The Art of the Business

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

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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Using a calendar to plan your social media April 14, 2010

Last month I wrote a post where I encouraged you to commit to a blogging schedule and I promised that it would pay off.

Today, I want to share with you how I help people to plan thier social media (I use this method myself!).

First of all, you need to decide which social media you want to participate in. For many people, this, in and of itself, is overwhelming. There are five main ones:

  • E-newsletters
  • Blogs
  • Facebook
  • Twitter
  • YouTube
  • Photosharing (ie: Flickr)

You can decide based on how much time you have to commit to marketing your business with social media. But remember, there will always be a greater time commitment at the beginning, as you get everything set up and working. Blogging takes the greatest amount of time, probably 2-5 hrs/wk, depending on how often you post. Facebook and Twitter can be easily manged in 15 minutes a day. YouTube and Flickr could take more time, because of the editing process.

You can also make this decision based on what’s easiest. Many people begin their foray into social media with Facebook, because it’s the one they are most familiar with, and they are probably already on it with a personal account, and familiar with the interface. I encourage people to take things slow–to not jump into everything at once. Start with one, get comfortable with it, then move on to the next once you feel you’ve conquered it.

Next, get a calendar and create a schedule. Remember, all of your social media should feed into your other social media, and be connected to your website. The whole point is to drive traffic back to your website where people can find out more information about who you are and what you do, and to contact you if they like.

Here is an example of mine:

I set aside a couple of hours every saturday morning to write my blog posts for the week, then I schedule them in. After the post goes up, it automatically is posted to Facebook via Networked Blogs, and I also post it to Twitter (which you could also have done automatically.) On days when I don’t have a blog post going up on Facebook, I try to share a link that I’ve enjoyed on my Facebook fan page, and I like to retweet links on Twitter whenever I find something interesting.

The key to having a social media strategy is to plan out some things you want to post, but to also be flexible about posting things that you discover during your day that you like, and might be interesting to other people.

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How Social Media is turning the arts world upside down March 31, 2010

Once upon at time, if you wanted to “make it” as an artist, you had a fairly-well defined path to follow to success. It usually started with some kind of post-secondary education, and then a few years of struggling while you worked a joe-job and practiced your art. If you were a musician, you were maybe working on your technique, going to jams and open mics, and writing  songs. Eventually, you’d put together a demo of your work, and send it in to a record company. If you were really, really lucky, they’d listen to your demo and like it enough to offer you a contract. Although the reject pile was always higher than those that got the stamp of approval.

The invention of the internet, and, in particular, Web 2.o, has changed all of that. Technology has advanced to such a state that it is now accessible to you and I. If I am a musician, and I want to record an album, I have the power to do that–all I need is a Mac with GarageBand or Logic, and some decent-quality mics. To create a video, all I need is a Mac with IMovie and a video camera. Technology and Social Media has given the individual artist power.

For me, the greatest example of this is Justin Beiber. I know, I know, I’ve mentioned him before. And I’m not a 13-year-old girl, so I’m not even in his demographic. Bieber represents a new kind of way to rise to the top: self-made, self-propelled, and using the internet as a tool. Basically, by the time Bieber met the record company, they would have been crazy to turn him down: he already had a huge marketing machine filled with hundreds of thousands of adoring fans (13-year-old girls have a lot of disposable income and brand loyalty). The machine  consisted of Facebook, YouTube, MySpace and Twitter. Click here to read more.

It’s not just musicians that are benefiting. Aspiring writers art starting blogs, and it’s leading to book deals. Witness the Budget Fashionista. Kathryn Finney started this blog in 2003, and within a couple of years had been offered a publishing deal. How to Be a Budget Fashionista: The Ultimate Guide to Looking Fabulous for Less was published in June, 2006.

Lauren Luke is another interesting example. This self-taught makeup artist started a YouTube channel, and after garnering 43 million views, as well as 230,000 subscribers from 70 countries around the world, now is launching her own makeup line through Sephora.

Welcome to the future, folks.

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The power of just showing up March 10, 2010

Filed under: Attitude,Blogging,Future planning,social media — Rebecca Coleman @ 8:07 am
Tags: ,

Once upon a time, a long time ago, in a past career, I was an employment counsellor. I would meet with people who were unemployed and looking for work, and help them to spruce up their resume, apply for jobs, or refer them to programs that could help them find work.

I remember one client particularly. She was in the film industry, so we saw her every few months. She had a computer and internet connection at home, so there was really no reason for her to come in and use our resource centre. But yet, like clockwork, every few months, she’d show up at our door, and be looking for work.

Many years ago, I read a book called Man’s Search for Meaning by Victor Frankl. Now, Frankl was a Jewish psychologist in pre-Nazi Austria, Vienna to be exact. In 1942, he, like many other Jews, was sent to a concentration camp, along with his wife and parents. By all reports, I can’t imagine a more horrifying or black place to be. And yet, he talks in his book about getting up every morning and shaving himself with a piece of glass. This symbolic gesture of getting ready for the day was psychological preparation, and it worked. Frankl survived the concentration camp–the rest of his family did not.

I know that looking for a job or writing a blog is not nearly the same kind of life-or-death stakes that Frankl faced every day in that camp. But the principle remains the same: the people that got up every day, put on some decent clothes, and showed up at my work every day at 9:30 had a much higher chance of getting a job than those that rolled in at 1 pm in crumpled jeans after sleeping in until noon.

Writing a blog works on the same principle: if you commit to a schedule and stick to it, I promise you will see results. Will every post you write be a gold-medal winner (sorry, the Olympics are kinda dominating things in Vancouver, right now!)? Nope, certainly not. But by writing sheer quantity, you are bound to create some posts of quality. And the more you do it, the better you get…

This image was originally posted to Flickr by chokola at

And then, sometime around the three-week mark, something magical happens. It stops being more of a chore, and just becomes another thing that you do in your day. It incorporates itself into your life.

So grab yourself a calendar, decide how many posts you want to do per week, and then schedule them on your calendar. Go so far as to write what the topic of each of those posts will be. Set an alarm if you need to. Then write.

Just showing up will give you results–I guarantee it.

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Top Posts of 2009 January 6, 2010

Filed under: Blogging,Business of Arts — Rebecca Coleman @ 6:36 am
Tags: ,

Here are the top 10 posts from The Art of the Business in 2009:

10: Is Bigger, Better?
Matt DeMera and I had set this up: he had a new blog, and in an effort to introduce his new blog, and do some cross-promotion, we wrote guest posts for each others’ sites. Lesson learned: controversy will get you hits.

9. Augusto Boal Dies
So sad–after the immense success of the newly launched World Theatre Day Blog (Augusto Boal was the authour of the 2009 WTD address), he died shortly after.

8. Square Pegs in Round Holes
A recent post, the fact that it is number 8 is a testament to how interested folks were in my experience of seeing a play with a house full of high school students, and the controversy around theatre etiquette for the young.

7. Why You Should NOT Join Twitter
Twitter was a universal hot topic this year. It really hit the Tipping Point (I’m reading it right now!) in April, when Oprah joined.

6. What the Tweet? A Rookie’s Guide to Twitter
This interview I did with Trilby Jeeves is a very basic tutorial on Twitter, and continues to be popular with early users. (this one was actually posted in late 2008)

My 2009 tag cloud

5. About
For me, this just underscores the vast importance of having an ‘About’ page. People who come to your blog for the first time want to know about you. One thing I did with my ‘about’ page was to create (well, Simon created it!) a short video introduction.

4. A Sticky Situation
Last fall, I found myself in a position I had never been in before: I was doing publicity for a show that was up against the exact same show, running at the exact same time. This post proved to be the post that got the most comments of all posts last year.

3. Financial Friday
One of my clients had produced a panel on money for women. I attended, and found it so empowering. This post was sharing some of the things I picked up at that workshop. I am currently using Piggy Pal to track my day-to-day spending.

2. Fighting Chance Brings RENT and Tick, Tick… Boom! to Vancouver
Yes, you’ve heard it a million times. I’m a RENThead. I have a whole category on m blog dedicated just to RENT. Well, clearly I’m not alone, because this was a very popular post.

(drumroll please)

1. Are We Losing the Mainstream Media?
This has been my most popular post by a long, long shot. The truth is, that newspapers and magazines and TV stations are not doing all that well. We see it every day. As someone who depends upon the media for her livelihood, this topic is close to my heart. A great deal of what The Art of the Business is all about, is educating artists about how they can create their own media by blogging, Twitter, Facebook, and other social media. I even wrote a book about it!

So, there you have it, folks. I look forward to creating this list again, this time next year!

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