The Art of the Business

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

The End October 16, 2010

Filed under: Blogging — Rebecca Coleman @ 7:27 am

Well, the time has come.

This blog has served me well for the last two years, but it’s time to move on. My lovely and talented designer, Janet Baxter, has created a shiny new beautiful WordPress template, and I’m integrating my website with my blog.

I’ll be offline for the next week, but all going well, I’m going to relaunch the new blog/website on October 25.

Check in at next Monday.

I’m hoping I’ll be able to smoothly move the RSS Feed and the Email feed, so all of you who are playing along at home won’t be left behind.

I will be migrating the contents of this blog to the new blog, and eventually, I’ll probably take this one down, but I’ll leave it up here for a while while we all make the transition.

Thanks for reading! See you soon!


Hoopla and Heartache over Reviewers August 23, 2010

The theatrosphere has been buzzing the last few days with controversy involving reviewers and what their rights are.

It all started out with this blog post that was published on August 17th. Mack D. Male’s friend, Sharon Yeo, who writes what is primarily a foodie blog called Only Here for the Food, had been asked, in a not especially nice manner, by the Artistic Director of a company who was producing at the Edmonton Fringe this year, to no longer attend or review any of their shows.

You can read all the posts and all the comments that come after for yourself. But for me, this brings up lots of interesting questions. The joy of the blogosphere, for me, is that anyone with a WordPress or Blogger or TypePad account can write about whatever topic they choose. I love that we have the power to create our own content. However, just because you have a blog, does that make you a reviewer? Or should we leave that job to the people who get paid to write reviews?

The second question this brings up for me is about addressing what is, essentially, a personal issue in a public forum. I’m not saying that Jeff Halsam was right in doing what he did, but I do think it was foolish of him to do it in such a public way. If I were his company’s publicist, I’d be freaking out, because this has all the makings of a PR nightmare.

As a publicist, I would never, ever turn down any kind of possible publicity, whether it’s from someone who gets paid to write reviews or not. A great example is Miss 604. If Rebecca writes a post on one of my clients, I know that post will be seen by thousands of people that day. Rebecca doesn’t get paid to write her primary blog, but her popularity is such that, even though she’s not a formal reviewer, I still welcome her to write because I know it will be excellent exposure.

What do you think? Do reviewers, formal or informal, have too much power? As a producer, do you have the right to tell them to sod off? (sorry, I’m in Australia right now).

As ever, I look forward to reading your comments below.

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In search of inspiration July 7, 2010

I think any blogger will agree with me on this one: finding inspiration to write is certainly the most difficult part of blogging.

Having to come up with fresh content all the time is a big challenge.

So, I’m going to share with you some ways that I have found to cope, and I’d love to hear some from you, as well.

Link: Thomas Cott

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Managing the Noise: Blogs July 5, 2010

Filed under: Blogging,Business of Arts,Planning,social media — Rebecca Coleman @ 6:59 am

There’s no doubt blogging has come into its own. There are hundreds of millions of blogs on the internet right now, and countless posts on those blogs.

If there’s something your interested in, any kind of niche at all, I guarantee you someone out there is writing about it.

In the past, if you wanted to learn a new skill, or get better at something, you had to buy a book, or take a class. You don’t really have to do that any more–you can learn things from the comfort of your own home–via blogs.

This is all very exciting, but if you’re like me, then you have an area that you  like to concentrate on, plus a few friends’ blogs, plus a couple of other sidelines. That adds up to hundreds of blogs, all publishing at a rate that can make it hard to keep up with. So how do you manage?

1. Get yourself a feed reader. Every single blog in the world has what’s called an RSS feed. RSS stands for “Really Simple Syndication.” This little URL makes it really easy for you to subscribe to the blog, in the same way that you might subscribe to your daily newspaper. After you subscribe, every time that blog posts, it is delivered to your RSS reader. You no longer have to check the websites of all of your fave blogs every day to see if they have new posts up. You just have to check  your feed reader.

I use Google, just because it’s easy, and I already use the entire Google suite. But Bloglines is also great. Most web-based email programs these days have a feed reader built in–so check yours to see. Here is a list of the top 10 feed readers.

My google reader

2. Organize: group the blogs that you follow into categories. For example, I have a category for Theatre bloggers, one for general blogging or business tips, one for friends, and one for random and miscellaneous blogs that I just like. This allows you to, at a glance, to see the most important new posts to you.

3. Make time to catch up. I currently am following around 60 blogs in my feed reader. If you do the math on that, you can see that it won’t take long for my feed reader to get out of control. It’s often over 500. So make time, whenever it works for you, whether once a day (hi, Simon! How’s your coffee today?) or once a week.

4. The power of mark all as read. Some days it just gets away with you. Despite all your best effort to read everything, or even to skim everything, you just can’t. Hit the mark all as read button and let it go. It’s okay. The world will go on.

Whatever blog reader you end up using, make sure it has some way of noting posts that really turn you on. Google Reader has a “starring” system. This way, if there is a post that you think you might like to reference later, it makes it easy for you to find.

What’s your best tip for managing your blog reading?

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WordPress adds Reblog button June 7, 2010

Filed under: Blogging,marketing with blogs — Rebecca Coleman @ 7:46 am

I was working on a post the other day, and I noticed this:

So, I immediately started doing some research to figure out what this new thing was.

At first, I thought WP was jumping onto the Facebook bandwagon, and making “Like” buttons available to us self-hosted WP bloggers. But it has nothing to do with Facebook (other than the fact that Facebook has now made the “like” thumbs-up stamp of approval the newest, biggest thing).

In order for you to have a “Like” button on your blog, you must have a WP-hosted blog, and you must be signed in to your account. Now, if you are out in the blogosphere and you come a cross a post you really like, you can, well, “Like” it. This feature is akin to “starring” something in your Google Reader–it highlights that post for later. I often “star” posts in my Google Reader that I think I might like to repost or blog about later. Now you can do it without Google Reader, or without having to bookmark that post for later. At a later date, you can simply go to the “Like” menu, and if you pull it down, you can click on “posts I like” and they’ll all be saved up for you there.

The second part of this new feature is that it gives you the ability to repost that post. You simply click on the “Reblog this post” option in the drop-down menu, and WP will repost it to your blog, giving you the opportunity to add your comments.

WordPress is, essentially, helping us WP users to spread the WP love more easily. The Blogosphere has always been based on sharing and reposting, but this new feature may make it even easier to do that.

Only time will tell if it proves popular.

Click here to read the original announcement from WordPress.

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Building a Mystery May 12, 2010

Filed under: Arts Marketing,Blogging,Business of Arts,social media — Rebecca Coleman @ 6:15 am

I’m writing this post on Sunday morning. This past weekend, I attended Northern Voice, a blogging and social media conference out at UBC. There is much to process from the experience, so there will no doubt be posts to come, but one thing that kept coming up all weekend was the theme of “mystery.” Bryan Alexander talked about it in his Friday morning Keynote, and it came up again in the panel discussion I sat on about Art and Social Media. (thanks to everyone who came out, by the way!)

Darren Barefoot, me, Rachel Chatoor, Sara Genn and Deb Pickman. Photo by Landon Kleis, @landovan

What’s powerful right now about social media, and blogging (or vlogging or podcasting) in particular, is, that it allows you to go behind the scenes. It allows the reader or client to see what’s really going on behind the scenes in your business (be it an art business or otherwise). But here’s the thing: we as artists, are in the creativity business. And we can’t trademark or patent our creativity. This often causes concern amongst artists I talk to: if we blog/podcast/vlog about the process of our work, are we giving away too much? Or, as they referred to it at Northern Voice: lifting the kimono.

Creating a sense of mystery, or teasing our audience, is a powerful way to draw them in. Movies and books do it all the time with foreshadowing. They suck us in with a compelling storyline, and hint of better things to come.

I would argue that “lifting the kimono” is not going too far, and that, in fact, it can help to build a sense of mystery. There is no substitute for a live performance. Watching the ballet live can’t hold a candle to watching it on TV. Being in a tiny, intimate black-box theatre space and seeing a play where I can see the actor’s sweat will never be replaced by that same experience on film, because it can’t. The sense of awe I felt at seeing the Parthenon for real, something I had seen a million photos of, was immense. Seeing art live, for real, is special because it only takes place at that time and space. That exact experience can never be duplicated.

So, teasing our audience a little by blogging about what’s going on backstage, or doing video or audio interviews with the cast or the artist I believe will only help to bring more audience in. The process is fascinating, and people’s passion for their work is contagious.

It’s powerful. Try it for yourself, and see what the results bring.

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How to post a calendar of events on your WP blog May 6, 2010

Filed under: Arts Marketing,Blogging,Business of Arts,Marketing Ideas — Rebecca Coleman @ 6:06 am
Tags: , ,

Simon and I did a workshop last week at the Alliance, and Amy, who attended, asked me how to post a calendar of events on her WordPress-hosted blog.

Amy, (and the rest of you!) here you go:

1. Go to Google and get an account if you don’t already have one (and if you don’t, I mean, come on, now!).  When you’re signed in, click on “Calendar.” You should create a new calendar for this that will ONLY be dedicated to your events.

2. Make the calendar public. You do this by clicking on the calendar’s “Settings” button (the triangle beside the calendar has this link). Click on the “Share this Calendar” tab at the top, then check the box marked “Make this Calendar public”

3. Now you need to get your Calendar’s RSS feed. Go back to “Calendar Details,” the first tab at the top. Under “Calendar Address,” click on the orange button marked XML, and copy the code that it generates.

4. Log in to your WordPress Blog, and go to Appearance–>Widgets. Drag and drop an RSS widget into your sidebar. Paste the code into that widget. You can give it a title if you like. Save and close.

5. Your calendar of events is now in your sidebar. It will look like this:

If you have a self-hosted WordPress blog, simply do a search for calendar widgets, and I’m sure you’ll find something that works for you.

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Northern Voice May 5, 2010

I’ll bet you didn’t know that Vancouver has its very own blogging conference? Okay, well, maybe you did, but I only found out about Northern Voice in the last couple of years.

Here’s the official blurb:

Northern Voice is a two-day, non-profit personal blogging and social media conference held at the UBC main campus, Vancouver, Canada on May 7-8, 2010. This is the 6th annual incarnation of this event.

I had just bought my ticket for Friday, when I was asked to be on a panel on Saturday. So, I look forward to hanging out with a bunch of like-minded nerds all day Friday, and then coming back on Saturday to lead a panel discussion on Art and Social Media.

The Internet, and social media, specifically, is turning the arts world upside-down. Traditional methods of “making it” are being abandoned as artists create their own galleries, record companies, and movies, with the fan base to go with them. Welcome to the world of Justin Beiber. In this panel, a theatre artist, a musician and a visual artist will discuss what social media tips and tricks they are using to garner success in the art world.

The panel will consist of me, Deb Pickman, theatre creator, professional actor, producer and arts marketing specialist, (you should come to see her shoes at the very least–she always wears excellent shoes), Rachel Chatoor, a singer, and Sara Genn, a Vancouver-born painter who now makes her home NYC.

Seriously, you should check this out. Click here for more information, or to register.

UPDATE: since I wrote this post, I saw a tweet saying that Northern Voice is now sold out.


Blogging for Dummies April 23, 2010

A long, long time ago, in September of 2008, when I was just getting started with blogging and podcasting, I wrote a post called Welcome to the Blogosphere. The topic of that post was an interview with Shane Birley and Susannah Gardner, the authors of Blogging for Dummies: The Second Edition.

Well, time goes by, and 230 posts and two and a half years later, I caught up with Shane and Susie again, who have just published Blogging for Dummies: The Third Edition.

We chatted about how the Blogosphere has changed in the past two years, and about how social media is now a huge part of blogging. We also talked about WordPress versus Blogger, and how quickly things change on the ‘net.

Shane and Susie leave us with three blogging tips:

  1. Schedule time to write
  2. Define for yourself what success looks like and set goals
  3. How to use other forms of social media to increase your blog readership (like e-newsletters)

I won’t give away any more, you’ll just have to listen….

Blogging for Dummies Interview

Blogging for Dummies, The Third Edition, is available at all major bookstores,, or from

Follow Shane on Twitter: @shanebee

Follow Susie on Twitter: @supersusie

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Building a website in WordPress April 16, 2010

Filed under: Arts Marketing,Blogging,Marketing Ideas,marketing with blogs — Rebecca Coleman @ 5:46 am
Tags: , ,

Ever since I wrote the post last week about the Belfry Theatre’s website, I’ve been getting lots of questions from folks about building their website in WordPress.

Creating a website in WordPress is a great idea, for a couple of reasons:

  • It’s essentially free
  • The interface is easy to learn
  • It allows you to integrate your blog and your website in the same page, and will help to drive up your Google Ranking

When creating your website in WordPress, you have two options, the same as if you were starting a blog:

  • WordPress Hosted
  • Self-Hosted

Today’s post is focused on how to start a WordPress-hosted blog or website. I will cover how to start a self-hosted site in a later post.

The WordPress Dashboard

To start a WordPress hosted blog, simply go to You will first have to sign up for an account. Then, you can choose the name of your page. If you are using this for your website, ideally, you’d want to use the name of your business.

Your new URL will be If you want to lose the ‘WordPress’, you have two options:

  • Buy your domain name (maybe you already have) and create a redirect (your internet hosting service can help you with this)
  • In your WP dashboard, click on ‘Settings’ and then ‘Domains’. For $15, WP will allow you to drop the ‘WordPress’ and map your domain, assuming it’s not already taken.

Now you can begin to build your site.

  • Decide what you’d like your site to look like. In your dashboard, click on ‘Appearance’ then ‘Themes’. You can browse through all the different themes and find one that suits your fancy. You may want to  look for a theme with a customizable header, so that you can integrate your logo and branding in there. Also, think about whether you want one or two sidebars. You can use your sidebar for your contact information, or to import your Twitter feed. At this moment, there are 85 themes to choose from.
  • Start to set up your ‘pages’. You probably currently have a website, or, if you don’t, think about what pages you’d like to have on your site. For example, you’ll want an ‘About’ page, a page devoted to your work, a contact page, and, of course, your blog. For each page you want to have on your blog, go to the ‘Pages’ menu and create a new one. You can populate it with content and copy, adding photos/video, etc. Your front page, the page that people see when they type your URL into thier browser, will be your blog.
  • Choose your widgets: one of the great advantages of having a WordPress page is the vast amount of widgets that are available to you. For example, you can use the Flickr widget to import your Flickr stream directly into the sidebar of your blog. To use widgets, go to the ‘Appearance’ menu on your dashboard, and click on ‘Widgets’. Choose which ones you want, and drag them into the sidebar.

I think starting a WordPress-hosted website or blog is a great option for someone who is just getting started. There are limitations, however, because you do have to work within the WordPress system. If you are just learning how to use WordPress, it might be a good option for you. Once you are more familiar with the interface, you might want to take the leap to a self-hosted WordPress site, which allows you much more freedom and creativity.

And is the topic of a future post…

Click for Part 2

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