that might be true for my personal life, it might not be good advice for your business.

One of the major resistances that I hear from people who are afraid to jump into social media is that they are afraid that they won’t be able to control their message, or brand. “People will talk about us,” they say, “and they might say things that are not in line with our company’s corporate message.” And they’re right. But the truth of the matter is, people are going to be talking about you, whether you give them the tools to do so or not.

I often will tweet about excellent customer service, or lack thereof. A couple months back, I went to buy a futon. I drove half-way across town to a futon shop, only to find it closed, even though I was there during the time that they were supposed to be open. What was the second thing I did after phoning the owner and telling him he just lost my business? I twittered it.

It is imperative that you keep an eye on what people are saying about you. That way, if it’s something negative, you can do damage control. If it’s something positive, you can use that person and their message to help spread the word.

Here are a couple of ways for you to monitor the airwaves:

Set up a Google Alert: go to Create alerts for yourself for your name and the name of your business. Every time your name comes up, you will receive an email from Google.

Twitter Alerts: Go to, and type in your name. It will tell you if anyone is talking about you right now. Do the same for your twitter user name, just in case someone mentioned you without @ing you. This can be time-consuming, so there are a couple of other options. One is monitter, which works like a Google Alert, only for Twitter. If you are using a Twitter platform like TweetDeck or Seesmic, create a column that continuously searches for your name.

Blog links: If you have a WordPress Blog, WordPress automatically monitors any incoming links. If anyone links to one of your posts, it will show up as a pingback in the “incoming links” section. When someone quotes or references me, I’ll often go and drop a comment thanking them in that blog post.

WordPress Ping

There is one other application to using these monitoring tools. If you’ve been doing keyword research on your blog or business (ie: you know what the top keywords are that people use when doing a Google search to find you), you can set up monitors for those key words. Then, let’s say someone posts a question to Twitter: “Thinking about buying X. Anyone know of a good one?” If you are in the business of selling X, and you receive an alert, you can immediately suggest yours.

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Getting Things Done December 9, 2009

Filed under: book review,Planning — Rebecca Coleman @ 7:41 am
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If you’re anything like me, you probably often feel that there is never enough time in the day. Between the day-to-day duties of running my own business, taking care of my son, shopping/cooking/laundry/cleaning, spending time with friends and working on the future of my business, well, there’s just never enough time to get it all done.

I think I manage my time pretty well. But I always feel like there’s room for improvement. So I turned to David Allen’s Getting Things Done.

What’s interesting about this book is that it’s not about time management. It’s about developing systems to make your time more efficiently spent.

I don’t know if this has happened to you before, but in the past, there have been times when I would check my email, and see something that maybe didn’t need to be taken care of right away, and thought, “I’ll do that later.” Then, a week later, while driving somewhere in the car, I’d suddenly remember that I’d forgotten to deal with it and panic!

David Allen helps you to create a system for dealing with your “stuff”, be it physical (pieces of paper, whatever), mental. or virtual (email). The joy of having this kind of system in place is what he calls “closing loops.” What that means, is, you can feel less stress, because you aren’t always going around thinking, “what is it that I forgot to do?” Allan’s system allows you to forget, knowing that you’re covered.

Here are a couple of tips I found particularly useful:

1. When dealing with your “stuff”, if a task can be completed in less than 2 minutes, just do it. If it can’t, file it away in a folder to be dealt with later, then go back and check that file at a prescribed time every week.

2. I now get my email in box to zero every Friday. I spend a couple of hours Friday morning going through every email in my in box. If I’ve dealt with them, I delete them, or if it’s important and I need to keep them, I file them in the appropriate file. If it’s something I’ve forgotten to deal with, this is where it gets done.

3. We often deal with large projects the wrong way. We look at what we want the end result to be, and then often feel  overwhelmed, because we don’t know where to start. So, instead of writing to-do lists like “get car fixed” or “Michael’s birthday party”, ask yourself this question: “what is the first next thing I need to do to move this project along?” That might be, “call the mechanic and make an appointment” or “ask Michael’s teacher for a list of all the kids in his class.” This way, you are making progress, moving things along. You’re unstuck, which is what being overwhelmed tends to feel like.

I haven’t yet had time to put all of Allen’s suggestions into practice, as some of it takes quite a bit of time to get through. I am putting aside time over the next two weeks to get through it. Perhaps there will be a part two to this blog post….

I highly recommend this book.

Click here for David Allen’s website.

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How to Measure Effectiveness of Your Marketing Campaigns (Guest Post by Gagandeep Singh) December 7, 2009

Measuring the effectiveness of marketing campaigns is imperative to determine how successful it is. But still, most business owners don’t track their marketing campaign results and keep on spending their money, without knowing whether the campaign is effective or not. Measuring the accurate performance of any marketing campaign is very difficult but with the following tips you can easily collect enough information from your marketing campaigns to take informed decisions.

Select Metrics: First of all, you need to specify which metrics you will use to measure the success of your campaign. These are determined by the objective of your marketing campaign. For example, if the objective of your marketing campaign is to increase blog readership, then number of subscribers should be used as metric. But if the objective of your marketing campaign is used to promote your Brand, then you could use surveys as a measurement to know about the improvement in popularity of your Brand after the campaign.

Predict Results: It is impossible to predict the results of a marketing campaign unless it is completed, but you can speculate what results which you think can be achieved at the end. Many business owners just say, “we want to increase blog readership, let’s place ads.” This is a very unscientific approach which could create difficulty in measuring effectiveness at the end. Be specific with your predictions. For example, say “we will increase blog readership by 30%.”

Divide and Measure: Each marketing campaign targets various locations and uses different sources like online ads or local newspapers to promote. Divide your Marketing Campaign on the basis of locations and then divide them further in to various means of Marketing and measure the results. This technique can provide you with lot of hidden information.

Here’s an example: you are promoting a product in Place X and Y, both online and offline. After seeing the results, you conclude that online modes of marketing work better in Place X, and in Place Y, offline ads convert very well. So in the future you won’t be wasting money on Offline Promotion in Place X or on Online Promotion in Place Y.

Calculate ROI: ROI also defined as Return of Investment. It is measured by Value of Customer divided by Customer Acquisition cost Multiplied by 100. For example, if your marketing campaign costs you $5,000 and you acquire 10 customers where each customer generates $1000 in profit for you. Then Your ROI would be 10,000/5,000 * 100 = 200%. Higher the ROI, the more effective your marketing campaign is.

Eliminate Unmeasurable Actions: Each marketing campaign contains some parts which can’t be measured directly. For example, if you place an ad on a billboard, you can’t count how many people saw that billboard. To help track this, issue a discount coupon code for your customers and track the success of such ads with the help of these codes. The success of any such ad would depend on the number of times a coupon connected to that ad would be used.

Test, Tweak and Retest: Keep on analyzing results of your campaigns and then make required changes. Sometime a tiny change in headline can make drastic improvement s in your ROI. So keep on testing your campaign unless you achieve desired results.

Gagandeep Singh is an Internet Marketing Executive for Fortepromo, which helps Small Businesses promote their brand with high-quality promotional items.

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Networked Blogs December 4, 2009

As all of you regular readers (thanks, btw!) know, I like to write quite often about technical tools, gadgets and websites that can help make our lives and businesses easier.

The latest one I’m enamored of is Networked Blogs. Introduced to me by Mary Melinski, Networked Blogs is a Facebook application widget that imports your RSS feed onto your Facebook personal profile or business Fan page. Not only can people read your latest blog post, they can use Facebook as an alternate RSS feed, and be updated every time you publish a new post. I love it, because a. it saves me work, and b. it’s introducing my blog to a new audience.

I have created two screencasts to show you how to use this tool for yourself.

Part 1

Part 2

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Preparing for the Unexpected December 2, 2009

Filed under: Finances,Life — Rebecca Coleman @ 8:33 am
Tags: ,

A couple of weeks ago, my apartment was broken into. I live on the ground floor of a three-storey walkup, and I knew that kitchen window was dodgy from the moment I moved in.

They did a thorough job–jewelery, my older laptop (thank goodness I seldom leave the house without my Mac!), tools, my digital cable box.

The truth is, bad stuff happens every day: sickness, accidents, fires, job losses. And you can never really be fully prepared. But there are some things you can do. As an artist, someone who creates their livelihood from their art, you are more at risk than someone who has a job to go to, in some ways. If something happens, and you lose all of your paintings, you have lost a huge chunk of your income. For me, my main means of making a living is my laptop. If that was gone, either because it broke down/crashed, or was stolen, I’d be in big trouble.

So, in the spirit of hoping that people learn from my mistakes, here are some things I’m asking you to think about:

Insurance. I didn’t have insurance on my place, but the next time I move, I will get it for sure. In addition to having insurance, make sure you have a video or photos of your valuables, and have the serial numbers written down in a safe place. Emailing them to your webmail address is a great idea. You may want to do the same with ID. My passport was stolen, but I had scanned it recently because of a trip I took. It was very reassuring to be able to find my passport number with a minimum of effort.

Emergency fund: Even if you do have insurance, chances are there is some kind of deductible. As well, it may take quite a bit of time for the policy to be processed and for you to get the money. Having a separate bank account that is harder to get at (perhaps at a different bank than your main one) is a great solution. Whatever you can afford every month: put something away “just in case.” Experts recommend three months’ salary. You may not be able to manage that, but every bit that keeps you from having to borrow in dire circumstances is worth it.

Backing up: If you have files that are important or integral to your business, back them up. You may want to even think about multiple backups, including one that is off-site, in case of fire or, as in my case, the thieves took my flash drive backup, as well. Upload your photos to Picassa or Photobucket. You can make your settings private so no one else can see them, but at least you know you have a copy of your wedding/baby pictures somewhere.

The best-case scenario in preparing for the unexpected is that you will never need your backup plan. But if the worst happens, you’re covered…

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