The Art of the Business

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

WP Finally Adds A “Tweet This” Button August 18, 2010

Filed under: marketing with blogs,Marketing with Twitter,social media,Tools — Rebecca Coleman @ 6:34 am
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For those of you, who, like me (although not for very much longer) have a WordPress-hosted blog, you will be very happy to know that WordPress has FINALLY added a “Tweet This” Widget.

I love WP. I’m their greatest fan. But it’s frustrating, because you certainly are limited by what you can do with a WP-hosted blog. For example, I can’t post Amazon Affiliate links. And this Tweet button has been a a long, long time coming.

Here’s how to install it:

  1. Log into your dashboard
  2. Scroll down the left-hand side menu board until you get to “Appearance.” If it’s not already expanded, click the arrow to expand.
  3. Now click on “Extras.”
  4. A window comes up that looks like this:
  5. Check the “Show a Twitter Tweet Button on my posts.”
  6. Hit “update” and you’re done!

This makes it a lot easier for folks to read your post and tweet it with one button, as opposed to having to copy the URL and past it into their Twitter client, shorten it, etc.

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Fewer clicks=more sales June 21, 2010

Let’s face it, we’re busy. Even more busy than ever, it seems, these days. Just when I think I can’t get any busier, I surprise myself.

What that means, is, if I am able to do something quickly and efficiently, I’m going to do that. When Simon and I give workshops, we call this making it stupid easy. Please don’t misunderstand: I’m not saying that people are dumb. In fact, they are just busy. And you know as well as I do that if you have tried to do something online, and it took more time than you thought, or was more difficult than you thought, you likely gave up in a short amount of time.

For me, the power of social media, and the argument for having multiple social media streams (ie: a blog, Twitter, Facebook, YouTube), is that you meet people where they are. If my favorite social medium is Facebook, I should be able to access your company there. If it’s Twitter, ditto. It’s easy.

It therefore makes sense to me, that if we can make buying tickets really, really easy, that we may sell more of them. Which is why most theatre companies these days have multiple ways of buying tickets: by phone, on line, or in person. Folks can pick the method that works best for them.

Some companies are now developing applications to make tickets available though social media applications. For example, when Disney recently released Toy Story 3, you could buy them directly through Facebook.

Cosmetics giant Avon recently introduced a Facebook-based store for thier “younger” brand, Mark. They did this through a new app that is being developed by a San Fransisco-based company called Payvment.

As of this moment, I can’t find any theatre companies that are selling tickets through their Facebook page, but I’m thinking it’s not far away.

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Managing the Noise: Email June 18, 2010

Filed under: Business of Arts,Planning,Tools — Rebecca Coleman @ 12:12 am
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Last month, I wrote a post on how to mange the “noise” of Twitter.

I’m following that up with a post on how to manage your email.

I get a lot of email. I send more. Email is the main tool with which I run my business. I’d say I probably receive between 50-100 emails a day. And there was a time, a few months back, when my Inbox was up around 2,000, and things were getting missed. It actually caused me quite a bit of anxiety: I’d be out somewhere doing something, and I’d suddenly remember an email I forgot to return! Panic!

But then, last year, I read David Allen’s Getting Things Done. I implemented a new email system, and have had a few months to tinker around with it, and am finding it’s working great for me. I regularly get my inbox to 0, and I have a system in place so I don’t forget to return emails.

I’d like to share it with you.

My email inbox

1. First, you have to deal with your existing inbox. If you are like me, I had a lot of email in there. Know that it’s going to take you a while to get through it, and maybe dedicate an hour or a few mintues every day to getting through it. After you have gotten your inbox to 0, you just need to do this every few days or once a week, depending on how much volume you get. It becomes about maintenance.

2. You need to classify every single piece of email in your inbox. Most email programs, even web-based ones, allow you to create folders in your email. I have a folder for every contract I am currently working on, plus another couple random ones: one for family stuff, one for Michael stuff, and one for “pending” (I’ll explain that in a sec).

3. Start at the bottom of your Inbox, and look at every single email.

  • If it’s dealt with, but contains some information that you may need in the future, move it to the appropriate project folder.
  • If it’s dealt with, and you won’t need any of the info in the email again, delete it.
  • If the email needs a response, and you can respond to it within a minute or two (ie: immediately), then do so, then put it into the appropriate folder.
  • If it requires a response that’s going to take you some time to work out, respond accordingly: “I’ll get back to you on this,” and then place it into the “Pending” folder.

4. Lather, rinse, repeat until your Inbox is 0!

5. Every once in a while, say once a week, go through your “Pending” file and see if there are any emails you can deal with and move out. Once I’ve wrapped up a contract, I just delete the entire email file.

6. I do this every couple of days, but if you don’t have a lot of email, you could do it once per week. Friday is the best day, because it allows you to start your weekend with a clean slate, stress-free (hopefully).

How do you deal with your overwhelming email? I’d love to hear if you have a system that works, or, if you try mine, how you modified it to work for your specific needs.

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Let’s Make a Scene! October 5, 2009

Every year, our local Greater Vancouver Professional Theatre Alliance hosts a conference that takes place over one weekend in October. There are discussions, workshops, and keynotes. Plus quite a bit of socializing and some alcohol consumption.

This year, in light of the drastic cuts to the arts, the theme of Making a Scene is THEATRE MATTERS! They keynote speaker is George Thorn, co-director of Arts Action Research out of Portland.

Here’s what his partner, Nello McDaniel, has to say about the work that they do there:

“ARTS Action Research believes that the challenges confronting today’s arts organizations demand that arts professionals and their community partners respond more forcefully and proactively than ever before. These responses must be complex not reflex, strategic not prescriptive, systemic not situational, studied and deliberate not imitative and tentative, and most of all they must be from the inside out, not engineered from a distance. The future demands that our organizational responses be as creative, bold, entrepreneurial, clear, courageous and adaptable as the art we produce, exhibit and present. ARTS Action Research is committed to an arts community that is artist-centered — led and directed by arts professionals.”

Pretty cool.

Also in the “pretty cool” category, Simon and I will be again on a panel discussing social media. On Saturday afternoon, October 31 (yes, Hallowe’en, and you are encouraged to come in costume. You’re actors, for pete’s sake!), at 1:30, we will be on a panel moderated by Sean Allen called The Power of Social Media.

Here’s the blurb:

The Power of Social Media:
We all know that Social Media is a good thing… right? But what can it really do for your organization besides take up time from your work day? Join us in this open forum as we share inspiring examples and inspire each other with stories of the power of social media for theatre organizations. Moderator: Sean Allan (Chair– GVPTA Advocacy Committee)

We will specifically be talking about The World Theatre Day blog and other success stories.

You should come. For more information, or to register:

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Time-Tracking Software October 2, 2009

Filed under: Tools — Rebecca Coleman @ 5:59 am
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Yesterday was my blog-versary. The second post I ever wrote was called Putting a Value on Your Work, and talked about how to price your work.

A key aspect of putting a value on your work, whether it be a painting, a song, or a dance piece, is know how much time went into the creation of that piece. For me, when I first started my business, I charged an hourly rate, but after a bit of time, I switched to a flat rate, because I hated tracking the time for every little email or phone call I made. I wish I had one of these programs to help me… Still, even when I went to a flat-rate system, I had to have some kind of idea of how long it would take me to do a job. Otherwise, I’d be ripping off either myself, or the client.

Some time-tracking software does more than just track your time. There are some available that help you with your accounting, to keep track of your contacts, and all of it is available to download as Excel spreadsheets. It’s pretty cool stuff. freshbooks2

The one I’d recommend is Freshbooks. This Canadian company offers not just the ability to track your time, but you can also invoice, keep track of employee’s hours, track your expenses and create estimates. They have a free, lite version called “Moped”, and packages starting at around $20/month after that.

For a list of all of the current time-tracking software, click here.

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YouSendIt September 30, 2009

Filed under: Tools,Uncategorized — Rebecca Coleman @ 6:17 am
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Today, in my second of a week’s worth of technical tools and websites that make my life easier, I’m introducing you to YouSendIt.

In my line of work, I sometimes have to send or recieve really big files: photos for newspapers that are 300 dpi and videos are the two main main ones. These files are too big to send via email (which, for my email program, is pretty much anything over 10 MB). In the past, I would have had to have the person burn the file to a disc, and then meet up with them to do a physical exchange.

YouSendIt ( is the alternative. It is an FTP (file transfer protocol) program. Essentially, you upload your file to a secure server. YouSendIt then sends me an email with a link to download the file, which I do.

YouSendIt offers a free, “lite” version, where you are able to send/receive files up to 100 MB. If you are a videographer, photographer or graphic designer, you may want to upgrade to the paid versions, but for my needs, the free version works just fine.

YouSendIt also offers plugins for programs like Final Cut, Photoshop and Corel Draw, so you can directly upload your files from those programs.

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SugarSync September 29, 2009

Filed under: Tools — Rebecca Coleman @ 4:12 pm
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When I wrote yesterday’s post on Dropbox, I was already aware of SugarSync (, another online file storage application.
I had done some research on the two applications, to see which one was better, and it seemed that actually, SugarSync was the better of the two. They already have widgets for mobile phones (BB and IPhone), whereas DropBox releases an IPhone widget today (thanks, @cecilialu!). For more information, check out this comparison of the two by ReviewSaurus.

However, the focus of this week’s blog posts are websites or technology that can make your life easier, and are free, and my impression of SugarSync was that there was a 30-day free trial, and then they had plans that started at around $5/month, if you liked the service. So, I didn’t include it, and told you about Dropbox instead.

Turns out SugarSync also has a free, 2GB “lite” version. That information is simply not well publicised on the site. Accidentally or on purpose… who knows.

To access the free 2 GB of storage, go to the pricing page, and scroll down to the lower right-hand corner.


Special thanks to @dloehr for putting me on the right path with that one!

I’d love to hear your comments. Are you already using one of the platforms? How do you like it? What do you use it for?

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Dropbox September 28, 2009

Filed under: Tools — Rebecca Coleman @ 6:38 am
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This week, I am going to share with you some technical tools or websites that might make running your business easier.

I’m in the middle of what is looking like my busiest fall so far, so anything that can make by business faster/easier/more efficient is pretty high on my “loving it” list.

First up: Dropbox (

My life was made a lot easier in January when I finally bought a smart phone. Now, I don’t need to cart my laptop around with me all the time, constantly in search of a wi-fi connection. I get and can respond to, email on my Blackberry. I need to add that part of the reason I chose the Blackberry over the IPhone was because the BB has the ability to read and edit Word, Excel, and PowerPoint files. However, I don’t really use the calendar syncing utility, because my calendar lives on Google, and I have access to it all the time via the web with NO syncing. So, I very seldom hook my BB up to my computer, and the storage is somewhat limited, so I don’t really carry around documents on it.

Sometimes, I’ll be out somewhere and get a request from a member of the media for some kind of support documentation: a media release or kit for one of my clients. I have to say “I’ll send it to you as soon as I get back to my computer.” But not any more!!

Dropbox is a file-sharing program. Essentially, after you download the program and install it on your computer, you just drop files from your computer that you want to have access to at all times. The program uploads these files to a server on the web. Every time you update a file, it automatically syncs it to the web. Then, wherever you are, you have access to your files. All you need is a browser, and to log into your account using your email address and password. You have access to all your files.

You can also ask others to join Dropbox, and they can have access to your files, creating another way for multiple people to work on the same project.

Dropbox offers free storage up to 2GB for free. If you need more storage, you can opt for a monthly-fee package.

They don’t offer a Blackberry app, which would make my life even easier. You have to use your browser application to access your files. Perhaps an app is in the works.

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